TradeStation at a glance
Top features you'll love
This well-regarded tool allows you to evaluate your options positions or potential strategies. OptionsStation Pro provides a graphic visualization of a strategy’s profit and loss, and you’ll be able to set up options trades quickly and efficiently, even multi-leg options. The tool is incorporated into TradeStation’s desktop trading platform for ease of use. This tool is available only on the broker's TS SELECT platform.
This backtesting tool provides portfolio-level reporting on your performance, analyzing the risk of your holdings and can optimize the portfolio for almost any combination of holdings. Portfolio Maestro helps you reduce your downside and avoid overexposure to risks across the portfolio. It’s also integrated into the broker’s high-powered desktop trading platform. This feature is available only on the broker's TS SELECT platform.
Pros: Where TradeStation stands out
TradeStation offers two major pricing plans, allowing customers to select the plan that fits them best.
TS SELECT: The broker charges $0 commissions for stock and ETF trades, putting it right in line with other major rivals such as Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab, though it doesn’t offer all their benefits (see more below). With this plan, you'll pay $0.60 per contract for options trading and receive access to all the broker's trading tools, such as OptionsStation Pro and Portfolio Maestro.
This plan requires an account minimum of $2,000.
TS GO: The broker charges $0 commissions for stock and ETF trades, competitive with major brokers. With this plan, options trades cost $0.50 per contract, though you won't have full access to all the broker's features and tools, such as those listed above or others, including other backtesting tools. If you do use the broker’s desktop platform here, you’ll incur trading surcharges.
This plan does not require any account minimum.
With either plan, TradeStation is offering competitive commissions on stock and ETF trades as well as undiscounted options commissions that are among the best in the industry from a full-service broker. For options, the industry standard is $0.65 per contract. So TradeStation beats that regardless of which pricing plan you choose.
TradeStation offers a pair of platforms — one desktop and the other web-based — that bring the power of the broker to the forefront.
The desktop platform is the flagship and offers a fully customizable experience that should appeal to professional traders. Traders can use the broker’s own built-in charting indicators or create their own. The platform features more than 10 charting types with dozens and dozens of technical indicators, and you can create your own too. Plus, decades of historical data allow you to backtest any strategy you develop. The capabilities go on and on. If you want these features, you’ll probably want to go with the broker’s TS SELECT pricing plan.
The web-based platform offers the core functionality of the desktop platform but will be easier for less-experienced investors to navigate. This platform also provides streaming real-time quotes and offers one-click trade execution, both offered in the flagship app. This platform is available on both the TS SELECT and TS GO pricing plans.
In addition, the broker offers a mobile trading app called TradeStation Mobile that allows you to analyze charts with technical indicators, including many from the desktop platform. You can also monitor a watchlist of securities with streaming quotes as well as place trades, among other functions. You’ll also be able to see detailed options pricing with up-to-the-second data and set up trade alerts based on technical factors that you’re watching.
TradeStation delivers the range of securities that you’d expect from a broker geared toward advanced traders. In addition to the usual offerings of stocks, bonds, ETFs and mutual funds, investors can swap futures contracts and futures options, too. The only major category missing is forex, a rarely offered asset class, and TradeStation also offers cryptocurrency trading (more below).
Unlike many brokers, TradeStation offers direct cryptocurrency trading, allowing traders to buy and sell Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple and others. Pricing on crypto trades is typically better than what you’d find on other sites, with commissions starting at 0.3 percent of trade value and declining to as low as 0.05 percent for those with more than $1 million in assets with the broker.
TradeStation also allows you to earn interest on your holdings, and you’ll be able to trade your assets or withdraw them at any time without penalty.
TradeStation offers more for active traders or those who intend to grow into active traders than it does for beginning investors.
- The trading platforms, lower futures commissions, and trading tools are geared toward active and professional traders.
- The higher account fees, lack of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and education may not appeal to individuals just starting to invest.
- Without a substantial research offering, newer investors may find themselves wanting some direction, though this factor won’t likely deter advanced investors.
Investors looking for similar trading commissions but lower account fees can have a look at Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab, both of which are known for being investor-friendly. Those on the hunt for more research could have a look at Merrill Edge and TD Ameritrade, while those needing quality trade execution could check out Interactive Brokers.
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