For somebody that doesn't know much about the stock market and this type of investing, I was looking to see if anybody knew about an application/website where you can use "virtual" money (in other words, fake) to invest in stocks and see gains/losses and simply just learn.

The reason I want to do this is because I feel it would be a great exercise to learning the market, investing, and stocks without risking real money.

  1. I traded futures for a brief period in school using the BrokersXpress platform (now part of OptionsXpress, which is in turn now part of Charles Schwab). They had a virtual trading platform, and apparently still do, and it was excellent. Since my main account was enabled for futures, this carried over to the virtual account, so I could trade a whole range of futures, options, stocks, etc. I spoke with OptionsXpress, and you don't need to fund your acount to use the virtual trading platform. However, they will cancel your account after an arbitrary period of time if you don't log in every few days. According to their customer service, there is no inactivity fee on your main account if you don't fund it and make no trades.

  2. I also used Stock-Trak for a class and despite finding the occasional bug or website performance issue, it provided a good experience. I received a discount because I used it through an educational institution, and customer service was quite good (probably for the same reason), but I don't know if those same benefits would apply to an individual signing up for it.

  3. I signed up for top10traders about seven years ago when I was in secondary school, and it's completely free. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for, and the interface was poorly designed and slow. Furthermore, at that time, there were no restrictions that limited the number of shares you could buy to the number of outstanding shares, so you could buy as many as you could afford, even if you exceeded the number that physically existed. While this isn't an issue for large companies, it meant you could earn a killing trading highly illiquid pink sheet stocks because you could purchase billions of shares of companies with only a few thousand shares actually outstanding. I don't know if these issues have been corrected or not, but at the time, I and several other users took advantage of these oversights to rack up hundreds of trillions of dollars in a matter of days, so if you want a realistic simulation, this isn't it.

  4. Investopedia also has a stock simulator that I've heard positive things about, although I haven't used it personally.

  • I have used Investopedia's stock simulator, and I think it is a great tool for learning the market.
    – Jesse
    Apr 9 '13 at 16:41

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