TradeStation Review 2023
Features, Pros & Cons, & Pricing
With powerful charting tools and a variety of investment options, TradeStation is a popular online broker for advanced traders. And it's one of the few brokers that supports trading automation, and you can custom-code your own trading strategies to invest with.
However, this broker isn't necessarily great for newer investors. And it has some downsides, especially when it comes to potential account fees and customer service.
Our TradeStation review is covering everything you need to know about this broker so you can make the right choice.
Commissions & Fees - 8
Customer Service - 5
Ease of Use - 6
Tools & Resources - 9
Investment Options - 9
Account Options - 8
|Options Trades||$0.60 per contract|
|Investment Types||Stocks, OTC/Penny Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Options, Forex, Cryptocurrencies, Futures|
|Broker Assisted Trade||$0|
|Customer Service||Phone, email and chat: M-F 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. ET; hours vary based on service required|
Pros & Cons
What Is TradeStation?
TradeStation is an online broker best known for its analysis software and electronic trading platform. It services primarily the institutional trader markets and active traders. It offers a robust investment platform that provides real-time trading, as well as the ability to automate, monitor and optimize trades, and the opportunity to create your own custom features.
The platform provides the ability to have both traditional broker accounts as well as individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and allows for trading of stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), bonds, foreign securities, options, cryptocurrencies and futures.
Based in Plantation, Florida, the company began operations in 1982, making it one of the better-established platforms available. It has been owned by Monex Group of Japan since 2011.
What Makes TradeStation Great?
This online broker is designed to help experienced, active traders develop their trading strategies. It has a wealth of charting tools, and you can even automate your trades after developing a strategy. These features, plus the range of investing options, are what make TradeStation stand out.
Advanced Trading Platform & Tools
There's no denying that TradeStation caters to active and experienced traders. Its desktop platform is where TradeStation shines, providing customizable charting and advanced order types you don't get with basic investing apps.
Other features of TradeStation's desktop platform include:
- RadarScreen: This tool monitors up to 1,000 tickers in real time and lets you add 180+ indicators for technical and fundamental analysis.
- EasyLanguage: TradeStation has its own programming language, EasyLanguage, that you can use to build your own indicators and trading strategies.
- Strategy Back-Testing: Back-test various trades or strategies to see how they would perform.
- TradeStation Matrix: This trading tool provides a combination of a market depth window, advanced order types, and order tracking.
- OptionsStation Pro: Use visual options chains to help visualize options market and trade.
- Virtual Trading: Practice trading without risking any of your own money through TradeStation's simulated trading.
An abundance of technical indicators and the ability to customize your trading dashboard are really the selling points. And it's not every day you find a broker that lets you program your own indicators with its own language.
You can also automate trades with the strategies you create and back-test. This is one of TradeStation's more unique features, and it's once again how the platform caters to very experienced traders.
Another advantage of using TradingStation is the range of assets you can invest in. Currently, TradeStation supports trading:
- Mutual funds
- Penny stocks
Like most brokers, TradeStation has gone commission-free for stock and ETF trades. But the platform is known for trading options since its OptionStation Pro platform is designed for experienced, active options traders. Options also cost as low as $0.60 per contract, whereas many brokers charge $0.65 per contract.
Crypto investing is also a newer addition to TradeStation. You can currently trade several popular coins like Bitcoin, Compound, Ethereum, Polygon, and USDC. This is less selection than you get with a crypto exchange, but it adds even more flexibility for which asset classes you can invest in.
TradeStation lets you open a variety of account types, so you can trade in a tax-advantaged account or cash account. Account types TradeStation supports include:
- Individual and joint
- Traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and SEP IRAs
- Entity accounts for corporations, LLCs, trusts, partnerships, and sole proprietorships
Research & Education
As a TradeStation user, you can take advantage of its “Discover” section that provides news updates and analyst insights on various investing ideas. These takes come from TradeStation and a network of partners, so it's not proprietary TradeStation research. However, for a snapshot of the market or to keep tabs on certain companies, it's a nice addition to the platform.
There are also various educational modules you can explore if you're new to investing. And TradeStation even has resources on topics like retirement planning and setting up an IRA, so it's quite broad.
Just note that services like Morningstar and The Motley Fool are a better pick if you want more in-depth research and stock analysis.
No Account Minimums
TradeStation used to have two products, TS Select and TS Go. The former had a $2,000 minimum account requirement, but TradeStation had consolidated its services under a single plan and now has a $0 funding requirement.
What Are TradeStation's Drawbacks?
Advanced trading and charting tools are the main reasons to use TradeStation. But this broker has some downsides, especially when it comes to account fees and trading on margin.
Various Account & Trading Fees
If you want to invest in mutual funds, TradeStation isn't for you. It has 2,000 plus available funds to invest in but doesn't have any no-transaction-fee funds. You pay $14.95 per trade, which can add up quickly.
As an alternative, we suggest looking into our list of the best brokers for mutual funds to find a no-fee option.
No Fractional Shares
These days, many investment apps and online brokers offer fractional shares. This helps newer investors purchase shares of stock from the Amazons and Teslas of the world where the normal stock price might be too expensive for beginners.
However, TradeStation doesn't support fractional shares, so keep this in mind if you want to invest small amounts of money.
High Margin Rates
You can trade on margin with TradeStation, but margin rates currently start at 9.50% for accounts under $50,000. You get margin rate discounts the larger your account, but it takes $2 million to reach a 3.50% margin rate.
In comparison, Interactive Brokers starts at a 3.08% margin rate at the time of writing.
As mentioned, TradeStation offers commission-free stock and ETF trades. But there are a range of other trading and account fees you can encounter like:
- Options Trading: $0.60 per contract.
- Mutual Funds: $14.95.
- Futures: $1.50 per contract, per side.
- Crypto Trading: Starts at a $2 maker and $2 taker fee for balances under $100,000; you also pay various crypto withdrawal fees.
- Broker-Assisted Trades: Free.
- Sending Wires: $25 for domestic wires and $35 for international wires.
- Account Transfer: $125.
A $125 account transfer fee is pretty steep. And there's also an inactivity fee of $50 per year unless you have a $2,000 average end-of-month balance or make five trades per 12-month period.
How to Contact TradeStation
You can reach TradeStation customer support as a new customer by emailing email@example.com or using its live chat feature. Support is available Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm ET.
Existing customers can also use the live chat feature or call various phone numbers depending on their location. You can find a list of TradeStation's contact numbers on its website.
It's worth noting that TradeStation has a 1.6 star rating on Trustpilot. Most of the negative reviews complain from slow customer support times or unhelpful customer support in general. Customers are also unhappy with the high transfer fees and how long withdrawals can take.
Comments from our readers here at Investor Junkie are also quite negative when it comes to customer service. Some readers also complain about platform glitches and crashes, which is another red flag.
If you're an active trader who wants to use TradeStation's advanced charting tools and automatic trading features, this broker is worth considering. However, the negative reviews surrounding customer service are a downside. Additionally, we don't recommend TradeStation if you're a newer investor and don't plan on trading options.
Thankfully, there are several TradeStation alternatives you can turn to:
|Options Trades||$0.50/contract||$0.65/contract||$0.60 per contract|
We like Ally Invest for another commission-free, online-only broker. Options trading is slightly more expensive, but Ally has a DIY investing side and its own robo-advisor as well for more selection. Plus, it's also a full-service bank, so you can take advantage of its high-yield savings account, rewards checking account, CDs, and money market account.TD Ameritrade is also an excellent alternative, especially since it has 24/7 customer service unlike TradeStation. It also offers commission-free stock and ETF trading and has banking features under TD Bank similar to Ally.
Of course, you could also consider various investment apps like Public and Robinhood if you prefer mobile trading and want fractional shares. Ultimately, TradeStation caters to a more niche class of investors, so you have to decide if its advanced trading tools are worth it or not.
In the competitive world of online brokers, TradeStation does a good job of setting itself apart. It clearly serves advanced traders who value technical analysis. And it's also one of the best options trading platforms out there.
However, slow and limited customer service is a downside. And if you're a more passive investor, dealing with the learning curve of TradeStation's platform probably isn't worth it.
If you're looking for a new broker, you can check out our article on the best stock broker promotions to hit the ground running with your new account.
TradeStation does not respond to customer support emails for active clients. I emailed and submitted forms multiple times and never received a response. If you are not able to call during their limited hours (9am-5pm Eastern time) you will receive zero customer support. After waiting over a month and resubmitting my questions multiple times only to receive automated “we’re currently very busy emails”, I transferred my account and was charged a punitive $150 fee.
Thanks for the honest feedback in the comments. I will keep looking. Anyone know a smaller brokerage whose margin department doesn’t sell you out?
Been using for a few months now, I only use their web platform since I don’t use windows myself. and so far no problems
Absolutely DO NOT use TradeStation if you want to automate your trading. The platform is crashing non-stop. There’s no documentation on easylangugage, object-oriented easylanguage (OOEL) or their macros. The only documentation you can find is in their forum which is an utter mess. The technical stuff will push you to use the OOEL for whatever reason. OOEL is really quite illogical and old-fashioned which would be fine if there was any comprehensive documentation. You cannot login into the platform’s simulated account and live account simultaneously in case you’re expecting to do the testing and trade live at the same time. For that, you have to request additional login for 50$ per month. There are 3 different ways of sending an order (macros, OOEL, and strategy orders). I am still not understanding this nonsensical approach as to why are there 3 different ways of submitting an order. The language itself is like a split personality. I would really recommend avoiding this broker if you’re expecting to automate your trading. It’s an embarrasment.
This platform is a joke, it crashes constantly, miserably bad, I cannot believe they refuse to fix their user problems. It has a mind of its own. absolutely terrible do yourself a favor and use a different platform until they fix this embarrassment
I’ve read negative reviews about TradeStation as well, but haven’t seen actual problems from actual users.
Disclaimer: Am using Trade Station myself 🙂
tradestation is a terrible platform. 4 times I have been trapped in trades after they lost contact with the exchange. Then I spent 15 minutes on the phone waiting for service to find out if I was in the trade or not. Oh well the desk told me we just lost connection with the exchange, I guess you should just close your trade out at a loss. The whole platform is constantly glitchy and crashes at the worst times. IT is clunky and difficult to use. Run and take your money somewhere else.
Runaway from this platform, as fast as you can, apparently they have a bug in their new platform which shows wrong account balance and if you trade futures, its a curse, as you are required certain min margin to carr position overnight. their was difference of 20% of real balance vs account balance showed on desktop software
on top of it, the staff is rude, they should look at td ameritrade service or ally invest
I am currently using TS. I am a relatively new trader. My may issue is that their Tech Support is horrendous. Many times I have tried to contact them by phone, only to be on hold for 40+ minutes. Their online tech support chat is offline more than it is online during business hours, even though they represent that “Chat Representatives are available Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. I have sent emails that have without having a response.
I concur with Frank’s comment about the Trade Manager Analysis tool. At least 50% of the time when I access it to generate a report, I only get a message saying, “Please wait while the report is prepared….Requesting actual trade history.” That message stays on the screen without doing any thing more. Once I just let it run. An hour later still nothing. Come to think of it, it matches my experience in trying to call their technical support.
I’m looking for a different platform because of these issues.
I have not experienced issues with slow order execution, but that may be a matter of my trading style. I am also not at the level of using Easy Language, so I have no comment on that.
Bad experience, very slow in orders excecution, NO recomended for day trading platform or scalping. Only Slow investing
Tools as TradeManager Analysis very bad
Very expensive platform having those problems and more….
Just one addition. I held an account there for 2 years. I tried to create trading programs on the TradeStation platform but finally gave up and switched to MQL. Just to explain my background: I am not a professional programmer but made many programs in Excel VBA. Also I was capable to learn C++ within three years enough to create object based programs on Metatrader platform.
So, if you intend to use TradeStation to create programs (in EasyLanguage) on your own then my advise is that you should forget it.
Actually I gave up when tried to switch backtesting from on bar open only method to every tick method. Theoretically it is only one additional simple command in the program – but it did not work for me. Beside this I think EasyLanguage is simply chaotic and poorly organised. It tries to reach everybody therefore combines very different sources – there are COBOL-like syntaxes beside OOP features. The idea is brilliant but the execution is not – I felt other areas suffered because too much was aimed. You can buy books about EasyLanguage – but I could not feel that they would have been worth the price. For me, as a “kind of programmer” EasyLanguage, the implementation and the relationship to the background of the platform felt to be poorly organised, clumsy and cumbersome in overall.
Well, you can hire EasyLanguage programmers. So if you can afford and can trust them then TradeStation still can be your choice. Also for manual trade it is an excellent platform (I agree 100% with all above in the review).
Very good. Clear and concise review. Your review gave me all the insight that I needed decide.