- Product Variety: ★★★★★ 5/5
- Platforms & Tools: ★★★★☆ 4/5
- Accounts: ★★★★☆ 4/5
- Ease of Use: ★★★☆☆ 3/5
- Pricing: ★★★★☆ 4/5
- Client Satisfaction: ★★★☆☆ 3/5
June 2, 2022
- Product Variety: ★★★★★ 5/5
- Platforms & Tools: ★★★★☆ 4/5
- Accounts: ★★★★☆ 4/5
- Ease of Use: ★★★☆☆ 3/5
- Pricing: ★★★★☆ 4/5
- Client Satisfaction: ★★★☆☆ 3/5
Trades who enjoy highly technical analysis and trading strategy development tools
- High-quality, high-performance trading platforms
- A vast amount of research and educational resources
- Commission-free trading is available for certain products
- A broad selection of products, including crypto and investment
- Pricing and the variety of platforms can be complex
- No zero-fee transactions for mutual funds
Looking for an entire trading and investment ecosystem that can satisfy even the most active and technically-skilled trader? For nearly 40 years, TradeStation has been at the forefront of online trading in one way or another. In this TradeStation review, we’ll analyze this trading platform from every angle to help you decide whether it’s a good fit for your trading style, activity, and level. We’ll look at:
- Ease of use
- Plans, pricing, and contracts
- Customer support
What Is TradeStation and How Does It Work?
Originally founded in 1982 as Omega Research, TradeStation itself was established in 1991 as a worldwide trading platform. Always on the cutting-edge, it was continually augmented by additional products, platforms, and tools to create the trading juggernaut it is today.
For a long time, TradeStation had the reputation of catering exclusively to high-net-worth, high-activity, and highly technical traders or investors. Since then, the platform has been adapted to be more welcoming to a mass-market audience, including those relatively new to trading and investment. This includs the recent overhaul of their technology as well as pricing and fee structures. All in all, the TradeStation we’ll look at today is different than if we were to review TradeStation a decade ago.
TradeStation provides a wealth of platforms and tools to empower traders or investors to carry out their craft in the way that suits them best, not to mention different account types for everyday users, professionals, or institutional entities. There are many ways to trade for free using TradeStation’s various tools, including zero-commission trades.
To answer the question “is TradeStation good,” we’ll first take a deep dive into the trading platform’s various tools and features to understand exactly what TradeStation’s offers.
What we were most impressed with was that TradeStation really seems to have something for everyone. From day traders to institutional investors to inexperienced investors who want to set up an IRA, TradeStation delves relatively deep into each of these areas, and even dabbles in crypto.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the main features.
TradeStation can accommodate any type or style of trading, and as we continue to review TradeStation, we’ll reveal more about some of these products. However, here’s a high-level breakdown for reference:
TradeStation provides advanced trading technology for stocks, including a huge amount of data and intelligence in the form of free real-time market data packages, and massive historical stock market data.
If you want to invest in ETFs, TradeStation supports over 2,000 products to choose from.
On top of the Options trading dashboard, you also get access to Options Chains and position graphs to trade more effectively, and a lot of resources for both beginners and experienced options traders. You’ll find more about TradeStation option fees below.
TradeStation provides access to historical data, contract views, backtesting, and various charting tools, and even supports integrating with other types of trades.
TradeStation’s FuturesPlus platform allows trading in Futures Options. There are over 250 products to choose from and you can leverage different strategies, such as directional or neutral outlooks, as well as volatile expansions.
In conjunction with ClickIPO, TradeStation also acts as a broker for buying IPO stocks, helping you not miss out on a promising IPO with notifications, watchlists, and a large number of IPOs to browse.
Unlike most conventional trading platforms, TradeStation has a pretty decent Crypto trading toolset. For now, it only supports BCH, BTC, ETH, LTC, and USDC, but you can buy/sell crypto and earn interest on your holdings. However, most currencies are subject to TradeStation crypto fees, and while decent, TradeStation is far from being one of the top bitcoin or crypto trading platforms.
With TradeStation, you can choose from over 2,000 mutual funds from some of the most trusted and popular mutual fund families globally.
For a safer and more stable option, you can also trade in bonds, including U.S. Treasury, Corporate, and Municipal Bonds.
TradeStation’s trading tools are available on a convenient range of platforms, including the web, desktop, and mobile versions for both iOS and Android. The good news is that all these are fully-fledged trading platforms you can use for active trading, market analysis, or simply staying up-to-date.
Nevertheless, you should differentiate between TS GO vs TS SELECT.
The desktop app called TS SELECT is the most advanced and feature-rich version of the platform that you can use not only for trading, but also to design, monitor, and customize. You can even use the trade automation tools to execute trades without manual intervention, not to mention access to dynamic market-scanning tools, customizable charting, and advanced order management.
On the other hand, the relatively new web and mobile platforms for TradeStation are marketed under the name TS GO.
These platforms are slightly more streamlined for on-the-go use, but you can still carry out core trading activities. For example, the mobile app offers Hot Lists, Quotes, and Matrix features for a more mobile-friendly trading approach.
Where necessary, TradeStation also partners with platforms specific to a trading type. To be honest, you could do a complete, in-depth TradeStation platform review for each of these, but the most important ones include the TS Crypto platform for crypto traders, ClickIPO for IPOs, and FuturesPlus for futures. The developer API also allows you to create custom integrations with other platforms or tools you may be using.
Additionaly, both the data and execution on all apps are real-time, with third-party audits to assess the performance of the various platforms.
One of the things about TradeStation that impressed us the most is the rich variety of tools and data it provides. From not missing out on important events to learning more about your trading style of choice to having up-to-date information to make informed trading decisions, TradeStation supports you across all facets of the trading process.
One of the differences between TS GO vs TS SELECT is that more tools are easier to access and integrate with TS SELECT.
However, TradeStation’s specialized tools and dashboards for different types of trading activity are designed to be there if you need them while not being overwhelming for beginners.
Through its trading products, platforms, and tools, TradeStation aims to enable users to trade on their own terms, and the total TradeStation cost of doing business will be in line with the type of account you need. So, we were pleased to learn it offers a variety of trading account types to facilitate using the platform in different ways.
The main trading account types are:
- Individual – a normal trading account for trading by yourself
- Joint – mostly the same as an individual account, but with access to trading tools for multiple people
- Retirement – for those focused on building retirement savings, with the option of opening a Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP IRA account
- Entity – supporting a variety of corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, trusts, and sole proprietorships
If you’re wondering “is TradeStation free,” the answer for some accounts is “yes.” However, institutional and IRA users are amongst those who’ll need to pay a subscription fee.
There are even options for creating institutional or custodial accounts for managing trading accounts on behalf of someone else, including minors.
TradeStation Analytics is a separate but related platform that doesn’t require a brokerage account. Subscribers can use this platform to carry out in-depth market analysis, even if they trade elsewhere or use different channels. This includes analyzing stocks, ETFs, options, futures, crypto markets, and more.
The depth of tools here is really impressive—RadarScreen and TradeStation Scanner help you quickly spot trading opportunities, while Matrix gives you a clear view of your positions so you can decide whether to get in or out of trades. In addition, OptionStation Pro helps minimize the inherent uncertainty involved with trading options. As most TradeStation reviews show, these analysis tools are a favorite among pro traders.
For more advanced users, there’s also the EasyLanguage framework to create, test, and automate custom stock indicators or strategies, and the Portfolio Maestro for backtesting your portfolio’s performance.
Over the years, TradeStation has redefined the answer to what is TradeStation—it’s no longer just for pro-level traders, and its educational resources that help traders make informed decisions regarding their trades, investments, or strategies are one of the ways in which TradeStation caters to a less experienced audience as well.
Apart from beginner-level resources that teach newcomers the basics of how the markets work, the terminology used, researching stocks, and different types of trading products, there are also step-by-step guides on how to use TradeStation for various trading activities.
Additionally, there’s an active blog/news platform called Insights with articles about important market trends, events, and insights from expert analysts and traders.
Finally, TradeStation offers resources like hotlists that offer advice from market insiders and experts on what trades to make or avoid, such as a TradeStation crypto list with the hottest or most risky currencies to invest in. These include real-time pricing information and a percentage rating of how many analysts recommend a particular item.
|Trading products||★★★★★ 5/5|
|Trading accounts||★★★★★ 5/5|
|Educational resources||★★★★☆ 4/5|
Ease of Use
As a platform that aims to make trading accessible for both new and experienced traders, ease of use is an important aspect of the platform. Below, you can find a step-by-step breakdown of what it takes to get signed up with TradeStation:
1. Go to the TradeStation website and click “Open Account”:
2. That will take you to the signup process, where the first step only asks for basic personal information:
3. Next, choose the account type you want:
4. Then, you’ll provide the necessary details to create an account:
5. TradeStation will then send you a verification email, and by clicking it, you’ll be able to log in to your account
6. Once again, TradeStation will ask you what type of account you want:
7. Unfortunately, this is still only halfway through our TradeStation platform review—next, you’ll need to go through an additional information-gathering process. This includes regulatory information like identity and location verification, your tax status and residency, what types of trading you want to engage in, your financial status, as well as digitally signing the necessary agreements:
8. TradeStation will then attempt to set up your account, and you may be prompted to provide more information if necessary:
9. To finalize your account, you’ll most likely need to provide documents/information to verify all of the following:
You can speed up the process by immediately funding your account.
And, that’s pretty much the entire process, but keep in mind there’s a TradeStation minimum deposit of $1,000 for global account users, and some types of accounts like margin accounts may require a higher minimum deposit.
For the most part, TradeStation is a pro-level trading platform, which is why its tools might be overwhelming for complete beginner traders. However, with the help of resources and tutorials, you should be able to quickly figure out the platform.
Plans, Pricing, and Contracts
As we’ve come to expect from trading platforms, the pricing can be quite complex—and TradeStation pricing is no different.
If you use the TS GO, TS SELECT, $5 Per-Trade Equities, or $1.50 Single-Tier Futures Brokerage Accounts, the good news is that there is no monthly fee for using TradeStation. Most tools, like RadarScreen, Portfolio Maestro, and OptionStation Pro are also available at no charge.
However, brokerage accounts on other equities or future options plans are only free if you meet the minimum activity level, and otherwise cost $149.95/month. Without a brokerage account, TradeStation costs $99.95 for everyday users, and $199.95 for professionals.
So, is TradeStation free for certain users? Not completely—you’ll still need to pay certain commissions or service fees depending on the type of trading you do. Here’s a breakdown of the fees:
- Maker: $2 + 30BPS (under $100K account balance), $1 + 0.10% ($100K–$1mil account balance), $1 + 0.05% ($1mil+ account balance)
- Taker: $2 + 30BPS (under $100K account balance), $1 + 0.20% ($100K–$1mil account balance), $1 + 0.10% (+$1mil account balance)
- USDC Stablecoin: Free
Stocks: $0 commission
Stock options: $0 commission + $0.6 per contract
Futures: $0 commission + $1.5 per contract per side
Futures Options: $0 commission + $1.5 per contract per side
- Equities: $35/year
- Crypto: $100/year
- Transaction fees: $1 + 0.5%
So, the good news is that TradeStation fees and commissions are relatively low, and various options and accounts let you trade commission-free. However, the bad news is the pricing is fairly complex, and it can be difficult to ascertain exactly how much you’ll end up paying.
TradeStation’s support is available via phone, email, and live chat, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time. For support outside these hours, you’ll need to resort to the AI chatbot or the extensive documentation. Unfortunately, TradeStation reviews are quite negative at just 1.5 stars on TrustPilot, with most users complaining about the platform being buggy.
Let’s see how TradeStation compares to some other popular options in the market:
|TradeStation vs Thinkorswim||TradeStation offers a wider suite of investment products.||Thinkorswim offers a wider range of analysis tools.||Learning how to read markets through the simulated trading and investment program.|
|TradeStation vs Interactive Brokers||TradeStation supports trading crypto while Interactive Brokers doesn’t.||TradeStation’s margin loan interest rates are much higher than Interactive Broker’s.||One of the best platforms for margin and options trading.|
|TradeStation vs Webull||TradeStation allows trading in bonds and funds while Webull doesn’t.||Webull generally charges lower fees and commissions.||Low/zero-fee trading as well as a wider variety of crypto.|
When it comes to mass market trading platforms, a particular platform may not have a clear cut advantage over others. There are so many variables to consider between different trading types, products, and even the behavior of individual traders that it’s hard to make blanket recommendations.
However, TradeStation’s tools, pricing, and products are geared more towards intermediate and advanced traders with a high level of activity. TradeStation also generally has some of the best investment products and IRAs, instead of just short-term or day trading.
TradeStation Review: Conclusion
While TradeStation may be focused on pro traders with a high level of activity, it undoubtedly has something to offer for everyone, regardless of their trading or investment goals. While there’s still room for improvement, TradeStation is slowly but surely building a platform that’s more accessible to all levels of traders and investors.
Professional or institutional traders who enjoy using highly technical analysis and trading strategy development tools stand to benefit the most from using TradeStation.
The answer to this question depends on various factors. While most can use the various TradeStation platforms and tools for free, users who want to trade without a brokerage account under certain activity limits or invest in IRAs need to pay service fees. Some trades also have commissions.
Once again, it depends. An IRA account costs $35/year ($100/year for crypto IRA), non-brokerage accounts cost $99.95/month for the public and $199.95 for professionals, and brokerage accounts trading under the minimum activity level will need to pay $149.95/month. Most other forms of trading are free.
Yes, according to our TradeStation review, and many others, TradeStation is one of the best platforms for day trading. Its real-time data, powerful analysis tools, and technical instruments make it a very effective platform for most day traders.