TradeStation® review 2023
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TradeStation: Best for
- Active trading
- Trading platform
- Options trading
TradeStation aims to attract active traders and offers many features that customers should enjoy. You’ll get low commissions on stock, ETF and options trades, along with an advanced trading platform that comes with a variety of different technical tools. But if you’re just starting out with investing, there are a number of drawbacks to TradeStation’s offering. You won’t be able to trade fractional shares and fees for mutual fund trades are high compared to industry leaders. There are also a handful of account fees to watch out for and its research resources are limited.
TradeStation: In the details
Pros: Where TradeStation stands out
This well-regarded tool allows you to evaluate your option 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 on the broker’s TS SELECT platform at no additional cost.
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 on the broker’s TS SELECT platform at no additional cost.
TradeStation offers a simplified pricing plan that gives customers access to low commissions, multiple trading platforms and real-time data.
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, via the TradeStation desktop platform at no additional charge. There is no account minimum required.
TradeStation offers 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 online broker. For options, the industry standard is $0.65 per contract. So, TradeStation beats that figure by $0.05 per contract.
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 180 technical and fundamental 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. 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, one-click trade execution, dozens of technical studies, historical market data, streaming market data, watchlists and more.
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, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, USD Coin and a handful of other coins. Pricing on crypto trades is better than what you’d find on other sites, with commissions starting at 0.6 percent of trade value and declining to as low as 0.025 percent for those with more than $10 million of 30-day crypto trading volume.
You’ll be able to trade your assets or withdraw them at any time without penalty. The broker has its own trading platform for crypto, with one-click order entry, charting, pricing from multiple markets and more features.
In late 2021, TradeStation rolled out the ability of IRAs to trade cryptocurrency. So clients will have the ability to trade this high-risk product in their retirement accounts, if they so decide.
Cons: Where TradeStation could improve
Mutual funds and fees
The broker offers funds from more than 50 fund families, including some of the largest and most popular such as Vanguard, Blackrock and Fidelity. However, its list of available funds is decidedly thin, with just 2,000 offerings, in comparison to more than 10,000 at some other brokers. That said, TradeStation does include many of the top fund companies, so you’ll still likely find what you’re looking for.
And unlike other brokers, which offer literally thousands of mutual funds without a transaction fee, it’ll cost you $14.95 to buy and sell a fund at TradeStation. Many large brokers, including Fidelity and Vanguard themselves, have thousands of funds without a transaction fee. So TradeStation is not well-suited to mutual fund investors.
No fractional shares
TradeStation does not support fractional shares, either as purchases or dividend reinvestments. That may not matter for the active traders who are likely to find TradeStation an attractive partner, but beginning investors likely won’t find it an endearing characteristic in a new broker.
TradeStation can hit you with a number of costly account fees:
- The broker charges a $50 inactivity fee per year if you don’t trade at least five times in the prior 12 months or maintain an average end-of-month equity balance of $2,000. While this fee is not especially tough to avoid, other major brokers have eliminated inactivity fees entirely.
- The broker levies a $35 fee annually for any IRA accounts.
- The fee for terminating an IRA is $50.
- An outgoing account transfer costs $125, the highest of all the brokers surveyed by Bankrate.
- Annual crypto admin fee of $100
While they may not encounter these fees all that often as customers, investors will likely find them pesky when they do. And virtually no other broker has an inactivity fee or an annual IRA fee. Heck, Fidelity and Interactive Brokers don’t even charge you to transfer out your account.
Research and education
TradeStation provides very limited research offerings and reports, all while leaving investment selection largely up to the investor. That may be fine if you’re an advanced or professional investor and have already developed resources to fill this need. You’ll know what you want, but newer investors will likely need more guidance. That said, you’ll have access to a number of screeners that may help whittle down the field of interesting securities for you.
And if you’re a new investor and looking for investing education, TradeStation’s limited abilities here may not suffice. A number of other brokers make it much easier for newer investors to get up to speed and learn what to do.
Firstrade4.0 Bankrate Score
Firstrade is a solid brokerage offering that may particularly appeal to options traders because of its commission-free options trades. You’ll also get access to quality research and its mobile app, but mutual fund investors may be disappointed by the small number of no-transaction fee funds available.
TD Ameritrade4.5 Bankrate Score
TD Ameritrade still offers strong platforms and a range of research for its clients, making it a very solid pick for more advanced traders, even as it is about to merge with Charles Schwab. A wide range of tradable securities and plenty of commission-free mutual funds make this broker interesting for both new and advanced traders, as do the competitive commissions.
WellsTrade2.5 Bankrate Score
WellsTrade handles most of the basics well and could be a good fit for existing Wells Fargo customers looking to consolidate accounts in one place. However, active traders should likely look elsewhere for their brokerage needs due to high options costs and a barebones trading platform.
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing3.0 Bankrate Score
J.P Morgan’s Self-Directed Investing platform is a good fit for existing Chase customers who are looking for a low-cost way to trade stocks, ETFs and mutual funds while getting access to the bank’s easy-to-use mobile app. However, only a few account types are offered and If you’re looking to trade forex, futures or crypto, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Interactive Brokers5.0 Bankrate Score
Interactive Brokers keeps adding new features and improving its offerings year after year, and now has new mobile apps to pair with long-time strengths such as its wide number of tradable securities and access to global markets. Low margin rates, high interest rates on cash balances, and a leading number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds serve to make this broker a top pick.
E*Trade4.5 Bankrate Score
E-Trade is likely to be a suitable broker choice for many investors who will appreciate its low trading costs, high-quality research and education, and 24/7 access to customer service. However, if you’re starting small and looking to trade fractional shares, you’ll need to find a different option.
Ally Invest4.0 Bankrate Score
Ally Invest offers a solid brokerage with many of the features that investors have come to love, especially no-commission trades on stocks and ETFs, but it ups the game with low-cost options trades, too. All-hours customer support and an all-encompassing mobile app will make sure you get business done on your terms, though mutual fund investors may be a bit disappointed.
Merrill Edge4.5 Bankrate Score
Merrill Edge brings strong research and education to the investing space, offering a solid trading platform for stocks, bonds, options and funds. You’ll likely find some extra things to love here if you’re already a customer of parent Bank of America, with 24/7 phone support and in-branch service potentially making that relationship even more meaningful to clients.
Fidelity5.0 Bankrate Score
Fidelity Investments is back again with another blowout performance in Bankrate’s reviews. This broker seems to do it all right, from low costs to plenty of research to mutual funds to prompt and courteous customer service. And with so much under the Fidelity roof – banking, credit cards and more – you could capably run your financial life here.
Charles Schwab5.0 Bankrate Score
Charles Schwab is a great all-around broker, whether you’re just getting started investing or are more advanced, and it can bring the heat on almost anything you’re likely to need. Add on strong customer support, a wide investment selection, no-commission mutual funds, and tons of research, and you have the makings of a five-star broker.
Webull4.0 Bankrate Score
Webull offers a lot that investors will like such as commission-free trading, fractional shares and a slick mobile app that allows you to trade on the go or keep tabs on your favorite stocks. But only a few account types are offered and you won’t find the level of research that is available through other brokers.
Robinhood3.5 Bankrate Score
Robinhood has taken its game up a notch or two, pairing its traditional no-cost trading with new IRA accounts (and a special bonus match for clients) as well as improvements in customer service, including 24/7 chat. The mobile app remains an attractive place for options traders but is a no-go for those looking for mutual funds or a wide range of account types.
Vanguard3.0 Bankrate Score
Vanguard’s brokerage offering can handle the basics well and may be a good fit for long-term fund investors. But more active traders will be disappointed by the basic trading platform and high commissions for options trading.
SoFi Active Investing3.0 Bankrate Score
SoFi Active Investing is a low-cost broker that should meet the needs of new investors looking to only trade stocks and ETFs. More experienced investors may be disappointed by the lack of options or mutual fund trading and a limited research offering.
moomoo3.0 Bankrate Score
Moomoo joins a crowded field of discount brokerages with an appeal to individual traders, offering some atypical features, including access to U.S., Hong Kong and Chinese markets. Competitive pricing on stocks, ETFs and options will prove welcome with traders, though others may find the lack of account types, limited available securities and high transfer fees off-putting.
Zacks Trade3.5 Bankrate Score
Zacks Trade is a broker that should appeal to active traders with its advanced trading platform and ample research offering. New investors may be turned off by the high account minimum and fees for mutual fund trades.
Lightspeed3.0 Bankrate Score
Lightspeed is all about active traders who can deliver volume to the broker, and so everything is optimized around making the experience the best for them. That means discounted prices for high-volume trades and multiple high-power trading platforms, but it also means no concern for eliminating the nickel-and-dime costs that other brokers routinely slash.
tastytrade3.5 Bankrate Score
Tastytrade offers some of the lowest commissions around, whether you’re trading stocks, options or even cryptocurrency – and it actually caps your commissions on the latter two. Traders should find a lot to like here, among the commissions, trading platform and the variety of trading securities on offer, though long-term investors may bemoan the lack of mutual funds.