Virtual Stock Trading Websites

A new trader can think about it, read about it, and study it, but until he or she actually does it, stock trading can be devastating to your confidence as well as your account balance. Why’s that? Because none of those books or classes prepare a trader for the stock market’s real-world environment, where capital is limited and irrationality overrides logic on a frequent basis. Fear not, however, as there’s a way to get your feet wet in the real world without risking your brokerage account’s value in the process.

Virtual Trading (sometimes called “Paper Trading” from back when people would practice investing before the use of computers) is just what it sounds like: An environment that links a hypothetical stock trading account to real market information, letting you place pretend trades that are based on the same information you’ll have access to when it’s the real thing. If a trader can do well virtually, he or she should be able to recreate that success in reality – provided the activity and strategies are executed the same way in both environments.

While there are several sites that can offer a virtual trading environment and monitor your results, here some of the best free virtual trading platforms.

Kapitall (https://www.kapitall.com/) – Though the site is built as an educational tool (research and analysis rather than a virtual trading tool, it’s hypothetical portfolio feature is quite robust. Be sure to create a ‘practice portfolio’ rather than a ‘mirror portfolio’ though. The practice portfolio starts you out with your choice of a fixed dollar amount, and it’s up to you to grow it.

MarketWatch’s Virtual Stock Exchange (http://vse.marketwatch.com/Game/Homepage.aspx) – You can trade on your own, or join a game in progress. Or, if you’re part of an organization that has an interest in learning how to trade better, you can custom-create your own stock trading contest.

Marketocracy (http://marketocracy.com/) – The original virtual trading website. Though it’s geared more for long-term investors than it is for short-term traders, it’s still a fantastic simulator in that it limits you to positions and trade frequency that you’d experience in the real world…. particularly if you were a mutual fund manager.

And for the allocation-conscious, Marketocracy’s portfolio view tools are second to none.

Better still, for the best of the best (and consistently strong) investors, the site’s operators may invite you to become one of  the M100 managers, and actually pay you a small fee for your stock picks used by the Marketocracy mutual fund.

Wall Street Survivor (http://www.wallstreetsurvivor.com/) – You can win real cash and prizes with this site’s mock trading contests… not a lot, but something is better than nothing. Wall Street Survivor also does a great job of supplying outside-but-integrated analysis and commentary.

UpDown (http://www.updown.com/) – Another site that offers cash, not just for winning contests, but also for your portfolio’s performance – the better you do, the more money you can make. You can also earn a little based on the community’s grade of your research and commentary.

Other virtual stock trading sites are on the way to be sure, but these five – by virtue of being in existence for a while now – offer something that new sites can’t… an existing community of traders to make the contests and portfolio management process at least more interesting, and a lot more fun.

Photo via epicharmus