TradeStation Review 2022: Commission-Free Trading for Investors at Every Level

GOBankingRates Score

4.8
There's more to investing than just stocks and crypto, and TradeStation is a platform that permits users to trade not just stocks, exchange traded funds and crypto but also options and futures. The platform also offers mutual funds and bonds, and users can also access IPOs, which not every trading platform allows.
  • Usability
    4.5
  • Trading Experience
    4.8
  • Trading Products
    5.0
  • Cost
    4.8
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • No account minimum
  • Ability to trade stocks, ETFs, options, futures and more
  • Gives everyday investors access to IPOs
  • Commission-free stocks and ETFs
  • Mobile app, web- and desktop-based trading
  • Company-wide commitment to sustainability and ESG

Cons

  • Can be complicated for beginners
  • Broker assistance required to trade bonds and mutual funds
  • Requires investment strategy knowledge to get the most out of the platform
  • $2,000 minimum investment to use the desktop platform

TradeStation Overview

TradeStation is a trading platform for stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrency, options and futures, as well as mutual funds and bonds with broker assistance. The platform even lets retail traders get in on initial public offerings.

Through its partnership with YouCanTrade.com and TradingView.com, TradeStation simplifies options and futures training for retail investors. The platform has no account minimum and low fees, including no fees for stocks and ETFs, making it one of the top platforms for advanced investors and beginners, alike.

TradeStation offers extensive educational tools and resources to help new investors maximize their experience. Traders can learn not just the basics of trading and analysis to help them make informed investing decisions, but also how to perform technical analysis on the platform, how to use the more advanced tools on the platform and even how to customize TradeStation to their needs, including back-testing and automation and programming.

Key Features

TradeStation offers a variety of features for investors. The following four were rated to determine TradeStation’s overall score.

Usability

TradeStation makes it easy to select technical and fundamental indicators and build your own trading strategy.

The proprietary programming language is also simple for more ambitious traders to create their own strategies and automate trading. It’s always wise to monitor your trading computer for internet outages or power loss, but TradeStation enables you to automate the heavy lifting and check in to make sure everything is performing as it should.

It’s important to realize that users may not be able to maximize TradeStation’s capabilities without making use of training tools and perhaps even connecting with customer support, which is why its usability only rated 4.5. But for those with trading knowledge and understanding of the technical aspects of trading strategy, TradeStation provides a straightforward platform.

It also earns extra points for the capability to trade on mobile, through the web, on desktop or even through APIs.

Trading Experience

TradeStation receives high marks from multiple personal finance sites. However, consumer review sites like TrustPilot and the Better Business Bureau tell a different story. It is entirely possible that TradeStation has fallen short in its attempt to be a platform for beginning retail investors and, instead, is better suited to experienced and pro traders.

“Horrible, complex, and so complicated that most Tradestation employees are completely lost and cannot help you,” wrote one TrustPilot reviewer. However, another TrustPilot reviewer gave TradeStation five stars and commented, “It’s super fast and am very satisfied with their services.”

Trading Products

TradeStation stands out amongst competitors with the ability to trade crypto, stocks, ETFs, futures and options. You can also trade mutual funds and bonds with help from a broker.

TradeStation gives retail investors access to IPOs, as well. Users need to download the mobile-based ClickIPO order entry platform to access IPOs and secondary offerings before they are available on stock exchanges.

Cost

The TS Select platform provides $0 commission trades for stocks and ETFs, stock options, futures, micro futures and futures options. Stock options have fees of $0.60 per contract, and micro futures have a fee of $0.50 per contract. Futures and futures options carry fees of $1.50 per contract.

Users can access real-time market data for free. It’s important to note that commission-free equities trades are only available to the first 10,000 shares per trade. After that, a $0.0005 per share charge is accessed for every share over 10,000.

Some options strategies may have additional charges associated, according to the fine print on the TradeStation website. Other service fees may also apply.

TradeStation also allows users to open IRAs and trade futures at a rate of $0.065 per contract.

TradeStation charges the following fees for crypto trading.

Crypto Trade Value Taker Fee Maker Fee
Up to $100,000 $2 plus 30 BPS $2 plus 30 BPS
$100,000-$1 million $1 plus 0.20% $1 plus 0.10%
Over $1 million $1 plus 0.10% $1 plus 0.05%

This pricing is competitive to other trading platforms. Many major platforms, including TD Ameritrade, Robinhood, Webull and others also have commission-free trading, but many don’t offer futures trading. 

How TradeStation Stands Out

TradeStation has more products available for trade than many other platforms, with commission-free trading and low transaction fees. Its educational resources are second-to-none, and it is one of the few platforms that is suitable for both experienced investors and beginners.

The platform has won multiple awards from finance sites many years running.

Comparable Stock and Futures Trading Options

The popularity of retail investing in recent years has given rise to many commission-free trading platforms. But which are some of the best stock and futures trading platforms? And how do they compare to TradeStation in terms of capabilities, ease-of-use and customer service?

WeBull

Like TradeStation, Webull offers commission-free trading for stocks and ETFs and no per-contract fees for options. It also has no deposit minimums. Webull also has trading via web, tablet or app, as well as a desktop platform. Webull offers the ability to purchase fractionals with a minimum buy of $5 per share. It also has an education center and community to share information and ideas with other traders.

However, Webull’s ratings are even worse than TradeStation on TrustPilot, with a 1.3-star overall rating. In terms of trustworthiness and customer service, TradeStation comes in miles ahead as a reputable company with a robust trading platform.

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade is one of the largest discount brokerages in the U.S. and the largest in terms of average client trades placed each day since 2006. Like TradeStation, TD Ameritrade allows futures and options trading, along with foreign exchange trades. The company has apps for trading on both Apple and Android devices.

Like TradeStation, TD Ameritrade offers commission-free trading for stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options and futures. However, there is a $0.65 contract fee on options and a $2.25 contract fee for futures and futures options, which is much higher than TradeStation’s fees.

Unlike TradeStation, TD Ameritrade has more than 175 brick-and-mortar branches for customer service, which might offer peace-of-mind to some investors.

How To Apply

Opening a TradeStation account is easy.

Opening an Account

  1. Click the blue button in the right hand corner of the TradeStation home screen.
  2. Enter your name exactly as it appears on your license, passport or official government-issued I.D. — be sure to include middle names or initials if they are on your I.D.
  3. Create a username and password, and be sure to enter a promo code if you have one.

You will be asked to choose an individual, joint or IRA account and determine what you want to trade, which can include crypto, equities and options, futures and futures options. Set your risk tolerance and your options trading level.

You will have to enter a certain amount of personal information to continue applying for an account, including your social security number, approximate annual income and net worth, sources of income and even your trading experience.

At any point in the process you can save your application and continue later. You can go back and change the financial information you entered at any time.

Finally, agree to all the agreements, disclosures, disclaimers and assumption of risk and you will be on your way to deposit funds and begin trading.

Important Considerations

Remember that options trading can be risky and investors should understand the risks of trading options and read the options disclosure document, often called the “Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options,” before embarking on this experience.

Of course, you can opt out of options trading if you are a beginning investor or have low risk tolerance.

Who TradeStation Is Best For

Although TradeStation is taking steps to appeal to beginning retail investors with educational resources and masterclasses, the platform can be complicated to use without a basic knowledge of stocks, options and investing.

To set up an account, you must understand your risk tolerance, which many beginning investors may not understand without help from a financial advisor. To maximize the tools offered by TradeStation, you will want an understanding of stocks and options. It is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” type of account, although you can automate much of the process based on your investment strategy. If you don’t have an investment strategy, it’s best to speak with a financial advisor before you begin.

For now, TradeStation is best for experienced investors looking for a low-cost platform with capabilities to trade on the web, on their desktop or through a user-friendly app.

Final Take

TradeStation is a highly respected, highly rated app by stockbrokers, day traders and experienced investors.

With commission-free trading and low fees, TradeStation has become one of the top-rated apps by finance sites and a multi-award winner from StockBrokers.com. It offers multiple products available for trade that you won’t find on other online trading sites, including futures and future options.

FAQ

  • How much does TradeStation cost a month?
    • TradeStation's website lists a fee of $149.95 per month for TS Select customers, unless they meet the following requirements:
    • A minimum of 10 round-turn futures and/or options futures contracts or
    • 50 options contracts traded or
    • 5,000 shares traded or an minimum account balance of $100,000.
    • There are other fees associated with other activities, so users are encouraged to read the service fees page before committing to trading through the account.
  • What is the minimum deposit for TradeStation?
    • There is no minimum deposit to open a TradeStation account, but users who don't meet minimum activity or a $100,000 account balance may be subject to an account service fee of $149.95 monthly.
  • Is TradeStation legal?
    • TradeStation is a reputable, legal and legitimate stock trading platform that has been in operation since 1982. With the vast number of fly-by-night stockbrokers and online apps that permit stock trading, not to mention regulatory action against many stock trading apps, it is normal to be skeptical of an online brokerage.
    • However, TradeStation is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. TradeStation is a reliable brokerage with low fees.
    • TradeStation equities accounts are protected with SIPC insurance up to $500,000, with $250,000 in cash protection. Lloyd's of London additionally insures each account up to $24.5 million, with a $900,000 maximum cash amount, which means even the investments of some of the wealthiest traders are safe.
  • Which is better, TD Ameritrade or TradeStation?
    • Newer traders may prefer TD Ameritrade's easy to use platform. But TradeStation's robust customization options, including programming, may appeal to active, experienced investors.
    • Both trading platforms are highly rated and secure. TD Ameritrade offers SIPC insurance up to $500,000, with $250,000 in cash protection, as well as $149.5 million in protection, including $2 million in cash protection, through Lloyd's of London. Wealthier investors may choose TD Ameritrade for the higher insurance limits.
    • TD Ameritrade also gives users access to IPOs and also allows foreign exchange trading, a feature not granted by TradeStation.
    • Both platforms are appealing to many investors. The choice of a better or best platform lies in your personal preferences, as both are reputable, effective and offer competitive pricing with commission-free trading.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by TradeStation. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by TradeStation.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who geeks out about finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. Her lengthy list of publishing credits include Bankrate, Lending Tree, and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology, and entertainment website. She lives on Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten, and three lizards of varying sizes and personalities – plus her two kids and husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.

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