TradeStation caters to active traders and cost-wary investors with its low commissions and a feature-rich trading platform. Its low minimum investment (no minimum for the basic TS GO plan) makes TradeStation accessible to new and wealthy investors alike. Our TradeStation review will cover everything you need to know to determine if this stock broker is right for you and your investing needs.
$0 stock trades
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This stock broker is a fit for: Active traders seeking low costs
New accountholders receive a cash rewards bonus ranging from $50 to $5,000 depending upon their initial deposit. Just enter code FOOLAFSA when applying to enroll in the offer.
TradeStation offers commission-free trades on stocks and ETFs, as well as competitive commissions on options, mutual funds, and other investment vehicles.
TradeStation 10 is a powerful desktop trading platform with all the functionality an active trader looks for. Traders seem to love its complex charting capabilities and capacity for automated trading strategies. In addition, TradeStation has a highly functional web trading platform and a feature-packed mobile trading app.
Accountholders can invest in an array of vehicles including stocks, ETFs, IPOs, options, cryptocurrencies, futures, futures options, mutual funds, and bonds.
Investors can open a brokerage account with TradeStation with no minimum initial deposit if they only plan to use the web-based and mobile trading portals. For clients who want access to TradeStation's highly regarded desktop trading platform, a minimum of $2,000 is required.
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For a trading-focused brokerage, TradeStation margin rates are on the higher end and can be beat.
If you want to trade on mobile with competitive margin rates: Robinhood offers a robust and simple-to-use mobile trading platform. Importantly, it also has $0 commissions for stocks, ETFs, options (no fee per contract as well), and cryptocurrencies. Where it's outshined by TradeStation is the brokers limited account types and no access to mutual funds.
If you want lower margin rates: Interactive Brokers has rock-bottom margin rates that can easily beat Tradestation's rates. These two stock brokers do go to-to-toe elsewhere with the breadth of investment vehicles and trading platforms.
TradeStation has two different pricing structures, and the key difference is how feature-rich the services are. Both plans have commission-free stock trading.
The TS GO plan offers lower commissions on options and futures trading, and it also has no minimum deposit requirement. The drawback is that TS GO only permits users to trade through the company's web-based and mobile trading portals.
The TS SELECT plan is designed for more active traders. It has slightly higher (but still competitive) commissions for options and futures, but it allows access to the TradeStation 10 desktop platform and all of its associated features. Investors need a $2,000 minimum deposit to enroll in TS SELECT.
The table below shows how the two commission schedules compare:
|Commission schedule||Stocks and ETFs||Options||Mutual funds|
|TS SELECT||$0 per trade||$0 plus $0.60 per contract||$14.95 per transaction|
|TS GO||$0 per trade||$0 plus $0.50 per contract||$14.95 per transaction|
The best plan for you depends on how advanced a trader you are. For the majority of investors, advanced trading tools aren't much of a necessity, but if you're an active investor who makes frequent trades, especially when it comes to options or futures, the TS SELECT plan is likely worth the slightly higher cost structure.
Investors who use mutual funds as an integral part of their portfolio may find TradeStation's fund offerings disappointing. While the $14.95 commission for mutual funds is on the lower end of the spectrum, so is the mutual fund selection. Investors have access to over 2,000 mutual funds, but this is a fraction of what many competitors offer.
For this reason, TradeStation is perhaps a better fit for active traders and investors who mainly plan to buy individual stocks, rather than long-term retirement investors, who are more likely to use mutual funds. Several other brokers offer thousands of mutual funds, many of which their customers can trade for free. This may be a make-or-break feature if mutual funds are a major part of your portfolio.
Before you open a brokerage account, you should read through the broker's fee disclosures. We took a deep dive into TradeStation's fine print, finding a few fees that warrant additional discussion.
Like many brokers, TradeStation offers multiple solutions for different types of investors and devices. It offers a simple browser-based platform known as Web Trading, a sophisticated desktop platform known as TradeStation 10, and mobile apps for smartphone users.
As long-term investors, we don’t obsess over trading platforms, since we don’t need many of the features that traders do. It’s difficult to judge a platform objectively -- what works for one investor may be no good for another -- so we’d encourage you to give it a test run if the trading platform is especially important to you. If you just need to check your portfolio’s value and place the occasional trade, virtually any broker's platform will work for you.
|Margin balance||Interest rate|
|Less than $50,000||9.50%|
|$50,000 to $499,999||8.75%|
|$500,000 to $1,999,999||5.50%|
|$2,000,000 and up||3.50%|
Investors who use margin loans to leverage their portfolio know that the cost of using margin can quickly become the largest expense associated with having a brokerage account. TradeStation ranks well for having lower margin rates than many competing brokerages, though it is most competitive for people who carry large balances.
The TradeStation margin rates for stocks and ETFs are based on a tiered scale. The rates are quite low for large balances but are among the highest of any brokers we reviewed for smaller margin loans.
Of course, if you don’t plan on using margin to make investments, the rate TradeStation charges on margin makes no difference. Investors who use cash accounts (many long-term stock, ETF, and fund investors) can’t borrow to invest, so the rates it charges are irrelevant.
Additionally, TradeStation has a unique feature, known as its Fully Paid Stock Lending program, that allows its customers to make their stocks available to lend out to other traders (say, when a short position is opened). TradeStation will give you 30% of the margin interest it earns if you opt in, which could help boost your returns.
Online brokers are able to charge lower commissions than full-service brokerages because they eliminate most of the overhead costs. That said, many discount brokers operate customer support centers around the clock.
As an online-only brokerage, TradeStation doesn’t have a branch network like many of the largest online brokers do. However, it offers support by phone or online chat on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time. Technical support for its platform is available 24 hours a day, Sunday to Friday.
In the research department, TradeStation ultimately caters more to short-term traders than to long-term investors. While it boasts an excellent stock and ETF screener, it doesn’t offer access to any research reports, nor does it offer basic functions like a quick link to annual reports or SEC filings for individual stocks -- features that long-term fundamental investors may favor.
Here are a few of the research and screening tools worth mentioning:
Investors who want access to free third-party research (Morningstar, S&P, CFRA, etc.) for stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs may want to look elsewhere. Many other discount brokers offer in-depth research from third-party research firms for free just for having an account.
Not sure if TradeStation is right for you? Here's an easy way to decide: If the following statements apply to you and your trading needs, then TradeStation should make your short list of the best stock brokers for you.
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