Last Updated on 17 November, 2020 by Samuelsson
Swing trading is a style of trading where the trader tries to benefit from medium-term price moves. Such moves last from a few days to a few weeks, so swing traders often hold their trades within that time range. But how do swing traders access the markets; what top trading platforms do they use?
In swing trading, analysis is done on the daily timeframe, so trading is pretty much slower than it is in day trading where price data are printed every hour, 15 minutes, or 5 minutes. The implication is that when considering the best trading platform for swing trading, execution speed — though quite important — is not of the most essence.
As one would expect, much of a swing trader’s job is about interpreting the data on a screen to make trading decisions and managing open positions. So, a swing trading platform should have the necessary tools for handling such tasks. Interestingly, most modern brokerage firms offer trading platforms to their clients when they open an account. But before we go into the top best swing trading platforms for swing traders, let’s understand a trading platform is.
What is a trading platform?
A trading platform is a desktop application, a web terminal, or a mobile app that traders use to perform all the tasks associated with trading, such as opening, closing, and managing market positions. It is what connects a trader’s orders through their broker to the marketplace where the orders are fulfilled.
Some trading platforms, such as TradingView and MetaStock, exist on their own and work across different online brokers, while other trading platforms are created by specific online brokers for their own clients alone. A trading platform may also be specifically tailored to a specific market, such as the stock, forex, futures, or options markets.
Whether a trading platform is unique to a particular broker or works across different brokers, they are often offered by brokers for free or at a discount rate if the trader maintains a funded account and/or makes a specified number of trades per month. Most times, trading platforms will come bundled with other features, such as real-time quotes, charting tools, news feeds, and even premium research.
Depending on their trading style and volume, traders use a variety of different trading platforms. Trading platforms can be grouped into commercial platforms and prop platforms. Commercial platforms, as the name implies, are targeted at external clients — both institutional traders and retail traders/investors. Such platforms are characterized by ease-of-use and an assortment of helpful features, such as news feeds and charts, for investor education and research. On the other hand, prop platforms are customized platforms developed by large brokerages to suit their specific requirements and trading style, as they use them for their own trading.
How to know the top best swing trading platform
When comparing different trading platforms, you should consider both the fees involved and the available features. The thing is, the best trading platforms offer a mix of robust features and low fees. You also need to consider connectivity and speed.
The features and tools
Different trading platforms come with different built-in tools and features, such as real-time quotes, charting tools, stock screening tools, one-click trading, news feeds, and even premium research. Unfortunately, it is quite rare to see a platform that has all features that are suitable for all trading strategies and styles. Hence, it is necessary to consider whether a trading platform has the tools and features that suit your trading preferences when deciding the one to use.
Another important consideration is the cost of using the trading platform. Of course, lower fees are always preferable, but you must consider the features too. Low fees may not be advantageous if they translate to fewer features and informational research. However, some brokers offer their trading platforms for free or at a discount when you trade with a certain amount.
Connectivity and speed
As we said earlier, swing trading is more of a slower approach to the market, unlike day trading which is fast paced, so the speed of execution may not be that important. Nevertheless, you certainly want good connection speed and consistency in trade executions. You don’t want to lose connection to your broker when you want to place an order or adjust your position.
The top best swing trading platforms
While there really isn’t a single best trading platform for swing trading, the following 15 platforms are popular among stock swing traders:
- Merrill Edge
- Ally Invest
- Charles Schwab
- Interactive Brokers Platforms
TradeStation is a top-notch trading platform, and definitely one of the best platforms for serious traders seeking a truly professional-level swing trading experience. As a matter of fact, TradeStation, at one time, was only serving professional brokers and money managers, but the firm now serves retail traders too.
The TradeStation brand is operated by TradeStation Securities, Inc., TradeStation Crypto, Inc., and TradeStation Technologies, Inc., which are wholly owned subsidiaries of TradeStation Group, Inc. The firm enables retail traders registered with their brokerage service to trade stocks and ETFs commission-free while providing many helpful trading tools. Traders can also access the options, futures, and cryptocurrency markets.
Though the firm is offering brokerage services, the trading platform is available to traders who don’t have an account with the firm. Whether you trade stocks, ETFs, options, or futures, the award-winning TradeStation platform is a platform of choice as it delivers the power, speed, and flexibility required for active trading.
TradeStation’s plans start at just $99 per month and can be seamlessly integrated with your broker of choice. You get access to many tools and build a solid trading plan with TradeStation Analytics.
Thinkoswim is a highly rated trading platform that is suitable for swing trading. The platform is owned and operated by TD Ameritrade, a very popular online discount broker. The platform is available as a desktop application (thinkorswim Desktop) for Windows and Mac computers, a web trading terminal (thinkorswim Web), and a mobile trading app (thinkorswim Mobile) for Android and iOS devices.
The platform offers every tool and service you need for a successful stock market experience. It gives the users access to third-party research, news streaming through Yahoo! Finance, real-time quotes, social sentiment analysis, and planning tools. Thinkorswim also offers access to advanced features, such as the thinkManual, market scans, and tutorials.
With thinkorswim Desktop, you get access to elite-level trading tools and a platform backed by insights, education, and a dedicated trade desk. The platform is fully customizable, allowing you to implement the most complex strategies and techniques for a better trading experience.
TradingView is a very popular trading platform and social network for traders and investors for stock, futures, and forex market trading. It is available as a web platform that can be accessed directly from the web via any of the modern web browsers, such as Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera, but there is also a mobile trading app for Android and iOS devices.
The platform is well equipped with the necessary tools. In fact, when it comes to market analysis, TradingView is one of the most advanced stock trading platforms available. It provides you with more than 100 technical indicators plus over 5,000 custom-built indicators, and using the platform’s programming language, you can develop your own strategies and signals and can even publish your trading ideas in the community.
Another bonus of TradingView is that it built-in stock screener for screening stocks. It provides fundamental data on companies and also analyzes and compares domestic and global economic data. Traders enjoy the social network of traders provided in TradingView. There are chat forums where individual traders can easily share their analyses with others.
NinjaTrader is an online trading platform and a futures brokerage service that was founded in 2003. The NinjaTrader platform is available free of charge to traders who have funded accounts with the broker. It offers superior tools for charting, market analysis, and live trading.
There is a SIM version that is available free of charge to people without a funded account with the broker. But for people who don’t have a funded account to access the premium features on the platform, such as backtesting, advanced order types, and automated trading, they will need to either pay $60/month subscription fees or a one-time payment of $1,099 to buy it.
With lots of technical analysis tools, the NinjaTrader platform is great for active traders who love to do thorough chart analysis. Some of the features of the platform include excellent charting, real-time analysis, customizable technical indicators, Chart Trader (a chart-based order entry tool), and thousands of apps and add-ons from 3rd-party developers. Their brokerage service is mainly focused on futures and forex markets, but they partnered with Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade to give traders access to other markets, including options on futures, CFDs, and equities.
5. Merrill Edge
Merrill Edge is a stock trading platform developed by the Bank of America for its brokerage services. The platform is best suited for those who have a significant relationship with Ban of America so that they can take advantage of the premium rewards, which include discounts on mortgage origination and auto loan interest rates, free ATM transactions, and increased interest rates on uninvested cash.
The Merrill Edge platform is suitable for beginning and intermediate-level traders and investors. As an online brokerage platform, Merrill Edge competes offers a robust and comprehensive platform that can serve traders or investors. It has a good set of portfolio analysis tools and excellent proprietary and third-party research. With the platform’s integration with the Bank of America, BofA customers stand to benefit the most with it.
MetaStock is one of the most commonly-used stock trading platforms among traders. The platform has over 300 technical indicators, integrated news, and built-in graphical tools for technical analysis. It also has fundamental data that you can use to screen and filter stocks, which makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for without having to sift through so many stocks.
The platform is not only about stocks; it also covers many types of assets across global markets. In addition to stocks, you also trade forex, commodities, derivatives, futures. There are different subscription packages. Traders can choose between the MetaStock Daily Charts Subscription or the MetaStock Real Time packages. The two different packages suit different traders. The MetaStock Real Time packages may suit day traders more, but both options give swing traders access stock charting software.
Yewno|Edge is an AI-driven platform that aggregates both fundamental and alternative data so that traders only receive applicable analyses and information. The platform is well-known for its ability to minimize the amount of information that’s typically thrown at traders to the most important information for making trading decisions. So, with this stock trading platform, you’ll spend less time going through so much data to analyze the market and more time trading and earning.
The platform offers other benefits. For example, it possesses the ability to evaluate a company’s exposure to things like autonomous vehicles and data privacy and can design strategies based on those concepts. Traders who use this stock trading platform can also set up personalized notifications and perform more in-depth research that breaches the surface level of the reports from companies.
8. Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab is an online discount broker that offers their proprietary platform to traders that have accounts with them. They cater to traders all types of traders, and beginner traders will specifically enjoy their $0 minimum account deposit requirement. The company also offers $0 commission for stocks, options, and exchange-traded funds, which will appeal to active traders.
One of Schwab’s high marks is its research offerings, a large selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds, sophisticated tools, and trading platforms. There are two platforms with no minimum or fees, extensive research, and an above-average mobile app. With Schwab, you have access to large fund selection and commission-free stock, options, and ETF trades.
The platform is suitable for beginner investors, advanced active traders, investors seeking commission-free trades, and those seeking no-minimum index funds and premium stock research. Trading with Schwab means getting the innovative tools, premium insights, robust education, and dedicated specialist support of Schwab Trading Services — all of which help give you what you need to make informed and timely trading decisions. Interestingly, all these come with no trade minimums or platform fees.
The Fidelity trading platform is a proprietary platform provided by the online discount broker, Fidelity, to its customers for trading stocks, ETFs, index funds, and options. The broker is one of the best-rounded brokerages available today, with no commissions on stock, ETF, or options trades and a selection of no-expense-ratio index funds. It has continued to improve key features of its mobile-responsive web platform while lowering the cost of trading for its clients.
Fidelity cut down commissions to zero in October 2019 but continues to offer top-quality research and education offerings to its clients. The platform can serve active traders, including swing traders, while the brokerage firm also makes it easy for clients to earn interest by sweeping uninvested cash into a money market fund.
The brokerage also shares the revenue it generates from its stock loan program. Trade execution is excellent, with over 96% of orders for Fidelity customers are executed at a price better than the national best bid or offer. The Fidelity platform offers a wealth of research and extensive pre-set and customizable asset screeners.
E*Trade is another great stock trading and brokerage platform. The platform is seen as one of the best stock trading software owing to its real-time data, research, and analysis, which is available for traders who trade with the broker. By giving you access to historical and real-time information, it helps you to discover and act on the best stocks in the market.
The broker’s website has a lot of educational resources, such as blog posts, news articles, and webinars, which you can use to continue learning and strengthening your trading skills. E*Trade may not be as competitive when it comes to pricing, but many traders find the cost of this stock trading platform worth the investment as it offers value to both beginner investors and frequent traders with a library of educational resources, professional-level trading software, and tools to help assemble a risk-appropriate, balanced portfolio. Active swing traders will appreciate the firm’s $0 commission for all stock, ETF, and options trades.
Firstrade offers a unique trading platform for its brokerage services. The customizable trading platforms let you manage your account and trade from your computers, iPad, or mobile phones. Traders can unlock wonderful trading opportunities with their OptionsWizard, a professional-grade options analytics tool.
With three trading platforms and a mobile app, Firstrade offers a strong brokerage experience whether you are a swing trader or a retirement investor looking to open an IRA. The platform appeals to experienced swing traders with $0 trading costs and no per-contract fees for options trades, while newbie traders will also appreciate the $0 minimum account opening requirement. Even investors looking for long-term investments enjoy commission-free trades for all mutual funds. And the platform is also available in Chinese language options.
12. Ally Invest
Ally Invest has always been seen as one of the best stock trading platforms and online brokerage. It is web-based trading on a streaming HTML 5 platform that allows active traders to easily place trades and manage their accounts from any device. The broker’s stock and ETF trading prices are quite low compared to other brokerages, making it favorable to swing traders, and its options trading is competitively priced.
The trading platform offers quotes, market snapshots, historical data, and charts that are available on any device since it is mobile responsive. In addition, the broker also provides an online banking service if you’re looking to consolidate your investments with other accounts. The Ally Invest platform is a well-rounded software that does a little of everything.
The eSignal stock trading software is another platform that is among the most highly-rated among active stock traders. eSignal offers access to many different asset classes including bonds, forex, funds, derivatives, and stocks. The platform has different subscription packages, and the features vary based on the specific package that is purchased.
One of the key tools that many traders find very useful is the trade management interface, but the platform also offers customization for its stock charting tools. So, you can analyze the markets faster with user-friendly, customizable charts that allow you to create charts your way.
The eSignal gives you up-to-the-second market data from 100s of global markets so that you can watch trends, set your strategy, and execute your best trades without missing a beat. It comes with optional alerts and backtesting. The backtesting and scanning tools empower you to gauge the effectiveness of your trading strategies before putting your money on the line.
14. Interactive Brokers Platforms
Interactive Brokers is a popular brokerage and trading platform for advanced traders. In 2019, the company launched the IBKR Lite for more casual traders and investors. With IBKR Lite, you get unlimited free trades of stocks and exchange-traded funds that are listed on U.S. exchanges, as well as other investments, including options, futures, mutual funds, fixed income, and more, on 125 markets in 31 countries.
The IBKR Pro is meant for advanced traders, and the broker’s per-share pricing is $0.005 per share, with a minimum of $1. It is an advanced trading platform, with an unmatched range of tradable securities — including foreign stocks — at ridiculously low margin rates.
Interestingly, both tiers of service have a $0 minimum requirement for account opening and offer fractional shares trading. While the IBKR Lite has no account maintenance or inactivity fees, the IBKR Pro charges an inactivity fee, but you can skirt that if you trade relatively frequently.
The Robinhood trading app is a platform for FREE “No Commissions” trading. Apparently, Robinhood was the first to offer commission-free trading before other online discount brokerage platforms followed in that direction. Their mission is to democratize access to the financial markets. However, the app only has basic features and does not support many of the features that have been standard on every broker for many years. Nevertheless, swing traders can still trade with it.