Is TradeStation a good broker, and how much does TradeStation cost per month? I tested the trading platform intensively and consider it one of the best online brokers for day trading. Proceed reading the TradeStation review to learn more about my experiences with this broker.
TradeStation is a high-class brokerage firm owned by Monex Group Inc., headquartered in Plantation, Florida. TradeStation is well known for its excellent trading software and a perfect choice for active traders. The unique platform gives an edge to active traders and plenty of opportunities to develop strategies, indicators, and automated trading systems. TradeStation is the only brokerage firm I know about that offers high-end trading technologies combined with $0 commission trading. They go the extra mile for their clients, so let's have a look at the trading platforms and features offered.
TradeStation 10 is the most current trading software release, and it was introduced in winter 2017. The TradeStation 10 desktop platform comes with a modern look, excellent navigational elements, and nearly everything can be customized to the client's requirements. The UI can be considered as almost perfect.
TradeStation 9.5 is the legacy version. Clients can install both versions parallel on their computer to check which version fits their needs the best. Most new clients will directly go with TradeStation 10, but I consider TradeStation 9.5 to be a bit faster.
TradeStation Web Trading
TradeStation Web Trading is the perfect choice to open TradeStation virtually on any computer. Open your favorite browser, connect to the internet, open TradeStation Web Trading, and you are ready to go. A web-based platform will never be as fast and stable as the desktop versions 10 and 9.5, but it is simple, accessible, and fast enough to trade with low frequency.
TradeStation mobile apps are available for iOS and Android. The app is perfect for checking open positions and checking the markets from anywhere using your mobile device. Real-time quotes, option spreads, charts, and indicators are available, but active trading requires the desktop versions.
TradeStation also offers a futures trading platform called FuturesPLus, the popular cryptocurrency platform TSCrypto and various trading apps and WebAPI access.
TradeStation organized the whole platform in a "trading-app-style." That means that features like charts, market depth, and times & sales are called a trading-app. You just click on Apps in the navigation, and there you can choose from a list with currently 25 different apps. The naming is a bit misleading since there is also an app store for TradeStation users to buy various strategies and indicators from TradeStation partners.
EasyLanguage: EasyLanguage is TradeStations coding language. NinjaTrader uses NinjaScript, which is based on C#, and TS and MultiCharts use EasyLanguage.
TradeManager: The TradeManager provides a quick overview of your orders, positions, and balances. You can sort the lists by symbol and filter it by date. What I miss here is the information within a separate column about the P&L for each asset traded.
Matrix: TradeStation Matrix is a cool tool for direct order-book trading. You see a latter of your chosen asset with price, bid, ask, vol bars and volume. An order can be placed by simply clicking on a specific price. Its mainly used for fast trade executions, and it is not directly comparable to Level 2.
Charts:TradeStation provides one of the best charting tools for technical analysis. The ease of use is a significant benefit. Once opened, you can change symbols, add indicators and trading strategies, and format your charts in nearly any way. There is only one thing that I don't like. Most other platforms allow you to zoom in and out fast by holding down the shift key and using the mouse wheel same time, but this is not possible with TradeStation, and hopefully, that will be improved at some time in the future.
RadarScreen:RadarScreen is one of TradeStation's desktop platform key features. You can scan the market in real-time for any asset in your list. Think about it like having your watchlist with 10, 100 or even 500 different assets in the list. You can add columns for things like last price, change, bid, ask, volume, and other typical informational things. But the feature that makes RadarScreen unique is that you can add custom columns based on traditional indicators and even self-coded indicators. If you want to see the size of the last candle in a specific time frame, or the volume, or the position of the current price in the day range, then you can do all of this with RadarScreen.
I think that's it for the main features. You also have other trading apps like portfolio maestro, walk-forward optimizer, a separate market scanner in addition to RadarScreen, a quick trade bar, times and sales etc. Two more things I'd like to mention separately before we proceed with the tradeable assets.
OptionStation Pro:OptionStation Pro opens in a separate window as a separate app. It is the tool all options traders will use. You simply chose the asset of your choice and saw all the options contracts available in the table below. They are sorted by expiration and strike. You can click on the bid and ask prices for calls and puts into creating your option strategy and then placing your order and start options trading.
Simulated Trading Mode:The TradeStation simulator is the perfect place to get started. You can use all functionalities that TradeStation offers in a simulated environment. You can place trades, test strategies, simulating orders, and you can learn without risk. You need to have a funded trading account to get access to it.
But if you consider that it does not cost anything to have the TradeStation simulator, while other providers on the markets charge you hundreds of dollars per month, well, IMO, alone this feature is worth it to open an account. You can use the simulated trading mode for years without paying anything. And if you finally decide not to trade, this saved you serious money that you otherwise would have paid for other trading simulator tools.
Stocks: Stocks can be traded with zero commissions. The offer is available to U.S. residents and applies to the first 10,000 shares per trade using the intelligent routing option.
ETFs: About 2,000 ETFs can be traded commission-free, including the index-based fonds SPY, DIA, IWM, and QQQ.
Stock Options: OptionStation Pro takes options trading to the next level, and options trades cost $0.50 per contract.
Futures and Futures Options: 350 futures and futures options can be traded. Index futures, currency futures, and even Micro E-mini futures can be traded with as little as $175 of day trading margin per traded contract.
Crypto Currencies: Cryptocurrencies will be traded in a separate TradeStation crypto account, and TradeStation lets you earn up to 4% interest on your eligible crypto assets.
IPOs: The mobile-first app ClickIPO makes it possible for retail traders to access IPOs before the shares are traded for the first time at the exchange. If allocated, they will be directly placed onto your account.
Mutual Funds and Bonds: Mutual funds and bonds can provide a good way to diversify a portfolio. TradeStation currently offers about 2,000 mutual funds and bonds.
- Joint with Right of Survivorship
- Joint Tenants in Common
- Traditional IRA
- Roth IRA
- SEP IRA
- SIMPLE IRA
- General partnership
- Limited Partnership
- Limited Liability Company
- Sole Proprietorship
TS Select vs. TS Go
On the TradeStation website is differentiation for TS Go and TS Select. TS select is the premium product that requires you to deposit $2,000, while TS Go allows any amount as a minimum deposit. The two different types were created when TradeStation began to offer zero commission trading. At that beginning, only TS Go had 0 commissions, while TS Select required commissions.
These days, both accounts allow for commission-free trading, and I do not see any good argument to decide for TS Go. So if you have $2,000 available to fund a TS Select account, then this is the choice that allows you to use all TradeStation features at no cost. Even the real-time data for level 1 is included for free, and level 2 costs just a fraction of the costs by using other tools.
To me, that's one of the main benefits of using TradeStation. You fund $2,000, and you get access to a tool suite that would cost you hundreds of dollars per month when choosing a tool different from TradeStation. To put it in perspective, a scanner and simulator alone plus real-time data fees easily sum up to $300 per month and more while TradeStation costs $0.
For stock and options accounts, TradeStation requires the minimum deposit of $500 for cash accounts and an account minimum of $2,000 for margin accounts. For futures and futures options accounts, TradeStation requires a minimum deposit of $500.
TradeStation offers several ways to fund an account. Among them is wire transfer, check deposit and electronic transfer (ACAT). For day trading, a maintained balance of at least $25,000 is required.
An account inactivity fee of $50 per year is charged if your account balance was, on average, below $2,000 in a year or if less than five trades were placed during 12 months.
Commissions and Fees
TradeStation introduced commission-free trading for stock trades, ETF trades, stock options trades, and futures. Clients only pay exchange fees, which are charged by the exchange via your brokerage account.
There is one limitation you should be aware of when trading stocks. Trading stocks commission free is possible with TradeStation as long the number of shares per trade remains below 10,000 shares. Also, you need to use the intelligent route option. In other words, >99.99% of traders should be safe to trade with zero commissions for equity trades.
I was skeptical if the fills can be good enough compared with fills you get from a direct-access broker, but I was positively surprised. I placed a few hundred trades with real money in a live account and did not notice any delay in order execution. In fact, it makes a big difference in paying commissions or not paying commissions if you trade actively. 200 round turns a day with a direct access broker can cost you $200 easily, but with TradeStation, you get similar results for $0 commissions.
I think things change when trading with a really huge size. But for the majority of day traders, especially beginners, TradeStation is the more cost-efficient choice. Especially in the early stages of trading. Plus, the TradeStation platform is free to use.
Clients need to pay exchange fees when trading futures and for option trades. Stock options cost $0.60 per contract, futures contracts and futures options $1.50 per contract and side, micro e-mini futures $0.50 per contract and side.
The TradeStation trading platform can be used for free. Level 1 real-time market data is also included and costs $0. Day traders may consider sign-up for level 2 market data for $11 per month without NASDAQ TotalView or $17 per month with NASDAQ TotalView. Those are the prices for people considered as non-professionals, while professionals pay higher fees.
Education and Research
Education is one of TradeStation's main strengths. The website offers learning material to many investment styles covering basics about trading stocks, options, futures and cryptos. One thing where TradeStation stands out when it comes to education is the stunning YouTube channel. TradeStation has about 43,000 YouTube subscribers and one of the best-organized channels covering all aspects of trading. Here you find everything from platform introductions, TradeStation platform tips, getting started live webinars and much more. Even EasyLanguage videos are available, explaining all about the coding functionalities.
TradeStation University is a must-go-to place for new traders and new users of the platform. Here anything is being taught from how to trade up to how to code your own trading system. Traders can learn how to use the desktop platform and mobile app. Options trades are explained, video tutorials for a beginner investor and experienced investor are available. Here you can learn how to trade stock and ETF.
There are platform training videos and lessons, traders learn how to use all tools TradeStation provides, order types are explained, and a wide range of functionalities are explained to the trader and client. The university is worth it even if you consider trading stocks, options and futures without TradeStation.
Customer service at TradeStation is simple to reach. You can chat directly on the webpage, or you can call via telephone to get support. There are specialists available to contact, some of which specialize in retail, while others specialize in institutional firms. Toll-free numbers are available for international clients.
Most people will use the phone option, which is open during regular trading hours in the United States.
- The Trade Desk to place orders: For stocks and options: from Monday to Thursday from 7.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. ET and on Friday from 7.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. ET
- For futures: with a 24 hours-service from Sunday 5.00 p.m. ET to Friday 6.00 p.m. ET
- The Client Service to answer questions: From Monday to Friday from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. ET
- The Technical Support: with a 24 hours-service from Sunday 3.30 p.m. ET to Friday 8.00 p.m. ET
One thing to keep in mind regarding customer service is that an investor who faces problems needs to accept a longer waiting time compared to brokers who charge commissions.
TradeStation Review Summary
TradeStation is an excellent brokerage service for active traders and investors. The combination of zero commission with a free-to-use trading tool makes TradeStation unique for any investor and trader.
TradeStation is intuitive, and new clients will immediately know how to use it. The integrated paper trading account enables users to test all the features without risk. The simulated account is also a great place to try new trading strategies and newly designed trading systems.
TradeStation gives you the ability to write trading strategies, automated trading systems, or indicators in a straightforward language called EasyLanguae.
To me, TradeStation combines all the benefits of other platforms in one. The ultimate coding power of NinjaTrader, trading platform features like the ones we know from DAS Trader Pro, wrapped in a commission-free trading package, makes TradeStation my #1 choice for day trading beginners.
There is no other brokerage that allows day traders to enjoy that many benefits in one account. It starts with a low minimum account balance and free trading platform access. It goes further with a real-time based simulated environment, enhanced coding capabilities, and high-end in-house trading apps. Finally, TradeStation is fast, inexpensive, plus the information on their website is easy to understand and transparent.
TradeStation is also an exciting choice for high-volume traders with trading sizes of 10,000 shares per trade. Those who want to trade with higher shares per trade size consider direct-access brokers like SpeedTrader or, for example, Interactive Brokers. But keep in mind that those brokers charge commissions.
Bottom Line TradeStation
TradeStation trading technology is unique and powerful. Commission free trades for stock and ETF are possible. The mobile app is an excellent addition to the desktop platform to manage trades being away from home on mobile trading. Any trader should check if TradeStation offers what they need, which is especially true for active traders. I hope that this TradeStation review helps you in your decision-making process.
I think TradeStation offers nearly anything one can want. The tools are great, and stock trading is probably the most demanded way of investing. TradeStation's desktop platform stands out with its EasyLanguage coding capabilities, which are similar to NinjaTrader. This leads to one big benefit, which also holds true for professional traders. The coding environment for complex trading strategies can be combined with commission free trades. Stock traders, options and futures traders, and even investors who want to only invest in a mutual fund, will benefit from the tools.
- 0 commissions
- High-end trading platform
- Easy-language coding functionalities
- Free-to use tools
- Direct routing of orders costs $0.005 per share.
How much does TradeStation cost per month?
TradeStation is entirely free for clients who fund and maintain a minimum of $2,000 in their brokerage account. A minimum of 5 trades per year should be executed to avoid the yearly inactivity fee of $50.
Is TradeStation a good broker?
TradeStation is a good broker for investors and moderately active traders. Trade executions are fast most of the time, but the quality of execution lacks when trading high volume during less active market hours.
Is TradeStation good for beginners?
TradeStation is the perfect starting point for beginners. The integrated simulated trading account enables beginners to test their trading strategies without any risk. The level 1 data feed is included for free in pricing.
Is TradeStation better than thinkorswim?
TradeStation can be considered as similar powerful like thinkorswim. The coding capabilities of Tradestation are better, and TradeStation also wins if you compare it to the combination of NinjaTraders coding capabilities and Interactive Brokers as executing broker for NinjaTraders scripts.