The ultimate guide to stock market 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 stocks, whether you want to do it as a full-time job or as a hobby. You can get into virtual trading for free and not risk losing any money, but the real appeal is often the ability to simply track your progress, track some of your favorite stocks, and dream a little about making outsized returns. on your fake wallet. .

Stock simulators are of two main types:

  • Stock games, where you compete with friends or strangers to select the best performing stocks within a portfolio you manage. The emphasis is less on trading and more on long-term investing for the duration of the game. Above all, you are just there to have fun.
  • Virtual trade, where you follow the market closely and actively trade stocks for virtual profit. These simulators typically use a broker’s actual trading platform and allow you to familiarize yourself with the various tools available. For the most part, in virtual trading, you use it as a way to practice real trading and test out a platform.

Here are several of the best stock trading games and virtual trading platforms available online for those looking to get started.

The best stock market games

Wealth base

Wealthbase is a relatively new entrant in the world of stock market games, and it’s one of the most fun games out there. Wealthbase marries a stock picking contest with social media, and the result is a match made in heaven. You can create a game, set the game rules, then email your friends to enter – and you’ll have a complete virtual contest 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 interface is smooth – everything loads so quickly – and the social elements make competing more fun. You’ll have a live feed of the actions your rivals choose, and you can talk a little trash, if that’s your thing. End-of-day updates track your progress, while you can use charts 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 game that allows users to enter existing contests and compete for cash prizes, or create a new game to compete against 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 about topics such as socially responsible investing, how to value a business, and introductions to analyzing financial statements. These courses can be particularly useful if you are new to investing.

Virtual Stock Exchange

Virtual Stock Exchange is offered by Marketwatch, and it allows you to create your own game or you can join one of the tens of thousands of games that are currently in play.

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 US exchanges and just enter the stock symbol to get full company details. Players have a page dedicated to their portfolio and they can create a watchlist to track stocks for further research. This portfolio building contest is a solid addition to the field.

CAPS Motley Fool

The Motley Fool was founded on the principle of crowd investing wisdom, and its CAPS service does much the same, allowing you to see why a player has made a choice. Players can write a short pitch for any given title, and these can be a great tool for brainstorming ideas. When you join, you’ll be thrown into a giant game with tens of thousands of players, and each entry is ranked by how well it performs. 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 how good your choice is and by how much it beats the stock market as a whole. But the real value is watching the best in action and even asking them questions.

How the market works

HowTheMarketWorks is a great option for those just getting started with investing and is particularly aimed at students and investing clubs. The website targets high school and college students in business and finance courses as well as adults looking 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 assignments.

HowTheMarketWorks says more than 400,000 students and individuals use the site each year.

Top virtual trading platforms and simulators


TradeStation is well known as a broker for high volume professional 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 wins and losses. Another benefit 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 app – paperMoney – puts you in the game with $100,000 in virtual currency, and you’ll be working with the broker’s popular thinkorswim trading platform right from the start. If you don’t have an account with the broker yet, you’ll need to register to download the platform, but then you’ll be free of the entire suite of tools. If you’re not a customer, you’ll have 60 days to test everything and see how you like it.

The thinkorswim platform is comprehensive, and this was one of the aspects that was highlighted in our full review of the broker. Apart from the tools, you will get streaming news and can watch the markets as well as your watchlist. You can test strategies and access technical studies and charts, and you’ll 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 as a high roller with $1 million in paper money available for trading, and you will be able to use the broker’s full suite of trading tools. Although the environment is simulated, the market conditions are real, so you can get an idea of ​​how you might react under the pressure of reality.

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


Webull has made a name for itself in the online brokerage world by offering a popular investment app as well as free trading on everything from stocks to options and cryptocurrencies. It also offers users the opportunity to practice through its paper trading feature.

Once users sign up for the app, they can 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 know if your strategies are ready for use with real money. You will be able to see your daily and overall profit and loss statements as well as the buying power of your portfolio. It’s a great feature for one of the most popular investing apps in 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 to their purposes.

For those looking to have fun and test out some stock ideas, stock games make it easy. You can enter the game with your friends, earn virtual money and just have a good time. Bragging rights are great, but it’s really about learning and having fun.

In contrast, virtual trading or simulators are for serious traders. Virtual trading is all about testing strategies and evaluating a broker’s platform, with the possibility of you taking your business there. Thus, a broker’s virtual trading platform will immerse you in a real market environment. Sure, the money isn’t real, but the market quotes are!

Virtual trading can be a great first step into 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 experience when real money is at stake.

While virtual trading can be helpful in finding your trading rhythm, the experience will be more intense and emotional when you are trading with real money and have something to lose. However, that does not minimize the value of getting started with virtual trading. Just know the limits.

At the end of the line

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

So even if you know 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.

Learn more:

  • Best Stock Brokers for Beginners
  • How to invest in stocks
  • The best short-term investments

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