Reviews

TradeStation Review 2022: A Great Platform for Active Investors

TradeStation Review Featured
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TradeStation is a well-known investment brokerage that has been catering to experienced traders for decades. Recently, the company launched a range of features aimed at everyday investors.

In this review, we’ll take a look at some of the service’s key features, such as its powerful trading platform and diverse investment options (which include crypto).

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TradeStation offers the ability to trade a wide range of assets on multiple platforms, and features advanced research and technical tools that make it a valuable option for active traders.

Pros:
  • Has a best-in-class trading platform.
  • The fees are below average overall.
  • Users can invest in stocks, options, and crypto via a self-directed IRA.
Cons:
  • Does not offer fractional shares of stocks or ETFs.
  • Offers access to over 2,000 mutual funds, but there’s a $14.95 fee per trade.
  • Gives access to a limited number of cryptocurrencies.

TradeStation Features Explained

Here’s a quick look at the main trading tools and features you can get when you sign up for a TradeStation account.

Stock, ETF, Bond, Futures and Mutual Fund Trading

TradeStation’s main feature is its online brokerage service, where you can trade stocks, ETFs, bonds and mutual funds with ease.

The company offers commission-free trading for U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs. 

In addition to stock and ETF trades, TradeStation lets you buy and sell 2,000+ mutual funds (from Vanguard, Fidelity and T. Rowe Price), as well as hundreds of government, municipal and corporate bonds. 

With that said, you will pay a commission of $14.95 per trade for mutual funds. Bonds and other fixed instruments incur a $14.95 commission fee plus a $5 surcharge.

Futures Trading

With TradeStation, investors can trade futures on an array of assets, including commodities, indices and treasuries. TradeStation supports futures trading on major exchanges in both the U.S. and Europe, so it’s a nice choice for investors looking for international market exposure.

There is no percentage-based commission when trading futures (hence the claim of being commission-free). However, there is a per-contract fee of $1.50 for futures and 50 cents for micro futures, both of which are competitive rates for the industry.

TradeStationInteractive BrokersCharles SchwabE-TRADE
Per-contract fee:$1.500.85$2.25$1.50

Options Trading

TradeStation has long been popular among options traders, offering options on stocks, ETFs and futures through its web and desktop platforms as well as its mobile trading app.

Similar to futures trading, there are no assignment or exercise fees on the platform, but there is a contract fee of 60 cents to $1.50 per leg.

Crypto Trading and Investing

Screenshot of the TradeStation crypto trading platform.

One of TradeStation’s newest features is its beginner-friendly crypto trading and investing platform. With TradeStation, you can buy and sell the following coins and tokens:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Litecoin (LTC)
  • Ripple (XRP)
  • U.S. Dollar Coin (USDC)

The company also lets you deposit and withdraw crypto from the TradeStation platform. This means that you’re buying actual cryptocurrency with TradeStation, and not just a CFD (contract for differences) like you get with some other brokers.

TradeStation has a volume-based pricing model that favors larger traders:

30-Day VolumeMaker FeeTaker Fee
$0 – $1,000$2 + 0.35%$2 + 0.60%
$1,001 – $10,0000.35%0.45%
$10,001 – $50,0000.20%0.30%
$50,001 – $100,0000.12%0.25%
$100,001 – $1,000,0000.10%0.18%
$1,000,001 – $5,000,0000.08%0.15%
$5,000,001 – $10,000,0000.05%0.12%
$10,000,001 – $50,000,0000.03%0.11%
$50,000,001 and higherContact for pricing

There is no fee for USD to USDC conversions. 

For comparison’s sake, FTX has the following fees:

30-Day VolumeMaker FeeTaker Fee
$0 – $2,000,0000.020%0.070%
$2,000,000 – $5,000,0000.0150.060%
$5,000,000 – $10,000,0000.010.055%
$10,000,000 – $25,000,0000.0050.050%
$25,000,000 to $50,000,00000.045%
$50,000,001 and higher00.400%

Overall, TradeStation’s fees are favorable for larger investors. Because of the flat $2 maker/taker fee, it’s not ideal for those who are micro-investing into crypto

Another noteworthy crypto investing feature is the availability of an IRA.

The firm’s Crypto IRA feature, which is technically a self-directed IRA, is a tax-advantaged individual retirement account that lets you invest in cryptocurrencies.

TradeStation’s crypto enabled IRA is relatively unique for the industry. While you don’t have access to the wide range of currencies you’d get with something like Choice IRA (read our Choice IRA review) or Alto IRA (read our Alto IRA review), its fees are on the low end, with just an annual $100 administration fee charged.

Therefore, for someone looking to simply buy the cryptocurrencies TradeStation has available, it’s a very viable option.

TradeStation enabled IRAChoice IRAAlto IRA
Administration fee:$100 annually$0$0
Trading fee:Maximum $1 + 0.50%Maximum 1.26%1%

Margin Trading

TradeStation offers margin trading for eligible investors who can meet the $2,000 minimum balance requirement.

Margin trading lets you leverage your current assets to boost your buying power, so it’s popular among active traders. 

However, TradeStation’s margin rates aren’t that competitive for the industry (3.5% to 9.5%), especially if you have a lower account balance. For comparison’s sake, margin rates at Robinhood — which also requires just a $2,000 account balance — are held near the federal funds rate, while Interactive Brokers offers account holders with at least $100,000 a rate of just 1.83% (as of April 14, 2022).

IPO Investing

To invest in IPOs with TradeStation, you need to have a minimum $500 balance and download the ClickIPO app. On the mobile trading app, you can search for current investment opportunities. You can then place commission-free trades on shares whenever you find a company that meets your investment criteria.

Keep in mind that IPO investing is risky. TradeStation is one of the few trading platforms that lets you invest in IPOs with limited requirements. But there’s still risk involved in trading these kinds of assets, so it’s not right for everyone.

Research, Education and Trading Tools

TradeStation offers a plethora of research and education tools to all account holders.

With TradeStation, you can practice your trading strategies using the company’s simulated trading tool. This feature lets you buy and sell any of the platform’s supported assets using virtual money so you can test out your investment skills risk-free.

TradeStation also has a comprehensive research platform so you can find new investment opportunities. All account holders can use the firm’s suite of tools, which include free market data, customizable charts and stock scanners.

Trading Platforms

TradeStation offers multiple trading platforms to its account holders. Each of these trading terminals offers a slightly different investing experience. These include:

  • Web trading platform. Designed with convenience in mind, TradeStation’s web trading platform is ideal for executing simple trades and completing basic market research.
  • Desktop app. The TradeStation desktop platform is the company’s premier trading terminal. It offers additional trade execution functions for advanced traders and more powerful tools for market research.
  • Mobile app. With the TradeStation mobile app, you can place trades on the go and check in on your portfolio. The functionality of the mobile trading platform is limited compared to the desktop app. But you can still place buy and sell orders, look up historical market data and create customized charts with various technical and fundamental indicators.
  • TS Crypto. TS Crypto is TradeStation’s cryptocurrency investing platform. It’s available on the web and as a mobile app. You can use it to place trades and do market research using TradeStation’s cryptocurrency trading analysis tool.
  • FuturesPlus. Aptly named, FuturesPlus is TradeStation’s purpose-built platform for futures trading. It offers a range of features for both futures and futures options traders, including options chain builders and real-time Greeks.

TradeStation Fees

Here’s a quick look at the fees the company charges so you know what you’re getting into when you sign up for an account.

TradeStation Pricing Plans: TS SELECT

All TradeStation accounts need to be on one of the company’s pricing plans. TradeStation has about half a dozen pricing plans, but most people use TS SELECT.

TS SELECT allows for commission-free stock, ETF and options trades. You’ll then pay 60 cents to $1.50 per contract.

There’s a $2,000 minimum account balance requirement to use TS SELECT. This makes TS SELECT more accessible to a broader range of advanced traders, so long as you’re willing to pay a bit more in contract fees.

Other Account Fees

In addition to its trading fees, TradeStation has a slew of other fees that it charges to account holders. Most of these fees are for things like returned checks and paper statements, so they’re not relevant to the majority of traders.

The biggest thing to keep an eye out for is TradeStation’s annual $50 inactivity fee. You can avoid this fee if you meet one of the following requirements:

  • $2,000 minimum account balance.
  • At least five trades in each 12-month period.

The only other account fees of note are TradeStation’s IRA costs.

If you trade only equities inside your IRA with TradeStation, you’ll pay $35 per year in administration fees. Meanwhile, Crypto enabled IRAs cost $100 per year. These charges aren’t horrible, but you can get fee-free IRAs at many other brokerages.

TradeStation Pros

  • Comprehensive trading platform. The company’s suite of web, desktop and mobile apps is second to none, especially for active traders.
  • Range of investable assets. With TradeStation, you can trade everything from stocks and ETFs to futures, options and crypto. There’s also support for IPO investing and other features that were previously only available to professional traders.
  • Commission-free trading. Trades of stocks, ETFs and options are all commission-free with TradeStation on its TS SELECT pricing plan.
  • Seamless crypto investing. TradeStation is one of the few brokerages that lets you trade crypto assets alongside stocks and bonds. Plus, you can withdraw your coins and tokens to an external wallet if you want to trade or store them elsewhere.

TradeStation Cons

  • Complex fee structure. TradeStation’s biggest issue for many investors is its complex fee structure. If you’re just trading stocks and ETFs, things are pretty simple fee-wise, as there are no commission costs. But forays into other asset classes can lead you into a maze of confusing fees on the platform.
  • No fractional shares. You can’t trade fractional shares with TradeStation, so it’s not a great option for investors with smaller account balances.
  • Inactivity fee. TradeStation charges a hefty $50 annual fee unless you meet certain account balance and activity requirements.
  • Doesn’t offer forex trading. More advanced traders might be disappointed by TradeStation’s lack of support for forex trading, especially given its support for a wide range of futures contracts.
  • Limited mutual fund options. TradeStation lets you buy and sell over 2,000 mutual funds. But there aren’t any no-transaction-fee mutual funds, and commission fees are a hefty $14.95 per trade.

TradeStation FAQ

How much does TradeStation cost per month?

There’s no monthly fee to use TradeStation if you have a brokerage account on the TS SELECT pricing plan. If you want to use TradeStation’s research platforms without a brokerage account, you’ll pay $99.99 per month as an individual investor.

Is TradeStation good for beginners?

TradeStation isn’t a great option for beginners. The company’s trading platforms and fee structures are a bit too complicated for first-time investors. Good TradeStation alternatives for beginners include both Webull and Robinhood.

Is your money safe with TradeStation?

Investing is inherently risky, regardless of whether you trade with TradeStation or another broker. TradeStation is a reputable, U.S.-regulated broker that’s a member of the SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation), so it’s held to the same security and asset protection standards as many other trading platforms.

Where is TradeStation available?

Investors in any U.S. state can make a TradeStation account to trade traditional assets like stocks, ETFs and mutual funds.

But TradeStation’s cryptocurrency trading platform isn’t available in all states. As of the time of writing, investors in the following states can’t trade crypto with TradeStation:

– Hawaii
– Louisiana
– New York
– Virginia

Traders in all 46 other states, plus DC and Puerto Rico, can trade crypto on the platform.

Also keep in mind that TradeStation has an international platform called TradeStation Global. This platform is only available outside the US so we won’t talk about it here.

Is TradeStation Right For You?

TradeStation is a powerful brokerage for anyone who wants to actively invest in a wide range of assets. Some of the platform’s best features include its multiple cutting-edge trading interfaces and its commission-free stock, ETF and options trades. What else makes TradeStation stand out is its low-fee self-directed IRA that gives investors access to stocks, crypto and options. 

But for all its awesome features, the brokerage has its drawbacks. While it aims to serve everyday investors, many of TradeStation’s features are arguably too complex for those with limited investing experience. Overall, its tools are more of what you would expect from a platform that caters to advanced investors, not beginners.

At the end of the day, there’s a lot for experienced traders to love about TradeStation and its amazing range of investing tools. While it’s not necessarily a good choice for starting your first portfolio, TradeStation is well worth considering for the more experienced investors among us.

R.J. Weiss
R.J. Weiss is the founder and editor of The Ways To Wealth, a Certified Financial Planner™, husband and father of three. He's spent the last 10+ years writing about personal finance and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, MSN Money, and other publications.

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