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With powerful charting tools and a variety of investment options, TradeStation is a popular online broker for advanced traders. And it’s one of the few brokers that supports trading automation, and you can custom-code your own trading strategies to invest with.
However, this broker isn’t necessarily great for newer investors. And it has some downsides, especially when it comes to potential account fees and customer service.
Our TradeStation review is covering everything you need to know about this broker so you can make the right choice.
|Options Trades||$0.60 per contract|
|Investment Types||Stocks, OTC/Penny Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Options, Forex, Cryptocurrencies, Futures|
|Broker Assisted Trade||$0|
|Customer Service||Phone, email and chat: M-F 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET; hours vary based on service required|
Pros & Cons
- In-depth and customizable charting tools
- Back-test and automate trading strategies
- Supports a variety of investment and order types
- Cost-effective for options trading
- Supports virtual trading
- Doesn’t support fractional shares
- Steep learning curve
- Slow and limited customer service
- Some high account fees, like account transfer fees
- High margin rates
What Is TradeStation?
TradeStation is an online broker best known for its analysis software and electronic trading platform. It services primarily the institutional trader markets and active traders. It offers a robust investment platform that provides real-time trading, as well as the ability to automate, monitor and optimize trades, and the opportunity to create your own custom features.
The platform provides the ability to have both traditional broker accounts as well as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and allows for trading of stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), bonds, foreign securities, options, cryptocurrencies and futures.
Based in Plantation, Florida, the company began operations in 1982, making it one of the better-established platforms available. It has been owned by Monex Group of Japan since 2011.
What Makes TradeStation Great?
This online broker is designed to help experienced, active traders develop their trading strategies. It has a wealth of charting tools, and you can even automate your trades after developing a strategy. These features, plus the range of investing options, are what make TradeStation stand out.
Advanced Trading Platform & Tools
There’s no denying that TradeStation caters to active and experienced traders. Its desktop platform is where TradeStation shines, providing customizable charting and advanced order types you don’t get with basic investing apps.
Other features of TradeStation’s desktop platform include:
- RadarScreen: This tool monitors up to 1,000 tickers in real time and lets you add 180+ indicators for technical and fundamental analysis.
- EasyLanguage: TradeStation has its own programming language, EasyLanguage, that you can use to build your own indicators and trading strategies.
- Strategy Back-Testing: Back-test various trades or strategies to see how they would perform.
- TradeStation Matrix: This trading tool provides a combination of a market depth window, advanced order types, and order tracking.
- OptionsStation Pro: Use visual options chains to help visualize options market and trade.
- Virtual Trading: Practice trading without risking any of your own money through TradeStation’s simulated trading.
An abundance of technical indicators and the ability to customize your trading dashboard are really the selling points. And it’s not every day you find a broker that lets you program your own indicators with its own language.
You can also automate trades with the strategies you create and back-test. This is one of TradeStation’s more unique features, and it’s once again how the platform caters to very experienced traders.
Another advantage of using TradingStation is the range of assets you can invest in. Currently, TradeStation supports trading:
Like most brokers, TradeStation has gone commission-free for stock and ETF trades. But the platform is known for trading options since its OptionStation Pro platform is designed for experienced, active options traders. Options also cost as low as $0.60 per contract, whereas many brokers charge $0.65 per contract.
Crypto investing is also a newer addition to TradeStation. You can currently trade several popular coins like Bitcoin, Compound, Ethereum, Polygon, and USDC. This is less selection than you get with a crypto exchange, but it adds even more flexibility for which asset classes you can invest in.
TradeStation lets you open a variety of account types, so you can trade in a tax-advantaged account or cash account. Account types TradeStation supports include:
- Individual and joint
- Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SEP IRAs
- Entity accounts for corporations, LLCs, trusts, partnerships, and sole proprietorships
Research & Education
As a TradeStation user, you can take advantage of its “Discover” section that provides news updates and analyst insights on various investing ideas. These takes come from TradeStation and a network of partners, so it’s not proprietary TradeStation research. However, for a snapshot of the market or to keep tabs on certain companies, it’s a nice addition to the platform.
There are also various educational modules you can explore if you’re new to investing. And TradeStation even has resources on topics like retirement planning and setting up an IRA, so it’s quite broad.
No Account Minimums
TradeStation used to have two products, TS Select and TS Go. The former had a $2,000 minimum account requirement, but TradeStation had consolidated its services under a single plan and now has a $0 funding requirement.
What Are TradeStation’s Drawbacks?
Advanced trading and charting tools are the main reasons to use TradeStation. But this broker has some downsides, especially when it comes to account fees and trading on margin.
Various Account & Trading Fees
If you want to invest in mutual funds, TradeStation isn’t for you. It has 2,000 plus available funds to invest in but doesn’t have any no-transaction-fee funds. You pay $14.95 per trade, which can add up quickly.
As an alternative, we suggest looking into our list of the best brokers for mutual funds to find a no-fee option.
No Fractional Shares
These days, many investment apps and online brokers offer fractional shares. This helps newer investors purchase shares of stock from the Amazons and Teslas of the world where the normal stock price might be too expensive for beginners.
However, TradeStation doesn’t support fractional shares, so keep this in mind if you want to invest small amounts of money.
High Margin Rates
You can trade on margin with TradeStation, but margin rates currently start at 9.50% for accounts under $50,000. You get margin rate discounts the larger your account, but it takes $2 million to reach a 3.50% margin rate.
In comparison, Interactive Brokers starts at a 3.08% margin rate at the time of writing.
As mentioned, TradeStation offers commission-free stock and ETF trades. But there are a range of other trading and account fees you can encounter like:
- Options Trading: $0.60 per contract.
- Mutual Funds: $14.95.
- Futures: $1.50 per contract, per side.
- Crypto Trading: Starts at a $2 maker and $2 taker fee for balances under $100,000; you also pay various crypto withdrawal fees.
- Broker-Assisted Trades: Free.
- Sending Wires: $25 for domestic wires and $35 for international wires.
- Account Transfer: $125.
A $125 account transfer fee is pretty steep. And there’s also an inactivity fee of $50 per year unless you have a $2,000 average end-of-month balance or make five trades per 12-month period.
How to Contact TradeStation
You can reach TradeStation customer support as a new customer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or using its live chat feature. Support is available Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm ET.
Existing customers can also use the live chat feature or call various phone numbers depending on their location. You can find a list of TradeStation’s contact numbers on its website.
It’s worth noting that TradeStation has a 1.6 star rating on Trustpilot. Most of the negative reviews complain from slow customer support times or unhelpful customer support in general. Customers are also unhappy with the high transfer fees and how long withdrawals can take.
Comments from our readers here at Investor Junkie are also quite negative when it comes to customer service. Some readers also complain about platform glitches and crashes, which is another red flag.
If you’re an active trader who wants to use TradeStation’s advanced charting tools and automatic trading features, this broker is worth considering. However, the negative reviews surrounding customer service are a downside. Additionally, we don’t recommend TradeStation if you’re a newer investor and don’t plan on trading options.
Thankfully, there are several TradeStation alternatives you can turn to:
We like Ally Invest for another commission-free, online-only broker. Options trading is slightly more expensive, but Ally has a DIY investing side and its own robo-advisor as well for more selection. Plus, it’s also a full-service bank, so you can take advantage of its high-yield savings account, rewards checking account, CDs, and money market account.
TD Ameritrade is also an excellent alternative, especially since it has 24/7 customer service unlike TradeStation. It also offers commission-free stock and ETF trading and has banking features under TD Bank similar to Ally.
Of course, you could also consider various investment apps like Public and Robinhood if you prefer mobile trading and want fractional shares. Ultimately, TradeStation caters to a more niche class of investors, so you have to decide if its advanced trading tools are worth it or not.
In the competitive world of online brokers, TradeStation does a good job of setting itself apart. It clearly serves advanced traders who value technical analysis. And it’s also one of the best options trading platforms out there.
However, slow and limited customer service is a downside. And if you’re a more passive investor, dealing with the learning curve of TradeStation’s platform probably isn’t worth it.
If you’re looking for a new broker, you can check out our article on the best stock broker promotions to hit the ground running with your new account.