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Stock market simulators are an ideal way to grow your trading skills or compare your investment acumen to others around the world. They are the Wall Street equivalent of fantasy football since simulators imitate real-world stock market trading.

Best of all, you’re at no risk of losing your hard-earned cash because these platforms give you virtual currency to play with. (Typically, $100,000 although amounts can vary; some even offer $1 million in play money.)

However, not all simulators are created equal. Each has its own area of strength, but the key criterion is that you are given a realistic experience trading in actual market conditions.

Here are the top 5 stock market simulators that offer just such an experience and more. They are at the top of the heap because each delivers  a unique flavor to appeal to a range of investor tastes and needs.

1. MarketWatch Virtual Stock Exchange

This is a solid all-around stock market simulator. It’s offered by one of the recognizable names in the investing world, MarketWatch. Because of this, the platform has over 40,000 games in play at any given time. But if you prefer not to join an existing game, you can create one of your own with a set of rules you design.

The platform also provides advanced functionality that delivers an experience very similar to what you find in the real world. MarketWatch’s Virtual Stock Exchange offers capabilities like limit orders, buying on margin, short selling, and partial shares. As a result, you can try trading features you’ve been curious to experience in reality. It’s a great way to learn on your terms.

2. Wall Street Survivor

If having fun and winning prizes is more your speed, this is the simulator for you. As one of the older stock market sims available, it’s got a ton of features that replicate real world conditions and a large user base of players to compete with.

While you can use the platform to practice trading, the emphasis is on joining a league to battle for real cash prizes. This is the place for people who want a true fantasy football-type experience where it’s more about competing with other traders.

3. HowTheMarketWorks

This simulator puts its emphasis on stock market education; hence the name. As a result, the platform offers a ton of tutorials, instructional videos, and other tools to help you learn how to invest. It’s even got special capabilities for teachers who want to use the platform as an instructional tool for students.

If you want a sim that is all about learning the investment ropes, HowTheMarketWorks is a good one for you.

4. The Trading Game

If you crave the freedom of playing on your phone, then The Trading Game is one of the best simulator apps. It’s got you covered on Android, iPhone, and iPad devices and it works well on older phones too. (Other simulator apps are only available on Android or iPhone, or do not work if you lack the latest phone.)

While it offers only a limited range of stocks to play with, its strength lies in letting you try your hand at Forex and cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin) trading. You can even play around with commodities like gold and oil.

As these types of trades are high risk and require a different strategy from stocks, a simulator like The Trading Game is the perfect no-risk way to experiment in these areas. And if you’re serious about learning to trade currencies or commodities in real life, the app offers a section with advice and tutorials on how to do so.

5. ThinkOrSwim paperMoney

This sim is offered by another big brand in the financial world, TD Ameritrade. The focus of this simulator is to test and fine-tune investment strategies before executing them for real.

Consequently, the simulation piece is tightly integrated with the platform for doing actual trades. That’s where it can get confusing, so a word of caution: ThinkOrSwim is the name of TD Ameritrade’s trading platform. You have to select the “Register for PaperMoney” option to join the simulator. ( Paper trading is the industry term referring to the use of a simulator.)

As a result, this platform is a great option for those who want to use the simulator as a test bed for experimenting with investment strategies before executing them in real life. (Note that beyond a 60-day grace period, you will have to open a brokerage account with TD Ameritrade.)

The last word

These 5 simulators are the best because each offers something unique to match your objectives and needs. And as icing on the cake, they are all free to use. So take a simulator for a spin, test your skills before putting rea money on the line and have fun along the way.


Robert “Izzy” Izquierdo was inculcated into the church of finance by his investor father (who achieved millionaire status through stocks). Izzy has bought and sold stocks for decades. As a technologist who has worked at Silicon Valley companies to tech startups, Izzy pursues his dual passions of digital domain expert by day and Wall Street wanderer by night.