The ultimate guide to stock simulators and virtual trading

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Stock market simulators are a great way to get a feel for what it’s really like to trade stockswhether you want to make it a full-time job or a hobby. You can get into virtual trading for free and not risk losing money, but the real appeal is often the ability to just track your progress, follow some of your favorite stocks, and dream a little about making some returns. disproportionate amounts on your fictitious wallet. .



A trading screen displaying stock prices and charts


© Daniel Fung / Shutterstock
A trading screen displaying stock prices and charts

There are two main types of stock simulators:

  • Stock exchange games, where you compete with friends or strangers to pick the top performing stocks from a portfolio you manage. The emphasis is less on trading and more on investing to buy and hold over the life of the game. Most of the time, you are just there to have fun.
  • Virtual commerce, where you follow the market closely and actively trade stocks for virtual profit. These simulators usually use a broker’s actual trading platform and make you comfortable with the various tools available. For the most part in virtual trading, you use it as a way to practice real trading and test a platform.

Here are some of the best stock market games and virtual trading platforms available online for those who want to get started.

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The best stock market games

Wealth base

Wealthbase is a newcomer to the world of stock games, and it’s one of the funniest games out there. Wealthbase marries a stock picking competition with social media, and the result is a perfect match. You can create a game, set the game rules, then email your friends to join – and you’ll have a complete virtual competition in minutes or less. And the game isn’t limited to the desktop, with all the finesse available in a cool mobile app, too.

The game’s interface is silky smooth – everything loads so quickly – and the social elements make the competition more fun. You’ll have a live feed of the stocks your rivals choose, and you can talk a little bit of nonsense, if that’s your thing. End-of-day updates track your progress, while you can use graphics and a news feed to stay ahead of your competition. Simply put, Wealthbase makes stock picking fun.

Wall Street Survivor

Wall Street Survivor is another popular stock market game that allows users to enter existing contests and compete for cash prizes, or create a new game to compete with friends. You will receive $ 100,000 in virtual money to trade and practice your investing skills.

You will also have access to more than 30 free courses offered by the site to help you develop your financial knowledge. You can learn more about topics such as socially responsible investment, how to value a business and introduction to financial statement analysis. These courses can be particularly useful if you are new to investing.

Virtual stock exchange

Virtual Stock Exchange is offered by Marketwatch and allows you to create your own game or join one of the tens of thousands of games currently playing.

If you are designing your own game, you can define whether players can trade stocks on margin or short, how long the game lasts, and how much virtual money players start the game with.

You can buy stocks traded on the US stock exchanges and you just need to enter the ticker symbol to get all the details about the company. Players have a dedicated portfolio page and they can set up a watchlist to track stocks for later research. This portfolio building competition is a solid addition to the field.

Motley Fool CAPS

The Motley Fool was founded on the principle of the wisdom of crowdfunding, and its CAPS service does much the same, letting you see why a player made a choice. Players can write a short pitch for any stock, and these can be a great tool for coming up with ideas. When you sign up, you’ll be immersed in a giant game with tens of thousands of players, and each entry is ranked based on their performance. Are you looking for a good stock idea? See what leaders are buying and why.

CAPS tracks your performance over time, giving you a score based on your performance against other players in the game. It’s not so much about making money as it is about earning points based on your choice. and by how much it beats the stock market as a whole. But the real value is watching the top performers in action and even asking them questions.

How The Market Works

HowTheMarketWorks is a great option for those who are just starting their investing journey and is especially aimed at students and investment clubs. The website targets high school and college students in business and finance courses as well as adults who want to learn more about the stock market. Users can create their own game to compete against classmates or friends, and the site includes over 300 educational articles, videos, and homework.

HowTheMarketWorks reports that over 400,000 students and individuals use the site each year.

The best virtual trading platforms and simulators

TradeStation

TradeStation is well known as a broker for professional high volume traders, and its virtual platform – called TradeStation Simulator – offers all the functionality of its real trading platform.

After registering online, you can start trading with any amount of virtual money you want. The platform will provide you with details of your day’s trades and you will see a report of your winnings and losses. Another advantage of TradeStation is that you can test your hunches, create automated trading strategies, and then use the platform’s real-time data to validate them.

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade’s virtual trading application – paperMoney – puts you in the game with $ 100,000 in virtual currency, and you will be working with the broker’s popular thinkorswim trading platform from the start. If you do not have an account with the broker yet, you will need to register to download the platform, but then you will be cut off from the entire suite of tools. If you are not a customer, you will have 60 days to test everything and see how you like it.

The thinkorswim platform is complete, and this is one of the aspects that has been highlighted in our full broker review. Besides the tools, you will get streaming news and be able to watch the markets as well as your watchlist. You can test strategies and access technical studies and charts, and you will find most of the platform’s features enabled in the simulator.

Interactive brokers

Interactive Brokers brings the functionality of its high-caliber trading platform to virtual trading in what it calls its Paper Trading account. You will start off as a big player with $ 1 million in paper money available for trading, and you will be able to use the broker’s full range of trading tools. While the environment is being simulated, the market conditions are real, so you can get a feel for how you might react under the pressure of reality.

If there is one downside to the broker’s virtual trading simulator, it is that you have to be a client to try it out. You will not only need to open an account, but also fund it. Although it does require a bit of legwork to use the simulator, Interactive Brokers may be the pros’ most popular choice.

Webull

Webull has made a name for itself in the world of online brokers by offering a investment app as well as free trading on everything from stocks to options and cryptocurrencies. It also offers users the possibility of training thanks to its paper trading function.

Once users register on the app, they will be able to set their account value and start trading with virtual money. With paper trading, you will be able to track the performance of your trades over time and whether your strategies are ready for use with real money. You will be able to see your daily and aggregate income statements as well as the purchasing power of your portfolio. It’s a great feature for one of the most popular investing apps of recent years.

Why use a stock market simulator

Stock games and virtual trading really have different purposes and audiences, and they are both well suited for their purposes.

For those looking to have fun and try out some stock market ideas, stock market games make it easy. You can participate in the game with your friends, earn virtual money and just have a good time. Bragging is good, but it’s really about learning and having fun.

In contrast, virtual trading or simulators are intended for serious traders. Virtual trading is all about testing strategies and evaluating a broker’s platform, with the potential for you to lead your business there. Thus, a broker’s virtual trading platform will immerse you in a real market environment. Of course, money is not real, but market quotes are!

Virtual trading can be a great first step in the market because you can get a feel for how things work. If you make a mistake, it’s just paper money anyway. It gives you a sense of calm that you will never feel when real money is on the line.

While virtual trading can be helpful in finding your trading pace, the experience will be more intense and emotional when you are trading for real money and have something to lose. This does not, however, minimize the value of starting with virtual commerce. You just need to know the limits.

At the end of the line

Whether you are playing a stock market game or using virtual trading, it is important to remember that they are never quite like the real thing. You will react differently when playing with play money than when you have real money in play.

So even if you are familiar with how the market works or how a given broker’s trading platform works, it’s a good idea to start small and work your way up. You will always have the option of investing more money later.

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