Futures trading isn't for novices, and for those looking to do it over the internet, finding the best online brokerage can be tough, even for experienced traders. After all, futures traders have to pay attention to the commissions associated with their trades, the platform offering them access to futures, customer service, charting tools and research. Without finding a brokerage that offers low commissions and a robust trading platform, traders could end up losing more money than they make.
In terms of costs, there are a lot of online investing platforms that traders can choose from. But when it comes to the technology behind futures trading, TradeStation has received top billing from financial media company Benzinga. The financial publisher recently named the Chicago-based online futures trading company as offering the best tech for futures traders. It doesn't hurt that TradeStation is also among the low-cost providers offering futures trading.
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Take the technology behind the platform for starters. According to Benzinga, the more than 80 futures products and the desktop platform that enables investors to trade stocks, options and futures together will be attractive to traders. What's more, TradeStation has advanced order type and paper trading tools over the internet and from its mobile app.
On the pricing front, Benzinga said that TradeStation offers two pricing schedules that make it attractive to futures traders. In a single-tier account, clients pay $1.50 per contract. In its multi-tiered plan, the fee is $1.20 per contract for less than 300 contracts. That falls to $1.00 for 301 to 1,000 contracts and to just $0.25 per contract for 20,000 contracts. The day trade margin on some accounts is 25%, and it is zero on most contracts. The firm does require a $5,000 minimum to trade futures. "TradeStation Technologies has all of the necessary tools to trade futures successfully. This Chicago-based company has an innovative platform allowing you to trade with confidence," Benzinga wrote.
While TradeStation got the top billing for the technology on its futures trading platform, it is TD Ameritrade that is killing it when it comes to its mobile app. According to Benzinga, the Omaha, Nebraska-based online investing company's Thinkorswim mobile app not only enables futures traders to execute orders on the go, but the app enables traders to backtest strategies as well as access research and data all for free. TD Ameritrade also offers 24-hour phone support seven days a week and provides free online education. However, it is not the cheapest. According to Benzinga, TD Ameritrade requires a $1,500 account minimum but charges $2.25 per contract, per side. The company's day trade margin is 25% with a $15,000 minimum.