Online Brokers and Trading Platforms 2022

Compare the best online brokers and their trading platforms to make sure you pick the most appropriate to your needs. Use the comparison of spreads, range of markets and platform features to decide the best broker for you. Here we list the top online brokers in 2022, with full expert reviews of their trading platforms.

How to Compare Online Brokers

Before you can find the best internet broker for active trading you should determine your own investing style and define your individual needs – how often will you trade, when, for how much money and using which financial instruments?

Then, when choosing from all the top-rated brokers, there are several factors you can take into account.

If you simply pick the broker with lowest fees, you might have to compromise on trading platform features (or face hidden costs later).

It is best to do a comparison of several trading platforms and features, both locally and from all over the world, to find one that suits your needs.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to online brokers and their trading platforms. Platform layout might be a personal preference, likewise accounts with balances in specific currencies.

Much like traditional brokers, the best online brokerage will tick all of your individual requirements and details.

These are some of the key points and areas to compare in this competitive market:


  • Do they offer low commission rates? – As an active day trader, for example, that is placing numerous trades intraday, low commissions over a long period will bolster your overall performance. Finding online brokers with the lowest fees is crucial. See our list of best day trading brokers.
  • Do they offer attractive margin rates? – Trading on margin increases your exposure to risk on each trade, rapidly increasing both profits and losses. Use with care.
  • Do they have a complicated fee structure? – Online broker fees can rack up quickly. You need to look at the fine print to ensure you won’t get stung by hidden costs later down the line, such as when you want to withdraw your money. Having said that, the cheapest online brokers for active trading usually make up that money in other areas, such as customer service.
  • Will you need a minimum deposit?- Some online brokers will require you to put down significant capital to open an account and start investing. For example, if you’re investing at Interactive Brokers you’ll need to put down serious cash before you can get to work.
  • Does the broker have a daily activity limit? – Some limits are imposed to protect against extreme volatility and market manipulation. But the Interactive Brokers investing limit can be set by you to prevent you from losing too much capital in a set period.
  • Do they offer different account types? – Different accounts will come with varying costs and attractive perks. For example, choose between Interactive Brokers accounts and you can get lower commission fees, greater leverage and enhanced tools for technical analysis. Read more about Account types here.
  • Do they process trades fairly? – Execution speed is a complex subject, traders should focus on execution quality. This ensures their interests are better aligned with the broker. Read more about Execution Quality here.

Online Trading Platform Features

  • Do they have high tech, informative tools for research and analysis? – You will need live price quotations, and both detailed charts and access to historical data will also help you trade smarter. The top 10 online brokers all offer a multitude of tools and resources.
  • How quick and efficient is their order execution? This is massively important if you’re short-term trading, as just a few seconds could cost you serious cash. Whilst many virtual brokers offer real-time execution, there remains a slippage concern, meaning you could pay a price higher than you’d hoped. This highlights the need to test drive your online broker first.
  • How user-friendly is their trading platform? – The platform provided by the broker needs to work for you. Most online retail brokers offer several to choose from, some will tick the boxes for the average day trader, others will offer more advanced platforms for the longer-term, veteran trader. Likewise, does it suit your hardware – is the platform compatible with Mac, Windows, Linux, or whatever you use?
  • Is there a mobile platform? – It is rare for an online-only broker not to deliver a mobile app, but the quality will vary. If investing on your mobile phone is important, then checking the app’s compatibility (Android, iOS or Windows etc.) will be vital. Nowadays, many brokers are purely app-based, like Robinhood. Consider whether this is right for your trading style.

Customer Service

  • How good is their customer service? – Will you be able to quickly get in contact with someone when you need support or advice? This is particularly important if something goes wrong like a computer crash. Some brokerages offer 24/7 customer support, with call waiting times of less than one minute. This is particularly crucial when trading assets that are available to trade round the clock, such as Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency.
  • Do they have a ‘dealing desk’? – The best online brokers offer direct access. You don’t want to be sending an order to a train desk that then initiates it in the market. This is time-consuming and can result in re-quotes. By the time you’ve confirmed you want to proceed, your profit opportunity has probably vanished.

Assets and Markets

  • Do they offer the right asset classes? – Not all online brokers offer every market and asset type as they may not have access to all of them. If you know you wish to invest in gold, ETFs or fractional shares, find online brokers offering these. One broker may be great for penny stocks but be very limited in its provision of cryptocurrencies.
  • Can you access your preferred markets? – Many, though not all, online brokers are limited by geography. If you are in the UAE or Hong Kong but want to find a discount broker in India, you may not be able to invest in stock markets in Mexico or New Zealand. Some top online brokers may offer global trading services, though these are often located in bigger countries, like Japan, Australia or the USA.


  • Do they offer any attractive extras?– Any ‘Open Account’ promotions?£100 in free trades, which may not seem like a lot, could mean you can iron out any creases in your strategy before it’s your money on the line. Investing without a broker means zero free credit for trial and error.
  • Are there Account levels? Does a VIP account get free Level II data or reduced spreads?
  • What returns do you get on your cash? – You’ll find you usually have something lying around in your brokerage account. Some online brokers won’t offer you a penny on that balance, but some will give you 3-5%.
  • Strategy – Can you implement your strategy, or even use automated trading, signals or copy trading at this online platform? Perhaps you need an online broker that will allow the ability to diversify your portfolio through smaller trades, such as micro-lots or fractional shares? Does the broker allow short selling, enabling you to hedge your trades?

Final Word On Comparing Online Brokers

Do your homework and make sure your online broker can cater to your specific requirements. It’s always worth giving your potential trading platform a test.

Set up a demo account, make sure you like the platform, and send off some questions to gauge how good their customer service is. Get this choice right and your bottom line will thank you for it.

Need a shortcut? Check out the winners of the Awards this year.

Online Broker Reviews

Use this table with reviews of online brokers to compare all the trading platforms we have ever reviewed. Please note that some of these online brokers might not accept accounts being opened from your country.

If we can determine that a broker would not accept an account from your location, it is marked in grey in the table.

Compare Online Brokers:

Broker Reviews
Broker Demo Min Dep. MT4 Bonus
10TradeFX Yes $200 No Yes
12Trader Yes $500 No No
4xCube Yes $10 Yes No
5paisa No INR 450 No No
A+ Trader No $100 Yes Yes
AAAFx Yes $10 Yes Yes
AAATrade Yes 0 No Yes
Absolute Markets Yes $50 Yes Yes
AccentForex Yes $50 Yes Yes
Acorns No No No Yes
ActivTrades Yes $500 Yes Yes
ACY Securities Yes $50 Yes No
Admiral Markets Yes $100 Yes No
AdroFX Yes $25 Yes Yes
ADS Securities Yes $100 Yes No
AETOS Yes $250 Yes Yes
AGEA Yes $1 Yes Yes
Ally Invest No $0 No No
Alpari Yes From $/£/€ 5 Yes Yes
Alpha FX No N/A No No
Alpho Yes $100 No No
Alvexo Yes 500 EUR/USD Yes No
Amana Capital Yes $50 Yes Yes
AMarkets Yes $100 Yes Yes
Angel Broking Yes $0 No No
Anzo Capital Yes $100 Yes Yes
ArgusFX No $0 Yes No
Arum Capital Yes $500 No No
AskoBID No €250 No No
ATC Brokers Yes $5,000 No No
ATFX Yes 5000 $/€/£ Yes No
AvantGardeFX Yes $500 Yes No
AvaTrade Yes $100 Yes Yes
Awesome Miner No N/A No No
Axes Yes $100 No No
Axi Yes 0 $/€/£ Yes No
Axiory Yes $10 Yes No
Axos Bank No $500 No No
Ayondo Yes $100 No Yes
AZAforex Yes $1 No No
BakerySwap No 0 No Yes
Balancer No $1 No No
BCS Forex Yes $1 Yes Yes
BDSwiss Yes 100 $/€/£ Yes No
Betterment No $0 No No
Binance No $0 No No
Binarium Yes $5 No No Yes $5 Yes No
BinaryCent Yes $250 No Yes
Binomo Yes $10 No No
Bitfinex Yes $10,000 Yes Yes
Bithoven Yes $0 No Yes
Bitlocus No $0 No No
BitMEX Yes $0.01 No Yes
Bitvalex Yes $50 No No
BlackBull Markets Yes $0 Yes No
Blackwell Global Yes $250 Yes No
BlockFi Yes $0 No No
BMFN Yes $50 Yes No
BP Prime Yes $5,000 Yes No
Brokereo Yes $250 Yes No
Bulbrokers Yes $100 Yes No
BUX X Yes $50 No No
BUX Zero No $0 No Yes
Bybit Yes $0 No No
Capex Yes $100 No Yes
Capital Index Yes $100 Yes Yes Yes £/$/€20 (varies by payment method) Yes No
Celsius Yes $0 No No
CGS-CIMB Yes 100 SGD Yes No
Charles Schwab Yes $1 No No
City Credit Capital Yes $500 Yes No
CityIndex Yes £/$100 (varies by location) Yes No
CIX Markets Yes $500 Yes No
CMC Markets Yes £0 Yes No
CMSTrader Yes $500 No No
CMTrading Yes $100 Yes No
Cobra Trading Yes $30,000 ($27,000 in US) No No
Coinbase No $0 No Yes
Coinmama No $30 No No
CoinTiger No $1 No No
Colmex Pro Yes $500 Yes No
CommSec No $500 No No
Core Spreads Yes $0 Yes No
Corsa Capital Yes $1 No Yes
CPT Markets Yes $100 Yes No
CrescoFX Yes $1,000 Yes No No $0 No No
Cryptobo No 0.0000001 BTC No Yes
Daniels Trading Yes $2,000 No No
Darwinex Yes $500 Yes No
DEGIRO No 0 $/€/£ No No
DeltaStock Yes $100 Yes Yes Yes €/£/$5 No No
DIF Broker Yes Undisclosed No No
DirectFX No $100 Yes No
DMM FX Yes Undisclosed Yes No
Dove Options No 500 Yes No
Dsdaq Yes 0.001 BTC/BCH/LTC No Yes
Dukascopy Yes $100 Yes Yes
E-Trade Yes $500 Yes Yes
EagleFX Yes $10 Yes No
Easy Markets Yes €100 Yes No
EFG Hermes Yes $0 No No
Eightcap Yes £/€/$100 Yes No
Ellevest No $0 No No
Emirates NBD Securities No No minimum No No
Equiti Yes $500 Yes No
ETFinance Yes $250 Yes No
eToro Yes $10 No No
EuropeFX Yes €200 Yes No
EuroTrader Yes $0 Yes No
EverFX Yes $250 Yes Yes
eXcentral No $250 Yes No
Exinity No Trader Pro: $10,000; Trader: $100; 
World: $20 Yes No
Exness Yes $10 Yes No
Expert Option Yes $/€10 No Yes
EZ Invest Yes $500 Yes No
Fair Forex Yes $50 Yes No
FBS Yes $1 Yes Yes
FCMarket Yes $500 Yes No
FIBO Group Yes $50 Yes No
Fidelity No £25 No Yes
Financial Spreads Yes £250 No No
Financika No $200 No Yes
Finexo Yes $100 Yes No
Finotrade Yes $1,000 Yes No Yes $100 Yes Yes
Finspreads Yes £50 No No
Finvasia No $1 No No
Finveo Yes $100 Yes No
Focus Option Yes $10 No No
Fondex Yes $0 No No Yes $100 Yes Yes
Forex4you Yes $0 Yes Yes
ForexChief Yes $10 Yes Yes
ForexMart Yes 1 EUR/USD Yes Yes
ForexTB Yes $250 Yes No
Fortrade Yes $100 Yes No
FP Markets Yes $100 Yes No
Francis Drummond No No No No
Freetrade No $0 No No
FreshForex Yes $10 Yes Yes
FTX No $1 No No
Fulcrum No $0 No No
Fullerton Markets Yes $100 Yes Yes
Fusion Markets Yes $0 Yes No
Futu Yes $1500 No No
FXCC Yes $0 Yes Yes
FXCentrum Yes $10 No Yes
FXChoice Yes $100 Yes Yes
FXCL Yes $1 Yes No
FXCM Yes £300 Yes No
FXDD Yes $/£1 Yes No
FXFlat Yes €200 Yes No
FXGiants Yes $100 Yes Yes
FxGlory Yes $1 Yes Yes
FXGM No $200 No No
FxGrow Yes $100 No No
FxNet Yes $50 Yes No
FxOnUs No $100 Yes Yes
FXOpen Yes $300 Yes Yes
FXPesa Yes $5 Yes Yes
FXPIG Yes $200 Yes No
FxPlayer Yes $50 Yes Yes
FXPrimus Yes $15 Yes Yes
FxPro Yes $100 Yes No
FXTM Yes From $50 Yes Yes Yes $200 Yes Yes
Fxview Yes $200 EU clients, $50 global clients Yes No Yes $0 No No
GCI Yes $500 Yes Yes
GemForex Yes $1 Yes Yes
Gemini No $0 No No
Genesis Yes $75,000 No No
GKFX Yes €100 Yes No
Global Market Index Yes $2,000 Yes No
Global Prime Yes AUD $200 Yes No
GO Markets Yes $200 Yes Yes
Golden Brokers Yes $100 No No
GoStreams Yes $100 Yes No
Grand Capital Yes $10 Yes Yes
Hantec Markets Yes $10 Yes No
Hirose Yes $20 Yes Yes
Hodl Hodl No No No No
HotForex Yes $100 Yes No
House Of Borse Yes $5,000 Yes No
HQBroker No $250 Yes No
Hugo's Way Yes $50 Yes No
Huobi Yes $100 No Yes
HYCM Yes $100 Yes Yes
IC Markets Yes $200 Yes No
ICE FX Yes $30 Yes No
ICM Brokers Yes $300 Yes No
ICM Capital Yes $200 Yes No
IFC Markets Yes 1 USD / 1 EUR / 100 JPY Yes Yes
IFGM Yes $200 Yes No
iFOREX Yes $100 No No
IG Group Yes £250 Yes No
IIFL No 1000 Rs No Yes
IMMFX Yes 50 USD Yes Yes
Infinox Yes £1 Yes No
InstaForex Yes €200 to €50,000 (depending on account type) Yes No
Interactive Brokers Yes $10000 No No
InterForex Yes $500 No Yes
Intertrader Yes $500 Yes Yes
Invest Voyager No $10 No No
InvestEngine No £100 No No
IQ Option Yes $10 No No
IQCent Yes $250 No Yes
IronFX Yes $100 Yes Yes
ITradeFX Yes $0 No No
JFD Bank Yes $500 Yes No
JP Markets Yes $0 Yes Yes
Juno Markets Yes $100 Yes Yes
Just2Trade Yes $100 Yes Yes
JustForex Yes $1 Yes Yes
Key To Markets Yes $100 Yes No
Khwezi Trade Yes R500 Yes Yes
KLMFX Yes $250 No Yes
Kraken Yes $10 No Yes
Kucoin Yes $0 No Yes
Kyber Network No $0 No No
Land FX Yes $300 Yes Yes
Larson & Holz Yes $250 No Yes
LBLV Yes $5,000 No Yes
LCG Yes 0 $/€/£ Yes No
LDC Yes $100 Yes No
LegacyFX Yes $500 No No
LH Crypto Yes €10 No No
Libertex Yes €100 Yes No
LidyaTrade Yes $300 No Yes
Lightspeed Financial Yes $10,000 No No
LiteFinance Yes $50 Yes Yes
LiteForex Europe Yes $50 Yes No
Livemarkets Yes $250 Yes No
LMFX Yes $50 Yes Yes
LocalBitcoins No 0.0005 BTC No No
LocalCoinSwap No $0 No No
LocalCryptos No $1 No No
LQDFX Yes $20 Yes Yes
Luno No £1 No No
M1 Finance Yes $100 ($500 for IRA) No Yes
M4Markets Yes $5 Yes Yes Yes $100 Yes No
Mega Trader FX Yes $0 Yes Yes
Merrill Edge No $0 No Yes
Mitrade Yes $0 No Yes
Mitto Markets Yes $0 Yes No
Moneta Markets Yes $50 Yes Yes
Moomoo Yes $0 No No
MTrading Yes $100 Yes Yes
MultiBank FX Yes $50 Yes Yes
Nadex Yes $0 No No
Naga Yes $250 Yes Yes
NBH Markets Yes $100 Yes No
Nexo Yes $10 No Yes
nextmarkets Yes $0 No No
NiceHash Yes €1 No No
NicoFX Yes $100 Yes No
NinjaTrader Yes $50 No No
Noble Trading Yes $100 Yes Yes
NordFX Yes $10 Yes Yes
NPBFX Yes $10 Yes Yes
NSFX Yes $300 Yes No
Nuo Yes No Yes No
OANDA Yes $0 Yes Yes
OBR Invest Yes $250 Yes No
OctaFX Yes $100 Yes Yes
OKX Yes 10 USDT No Yes
Olymp Trade Yes €/$10 No No
OpoForex Yes $100 Yes Yes
Optimus Futures Yes $500 Yes No
Orbex Yes $200 Yes No
OspreyFX Yes $25 Yes Yes
Oval X Yes £250 Yes No
PancakeSwap No $1 No No
Passfolio No $1 No No
PaxForex Yes $10 Yes Yes
Paxful No From 0.005 BTC No No
Pepperstone Yes $500 recommended Yes No
Pionex No $0 No No
Plum No £2 No No
Plus500 Yes $100 No No
Pocket Option Yes $50 No Yes
Price Markets Yes $5,000 Yes No
PrimeXBT No 0.001 BTC No No
ProfitiX No $250 No No
ProOption24 Yes $200 No Yes
PU Prime Yes $50 Yes Yes Yes $0 No No
Purple Trading Yes $20 Yes No
Qtrade Yes $0 No No
Questrade Yes $1,000 No Yes
Quotex Yes $10 No Yes
RaceOption Yes $250 No Yes
Remitano No No No No
Revolut No $0 No No
Robinhood No $0 No No
RoboForex Yes $10 Yes Yes
RoboMarkets Yes $/£/€100 Yes No
Rockfort Markets Yes $200 Yes Yes
Sage FX Yes $10 Yes Yes
Saxo Bank Yes $10000 No No
Scope Markets No $500 No No
Sharekhan No $0 No No
Sheer Markets Yes $200 Yes No
SimpleFX Yes $0 Yes Yes
Skilling Yes 100 EUR/USD/GBP or 1000 NOK/SEK Yes Yes
Smart Prime FX Yes $25,000 Yes No
SmartFX Yes Undisclosed No No
SoFi Invest No $0 No No Yes $0 No No
SpeedTrader Yes $30,000 No No
Spread Co Yes £200 No No
Spreadex No £0 No Yes
SquaredFinancial Yes $100 Yes No
Stash No $1 No No
StormGain Yes $50 No No
Stratton Markets Yes £250 Yes No
StreamsFX Yes $500 Yes No
Superforex Yes $1 Yes No
SushiSwap Yes Variable No No
SVK Markets Yes $100 Yes No
Swissquote Yes $1000 Yes No
Switch Markets Yes $50 Yes Yes
Swyftx Yes $30 No No
SynergyFX Yes $50 Yes Yes
Tastyworks No $0 No No
TD Ameritrade Yes $0 No Yes
TeleTrade Yes 100 EUR/USD Yes No
Templer FX Yes $1 Yes Yes
TeraFX Yes $100 Yes No
ThinkMarkets Yes $0 Yes No
Tickmill Yes $100 Yes Yes
Tier1FX Yes $1,000 Yes No
Tiger Brokers Yes $0 No No
TIO Markets Yes $50 Yes No
Tixee Yes $250 Yes Yes
TMGM Yes $100 Yes Yes
TMS Brokers Yes $0 No No
TopFX No $50 Yes Yes
TP Global FX Yes $200 Yes Yes
Trade Nation Yes $0 Yes Yes
Trade Pro Futures Yes $2,500 Yes No
Trade Republic No $0 No No Yes $100 Yes No
Trade12 No $250 Yes No
Trade360 Yes $250 No No
TradeFW Yes $250 Yes Yes
TradeHawk Yes No minimum No No
Trader's Way Yes $10 Yes Yes
TradeStation Yes $500 Yes No
TradeTime Yes $500 Yes Yes
Tradeview Yes $100 Yes Yes
TradeZero No $200 No No
Tradier Brokerage Yes No minimum No No
Trading212 Yes €/£/$1 No No
TrioMarkets Yes $500 Yes No
TusarFX Yes $1 Yes Yes
UFX Yes $100 Yes No
Unidex No $43 No No
UOB Kay Hian No $3,000 No No
Uphold Yes $0 No No
Upstox No INR 0 No No
Uptos No $250 No No
VALR No $0 No Yes
Valutrades Yes $0 Yes No
Vanguard No $1 No No
Vantage Yes $200 Yes Yes
Varianse Yes $500 Yes No
Vault Markets No $5 Yes Yes
Videforex Yes $250 No Yes
VT Markets Yes $200 Yes Yes
Wahed Invest No $100 No No
WazirX No INR 100 No No
Wealthfront Yes $1 No No
Wealthsimple No $1 No No
Webull Yes $0 No Yes
Weltrade Yes $25 Yes No
WH SelfInvest Yes €500 Yes No
Windsor Brokers Yes $100 Yes Yes
XBTFX Yes $5 Yes No
XE Prime Yes $50 No Yes
XGlobal Markets Yes $500 No No
XM Yes 5 $/€/£ Yes Yes
XTB Yes $0 No Yes
XTrade Yes $250 No No
Yadix Yes $100 Yes Yes
ZacksTrade No $2500 No No
Zenfinex Yes $50 Yes No
Zero Markets Yes $200 Yes Yes
Zerodha No 0 No Yes
ZuluTrade Yes Broker choice dependent but balance on ZuluTrade should exceed $100 Yes No

What Is An Online Trading Platform?

Online brokers have in part become popular because of their simple online registration and easy to use online trading platforms, which make retail trading much more accessible.

The trading platform is the software used by an investor to see price data from the markets and to place orders with a broker.

Market data can either be retrieved from the broker in question, or from independent data providers like Thomson Reuters. In this section, we detail how to pick the best online trading platform.

Normally, an online broker will offer their customers a branded trading platform that’s more or less unique to that individual broker, but there are also independent solutions that can connect to multiple online brokers.

An independent platform can be a good choice for the experienced trader, whereas using a broker’s own platform is the easiest way to get started for beginners.

How an Independent Trading Platform Works
How an Independent Online Trading Platform Works

Online Trading Platform Features

The best online trading platform will have a combination of features to help the trader analyse the financial markets and place trade orders quickly. In particular, a top-rated platform will offer excellent implementations of these features:

  1. Access to current and historic market data – A trader needs to be notified of market price changes as soon as possible to be able to act before an opportunity is gone or a loss has materialised. Historic data is necessary for technical analysis and backtesting of strategies. Not all online trading platforms have a backtesting feature, though, so check before you commit to a specific piece of software.
  2. Charting and other visual aids – Trends and market sentiment are best visualised through different charts and plotting of relevant technical indicators.
  3. Order execution – Once you have decided to place a trade, it needs to be executed on the market immediately. A great online broker platform will execute orders in less than a second. Investors that use automated trading want even faster execution, usually counted in milliseconds, depending on the strategy used and how price-sensitive it is.
  4. Automated investing – A trading platform that offers automation capabilities enables a trader to make market moves even if he/she is not at the computer at the time. The classic “stop loss” feature is a simple form of automation, but there are much more advanced platforms that enable you to program your own robot to carry out elaborate strategies or to react much faster than you can do yourself.
  5. Broker independence (optional) – You might want to become an expert on all the features of your online platform but still have the option to change which broker you use. The solution is an independent trading platform (listed below), that can connect to several different online brokers.

Compare Brokerage And Online Platforms

Independent Trading Platform Comparison

An independent trading platform is used for visualising market data and managing your investment portfolio, but it needs to connect to one or more online brokers to actually place a trade on the market.

These professional investing platforms typically offer a more advanced interface than that of the average brokerage and help you to find and place trades with one or more online brokers of your choosing.

Using an independent platform you don’t have to relearn a whole new software just because you change to a different broker.

Independent platforms often come with advanced features such as enhanced charting and pattern analysis, automated trading and investing alerts/signals. Different online trading platforms have different strengths.

Note – Not all online brokers support this kind of integration with independent platforms, so use our reviews to find ones that do.

Live Accounts

When choosing between online brokers, you also need to consider the types of accounts on offer. For example:

  • Do they offer cash and/or margin accounts?
  • Can you get managed accounts?
  • Do they offer a single standard account or do they offer different account levels?

The account that is right for you will depend on several factors, such as your appetite for risk, initial capital and how much time you have to trade. With that said, below is a breakdown of the different options, including their benefits and drawbacks.

Cash Accounts

Most online brokers offer a standard cash account. This is simply when you buy and sell securities with the capital you already have, instead of using borrowed funds or margin. Most online brokers will offer a cash account as their standard, default option.


There are several benefits to cash accounts. Firstly, because there is no margin available, cash accounts are relatively straightforward to open and maintain.

Also, you have less risk than margin accounts because the most you can lose is your initial capital. Finally, you don’t have to pay the interest costs that come with margin accounts.


Investing with a cash account also means you have less upside potential because there is no leverage. For example, the same gain on a cash and margin account might represent a 50% difference in returns because margin accounts require far less capital.

In addition, you have to wait for funds to settle in a cash account before you can trade again. At some online brokers, this process can take several days.

Overall then, the absence of margin means these accounts probably aren’t the right fit for the majority of active traders.

Margin Accounts

Most online brokers will offer a margin account. Essentially, margin trading allows you to borrow capital to increase your position size. For example, you may only pay half of the value of a purchase and your broker will loan you the rest.

Note – trading platforms often apply margin restrictions on certain securities during periods of high volatility and short interest.

Local regulation may also impact the margin or leverage offered, for example, the FCA in the UK have now said retail investors there are not able to trade cryptocurrencies on margin. ASIC in Australia and the SEC in the US currently take a different view.


Margin accounts come with several benefits;

Firstly, you can choose when you pay back your loan, as long as you stay within maintenance margin requirements.

Secondly, you can leverage assets to magnify your position size and potentially increase your returns (or any losses).

Also, interest rates are normally lower than credit cards or bank loans.

Finally, if you have a concentrated portfolio, you may be able to use existing securities as collateral for a margin loan.


Despite the benefits, there are serious risks. With a cash account, you can only lose your initial capital, however, a margin call could see you lose more than your initial deposit. You also have interest charges to factor in.

In addition, you need to check maintenance margin requirements. If not, you could get short-squeezed resulting in forced liquidation from a margin call.

Overall then, margin accounts are a sensible choice for active traders with a reasonable tolerance for risk.

Managed Accounts

Some online brokers also offer managed accounts. A managed trading account is simply when the capital belongs to you, the trader, but the investment decisions are made by professionals.

These might be referred to as an advisor on the account – these advisors have complete control of trades. There are two standard types of managed accounts:

  1. Pooled Funds – With this type of account your capital goes into a mutual fund along with other traders’ capital. The returns will then be distributed between the investors. Normally, online brokers divide these accounts according to risk appetite. For example, those looking for large returns may put their funds into a pooled account with a high risk/reward ratio. Those looking for more consistent profits would probably opt for a safer fund. Minimum investments for pooled accounts are around $2,000.
  2. Individual Accounts – With this account, your broker will manage your capital individually and make investment decisions tailored to your needs. The main benefit is having an experienced professional on your side. However, you will pay for that privilege with account maintenance fees and commissions. In addition, some online brokers will impose high minimum investments of at least $10,000.

Overall, managed accounts are a good fit for those who have significant capital but little time to actively trade. However, those with less capital and those with time or the inclination to enter and exit positions themselves may be better off with an unmanaged account.

PAMM accounts fall into this category.

Account Levels

Some online discount brokers, common in India for day trading, will offer just a standard live account. However, others will offer numerous account levels with varying requirements and a range of additional benefits.

For example, a Bronze account may be an entry-level account. Here you may get access to chat rooms, a weekly newsletter and some financial announcements and commentary. These entry-level accounts normally have low deposit requirements.

If you were to deposit more, say over $1000 and make a certain number of trades each month, then you may be eligible for a Silver account. This may grant you access to courses, a personal account executive and more in-depth market commentary.

Deposit a bit more, $5000 for example, and you may be eligible for a Gold account. For this you could get:

  • 10% deposit bonuses
  • Daily market research
  • Referral incentives
  • A dedicated mentor
  • Telephone access to an active investing community

Finally, some online brokers will offer a top tier account, such as a VIP account. To qualify for this account you might need to deposit upwards of $20,000. You may also need to trade 500 lots quarterly, for example.

However, for your larger deposit, you might get even more hands-on help, as well as greater deposit bonuses, free trades and other financial incentives. You may also get full access to a wide range of educational and technical resources.

So, the best discount brokers will offer a number of account types to meet individual capital and trade requirements. It’s also worth bearing in mind that generally, the more you can invest the greater the perks and trading experience.

Final Word on Accounts

When choosing between online brokers, you need to consider whether they have the right account for your needs. The main factors to consider are your risk tolerance, initial capital and how much you will trade.

Note you can also open different accounts if you want to use several different strategies.

Regulation & Licensing

One key consideration when comparing online brokers is that of regulation. There are several different regulatory bodies around the world. The reputation of these authorities varies, but almost all can give consumers a high level of confidence in the online brokers they license. Here are some of the most highly ranked regulators;

  • FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) – UK regulator, with responsibility for all forms of trading and market speculation
  • CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) – US Regulator overseeing broker
  • SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) – US regulator for exchanges and markets
  • FSB (Financial Services Board) – South African Regulator
  • CySEC (Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission) – Cypriot regulator, often used to ‘passport’ regulated brands across Europe
  • BaFin (The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority / Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht) – German regulator
  • Financial Supervisory Authority Denmark (Finanstilsynet)

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) also offers an over-arching guide to all European regulators, imposing certain rules across Europe as a whole – including leverage caps, negative balance protection, and a blanket ban on binary options.

These rules only apply to retail traders, not professional accounts. Any broker regulated by an ESMA approved authority can legally trade in any EU country, including Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Poland, Luxembourg, Ireland and Greece.

Many jurisdictions do not require financial services to be regulated by their national authority to be able to trade.

Therefore, online brokers can operate by being regulated offshore or with one of the authorities mentioned above.

Examples include Switzerland, Bulgaria, the Bahamas, African nations, such as Ghana, Zambia, Nigeria, Kenya or Egypt and those across Asia, including, the Philippines, Malaysia, Pakistan, Oman, Qatar, Dubai, Korea, Thailand and Kuwait.

Online Broker Regulation

How To Try An Online Broker For Free

A demo account is a great way for beginners to practice and test a broker or trading platform without using real money. A demo account is funded with simulated money, so you can try out the online broker’s platform features and get familiar with acting on the markets.

A warning though – even the best practice platform can’t replicate the pressures that come with having real money on the line, but it’s a great way to learn the basics and get started with zero risks.

Read more about Demo Accounts

How Online Brokers Make Money

Even among the top online brokers, you will find contrasting business models. Having said that, there are two main types:

  1. Market Makers
  2. Over-the-counter (OTC) brokers

Market Makers

Some of the best online brokers for day trading are market makers. Market makers are constantly ready to either buy or sell, so long as you pay a certain price. That means they may lose out in price shifts before they find a buyer/seller.

But, of course, for taking that risk, they seek compensation. So they set the bid price marginally lower than listed prices while setting the ask price slightly higher. That tiny margin is where they will make their money.

Now that may seem like an insignificant amount. However, tens of thousands of trades are placed each day through good online brokers for day trading that use these systems. Unsurprisingly, those minute margins can quickly add up.

Note online brokers using this model normally offer either fixed or variable spreads:

  • Fixed spreads – By definition, these do not change, regardless of what is happening in the markets. Due to the additional risk, fixed spreads tend to be wider than variable spreads.
  • Variable spreads – Fluctuate in response to market conditions. For example, during the London and New York overlap, an increase in liquidity leads to tight spreads.

Let’s take a look at an example – if you want to sell 50 shares of Tesla, good market makers will buy your shares, regardless of whether they have a seller lined up yet.

However, they may buy those Tesla shares for $300 each (the ask price), while offering to sell them to another trader for $300.05 (the bid price). That $0.05 is where your online broker is making their money.

These kinds of differences directly impact trade quality – read more about that here.

OTC Brokers

Many of the best discount brokers follow an OTC business model. In fact, they are the most popular type of online broker.

The immediate lure is the apparent lack of costs and commissions. However, on the best trading platforms, it isn’t quite that simple.

Essentially, an OTC broker will act as your counterpart. They will take the opposing side of your position. As a result, you don’t have to pay a commission or fees in the same way. You are simply trading against the broker.

The best OTC futures or CFDs brokers, for example, may have both sides of the trade covered, promising a handsome margin. However, some of the best online brokers may also hedge to offset risk.

The Comparison

There are several key differences between online trading platforms that utilise these systems:

  • Increased liquidity – Effectively the best online brokers that follow the market maker model act as wholesalers, buying and selling to meet the needs of the market.
  • Costs – Without market makers, finding buyers and sellers may take longer. As a result, liquidity may drop and you may pay higher fees as entering and exiting positions becomes harder.
  • Motivation – A market maker will make money regardless of the outcome of your trade. Whereas an OTC broker has a vested interest in you losing out.

The top online brokers will often use a variation of one of these models. Check reviews to see which model a prospective broker is using to get a feel for where and how they expect to make their profit.

Broker Payment Methods

Different online brokers support different deposit and withdrawal options. The availability of one or more specific payment methods can be of importance to traders, as fees and transit times vary between methods.

For example, you might make it a hard requirement that an online broker accepts PayPal.

For some traders, it might be essential that a deposit or withdrawal is instantaneous, while others are fine with a processing time of a few days. Any trader making frequent deposits or withdrawals surely wants to look out for low transaction costs.

Cryptocurrency is on payment method about which online brokers take very different views.

Cryptocurrency deposits are slightly riskier, particularly as some stablecoins are heavily linked with other (less stable!) coins.

Below we list different payment methods, which online brokers support them along with tutorials covering everything a trader needs to know.

Different Regions

With the world migrating online, in theory, you could opt for brokers in India or anywhere else on the planet. However, there are tax considerations and regulations worth keeping in mind before you choose a broker in Australia, Singapore or anywhere outside your country of residence.

  • Tax considerations – Where you trade and where your broker is situated may affect what type of tax and how much tax you will have to pay. Will you pay capital gains tax? Will you pay net income tax? If you start investing with online brokers from Canada, will you pay tax abroad and domestically? If you’re thinking of signing up with a far afield broker, find out the tax ramifications first.
  • Regulation – Regulation is important for a number of reasons, but your financial security is one of them. Opt for online brokers regulated in well established financial systems, like the EU, USA or UK. A broker regulated in Bermuda is better than no regulation at all, but you may still encounter issues.

Canada and the US also have pattern day trading rules – but both are quite separate. Read more about this on the rules page. Just note that Canadian brokers may differ significantly from both US or European versions, and online brokers in South Africa will vary also.

Bottom Line

The online broker you choose will quite possibly be your most important investment decision. In this article, we’ve compared the top factors, helping you to evaluate what’s important to you.

Everyone’s requirements are different so there is no clear universal winner to turn to.

Once you know your requirements, you’ll then be able to compare brokerages and find the best trading platform for your needs.


What is the best online broker in 2022?

There is unfortunately no single best broker for all traders- Trading frequency and access to specific instruments or markets are important factors that vary with each individual trader.

For example, if you make many small trades, the broker’s fees and the speed of the trading platform are important considerations. You also want access to good technical charts.

For infrequent trading these things are not as critical, but perhaps having access to cryptocurrencies is, and so on. To find a broker that fits your requirements, use our list of online brokers and read the the in-depth reviews for further details.

What is the difference between a broker and a trading platform?

Many consider “broker” and “trading platform” to be the same thing, but they are in fact slightly different.

A trading platform is the software that allows a trader to put buy and sell orders on the market. A broker is the company that facilitates the actual access to the markets and carrying out those orders.

A broker may offer multiple different trading platforms to its clients, for example an in-house proprietary software along with support for the popular MetaTrader 4 independent software platform.

This allows traders to pick the one they like best, and in the case of some independent platforms like MetaTrader, to trade via multiple different brokers on the same platform.

Further Reading

For Specific Countries