Last Updated: April 30, 2021
Individual, joint, IRA, entity
$0 (up to 10,000 shares)
Americans love stocks. In 2020, some 55% of US citizens had invested in the stock market. But for the trading experience to be fun and games, not a nuisance, you need the right brokerage. Since there are many fish in the sea, choosing the best stock trading site becomes a real challenge.
To help you narrow down the search, we came up with an extensive TradeStation review. Let’s see whether this trading platform truly lives up to all the hype.
What is TradeStation?
TradeStation is a brokerage company founded in 1982 in Florida. Even though it’s US-based, it accepts traders from all around the globe. TS focuses on offering cutting-edge trading technology equipped with excellent commission structures and knowledgeable customer service.
The broker provides a powerful platform that supports real-time trading along with the opportunity to automate, optimize, and monitor your investments. You can even customize the platform and come up with your own features.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) oversee the company, so you can rest assured your trading experience is safe.
Who is TS best for?
Numerous TradeStation reviews state that the broker focuses on more experienced traders rather than newbies. Our research confirms that more active and advanced users can exploit the online brokerage’s robustness and technical tools.
The TradeStation platform might not be suitable for new investors as it lacks features that would meet their needs, such as research and education for beginners, and no-transaction-fee mutual funds. Yet, it does provide cryptocurrency trading at affordable prices that may appeal to crypto rookies. The demo account option, which we will look into further in our TradeStation review, is also useful for novice traders.
How to Use TradeStation
To start using TS, you need to make a broker’s account first.
What are the account types?
TradeStation accepts clients worldwide, but non-US traders won’t have all products and account types at their disposal. The no-commission trading feature is also restricted to US-based traders. So, some of the information below may not apply to you if you live outside the USA.
In case you don’t have much experience with trading and investment, TradeStation offers a demo account. It enables you to test your strategies in real-time but without risking a single cent.
The online investing platform offers a vast array of account types based on tradable products, ownership and taxation, and margin availability.
The first group includes:
- An equities account (includes stocks, bonds, options, and ETFs)
- A futures account and a futures options account (including futures and futures options, respectively)
- A crypto account (including cryptocurrencies)
The second group covers joint and individual accounts, IRAs (available for US traders only), and entity accounts.
TradeStation margin availability (leverage) accounts encompass cash and margin accounts.
What are the account requirements?
Creating an account with TS is relatively easy and straightforward. Even though the instant opening isn’t possible due to regulatory reasons, account opening with this brokerage is among the fastest in the market. Typically, approval takes up to a couple of days.
TradeStation minimum requirements in terms of the information include:
- Preferred account type
- Personal information: name, date of birth, address
- Employment data: your status and employer’s name
- Trading experience
The next step is your address and identity verification. To prove that you are really you, TS will ask you to provide your ID, passport, or driver’s license. An uploaded bank statement or utility bill will serve as evidence of your address.
How to start trading?
Once your account is verified and approved, you need to deposit some money before you finally start your commission-free trading.
TradeStation minimum deposit depends on your account type. For the equity cash account, you need to have at least $1. The minimum amount required for the equity margin account is significantly higher — $2,000. If you’re a day trader, you’ll need to have at least $25,000 in your equity day-trading account. TradeStation minimum account balance required for a futures account is $5,000.
What can you trade?
TradeStation offers a range of products. You can choose between mutual fund, ETFs, bonds, options, and stock trading, as well as forex, foreign securities, and cryptocurrencies. What’s even better is that most of these involve zero commission, provided that you trade in the US markets.
Funds traders don’t have many products available on TS compared to Interactive Brokers. Yet, some big names like BlackRock and Vanguard are available. The same applies to TradeStation options and futures. Even though TS gives access to the largest markets, it lags behind its main competitor.
With TS, you can invest in the most famous American stock markets such as the NASDAQ and the NYSE. Stock trading isn’t possible outside the US stock exchanges, though. Still, EU clients can buy ETFs traded on American exchanges, which is feasible with very few online brokerage firms.
What tools are available?
The brokerage provides three platforms which tend to get positive feedback in TradeStation reviews. Let’s see why.
- TS desktop is the company’s flagship product.
- TS Crypto is tailored toward cryptocurrency traders.
- TradeStation Web Trading is a cloud-based platform created for traders who want simplicity.
Note that using both Web Trading and TS Desktop might be a bit frustrating as watchlists aren’t synced.
All three platforms offer a range of excellent tools for clients to implement in their trading and improve significantly. TS Desktop includes (but is not limited to):
- TradeStation Radar Screen — providing real-time watchlist equipped with 329 columns you can customize
- TradeStation Scanner — providing custom screening
- Matrix — offering ladder trading
- Walk-Forward Optimizer — providing advanced strategy testing
- OptionStation Pro — offering detailed analysis and streamlined trading
TS also allows you to code your own apps for the platform, provided that you know its programming language. You can find the features in the TS TradingApp store.
How does the platform work?
The platform’s high-quality UX design deserves a special mention in our TradeStation platform review. Revamped in 2018, the interface provides a seamless trading experience for both newbies and veterans.
If you’re a first-timer, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the trading workstation first. You can customize it by choosing among nine layout templates or come up with your own. Feel free to resize and move the tabs around.
A minor drawback we discovered while doing our TradeStation review is the search function. It works smoothly, but it’s hard to find it at first, as it’s located under the “Quotes” tab.
When the time finally comes to place your orders, you’ll be delighted with TS order management functions. They range from the most basic to highly professional — market, limit, stop, bracket, etc. Likewise, a variety of order terms is also covered — day, fill or kill, at the opening/close, 1/3/5 minute.
Is there a Client Portal?
TradeStation Client Center is at your disposal to help you with portfolio management. It gives you access to your profile, account info, tax prep info, and support tools. If you need to make any changes related to your account, you’ll do it here.
Also, at the Client Center, you’ll manage your funds and accounts. Under the “Account” and “Transfer Funds,” you’ll see your activity, deposits, withdrawals, other transfers, and tax information.
TradeStation pricing is somewhat confusing and intransparent, which is a complaint in many reviews. So, how much does TradeStation cost?
TradeStation offers two plans — TS Go and TS Select. The TradeStation Go account minimum starts at $0, meaning you can deposit any amount you like. TS Select, on the other hand, requires a minimum deposit of $2,000.
TS offers commission-free trading up to 10,000 shares for US residents only. For additional details about TradeStation fees, check out the table below.
|TradeStation Stocks & ETFs||$0 (up to 10,000 shares)
Price per share $0.006-$0.01 ($1 minimum amount per trade)
Unbundled price per share: $0.002-$0.01 ($0.50-$1 minimum amount per trade)
|Stock Options||TS Go: $0 base commission + $0.50 per contract
TS Select $0 base commission + $0.60 per contract
Price per contract: $1, one contact minimum
|TradeStation Futures||TS Go: $0 base commission + $0.85 per contract, per side
TS Select: $0 base commission + $1.50 per contract, per side
|Futures Option||TS Go: $0 base commission + $1.50 per contract, per side
TS Select: $0 base commission + $1.50 per contract, per side
|Mutual Funds||$14.95 commission per fund, no no-transaction-fee mutual funds|
|TradeStation Account Costs and Fees||IRA annual account fee: $35
IRA account termination fee: $50
Outgoing account transfer fee: $125
Keep in mind that TS GO prices apply to the mobile app and web trading platform. In case you use TradeStation software, you’ll pay an extra fee of $10 for every equity or option trade and a $1.40 surcharge per future contract.
TradeStation Mobile App
In addition to the TS desktop and web platform, the brokerage firm offers apps for both iOS and Android clients. The TradeStation mobile app is well-designed, easy to navigate, and user-friendly. The functions are similar to the web platform, with very few differences. The most striking one is the alerts and notifications you get whenever there is a change in prices.
Search functions are somewhat limited. You can look for assets by typing their name, but you can’t filter by type. Placing orders is identical to the one on the web trading platform.
TradeStation Customer Support
TS has very knowledgeable support you can contact whenever you encounter an issue with either account opening or questions about a trading process. You can reach it via phone, email, or live chat.
On the flip side, the support is not available 24/7, which some users may take as a significant drawback. The office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 pm. Monday through Friday.
In this section, we’ll discuss TradeStation competitors.
TradeStation vs Interactive Brokers
Numerous trading platform reviews cite Interactive Brokers as the greatest TS rival. Both stock investment companies offer commission-free trading for US-traded stock. The Interactive Brokers account minimum is $0, regardless of the package, making it one of the best stock brokers for beginners. Further, there is no inactivity fee in its IBKR Lite package, making it possibly the best site to buy stocks.
In terms of options, IBKR charges a fee of $0.65 per contract, whereas futures per contract are charged $0.85. The mutual funds fee amounts to $14.95, the same as the TradeStation fee.
TradeStation vs TD Ameritrade
Unlike TS, which was designed with seasoned traders in mind, TD Ameritrade is an excellent alternative for newbies. It charges no annual or inactivity fee, and you can trade stocks and ETFs at $0 commission. TD Ameritrade will charge $0.65 per contract if you want to trade options, while the Tradestation options fee starts at $0.60 per contract.
TradeStation vs NinjaTrader
NinjaTraders offers one of the best day-trading programs that start at a low margin — $50 for Micros and $500 for E-Minis. The minimum required balance is $400, compared to TS Select minimum deposit of $2,000.
Much like TradeStation, NinjaTrader also focuses on options and futures trades.
To sum up our TradeStation review, let’s see what we liked and didn’t like about this brokerage firm.
TS is an excellent trading platform for veterans and active traders from the USA. Stock traders may buy and sell stocks and ETFs at $0 commission, while the futures fee is lower compared to other brokerages. Technical tools and screeners it offers are among the best on the market. TradeStation app is smooth and easy to use, so you shouldn’t have problems getting used to it.
On the negative side, the TradeStation platform fees are somewhat high. Unlike its rivals, the brokerage charges for inactivity and mutual funds transactions. The education and research center is more oriented toward advanced traders, so those who are just starting may not be quite fond of it.
- Top-notch trading technology
- Extensive research and educational tools
- Commission-free ETF, stock, and option trading
- Confusing pricing plan
- Mutual funds have a transaction fee
- TS Select required for free trading on the advanced trading platform
How much does it cost to open a TradeStation account?
To open a TS GO account, the minimum required amount is $0. However, TS Select is way pricier, and you’ll need to deposit at least $2,000.
How much does TradeStation cost per month?
Traders who aren’t TS clients may sign up for the brokerage tools. Non-professional traders should pay $99 a month for this service, while professionals will be charged $199 a month.
Is TradeStation good for beginners?
TradeStation is more geared to seasoned traders. Although newbies are welcome as well, they might be frustrated since the tools, education and research center aren’t adapted to suit their needs. Yet, the demo account option is very useful for novice investors.
Is TradeStation any good?
TS is outstanding for US traders who already have some trading experience, primarily because of its high-quality platform and commission-free stock and ETF trading. Plus, other features discussed in our comprehensive TradeStation review add to its value and excellence.