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What Is an Investment Simulator?


Investing is risky. When you put your money in the market, you’re taking a chance that you could lose it. This is the same money that you might need to pay your mortgage, feed your family and cover the other basic costs of living. If you want the thrill of investing without the risk, consider using an online investment simulator. Here are some of the available options for investment simulators and what you can do with each of them.

Do you have questions about how to build your own investment portfolio? Speak with a financial advisor.

How an Investment Simulator Works

An investment simulator is exactly what it sounds like: a digital video game for people who want to practice investing without using their real life money. These unique investing tools afford users a certain amount of money, which they can then “invest” in a variety of different real securities, like stocks, options and even exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Most investment simulators are completely free, though some will even allow you to win prizes or cash. Below, we review some of the most popular investment simulators available on the internet.

Investopedia Stock Market Simulator

The investing education website Investopedia has a stock market game that you can play for free. You are given $100,000 in virtual cash, and you can make as many trades as you want to try to increase your pool of virtual cash. You can also join challenges against other investors to compete to get the best results each day.

There are hundreds of thousands of players on the platform executing virtual trades. One note: there is a 15-minute lag in trade execution, so it’s not quite as real-time as trading on an actual stock market. For most users, though, this won’t be a huge issue.

Investopedia markets its service as not just a fun distraction, but as an integrated part of the site’s goal of educating people about finance.

Wall Street Survivor

investment simulator

With Wall Street Survivor, you can manage fake money not just for fun, but for real money. The site offers leagues that give away cash prizes to the top three players at the end of the predefined period.

The simulator is pretty straightforward. You start with $100,000 in cash, and you make trades in stocks, and ETFs listed on the various U.S. stock markets. You can also take out options, take the short position on stock if you think it will decrease in value, and even trade cryptocurrencies. The platform is very user-friendly, and you easily can track how your portfolio is doing. There is also a function that allows you to see what recent trades you’ve made.

How The Market Works

Similar to the previous simulators, How The Market Works gives you $100,000 to virtually invest and see if you can turn it into even more virtual wealth. You can also create your own contest if you just want to compete against your friends, perhaps in an investing club at your college. There is even a special section for teachers and professors who want to use the simulator as part of their curriculum. Over 10,000 teachers and 475,000 students use the platform each year.

How the Market Works also has an education center with lessons broken down into introductory, intermediate and advanced categories. There are tips for trades you may want to make and a number of tutorial videos explaining how to manage your portfolio.

MarketWatch Virtual Stock Exchange

With MarketWatch’s game, you can either join an existing game or create a new one with your co-workers or classmates. There are advanced trading techniques available, like limit and stop loss orders, and you can also buy partial shares. You can build custom watchlists, and you get to set the amount of virtual cash with which each player starts. You can choose whether or not to allow margin trading, short selling and other investment techniques.

If you want to limit the game to a certain sector — say, only tech stocks — you can limit the companies list to only the ones you want.

Brokerage Paper Trading Accounts

investment simulator

Some brokerages offer their own investment simulators, known as paper trading accounts. These might not have the game-like functions of the above options. However, they offer one major upside: If you like the platform and decide to start making stock market trades for real, you can just sign up and start using that same platform.

Some popular paper trading platforms include TD Ameritrade and Kapitall.

Bottom Line

Stock market simulators can be good for a number of reasons. They can help you learn how to invest so that when you start spending real money you have a better idea of what you want to do. Offices use them for team building, and teachers can use them to help students understand how the stock market works. And, of course, they can just be used for a bit of fun, and maybe to even earn a bit of cash. All of the above simulators are good options.

Investing Tips

  • When you’re ready to move from simulators to the real thing, a financial advisor can help you build a portfolio. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Already investing? You can find out how your investments will grow over time with SmartAsset’s investment calculator.

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