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TradeStation Review

securely through TradeStation's website

1 Minute Review

Founded in 1982 and headquartered in Plantation, Florida, Trade Station is apt for sophisticated traders. The firm offers free premium tools and real time data, charging no fees for software. ‘Amazing infrastructure’ and ‘innovative technology’ are the firm’s two selling points, which promise exceptional speed and reliability - a sine-qua-non for active and advanced traders. The firm also offers customized trading solutions for both international and domestic institutions. Learn More

Best For

  • Advanced traders
  • Options and futures traders
  • Active stock traders

Pros

  • Advanced trading platform
  • Vast amount of historical data that allows back-testing of trading ideas
  • Availability of many third-party add-ons

Cons

  • Less active traders are disadvantaged
  • No commission-free ETFs

Who’s It For?

  • Expert Traders
  • Active Trader
  •  Beginners
  •  Institutional Investors such as hedge funds, banks, RIAs, family offices, Mutual Funds, Broker-dealers, Prop Firms and Commodity Traders Advisors

New customers can earn an interest rate of 0.40 percent on funding their TradingStation equities account with $1 million or more, while existing customers with a deposit of over $500,000 get to earn 0.40 percent interest.

Expert Traders

Touted as a platform designed by traders for traders, it allows advanced or expert traders back-test strategies – an unique feature of the firm.

Active Traders

Since pricing is volume-based, it is a non-brainer that it fits in well with the scheme of active traders. Higher the trading volume, lower is the cost. High-volume traders also get software charges waived.

Beginners

Though TradeStation’s feature-rich customizable trading platform may put-off an inexperienced trader, it does give beginners an option to trade with it through a more basic platform.

Institutional Investors

The firm promises excellent services to institutional investors, providing them with tailor-made comprehensive trading solutions. The firm claims to have good exposure to covering institutional clients across the U.S., Latin America, Europe and other offshore markets.

The firm offers institutional investors electronic execution services across multiple asset classes.

Commission

On opening an account, new traders are offered 20 percent savings on commissions, up to $1,500. There is a minimum account balance of $5,000 for non-day trading account as well as for individual retirement accounts, or IRAs.

Instrument Commission
Stocks* $5 per trade
ETFs* $5 per trade
Options** 50 cents per contract + $5 per trade
Futures $1.50 per contract per side
Mutual Funds $14.95 per trade
Bonds $14.95 per trade + $5 per bond

*Frequent trading in small blocks makes you eligible for a per-share pricing starting at 1 cent per share; High volume traders get execution rebates that brings cost to as low as 2 cent per share.

** Trading in blocks lowers cost, with $1 per contract pricing with no base/ticket charge

Tiered Plan for Futures

Monthly contracts   Per contract per side
<300 $1.20
301-1000 $1
1001-10,000 $0.65
10,001 – 20,000 $0.45
>20,000 $0.25
Bonds $14.95 per trade + $5 per bond

Account types can range from an individual to joint to IRA to entity to custodial. It allows funding of the account through wire transfer or through check deposit.

Platforms and Tools

The firm offers three platforms, namely Mobile, Web Browser and Desktop.

TradeStation Mobile

TradeStation Mobile vests the versatility of connecting to the markets and the accounts anywhere and anytime. The mobile platform syncs to an user’s online account, facilitating monitoring of quotes, analyzing charts, placing orders, trading options and checking positions, all done real time.

Web Trading Platform

Those of you who don’t have access to a desktop can access TradeStation’s Web Trading tool, provided you have an Internet connection. This platform provides you streaming real-time data and lightning fast execution. And what more, a secure connection is ensured when accessed from Mac or a PC web browser.

Desktop Platform

Active traders need all the power, speed and flexibility they would need from TradeStation’s desktop platform. Some of the appealing features of the platform, include dynamic market-scanning tools, fully customizable charting, lightning-fast trade execution, advanced order management and fully automated strategy trading.

Software Tools

TradeStation’s software tools include TradeStation Trading Platform, which comes free with $5/trade equities or $1.50 single-tier futures brokerage account. It is also free for brokerage accounts on other equities or futures commission plans, if the account meets minimum activity, else a $99.95/month fee is charged.

Those without a brokerage account are required to pay $249.95/month for regular trades and $299.95/month for professionals.

RadarScreen, a real time market monitoring tool, and Portfolio Maestro, a portfolio level strategy back-testing tool, come free for brokerage account holders, while the others are charged $59.95 per month.

OptionStation Pro, an options trading and analysis platform also comes free but those without brokerage account are charged $59.95 per month.

TradeStation offers a tool called EasyLanguage, which is its proprietary coding language, considered a hybrid between SQL and HTML. This helps clients customize trading strategies and indicators.

Research

The firm’s state-of-the-art infrastructure helps research and back-testing trading ideas through the huge amount of historical data it provides.

TradeStation provides educational content on varied topics. Users get access to live events on trading topics such as ‘How Futures Can Help Your Portfolio’,  pre-market commentary and chart analysis from professional traders and market experts each trading day. The firm also teaches how to use its powerful platform and mobile trading tools.

Customer Support

For new accounts, support is available for retail investors through phone between 8 am ET and 8 pm ET from Monday through Thursday and between 8 am ET to 6 pm ET on Fridays.

Institutional investors can contact TradeStation through phone from Monday through Friday between 8:30 am ET and 6 pm ET. They could also reach the firm through the e-mail account InstitutionalSales@TradeStation.com.

Meanwhile, The trade desk can be contacted to place an equity/option trade between 7:30 am and 6:30 pm ET from Monday through Friday and between 7:30 am and 5 pm ET on Fridays. For futures trading, 24-hour support is available between 5 pm ET on Sunday and 6 pm ET on Friday.

For Client Services, an user can contact between 8 am ET and 8 pm ET from Monday through Friday.

Meanwhile, technical support is available 24 hours from Sunday, 3:30 pm ET to Friday 8 pm ET.

Ease of Use

There have been testimonies concerning the ease of use of TradeStation’s charting package, which allows hardcore analysis, customizing indicators numbering about 270. However, for those who are handicapped due to limited technological proficiency, the firm’s tools and platforms may seem intimidating.

Asset Classes (Tradable Securities)

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
  • Futures
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds

Final Thoughts

Apt for advanced traders due to its full-feature trading platform, advanced trading tools, some leeway for D-I-Y investing with programming and a lot of data to manipulate, this brokerage also keeps active investors happy with relatively benign commissions. It does not shut out beginners altogether, by offering them webinars and online lectures on their trading platform and tools and other investment strategies, although less active among this class of investors may be put off by the higher commissions. For institutional investors, TradeStation provides team desk coverage and brokerage and execution services.

Use TradeStation if:

  • You are a high-volume active trader
  •   You have time and expertise for programming and implementing trading strategies based on data

Don’t Use TradeStation if:

  •  you are an off-hand investor, who would prefer handholding rather than the option of jumping into the fray, and learning while trying
  • you trade infrequently
  •  you are mindful of add-on costs, associated with some educational content and others