For more than 35 years, TradeStation has been the online brokerage of choice for advanced traders seeking comprehensive investment options. Catering to the affluent and experienced investor community, the brokerage has earned a solid reputation for providing a professional-level experience without compromising on advanced features. Its commitment to excellence is reflected in its numerous awards and accolades, including a 15-year streak atop the Best Professional Platform list courtesy of Technical Analysis of Stocks & Commodities magazine. Traders actively engaged in stock, options, futures and even forex trading can rely on TradeStation to meet their needs.
Glowing feedback from traders and professional reviewers
Advanced charting features for in-depth market analysis
Flat $5 fee for stock trades, ETFs, and options
Free real-time data on options trading
Hefty monthly service fee for traders who don’t meet lofty minimum activity requirements
Broker-assisted transaction fees are much higher than the industry average
Lack of commission-free ETFs and no-transaction-fee mutual funds
TradeStation offers a wide selection of investment products spanning ETFs, mutual funds, stocks, options and even forex. A minimum initial deposit of $500 gets your foot in the door, with a $2,000 commitment required for margin accounts. The broker recently introduced a simplified pricing model for its stock, options and futures trading. To entice traders, it added free market data and dropped the software fee on its accounts. It also provides commission-free forex trading, opting instead to generate revenue through spreads. However, the same conditions do not apply to ETFs or mutual funds. All ETFs are subject to a commission fee, while mutual funds transactions are $14.95 per trade. An inactivity fee of $50 is applied to accounts that fail to meet the minimum trading requirements of at least five trades annually or the minimum end-of-month equity balance of $2,000.
Accounts are subject to a monthly service fee of $99.95 that is waived under the following conditions:
• 10 round-turn futures and/or futures options contracts; or
• 50 options contracts traded; or
• 5,000 shares traded; or
• $100,000 account balance
$5 per trade
50¢ + $5 per contract
$1.50 per contract, per side
$14.95 per trade
$14.95 per trade
In terms of trust and transparency, TradeStation is among the world’s most respected online brokerages. Owned and operated by Monex Group Inc., a Tokyo Stock Exchange–listed company, TradeStation is well capitalized and in good standing. It is also a member of the New York Stock Exchange and CME Group, and registered to conduct business in 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The brokerage is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and is in good standing with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Having been in business for more than three decades, TradeStation has withstood the test of time in an industry that often sees high turnover.
What you need to know
Since TradeStation is not a bank and does not offer products such as certificates of deposit, it is neither a member of nor insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). As a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), TradeStation accounts are guaranteed for up to $500,000, including $250,000 in cash, in the event of bankruptcy or failure.
If you’re an advanced trader or have a background in I.T., TradeStation offers unique advantages that few in the industry can replicate. The brokerage provides a comprehensive suite of professional-grade tools, allowing you to scan the market for opportunities easily and efficiently. Tech-savvy users also have the unique opportunity to customize their own trading strategy through EasyLanguage, a programming language developed exclusively for TradeStation. With EasyLanguage, you can build and customize your own set of analytical tools, tailored to your specific trading methodology.
What you need to know
Depending on your experience and level of knowledge, all of TradeStation’s special features may not be relevant to you. However, you will likely grow to appreciate the brokerage’s vast infrastructure, which includes the TradeStation professional-grade platform and Web Trading tool. RadarScreen – a real-time scanning and ranking tool – is also included for free.
The TradeStation desktop platform is the gold standard of online trading. It has been recognized by StockBrokers.com, Barron’s, and Investor’s Business Daily as being one of the best available online trading programs. TradeStation offers similar capabilities through its Web Trading tool, which lets you access your account from anywhere.
TradeStation’s desktop platform has been designed with the advanced trader in mind, leaving no stone unturned in its pursuit of comprehensive tools and indicators. The desktop trader offers direct-market access, hundreds of indicators and automatic trade execution. It is also equipped with Simulator, which allows you to test-drive the market, risk-free, without committing real money. By utilizing EasyLanguage, you can make your desktop experience all the more powerful through customization.
If you are not an active trader, you will likely find TradeStation less attractive from a cost perspective. Additionally, the desktop platform does not integrate the broker’s other features, such as University, which means you’ll have to navigate to a different screen to complete a related task. Although this isn’t necessarily a con, other online brokers provide a more integrated experience.
The TradeStation mobile app provides the core features of its flagship desktop platform. Available via Android and iOS, the app syncs directly to your online account, giving you real-time access to the market 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
TradeStation Mobile gives you a handheld version of your desktop trader account. The app allows you to monitor quotes, place orders, analyze charts and check your positions as if you were on the desktop version. Availability on both major mobile platforms is also a big plus.
Like other mobile apps, TradeStation Mobile runs into issues when it comes to optimizing charts and columns. The platform isn’t necessarily to blame for this, as usability generally declines on a much smaller trading screen. For that reason, the mobile version may be best for monitoring your positions or utilizing one-click trade execution rather running complex charts or analytics.
Users are backed by TradeStation’s Client Services and Technical Support, which includes 24-hour technical assistance between Sunday and Friday and extended client services hours. Live chat and email support are also provided to existing and prospective customers. For the do-it-yourself investor, TradeStation has developed a comprehensive FAQ section that answers questions related to account features, software and security.
What you need to know
TradeStation provides two lines of support for its Retail and Institutional clients. In 2017, the brokerage took home the “Best in Class” customer service award issued by StockBrokers.com. In 2016, Investor’s Business Daily named TradeStation the third best broker for overall customer experience.
The brokerage’s commitment to excellence is reflected in the stockpile of advanced research tools offered through its platform. Investors can evaluate the market from the bottom up using the TradeStation Research Window, which is powered by Reuters fundamental data. The cockpit-style platform comes fully equipped, with over 1,000 fundamental data fields and more than 24 independent research links, to help you broaden your analytical scope. Through EasyLanguage, TradingApp and third-party add-ons, traders can access hundreds of additional analytical applications to build their portfolio.
Whether you are investing in domestic or international assets, TradeStation provides quick access and powerful analytics to drive your portfolio. While the platform is best known for its advanced desktop trader, it can be accessed through a web browser or mobile device, ensuring that you are always connected to your portfolio. Both existing and prospective clients can use the Simulator to try new trading strategies before committing real money. Finally, TradeStation features a dizzying array of indicators and data fields, which makes it one of the most advanced platforms for retail traders.
It’s often said that you get what you pay for. This aptly describes the platform service fees for TradeStation, which run $99.95 monthly. The brokerage also falls short by not offering any commission-free ETFs and very little research into this burgeoning market. From a platform perspective, TradeStation may appear intimidating at first, especially for novice traders or those who’ve had very little exposure to deep market analytics. Web Trading University and Client Center must be accessed separately, so don’t expect to toggle back and forth with ease.
Though designed with the advanced trader in mind, TradeStation offers a bevy of educational resources for beginners still learning the ropes. This is exemplified through TradeStation University, which includes comprehensive trader education, webinars and platform tutorials. In addition to watching educational videos, you can also tune into the Morning Market Briefing, a special pre-market online program presented each weekday from 9:00 to 9:30 a.m. ET.
What you need to know
There are plenty of opportunities on TradeStation to learn about the financial markets and stay current with the latest developments. University also includes the Learning TradeStation course, a 12-part series on how to get started with the platform. If you’re a beginner, it is a great way to get up to speed.
TradeStation is not a bank, which means it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). However, the platform offers several investment accounts, including Individual, Joint, IRA, Entity and Custodial. You are free to fund your TradeStation account through wire transfer from your existing bank or brokerage accounts.
What you need to know
TradeStation is governed by SEC Rule 15c3-1 (“Net Capital Rule”) and SEC Rule 15c3-3 (“Customer Protection Rule”), which protect customer assets and minimize the chances of financial failure. As of March 31, 2017, TradeStation had a net capital of nearly $76 million, which was roughly $72 million more than its legal requirement under SEC Rule 15c3-1.
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