TradeStation Video Review
VIDEO Types of Accounts
“TradeStation offers a range of account types including individual and joint accounts, retirement accounts, custodial accounts, and business entity accounts. A stock and options account is most common. If you want to trade futures, you’ll need to open a second account, which is accessible on the same platforms.”
TradeStation offers the following types of accounts:
Individual – A standard, taxable investment account that gives you access to trading platforms and investment tools.
Joint – Open an account with right of survivorship or as tenants-in-common.
IRA – For your retirement, TradeStation offers traditional and Roth IRA (individual retirement account) accounts. For the self-employed and small businesses, TradeStation offers both SEP IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs.
Custodial – Custodial accounts are available for your minor child, grandchild, or any other legally allowed minor beneficiary.
Entity – If your business or trust wants to hold its accounts at TradeStation, you’re in luck. This brokerage supports corporate, general partnership, limited partnership, trust, limited liability company, and sole proprietorship entity accounts.
Outside of a few very rare cases, TradeStation has an account option for just about anyone.
“TradeStation gives you access to a wide range of popular US securities. There are no commission-free mutual funds or ETFs. Through a futures account, you can trade in a range of currencies including Bitcoin.”
TradeStation gives you a wide breadth of investment opportunities from stocks and bonds to more expert assets like options and futures.
Once you open and fund a new account, you can trade any of the following:
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)
Through futures and options, you have access to a huge array of different assets. The only major hole in the TradeStation menu is direct forex trading (foreign exchange). For cryptocurrencies, you can currently trade Bitcoin futures through a TradeStation account.
TradeStation does not offer any no-commission mutual fund or ETFs for trading, which is a downside compared to some larger brokerages.
“You need to supply your contact information and tax ID to get started. You can open and fund a new account online. Opening an account takes just a few minutes, but it can take a few days for funds to arrive in a new account.”
Opening an account online is simple and straightforward. You’ll need the usual personal information you would need to open any bank or investment account. That includes personal information such as your name, address, phone number, and Social Security number. You will also need some type of financial account to send over the funds to open your new account.
TradeStation offers two types of accounts. Stock and options accounts and allow you to trade and invest in those securities. Futures requires a separate account. There is no public demo for TradeStation both types of accounts.
Stock and options accounts require a $500 opening deposit for cash and $2,000 for a margin account. Futures accounts require a minimum $5,000 opening balance. You can fund an account via electronic transfer, wire, or check. The quickest way to fund an account is with a wire for next-day availability.
For day traders, you’ll need to fund your account with $25,000 to access the relevant features.
“TradeStation’s strongest feature is its trading platform. The desktop application is suitable for professional investors, and anyone wanting a Wall Street quality platform to manage their portfolio.”
This is where TradeStation really shines. It’s trading platforms are top notch, and the biggest reason to move to TradeStation from another brokerage. In fact, the company started as a trading software company known as Omega Research way back in 1987. The company turned into a brokerage in 2001.
The company currently offers desktop, web, and mobile solutions for you to log in and manage your account.
This is the shining crown jewel of TradeStation, and the best reason to move your account from another brokerage. This downloadable program gives you the fastest and most powerful trading tools. If you look to your online brokerage accounts as an income source, you will definitely want something like this.
Enter a trade in a couple of clicks from the matrix view, or enter an other through a traditional order screen.
Main features include dynamic marketing-scanning tools, customizable charts, integrated trade execution in a just a couple of clicks, advanced order entry, and fully automated trading. Even if you are not a professional trader, this application will make you feel like one.
TradeStation recently released its upgraded TradeStation 10 platform, a significant update from version 9.5. The new version has a modern look and feel that offers traditional trading tools in a layout that works well with modern PCs.
Our phones have taken over so many parts of our lives, why not our brokerage accounts too? TradeStation has apps for Apple iOS devices in the App Store and Android devices in Google Play.
TradeStation Mobile includes quotes, charts, order entry, and options trading from the convenient location of your pocket or purse. With mobile trades, you don’t have to worry about your account going upside down while you’re on vacation on your favorite beach a world away from your home office.
The web browser version of TradeStation works well on your own computer if you don’t want to install the desktop apps or if you are away from home using someone else’s PC. In either case, you can log in and get access to a full-featured, customizable trading platform from your favorite updated browser.
The web trading platform includes real-time data, customizable charts, and one-click trades. You get all of the most important features of the desktop platform anywhere you go. But once you try out the desktop version, you may want to keep that laptop with you so you can always have access to the best tools available.
The web browser version currently supports Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge/Internet Explorer, and Safari.
In addition to the main platforms above, TradeStation has several advanced tools include RadarScreen (a market scanner), OptionStation Pro (options trading platform), and a superpowered charting and analysis app called TradeStation Analytics, which can work outside of a brokerage account.
RadarScreen – RadarScreen is a stock/securities screener with live-updated data. You can filter based on both fundamental and technical indicators with hundreds of available criteria. You can also create custom calculations based on those criteria.
OptionStation Pro – This advanced trading platform is designed around building options chains, graphs and charts on the fly, and quick trading. If you are looking to learn more about options, it offers some beginner oriented tabs. However, advanced traders will also enjoy the analysis, trade management, and search tabs for more complex strategies.
TradeStation Analytics – This package includes access to the desktop platform, RadarScreen, and OptionStation Pro without a brokerage account. It also includes access to TradeStation real-time market data. This is most useful for professional or institutional traders looking to get better access to more data.
TradeStation understands the need for speed when it comes to your trading activity, and relies on high-speed data and trade execution infrastructure technology.
Types of Trades
“You can enter everything from a regular market order to a complete options or futures trading strategy. Frequent and large-order traders can all find what they need at TradeStation.”
This brokerage lets you do a lot more than simple market orders. It puts tons of options including advanced and automated trade strategies. In this section, we’ll get into the details of what that means at TradeStation.
Most traders will use one of these common order types:
Market – The most basic order, a market order, is simply a trade executed at the current market price.
Limit – Set a specific maximum or minimum price for a security and the trade will complete only when it can get a rate above or below your entered limits.
Stop market – A stop market order is designed to sell automatically when the market reaches a stop price. When that price hits, the stop market order executes at the current market rate.
Stop limit – A hybrid of the two trades above, a stop limit executes when both the market reaches a specific stop price and the limit order can execute at your specified price or better.
You can use these trades with buy, sell, sell short, buy to cover, and other order actions. Here are some of the advanced order types you can enter, listed by asset type. If you don’t know what these mean, you can learn more about them on TradeStation education resource (more on that below). But in reality, if you don’t understand these advanced trades you should probably stick to the more common trades above.
Equities – Activation rules, non-display, trailing stop, if touched, show only, ECN sweep, discretionary, buy on/sell on, and peg orders.
Options – Activation rules, all or none, trailing stop, and if touched orders.
Futures – Activation rules, trailing stop, if touched, and show only orders.
Forex – Activation rules, trailing stop, if touched, show only, peg, and all or none orders.
Automated trading is very high risk and only recommended for expert traders with money to lose.
Costs and Fees
“Pricing and fees at TradeStation are reasonable for traders who maintain a $2,000 minimum balance or place at least 5 trades per year. The most beneficial pricing plans target high frequency and high volume traders.”
The most common costs and fees you’ll run into at TradeStation put it clearly in the discount brokerage category. Stock trades are $5 each, options are $5 per trade + .50 cents per contract, and futures trades cost $1.50 per contract per side. Mutual fund trades are $14.95 each from 56 different fund families. Bonds cost $14.95 per trade + $5 per bond.
Standard Trading Fee
$5 per trade
$5 per trade + .50 cents per contract
$1.50 per contract per side
$14.95 + $5 per bond
Beware, however, of large inactivity and low balance fees. If you don’t maintain at least a $2,000 average end-of-month balance or make at least five trades per year, you’ll pay a $50 annual account fee. Futures and unbundled pricing accounts charge a steep $99.95 per month fee unless you maintain an end-of-month equity balance of at least $100,000, trade at least 5,000 shares, or trade at least 50 options contracts or 10 round-turn futures or futures options contracts in the preceding month.
If you are a very high volume trader, tiered pricing, per-share pricing, and unbundled pricing plans are also available.
For per-share trading, for example, you can trade at a cost of 1 cent per share. This helps if you trade frequently in small blocks. Unbundled pricing is best for high volume traders and starts at .002 cents per share.
Stocks – Per Share Pricing
$0.01 per share
Stocks – Unbundled
$0.002 per share
Futures – Per Contract Pricing
$1 per contract
$1.50 per contract per side
Futures offer a $1 per contract plan for per-contract pricing, which also makes the most sense for more trades with small lots. You can also access the Futures+ platform for $1.50 per contract per side.
Bonuses and Promotions
Never sign up for a new brokerage account without first checking for bonuses and promotions. TradeStation bonuses can change at any time. Here are the current promotions as of this writing:
December limited-time offer: Sign up and fund a new account to get a free Echo Dot, fleece jacket, or another free gift.
TradeStation IRA – New accounts get $4 trades, $4 per trade + .30 cents per contract for options, and .65 cents per contract for futures.
Fully Paid Lending Program (FPLP) – Lend out your excess securities or margin securities to other broker-dealers in a program where you get 50% of the income (split with TradeStation). This program is available to those with five years of trading experience or a total net worth of at least $75,000.
Active military, veterans, and first responders have access to the TradeStation Salutes program, which includes commission-free trading.
If you keep a lot of cash, you may also be interested in the interest sharing program. Equities accounts with $500,000 or more earn 0.55% interest and futures accounts with $250,000 or more earn 0.30% interest on average daily free cash balances.
“TradeStation support is easy to reach during business hours. It gets average-level reviews from customers. This platform is ideal for experienced traders.”
Customer support is easy to reach, with dedicated sales contacts for new accounts and extensive contact options for existing clients.
Client support is available by phone for trades, client services, technical support, and data integrity. You can also choose an online chat or enter information for support to call you during open hours.
For international customers, TradeStation offers dedicated customer support numbers for European countries and non-European countries by phone or email.
TradeStation typically gets average reviews for customer service. The most common frustrations come from issues getting the trading platform to work on user computers. If you are tech savvy and able to handle most of your trading through self-service options, you’re in the best position to have a positive experience at TradeStation. If you need a lot of hand-holding, you may be happier looking elsewhere.
Research and Education
“TradeStation offers less for new traders looking to get started, but traders who know what they want kind find a plethora of data and customized views once they get to know the trading platforms.”
TradeStation offers the most for traders that already know what they’re doing. If you can pull up a screen and customize a chart to show your favorite metrics and historic data, you’ll do great. But even if you have to climb the learning curve a bit, TradeStation does make some useful resources available.
You can go through a series of classes on both trading and trading technology through TradeStation University. This includes videos, articles, and live webinar events. TradeStation also offers a market insights blog.
This brokerage is lighter on the types of resources favored by long-term, passive investors. If you want all of the fundamentals and analyst ratings, you will find more with other brokerages. TradeStation is clearly focused on technicals and the active trading market.
“TradeStation is ideal for expert traders or those with some history of investing and trading. Beginners can learn at lot, but learning with real money can be very expensive.”
If you didn’t catch it from all of the references above, TradeStation is best for advanced, experienced, and active traders. There are tools and resources to learn more about trading if you are a beginner, but TradeStation is really oriented toward the advanced and professional crowd.
In fact, the platform works well for both professional and institutional traders. That should be a sign that it isn’t ideal for beginners.
“TradeStation’s platforms are available to international customers. Customers outside the United States may experience some differences from US-based accounts.”
For European clients, your TradeStation Global account comes from a partnership between TradeStation and Interactive Brokers, another top brokerage for active and expert traders.
The multi-currency accounts are available for clients, residing in EEA countries plus Russia, Israel and Egypt. These accounts support popular investments including US stocks, ETFs, ETPs, and Warrants, UK and EU stocks, and Euro and UK CFDs, Euro 50 Index CFDs.
For futures, international accounts support US futures and FOPs, Euro-denominated futures, and GBP-denominated futures. You can also trade US, EU, and UK options.
Unlike US accounts, international accounts do not have the same long history of daily data. There are no automated trades built in, though you can access them through an external programming tool. OptionStation Pro is not available outside the United States. Many of these features are under development or planned to be added in the future.
With a US account, you are unable to access European or global trading markets outside of EUREX.
The biggest current downside of the international accounts is that it is stuck on TradeStation 9.5 while the US has moved on to TradeStation 10. With patience, the platform should eventually show up for international users. European/global users also miss out on the long history of data for strategy backtesting, automated investing, OptionStation Pro, and a few other limitations that impact fewer users.
Is TradeStation regulated?
In the US, the primary regulator of brokerages is the SEC, which covers TradeStation. FINRA is another regulatory body with oversight on TradeStation’s US activities. It is also regulated under FCA, CFTC, and NFA.
Where is TradeStation based?
TradeStation is based in Plantation, Florida, USA. It is owned by Japan-based Monex Group.
When was TradeStation founded?
The original company behind TradeStation goes back to 1982. The modern investment platform in the US was added to the company in 2001.
How does TradeStation make money?
TradeStation primarily makes money from trading commissions. It also charges some monthly service fees and offers access to some of its data and other platforms for a monthly subscription.
How do I deposit in TradeStation account?
You can deposit to a TradeStation account via electronic funds transfer, check, or bank wire (all 3 options available for US clients, while international clients can transfer by wire only).
How do I withdraw money from TradeStation?
You can withdraw from your account via electronic funds transfer or bank wire. You can easily transfer funds to or from your account when you log in online.
How do I open an account with TradeStation?
The easiest way to open an account is at the TradeStation website. You will need personal information (or business information) including contact and tax ID to open your account.
Does TradeStation offer margin accounts?
Yes, TradeStation offers margin accounts with a minimum deposit of $2,000. This is a higher risk investment strategy and interest costs apply.
Are funds at TradeStation insured?
Funds at TradeStation US accounts are insured by the SIPC.
The Bottom Line
“TradeStation offers fair pricing and advanced desktop and online trading tools. It is great for advanced and experienced traders, but may not be the most beginner friendly brokerage. If you are a passive buy-and-hold investor, stay aware of the $2,000 account minimum or you’ll pay a $50 annual account fee.”
Overall, TradeStation is a high-quality brokerage with competitive pricing for active and expert traders. This broker gives you all of the tools and very high-end platform that is sufficient for a professional trading operation at a small mutual fund, a private equity firm, or a family office. It offers plenty for traders to get excited about.
For beginner and passive investors, you can find lower costs and an experience more tailored to your needs at other large brokerages. TradeStation compares its trading platforms to a sports car on its website, and that may be a good analogy. Not everyone feels comfortable hopping behind the wheel of a high-performance vehicle, but it is great for some drivers.
The same is true at TradeStation. It’s not perfect for everyone, but it works great for high-performance traders that expect a lot from their brokerage and trading platform. TradeStation delivers well on both.