Day traders are people who attempt to beat the markets and earn profits by making short-term trades that take advantage of market inefficiencies, volatility, or other trends. They often buy and sell the same security on the same day or, in some cases, multiple times per day.
To efficiently day trade, these investors need the best apps available. Here are some of the best apps for day trading and what they excel at.
The best day trading apps of October 2021
Day trading apps each serve a different audience based on their strengths. Here are the best day trading apps for different qualities, features, uses, or types of traders.
- Best for beginners: Robinhood
- Best for cross-platform access: TD Ameritrade
- Best for options: e*Trade
- Best for cryptocurrency: Webull
- Best for advanced traders wanting research: Interactive Brokers
- Best for advanced traders wanting mobile charting: TradeStation
- Best for overall investing needs: Fidelity
- Best for satisfaction guarantee: Charles Schwab
Best for beginners: Robinhood
Robinhood excels at making it easy to start investing using their mobile app. You can start trading stocks with as little as $1 because they support fractional share investing.
People just starting to day trade may not understand the industry jargon well. Robinhood offers a free in-depth resource defining common investing terms and strategies that anyone can learn from.
Robinhood allows you to trade stocks and ETFs listed on U.S. exchanges, as well as options for those stocks and ETFs. They also offer crypto trading for a handful of popular cryptocurrency options.
… Or read our Robinhood review.
Best for cross-platform access: TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade offers in-depth trading across three different platform options:
- Mobile app
All three platforms are known by the brand name thinkorswim. While each platform has its strengths, the mobile app has quite a few fantastic features.
The mobile app can access your preferences and settings from the thinkorswim desktop platform and sync your market scans easily. The app has over 300 technical indicators and charts that you can use to identify market movements.
It may make sense to use these tools to find potential trades. You also get access to an analyze feature to evaluate potential risk and profitability scenarios for your holdings.
… Or read our TD Ameritrade review.
Best for options: e*Trade
e*Trade offers the best app for trading options, thanks to a few of their features. First, they have two different apps depending on your trading strategy. These are the e*Trade mobile app and Power e*Trade app.
Trading options generally isn’t commission-free. Instead, you have to pay a small fee per options contract. e*Trade offers some of the lowest fees at 50 cents per equity or index contract when you place at least 30 stock, ETF, or options trades per quarter. They also offer futures contracts at $1.50 per contract. They even allow you to close short options positions priced at 10 cents or less for free.
Their Power e*Trade app has a suite of options trading tools. These include risk/reward probabilities, customizable options chains, an earnings move analyzer, preset scans, spectral analysis, strategy seek, and risk slide.
Read our e*Trade review.
Best for cryptocurrency: Webull
Webull recently released the ability to trade cryptocurrency on its mobile app. Their selection quickly made them the best investing app for cryptocurrency on this list.
For those interested in how to buy cryptocurrency, Webull offers seven popular cryptocurrencies without charging a commission to trade. However, they do mark up the cryptocurrency by 100 basis points, or 1%, which is built into the price you buy at.
Webull’s supported cryptocurrencies include:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- ZEC (ZEC)
- XLM (XLM)
Webull supports both limit and market orders for the cryptocurrencies they offer with a minimum trade amount of $1 or a partial coin amount of 0.00000001 coins.
... Or read our Webull review.
Best for advanced traders wanting research: Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers offers an app that is geared toward more advanced investors. In general, this brokerage focuses on active traders wanting to maximize gains, which is perfect for day traders.
One area Interactive Brokers excels at is the research they provide their customers. You’ll have access to advanced quotes and research within the mobile app, including over 50 data columns. The app also provides institutional-quality research, which is vital for day traders looking for an edge.
The app provides the ability to trade advanced order types and use trading tools to trade stocks, futures, options, futures options, forex, and other investments. In total, you’ll have access to over 135 markets across the globe within this app.
Best for advanced traders wanting mobile charting: TradeStation
TradeStation is another investment app aimed toward advanced investors thanks to their suite of trading tools. In particular, Tradestation excels in the charting aspect of their mobile app. TradeStation’s app allows you to add technical studies to their charts. You can also modify the parameters to fit your needs.
Some other apps may not offer chart drawing on their app due to the limited size of a mobile screen. TradeStation’s app supports drawing tools, which can be very useful for a day trader.
The app also offers other essential features, including streaming quotes in real-time, options spread strategies, price depth monitoring, and real-time alerts.
Read our TradeStation review.
Best for overall investing needs: Fidelity
Founded in 1946, Fidelity is a traditional powerhouse in the brokerage firm space. Today, they’re one of the largest U.S.-based investment management firms. Other apps may focus on the niche needs of certain types of clients, but Fidelity offers their clients a wide variety of account types, investment options, and app choices.
In addition to the standard iOS and Android apps, they even offer apps for Apple Watch, Apple TV, and Amazon devices. Their apps allow you to view market research, extended hours chart data, and a watch list based on your selections, as well as make trades from anywhere.
Best for satisfaction guarantee: Charles Schwab
In a unique move for the brokerage app industry, Charles Schwab offers a money-back guarantee. It won’t reimburse you for investment losses, but Charles Schwab will refund applicable fees and commissions. This guarantee allows you to try out their service with the potential for a fee refund if you aren’t happy.
The Charles Schwab satisfaction guarantee is limited to specific fees, and the refund request must be made within 90 days of the fee being charged. It doesn’t apply to interest on margin loans.
Schwab also offers rewards credit cards that can help you earn points and cash back that can increase the balance in your investment account. If this sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out the Schwab Investor Card from American Express and the American Express Platinum Card for Schwab.
What is day trading?
When we imagine the high-paced stereotype of who we see trading stocks on Wall Street, the image of the day trader is what often comes to mind. Day trading is the act of buying and selling investments on the same day in an attempt to profit from short-term movements in investment prices. People can day trade any asset that they can buy and sell quickly, including stocks, cryptocurrency, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), commodities, options, currencies, and more.
The regulator agency FINRA — which stands for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. — takes things one step further and defines what they call pattern day traders. A pattern day trader is someone who trades four or more times in five business days and whose number of day trades is more than six percent of their total trading activity for the five-day period.
Pattern day traders must adhere to specific day trading requirements from FINRA or have their activities restricted. Per FINRA, “Under the rules, a pattern day trader must maintain minimum equity of $25,000 on any day that the customer day trades. The required minimum equity must be in the account prior to any day-trading activities. If the account falls below the $25,000 requirement, the pattern day trader will not be permitted to day trade until the account is restored to the $25,000 minimum equity level.”
But as long as you can meet these rules or stay below the pattern day trader threshold, then you are free to day trade. And today, people have more access to trading stocks and other investments thanks to the growing number of outstanding mobile trading apps and online brokers. This means people can day trade from anywhere, including their workplace or the phone they carry in their pocket. Since timing is a big part of the day trading strategy, this access is a game-changer.
In addition, many of these apps don’t charge commissions for trades and have low account minimums, which means there are fewer barriers to day trading than ever before.
The pros and cons of day trading
Day trading isn’t for everyone, but certain people tend to gravitate toward this activity. People looking for a fun way to entertain themselves with a small part of their portfolio may enjoy day trading. Similarly, analytical people who enjoy coming up with strategies may seek the challenge day trading offers.
Figuring out whether day trading is suitable for you depends on many factors. Here are some points to consider before you decide.
Pros of day trading
- Potential to quickly earn profits: Day traders may purchase large quantities of an investment to make a stock price change of just a few cents turn into a decent payout.
- Can quickly reinvest profits: When you close a position at a profit, you can promptly reinvest that profit to potentially earn more.
- Take advantage of inefficiencies or overreactions: Markets don’t always act rationally. When they overreact, you can attempt to make a short-term trade before the market adjusts.
- Entertainment: While investing is serious, some people view day trading as entertainment, much like playing poker, and don’t expect to always earn a return.
Cons of day trading
- Extreme risk: It’s easy to quickly get in over your head with a couple of bad trades. If you take significant positions or trade using a margin account, your losses can add up very quickly.
- Tax consequences: Short-term trading doesn’t get preferential tax treatment, which means you’ll pay your ordinary income tax rate on profits. Day trading also requires you to input a large number of transactions on your tax return.
- Costs: While some apps allow low-cost or commission-free trading, not all do. Trading fees can add up quickly when you make many trades as a day trader.
- Time commitment: Day traders need to constantly monitor market data to find opportunities and determine the perfect time to buy and sell.
- Experts have more resources than you: Institutions and experts with large staffs, including hedge funds, professionally day trade with more information and expertise than you have.
- Pattern day trader rule: The pattern day trader rule requires identified day traders to keep $25,000 equity to continue making day trades.
Day trading won’t be a good fit for most people. Some people don’t have the $25,000 necessary to become a pattern day trader. Others may realize the risks outweigh the potential returns over long periods. While it’s true that some people have made money in day trading, past performance is never a guarantee of future returns.
If you want to get into the stock market in other ways, you can explore our lists of the best brokerage accounts or the best investment apps to find an investment option that may be a good fit for you. Given the growth of online trading, there are services to fit the needs of investors from beginner to advanced and to fit how involved versus hands-off you want to be.
How to pick the right day trading app for you
If day trading is something you want to do, then having the right trading tools will be important. While one platform may fit your needs, it may not match the needs of other investors using different strategies.
Use these factors to help you narrow down the list of day trading apps to find the one that may work best for you:
- Investment options: Make sure the platform has the investments you want to day trade, such as cryptocurrency, stocks, options, ETFs, and more.
- Costs: Each platform has its own fees for trading each investment type, but some offer no-commission or lower-cost options.
- App features: Apps don’t always have the same set of features a desktop platform offers, so make sure the app has the features you want before opening an account and transferring money into it.
- Trading platforms available: While mobile trading is great, sometimes people want to use more advanced systems on a different platform, such as a desktop.
- Research and tools: Each app may offer its own set of research and tools, such as charting, that fit different investors’ needs.
- Ease of use: Both beginners and advanced traders should look for an intuitive and easy-to-use app so it can help you reach your goals.
In determining our list of the best day trading apps, we looked at eight popular companies and evaluated them according to a set of criteria we consider critical to the consumer. We did not evaluate all companies in the category. We used editorial judgment to determine what use or user each investing app would be best for.
FinanceBuzz evaluation criteria include:
- App functionality and features: Apps aren’t always as functional as desktop trading platforms, so we looked into the functionality and features offered by each service.
- Costs: We considered the fees involved in trading and establishing an account with each app. Costs include trading costs, annual fees, margin costs, and other standard brokerage app fees.
- Investment options: We considered the types of investments you can purchase with each investment app.
- SIPC insurance: All apps are members of SIPC, providing coverage against loss due to financially troubled brokerage firms but not risk of loss due to investment pricing swings. Cryptocurrency is not covered by SIPC insurance.
- Customer experience: Apps were evaluated based on how customers can interact with the apps to perform necessary day trading functions as well as the customer support options available.
What is the best app for day trading?
The best app for day trading varies from person to person based on what they want to invest in and their goals. Someone wanting to day trade cryptocurrency needs a platform that supports it, such as Webull. On the other hand, beginners would likely be better suited to using an app like Robinhood because this app has tools to explain how the basics of investing work. Apps like e*Trade offer a wide variety of analysis tools.
Is Robinhood good for day trading?
Robinhood may be a good fit for your day trading needs if you want to focus on trading cryptocurrency, stocks, or ETFs. It can also serve beginner day traders who want free trades but aren’t looking for detailed analysis tools. Robinhood provides a great educational resource for beginner investors to learn the ins and outs of investing.
Can you day trade without 25K?
If you’re determined to be a pattern day trader, you cannot day trade without having $25,000 in equity, less any margin loan, in your account. Without the $25,000 account minimum, you cannot day trade until your account’s equity is once again brought above the $25,000 level.
Can you day trade on multiple platforms?
You can open trading accounts on as many platforms as you wish. If you’re classified as a pattern day trader on that platform, the $25,000 minimum equity requirement will kick in. If you have multiple accounts, you will have to maintain a $25,000 equity balance in each to day trade within that account.
Some people attempt to use multiple accounts as a workaround to the pattern day trader rule. As long as you stay under the four trade per five business days rule for each account, you might not be classified as a pattern day trader in that account. But even if this strategy worked — and there is no guarantee that it would — it also spreads out any funds you have across multiple accounts. This could reduce your returns due to not being able to deploy your funds efficiently for trades you feel confident in since the money won’t be all in one account.
While most people learning how to invest money probably aren’t a good fit for day trading, some people make money day trading. Make sure you thoroughly understand the pros and cons of day trading before getting started.
If you still want to give day trading a shot, be sure to evaluate the best apps for day trading mentioned above for one with the trading tools that fit your needs.