TradeStation Review 2023: 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, including cryptocurrencies.
By Sam Taube 

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Our Take

4.6

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.

  • Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades.

  • Advanced tools.

  • Active trader community.

Cons

  • No transaction-fee-free mutual funds.

  • Plans and pricing can be confusing.

Compare to Similar Brokers

Current Product

NerdWallet rating 

4.6

/5
NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5

Fees 

$0

per trade

Fees 

$0

per trade for online U.S. stocks and ETFs

Fees 

$0.005

per share; as low as $0.0005 with volume discounts

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 

Get $100

when you open a new, eligible Fidelity account with $50 or more. Use code FIDELITY100. Limited time offer. Terms apply.

Promotion 

Exclusive!

US resident opens a new IBKR Pro individual or joint account receives 0.25% rate reduction on margin loans. Tiers apply.

Promotion 

Get up to $600 or more

when you open and fund an E*TRADE account

Promotion 

None

no promotion available at this time

Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox

Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.

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, bonds, funds and options, TradeStation offers futures and cryptocurrency 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 an annual inactivity fee of $50 for accounts that don't maintain certain balance or trade minimums.

TradeStation is best for:

  • Advanced and active traders.

  • Stock, options and futures traders.

  • Cryptocurrency trading.

TradeStation at a glance

Account minimum

$0.

Stock trading costs

$0 per trade up to 10,000 shares, $0.005 per share (after 10,000 shares) on larger trades

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; $50 inactivity fee.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

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

Tradable securities

• Stocks.

• Bonds.

• Mutual funds.

• Exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

• Options.

• Futures.

• Cryptocurrencies.

Crypto availability

TradeStation Crypto offers 11 cryptocurrencies for trade.

Trading platform

Extensive desktop platform; similar capabilities available on web trading platform.

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.

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.

Worth noting: Free trades are limited to 10,000 shares per trade; there's a $0.005 per share charge on larger orders.

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 an annual inactivity fee of $50 for accounts that don't maintain an average end-of-month equity balance of $2,000 or execute at least five trades during the 12-month period following the anniversary of when the account was first funded.

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, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, options and futures, as well as some select cryptocurrencies. Forex traders, however, need to look elsewhere.

Crypto offering: 5 out of 5 stars

Through its affiliate, TradeStation Crypto, users can buy, sell and trade 11 different cryptocurrencies directly using cash. If you already own some crypto, there are also a number of cryptocurrency pairings offered on the platform. If you’re looking to exchange one crypto for another, you’ll want to check TradeStation’s website to make sure your transaction is supported by the platform.

TradeStation uses a volume-tiered maker/taker fee structure, meaning that the transaction fee might be higher or lower depending on how large each transaction is, and whether the order can be immediately filled. For instance, transactions under $1,000 will carry a $2 flat fee, plus an additional 0.35% maker fee (if the order can't be immediately filled) or a 0.6% taker fee (if the order can be immediately filled). Transactions over $1,000 do not carry the flat $2 fee.

Users also have the option to use personal crypto wallets to take their crypto off the platform, giving it a boost on our roundup of the best crypto exchanges and platforms, which compares TradeStation against pure-play crypto brokers such as Gemini and Coinbase.

Trading platform: 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.

Traders who are not brokerage clients can subscribe to use TradeStation tools: Non-professional traders pay $99 per month, while professional traders are charged $199 per month.

Mobile app: 4 out of 5 stars

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 10 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: 3.5 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