Day Trading Platforms

Day Trading Platforms are online stock trading programs that allow day traders direct access to market makers and specialists on the Nasdaq and NYSE.

Direct access trading transactions are executed through various electronic communication networks (ECN's). Orders can be routed through specific ECN's or automatically through "intelligent" or "smart" order routing systems.

Some brokerage firms allow use of their stock trading platforms at no cost, but these platforms tend be very basic, lower end programs.

Beginners very quickly realize that more features and flexibility is required for their trading.

Other brokers offer excellent day trading platforms for active traders to use, but charge a monthly fee. With some day trading firms, this fee is waived if your previous monthly trading volume meets a required minimum.

All direct access day trading platforms offer extremely fast trade executions measured in milliseconds. Depending on the trading software, order entry can be accomplished different ways.

Order entry software allows trade entry from a DOM (Depth of Market) , which allows the trader to view real-time bid and ask volume levels on a price ladder. They also have an order bar to place orders and the ability to use order execution 'hot keys'. Some platforms such as NinjaTrader have the ability to enter and change orders directly on the charts.

Commissions for trades are usually less than with traditional online brokerages like E*trade and are often on a per share basis. For example, if you made two for 100 shares of stock and another for 500 shares, each would cost $9.99 with E*Trade. Using TradeStation's platform you would be charged $1.00 and $5.00 for the same trades.

It's not my intention here to give a detailed review of each platform on the market. I just want to give you a list of some of the more popular choices of order entry, direct access programs available for your trading, so that you can do your own research to determine which one will meet your needs.

The first four day trading platforms, Zeroline Trader, Bracket Trader, Button Trader and AutoTrader are programs that were specifically designed as the 'frontend' for one of the bigger companies in the world of day trading, Interactive Brokers (IB). These programs are API's (application programming interface) frontends, made to control IB's Trader WorkStation (TWS). These programs, for a monthly fee provide you with unique features, and visual user interfaces. You might want to check these out, if you intend to trade through Interactive Brokers.

Two of the day trading platform companies listed below are also day trading brokerages -- TradeStation and LightSpeed. If you like the idea of having your platform and broker all in one, one of these might be best for you.

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