TradeStation Review 2022: Sophisticated Platform With Robust Tools, but Might Be Unnecessary for Newer Investors

Tradestation review Illustration by Next Advisor
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TradeStation is an online broker that has been a preferred choice among active, seasoned day traders. Established in 1982, the brokerage has provided advanced tools and a robust platform for professional investors who trade at a large volume. But while this may sound great for the experienced investor, it may be overwhelming for a new investor.

To date, the Florida-based company has won a handful of awards in the industry for its platform technology. It also features a simulated trading environment, so you can test out your ideas within investing real capital. 

TradeStation Review 2022

In 2001, TradeStation turned into an online securities brokerage and now charges zero commissions on trades, equities, futures, and equity options.

Newer investors can partake in a stimulated trade environment and become more empowered, informed investors through its free educational resources, where one can learn about market basics. TradeStation’s YouCanTrade educational platform offers live coaching, an active online community of fellow traders, and courses. It’s free to join, but many of the courses come with a fee. 

There are some caveats to keep in mind. To unlock the commission-free stocks and ETFs, you’ll need to meet a $2,000 account minimum requirement or have placed at least five trades over every 12-month period after the anniversary of when you funded your account. TradeStation plans on gradually phasing out its TS GO tier, and TS Select will soon be the default commission plan.

The pricing as presented on the TradeStation website can be a bit confusing, so be sure to do your homework so you aren’t blindsided by a slew of fees. For example, if you have a TS GO account, the company’s mobile or web-based trading platform, you might be hit with different fees if you’re using the desktop version versus the web and mobile version, so be mindful of that. Plus, for professionals there may be additional fees to access TradeStation’s market data.

Read on to learn more about TradeStation. 

Pros and Cons of TradeStation

Pros

  • Robust, premier suite of tools and technology for active traders

  • No-commission fees on stocks and ETFs on TS Select

  • Sophisticated stimulated trading environment

Cons

  • No minimum funding requirements, but $2,000 average end-of-month equity balance for TS Select, which offers free trading and unlock full suite of tools

  • Advanced tools and interface can be overwhelming and intimidating to newer investors

  • $50 annual account inactivity fee

  • Pricing tiers are a bit confusing 

TradeStation at a Glance

  • Self-directed online brokerage accounts, IRAs, and equity accounts available 
  • Investments include over 2,000 mutual funds and over 2,000 ETFs available  
  • Robust technology and tools — RadarScreen monitors and ranks up to 1,000 symbols in real-time; TradeStation allows investors to back-test, and optimize and automate before trading; TradeStation platform features over a dozen trading apps; stimulated trading environment available  
  • No minimum to open account 
  • $2,000 average end-of-month equity balance or minimum five active trades placed within every 12-month period required for TS Select, which offers zero-commission fees on stocks and ETFs (up to 10,000 shares per trade), fees on other types of investments apply 
  • $50 annual inactivity fee if account minimum is not met or activity thresholds aren’t maintained 

Investments Available on TradeStation

TradeStation has a variety of different securities to invest in, including over 2,000 ETFs:  

TradeStation Fees

Those interested in learning more about TradeStation’s fees can go to their website to learn more about trading fees, service fees, and exchange execution and clearing fees.

FeeAmount
Trading and commission fees TS Select: $0 on stocks and ETFs; stock options: $0.60 per contract; futures: $1.50 per contract, per side; micro futures: $0.50 per contract, per side; futures options: $1.50 per contract, per side

TS GO: $10 fee for equities and options trades when made on the TS desktop platform; $1.40 surcharge per contract for futures trades 

Account minimum for brokerage and trading services TS Select: $0; TS Go: $0
Account maintenance fee for brokerage and trading services Free if the monthly account balance of $2,000 or five trades per year minimum is met; otherwise TradeStation: $5 per trade for non-professionals; other types of accounts for non-professionals is $99.95 monthly account fee, plus other fees

Who Is TradeStationBest For?

TradeStation can be a solid choice for newbie investors, as long as they can sustain the account minimum. And just like driving a fancy car with sleek features and all the bells and whistles might require a bit of a learning curve, those new to investing should prepare to spend time getting their head around all the advanced technologies and robust tools that TradeStation has to offer. 

For those who don’t have a ton to invest with and would like a more simplified approach might be better with another online brokerage

How to Open an Account with TradeStation

1. Focus on what you are seeking in an online brokerage account. Begin by accessing what your investment needs, goals, and timelines are. From there, you can narrow down the tools, technology, level of guidance and resources you’d like access to. That can help you nail down your top contenders, and gauge if TradeStation is a good fit for you.

2. Do your homework. Spend time looking up fees and costs, pricing tiers, types of accounts and investments, tools, and resources available. How accessible is their customer support, and is there a steep learning curve to use the tools offered? If there is an investing app, how sophisticated and easy-to-use is it? It’s also important to know what types of investments are available, and the costs baked into trading.

3. Open a TradeStation account. To open a TS account, the easiest route would be to open it online. You’ll need to be a U.S. resident with a valid social security number or taxpayer ID. Other basic information will need to be provided, such as your address, date of birth. Questions about your current financial situation, including income, net worth, and years of investment experience will also be asked on the application. 

TradeStation Compared to Others

TradeStationTD AmeritradeCharles Schwab
Types of investing accounts Brokerage and trading, IRAs, entity accounts Brokerage and trading, IRAs and other retirement accounts, managed accounts Brokerage and trading, IRAs and other retirement accounts, managed accounts, college and education savings plans 
Fees $0 trading commission fees on online trades for stocks and ETFs; other fees vary (with $2,000 account minimum or at least five trades during each 12-month period after account opening date, up to 10,000 shares per trade); otherwise $5 per trade $0 trading commission fees on online trades for stocks, ETFs, and option trades; other fees vary  $0 trading commission fees for online trades for stocks and ETFs; other fees vary  
Account fees $50 annual inactivity fee, free if you meet minimum activity requirementsNo annual fee No annual, inactivity, maintenance fees 
Index funds Over 2,000 ETFs Over 2,300 ETFsThird largest provider of index funds, over 2,000  
Mobile app Investing app available Investing app available Investing app available 
Customer service Account support available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday via phone and live chat Account support available 24/7 via phone 24/7 via phone and chat, brick and mortar locations

Frequently Asked Questions:

Who is TradeStation good for?

TradeStation can be a strong choice for seasoned, active traders who are familiar with robust technology and sophisticated, advanced trading platforms. While the no-commission for online trades for stocks and ETFs, newer investors can expect there to be a steep learning curve to get their heads around the platforms and tools at their disposal.

Those with a TS Select account should be mindful of maintaining the minimum account requirements. While there’s no minimum to open an account, investors need to maintain either at least $2,000 average equity balance, or place at least five trades every 12-month cycle. 

Can you lose money with TradeStation?

As with any investing activity, investing in the stock market bears a level of risk. One can lose value of their stocks. Before investing with any brokerage, be sure to look over pricing details.

How much money do you need to open a TradeStation account?

There is no minimum amount required to open a TradeStation account. But investors should be mindful of minimum activity and account equity balances to waive the $50 annual fee. Further, professionals might be charged a fee to access market data. 

Can I start trading with $100?

Investors can start trading with TradeStation for $100. There’s also no minimum to open an account. In turn, investors with $100 to start won’t be able to buy fractional shares of stocks with expensive single share prices.