If you’re a day trader or a prospective one, you’ll definitely want a brokerage that fits your needs. Unlike buy-and-hold investors — who access the market infrequently — day traders need to optimize for low costs, as well as utilize tools such as trading platforms and solid fundamental research.

Offering these features and much more, the brokers mentioned below make a great fit for day traders.

Best online brokers for day trading in February 2024:


  • Bankrate evaluates brokers based on a number of factors including:
    • Cost (commissions, account fees, etc.)
    • Account types
    • Investment offerings
    • Research and education
    • Customer support

What is day trading?

Day trading is the practice of buying and selling a security within the span of a day. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) identifies pattern day traders as those who trade in and out of a security four or more times in a five-day span, provided the number of trades are more than 6 percent of the trader’s total activity in that same period.

While some traders may hold positions for a few days, a typical day trader likes to be “flat” overnight — which means having all positions closed when the market closes for the day. These traders often try to avoid price movements from any change in sentiment or news that might occur overnight.

Typically, day traders are looking to make many small trades throughout the day in an attempt to capture small spreads on each transaction, a practice called scalping. Day traders often take advantage of minute-by-minute moves in a security to find an attractive buy price, and when the market has firmed up they look to sell the security, sometimes only minutes later.

What to consider

With a strategy that involves so much trading, one of the primary concerns for a day trader is commissions, or how much a brokerage will charge for each trade. Regardless of whether a trade is a winner or a loser, the brokerage gets its cut either way — both on the buy and the sell transaction. So savvy traders look to save on trading costs as much as possible, because that keeps more money in their own pockets.

Commissions are less of a concern with stock traders these days, because the industry has shifted to zero commissions, though options traders may want to watch their costs closely.

However, traders must balance this concern with the other features of a brokerage that may help them be successful, such as the trading platform, research and tools. So while cost is an important consideration, it’s not the only one.

Finally, when selecting a brokerage, day traders will find that a brokerage’s typical account minimums do not apply to them. Instead, pattern day traders must maintain at least $25,000 of equity in their accounts or they will not be able to day trade, according to FINRA rules.

Overview: Top brokers for day trading in February 2024

Fidelity

Fidelity Investments provides the core day-trading features well, from research to trading platform to reasonable commissions. The company’s flagship platform, Active Trader Pro, offers a fully customizable look while Wealth-Lab Pro, a backtesting tool, lets you test a strategy against 20 years of historical data. The research on tap is among the best in the industry, with reports from Thomson Reuters and Ned Davis, among others. For all this, you’ll pay no commission on stock and ETF trades, and Fidelity also prides itself on not nickel-and-diming you on other account fees either.

Commissions: $0 (stocks and ETFs); $0.65 per contract (options).

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers brings a lot to the table for day traders – a well-regarded trading platform and the potential for volume discounts if you’re using the broker’s Pro pricing plan. If you’re doing huge volume, the broker even discounts its base commission by more than 90 percent. Interactive Brokers offers access to more than 200 news and research services – about half of them are free for clients – and its Trader Workstation platform will help technical traders with charting and streaming news.

If you opt for the broker’s newer Lite pricing plan, you’ll enjoy no-commission stock and ETF trades and all of the brokers’ other top features. Interactive Brokers was named the best broker for advanced traders as part of the 2024 Bankrate Awards.

Commissions: $0.005 per share (stocks and ETFs) for the Pro plan (minimum $1) and $0 for the Lite plan; $0.65 per contract (options) and volume discounts are available.

TradeStation

One of TradeStation’s top features is its flexible and convenient pricing plans, but the broker also offers a fantastic trading platform, too. TradeStation’s base commission for options is in line with the industry standard at $0, while its per-contract fee of $0.60 edges out most rivals. Its commission for stocks and ETFs is now zero (on the first 10,000 shares per trade) too. TradeStation’s fully customizable desktop platform allows you to use tons of technical indicators, as well as create your own. And traders will likely find OptionStation Pro a valuable tool for setting up trades and visualizing the potential payoffs.

Commissions: $0 for the first 10,000 shares per trade and $0.005 per share after that (stocks and ETFs); $0.60 per contract (options).

E-Trade

E-Trade performs well all-around, especially with a discounted commission structure on options, and the broker really shines with its range of fundamental research. Research offerings include the broker’s own market commentary as well as reports from Thomson Reuters and Moody’s, among others. The Power E-Trade platform and the similarly named mobile app get you trading quickly and offer more than 100 technical studies to analyze the trading action.

Commissions: $0 (stocks and ETFs); $0.65 or $0.50 discounted, with 30 trades per quarter (options).

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab is a great overall broker, and this trait shows in its trading platform, competitive pricing and range of research. The thinkorswim trading platform, recently added thanks to its acquisition of TD Ameritrade, allows you to structure the layout according to your trading process, integrating news feeds and live CNBC coverage. You’ll be able to set up complex options orders on an all-in-one trade ticket, and find stock ideas with a ton of third-party research and Schwab’s screening tools.

Commissions: $0 (stocks and ETFs); $0.65 per contract (options).

tastytrade

Active traders will be pleased with the offering at tastytrade, a broker that got its start in 2017 and keeps costs low, particularly for those looking to trade options. You’ll pay a flat $1 per contract on the buy, but nothing on the sell, which translates to $0.50 per round-trip, compared to the $0.65 industry standard. tastytrade also caps the commission on each leg of the options trade to just $10, making it one of the best places to trade options. Commissions are also capped on cryptocurrency trades, while stock and ETF trades are always commission-free.

Commissions: $0 (stocks and ETFs); $1 per contract on the buy, $0 sell, capped at $10 per leg (options).

Merrill Edge

Merrill Edge is another solid broker for frequent traders thanks to its low commissions and high-powered trading platform. Like most other brokers, stock and ETF trades are commission free, and you’ll pay $0.65 per contract for options. The Merrill Edge MarketPro trading platform can be customized to fit your needs. You’ll have access to more than 105 technical indicators and 23 drawing tools, making it easy to analyze markets and trading strategies. You’ll also be able to access investment research from top providers including Bank of America and Morningstar.

Commissions: $0 (stocks and ETFs); $0.65 per contract (options).

Why should I use an online broker for day trading?

An online broker makes it much easier to day trade than using a traditional broker. With an online broker you’ll have a number of advantages:

  • Immediate access: With an online broker you can access your account at any moment, whether for trading, to check balances and margin limits, or to move money.
  • No-cost trading: Online brokers offer no-commission trading, so you can trade stocks and ETFs (and sometimes options) for free while traditional brokers may still charge.
  • Faster transactions: Day traders may move in and out of a security multiple times a day. They need to transact quickly without having to instruct someone else to trade.
  • Low fees: Besides trading fees, online brokers have reduced or eliminated many costs, getting rid of many account fees that large traditional players may still charge.
  • Choice of trading platform: By choosing an online broker, you’ll be able to use the trading platform that works best for your trading needs and habits.

On top of these factors, day traders may like using an online broker because they can quickly access the market with a mobile app and stay apprised of where their positions are trading.

How much money do I need to begin day trading?

It may not take a lot to get started with day trading if you don’t do it frequently. But if you do, you’re going to need significantly more money, according to FINRA rules around pattern day trading.

Again, FINRA defines pattern day trading as moving in and out of a security four or more times in a five-day span if the trades comprise more than 6 percent of the trader’s total activity during that period. So traders looking to stay below the radar need to abide by this rule. But some brokers may use a more inclusive rule, meaning that it will identify more traders.

If you’re day trading frequently, you’ll be labeled a pattern day trader, and will be forced to have at least $25,000 in equity in your account at all times. If the account falls below this level, trading will be suspended until the account reaches the minimum equity level.

In effect, these rules mean that you’ll need significantly more in your account to ensure your trading privileges stay in good standing, since losses may quickly move you below the $25,000 level.

While you can engage in day trading, research regularly shows that the vast majority (in some studies nearly all) of day traders lose money. That’s not surprising, since they’re trading against professional traders and highly sophisticated computer algorithms. So it’s incredibly risky.

Day trading FAQs


  • Day trading is extremely difficult and should probably be considered more like gambling than investing. That being said, there are books that will explain day trading strategies as well as online resources. It may also benefit aspiring day traders to find someone who is currently day trading and see if you can learn from their approach. It’s highly advisable to start trading with small amounts of money that you can afford to lose.

  • Day trading can involve many risks but the main one is that your trades will be unprofitable and you’ll lose money. Securities are influenced by a variety of different factors over the course of a day, many of which are difficult, if not impossible, to anticipate ahead of time. If you are fortunate to generate gains, you’ll pay short-term capital gains taxes that can go as high as 37 percent.

    Many traders also utilize margin accounts, which allows them to leverage their positions. But leverage works both ways and it can magnify your losses just as easily as your gains.

  • Opening an online brokerage account starts with choosing which broker you’d like to work with. From there, you can get set up in a few minutes after you answer a few questions and choose the type of account you’d like to open. Once you fund your account, you can start investing.

  • There can be fees associated with brokerage accounts, but most online brokers don’t charge commissions for buying and selling stocks and ETFs these days. If you’re looking to trade options, you’ll pay a commission at most brokers and you may also see fees for miscellaneous items such as paper statements or closing an IRA.

  • A cash account is an account where you fully fund all your trading activity with cash on hand, whereas a margin account allows you to borrow money in an effort to boost your returns. Keep in mind that borrowing, or using leverage, to invest cuts both ways. It can magnify your returns, but also your losses, and you could face a margin call if your losses become too great.

Editorial Disclaimer: All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into investment strategies before making an investment decision. In addition, investors are advised that past investment product performance is no guarantee of future price appreciation.