TradeStation Review 2024

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Written By
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Written By
William Berg
William contributes to several investment websites, leveraging his experience as a consultant for IPOs in the Nordic market and background providing localization for forex trading software. William has worked as a writer and fact-checker for a long row of financial publications.
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Fact Checked By
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Fact Checked By
Tobias Robinson
Tobias is a partner at DayTrading.com, director of a UK limited company and active trader. He has over 25 years of experience in the financial industry and contributed via CySec to the regulatory response to digital options and CFD trading in Europe. Toby’s expertise and dedication to financial education make him a trusted voice in the industry, including a BBC investigation into digital options.
Updated

3.5 / 5
TradeStation is #14 in our CFD broker rankings.
$500
MT4
CFDs, Forex, Stocks, Futures, Commodities
SEC
USD, EUR, GBP, CAD, AUD, JPY, CHF
ACH Transfer

Pros

  • Support for third-party platform add-ons
  • Reputable brand with oversight from top US regulators
  • Powerful trading platform with desktop, webtrader and mobile app

Cons

  • Pricing disadvantages less active traders
  • Limited ETF options with no commission-free ETFs
  • Expensive subscription fees for many add-ons

TradeStation Review

TradeStation is a leading online brokerage facilitating the trade of stocks, options and futures. Traditionally aimed at experienced traders, the broker offers a powerful trading platform and a range of advanced features. This review of Tradestation will examine all elements of their offering, including accounts, brokerage fees, mobile apps and customer support, before concluding with a final verdict.

Account Types

There are two types of retail brokerage accounts, US Equities & Options, and Futures. You can apply for both account types, but you will do all trading on the same advanced platform.

When opening a TradeStation account you will also get access to paper trading. This simulator will enable you to develop and test strategies without risking your own capital.

Straightforward setting up allows for a quick start to trading. Simply check on their website that you meet the rules and regulations. Options margin requirements will differ from cash account minimum balance rules, for example.

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A Brief History

Early History

TradeStation was the brainchild of two brothers William and Rafael Cruz. They brought the company to life because they wanted a way to design, test, optimise and automate their own trading strategies.

The TradeStation Group, Inc. is actually the parent company of the online securities and futures brokerage firm. Its headquarters are in Florida. However, the company is now global in nature with office locations and addresses in:

Between 1997 to 2011 you would have found the TradeStation Group as a Nasdaq GS-listed company. However, an acquisition by Tokyo Stock Exchange listed company Monex Group marked a new beginning.

Recent Years

In recent years the company has gained traction in numerous countries, from the USA and Canada to Europe and Australia. As a result of this international success, TradeStation has picked up numerous awards, including:

It is clear that the developers and CEO have brought in numerous updates over the years to keep enticing traders in. If they continue to support more casual investors their net worth looks set to increase even further.

Minimum Initial Deposit

Originally, TradeStation was geared towards high-end professional investors, requiring a stock-trading account minimum of $5,000. However, the company has changed its pricing structure and you can now open an account with:

While this may still sound high, you get advanced trading tools for your money. So in terms of value, TradeStation may well trump other exchanges boasting lower fees and minimum deposit requirements.

Spreads & Commissions

TradeStation charges straightforward rates in comparison with other brokers. For equities they use three different structures:

For options, TradeStation uses a per share and flat fee. The most popular pricing structure is the latter. Equity trades will cost $5, while options trades cost $5 + $0.50. Reviews of these fees are relatively positive, as you get basic real-time market data for free. Not to mention there isn’t a $99.95 monthly account service fee if you don’t hit minimum activity levels. As a result, this is the most cost-effective option for non-professional traders.

Leverage

Opt for a margin account and you can essentially borrow capital from TradeStation to increase your position size (buying power). While trading on margin can help you bolster profits, it does come with drawbacks. For example, there is the risk of margin calls and losing more than your initial deposit.

See the official website for margin interest rates, as they will depend on the instrument and account type.

Other Trading Fees

User reviews were quick to praise TradeStation for not having a range of hidden fees that can seriously cut into your end of day returns. There are, of course, some of the industry standard brokerage and platform fees that you would expect, such as:

Overall, TradeStation’s equities and options fees are towards the higher end of the industry. Futures pricing and requirements can also feel expensive. But as will be shown below, TradeStation offers a far more comprehensive and in-depth service than many other brokers, arguably justifying these costs.

TradeStation does provide unique special offers and promotions. For example, activity military veterans and first responders can all sign up the TradeStation Salutes program. This gives you access to totally free stocks, ETFs and options trades. It also brings all the standard benefits that come with a standard flat-fee account, such as zero platform fees and free basic market data feeds.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on the official website for current joining offers, referral schemes and any other promotions.

Trading Platforms

Web Trading Platform

For those who lack the hardware system requirements for the desktop download, you can use the Web Trading tool with just an internet connection. You will get access to streaming real-time data plus rapid execution speeds.

In addition, a secure connection is guaranteed when accessing from a Mac, Linux or PC web browser. Overall Web Trading reviews are positive, but they did note experienced traders will want the comprehensive features of the desktop platform.

Desktop Platform

Although software reviews of the 9.5 download were popular, TradeStation 10 was to be the new and improved platform. Some of the highlights of the platform include:

So users have extensive functionality and a range of features. Of course, you also get all the useful basics, such as news feeds, email alerts and direct chart trading capabilities. Placing trailing stops, backtesting strategies and tracking a cryptocurrency of interest are all straightforward too. On top of that, you can create your own indicators with TradeStation’s Easy language, tutorials for which can be found on the online trading academy.

In particular, TradeStation.com backtesting reviews are positive even vs Multicharts. This means traders can test and replay a strategy with real data before risking their own capital.

Overall, the desktop platform is among the best in the industry, including Metatrader.

TradeStation Mobile Apps

Mobile app reviews show users are mostly content with TradeStation’s offering. You can get iOS and Android trading apps from their respective app stores.

Once you log in you are met with watchlists, real-time quotes and customisation capabilities. The interface is clean, in part because the data on display is kept to a minimum. Drawing tools, futures data plus symbol lists and lookup can also be accessed with ease. You can also set up useful text alerts from within the app.

In 2017 Matrix was added to iPhone and Android apps. This is a ladder trading tool allowing you to one-click buy and sell from a real-time level 2 quote window. Implementing limit orders is particularly useful when day trading where every penny per share counts. Although it is worth noting level 2 data isn’t part of the free package and comes with a monthly fee of $11.

On top of that, you get:

The major drawback is the limited indicator set. 20 is far below competitors, such as NinjaTrader. You also cannot compare the performance of multiple securities at once.

Overall then, iPad and Android app reviews were content with TradeStation’s offering. The apps make for a smooth transition from the desktop-based applications. They provide all the basic tools you need to generate revenue.

Methods of Payment

Before you can start FX trading or speculating on Bitcoin (BTC), your account will need funding. Fortunately making deposits and withdrawals can be done via several methods, including:

For further details on the transfer of funds, debit cards and wire instructions, see the official website.

Demo Account

Customer reviews from forex, equities and options traders are quick to point out drawbacks when it comes to TradeStation’s free demo account download. Mainly that such a practice account doesn’t exist. Instead, virtual trading is only available once you have funded an account.

Having said that, the simulated account is good. For example, once you have completed the platform download and log in, you will have access to virtually all the same features and functionality that live traders do. It’s the perfect place to fine-tune a strategy. If you contact TradeStation, you may even be able to reset your simulated account.

However, the fact that there is no free trial option for public use may seriously deter novice traders. It means potential customers have no way to test-drive the platform. The only option is watching demo videos, which won’t give many customers enough of a feel for the platform.

Having said that, it is worth keeping an eye on their official website, as at times TradeStation has run a 60-day free trial download.

Additional TradeStation Features

Education

Equities and forex reviews rarely come across such extensive additional resources. Firstly, there is the wealth of educational resources from the TradeStation university, from new platform training to useful webinars. There are also manual PDFs to ensure installation and getting started is made easy. User guides and e-books can also be found when you head to the client center so you can setup and get straight to work. Finally, TradeStation Labs helps you apply your new-found trading knowledge.

WebAPI

The application programming interface WebAPI helps run numerous applications. It also means third-party developers can create and integrate applications using a programming language that makes and receives HTTP requests and responses.

Automated Trading

It is no secret huge numbers of users now capitalise on the capabilities of genetic algorithmic trading. Automation allows you to enter and exit far more trades than you ever could manually. It’s also straightforward to implement on TradeStation. You simply:

Automated trading reviews rate TradeStation’s service highly. It’s simply so quick and easy to set up. However, high-frequency trading is not a shortcut to riches. You still need to carefully monitor your strategy.

RadarScreen

Part of your platform software download will grant you access to the RadarScreen feature. Rather than scrolling through historical options data and penny stocks quotes, you can identify potential opportunities with ease. You can also customise the scanner in line with charts and market trends.

Hot Lists

This helps flag up unusual activity. Over 100 hot lists will help you see which ticker index and futures symbols may break above the 52-week high. You may instantly see the bitcoin futures symbol is about to gap up at open, for example.

EasyLanguage

Forget API python, the EasyLanguage feature lets you create custom analysis tools and strategies. You can build and alter indicators within your trading platform. It’s ideal for traders with minimal coding knowledge.

Regulation & License

User forums demonstrate the demand for trusted and regulated brokers. Fortunately, TradeStation is one of the most reputable online brokers in the world. The brokerage is registered with SEC and has good relations with FIRA.

Users can relax in the knowledge their accounts have protection in a range of scenarios, such as bankruptcy or failure. This is because TradeStation is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). Therefore, accounts are guaranteed for up to $500,000, including $250,000 in cash.

Benefits

There are several very good reasons prospective traders should consider TradeStation, including:

Drawbacks

Despite the advantages above, there are also several downsides to the TradeStation offering, including:

Trading Hours

Trading hours are mostly the same regardless of user locations. However, TradeStation does also offer after-hours trading. So while the normal trading day is between 09:30 ET until 16:00 ET Monday to Friday, you can actually trade from 08:00 ET to at 20:00 ET.

Users are automatically able to trade during extended hours. You do not need additional documentation. Also, TradeStation does not charge any extra commissions or fees for extended hours trading.

See the official website for upcoming holiday hours.

Contact & Customer Support

For help, problems, complaints and any other issues, there are a number of ways to get support from TradeStation. Reviews often praise the high level of customer service on offer.

You can get in contact by phone between 08:00 ET to 20:00 ET Monday to Thursday and between 08:00 to 18:00 on Friday about new accounts. See the website for the phone number in your location and time zone.

You can also email TradeStation at InstitutionalSales@TradeStation.com. They can help you if your account is not working or you wish to close your account. They can also walk you through initial margin requirements for your brokerage account and a whole load more.

Technical support is available 24 hours a day from Sunday 15:30 ET to Friday 20:00 ET. Reviews show customer assistants were very knowledgeable and could help when platforms were not loading or connecting. They may also be able to assist when order types are rejected, as well as deciphering notifications for you.

You can also use their live chat feature to get support. User reviews show wait times were low.

Lastly, you can also head to their website and FAQ page for support. With answers given in detail, many users will be able to repair problems themselves. You can also find useful information on hotkeys, training videos and unsettled funds.

Safety & Security

Events in recent years highlight the need for a legitimate broker. Both hacking and false promises of riches by untrustworthy brokers have led to an erosion in public confidence. So, is TradeStation a good broker in terms of user security? There is no doubt they go above and beyond to keep personal data and information secure. In fact, they do so in the following ways:

Tradestation Verdict

TradeStation is one of the best direct access brokers. Users rate the comprehensive trading platform and the support for third-party add-ons. There are also extensive additional resources as well as customer support staff who can answer any questions. The only downside is the relatively expensive fees that penalise less active traders.

Overall then, TradeStation remains a worthy choice for experienced traders. However, beginners may be better off elsewhere, where they can find lower minimum requirements and a free demo account.

Top 3 Alternatives to TradeStation

Compare TradeStation with the top 3 similar brokers that accept traders from your location.

  1. Interactive Brokers – Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a premier brokerage, providing access to 150 markets in 33 countries, along with a suite of comprehensive investment services. With over 40 years of experience, this Nasdaq-listed firm adheres to stringent regulations by the SEC, FCA, CIRO, and SFC, amongst others, and is one of the most trusted brokers for trading around the globe.

  2. IG – Founded in 1974, IG is part of IG Group Holdings Plc, a publicly traded (LSE: IGG) brokerage. The brand-US offers spread betting, CFD and forex trading across an almost unrivalled selection of 17,000+ markets, with a range of user-friendly platforms and investing apps. For 50 years, IG has maintained its position as an industry leader, excelling in all key areas for traders.

  3. FOREX.com – Founded in 1999, FOREX.com is now part of StoneX, a financial services organization serving over one million customers worldwide. Regulated in the US, UK, EU, Australia and beyond, the broker offers thousands of markets, not just forex, and provides excellent pricing on cutting-edge platforms.

TradeStation Comparison Table

Compare TradeStation With Similar Brokers
TradeStation Interactive Brokers IG FOREX.com
Rating 3.5 4.3 4.4 4.5
Markets CFDs, Forex, Stocks, Futures, Commodities Stocks, Options, Futures, Forex, Funds, Bonds, ETFs, Mutual Funds, CFDs, Cryptocurrencies CFDs, Forex, Stocks, Indices, Commodities, ETFs, Futures, Options, Crypto, Spread Betting Forex, Stocks, Futures, Futures Options
Demo Account Yes Yes Yes Yes
Minimum Deposit $500 $0 $0 $100
Minimum Trade Min lot size will vary $100 0.01 Lots 0.01 Lots
Regulators SEC FCA, SEC, FINRA, CFTC, CBI, CIRO, SFC, MAS, MNB, FINMA FCA, ASIC, NFA, CFTC, DFSA, BaFin, MAS, FSCA, FINMA, CONSOB NFA, CFTC
Bonus Active Trader Program With A 15% Reduction In Costs
Education No Yes Yes Yes
Platforms MT4 Trader Workstation (TWS), IBKR Desktop, GlobalTrader, Mobile, Client Portal, AlgoTrader, OmniTrader, eSignal, TradingCentral Web, ProRealTime, L2 Dealer, MT4, AutoChartist, TradingCentral MT4, MT5, TradingView, eSignal, AutoChartist, TradingCentral
Leverage 1:20 1:50 1:30 (Retail), 1:250 (Pro) 1:50
Payment Methods 1 6 6 8
Visit Visit Visit Visit Visit
Review Interactive Brokers
Review
IG
Review
FOREX.com
Review

Compare Trading Instruments

Compare the markets and instruments offered by TradeStation and its competitors. Please note, some markets may only be available via CFDs or other derivatives.

Compare TradeStation Trading Instruments
TradeStation Interactive Brokers IG FOREX.com
CFD Yes Yes Yes No
Forex Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes
Commodities Yes Yes Yes Yes
Oil No No Yes Yes
Gold No Yes Yes Yes
Copper No No Yes No
Silver No No Yes Yes
Corn No No No No
Crypto No Yes Yes No
Futures Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options No Yes Yes Yes
ETFs No Yes Yes No
Bonds No Yes Yes No
Warrants No Yes Yes No
Spreadbetting No No Yes No
Volatility Index No No Yes No

TradeStation vs Other Brokers

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