TradeStation is an online trading platform and brokerage. It provides services including electronic order and trade execution and analysis to design, test, optimize, monitor, and automate trades in equities and ETFs, options, futures and forex.

Although TradeStation is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Monex Group, a Tokyo-based online financial services company (MNXBY), the company has early roots in Florida. Its original product was software to test trading strategies. TradeStation launched its flagship software trading product in 1991. Since 1999, TradeStation has transformed from a software provider to an Internet-based trading platform. Like most online brokers, TradeStation offers a broad array of account types, from individual to corporate to IRAs. It provides three avenues for funding—wire transfer, check deposit, or electronic transfer (ACAT). Below is a review of its features:

  • Find Opportunities: TradeStation provides interfaces to help identify trading opportunities by analyzing characteristics such as which companies may break above a 52-week high, may gap up at market open, or are exhibiting unusual volatility. It also provides what it calls a RadarScreen—a customizable feature that can put a stock on the watch list of the trader and scans universes looking for stocks that meet preset screens.
  • Analyze Markets: This feature allows traders to fully customize charts, back-test positions, and analyze future positions using the walk-forward optimizer. This distinct attribute tests strategies against future potential market analytics rather than only historical ones. The feature can graph option strategies in three dimensions and the system calculates spreads to manage positions. Traders can also add fundamental characteristics to expand the analysis. For example, one notable feature is Fundamental Score S&P 500-Top 20, a tool which ranks stocks based on fundamental data, such as liquidity, profitability, and solvency. This tool also provides trend analysis to allow the trader to compare results from one period to the next.
  • Execute Trades: TradeStation allows for simulated, real-time trade testing, advanced order entry, and tracking all in one window. It allows the trader to trade any security type from the same interface or trade directly from a chart or other displays.
  • Monitor Positions: Real-time order and position monitoring, while helpful, is not an innovative feature. However, being able to analyze performance trends, especially for the pattern day trader, is useful for identifying areas of strength to bolster future performance.

How Does TradeStation Stack Up? 

TradeStation users can trade stocks and ETFs, options, futures, and forex.  The table below compares TradeStation fees to those of other major online trading platforms. TradeStation does have a $99 monthly software fee which it will waive if the account reaches certain activity levels.  

Security Type

TradeStation

Fidelity

E*TRADE

Schwab

TDAmeritrade

optionsXpress

Stocks and ETFs

(per trade)

Offers per trade fee and flat fees based on sliding scale determined by number of trades per month. [WEBSITE SHOWS PER TRADE PRICING AT 4.99,5.99, 6.99,7.99, 9.99]

$1.00-8.00 between 100-1000 trades per share commission

Flat Fee varies between $9.99 for 1-9 trades to $4.99 for >199 trades per month

$7.95

$9.99/ trade going to 7.99 if exceed 100 or more trades per month

$8.95

$9.99

$14.95 (0-8 trades/qtr.)

 

$9.95 (9+ trades/qtr.)

Options

1 trade/mo.    

1 contract

 

>199 trades/mo.

25 contracts

$10.69

 

 

 

$9.99

$8.70

 

 

 

$26.70

$10.74

 

 

 

$26.74

$9.70

 

 

 

$27.70

$10.74

 

 

 

$28.74

$14.95

 

 

 

$31.25

U.S. Futures
(Including E-minis) 

(per side per contract)

$0.25-1.20

Not Offered

$2.99

Not Offered

$2.25

$2.99-6.99 depending on number of contracts/month

Other monthly fees may be assessed depending on account minimums and trading activity levels.

Mobile Platform

The mobile platform is user friendly and provides all the necessary features traders need on the move.  Streaming real-time quotes, charts, order entry and execution, tracking positions and orders, and analyzing charts or contracts are all available using the mobile app. 

Best Fit for the Novice or Expert

TradeStation’s features are robust and well suited for the more experienced trader.  Novice traders can also benefit from the comprehensive platform, but they probably will be able to take advantage of all the site’s features to get their money’s worth.  TradeStation offers education features for novice traders.  The site’s Labs section improve market knowledge and analysis and the University section helps get traders started. There are also live trading specialists available.

A very attractive feature offered by TradeStation is its proprietary coding language. It allows programmers to fully customize the trading platform for their needs and even sell their customizations at the TradeStation Trading App Store. 

The Bottom Line

TradeStation uses its extensive experience in developing trading software to create and continually improve its online trading platform.  The platform’s features, such as charting and screening, are strong. But what really sets TradeStation apart are the analytics, such as the walk-forward optimizer and back-testing capabilities in real time. Pricing is in line with or better than other providers depending on the quantity of trades.   

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