So, you want to get started with day trading. You’re not the only one.
Day trading is the starting point for basically everyone who has ever gotten into stocks.
Rich or poor, successful or not, making money to pay the bills or just looking to set up a retirement fund, day trading is the fundamental stock experience.
But why is that? What is day trading? How is it so core to how trading is done?
Part of the reason why people get into day trading is because it is more simple than many other kinds of trading. But, simple as it is, you still need to know the answers to these questions to really begin.
What is Day Trading?
Day trading is when you buy a stock and sell a stock in the same day. There is more to it than that in practice, but in theory you can make a stable income off of that and nothing else. It is not enough to just know what day trading is, however. If you want to make money, you have to know how it works.
The reason day trading works is because the value of stocks fluctuates throughout the day. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of day traders: Those who make their money off of stocks that fluctuate normally throughout the day, and those who make their money off of highly volatile stocks.
It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between a volatile stock and a stable stock. The trick is not looking at the amount by which it changes value. A stock is not volatile because it changes value every five minutes. But it is volatile if it “reverses” every five minutes.
That means the stock gets more valuable, then less valuable, and then more valuable again. A stock like that is volatile because while it provides more opportunities to make more money, it also provides opportunities to lose money. This risk is what makes it appealing.
Why is Day Trading Important?
If you ask any professional stockbroker where to start with the stock market, they are going to tell you to start with day trading.
But why is that? Why is it considered to be the starting point for trade?
The simple answer to that question is that it is how trading works with as much stripped from it as possible. It is trading that anyone can understand because it is the least involved in terminology, calculations, and other data points that might confuse the issue as to how it works.
Essentially, day trading allows you to choose your own level of immersion into the nuance of it. For instance, you can look at an industry and try to predict how much the industry will be worth, day by day, for the next month. By doing this, you can figure out when to buy and sell stocks of that company.
But you can also choose to not do that. You can trade totally on impulse.
Contrast something like a mutual fund, which is a method of trading that takes place over a longer period of time. In that case, you really have to do some studying to make good investments.
Day trading can also be done with any security. Stocks, CFDs, bonds, options, ETFs, futures, if it can be traded then it can be traded quickly. That means the skill of day trading transfers between securities.
How is Day Trading Done?
This is perhaps the most important question to ask, as the answer to this question has changed massively in recent years. In the early days of the stock market, trading was done exclusively in-person on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. But when telecommunications boomed, that changed.
Suddenly people were negotiating deals with other people on the other side of the country. Then the other side of the continent. Then the whole other side of the planet. And now trading can be done not just on the phone, but with the phone, using apps like Robinhood and eToro.
So, how is day trading done? Through trading platforms. But every trading platform is different. We have looked at quite a few, and now we are going to show you some of the best day trading platforms.
10 Best Day Trading Platforms in the UK 🇬🇧️
|1. eToro||★★★★★||Open Account|
|2. TD Ameritrade||★★★★★||Open Account|
|3. Interactive Brokers||★★★★★||Open Account|
|4. TradeStation||★★★★★||Open Account|
|5. ZacksTrade||★★★★★||Open Account|
|6. Fidelity||★★★★★||Open Account|
|7. eTrade||★★★★★||Open Account|
|8. Webull||★★★★★||Open Account|
|9. Charles Schwab||★★★★★||Open Account|
|10. Ally||★★★★★||Open Account|
1. eToro – Best Overall Day Trading Platform
It is hard to go wrong with eToro.
Because day trading rewards the fundamentals of day trading so much, the best overall day trading platform is going to be the one that supports those fundamentals.
What does this mean? Well, it means that eToro offers you three things:
- A huge market to buy and sell different securities
- A great knowledgebase to learn about the different markets, industries, and trading methods
- A community that is willing to teach, organize, and communicate about the market
The huge market might seem self-explanatory. But one of the best things about eToro is that, due to its size, even if you have been around the block a couple of times as far as trading goes, it still has some ways of surprising you. In short, it trades just about every kind of security, even hard to find securities.
The knowledgebase operates on two fronts: The first is the teaching tools for people who are new to day trading, while the other is research and analysis tools for those who are more experienced.
Finally, the community ensures that even should you find a trade that eToro does not support, you can still make the trade by discussing it on a personal level with the people you want to trade with. You can also learn a lot from asking community members questions and get trades from answering questions.
While eToro is generally acknowledged as being the gold standard of day trading apps due to its size and versatility, that same size and versatility can scare some people off. It is a dense and complex platform. Even with all the interface conveniences it has, it is still going to be hard to navigate for a newcomer.
There are growing pains associated with eToro due to its size. Even once you have an idea of what to look for, you are still being assaulted by information just by using the platform. This might make it overwhelming for some traders, from new to old traders, so keep it in mind.
2. TD Ameritrade – Best Support System
No one is going to get far in the world of day trading without help. It is tempting to indulge in the fantasy of the entrepreneur. This is the notion that anyone can get rich in the free market as long as they have the grit, determination, and ability to grow and learn from their mistakes.
While this is not wholly untrue, it is a viewpoint of the market that will make things a lot harder for you.
TD Ameritrade provides huge markets and lots of different securities that can be traded very rapidly. But the main thing it provides to make sure you can actually trade these things effectively is support.
What does support mean? It means that you are not trading in the dark. There is a knowledgebase to teach you the basics, as many platforms have. And there is the research and analysis articles, which are less common but still prevalent. But beyond those, there is an actual financial support team.
This is something that almost no platform has. When they do have a support team it is usually dedicated to helping you with long term investments. What sets TD Ameritrade’s support team apart is the fact that they will help guide you through stock trading, from the basics to high level analysis.
This is all on top of TD Ameritrade’s lack of commission or account fees. This is an important note for two reasons: The first is that some people will look a gift horse in the mouth. They do not trust the financial advice of someone that they are paying, since it is possible for that advice to be self-serving.
The second is that it means that you can trade frequently, as day traders often do, and not incur a steep commission cost from that. This means it is cheaper to iterate on your strategy on this platform.
Most often when people are dissatisfied with TD Ameritrade it is because it puts barriers between you and the risky investments. Putting barriers between the user and the most common way that the user loses money is not an unreasonable thing to do, but many high level traders find it frustrating.
The issue here is that the more risky an investment is, the more tempting of a prize it usually is. While those investments are still available on the platform, it can feel like you need the platform’s permission in order to access them. For someone looking to trade in exactly those risky securities, that is a problem.
3. Interactive Brokers – Best Cash Integration
The reason why most people trade is to make money they can spend. This statement is probably so obvious that it sounds like the preface to a trick question.
If not that, then why do people trade?
Well, some people trade for the long term. Making investments that will appreciate over years so that they can make retirement accounts or pay for their kids’ school.
Others trade purely for control. They buy stocks so that they can eventually own a controlling interest in a company.
But of course, the most common reason to trade is for money to spend. This puts platforms in an awkward position, as they frequently have to represent all of these goals equally even though trading to make money is the most common reason. Interactive Brokers has some advantages on that front.
What Interactive Brokers offers is an integration between your banking account and your trading account. This integration can work with practically all banks, meaning that you can easily transfer money between the two accounts. This is a feature usually reserved for platforms attached to specific banks.
In those cases, you have to have a bank account with that specific bank in order to integrate it with your trading account. Not with Interactive Brokers. You can take loans, transfer money, and buy all manner of securities on the daily, all with the same account that you use to pay rent.
This is a convenience feature though. How much will it really impact things? Well, consider that one of the most popular ways of day trading is trading on margin. That means using a loan to buy and sell stock and using the money you make to make payments on the loan.
Because you trading account is linked to your bank account, there is a layer of insurance to the loan that other platforms do not have. This contributes to Interactive Brokers having extremely low interest rates.
Interactive Brokers might have some niche features that other platforms do not, but as we said earlier, its biggest draw is essentially a convenience feature. No one who is firmly entrenched in another platform is going to view it as adequate reason to switch over.
Especially since their knowledgebase lacks in-depth analytics. This means that while it is a good knowledgebase for new traders learning the ropes, it does not have a lot to help you level up.
In addition to this, it has a good number of securities you can trade but the lack of community tools means that those are all that you will ever trade through Interactive Brokers. Most people will not be bothered by this, as it only offends people doing really niche trades.
But again, this all makes it appealing to people who do not already trade, while not giving strong incentive to go there over a place that you already know how to use.
4. TradeStation – Best Learning Tools
We covered the best support system, but that was a very unique situation. Most times, people do not want or even know how to use a learning tool that is styled like a customer support team.
No, the more traditionally recognized way of learning how trade is by using the oft-referenced knowledgebases. But even among knowledgebases there is some variety in how they’re presented.
For instance, most knowledgebases are full of charts that are hard to read at best, and articles that are horribly dry at worst. You can strain your eyes looking at knowledgebases that are presented in the “traditional” manner. That is what TradeStation does to set itself apart so well.
TradeStation’s biggest claim to fame is its multimedia learning network. What does this mean? Well, it means that it relies on neither one method nor one voice to communicate its information.
There are articles, sure, and graphs, though in both cases they are easier to read and understand than most. But there are also videos to help demonstrate things visually. There are interactive tools to help you learn by actually taking actions rather than just watching. And of course, there are podcasts.
One of the big things that this does is that it means you can learn no matter what your learning style is. The biggest obstacle many people face when learning how to trade stocks is that it is like learning a language. You have to learn how to learn how to trade stocks.
TradeStation provides all these tools in the interest of reducing the number of barriers between you and learning. The best part is that these tools are not limited to learning the basics. Far from it—there are as many if not more videos and podcasts focusing on advanced skills as there are those focusing on basics.
Which makes sense, as TradeStation does not shy away from more complex securities. Whether you want to trade CFDs, options, futures, bonds, or something really complicated like ETFs, you can. There are both the tools to trade those things, and the tools to learn about them at all levels.
The issue with TradeStation is obvious for day traders: It has commission fees. In fact, it has a lot of curious pricing going on with it. This should not necessarily be taken as a bad thing. What you have to remember about trade platform pricing is that most platforms use lots of hidden fees.
TradeStation lists every single one of its fees on its site. That means you are not going to get bitten in the butt by hidden fees, but you will have to navigate fees that are not hidden to make a profit.
5. ZacksTrade – Best International Trading
When you are trying to make it big on the stock market, there are a few simple truths you have to face. The first is that you are going to have to deal with America. No one wants to. But everyone has to. There are just too many currencies tied to the United States for businesses to not base themselves there.
But what surprises people is that you also have to deal with Australia and Hong Kong. These are the west’s gateway to the eastern markets. If you want to trade globally, you have to connect with them.
But not every platform allows you to do this. That is where ZacksTrade comes in. ZacksTrade connects the stock markets of 19 different countries, including the New York, London, and Sydney stock exchanges. It is also regulated by the regulatory bodies of all those countries.
This means that there are few platforms that are going to be as reliable in their business as ZacksTrade. It also means that ZacksTrade will have more resources on tax information, loan policies, and other financial rules and laws for those other countries.
That kind of connectivity is what the internet was built for, and it also allows you to engage in financial exploits that were impossible ten to twenty years ago. Before the internet, getting a loan from a bank in another country was considered the exclusive domain of sovereign governments and organized crime.
But with platforms like ZacksTrade, you can get loans from an American bank to buy stocks from a Japanese company using an index on the Australian stock exchange. It is not recommended that you do this, as you can easily mix yourself up with which country owns what money, but it is an option.
Of course, ZacksTrade also gives you access to tons of different securities. It would be weird if it didn’t, given the different markets you can trade in. They also have low margin rates for their own loans, which is good considering the strange places the loan money might end up.
ZacksTrade is definitely not a beginner’s trading platform. While there are some tutorials there, ZacksTrade definitely has a weaker knowledgebase, focused more on using their exclusive tools than actually learning how to trade. It also has commission fees, but they are relatively low.
The main way that ZacksTrade provides you with information on how to trade is through its research subscriptions. These are not nothing, but they are far more dry and academic than most learning tools. They provide the kind of tone and nuance of a textbook, which turns most people off.
In short, this is absolutely not a beginner’s platform. It lets you make use of the full 24 hour day, but that can be as demanding as it is rewarding. Consider this before you open an account, but especially consider this before you make a trade in a time zone on the other side of the planet.
6. Fidelity – Best Non-Income Day Trading
When people who do not pay their bills with trade take part in the stock market, they are doing it for things like retirement and their kids’ college funds.
Day trading is done is such a short timescale that it cannot support these things as easily. This is something that day trading inherits from other forms of trade. When people who do not pay their bills with trade take part in the stock market, they are doing it for things like retirement and their kids’ college funds. Day trading is done is such a short timescale that it cannot support these things as easily.
Fidelity seeks to fill that niche. From their account options to their securities to their knowledgebase, Fidelity makes a point of helping you commit a portion of your day trading earnings to long term investments. These investments include retirement funds, college funds, trust funds, and much more.
They even offer tax help. This is important since so many of these kinds of funds are tax deductible.
Fidelity offers account options that are directly linked to savings funds. This is a simple matter, as it just means that a portion of your daily earnings goes to a savings account of your choosing.
Their securities are less simple but can still help you save. While it is not their main focus, Fidelity gives you access to far more mutual funds and indexes than most day trading platforms. This allows you to invest in both securities that yield a lot in one day, as well as those that are focused on the long term.
And of course, Fidelity has a knowledgebase that helps you understand how to invest for the long term. Since most people coming to the platform are day traders, the long term is not just stocks that they out in the long term (since those are too slow for many day traders).
Rather, the long term also includes different methods of organizing your money and filing your taxes to get the most value out of it while you are not using it. This information is all available in article form, interactive form, as well as help from a support network of specialists.
As you might expect, doing so much to help people get their long term finances sorted out means that it can sometimes feel like it is not a day trading platform at all. That is not the case; Fidelity has lots of ways to help day traders plan long term investments. But you definitely have to work to find them.
This barrier is going to prove to be too steep for some people. It is not made any easier by the fact that Fidelity’s user interface is extremely counterintuitive. Being counterintuitive is almost worse than being bad. The difference is that if something is bad, it makes you think that it just does not work.
In the case of an interface being bad you can at least figure out what does work. But when something is unintuitive, that means it does not work how it seems like it should work. Or even worse, it is inconsistent. This is the problem that Fidelity’s interface has.
But, if you are a day trader that wants tools for long term investment (both in securities and in your own banking) then Fidelity is the place to go.
7. eTrade – Best High Yield Investment
Not all day traders are starting from the same spot. It sucks to admit, but some people are going to start with loans that are bigger than others. Ten thousand dollars from a bank, or a university, or £756,000 from their parents. Remember, there are people who start with “small loans” of £3,778,000.
If you are lucky enough to be one such person, then eTrade is going to be one of the best platforms upon which to do day trading. The reason is simple: Their high end portfolio management options are the best in the business. No one else even comes close.
But what do high end portfolio management options mean? Well, a high end portfolio is any portfolio in excess of £75,600. The reason why this category of portfolio exists is because at that amount of money, you probably are not going to (or at least should not) spend it all in a day while day trading.
Because you cannot possibly access your entire portfolio in a single day, that means that you have an amount of money that is essentially losing value by not gaining value. High end portfolio management means finding places for that money to go, either in the moment or in the future.
Usually that means tying the money up in as many securities as possible. You can still day trade in things like futures, CFDs, and binary options. All of these are securities that are unlikely to pay out the same day you buy them (although they can). But of course, you can spend some of your day buying them.
What eTrade does is that it gives you help, both through bots and actual support agents, that help you manage your cash flow in this manner. These accounts will cost extra money, but it is essentially necessary when you are working with enough money.
Consider that while you have outstanding CFDs, futures, and binary options, you can still trade the money and contracts that you have in your possession even if they are technically promised to someone else. As long as you have the money you need when it actually gets transferred, it does not matter.
You have probably already guessed that all this high yield investment stuff is both risky and complicated. This is a true assessment on both counts. You do not get to access these tools unless you have a lot to lose and the willingness to lose it. The only thing you can show up lacking is the knowledge to keep it.
For that reason, eTrade is not just an advanced platform. It is also pretty underequipped to help anyone that does not show up with more than £7,556. This is aided somewhat by their margin trading tools, but margin has a habit of turning even the most stable investments into risky endeavours.
In short, know what you are getting into with eTrade.
8. Webull – Best Margin Day Trading
Margin is one of the most popular methods of ensuring that you make a profit off of day trading. But what is margin?
We have mentioned it a few times, so let’s define it for anyone who is new.
Marin trading is when you take a loan in order to trade. Imagine that you want to trade but you have no money. There is a stock that you know you can make a profit off of, if only you had £75. You make a pitch to a lender about how certain you are that this stock will yield you a profit. They give you the loan.
Now, imagine you make £113 off of that £75 loan. The company you took the loan from will probably want £79 to £94 as payment for the loan. So, you profit somewhere between £19 and £34.
All things considered, not bad considering you started off with £0 and an idea of how to make money. The big thing that you will notice is the massive difference in how much money you make at a high interest rate versus a low interest rate. Interest rates are established based on a few different metrics.
But while credit score and the current state of the economy are both important factors in how much interest is on your loan, the most important is who you are getting the loan from.
Webull makes it easy to get low interest rate loans that you can use to day trade. They offer plenty of securities to trade them on, as well as a suite of analytics to help you make the best trades you can.
The issues with Webull are hardly deal breakers: Firstly, Webull is not that remarkable beyond its loans’ low interest rates. Everything about it is good, but nothing really stands out. Not the markets it is connected to, not its knowledgebase, and definitely not the securities it provides.
Those securities are definitely the weakest link, as it lacks things like foreign currency and cryptocurrency. That means that it does a lot to support day traders in the most traditional sense, but while its interface is above average it is definitely not rocketing its features towards the future.
9. Charles Schwab – Best Beginner Platform
If you have never traded on the stock market before, then day trading is a pretty bold first step to take. There are two things that you need to look out for in a platform in order to make your first forays into day trading as good as they can be: Places to learn, and places that are going to try and scam you.
Obviously you are looking to invest in the first one and avoid the second one.
But if you are new to the industry then it might not be clear what makes a scam a scam. Charles Schwab helps you with that in two ways: The first is by not being a scam itself, and the second is by showing you how to spot one.
The big indicator that a broker, platform, security, or even individual trade is a scam is a lack of transparency. If you look at a platform and see that their pricing methods are not clear or partly hidden, then that is a strong indication that they are trying to get money out of you through hidden fees.
Charles Schwab shows their whole pricing system up front. Not only that, but they also have an incredibly lenient pricing system for day traders by having low commission fees.
While it is good for new day traders in a lot of ways, Charles Schwab can also be a bit much for a first timer due to putting its pricing up front in this manner. It is a trade off you have to accept whenever you go into the market for the first time.
The big difference as to how Charles Schwab is complex compared to other platforms is that they are great at explaining why they have things priced the way they are. They might not have the biggest number of securities or the deepest investment tools, but what they do have is well tutorialized.
10. Ally – Best Robo Advisor
You know you are living in the future when the word “robo advisor” actually means something. But just what does it mean? It means that Ally is a platform that provides you with an automated trade advisor.
This trade advisor operates in one of two ways: Either according to its default algorithm, or by settings that you input yourself.
The default algorithm assumes you are new until you start making trades, and then it starts giving you advice on how to best maximize your trades.
Alternatively, you can input what sort of trades you want. This will make the robo advisor advise you based on those preferences, rather than trying to figure out what you want. Other trading platforms have robo advisors, but none of them are as accurate or as customizable as Ally’s.
In addition to this, ally has great interest rates and low commission fees. They still have commission fees, which will turn off some day traders, but they lack any hidden account fees to make up for it. The best way to think of it is that you are paying a premium for the robo advisor.
Of course, with so much focus being put on the advisor, the platform is going to feel like it holds your hand for advanced traders. It also lacks more risky securities, and has commission fees.
In general, it is a platform that is going to appeal to beginner investors very heavily. It does not feature many of the usual trading platform trappings. Any knowledgebase or analytics it has are presented by the bot that guides you through things. This bot also helps with the interface.
Because of this, it has good presentation, however limited it may be.
Because day trading is defined by buying and selling securities in a single day, you should get into it expecting to make profits and losses in a single day as well.
This is some harsh scrutiny to put on yourself, but it is better to think of it in these terms and be realistic than not.
Money is always losing value to inflation. If you are only breaking even, or even when you are making small profits, the money you are making is essentially shrinking in your hand. While long term investments do exist, day trading is not about them. It is about maximising your profits.
You should evaluate the quality of these platforms by how they help your strategy seize those profits. Apply that harsh scrutiny as much to the platform as you do to yourself, and visa versa.