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Compare the best stock trading software (2023)
Searching for stock trading software that can help you decide which stocks to buy and sell? Check out these options.
Choosing which stocks to buy can be complicated and confusing, but stock trading software can help you make informed investment decisions. Stock trading software provides you with technical analysis and charting tools to help you identify trading opportunities.
But with so many online brokers and websites to choose from, which software should you use? In this guide, we’ve gathered together a selection of the best trading software and analysis tools. Keep reading for a rundown of what they have to offer.
What is trading software?
Stock trading software is designed to help you analyze stock markets and decide which stocks to buy and sell. It can give you information about the past and present performance of a company, live stock updates and recommendations about which shares to trade.
In addition, stock trading software includes charting tools and technical analysis indicators to help you predict future market movements. You can also use the software to backtest your chosen trading strategy against the past performance of securities and different investments to give an indication of future performance.
Stock trading software may also be known as stock charting software, technical analysis software or day trading apps.
It’s also important to be aware that stock trading software is not the same as a stock trading platform. A trading platform is run by a broker and acts as an intermediary between you and a stock exchange so you can make trades. Although some packages can automate trades, stock trading software is not designed to place trades for you, but rather to help you with market analysis.
Related: Best stock picking services
What features should I consider when choosing software?
Some software is expensive, though there are affordable alternatives. It’s important to research stock trading software before you commit to making a purchase so you can be sure the features offered are the best you can get for your budget. Consider:
- Cost. How much are you willing to pay? Compare ongoing costs against one-time fees to narrow down your options.
- Speed. Speed is of the essence when it comes to trade execution. Check customer reviews for speed-specific red flags.
- Accessibility. Does the software you’re considering integrate with the hardware you plan to use? Some software only works on Windows computers — others are web-based and require an Internet connection.
- Analytics. Decide which features and analytics matter most so that the software you select best meets your needs.
- Demo account. Look for stock trading softwares with demo accounts so you can familiarize yourself with the platform before committing to a purchase.
- Indicators. Different software applications make use of different indicators. Indicators are algorithms which help you decide which stocks to trade. For example, popular market analysis software Metastock provides the RMO trading indicator, something that isn’t available with other packages such as BullCharts.
- Free trial. You can request a free trial of most stock trading analysis packages so you can test the features on offer before you buy the software.
Brokers who offer trading tools
What you can do: In addition to its regular online trading platform, E-TRADE also offers its Power E-TRADE software. Designed for active traders, Power E-TRADE offers a suite of charting tools to automatically fill charts with technical analysis patterns. You can also use customizable data points or preset options to scan for trade ideas.
What makes E-TRADE different: Over 145 chart studies and drawing tools are provided. The platform is also available as an Android and iOS app.
Best suited for: It’s best for active traders looking for in-depth analysis and research tools.
What you can do: thinkorswim is TD Ameritrade’s professional-level trading platform. Available as a desktop program or a streamlined web version, it allows you to create charts using data from over 400 technical studies. thinkorswim also allows you to scan for stocks based on a wide range of customizable filters.
What makes TD Ameritrade different: Advanced charts like monkey bars and Renko charts are available. The platform also includes thinkScript, which lets you build your own strategic testing and order execution algorithms.
Best suited for: It’s best for professional investors.
What you can do: Active Trader Pro is a downloadable trading platform that offers real-time analytics to provide you with up-to-date trading ideas. You can also use over 45 market filters, including technical and social sentiment indicators, to seek out trading opportunities.
What makes Fidelity Investments different: While advanced charting tools and technical analysis are available through Active Trader Pro, Fidelity also offers plenty of charting options and customizable indicators on its web-based platform. Best of all, Fidelity offers a range of educational resources to help you make the most of the tools available.
Best suited for: It’s best for investors who want to delve into more advanced analysis tools.
What you can do: Interactive Brokers offers a mobile app and there are charting features available in its online client portal. But if you want to conduct detailed analysis and research, it’s worth downloading the Trader Workstation desktop platform. This customizable platform features interactive charts, real-time news and access to analyst research subscriptions.
What makes Interactive Brokers different: It’s easy to connect third-party software to your account via the Interactive Brokers Investors’ Marketplace.
Best suited for: It’s best for advanced traders who want a comprehensive suite of analytics tools and investment options.
What you can do: Online broker TradeStation’s software has a heavy focus on technical analysis. Download TradeStation’s desktop platform to access RadarScreen, which offers real-time monitoring in line with over 180 customizable technical and fundamental indicators. It also provides access to a huge database of market data and allows you to backtest trading strategies.
What makes TradeStation different: This platform has won multiple awards for its brokerage and research services.
Best suited for: It’s best for traders who focus on technical analysis.
What you can do: Charles Schwab’s web-based trading platform allows you to access stock filters and in-depth fundamental research. It also lets you compare the fundamentals and analyst ratings of up to five stocks at the same time. Download its trading software, StreetSmart Edge, and you can enjoy features like custom screeners, fundamental and technical analysis tools, and advanced charting.
What makes Charles Schwab different: It offers interactive charts with technical indicators on its smartphone app.
Best suited for: It’s best for frequent traders.
What you can do: Founded in 2017, Webull offers online, mobile and desktop trading. Its features include advanced charts, multiple technical analysis indicators and access to Level 2 Quotes provided by Nasdaq TotalView.
What makes Webull different: Webull offers commission-free trades and a strong focus on its mobile app.
Best suited for: It’s best for intermediate traders.
What you can do: Designed for experienced and active traders, Lightspeed’s main selling points are speed and performance. Its flagship trading platform, Lightspeed Trader, features a customizable research tool known as LightScan to help you filter stocks based on a huge range of criteria. Customizable charting is also available.
What makes Lightspeed different: Lightspeed Trader offers a high level of customization so you can tailor the platform to suit your trading needs and preferences.
Best suited for: It’s best for advanced, high-volume traders.
What you can do: CenterPoint Securities offers web, mobile and desktop trading for advanced traders. It offers multiple chart types and advanced technical indicators as well as market scanners and the ability to create custom scanners to help you find investment opportunities.
What makes CenterPoint Securities different: Advanced mobile charting is also available.
Best suited for: It’s best for active traders.
What you can do: Merrill Edge’s web-based trading platform allows you to screen stocks using over 200 filters. However, if you want advanced analysis tools, you’ll need to use MarketPro. This trading platform offers real-time market data and analysis as well as charts with over 100 technical indicators and 25 drawing tools.
What makes Merrill Edge different: MarketPro can be fully tailored to suit your needs, with 26 customizable windows and the ability to save up to 25 layouts.
Best suited for: It’s best for investors looking for a customizable trading experience.
Sites and software you can use for technical analysis
Summary: Launched in 2011, TradingView offers highly-rated stock analysis software and tools. Available on the web, in a mobile app and via desktop software, it provides access to a huge range of chart types, technical indicators, drawing tools, financial analyses and market data. You can access a number of these great features with a free plan, but paid subscriptions are also available.
Unique feature: It provides access to a social community of traders who share trade ideas, trading indicators and strategies.
Best suited for: It’s best for all types of traders.
Summary: FinViz is a free stock research website with a host of useful information for investors. It features a stock screener with dozens of filters, the latest prices and market news. It also offers a paid subscription to FinViz Elite if you want to get real-time quotes, advanced charts, an advanced stock screener and strategy backtesting in line with 100 technical indicators and over 20 years of historical data.
Unique feature: The free offering is perfect when you want to get a general overview of current market conditions. It’s also entirely web-based.
Best suited for: It’s best for beginners and intermediate investors.
Summary: Established in 2003, Trade Ideas is a subscription service that offers a host of market research and analysis tools for day traders. Features include a stock screener, charting and technical indicators, backtesting, performance tracking and a range of educational resources. You can also connect your Trade Ideas account with brokers such as E-TRADE and Interactive Brokers, allowing you to automate trades.
Unique feature: Premium subscribers get access to the Trade Ideas AI, Holly, which analyzes the market and provides trade recommendations.
Best suited for: It’s best for active traders.
Summary: Stock Rover is a web-based investment research platform with a host of useful tools for buy-and-hold investors. Designed with ease of use in mind, it allows you to screen stocks based on 140 preset criteria as well as your own custom filters. It also makes it easy to compare stocks and ETFs side by side. Detailed research reports and stock charting are also available.
Unique feature: While there are paid plans available, new investors can get great value from the free plan.
Best suited for: It’s best for long-term investors.
Summary: eSignal offers stock trading software with a strong focus on technical analysis. Its extensive list of features includes real-time data, advanced charts and drawing tools, hundreds of technical indicators and online education resources. eSignal’s Market Screener Plus+ also allows you to scan stocks using hundreds of filters.
Unique feature: eSignal offers integrations with over 50 online brokers, so it’s easy to place trades from the platform.
Best suited for: It’s best for traders who rely on technical analysis.
Summary: TrendSpider provides stock technical analysis software to help speed up and inform your trading decisions. It offers a wide range of customizable chart types, real-time market data and over 20 years of historical data as well as over 600 watchlists to help make technical analysis easier. TrendSpider’s Market Scanner also lets you set your own filters or use over 20 preset scans to identify trading opportunities.
Unique feature: Automated technical analysis to help you save time and find trading opportunities.
Best suited for: Traders who want automated technical analysis.
Summary: Stock research website WallStreetZen offers a suite of tools to help inform your trading decisions. It’s designed to help you understand the fundamentals of any company quickly and easily, performing 38 checks on a company to generate a Zen Score. It also offers a free stock screener you can use to uncover potential stocks to buy based on your own custom criteria.
Unique feature: It offers automated fundamental analyses to help less experienced investors save time when choosing stocks.
Best suited for: It’s best for novice and intermediate investors.
Summary: Founded in 1982, MetaStock provides technical and fundamental stock analysis tools for active traders. Features of the platform include real-time news, advanced charting and over 150 technical indicators. Backtesting and forecasting are also available.
Unique feature: There’s a huge range of technical analysis tools and indicators.
Best suited for: It’s best for active traders.
Summary: Market Gear stock trading software features a comprehensive suite of tools designed to suit experienced traders. It includes real-time news, a stock screener with hundreds of data points and advanced charts with over 80 indicators.
Unique feature: It offers options analysis tools, including real-time scanning and over 20 options strategies.
Best suited for: It’s best for experienced traders.
Summary: NinjaTrader is a futures trading software and brokerage service. Founded in 2003, it offers advanced charting capabilities, real-time analysis and free simulated trading to help you test out different trading strategies. You can also customize NinjaTrader with thousands of third-party trading indicators, strategies and drawing tools.
Unique feature: Advanced charting and backtesting capabilities are offered for free.
Best suited for: It’s best for backtesting and trade simulation.
Summary: Available for Windows, Mac and mobile as well as on a web platform, TC2000 is a respected name in the stock analysis software industry. It offers dynamic charts with more than 100 technical indicators, with options charting also available. TC2000’s EasyScan stock and option screener also makes it easy to uncover trading opportunities.
Unique feature: It offers a free trading simulator to help you learn how to use the platform.
Best suited for: It’s best for traders searching for easy-to-use charting and stock-screening tools.
Summary: StockCharts is a charting and technical analysis platform that’s been around for more than two decades. This web-based service provides charts with real-time intraday data and 25 technical indicators per chart. Its scanning tool also allows you to scan thousands of signals to find stocks that match your investing criteria.
Unique feature: It offers a 30-day free trial so you can sample what the platform has to offer.
Best suited for: It’s best for traders who want charts, charts and more charts.
The right stock trading software can help you backtest investment strategies, analyze market trends and decide which stocks to buy. Make sure you compare multiple software providers and online brokers before you decide which is the best fit for you.
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