TradeStation ReviewOpen an Account
Highly advanced trade platform supports third-party development; unique trade tools; designed for multi-monitor trading; ample platform help.
Pricey platform fees charged if monthly minimums are not met; client admin area finicky and outdated.
|Commissions & Fees|
|Platform & Tools|
|Ease of Use|
2013 Review Star Ratings
N/A - Not Applicable
|N/R||Commissions & Fees|
|2nd||Platforms & Tools|
N/R - Not Ranked in Top 10
N/A - Not Applicable
Since becoming a brokerage in 1982, TradeStation has prided itself on being a leader in trader technology and having one of the most robust platforms available anywhere to traders. After celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2012, TradeStation continues that effort in 2013.
Platforms & Tools
TradeStation's desktop platform is its flagship product and core focus. Web trading has been introduced as of early 2013, however, its current use is primarily for placing trades alongside managing orders and positions when the desktop application is not within reach.
Multi-monitor traders will appreciate TradeStation’s flexibility in supporting multiple monitors, allowing each monitor to have its own desktop workstation open.
TradeStation’s tools cater to every type of professional investor, including institutions such as hedge funds. More than 40 years of historical data are available for equities trading when it comes to charting and studies. Backtesting through Portfolio Maestro and customized scanning of the market for opportunities are just the tip of the iceberg as far as functionality goes.
Charting allows investors to go deep into analysis, customizing indicators with numerous options, something only competitors like TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim platform can compete with. More than 200 indicators/studies are available for inclusion, and each one can be reworked or adjusted to the trader's exact specification.
Options traders are not forgotten either, thanks to OptionStation Pro, a built-in tool within the platform. Analyzing potential trades is a breeze, and traders can view traditional 2D as well as 3D profit & loss (P&L) charts, something exclusive to TradeStation. While the 3D views were a nice plus, ultimately, they felt more like eye candy.
Other tools in the TradeStation arsenal include Radar Screen, Scanner, Matrix (ladder trading) and Walk-Forward Optimizer, among others.
One last important piece of TradeStation's tools offering is its EasyLanguage, TradeStation's own proprietary coding language that allows traders to run wild with indicator and trade strategy customizations. Clients can share and sell their work via the TradeStation Strategy Network. Some products are offered for free, while others can run $500 per month or more.
Commissions & Fees
While TradeStation does offer support for all trading types, including forex and futures, this review focuses on TradeStation's equities and options offering. Note: Mutual funds are not supported for trading through the platform and must be phoned in.
TradeStation, like MB Trading, Interactive Brokers, Lightspeed and others, requires clients to purchase real-time data feeds for every exchange they wish to trade. For example, if clients wish to trade equities in the NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX, the price would be $3 per month ($1 + $1 + $1, respectively). Level II quotes run $11 per month, and so on.
The main fee all new clients should be aware of is the $99 monthly charge for the TradeStation software, which can only be waived if certain activity levels are hit or the client has more than $1M in assets. For equities traders, at least 5,000 shares per month must be traded, and for options traders, 50 contracts are necessary to avoid the fee.
A full breakdown of TradeStation's commissions & fees structure can be seen via the Commissions & Fee tab above. Overall, TradeStation has a very competitive commissions schedule when pitted against large, full-service brokers (TD Ameritrade, Scottrade, ETRADE, Charles Schwab, Fidelity), but is more expensive than some of its close competitors like Lightspeed and Interactive Brokers.
|TradeStation||Interactive Brokers||Lightspeed Trading||MB Trading||TD Ameritrade|
One last important note: TradeStation does not accept payment for order flow, nor does it pass on market rebates to its clients. The only broker to completely avoid market rebates, TradeStation's philosophy focuses on no hidden costs, alongside achieving price improvement through sophisticated routing techniques. Unfortunately, there is not enough data to verify whether or not this is ultimately a net savings to clients, versus hand-picking the route and receiving the market rebate for adding liquidity.
During our testing, we found TradeStation's phone support to be slightly above average, its email support to be slightly below average and its live chat support to be below average.
TradeStation's phone support was the strongest, and for good reason — broker reps were always quick to pick up our calls and were, overall, well trained. Compared to other active trader niche brokers, TradeStation was among the best in the phone service category. Only Cobra Trading, which finished second overall in this year's 2013 Online Broker Review, was stronger.
TradeStation finished just outside the top 10 for customer service.
TradeStation offers little research and, as a result, is not recommended for this category (like all active trader niche brokers).
The broker does offer a new browser-based platform called TradeStation WebTrading. New as of early January 2013, we found the platform to be similar to what Interactive Brokers offers with its own browser accomplice platform, which is an easy way to place trades and monitor positions. However, we were extremely impressed with the cleanness and overall quality. During our testing we found WebTrading to be bug free, easy-to-use and, overall, we feel it has significant potential for later expansion.
For mobile trading, we found TradeStation to be just okay when we tested the iPhone app. The app was easy-to-use, however, it lacked some core functionality we would expect from TradeStation, such as technical indicators for charting. It is a well-built, bug-free app, but based on TradeStation's reputation as a powerhouse platform provider, we were left wanting more.
With more than 30 years of experience under its belt, TradeStation is a leader and innovator in its offering of a full-feature trade platform and high-power trade tools. Its appeal to active traders and professional investors is rivaled by only a select few.
While not a broker for everyone, especially new investors, its place in the realm of online brokers is not going anywhere. With full effort put behind its web-based and mobile-based platforms, 2013 could be TradeStation's biggest year of development yet.
Compare TradeStation Securities to Key Competitors
Trade Commissions Breakdown
|$9.99||Flat-Fee Trade Plan*|
|$0.0100||Per-Share Trade Plan|
|$0.00||Options Base Trade Fee*|
|$14.95||Options Exercise Fee|
|$5.95||Options Assignment Fee|
|$14.95||Mutual Fund Trade Fee|
|$20.00||Broker Assisted Trade Fee|
|$14.95||Bond Trade Fee|
|$50.00||Treasury Trade Fee|
|$14.95||Certificate of Deposit (CD) Trade Fee|
|$0.00||Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Phone Trade Fee|
|$35.00||IRA Annual Fee|
|$50.00||IRA Closure Fee|
|$20.00||Forced-Margin Sellout Fee|
|$25.00||Returned ACH Fee|
|$25.00||Returned Wire Transfer Fee|
|$150.00||Stock Certificate Processing Fee|
|$15.00||Stock Certificate Delivery Fee|
|$1.00||Paper Statement Fee|
|$1.00||Paper Confirmation Fee|
|$25.00||Outgoing Domestic Wire Transfer Fee|
|$35.00||Outgoing International Wire Transfer Fee|
Commission NotesTradeStation offers two commission plans. For simplicity we utilized the Flat-Fee plan throughout the site. Full commissions schedule including both plans are broken down below.
Platforms & Fees - TradeStation requires clients to purchase real-time data feeds for every exchange that wish to trade. For example, if clients wish to trade equities in the NASDAQ, NYSE, and AMEX the price would be $3 per month ($1 + $1 + $1, respectively).
TradeStation charges a base platform fee of $99.95 per month for its main platform ($59.95 monthly for RadarScreen) unless you reach any of the following trading activity minimums during the preceding month: A. Stocks - Trade 5,000 shares. B. Options - Trade 50 contracts. C. Futures - Trade 10 round-turn futures or futures option contracts or 50 round-turn single stock. D. Other - Have atleast $1 million in account balance on the last day of the previous calender month.
Both TradeStation Webtrading and OptionStation are free for all clients with no monthly service fee charges.
Stock Trades - TradeStation offers two commission plans: Per-Share and Flat-Fee.
- Per-Share pricing: First 500 shares are $.01 per share, $.006 per share all shares thereafter. There is a $1 minimum per order. For example a 500 share trade would be $5 total and a 1000 share trade would be $8 (500x.01 + 500x.06).
- Flat-Fee pricing: If making 1 - 9 trades per month the rate is $9.99 per trade. For 10 - 29 trades per month the rate is $7.99 per trade. Lastly, if making 30 or more trades per month the rate is $6.99 per trade. Each month's rate is determined by the previous month's total trades. For example, if a client places 15 trades in a month, then their rate will be $7.99 for the month thereafter.
Options Trades - Options trades 1.00 per contract with no base fee and no minimums. Exercise & assignments are $14.95. Early exercises or assignments are $1.50 per contract ($5.95 minimum).
Mutual Funds - Mutual funds cost $14.95 per trade. Other fees may apply depending on the fund. Note though all mutual fund trades must be placed via phone and cannot be made through the platform.
Other Investments - TradeStation also offers futures, forex, bonds, and t-bills. IRAs are charged a $35 yearly account fee and a $50 fee for termination.
TradeStation was reviewed by Blain Reinkensmeyer on 2013-02-19 with an overall rating of 2.5 Stars.
2013 Review Results - TradeStation finished #3 for Active Trading, #4 for Options Trading, was awarded Best Platform Technology, and was rated 4.5 stars (#2) for Platforms & Tools. Read the 2013 Broker Review.
Misc. Account Information
|0||No. of Commission-Free ETFs|
|0||No. of Retail Locations|
|2000||No. of Mutual Funds (w/ Load)|
|2000||No. of Mutual Funds (No Load)|
|0||No. of 3rd Party Research Report Providers|
|4||Max. No. of Legs (Complex Options)|
|No Minimum Deposit|
|No Maintenance Fees|
|Online Trader Community|
|Live Chat Support|
|24/7 Customer Support|
|Long Term Trading|
|Credit Card Accounts|
|Debit Card Accounts|
Trading Platform Features
|Web Browser Platform|
|Windows Desktop Platform|
|Mac Desktop Platform|
Active Trading Features
|Direct routing offered to clients|
|Broker receives payments for order flow|
|Broker internalizes trades|
|Clients receive rebates for adding liquidity|