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.
Pros & Cons
- High-quality trading platforms.
- Comprehensive research.
- Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades.
- Advanced tools.
- Active trader community.
- Free trading on advanced platform requires TS Select.
- No transaction-fee-free mutual funds.
- Plans and pricing can be confusing.
Compare to Similar Brokers
Up to $5,000
cash credit with a qualifying deposit
$5 to $1,000
in free stock for users who sign up via mobile app
no promotion available at this time
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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 to $0 and lowered the minimum investment to $0 for its TS GO offering.
Less attractive to new investors will be the broker's upgraded TS Select plan, which requires a $2,000 initial investment but gives access to the broker's full suite of tools, and free trades from the powerful TradeStation 10 Desktop platform.
TradeStation is best for:
Advanced and active traders.
Stock, options and futures traders.
TradeStation at a glance
TS GO: $0
TS Select: $2,000
Stock trading costs
TS GO and TS Select: $0 per trade (up to 10,000 shares).
Per-share pricing: $0.006-$0.01 per share ($1 minimum per trade) based on trading volume.
Unbundled pricing: $0.002-$0.01 per share ($0.50-$1 minimum) based on trading volume.
TS GO: No base commission; $0.50 per contract. TS Select: No base commission; $0.60 per contract. Per-contract pricing:$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.
All ETFs are commission-free.
• Mutual funds.
• Exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Extensive desktop platform; similar capabilities available on web trading platform. TS GO clients have limited access to online tools.
Offers core features of desktop platform. Available on iOS and Android.
Research and data
Comprehensive lineup of free educational resources, research and tools. Many premium tools only available for TS Select clients.
Customer support options (includes website transparency)
Phone, email, live chat available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time.
Where TradeStation shines
Commission-free trades: With the introduction of its TS GO and TS Select plans, TradeStation users now have commission-free trades on stocks, options and exchange-traded funds on TradeStation’s web and mobile-based platforms. One catch: TS GO users may download and use TradeStation’s marquee TradeStation 10 Desktop platform, but any trades from that platform costs $10 per trade.
TS Select customers have full access to tools and commission-free trades, plus slightly reduced costs for options and futures contracts. TS Select requires a $2,000 minimum balance, and charges slightly higher fees for options and futures contracts.
Worth noting: Free trades for TS GO and TS Select are limited to 10,000 shares per trade; higher volume traders can choose from two additional pricing plans. Here's a complete overview of TradeStation's pricing:
TS GO: Free trades when using TradeStation's mobile or web-based trading platforms. Options trades are $0.50 per contract.
TS Select: TradeStation's standard account, which includes full access and free trades through TradeStation's desktop platform and requires a $2,000 minimum account balance. Options trades for TS Select accounts are $0.60 per contract.
Per-share and unbundled pricing: High-volume traders can opt for per-share/per-contract commissions or unbundled pricing. For traders who frequently trade in small blocks, TradeStation offers $0.01 per share for the first 500 shares, and $0.006 for every share after per trade. There is a $1 minimum charge per trade.
For higher volume traders, TradeStation offers this unbundled pricing plan:
Commission per share
Number of shares executed per month
Minimum commission per trade
Up to 100,000
100,000 to 1 million
1 million to 3 million
3 million to 5 million
More than 5 million
Platform and trading tools: TradeStation is best known for its impressive desktop platform, available to TS Select clients. 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. (Other brokers also smartly offer virtual stock trading simulators for existing and potential customers to learn the ropes.) 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.
Research: For access to advanced, comprehensive research, TradeStation earns high marks. More than 270 indicators are included with the TradeStation 10 platform (and many more can be downloaded or created). 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.
Education and community: Educational resources at TradeStation are plentiful, with free video tutorials, articles and e-books available at TradeStation University and daily pre-market briefings and trader interviews at TradeStation Labs. TradeStation Today features real-time news, relevant tutorials and a “workspaces” section that shows how experts organize and use the platform’s array of tools. For a helping hand or a second opinion, there’s the TradeStation Trader Wiki (for tips and how-tos from other users) and discussion forums where customers can mingle with a community of similarly committed investors and bat around trading strategies and investment ideas.
Cryptocurrency trading: TradeStation Crypto was launched in November 2019 and allows users to trade Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP). TradeStation charges a competitive 0.3% per trade for accounts with balances of $100,000 or less, and even less for higher volume crypto traders.
» Want to compare? Here's our picks for best Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchanges.
Where TradeStation falls short
Mutual funds: TradeStation offers a lot of funds (more than 2,000), but none of them are no-transaction-fee funds, and fund research is also thin. However, the $14.95 mutual fund commission is in line with other mainstream brokers.
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.
Inactivity fee: TradeStation 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.
Potential commission confusion: TradeStation offers a wide variety of pricing plans as noted above, but it can be difficult to navigate the company's pricing and understand what you'll pay.
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.
Dayana Yochim contributed to this review.
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