TradeStation Review (2020): A Technological Powerhouse

TradeStation Review

With almost 40 years of experience under their belt, TradeStation is currently one of the most well-rounded online brokers. Especially noteworthy are their fantastic platforms, packed with powerful tools.

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TradeStation - Reviews & Ratings

A great platform with low commissions, especially when it comes to options and penny stocks. Experienced traders will enjoy TradeStation’s desktop and web platforms, but the mobile app is inferior to those of other high-tier brokerages. Beginners will also find better alternatives.
8/10

FAST FACTS:
• Account Minimum: $2000 for TS Select; $0 for TS Go
• Fees: Stocks and ETFs are $0; Options are $0.6(TS Select) or $0.5(TS Go)
• Best For: Active options and penny stock trading
• Highlight: One of the best platforms for professionals

Usability: 7/10
Research and Education: 5/10
Customer Service & Help: 8.5/10
Commissions & Fees: 4/10
Tools & Resources: 9.5/10

Investor Warning: Past performance, whether actual or indicated by historical tests of strategies, is no guarantee of future performance or success. There is a possibility that you may sustain a loss equal to or greater than your entire investment regardless of which asset class you trade (equities, options or futures); therefore, you should not invest or risk money that you cannot afford to lose. Online trading is not suitable for all investors.

TradeStation is an online brokerage firm founded in 1982 under the name Omega Research, inc.

They are best known for outstanding technical analysis software and electronic trading platforms that allow users to heavily customize their trading experience. TradeStation was acquired by the Japanese Monex Group in 2011.

Overview and Summary

  1. Some of the best trading technology in the industry. TradeStation Desktop, their most popular platform, is one of the most impressive and feature-packed trading platforms you can come across.
  2. Great for professional traders, especially when it comes to penny stocks and options trades.
  3. Users can choose their pricing plan, and there’s even a special low-cost plan for veterans and active military personnel.
  4. Outstanding and customizable platforms with powerful analytical tools.
  5. Tech-savvy investors can modify or create features with TradeStation’s EasyLanguage.
  6. Research and education are not lacking in features and content but you can probably find better alternatives among the top-ranking brokers. Not an especially great platform for beginners.

Is TradeStation Right For Your Trading Goals?

Experienced day traders are TradeStation’s main audience but casual traders will also find the company’s TradeStation Web Trader platform comprehensive and handy.

The multiple pricing plans users can choose from offer low commissions for most investment types, but options and penny stocks are where TradeStation really shines. This platform is not the best choice for beginners but pros will love the plethora of powerful analytical features available.

Get started with TradeStation here.

What You Can Trade with TradeStation

Tradestation offers just about all investment types on their platform. This includes Stocks,  ETFs, Penny Stocks, Futures, Options, Mutual Funds, and Bonds. Users can trade stocks, ETFs, and some options with no commission fees.

There is no international trading available and all mutual funds orders have to be phoned in. The abundance of tradable securities on Tradestation was bolstered by the introduction of cryptocurrencies in November.

Also, if you have money sitting idly on your account, it will earn you a 0.55% interest every year. This is rare in the industry, and it’s a pleasant circumstance since you are safe from inflation. Well… partially at least. It’s better than nothing.

Platform & Technology

Users can choose between two platforms: TradeStation Desktop, which is the brokerage’s more popular platform, and Web Trading, a more simple and intuitive browser-based platform. Both of these platforms are outstanding and extensively customizable.

Trading

TradeStation Web Trading

Some investors want an easy-to-use platform without an overwhelming number of features. TradeStation Web Trading provides this and more, as the fundamental tools you have available are top-class.

The web platform helps traders manage active positions, place trades, watch lists, open orders, and conduct stock chart analysis effortlessly. TradeStation Web Trading is superior to most similar platforms, as it is clean, simple, and has very impressive tools.

TradeStation Desktop

This is Tradestation’s flagship product, geared toward professionals who are familiar with complexity. Users have a huge number of features at their disposal, for example, the historical data that is available for analysis goes back more than 45 years.

Users also have a whopping 274 indicators/studies at their disposal. These can be adjusted and changed however the client sees fit through TradeStation’s coding language, EasyLanguage. But that’s not all. Let’s take a look at other notable features of this platform.

TradeStation OptionStation

Trading Options with OptionStation

Options traders will love OptionStation Pro. This  built-in tool is made for streamlined trading. Users will get access to features like advanced position analysis, grouping for current positions, and streaming greeks in real-time. All of the chart routines and analytical features should yield fantastic results in the hands of a capable trader.

The main feature of OptionStation Pro is the Theoretical Position Panel. This feature analyzes trading positions, which are hypothetical at first. Powerful tools combined with the low commissions on options can be a great opportunity for a pro options trader. That’s why I consider TradeStation as one of the best brokers for options trading.

Portfolio Maestro

Portfolio Maestro is a portfolio analysis tool that can compare the performance of various investment strategies, or analyze your portfolio as a whole. This is a good tool to find out if something is working and if something else is working better.

Code with EasyLanguage

If you’re feeling up to it, you can create your own trading strategies and unique analysis tools using the platform’s EasyLanguage feature. This is a coding language available only on TradeStation and it allows users to modify existing strategies and indicators, or create new ones. This feature is for the tech-savvy investor who wants to further optimize this  feature-rich platform.

TradeStation Desktop

Other Tools & Resources

TradeStation Desktop has a ton of great tools, including Matrix (for ladder trading), Radar Screen (for streaming watchlists in real-time), Walk-Forward Optimizer (for testing strategies), and Scanner (for custom screening), to name a few.

A Few Drawbacks

Users can’t sync the watchlists from TradeStation Web Trading with TradeStation Desktop.  This is not a huge drawback, but it is an annoyance for users who operate on both platforms. There is also an absence of automated technical analysis, so the charting feature is not as good as it could be.

Mobile Platform

The mobile platform has the same important basic features as the desktop versions. For example, all prices are streaming in Real-time and you can trade all options strategies from your mobile device.

The mobile software can sync with your TradeStation Desktop and TradeStation Web Trading accounts. The mobile app is available for Android and iOS but not for Windows-based phones. The app also doesn’t have alert and watch list features.

TradeStation Pricing and Fees

First, you have to choose the pricing system you want. There are a lot of things to keep in mind, so it can get a bit confusing. Let’s go through the most popular pricing plans,starting with the top two, TS Select and TS Go.

TS Select

TradeStation’s most popular pricing system has a $2.000 minimum account balance. With TS Select, you can access all TradeStation’s trading platforms and trade stocks and ETFs with no commissions. Options trades are only $0.6 per contract.

TS Go

You can get even lower fees with TS Go. You can trade unlimited Stocks and ETFs with no commissions and options trades are $0.5 per contract. All of TradeStation’s platforms are available but there’s a catch. There is a $10 fee for placing orders through TradeStation Desktop.

PricingStocks & ETFsStocks OptionsFuturesFutures OptionsMinimum Investment
TS Select$0$0 ($0.60 per contract)$0 ($1.50 per contract, per side)$1.50 per contract, per side$2.000
TS Go$0$0 ($0.50 per contract)$0 ($0.85 per contract, per side)$1.50 per contract, per side$0

Penny Stocks

Whichever of the aforementioned plans you decide to use, the commissions on penny stock are the same. Penny stock trades cost $0 for the first 10.000 shares. After the 10.000th, they are $0.001 per share. This is a great price, so it’s no wonder TradeStation made my list as one of the best brokerages for penny stocks.

TradeStation Salutes

This is a pricing program made for veterans, first responders, and active military personnel. TradeStation Salutes is a program unique to TradeStation and it provides users with free stocks, options, and ETFs trades.

Research

TradeStation’s research capabilities are very detailed and powerful in some aspects while  lacking in others.TradeStation’s platforms provide over 150 indicators, and more can be created or downloaded. Notifications will warn clients about approaching earnings announcements or significant market moves based on their positions.

Research Tools & Resources

The platform has a built-in software called OptionStation Pro, which is a great tool for analyzing strategies and placing orders. You can make stock screens that are based on technical data through RadarScreen, TradeStation’s stock scanner.

Users have access to a huge historical database, which holds about 50 years of trading history. TradeStation Market Insights, TradeStation’s market commentary is accessible through the desktop platform. It is updated frequently throughout the trading day.

Limitations

Some investors may be disappointed since there is no mutual fund or fixed income research and no traditional basic stocks research. Research capabilities for ETFs are also very limited. The platform does not provide analyst reports for users but that is not a great problem since there are other useful sources of market commentary, like TradeStation Market Insights.

Education and Community

Educational resources are abundant at TradeStation University, including articles, e-books, video tutorials, and more. Viewers of TradeStation’s YouTube channel can watch numerous  video tutorials to learn about the basics like asset classes, placing trades, options trading, and technical analysis.

Live webinars are streamed very often, and you can also go to one of TradeStation’s five-day “Masterclass” events held in Plantation, Florida and Chicago. TradeStation Labs holds  pre-market briefings and interviews every day.

TradeStation Today’s content includes tutorials, real-time news, and special tutorials that explain to users how experts organize and utilize the plentiful arsenal of tools on TradeStation’s platforms. All platforms give users access to live streaming lessons and discussions about trading IPOs,  ETFs, cryptocurrencies, and numerous other relevant topics.

TradeStation is currently upgrading TradeStation University in order to offer users more lessons, as well as quizzes to test their knowledge. All of these features provide great value to users but maybe you should consider better alternatives if you are a beginner.

Where Tradestation Shines

Tradestation is a platform geared towards experienced active traders. The potential of its complex platforms can only be harnessed by traders who know what they’re doing. If you figure out the platform, then you can make a great profit by trading low-commission securities efficiently.

Multiple pricing plans

Users can choose the best pricing program for them. TS Select and TS Go, the most popular plans, offer no-commission stocks and ETFs trades and options trades are $0.6 and $0.5 respectively.

TradeStation Salutes is a special pricing plan reserved for veterans, first responders, and active military personnel, unique to Tradestation. With this plan, the prices are even better, as all stocks, ETFs, and options are commission-free.

Penny Stocks

TradeStation is currently one of the places for trading penny stocks. It doesn’t matter which pricing plan you choose, because the commissions for penny stocks are always the same, zero. However, the commissions increase after the 10.000th trade to $0.001 per share.

Overall Excellent Platforms

TradeStation’s trading platforms are regarded as one of the best choices for advanced traders who can benefit from the truckload of powerful tools and data. TradeStation Desktop is the company’s flagship product, intended for experienced traders who won’t get overwhelmed by the myriad of complicated features. This platform is not recommended for beginners.

There is a bit less complex alternative called, TradeStation Web Trading. Users have access to all fundamental features on this platform and can trade, watch lists, and do different kinds of analysis.

The tools on TradeStation Web Trading are fewer in number but of almost unrivaled quality. This platform isn’t the best for beginners but it is still fairly more user-friendly than TradeStation Desktop.

Customer Support

Tradestation users can get 24hr phone assistance from the company’s Client Services and Technical Support from Sunday to Friday. Users and potential customers can also get help from Tradestation’s representatives through email and live chat.

The representatives usually live up to the good reputation of the brokerage with their professionalism and knowledge, but they get mixed reviews, like most phone services. The brokerage also has a comprehensive and informative FAQ section on their site.

Where TradeStation is Lacking

Tradestation is generally better suited for experienced traders, so beginners will probably find a bunch of better alternatives to get them started in investing. The software and the range of offerings are fantastic, but they are not without drawbacks.

The mobile app is available for Android and iOS, but not for Windows phones. It certainly falls short when compared to the best stock trading apps available today. There are also no rollover IRAs available on TradeStation.

The Bottom Line

Since its founding almost 40 years ago, TradeStation has earned a very good reputation in the investing world. The software they offer is plentiful and among the best in the industry, and there are platform options for very advanced traders and more casual investors alike.

Users can also pick the pricing plan they want, but all plans are good since stocks, ETFs, and penny stocks suffer no commission fees. Active and former military personnel can get a TradeStation Salute account and start trading stocks, ETFs, and options commission-free. All in all, TradeStation offers a well-rounded service, suitable for most investors.

About Author

Tim Fries Tim Fries is the cofounder of The Tokenist. He has a B. Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Tim is also the co-founder of Protective Technologies Capital (protechcap.com).