TradeStation Review

Founded in 1982, TradeStation is a US stockbroker that is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). 

Its online brokerage platform was initially offered as a software product for individuals to test their trading strategies against historical market data but transformed into an online securities brokerage in 2001.

TradeStation considers itself a self-clearing broker for equities, options, futures, and cryptocurrencies.

A learning community is available to assist clients with varied trading skills and experience while API technologies (application program interface) make its trading platform is versatile and engaging to better engage and execute on trading strategies.

TradeStation announced in November 2021 its plans to go public through a business combination with Quantum Fintech Acquisition Corporation (NYSE:QFTA). TradeStation’s parent company, Monex Group Inc., will retain 100% of its existing equity in TradeStation.

Pros and cons

TradeStation‘s web and mobile platforms are outstanding, as they are easy-to-use and well-organised. Stock and ETF charges are minimal, and the education section is high quality and well-structured.

Deposit and withdrawal are in troublesome as you can only use bank transfer. There is no forex trading, and customer support has room for improvement.

  • Outstanding web and mobile trading platform
  • Low stock and ETF fees
  • High-quality educational tools
  • Not easy-to-use deposit and withdrawal 
  • No forex trading
  • Amateurish customer service

Main features

Country of regulation

USA

Trading cost class

Low

Products offered

Stock, ETF, Fund, Options, Futures, Crypto

Minimum deposit

$1

Deposit with bank card

Unavailable

Depositing with electronic wallet

Unavailable

Time to open an account

1 day

Number of base currencies supported

9

Demo account provided

Yes

Fees

 

TradeStation trading costs are low. You can select one of three fee packages:

  • Per trade: all trades cost a fixed $5 per trade. It is recommended if you tend to trade higher volumes.
  • Per share: the commission is $0.01 per share, but there is a $1 minimum. We recommend this structure if you trade frequently but in smaller volumes.
  • Unbundled pricing: trades are priced like the ‘per share’ option. However, if you trade more than 100,000 shares a month, fees reduce gradually. This option is recommended for very high-volume traders.
  • Low trading fees
  • Low stock and ETF fees
  • Many fee structures to select from
  • Withdrawal fee
TradeStation costs
Assets Cost level Cost terms
US stock Low $0.01 per share; min $1
EUR/USD Not available
Mutual fund Average €14.95 per transaction
Inactivity cost Low $50 per year if balance <$2,000 or if less than 5 trades per year
TradeStation costs
Stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade
US stock $1.0 
TradeStation costs
Annual margin rates
USD margin rate 9.5%
TradeStation costs
Annual margin rate tiers
Under $50,0000 9.50%
$50,000 – $499,999 8.75%
$500,000 – $1,999,999 5.50%
$2,000,000 – 3.50%
TradeStation costs
Commission for a $2,000 fund purchase
Mutual fund $15.0
TradeStation costs
Commission for a $10,000 government bond trade
US treasury bond $20.0
TradeStation costs
Stock index options commission of 10 contracts
US stock index options $10.0
TradeStation costs
Stock index futures commission of 10 contracts
US micro e-mini stock index futures $5.0
TradeStation costs
Crypto pricing
Account Balance Maker orders Taker orders
$0-$100,000 0.500% 0.500%
$100,000-$1,000,000 Free 0.250%
$1,000,000- Free 0.125%
TradeStation costs
Non-trading costs
Account cost No
Inactivity cost Yes
Deposit cost $0
Withdrawal cost $0

Account Opening

TradeStation is a US broker, but clients from all over the world can open an account.  Take into consideration that as a non-US client, you will have access to fewer products, account types and fee structures (such as no-commission trading).

There isn’t a definitive list of eligible countries, but unless you are a citizen of a country that is usually banned from financial markets such as North Korea or Sudan, you will most likely be able to open an account with TradeStation.

  • Fast
  • Fully online
  • Easy-to-use
  • Only USD account (unless you trade futures)

Account types

You can choose from a broad range of account types at TradeStation.

Tradable products

  • An equities account gives you access to stocks, ETFs, bonds, funds and options
  • A futures account gives you access to futures
  • A futures options account gives access to futures options
  • A crypto account allows you to trade cryptocurrencies

Ownership and taxation

  • Individual – owned by a single person
  • Joint – owned by multiple clients
  • IRA – individual retirement account (only for US clients)
  • Entity – when the owner is a business entity
  • Custodial – for minors (18 to 21 years old); an adult must manage the account

Leverage

  • Cash account –  there is a $1 minimum deposit; trading on margin is not possible
  • Margin account – $2,000 minimum deposit; trading on margin is allowed

How to access your account

Account setup

Choose the account type. You can also choose a personal account manager.

Personal information

Enter personal information, like your address or date of birth.

Employment information

Add details about your employment status and your employer.

Financials and experience

Answer a short questionnaire regarding your trading experience. You also have to calculate your annual income and net worth.

Verification

Verify your identity and address. For identification, TradeStation accepts a driver’s license, passport or national ID card. For proof of address, you can upload a utility bill or bank statement.

TradeStation account opening is fully online and easy-to-use. For regulatory reasons, US brokers cannot open your account immediately. Still, TradeStation’s account opening is one of the quickest among US brokers. It usually takes 1-2 business days for your account to be approved.

Deposit and withdrawal

TradeStation charges zero fees for deposit. On the other hand, you can only use bank transfer. This is a bit of a downfall, though quite common with US brokers.

If you are from the US, you can also use ACH or checks. In addition, if you have an equities account, you can set up an Automated Account Transfer (ACAT) to transfer cash and securities electronically from an account at another financial institution.

Bank transfers for US clients are usually completed in one day, but for non-US clients this can take up to 15 business days. We tested it and it took us 4 business days as non-US customers.

You can only deposit money from sources that are in your name.

TradeStation’s ACH withdrawal is free of charge. However, wire withdrawal costs $35 for non-US clients and $25 for US clients.

Withdrawing money can be done in the same way as deposits, i.e. only through wire transfer for non-US citizens; and ACH, wire transfer or checks for US citizens.

We tested the bank transfer withdrawal and it took 1 business day.

You can only withdraw money to accounts in your name. furthermore Both deposits and withdrawals can be done using cryptos.

Trading platform

Web trading platform

TradeStation reconstructed its web trading platform in 2018. It has a good design and user interface, offering a comfortable trading experience for both beginners and professionals.

The web trading platform is available only in English.

TradeStation offers the option to set up a more secure two-step login.

We recommend using it for more security. To enable it, you need to download the Symantec VIP Access mobile app.

TradeStation’s search feature works well, but ironically, the search function itself is not easy to find initially. Instead of a conventional ‘magnifying glass’ search field, you can search for products under the ‘Quotes’ tab.

You can also check your account performance and the fees you have paid via the Client Center. Here, you can keep track of your performance under the ‘Account’ tab, which clearly displays your profit/loss history and how much you have paid in fees.

Furthermore, you can check your account performance and the fees you have paid via the Client Center.

Mobile trading platform

The TradeStation mobile trading platform is available on both Android and iOS devices. And It’s only available in English.

It has very similar features to the web platform, so we’ll focus only on the differences here.

The TradeStation mobile trading platform is easy-to-use and has a tidy design.

TradeStation offers secure login features. You can log in using two-step authentication, and then set up biometric verification.

Search functions on the mobile platform are Acceptable. You can search by typing the symbol you are seeking, but you cannot filter according to asset types. You can use the same order types and order terms as on the web trading platform.

You can set price alerts on the TradeStation mobile platform, unlike on the web platform.

Desktop trading platform

TradeStation’s desktop trading platform is so advanced and has so many functions that even a separate review would not be able to cover them all. Still, we have tried to provide a comprehensive summary.

At the time of our review, the desktop platform was only available for Windows and only in English.

TradeStation’s desktop platform is not easy-to-use and has an out-of-date look. If you are an advanced and experienced trader, the platform is for you. However, if you are a beginner or a long-term investor, you’ll struggle to take understand many of its functions.

The platform has good customizability. You can also select from pre-defined workspaces, similar to a day trader or a futures trader workspace.

Similarly to the web trading platform, you can set up a more secure two-step login. The search feature is difficult to use, as each tab has its own different search function.

You can set up price alerts and order notifications on the desktop trading platform. However, we were unable to figure out how to do that because of the complexity of the platform.

Markets and Products

Markets

Countries

Currencies

Stocks and ETFs

At TradeStation, you can trade on the largest US stock markets, such as the NYSE or NASDAQ. You cannot trade on non-US stock exchanges. 

You can acquire ETFs traded on US exchanges even if you are a European client. This is a unique opportunity that most European brokers do not provide.

 

Bonds

TradeStation only allows you to trade bonds over the phone; they’re not available on any of the online platforms.

Funds

TradeStation’s fund coverage is mid-range. However, it does include the biggest names, like BlackRock or Vanguard.

 

Futures

TradeStation gives you access to the largest US futures markets, such as CBOT or ICEUS.

Weighed against its competitors, TradeStation has a broader selection of futures than tastyworks, but ranks behind Interactive Brokers, which covers markets all over the world.

Crypto's

As of June 2020, TradeStation introduced crypto trading. You can select from among more cryptos than at Interactive Brokers or tastyworks.

 

Options

The number of options available at Saxo is high.  You can trade on major stock exchanges such as a CBOE or Euronext, but you will also find lesser-known ones such as the SEHK.

 

You can trade options on stock, forex and contract

 

Research

Trading ideas

TradeStation provides trading ideas, but only on the desktop platform. You will find recommendations about each asset class written by TradeStation’s staff.

Fundamental data

TradeStation offers very detailed fundamental data, provided by Yahoo. However, it is only available on the desktop trading platform.

You will find multiple types of data, from earnings ratios to financial statements.

Charting

TradeStation provides standard charting.

News feed

TradeStation provides a high-quality news feed. It can be found under the ‘Market Insights’ section of the public TradeStation website, as well as on the trading platforms.

At Market Insights, news is categorized based on products and sectors. On the trading platforms, you can filter news based on certain criteria, and you can also search for an asset symbol.

Other research tools

You can access a broad range of research add-ons by TradeStation and external developers, available on the desktop platform. Some of these are free, but many are available only for a costly subscription fee.

Customer support

Customer support is available only in English.

TradeStation’s phone support is acceptable, as most of the time they give fast and useful answers.

TradeStation also has a live chat feature. Waiting times can be a bit long, but we got relevant answers during our test.

The quality of email support was acceptable, as we received replies within 1-2 business days, but the relevancy of the answers was not always the best.

We also missed 24/7 availability.

 

Education

At TradeStation, you can educate yourself using the following features:

  • Demo/Simulation account
  • Platform tutorial videos
  • General educational videos
  • Webinars
  • Quality educational articles
  • Booklets
  • Live events

You can engage in a demo account to learn how to use the platform. We believe this is the best way to learn how the TradeStation trading platform works. However, only those with a funded account can use it.

There are two pages where you can find the following education tools:

  • TradeStation University
  • Education section under the ‘Market Insights’ tab

At TradeStation University, you can watch a platform tutorial and educational videos. You can search for keywords, or filter items based on your level of experience.

Under this tab, you can also find some scheduled live events, although these are mainly available in the US.

Safety

TradeStation is supervised by top-class US regulators; and its parent company is publicly available, empowering transparency. However, negative balance protection is not provided.

TradeStation handles all customers through a single US legal entity.

This matters because you are covered by the US investor protection amount, called SIPC. However, only equities accounts are eligible for this scheme.

SIPC investor protection keeps you secured against the loss of cash and securities in case the broker goes bankrupt. The limit of SIPC protection is $500,000, which includes a $250,000 limit for cash. A non-U.S. citizen with TradeStation is treated by the SIPC the same as a US resident in case something goes bad. These amounts are substantially higher than what most European investor protection schemes offer.

However, not all investments are secured by SIPC. In general, SIPC covers notes, stocks, bonds, mutual fund and other investment company shares, and other registered securities.

 

TradeStation does not cover instruments such as unregistered investment contracts, unregistered limited partnerships, fixed annuity contracts, currency, and interests in gold, silver, or other commodity futures contracts or commodity options.

On the downside, TradeStation does not provide negative balance protection.

TradeStation was founded in 1982. The longer track record a broker has, the more proof we have that it has successfully survived previous financial crises.

Furthermore, TradeStation is owned by Monex Group, a Japanese online broker. It is one of the biggest online brokers in Japan and is available on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. This is a good indication, as listed companies are more transparent and are under stricter scrutiny than private establishments.

Providing annual financial statements, and being regulated by the SEC and FINRA are all great indications for TradeStation’s protection.

 

  • Majority of clients belong to a top-class financial regulator
  • High level of investor protection
  • Financial information is publicly available
  • Parent company is available on a stock exchange
  • No protection for negative balance
  • Does not hold a banking license

Bottom line

TradeStation is an outstanding US broker.

The web and mobile platforms are very easy-to-use with many features. It also provides low stock and ETF trading costs. In addition, TradeStation’s education materials are well-designed and of high quality.

However, the deposit and withdrawal features are not easy-to-use as you can only use bank transfer. There is no forex trading, and there is room for improvement when it comes to customer support.

Feel free to try TradeStation if you prefer to trade on US markets. We recommend it for buy and hold investors with at least some level of experience.