Many of us are a little wary of investing — especially when it comes to stocks. It’s hard to get started when you aren’t sure you’re doing it “right.” The good news is that it’s possible to use virtual trading accounts to get the hang of the process before you start risking any of your hard earned cash.
Which Brokers Offer Virtual Accounts?
If you are interested in learning a specific platform, it can help to use a virtual account with a stock broker. A number of brokers offer virtual trading tools that can help you get hands-on experience in the market, without losing any money:
- optionsXpress: You can use the optionsXpress virtual account to learn the ropes as a beginner, or to try out new strategies as an advanced trader. It’s also possible to use your virtual account to test out futures trading ideas.
- tradeMONSTER: The paperTRADE account from tradeMONSTER is free, and a great way to learn about how trading works. You can use the account to practice covered calls, along with other options trading strategies. The paperTRADE account comes with $100,000 in fake money to practice with.
- Scottrade: If you are using the Scottrade Elite Advanced Trading Platform, you can use $100,000 of play money to try out new strategies. You have access to real time information, and you can use that to work out new strategies. There is also a back-testing tool that can help you review your strategies.
- OptionsHouse: Before you start trading with OptionsHouse, you can use the virtual trading platform to learn about how it works. You get $5,000 in virtual dollars to start. This is helpful, since it is a little more realistic for many traders. With the help of the virtual account, you can see streaming quotes and volatility assessments to learn how to make decisions in real time.
- Kapitall: Kapitall started out as a stock trading game allowing you to build a virtual portfolio and track its performance. That option is still there, but now Kapitall is also a brokerage. You can test out a portfolio, and then, when you’re ready, build a real portfolio.
You can also practice by signing up for stock trading games. MarketWatch offers various games that are free or low cost, and can help you learn the ropes. Wall Street Survivor is another trading game that allows you to try different tactics — and it lets you earn prizes and cash in some circumstances.
Readers: What’s your favorite virtual trading account?