TradeStation Review 2024: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

TradeStation is a top pick for active traders due to a high-powered trading platform, $0 trade commissions and a wide range of tradable securities.
Sam Taube
By Sam Taube 
Edited by Pamela de la Fuente

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Our Take

3.9

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

TradeStation is the gold standard for advanced, active traders, but its new offering of $0 trades is an attempt to appeal to casual investors.

TradeStation
Fees
$0
per trade
Account minimum
$500
Promotion
Qualify for up to $5,000
when you open and fund a new TradeStation account. Offer Code: NERDAFJO.
Learn more

on TradeStation's website

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • High-quality trading platforms.

  • Comprehensive research.

  • Advanced tools.

  • Active trader community.

Cons

  • No transaction-fee-free mutual funds.

  • Plans and pricing can be confusing.

  • Low interest rate on uninvested cash.

Compare to Similar Brokers

Current Product

NerdWallet rating 

3.9

/5
NerdWallet rating 

4.9

/5
NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
NerdWallet rating 

4.9

/5
NerdWallet rating 

4.1

/5

Fees 

$0

per trade

Fees 

$0

per online equity trade

Fees 

$0

per trade

Fees 

$0

per trade

Fees 

$0

per trade

Account minimum 

$500

Account minimum 

$0

Account minimum 

$0

Account minimum 

$0

Account minimum 

$0

Promotion 

Qualify for up to $5,000

when you open and fund a new TradeStation account. Offer Code: NERDAFJO.

Promotion 

None

no promotion available at this time

Promotion 

None

no promotion available at this time

Promotion 

Get up to 75 free fractional shares (valued up to $3,000)

when you open and fund an account with Webull.

Promotion 

Get up to $700

when you open and fund a J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing account with qualifying new money.

Learn more

on TradeStation's website

Learn more

on Charles Schwab's website

Learn more

on Interactive Brokers' website

Learn more

on Webull's website

Learn more

on J.P. Morgan's website

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Full Review

Where TradeStation shines

Professional trading experience: TradeStation is a top-notch choice for serious investors seeking a truly professional-level trading experience. In fact, at one time TradeStation catered solely to professional brokers and money managers. Now, regular investors have access to the firm’s high-octane tools, especially after the company cut trading costs and account minimums to $0.

Variety of investment selections and tools: In addition to stocks, TradeStation offers bonds, funds, options and futures trading. Its desktop and mobile trading platforms come with a wide range of built-in tools, including charts, news and data feeds.

Where TradeStation falls short

Mutual funds: TradeStation lacks no-transaction-fee funds.

Add-on fees: Access to many of TradeStation's features requires an additional financial outlay or subscription for those who do not meet certain account or trading minimums. TradeStation also charges a monthly inactivity fee of $10 for accounts that don't maintain certain balance or trade minimums.

TradeStation is best for:

  • Advanced and active traders.

  • Stock, options and futures traders.

TradeStation at a glance

Account minimum

$0.

Stock trading costs

$0.

Options trades

No base commission; $0.60 per contract. Index options: $1 per option contract (one contract minimum).

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

  • $35 IRA annual account fee; $50 IRA account termination fee.

  • $125 outgoing account transfer fee; $10 monthly inactivity fee.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

No no-transaction-fee mutual funds; fund commissions are $14.95.

Tradable securities

• Stocks. • Bonds (Treasuries and corporates, subject to additional fees). • Mutual funds. • Exchange-traded funds (ETFs). • Options. • Futures.

Interest rate on uninvested cash

0.15% on accounts with more than $100,000 in free cash.

Trading platform

Extensive desktop platform; similar capabilities available on web trading platform. However, not great for beginners — and the signup process leaves something to be desired.

Mobile app

Offers core features of desktop platform. Available on iOS and Android.

Research and data

Strong lineup of free educational resources, research and tools.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website).

Phone, email, live chat available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time. Easily-navigable website.

More details about TradeStation's ratings

Account minimum: 5 out of 5 stars

TradeStation's account minimum is $0.

Stock trading costs: 5 out of 5 stars

TradeStation users have commission-free trades on stocks, options and exchange-traded funds on TradeStation’s web and mobile-based platforms.

Options trades: 4 out of 5 stars

Options trades are commission-free, but they still carry a contract charge, which is $0.60 per contract. Index options cost $1 per option contract (one contract minimum).

Account fees: 1 out of 5 stars

TradeStation charges $125 for outgoing account transfers; for IRAs, TradeStation charges a $35 annual account fee and a $50 IRA account termination fee. TradeStation also charges a monthly inactivity fee of $10, though this is waived for accounts with an average end-of-month equity balance of $5,000 or execute at least 10 trades during the previous rolling 90-day period.

Interest rate on uninvested cash: 1 out of 5 stars

TradeStation has not kept up with some of its competitors in terms of its cash management offering. The broker only pays interest on accounts with more than $100,000 in uninvested cash — and even then, it only pays 0.15%, far below the rates offered by many other brokers.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds: 1 out of 5 stars

TradeStation does not offer no-transaction-fee funds, and fund research is also thin. However, the $14.95 mutual fund commission is in line with other mainstream brokers.

Tradable securities available: 5 out of 5 stars

TradeStation allows users to trade stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, options and futures. Treasury bonds and corporate bonds are also available, though they are subject to a $14.95 trading commission and an additional $5 fee per note. Forex traders, however, need to look elsewhere.

The broker does not offer fractional shares, and charges relatively high margin rates (as high as 13.5%).

Beginning in 2019, TradeStation began offering access to cryptocurrencies, but discontinued the service in Feb. 2024 due to regulatory uncertainty in the spot cryptocurrency trading environment

TradeStation. TradeStation Crypto. Accessed Mar 1, 2024.
.

Trading platform: 4.5 out of 5 stars

TradeStation is best known for its impressive desktop platform. It offers direct-market access, automatic trade execution and tools for customers to design, test, monitor and automate their custom trading strategies for stocks, options and futures. Users can customize their desktop, using a broad palette of colors to better highlight the most relevant data. Investors can test-drive new strategies in real time before putting actual money on the line with the TradeStation Simulator.

Options investors will appreciate free access to the OptionStation Pro platform. With its preview mode, mobile-app users can create custom watch lists, and view charts and trends without opening an account.

Investors who want to invest in initial public offerings (IPOs) can do so on TradeStation via a partnership with ClickIPO. Over-the-counter (OTC) stocks are also available for an additional commission of $0.005 per share.

However, all of those customizable elements and features oriented towards advanced traders can make the platform somewhat overwhelming to use for less-experienced investors. The sign-up and account funding processes are also slower than those at other brokers.

TradeStation's trade execution quality is 95.75%. The broker accepts payment for order flow (PFOF) under certain circumstances, which involves a broker receiving money from trading firms to route their customer orders through those trading firms for execution. The trading firms can then use this customer order data to inform their own trading strategies.

🤓Nerdy Tip

The average execution quality of all brokers we review was 97.4% as of August 31, 2023. That means 97.4% of orders were executed at a price that was at or better than the National Best Bid and Offer. Executing at or above the NBBO means you may receive price improvement, or a better share price than you were originally quoted.

Mobile app: 4 out of 5 stars

TradeStation offers apps for iOS and Android. The iOS version gets very high marks from users, while the Android version has mixed reviews.

Research and data: 3.5 out of 5 stars

For access to advanced, comprehensive research, TradeStation earns decent marks. Hundreds of indicators are included with the TradeStation platform (and many more can be downloaded or created using its EasyLanguage coding feature). Investors can back-test strategies using historical market data that includes more than 90 years of daily data and decades of intraday data. Notifications alert users to upcoming earnings announcements or important market moves based on their positions.

TradeStation has a respectable assortment of free data and analytical tools, with dozens of charting tools, a news feed from Benzinga and market data feeds from most of the major exchanges.

Customer support and educational tools: 3 out of 5 stars

TradeStation’s customer support is available by phone, email and live chat Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Educational resources at TradeStation include a library of hundreds of YouTube videos and instructional articles.

Is TradeStation right for you?

With its three-plus decades of serving brokers, hedge funds and institutional investors — clients who are sticklers for accuracy, fast trade execution and the ability to customize charting tools to the nth degree — TradeStation has become the gold standard among hardcore traders. Active traders will appreciate the platform’s recent reboot and the fact that they have the same trading firepower at their fingertips as the pros.

How do we review brokers?

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers by assets under management, along with emerging industry players. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.

We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The questionnaire answers, combined with demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars).

For more details about the categories considered when rating brokers and our process, read our full methodology.

Learn more

on TradeStation's website