With the ever-reducing trading costs and explosion of high-tech tools, there isn’t a better time to start online trading. With the right trading platform, you can easily maneuver and actively play the stocks, options, ETFs and mutual funds market.
But there’s a catch — brokerages are not created equal. What suits a novice trader looking to master trades may not be a good option for the seasoned trader looking for sophistication and agility. If you’re looking for low-cost commission trades, you can choose between TradeStation or Robinhood.
Benzinga dug into the value each brokerage provides beyond the mere ability to trade to give you the fine print about fees, commissions, research offerings and suitability for different traders. Here’s our TradeStation vs. Fidelity comparison.
Who is TradeStation for?
TradeStation comes out of the box with the best in trade backtesting and charting to serve the following types of traders:
- Active traders: TradeStation avails great deals to its active traders with the most lucrative being the lower costs incurred if you’re a frequent and high-volume trader. The company sets prices based on volumes traded, so more trades shave off some costs. Another perk is that the company may waive your software charges for being an active trader.
- Expert traders: The TradeStation platform was built by traders for traders, giving seasoned traders the ability to back test proven trading strategies. You can copy what others have done in their trades.
- Beginners: TradeStation equally caters for rookie traders with its easy-to-customize platform that allows beginners to tune their dashboard into a basic platform. This way, you can easily understand all the tools of trade.
- Institutional investors: TradeStation uniquely identifies with institutional investors because of its ability to provide tailor-made solutions for every investor. The firm’s great exposure to covering institutional investors in Europe, Latin America, North America and other international markets is a plus. It also avails electronic execution services across a variety of asset classes.
Who is Fidelity for?
Fidelity stacks up well for:
- Beginners: Novice traders who are looking to add to their depth of knowledge will love Fidelity, thanks to its easy-to-understand educational content and detailed website. Its customer service is also unrivaled, with customer support agents available 24/7 to help if you’re stuck. The company has also set up more than 180 branch locations across the U.S. to offer in-person counsel, webinars and seminars for greater investing awareness.
- Advanced traders: If you make more than 36 trades in a 12-month period, you’ll benefit from Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro. This platform helps experienced traders make even smarter trading decisions by giving the real-time visual snapshots and insights to monitor their investments. You will also benefit from advanced strategy testing tools backed by 20 years of historical data, access to advanced order types and trade in 25 international stock markets.
TradeStation Fees and Commissions
TradeStation has transitioned to commission-free trades for futures, options and stocks. After opening an account, new traders are also eligible for up to $2,500 in cash rewards, similar to other investors. U.S. residents can access TradeStation’s TS Select and TS GO platforms which are commission-free for the 1st 10,000 shares per trade. For orders exceeding 10,000 shares, a $0.005 per share charge is imposed on the excess shares.
The TS GO platform is only available on mobile and doesn’t place any minimum funding requirements. You will, however, pay a $10 fee if you place trades on equities and options using TradeStation’s desktop platform. To use the TS Select platform, you must fund your account with at least $2,000. You must also maintain a $500 minimum account balance if you have a no-day trading account or IRA.
You’ll need to perform a minimum of 5 trades per month or maintain $2,000 in your brokerage account to avoid TradeStation’s $50 monthly inactivity fee. This fee is also charged after 1 year if your average end-of-month balance is below $2,000 or if you don’t meet the 5-trades minimum for the 12-month period since your first funding date.
There are also some extra costs associated with option strategies that require multiple sales and purchases of options, such as collars and spreads, compared to a single option trade. In addition, premium service fees, market data fees and a host of other charges may apply.
Fidelity Fees and Commissions
Fidelity stands apart from other brokerages for charging $0 commissions on online ETF, option and U.S. stock trades, 0 minimums to open a trading account and competitive margin rates as low as 4% provided your debit balance is $1 million. The effective margin rate for debit balances between $0 and $24,000 is 8.325%.
Fidelity’s fees and commissions for various asset classes are listed below:
|Stocks and ETF Trades
|$4.95 per trade
|Stocks and ETFs, Broker Assisted
|$29.95 per trade
|$0.65 per contract + $4.95 base
|$49.95 ($75 for some); Fidelity family funds are commission-free
|Bonds and Primary Market CDs
|$1 per bond ($250 max; $50 max if maturing in 1 year)
|On a net-yield basis
|$50 per transaction
To trade in bonds, stocks, options, mutual funds, ETFs and commercial paper, you need a $2,500 minimum opening account balance. There’s no deposit minimum for a rollover IRA. Traditional or Roth IRAs require a $2,500 minimum deposit.
TradeStation Research Offerings
TradeStation has vast historical data that you can use to research and back test trading ideas. Despite having state-of-the-art research infrastructure, most of its education content is offered through its affiliate, YouCanTrade, which offers a community and platform for online traders. Through this platform, you can access:
- Free webinars
- Investing blogs, courses and other educational material about trading
- Live trading demonstrations from experts in various trading fields
- A texting service that alerts you of any new trading strategies
Fidelity Research Offerings
Fidelity has a dedicated News & Research website portal where you can access:
- The latest financial and business headlines from leading publications
- News on U.S. and global stock markets performance
- Current initial public offerings (IPOs) and other public equity offerings available through the Fidelity Brokerage Services
- A learning center where you can read reports and articles on personal finance, investment products and technical trading analysis
- Upcoming events, on-demand webinars, classes for beginners and strategy desk coaching sessions
- A notebook that helps you capture, track and save your investing ideas in a central location across multiple devices.
Fidelity also has a host of nifty tools that are a great addition to your trading arsenal. Its easy-to-use Active Trader Pro platform offers great charting features while the patented Trade Armor integrates your trading workflow with drag and drop alert and order entry, news and gain positional information. There are also 60+ indicators, advanced studies and tabled charts to be used by advanced traders.
TradeStation vs Fidelity Bottomline
Both platforms will satisfy any trader’s demand for reasonable fees and commissions, access to educational content and multiple asset classes. However, TradeStation’s full-feature trading platform, advanced trading tools and access to vast historical data makes it a great option for the advanced trader. The firm also caters to active traders by lowering commissions on high-volume trades. Special offers for IRA accounts may also reduce your total transaction costs.
Fidelity delivers a feature-packed, low-cost trading platform suitable for novice traders, not forgetting its customized market research. Customer service options are available 24/7. The ability to walk into any of its nationwide branches is a great plus if you prefer an in-person interaction.