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TradeStation Review

Blain Reinkensmeyer

Chris McKhann

January 14th, 2022

As a trading technology leader, TradeStation supports casual traders through its web-based platform and active traders through its award-winning desktop platform, all with $0 stock and ETF trades.


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Top Takeaways for 2022

After spending three months testing 15 of the best online brokers for our 12th Annual Review, here are our top findings on TradeStation:

  1. In our testing, we found that TradeStation has one of the most robust desktop platforms we've seen. As a leader in trader technology, it has earned our top award for Platform Technology for 10 years running.
  2. TradeStation offers great tools through a platform suite that includes desktop, web-based, and mobile variations. All three are terrific. Top that off with $0 trading through TS Select and TS Go accounts, and there is a lot to like.
  3. Like some of its other active-trader-focused competitors, TradeStation is lacking in its offering of fundamental company research for casual investors. Education is also a mixed bag, making it just an OK choice for beginners.

Overall summary

FeatureTradeStation
Overall 4 Stars
Commissions & Fees 4.5 Stars
Platforms & Tools 4.5 Stars
Research 2 Stars
Mobile Trading Apps 4.5 Stars
Offering of Investments 4.5 Stars
Education 3.5 Stars
Ease of Use 4.5 Stars

--> View TradeStation Features List

Offering of investments

TradeStation gives its customers access to a robust offering of trading products, with full access to stock, ETFs, futures, and options trading, including comprehensive direct-market routing, numerous advanced order types, IPO access, and more.

Drawbacks: Dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs) are not offered at TradeStation and all orders for mutual funds must be phoned in. The broker does not offer fractional shares or forex trading, nor is there international trading.

Cryptocurrency: Cryptocurrency trading is offered through TradeStation Crypto and allows users to trade the following cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and USD Coin (USDC).

Retirement services: TradeStation offers traditional, Roth and rollover IRAs. There is an administration fee of $35 per year for an IRA.

TradeStation offering summary:

FeatureTradeStation
Stock Trading Yes
OTCBB / Pink Sheets Yes
Options Trading Yes
Complex Options Max Legs4
Bonds (US Treasury) Yes
Futures Trading Yes
Forex Trading No
Mutual Funds (Total)4357
Advisor Services No
Crypto Trading Yes
Crypto Trading - Total Coins4

Commissions and fees

TradeStation offers a variety of commission structures, which can be confusing. Fortunately, its most commonly used pricing plans, TS Select and TS Go, offer $0 trades, are easy to understand, include free market data and incur no monthly platform charges.

TS Select: TradeStation's most commonly used pricing structure requires a $2,000 minimum deposit and includes access to all three of TradeStation’s trading platforms. With TS Select, all stock trades, including ETFs, are $0, options trades run $.60 per contract, and futures are $1.50 per contract (per side).

TS Go: With no minimum deposit required, TS Go offers unlimited $0 stock and ETF trades alongside options trades for just $.50 per contract and futures trades for $0.85 per contract (per side). A limitation to using TS Go is that while all three trading platforms are available, any trades placed with TradeStation desktop incur a $10 fee ($1.40 for trading futures).

Professionals: $0 trades aside, TradeStation offers two different commission structures for professional traders: per share and unbundled. For a full pricing breakdown, see our detailed TradeStation commissions notes.

TradeStation Salutes: Unique to TradeStation, active military personnel, veterans, and first responders can sign up for the TradeStation Salutes program, which offers free stocks, ETFs and options trades.

Penny stocks: Under TS Select and TS Go, penny stock trades are $0 for the first 10,000 shares and $0.005 per share after that (and an extra $0.005 per share if you direct the order to a specific venue).

Cryptocurrency trading: If you want to invest in bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies, TradeStation Crypto offers competitive fees starting at 0.5% per trade. These commission rates drop even further for account balances beyond $100,000. TradeStation Crypto also offers you the ability to earn interest when holding certain cryptocurrencies in your account. In 2022, TradeStation again won our award, No. 1 Crypto Technology.

TradeStation pricing summary:

FeatureTradeStation
Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trades$0.00
Penny Stock Fees (OTCCB)0 per trade (up to 10,000 shares)
ETF Trade Fee$0.00
Options (Base Fee)$0.00
Options (Per Contract)$0.60
Futures (Per Contract)$1.50
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$14.95
Broker Assisted Trade Fee$0.00

Mobile trading apps

TradeStation's mobile app is meticulously designed and provides the functionality that active and professional traders need to succeed. Thanks to Matrix (ladder trading) and complex options trading support, full day trading functionality is incorporated. Note: Matrix requires Level II market data, which is available for an additional $11 per month. Traders can now access their TradeStation Crypto account directly through the TradeStation app.

Watch lists and hot lists: While mobile watch lists automatically sync with the Web Trading platform, they do not sync with the TradeStation desktop platform. I found dozens of predefined screeners available in the Hot Lists section to scan the market which can be further customized.

Charting: Charting on TradeStation mobile is robust, clean, and includes pretty much everything a demanding trader could want: full chart type and date range flexibility, after-hours visibility, active and filled order visibility, and 44 optional indicators, to name a few. Drawing tools are available, so you can draw anything from trend lines to Fibonacci retracements on charts (although I would recommend a large phone screen or iPad, as an iPhone XS was too small).

FuturesPlus: TradeStation offers this stand-alone app for trading options on futures. Designed in conjunction with Trading Technologies, FuturesPlus provides the variety of advanced tools one would expect from TradeStation. Highlights include price visualization, predefined and custom strategy builders, advanced contract analysis, real-time time and sales, and of course, risk management via Greeks.

TradeStation mobile app screenshots:

TradeStation mobile summary:

FeatureTradeStation
iPhone App Yes
Android App Yes
Apple Watch App No
Stock Alerts Yes
Charting - After-Hours Yes
Charting - Technical Studies45
Charting - Study Customizations Yes
Watch Lists - Streaming Yes
Watch Lists - Create & Manage Yes
Watch Lists - Column Customization Yes

Other trading platforms and tools

TradeStation offers three trading platforms: TradeStation desktop, which is the company's flagship product; Web Trading, which is a browser-based platform designed for traders seeking simplicity; and TS Crypto, which is a platform dedicated solely to cryptocurrency trading. All three are excellent.

TradeStation desktop tools: The functionality provided in the TradeStation desktop platform is rich with depth and widespread. Tools in the TradeStation arsenal include Radar Screen (real-time streaming watch lists with 329 customizable columns), Scanner (custom screening), Matrix (ladder trading), and Walk-Forward Optimizer (advanced strategy testing), among others. Using TradeStation's proprietary coding language, EasyLanguage, traders can even code apps for the platform and make them available in TradeStation's TradingApp Store.

TradeStation desktop charting: More than 40 years of historical data are viewable for stock charts. Furthermore, a staggering 290 indicators/studies are available, each of which can be reworked or adjusted to your specifications using EasyLanguage. I did uncover two minor flaws with charting: there is no way to plot basic y-axis markers for corporate events such as dividends, splits, and earnings; and there is a lack of automated technical analysis.

TradeStation Web Trading: TradeStation Web Trading is easy to use and gives traders a way to manage active positions, open orders, set up watch lists, conduct stock chart analysis and place trades with ease (ladder trading via Matrix included). The chart-trading functionality alone is superior to many flagship platforms. Note that TradeStation Web Trading watch lists do not sync with TradeStation desktop, which is a bit annoying for traders who use both platforms.

Options trading: Options trading is a breeze using OptionStation Pro, a built-in tool within the TradeStation desktop platform designed for streamlined trading and robust analysis. Options tool capabilities include custom grouping for current positions, streaming real-time Greeks, and advanced position analysis.

Futures trading: Like options trading, futures traders will also find themselves right at home with TradeStation desktop. Many of the advanced tools used for trading equities apply to futures trading, creating a seamless trading experience.

TradeStation trading platform screenshots:

TradeStation trading platform summary:

FeatureTradeStation
Desktop Trading Platform Yes
Web Trading Platform Yes
Paper Trading Yes
Trade Journal No
Watch Lists - Total Fields335
Charting - Indicators / Studies290
Charting - Drawing Tools23
Charting - Study Customizations12
Charting - Save Profiles Yes
Trade Ideas - Technical Analysis Yes
Streaming Time & Sales Yes
Trade Ideas - Backtesting Yes

Research

Like its close competitors, TradeStation is not built for performing in-depth company research.

Stock research: Pros include full stocks and options screening, equity backtesting, and streaming futures and forex data. However, there is no traditional fundamental research for stocks.

ETFs and mutual funds research: TradeStation does not offer mutual fund or fixed income research, and the research experience for ETFs is nearly nonexistent.

Market commentary: While TradeStation's YouCanTrade subsidiary offers mostly educational content, its in-house analysts also provide research for TradeStation customers. Market research is a mix of written and video content for both technical and fundamental analysis, found under the Insights section within the TradeStation website. That said, the range and depth of research available across TradeStation’s platforms is limited and pales in comparison to industry leaders such as Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and TD Ameritrade.

TradeStation market research screenshots:

TradeStation research summary:

FeatureTradeStation
Research - Stocks Yes
Stock Research - ESG No
Stock Research - PDF Reports0
Screener - Stocks Yes
Research - ETFs Yes
Screener - ETFs No
Research - Mutual Funds No
Screener - Mutual Funds No
Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB Yes
Research - Bonds No

Education

TradeStation has been working to upgrade its educational experience. While education is primarily available through YouCanTrade, an independent site, there is some good basic education on various trading topics, especially options and crypto.

Learning center: Ongoing education is available through the Markets Insight Blog. There is also a series of monthly trading webinars.

YouCanTrade, an independent education-focused website run separately from TradeStation brokerage, hosts four channels operated by different educators. Each channel contains its own set of courses, including written and video content. Traders can pay to gain access to full-featured courses, including webinars, live trading room access, real-time alerts, and more. In addition to hosting over 10 webinars per month, YouCanTrade published over 430 videos on its YouTube channel, the majority of which were live streams.

Platform education: TradeStation provides thorough materials for new customers learning how to use the TradeStation desktop platform. Alongside numerous videos and help guides, advanced traders seeking personalized one-on-one training can pay $150 for one-hour private learning sessions.

TradeStation education screenshots:

TradeStation education summary:

FeatureTradeStation
Education (Stocks) Yes
Education (ETFs) No
Education (Options) Yes
Education (Mutual Funds) No
Education (Bonds) No
Education (Retirement) No
Paper Trading Yes
Videos Yes
Progress Tracking No
Interactive Learning - Quizzes No

Customer service

To score Customer Service, StockBrokers.com partners with customer experience research firm Confero to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the United States. For our 2022 Broker Review, 159 customer service tests were conducted over six weeks. Here are the results for TradeStation.

Results

  • Average Connection Time: >5 minutes
  • Average Net Promoter Score: 4.3 / 10
  • Average Professionalism Score: 3.9 / 10
  • Overall Score: 4.4 / 10
  • Ranking: 13th of 13 brokers

Final thoughts

While traditional stock research is limited at TradeStation, active traders will feel right at home with TradeStation's desktop and mobile trading platforms, which are loaded with trading tools. Meanwhile, casual investors will appreciate the TradeStation Web Trader platform, thanks to its focus on simplicity and ease of use.

How much does TradeStation cost per month?

TradeStation offers a variety of different commission structures, which can be confusing. Fortunately, TradeStation's two most commonly used pricing plans offer $0 stock and ETF trades and incur no monthly platform charges. TS Select requires a $2,000 minimum deposit, while TS Go has no required minimum.

Can TradeStation be trusted?

TradeStation is a well-established broker that traces its roots back to 1982. While investing and trading have obvious and inherent risks, TradeStation is regulated in the same manner as other online brokers.

How much money do you need to open a TradeStation account?

The minimum deposit at TradeStation depends on which pricing plan you choose. There is no minimum deposit to open a TS Go account. But to get the most out of TradeStation, a TS Select account provides full, no-fee access to the TradeStation platforms, and requires a $2,000 deposit.

About TradeStation

Headquartered in Plantation, Florida, TradeStation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Monex Group, Inc., one of Japan’s largest online financial services providers. TradeStation's roots date back to 1982, when the company was formed under the name Omega Research. The company's flagship TradeStation platform was launched in 1991, and TradeStation Group was a NASDAQ listed company from 1997-2011, until it was acquired by Monex Group.

2022 Review Methodology

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For the StockBrokers.com 12th Annual Review published in January 2022, a total of 3,075 data points were collected over three months and used to score 15 top brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

As part of our annual review process, all brokers had the opportunity to provide updates and key milestones and complete an in-depth data profile, which we hand-checked for accuracy. Brokers also were offered the opportunity to provide executive time for an annual update meeting.

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About the Author

Blain Reinkensmeyer

Blain Reinkensmeyer is a Managing Partner at Reink Media Group. He heads research for all U.S.-based brokerages on StockBrokers.com and is respected by executives as the leading analyst covering the online broker industry. Blain’s insights have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among other media outlets, and he is noted as a top expert on the U.S. online brokerage industry.


Chris McKhann

Chris McKhann has been in the industry for more than 20 years. He has worked for many of the top names in the online trading space, including TD Ameritrade and optionMONSTER, which later became part of E*TRADE. His work has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Financial Times, Forbes, CNBC, Nasdaq.com and Nikkei. He has also been an advisor and outside trader for several hedge funds. He was one of the first traders to delve into the VIX tradable products and to write about them (back in 2006). Chris is also an educator who teaches high school statistics, finance and computer science.








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All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 01/10/2022 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. For stock trade rates, advertised pricing is for a standard order size of 500 shares of stock priced at $30 per share. For options orders, an options regulatory fee per contract may apply.

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