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TradeStation Review

The StockBrokers.com annual review (9 years running) takes six months to complete and produces over 30,000 words of research each year. Here's how we test.

Established in 1982, TradeStation offers experienced and casual traders the trading tools they need to succeed.

In our testing, we have found TradeStation to be a leader in trader technology, with one of the most robust desktop platforms available to investors anywhere.

Review Summary

Rank: 7th (of 16)

As a trading technology leader, TradeStation shines, supporting casual traders through its web-based platform, and active traders through its award-winning desktop platform.

Benefits

  • The TradeStation desktop platform is robust and excellent for active trading.
  • The Web Trading platform is easy to use and is a great complement to the desktop platform.
  • Mobile trading is fluid and feature-rich.

Considerations

  • Watch lists do not sync across all three platforms (desktop, web, mobile).
  • Numerous optional commission plans can be confusing to navigate.

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  • Spring into the market action with FREE trading until 2020 Learn More

Commissions & Fees

Rank: 8th (of 16)

TradeStation offers a variety of different commission structures, which can be confusing. Fortunately, the brokerage’s most commonly used pricing structure, flat-fee trading, is easy to understand, includes free market data, and incurs no monthly platform charges.

Benefits

  • Focusing on TradeStation's most commonly used pricing structure, flat-fee trades, equity trades cost $5 and options trades cost $5 + $0.50 per contract. Without question, for non-professional traders, the flat-rate default plan is the best.
  • Unique to TradeStation, active military personnel, veterans, and first responders can sign up for the TradeStation Salutes program, which provides 100% free stocks, ETFs, and options trades.

Considerations

  • TradeStation offers three different commission structures to select from for equities (per share, flat fee, and unbundled) and two for options (per share, flat fee).
  • Free data for flat-fee accounts lack both Dow Jones Industrials information and Russell 2000 index quotes. Fortunately, there is an easy fix: just use the ETFs in their place (“DIA” and “IWN,” respectively).

Further Reading

Fees Comparison

FeatureTradeStationTD AmeritradeInteractive BrokersFidelity Lightspeed
Minimum Deposit$500.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$10,000.00
Stock Trade Fee (per trade)$5.00$6.95N/A$4.95$4.50
Options Base Fee$5.00$6.95$0.00$4.95$0.00
Options Per Contract Fee$0.50$0.75$0.70$0.65$0.60
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$14.95$49.99$14.95$49.95N/A
Commission-Free ETFs0313485000
Commissions & Fees 3.5 Stars 3.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars
View all 23 data points

Platforms & Tools

Rank: 2nd (of 16)

TradeStation offers two platforms: Web Trading, which is a browser-based platform designed for traders seeking simplicity, and TradeStation desktop, which is the company’s flagship product. Both are excellent.

Benefits

  • TradeStation Web Trading is easy to use and provides traders a way to manage active positions, open orders, 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.
  • The tools provided in TradeStation desktop are widespread and professional. For example, more than 40 years of historical data are available for trading equities when it comes to charting and studies. Furthermore, a staggering 274 indicators/studies are available, each of which can be reworked or adjusted to the trader's specifications using TradeStation’s proprietary coding language, EasyLanguage.
  • Alongside robust charting in TradeStation desktop, options traders are not forgotten either, thanks to OptionStation Pro, a built-in tool within the platform which is designed for streamlined trading. Options capabilities include custom grouping for current positions, streaming real-time greeks, and advanced position analysis, to name a few.
  • Other 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.

Considerations

  • TradeStation Web Trading watch lists do not sync with TradeStation desktop, which is a bit annoying for traders who use both platforms.
  • In TradeStation desktop, I uncovered only two flaws with charting. The first is that there is no way to plot basic y-axis markers for corporate events such as dividends, splits, and earnings. Second, there is a lack of automated technical analysis.

Gallery

Further Reading

Tools Comparison

FeatureTradeStationTD AmeritradeInteractive BrokersFidelity Lightspeed
Web Platform Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Desktop Platform (Windows) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Watch Lists - Total Fields33551445391141
Charting - Drawing Tools23229228
Charting - Indicators / Studies28241112116620
Option Chains - Total Columns3233372660
Streaming TV No Yes Yes Yes No
Paper Trading Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Platforms & Tools 4.5 Stars 5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 3 Stars
View all 59 data points

Research

Rank: 10th (of 16)

TradeStation offers little research and is not recommended for this category (like all active trader niche brokers).

Benefits

  • Stock and options screening is offered.
  • Futures and forex data is supported.

Considerations

  • No traditional fundamental research for stocks is offered.
  • Beyond basic data results, no ETFs research is provided.
  • No mutual fund or fixed income research is available.

Research Comparison

FeatureTradeStationTD AmeritradeInteractive BrokersFidelity Lightspeed
Research - Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stock Research - Reports071120
Research - ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Research - Mutual Funds No Yes No Yes No
Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Research - Fixed Income No Yes Yes Yes No
Research - Futures Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Research - Forex Yes Yes Yes No No
Research 1.5 Stars 5 Stars 3.5 Stars 5 Stars 1 Stars
View all 60 data points

Customer Service

Rank: 6th (of 16)

To score Customer Service, StockBrokers.com partners with customer experience research group Confero to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the United States. For our 2019 Broker Review, 300 customer service tests were conducted over ten weeks.

Results

  • Average Connection Time: <1 minute
  • Average Net Promoter Score: 8.3 / 10
  • Average Professionalism Score: 7.9 / 10
  • Overall Score: 8.39 / 10
  • Ranking: 6 th (16 brokers)
  • View Infographic

Mobile Trading

Rank: 5th (of 16)

TradeStation’s mobile trading offering is clean, effective, and provides the functionality active traders need to succeed.

Benefits

  • 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 43 optional indicators, to name a few. Even 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 my iPhone XS was too small.
  • Full day trading functionality is baked in, thanks to Matrix (ladder trading) and complex options trading support. Note: Matrix requires Level II market data, which is available for an additional $11 per month.

Considerations

  • While mobile watch lists automatically sync with the Web Trading platform, they do not sync with the TradeStation desktop platform.
  • Streaming live TV (CNBC or Bloomberg) or viewing market analysis videos on demand is not available.

Gallery

Further Reading:

Mobile Apps Comparison

FeatureTradeStationTD AmeritradeInteractive BrokersFidelity Lightspeed
iPhone App Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Android App Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Apple Watch App No Yes Yes Yes No
Watch List Syncing Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Stock Alerts - Basic Fields Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Charting - After Hours Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Mobile Trading 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 1.5 Stars
View all 52 data points

Offering of Investments

Rank: 6th (of 16)

TradeStation provides its customers access to a nearly complete offering of trading products.

Benefits

  • Full access to stock and options trading, including comprehensive direct-market routing, numerous order types, and more.
  • Rare in the online brokerage industry, any account cash sitting idle will earn customers interest of 0.55% annually.

Considerations

  • No commission-free ETFs.
  • Mutual fund trades must be phoned in.
  • No international trading support.

Further Reading

Offering Comparison

FeatureTradeStationTD AmeritradeInteractive BrokersFidelity Lightspeed
Stock Trading Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
OTCBB / Pink Sheets Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Trading Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Complex Options Max Legs44846
Futures Trading Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Forex Trading No Yes No No No
Mutual Funds (No Load)8875185755840310
Advisor Services No Yes No Yes No
Offering of Investments 4 Stars 4.5 Stars 5 Stars 4.5 Stars 3 Stars
View all 40 data points

Education

Rank: 9th (of 16)

TradeStation’s educational effort focuses on platform education and trading stocks and options. All in all, it’s a mixed bag.

Benefits

  • Excellent platform education. There are numerous videos and help guides.
  • Webinars are frequently provided, 30 on average per month, and are archived for viewing on demand.
  • For advanced traders seeking specific training, TradeStation Private Onboarding offers one-hour private learning sessions for $150.

Considerations

  • TradeStation’s website learning center includes some quality educational content; however, navigation and searching is unintuitive and confusing. The interface needs an overhaul, to say the least.
  • Nearly all educational content is in video form.
  • Little or no education on ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, and retirement is offered, which is not surprising given TradeStation’s core clientele.

Further Reading:

Education Comparison

FeatureTradeStationTD AmeritradeInteractive BrokersFidelity Lightspeed
Has Education - Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - ETFs No Yes No Yes No
Has Education - Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - Mutual Funds No Yes No Yes No
Has Education - Fixed Income No Yes No Yes No
Has Education - Retirement No Yes No Yes No
Education 3 Stars 5 Stars 3 Stars 5 Stars 2.5 Stars
View all 19 data points

Final Thoughts

Rank: 7th (of 16)

With more than 30 years of experience under its belt, TradeStation is a leader and innovator with its offering of a full-feature trade platform and powerful trading tools.

The TradeStation desktop platform is top notch in my books, and its appeal to active traders and professional investors is rivaled by only a select few. Mobile trading is also feature-rich, and casual investors will be happy with the Web Trader platform, thanks to its focus on simplicity and ease of use.

For our 2019 Review we assessed, rated, and ranked 16 different online brokers over a period of six months. How we test.


Blain Reinkensmeyer

About the author: Blain Reinkensmeyer As Head of Research at StockBrokers.com, Blain Reinkensmeyer has 18 years of trading experience with over 1,000 trades placed during that time. Referenced as a leading expert on the US online brokerage industry, Blain has been quoted in The New York Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.

All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 02/18/2019 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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