Lots of Options: Best Futures Trading Platforms in 2022

Lots of Options: Best Futures Trading Platforms in 2022

All you need is the right platform, and futures contracts are yours for the trading. Fortune tellers need not apply.

Lots of Options: Best Futures Trading Platforms in 2022
Guy Ovadia

ByGuy Ovadia

Updated Jul 18, 2022

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Stock Trading

Stock Trading

Active Investing

Active Investing

Global Markets

Global Markets

Investing in futures markets is a lot like betting on sports teams. Everyone could use a bit of luck, but nothing beats the conviction of a well-researched bet backed by the latest stats and solid data analysis. Your chances of winning a gamble are much higher if you assessed your odds and can credibly articulate why you'll win. 

A beginner futures trader may want to get acclimated to the market by using a platform that focuses on educational resources and trading simulators.

And that's exactly why the platform you use matters so much when it comes to trading futures. Every online futures brokerage is different based on the fees they charge, the resources they include, and the asset classes they offer. Choosing a futures trading platform with the right tools and features for you is the key to being a successful trader, so it's a crucial decision you shouldn't make without forethought and proper guidance.

Best futures trading platforms

Online futures trading brokers are so numerous that it can be hard to choose just one, but we're here to help. While the best futures trading platforms don't charge commissions, they all vary in terms of their contract fees, minimum deposit requirements, the assets and derivatives they offer, and the perks their users get. Ultimately, your investing goals and the futures trading strategies you plan to deploy matter most when choosing which brokerage platform to use.

Serious futures traders looking to use leverage might want to consider the margin trading offerings on various platforms and choose the one with the best interest rates. On the other hand, a beginner futures trader may want to get acclimated to the market by using a platform that focuses on educational resources and trading simulators. Also, you'll want to account for which asset classes your platform offers since some offer alternatives like cryptocurrency while others don't. Whatever you're looking for, you'll find it among one of these top trading platforms.

Platform

Minimum

Contract fees

Margin interest rates

TradeStation

Any amount

$1.50

9.5% to 3.5%

Interactive Brokers

$0

$0.25 to $0.85

4.08% to 2.08% (USD)

TD Ameritrade

$1,500

$2.25

11% to 9%

Charles Schwab

$0

$2.25

9.825% to 8.075%

Ninja Trader

$0

$0.37 to $3.56

(unreported)

E*Trade

$0

$1.50

10.45% to 8.45%

Discount Trading

$1000

$0.75 to $2.61

(unreported)

TradeStation

Whether you're a pro or just starting out, TradeStation is a great platform to trade commodity futures. It's one of the most reliable platforms for trading stock options and futures contracts across all asset classes, including commodities, treasury notes, and cryptocurrencies. With state-of-the-art analysis tools and a robust trading simulator, TradeStation will satisfy intermediate and advanced futures traders alike.

tradestation
TradeStation

Stocks

Though TradeStation's sophisticated trading interface may intimidate novice futures traders, the platform offers competitively low fees and requires no minimum deposit to start investing. The complexity of TradeStation may pose a steep learning curve for those inexperienced with futures markets, but taking the time to learn the platform will benefit any active trader.

TD Ameritrade

Another futures broker with a comprehensive trading platform is TD Ameritrade and the Think or Swim app. Think or Swim is slightly more accessible than complicated futures trading platforms like TradeStation, but TD Ameritrade charges higher fees on futures contracts and requires a minimum account deposit to start trading. TD Ameritrade's extensive educational resources make it a great futures trading platform for investors who are still learning the ropes.

Like most futures trading platforms, TD Ameritrade offers commission-free trading across numerous asset classes and derivatives. The great part about TD Ameritrade is that Think or Swim is conveniently available on desktop and mobile, so you can take your trades on the go. While its fees are higher than other online brokers, TD Ameritrade certainly has trading tools that'll give you an edge.

What is comfortable is rarely profitable

What is comfortable is rarely profitable

Are future markets a casino?

Interactive Brokers

If you're a futures trader that doesn't sleep, then Interactive Brokers might be the trading platform for you. Interactive Brokers is a top international futures trading platform that operates 24/7, so you'll never miss a beat on the futures market. With some of the lowest fees and margin rates on the market, Interactive Brokers won't charge you as much as their competitors, even for the riskiest commodities trades.

Interactive Brokers has offerings for both advanced and beginner traders, so you can trade futures like a pro regardless of your experience level. The biggest benefit of Interactive Brokers is their global reach to 135 markets across 33 countries. Traders who sign up for their pro offering get access to SmartRouting, which delivers them with the best price execution in the industry. Interactive Brokers is far and away the best online broker for futures trading veterans.

Charles Schwab

Futures traders that want trading tools with educational resources to match must look no further than Charles Schwab. Schwab is a premier online brokerage at the forefront of commission-free trading of stocks, ETFs, futures, and more. This trading platform offers exclusive news, research, analysis, and investment advice that are sure to enhance your investments regardless of experience.

With exclusive insights and a convenient mobile app, Schwab is an excellent choice for futures traders of any skill level. Schwab has most of the tools you'd expect from a futures trading platform, but downsides include having high margin interest rates and lacking comprehensive crypto and forex offerings. Nevertheless, sophisticated investors interested in agricultural commodities and oil futures won't be disappointed with Schwab.

NinjaTrader

Another great futures trading platform for up-all-night investors is NinjaTrader. On top of unique product offerings, extremely low fees, and a super low funding minimum, NinjaTrader offers full-service 24/7 futures and options trading. Beginners will love NinjaTrader's free software and strategy automation features, but advanced traders might want to pay extra to access their premium technical analysis tools. 

NinjaTrader's futures trading fees are a little high compared to competing futures trading platforms, but it makes up for it with the variety of investment options for traders of all calibers. Active traders who are testing the waters can take advantage of NinjaTrader's trading simulator and library of video guides, while the adept can harness their charting and technical analysis resources. Experienced traders will find NinjaTrader intuitive and easy to use, but the platform will hold your hand if you've never traded futures before.

E*Trade 

E*Trade is an OG online futures trading brokerage that's sure to satisfy all your investing needs. While the platform is mainly designed for trading options, E*Trade also offers futures contracts at competitively low rates. E*trade has all the tools you need to succeed as a futures trader such as a robo-advisor to manage your portfolio and mobile apps to keep you connected with futures markets.

One of the biggest cons of E*Trade is that they don't offer direct access to international markets, which can put forex and futures traders at a serious disadvantage. Another thing is that while E*Trade isn't the most expensive platform to trade on, it isn't the cheapest, either. E*Trade does offer ways to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies, but this and its arsenal of analysis tools don't make it particularly better than other online futures brokers.

Discount Trading

If you're looking for the best deals on futures contracts, then let me introduce you to Discount Trading. It's a low-fee futures trading platform that's not too fancy but gets the job done. If you're a futures trader looking for low commission rates and low margins without compromising on the quality of service, then discount trading might be the platform for you.

Discount trading is not a brokerage, but rather a trading router that gets you the lowest futures price across 20 popular trading platforms. Though you might find fees to be a tad lower on some other platforms, Discount Trading is great for high-frequency traders who want to consistently get the best futures deals without having to scour several brokerages for them. With no monthly inactivity fee and rapid customer service, signing up for Discount Trading is a no-brainer for futures traders looking to save a few bucks.

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