How to Trade Futures on TradeStation

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Contributor, Benzinga
December 17, 2021

Futures trading offers significant advantages to traders who seek to diversify their portfolios and take advantage of the constantly changing world economy. Futures allow traders access to highly liquid markets and to capitalize on trading opportunities round the clock with increased leverage. 

TradeStation’s award-winning advanced futures trading platform gives you the trading tools and data needed for profitable futures trading, as well as extensive educational resources, commission-free trading plans, futures specialists and everything you might need to successfully trade in the futures market. 

If you currently trade futures or plan to trade them, TradeStation may be a good fit for your needs.      

What is TradeStation?

Headquartered in Plantation, Florida, TradeStation Group Inc. is the parent company of several trading technologies companies and online futures and securities brokerages. TradeStation currently has offices in Chicago, Illinois, Heredia, Costa Rica, London, England, Sydney, Australia and Richardson, Texas. 

The company was on Nasdaq’s Global Select (GS) companies list from 1997 until 2011 when the company was acquired by the Japanese Monex Group, one of Japan’s premier online securities brokerage companies. TradeStation is best known for its popular online trading platform and technical analysis software that could suit futures traders well.

In addition to commission-free equities trading, the award-winning TradeStation trading platforms let you trade futures, stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), options and options on futures. You can also trade cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash against fiat currencies.

For investors who want access to initial public offerings (IPOs), TradeStation gives you access to ClickIPO, a mobile-based platform that lets you enter orders for IPO stocks and secondary offerings. Additionally, you get access to more than 2,000 mutual funds. 

Where Can You Use TradeStation?

You can access world markets on TradeStation via the firm’s highly-rated iOS and Android mobile apps, its award-winning Desktop 10 desktop platform and its web-based platform that requires no download.

Once you become a TradeStation customer, you can basically access the trading platform from anywhere by using its mobile apps. You can also sign into the platform on the web-based application using any computer or device connected to the Internet that can run a browser. 

How to Trade Futures on TradeStation

Futures trading involves researching the contract specifications, as well as the market for the underlying asset of the futures contract. After you’ve made your initial deposit and have gotten access to the TradeStation trading platform, you can then choose an underlying asset and whether you want to use margin for your futures trade. 

Futures based on the following underlying assets or asset types are available on the TradeStation platform:

  • Indices
  • Eurex (European stock market indices)
  • Euronext LIFFE
  • Currencies 
  • Interest rates
  • Metals
  • Energies
  • Agricultural products
  • Meats
  • Softs
  • Lumber

If you’ve never traded in the futures market, you would be wise to research the contract details of any futures contract you plan to trade. To make this easier, TradeStation provides a futures information page for all futures contracts tradeable on its platform.

The TradeStation futures trading platform also provides Futures Info and Futures Chain tabs that give you the most important data on the futures contract. Such information includes:

  • Futures contract specifications, including the size of the contract and minimum dollar moves
  • Session start and end times of the futures contract
  • Lot size and the amount of money at risk for each trade
  • The month codes of the contract
  • The front-month contract
  • First notice and expiration days
  • Volume, price and open interest
  • Margin rates for the contract you plan on trading

The TradeStation futures trading platforms for desktop, tablet and mobile devices. Source: TradeStation.

Once you’ve done your research on the underlying asset, you can choose whether to buy or sell the corresponding futures contract. If you plan to trade on margin, futures margin rates include initial, maintenance and day trading margin that varies depending on the futures contract you trade.

Futures margin rates including symbol, initial margin, maintenance margin and the day trading rate can be easily accessed on TradStation’s site. Fees for futures trading also vary depending on the futures contract.   

Benefits of Using TradeStation

When entering the futures trading platform, you can see charts of underlying asset prices, as well as futures prices by delivery date. Since you can trade options on futures via Tradestation, you can develop more intricate strategies and mitigate your market risk significantly.

Depending on your view of the underlying asset’s direction, you can build your trading strategy by establishing a long or short futures position. If you have a criterion for finding trade setups, you can monitor time and sales data and requests for quotes (RFQ) to look for more attractive trading opportunities. 

With TradeStation’s FuturesPlus, powered by Trading Technologies, you can see options quotes in an industry-standard view. The platform displays option market quotes, with calls and puts listed by their expiration dates and strike prices. You can use options to take a position with reduced risk, hedge an underlying exposure or partially hedge your futures position.

FuturesPlus lets you analyze options on futures showing you implied volatility and theoretical prices. The software also analyzes options positions using the Greeks (delta, beta, gamma, theta) industry-standard options models.

Performing an option Greeks analysis gives you an accurate assessment of the risk metrics of options positions and lets you assess your portfolio’s performance across multiple user-defined scenarios. If you want a more in-depth analysis of futures contracts, you can even create continuous futures contracts to perform historical price studies that can aid you in establishing profitable positions.  

In addition to providing you with excellent technical and fundamental research, which includes a full suite of technical analysis indicators and technical alerts, you can access the Commodities Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) Commitment of Traders (COT) report.

The COT report is released every week and reports on all long and short positions for futures and futures options for 3 types of traders: commercial traders, large speculators and small retail speculators. The COT data is provided free of charge by TradeStation. 

Another great feature TradeStation offers traders is its proprietary EasyLanguage programming language. This full-featured programming language was specifically designed for traders and can be used to create powerful trading indicators, strategies and custom trading applications. 

EasyLanguage lets you take full advantage of the TradeStation platform by extending the ways you can view TradeStation’s extensive real-time and historical market data. You can also monitor your account and positions, as well as trade manager information.

The versatile programming language includes thousands of built-in keywords, properties and functions. Developers can use these tools to design and create virtually any type of market analysis, scanning or order management tool. 

TradeStation Futures Tutorial

For an in-depth look into how to trade futures using TradeStation’s powerful tools, you can check out this tutorial video. This hour-long video answers most of the questions you may have about trading futures and options on TradeStation’s award-winning futures platform, regardless of what underlying assets you want to trade. 

Is TradeStation for You?

Best For
  • Futures Trading
securely through TradeStation's website

If you’re serious about your trading futures, you might want to consider having TradeStation as your broker. No matter whether you’re a seasoned or novice futures trader, you can take advantage of the extensive resources, research and tools provided on the excellent TradeStation trading platforms.

If you already have considerable trading experience, then the TradeStation platform provides extensive technical analysis and research facilities you can appreciate. Its EasyLanguage programming language lets you develop or customize your own indicators, market scanners and trading signals. 

For new futures traders, TradeStation provides a wide range of educational resources and tutorials that include trading basics, using TradeStation, market insights and an extensive frequently asked questions (FAQs) section. You can also take advantage of TradeStation’s support forums where you can connect to the skills and experience of other traders to ask questions and help improve your trading results.  

For more in-depth information on markets and brokers, be sure to revisit Benzinga’s website where you can find various types of market-related information and broker reviews. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Is TradeStation good for futures?


TradeStation offers some of the best resources for traders of futures and options on futures. With a TradeStation account, you can access the excellent Tradestation platform that offers a wide range of market analysis data and tools. This can be very useful to seasoned futures traders, while beginning traders can take advantage of the high-quality educational resources the broker offers before jumping into the market.


Is TradeStation safe?


Yes. TradeStation maintains memberships on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC). Because the firm is a member of the CME, it is overseen by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the National Futures Association (NFA). As a member of the NYSE, the company is also regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).