If you are planning to invest or trade online – you’ll need to open an account with a top-rated trading platform. Due to the rapid growth of the retail investor scene, there are now hundreds of trading platforms in the market.
Most of these providers can be given a wide berth – either because of a lack of regulation, support for limited assets, or uncompetitive fees. With that in mind, you need to do some homework to find which trading platform is right for your needs.
To save you countless hours of research, this guide will review the Best Trading Platforms of 2021. Our top-rated picks all meet a range of criteria surrounding low fees, strong regulation, heaps of markets, and great customer service.
Table of Content
eToro - Buy and Invest in Assets
- Buy over 2,400 stocks
- Trade thousands of CFDs
- Deposit funds with a debit/credit card, e-wallet, or bank account and PayPal
- Perfect for newbie traders and heavily regulated
- Only real cryptos are available for US users
Best Trading Platforms 2021 Reviewed
To reiterate, the top trading platforms reviewed on this page all meet a series of important metrics.
- Low fees and commissions
- Tight spreads
- Heaps of asset classes and markets
- Tier-one regulation with the likes of the FCA, CySEC, or ASIC
- An abundance of research and analysis tools
- Top-notch customer service and user-experience
Taking all of the above into account, below you will find which providers made our list of the very best trading platforms of 2021.
1. eToro – Best Trading Platform in 2021
Having tried and tested dozens of trading platforms over the past few months, we have no hesitation at all in awarding eToro our number one spot. Crucially, this top-rated platform ticks all of the right boxes in virtually every area we look for.First and foremost, eToro is both a trading platform and brokerage firm.
This means that you can invest and trade an abundance of assets. Regarding the former, eToro supports thousands over 2,500+ stocks and ETFs from 17 international exchanges. If you're keen on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, eToro offers 16 digital coins.
In terms of trading instruments for short-term strategies, eToro supports everything from forex and gold to indices and natural gas. Irrespective of what you decide to invest in or trade, eToro will not charge you a single cent in commission. There are no monthly fees either, and you'll typically find that spreads are very competitive.
If you're a fan of automated trading, eToro has you covered. Through its Copy Trading tool, this gives you access to thousands of verified pro investors. Once you select one that you like, you can then elect to copy them like-for-like. You'll still be able to add or remove assets from your portfolio, so you still retain full control over your funds.
There is also CopyPortfolios on eToro, which offers a fully-managed investment strategy. eToro also made our number one spot of the best trading platforms of 2021 because it's ideal for inexperienced investors. In fact, the platform is so easy to use that if this is your first time trading online, you'll have no issues in terms of navigation.
If you like the sound of what this top-rated trading platform offers, eToro accounts can be opened in minutes. You can easily fund your account with a debit/credit card, bank wire, or e-wallet - and the minimum is just $200. Finally, eToro is registered with FINRA (US) and regulated by the FCA (UK), ASIC (Australia), and CySEC (Cyprus)
- Heaps of assets on offer
- Zero commission trading and no share dealing fees
- Great for beginners and super easy sign-up
- 0.5% conversion fee if not depositing in USD
2. EightCap – Best Trading Platform for Commission-Free CFDs
If you're looking for the best CFD trading platform - you might want to consider EightCap. Although the provider has a relatively modest number of markets at 200 - it covers the most traded asset classes in the investment scene. This includes heaps of currency pairs, blue-chip stocks, major indices, hard metals like gold, and energies.
Our review of this top-rated trading found that the provider offers a pricing structure to suit all investor-types. For example, if you are planning to trade small amounts, EightCap will offer you a commission-free account with spreads starting 1 pip. Or, if you're planning to trade larger volumes, you can avoid spreads altogether and pay a flat commission of $3.50 per slide.
Both of the aforementioned accounts require a minimum deposit of just $100. You can easily fund your account with a debit or credit card - with both Visa and MasterCard supported. You can also deposit funds with Skrill, Neteller, Skrill, and more. In terms of key features, Eightcap is compatible with popular third-party trading platforms MT4 and MT5.
It also offers lots in the way of educational content, research materials, and market insights. In terms of safety, Eightcap has a great reputation in the online trading arena. This is fully-backed up by its ASIC license - which is one of the most stringent regulatory bodies in the financial services industry.
- ASIC regulated broker
- Trade over 200+ assets commission-free
- Compatible with MT4 and MT5
- No cryptocurrency trading
3. Capital.com – Best Trading Platform for Beginners
Capital.com is arguably one the best trading platforms for beginners. This popular provider allows you to open an account in minutes and you will then have access to a fully-fledged demo account facility. This allows you to learn the ropes of online trading without risking any money. You can also make use of the many educational tools offered by Capital.com - such as guides and video explainers.
Then, when you think you're ready to start trading with your own capital, this popular platform requires a minimum deposit of just $20. In terms of what you can trade, Capital.com is a CFD trading platform. It covers thousands of markets across several asset classes - including stocks, cryptocurrencies, commodities, and indices. You also trade heaps of forex pairs - with the trading platform covering majors, minors, and plenty of exotics.
Each and every financial market hosted by Capital.com can be traded commission-free. On major CFD assets like major currency pairs and stocks - spreads are often industry-leading. In terms of the trading platform itself, Capital.com is very simple to use. As long as you have a basic understanding of placing orders, you shouldn't have any concerns regarding functionality.
Like all of the best trading platforms discussed on this page, Capital.com offers leverage. Once again, your limits will be determined by the asset and your location. When it comes to security, Capital.com is authorized and regulated by several reputable bodies - including the FCA and CySEC. Finally, if you decide to sign up with this top-rated provider, you can use a debit/credit card, e-wallet, or bank wire.
- Thousands of markets to trade commission-free
- Get started from $20
- FCA and CySEC regulated
- Lack of fundamental analysis tools
4. AvaTrade – Best Trading Platform With Heaps of Techincal Analysis Tools
AvaTrade is another top-rated trading platform that specializes in CFD markets - all of which facilitate short-selling and leverage. This popular provider allows you to trade across several platforms - including MT4. It also supports third-party social trading tools like Zulutrade.
Or, if you want to trade directly on the AvaTrade website, the provider offers its own proprietary platform. And of course - mobile traders are not left out either, as AvaTrade offers a fully-fledged mobile app. This is available on both iOS and Android.
Supported markets on AvaTrade run into the thousands, covering everything from forex and commodities to stocks and indices. You can also trade cryptocurrencies, options, and futures. When it comes to trading fees, AvaTrade is a commission-free platform that offers tight spreads. This includes 0.9 pips on major forex pairs and 0.13 on blue-chip stock CFDs.
Although AvaTrade offers a demo account, you can also trade with small amounts on this platform. Deposits start at just $100 and you can fund your account with a debit/credit card or bank wire. Perhaps one of the biggest attraction of AvaTrade is that is licensed in several jurisdictions. This includes Canada, Australia, Europe, South Africa, Japan, and more.
- Reasonable minimum deposit of $100
- Regulated in multiple countries
- Heaps of commission-free assets to trade
- Inactivity fees considered high
5. EuropeFX – Top-Rated Trading Site With Multiple Platforms
EuropeFX is another top-rated trading platform that has grown in popularity in recent years. The provider gives you access to a full suite of financial markets - all of which are backed by CFDs. This means that you can apply leverage and engage in short-selling. Supported asset classes include forex, indices, shares, commodities, and cryptocurrencies.
When it comes to the trading platform itself, EuropeFX gives you several options. You might opt for MT4 if you want access to advanced trading tools - which is available via the EuropeFX web or desktop software.Some traders instead opt for the EuroTrader 2.0 platform, which is potentially more suited for newbies.
Either way, EuropeFX is a great option if you're seeking a low spread broker, as market markets start from just 0.1 pips. In terms of safety, EuropeFX is authorized and regulated by CySEC. Getting started with this top-rated trading platform requires a minimum deposit of $200 - with the provider supporting debit/credit cards, e-wallets, and bank transfers.
There are several account types to choose from - each of which comes with various minimums, commissions, and perks. In other words, the higher account tiers offer the most competitive spreads and commissions, albeit, you'll be expected to meet a much higher minimum.
- Suitable for seasoned traders
- Super competitive spreads
- Fully regulated by CySEC
- Premium account a whopping $50,000
How to Find the Best Trading Platforms?
So now that we have reviewed the best trading platforms in the online market, we now need to explain the many metrics that you need to check before choosing one yourself. This is because no-two trading platforms are the same.
For example, while some platforms might stand out for their advanced trading tools and technical indicators – others might appeal to traders for their super low fees and spreads. As such, you need to assess what your main priority is when searching for the best trading platform for your needs.
The most important considerations to make are discussed in more detail below.
Regulation, Licensing, and Safety
The only way that you can make money by trading online is to deposit funds into your chosen platform. In turn, this means that there needs to be an element of trust from your end. After all, the trading platform in question will not only be responsible for connecting you to your desired financial market, but it needs to keep your funds safe.
With this in mind, you should only sign up with a trading platform if it authorized and regulated by at least one reputable body. In the online trading sphere, the most stringent financial regulators include the:
- FCA (UK)
- CySEC (Cyprus)
- ASIC (Australia)
- MAS (Singapore)
- FINRA (US)
- CFTC (US)
- SEC (US)
If your chosen trading platform is authorized by one of the above regulators, you can be sure that it does everything by the book. If it doesn’t, the regulator in question will have a range of sanctions at its disposal – such as monetary fines.
In more severe cases, the regulator can elect to revoke the trading platform’s license. In addition to having a watchful eye over your funds, choosing a regulated trading platform comes with a number of other key benefits.
- KYC: Although KYC (Know Your Customer) controls can be a pain, they do keep you and your fellow traders safe from financial crime. When using a new-age broker like eToro, your documents will be validated in less than a couple of minutes.
- Client Funds: Regulated trading platforms must separate client funds from their own. This means keeping your money in a segregated bank account. Crucially, the trading platform in question cannot use your funds to service its own debts.
- Fee Transparency: By using a regulated trading platform, all fees, commissions, and spreads must be clearly accessible. You should have a full breakdown of any charges taken from your account via your dashboard. This ensures that you always know what you are paying when using the trading platform.
Ultimately, if you open an account with an unregulated trading platform – or one that is licensed in a shady offshore island, your money is at risk. That is why we at Learn 2 Trade only select the trading platforms that are heavily regulated by tier-one bodies.
There is often a huge disparity in what markets your chosen trading platform gives you access to. As we briefly noted earlier, some specialize in a single asset class while others cover thousands of financial instruments across stocks, forex, commodities, cryptocurrencies, and more.
With that said, there is one thing in particular that you need to explore in your search for the best trading platforms – and that’s whether you are investing in assets or trading CFDs.
Investment Trading Platforms
Put simply, if your chosen trading platform allows you to invest in an asset, you are buying it outright. This means that you will retain full ownership of the asset in question.
In particular, this includes assets like:
- Stocks and shares
- Investment Trusts
- Mutual Funds
When investing in the above assets via a trading platform, you are typically doing so via a long-term buy and hold strategy. In other words, you’ll buy the asset, leave the investment at your chosen trading platform, and then sell it several months or years down the line.
Along the way, you’ll be entitled to dividend payments, as you own the underlying stock or fund. In the case of bonds, you’ll be entitled to your share of coupon payments.
Although we cover trading platform fees in much more detail later, it is important that you select a provider that does not charge ongoing fees when you plan to invest in the long run. This is because you’ll want the option of keeping your investment for as long as you see fit without getting hammered by monthly or annual fees.
CFD Trading Platforms
At the other end of the spectrum, if you are a short-term trader that wants to deploy more sophisticated market moves, you will likely be suited for a CFD trading platform. CFDs – or contracts-for-differences, are financial instruments that track an asset in real-time. For example, if gold has a market price of $1,860 per ounce, as will the respective CFD instrument.
The key point to remember is that when you trade CFDs, you don’t own the asset. Although at first glance this might put you off, this actually comes with a number of core benefits.
- You can trade commodities like gold, oil, and natural gas without needing to worry or storage or distribution
- You can elect to go long or short on your chosen market
- You can apply leverage to your trades
On the other hand, it must be noted that CFD trading platforms are only suited for short-term strategies. This is because CFDs attract overnight financing fees that you need to pay for each you keep the trade open. Although typically minute, these fees will eat away at your potential profits. This is why a lot of CFD traders will take a day trading or swing trading approach.
The best trading platforms allow you to buy and sell assets in a cost-effective manner. With that said, these platforms are still in business to make money – so you should check to see what fees will be applicable to your chosen market or strategy.
The most important fees to explore before signing up are as follows:
The spread is an indirect fee that a lot of newbies fail to recognize. For those unaware, there is always a gap in pricing between the ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ price of an asset that you trade online. For example, the buy price on Bitcoin might be $38,000 while the sell price could stand at $37,500. The difference between these two prices is known as the spread.
- If, for example, your chosen trading platform charges a spread of 3 pips on GBP/USD, this means that you need to make gains of 3 pips just to break even.
- Similarly, if the spread on silver CFDs amounts to 0.5%, you need to make gains of 0.5% to break even.
From the research we at Learn 2 Trade compiled, we found that the best trading platforms allow you to trade major asset forex pairs from less than 1 pip. In the case of major stocks and commodities like gold 0, the spread should never amount to more than 0.25%.
While the spread is an indirect fee charged by trading platforms, commissions will come straight out of your account balance. This commission is charged when you place a buy or sell order. In most cases, the commission will be a variable percentage that is calculated against your stake.
- For example, if the trading platform charges a commission of 1.5% to trade natural gas, and you stake $1,000, you would pay $15 to enter the market.
- If you then sold your natural gas position when it was worth $1,100 – your 1.5% commission would amount to $16.50.
Although the above examples are arbitrary, they illustrate that commissions can quickly eat away at your gains. This is why most of the best trading platforms reviewed on this page allow you to trade online without paying any commission. Instead, these platforms make their money from the aforementioned spread.
There are several other fees that your chosen trading platform might charge, such as:
- Overnight Financing: As we noted earlier, if you decide to trade CFDs you will invariably need to pay overnight financing fees. Based on the market and size of your stake, the fee usually kicks in at a specific time of the day.
- Platform Fees: Otherwise referred to as maintenance fees, some platforms charge a monthly or annual fee. If they do, this is calculated against the amount of capital you have invested at the platform.
- Deposit/Withdrawal Fees: Keep an eye on deposit and withdrawal fees, as again, this can leave you at a disadvantage before you’ve even placed a trade.
The best trading platforms are crystal-clear on what fees they charge, so you should be able to view this via the provider’s website.
Platforms and Usability
Some trading sites offer their own native platform that was built from the ground-up. In many cases, these are designed with beginners in mind. For example, eToro offers a proprietary trading platform that is super easy to use.
This is the case through its main website and even a mobile app. With that said, when using a newbie-friendly trading platform, your access to advanced tools and technical indicators may be limited.
If you’re a seasoned trader looking to perform in-depth analysis, it might be best to use a platform that supports MT4 or MT5. cTrader is another option, too.
Either way, it’s important to assess your own skill-set and experience when choosing a trading platform, as some are geared towards newbies while others are more suited for professionals.
Platform Tools and Features
There are many trading tools and features to consider when joining a platform. These are offered to aid you in your trading journey.
Some of the most notable tools offered by the best trading platforms that we reviewed include:
Social and Copy Trading
If you’re a complete newbie in the world of investments, you might want to consider a platform that offers social and copy trading features. eToro, for example, providers a ‘social media’ style platform that allows you to communicate and share ideas with other traders of the site.
Not only can you publish and reply to posts, but you also ‘like’ comments that you agree with. This creates a social-feel to trading that you won’t find at a traditional old-school broker. In addition to this, eToro also offers a copy trading tool that allows you to fully-automated your investment decisions.
Here’s how it works:
- You filter through the thousands of verified copy traders on eToro – looking at metrics like average monthly returns and preferred asset
- You invest $500 into your chosen trader
- The trader allocates 7% of their portfolio into Paypal stocks and 5% into Visa stocks
- In turn, you automatically invest $35 into Paypal stocks (7% of $500) and $25 into Visa stocks (5% of $500)
- When the trader sells their position in either Paypal or Visa, you will automatically do the same
All in all, the best trading platforms that offer social and copy investing tools are great if you don’t have much experience in the space. After all, you can rely on a seasoned investor to your bidding for you, subsequently allowing you to sit back and trade passively.
If you don’t have access to a large amount of trading capital, you might find it difficult to make viable profits. Sure, you might make consistent gains of 10% per month – but if you only have a balance of $1,000 – that amounts to gains of just $100. In other words, unless you have a huge account balance at your disposal, you might find your profits somewhat uninspiring.
This is why the best trading platforms give you access to leverage. In applying leverage to your positions, you can trade with a lot more than you have in your account.
- For example, US traders can access leverage of up to 1:50 when trading major forex pairs like EUR/USD. This means that a $1,000 balance would permit a maximum position of $50,000
- European trading platforms typically cap retail traders to 1:30 on major currency pairs and less on other assets
- Other countries have no limits at all, meaning that some trading platforms will offer leverage limits in excess of 1:500
Just make sure you understand the risks of leverage trading. After all, you can boost your trading capital, which is great. But, you can quickly amplify your losses, too.
The most seasoned traders will rely heavily on technical indicators, as this allows them to analyze the price of an asset. This might be an indicator that analyzes liquidity, volume, or even volatility.
Either way, technical indicators allow you to explore recent pricing trends and how this might influence the asset’s future direction. We find that the best trading platforms offer dozens of technical indicators for you to deploy, alongside lots of chart drawing tools.
In other cases, although the trading platform might not offer technical indicators itself, it might be compatible with MT4, MT5, or cTrader. If it is, these third-party trading platforms come with all of the advanced chart analysis tools that you will need.
Deposits, Withdrawals, and Payments
We would also suggest checking what payment methods your chosen provider offers before going through the account opening and KYC process. After all, you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of uploading ID documents to then find that the platform doesn’t offer your preferred deposit method.
Make no mistake about it – the best trading platforms allow you to deposit and withdraw funds with a debit/credit card or e-wallet – such as Paypal. These are safe, secure, and perhaps most importantly – instant payment methods. As such, you’ll be able to deposit funds whenever you see fit – even when using a mobile trading platform app.
With that said, some trading platforms only support bank transfers – especially in the US. This means you will need to wait a few days before the funds are available to trade. Additionally, check to see what payment fees apply and whether an FX charge is expected of you.
This particular metric might not be of interest to those of you that are seasoned trading pros – but it will if you are just starting out. Crucially, the best trading platforms that we have discussed today all offer an assortment of educational resources.
This includes everything from mini-courses, guides on technical analysis, market insights, podcasts, and webinars. By choosing a trading platform that offers these materials, you can learn how to trade in a risk-averse manner.
Getting Started With a Trading Platform – Walkthrough
Once you have found a trading platform that you like the look of, you then need to go through the process of opening an account, verifying your identity, making a deposit, and of course – placing a trade.
Below we walk you through the setup process with our top-rated trading platform eToro – which should take you no more than 10 minutes from start to finish.
Step 1: Register an Account
You will first need to open an account on the eToro website. You can do this online or via your mobile web browser.
This is a standard account opening procedure that you will require some personal information from you – such as your name, location, date of birth, and contact details.
Step 2: Verify Your Identity
As a regulated trading platform, eToro will need to verify your identity. This should take you no more than a couple of minutes, as the platform is usually able to verify documents straight away.
You’ll need to upload a copy of your passport or driver’s license and a document verifying your home address. This can be a utility bill or bank account statement at eToro. Digital copies are accepted, too.
Step 3: Make a Deposit
The minimum deposit at eToro is $200, or $50 for those of you based in the US. You can fund your account instantly when opting for one of the following payment methods:
eToro also supports local bank transfers, but this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to process.
Step 4: Search for a Trading Market
Once your deposit has been credited, you can start trading. eToro is home to thousands of markets across stocks, ETFs, indices, cryptocurrencies, commodities, and forex.
You can browse these markets by clicking on the ‘Trade Markets’ button. If you already know which market you wish to trade, enter it into the search box. Then, click on the ‘Trade’ button. In our example, we are looking for Mastercard.
Step 5: Place a Trade
An order box will now appear on-screen. This is where you need to enter the specifics of your trade.
Firstly, you need to select from a buy or sell order. By default, eToro sets the box to a buy order, meaning that you think the asset will rise in value. But, if you want to go short, you’ll need to change this to a sell order.
In our example, we are looking to invest in MasterCard stocks in the long run, so we leave this set as a buy order. We also avoid entering leverage, so we own the stocks outright.
You then need to enter your stake in US dollars. We are opting for the minimum, which is $50. The minimum at eToro is reduced to $25 when you trade crypto.
Nevertheless, the enter our position we click on the ‘Open Trade’ button. And that’s it, our commission-free trade is confirmed!
Note: It’s also advisable to set up a stop-loss and take-profit order. This will ensure you have a clear strategy in place and that you are trading in a risk-averse manner.
Best Trading Platforms – The Verdict?
Finding the best trading platform for your needs is no easy feat in 2021. After all, there are now hundreds of providers active in this space – all of which are competing for your business.
Once you have ensured that the provider is regulated, supports your preferred markets, and offers competitive fees – you then need to look at metrics surrounding tools and features, payments, and user-friendliness.
All in all, we found that the best trading platform active in the online space right now is eToro. The regulated provider – which now has 17 million active traders under its belt, allows you to buy and sell thousands of financial instruments on a commission-free basis.
eToro - Buy and Invest in Assets
- Buy over 2,400 stocks
- Trade thousands of CFDs
- Deposit funds with a debit/credit card, e-wallet, or bank account and PayPal
- Perfect for newbie traders and heavily regulated
- Only real cryptos are available for US users
What is the best trading platform 2021?
After reviewing dozens of trading platforms, we found that eToro stands out from the crowd. Not only can you trade on a commission-free basis, but the provider is heavily regulated.
Which trading platform is best for beginners?
eToro is the best trading platform for beginners - especially if this is your first time investing online. There is no requirement to have an understanding of trading jargon or technical analysis to use the platform, minimum stakes are low, and you'll have access to a risk-free demo account.
Which trading platform has the most stock?
If you're looking for the best trading platform for stocks, eToro is home to 2,400+ shares across 17 international markets. This means you can invest in companies listed in the US, UK, Hong Kong, Germany, and more!
Are trading platforms regulated?
Yes, the best trading platforms are regulated by reputable licensing bodies. In particular, look for the likes of FINRA, the FCA, ASIC, and CySEC - as these bodies have a great reputation for keeping the online trading scene safe.
How much do you need to trade online?
With more and more newbies entering the online investment scene, there are now trading platforms active in the space that have no minimum deposit policy. This means that you can start trading with an amount you feel comfortable with.