Active trading is an investing strategy that allows investors to take advantage of market mispricing and the traders can tilt statistical expectations in their favor.
Sadly, many active traders conduct their trading like they are playing a video game, they expose themselves to risk and losses. But, modern investing is more than manipulating clever software, gaining an edge with access to data and following a code to limit risk is smart.
TradeStation can give you the data that you need and the investing strategy tips to help you become more successful. But, no trading platform can prevent you from making risky investments when every instinct is telling you to avoid them. In this Tradestation review, we’ll explore this platform in more detail, so you can make an informed decision.
- Commission-free stock, ETF trades.
- Intuitive trading interfaces.
- Advanced trading tools and research.
- Great mobile app.
The TradeStation Basics
TradeStation is a futures commission merchant (FCM) and a self-clearing broker and dealer. They arguably have the most advanced suite of tools for active traders and the company has been in business for almost 40 years. A cursory search online will prove that TradeStation is a frequent winner of awards for its trading platform technologies.
As a trader working with TradeStation, you can participate in a wide selection of asset markets. The company offers commission-free trading for up to 10K shares per order and after that, they have low per-share pricing. At the end of 2021, TradeStation announced a plan to go public at some point during Q1 or Q2 in 2022 via the Quantun Fintech Acquisition Corporation or QFTA SPAC.
There are several types of accounts available, including Taxable, SEP, Roth, Traditional, Simple IRAS, and entity accounts.
There are several main Tradestation platforms, let’s take a look at them in more detail:
This is the premier equities trading platform offered by TradeStation. It’s only available for Windows operating systems and it has seven key features. They are:
- RadarScreen: This allows traders to monitor up to 1000 symbols in real-time using up to 180 indicators that are customizable.
- Matrix: This is the proprietary order entry and tracking system for TradeStation. This system is accurate and it’s designed for speed trading with drag and drop or single click entries and exits.
- EasyLanguage: This is the programming language that traders can use to build their own custom indicators and trading strategies.
- Back-Testing: This feature allows you to test your trading strategies against historical data from decades of data.
- OpenStation Pro: This allows you to identify break-even point and expiration dates quickly. It’s easy to visualize options and chain strategies.
- Desktop PC: Desktop PC users can download and install the TradeStation apps directly from the App Store to add extra charts, strategies, and indicators.
- Hot Lists: This feature helps you to take action on unusual activity with 100 lists that show symbols that break over the 52-week high.
This central TradeStation platform includes Matrix which we discussed above and it can be used on any Mac or Windows computer if you have internet access.
It should be noted that this is a cut-down version of the platform with some limitations on the functionality. As an example: it is not possible to add apps to customize and modify the TradeStation Web platform.
TradeStation has developed mobile apps for Android and iOS devices which include features like Matrix and Hot Lists.
This platform combines futures trading with free market data and TradeStation charges no platform fees for this service.
TSCrypto (TradeStation Crypto)
The TSCrypto platform facilitates order routing by accessing cross-market liquidity for five widely trading coins, including Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and USD Coin (USDC).
When TradeStation is compared to the more popular crypto brokers and exchanges, it’s obvious that the company only offers a few widely recognized cryptocurrencies. The aforementioned coins are included and at the time of writing, there are no plans to add any other coins.
It’s important to understand that TSCrypto is a brokerage and not an exchange. The cryptocurrency market is not consistent, it’s fragmented and hard to predict which can be a shock for securities traders that expect uniform market pricing.
TradeStation aggregates liquidity from a number of sources, including; market makers, exchanges, OTC desks, and electronic liquidity pools to mitigate these problems. When you trade on TSCrypto, you are offered the best bid and ask prices from the source that offers them.
The TSCrypto interface has a range of useful tools for analytics that experienced traders will find useful. But, they may not be an ideal fit for beginners that could be overwhelmed by the depth of the data. Seasoned traders will appreciate the real-time order book access for every trading pair to track the current bid/ask spread and the open orders.
The platform allows you to execute three order types, they are Market, Taker Limit, and Maker Limit orders. When you execute orders, there are several options including One-Click Orders, Quick Trade Bar, and more. These allow you to specify key details, such as price, quantity, expiration, duration, and order type. The tracker displays the value of your investments in native crypto coins and the current market price in USD.
You can track profit and loss, past events, open orders, and advanced charting. TradeStation has a comprehensive mobile app that allows you to trade stocks, options, ETFs, futures, and crypto.
There are two different account tiers for equities trading, they are TS Go and TS Select. They both have commission-free stock trading and ETF order up to 10,000 shares with a price of $0.005 per share thereafter. It’s important to understand that any mutual fund trades will cost the investor $14.95 because TradeStation does not have no-transaction-fee funds.
TS Go has lower per-contract pricing on futures and options, but the commission-free trading is only applicable on web or mobile orders. If you use the TradeStation Desktop platform on the TS Go play you will be charged a fee of $10 for each transaction. Let’s take a look at a direct comparison between TS Go and TS Select for cryptocurrency and equities pricing.
TradeStation Cryptocurrency Pricing
The crypto trading pricing is competitive, the deposits and withdrawals are free and the Maker/Taker fee structure is similar to certain trader-friendly cryptocurrency exchanges.
With an account balance up to $100,000, the Taker and Maker is $2 + 0.30%.
From $100,000 up to $1 million, the Taker is $1 + 0.20% and the Maker is $1 + 0.10%.
With an account balance over $1 million, the Taker is $1 + 0.10% and the Maker is $1 + 0.05%.
TradeStation Equities Pricing
- Stock/ETF Trade Costs: $0 commission (up to 10,000 shares)
- Option Trade Costs: $0 commission + $0.50 per contract
- Futures Trade Costs: $0 commission + $0.85 per contract, per side
- Mobile Trading; Free
- Web Trading: Free
- Desktop Trading: $10 per trade
- Stock/ETF Trade Costs: $0 commission (up to 10,000 shares)
- Option Trade Costs: $0 commission + $0.60 per contract
- Futures Trade Costs: $0 commission + $1.50 per contract, per side
- Mobile Trading; Free
- Web Trading: Free
- Desktop Trading: Free
TradeStation may charge other account fees, including the annual $35 fee if you’re holding an IRA with the company. Another common charge is the $125 ACAT fee that’s applied to outgoing transfers.
What Makes TradeStation Stand Apart?
There are four standout TradeStation features to consider. They are:
This is a real-time searching and tracking feature that allows the user to identify investment opportunities quickly. RadarScreen can be customized to track and chart potential investments and current market trends. When you understand the potential of RadarScreen you will have a distinct advantage over the market masses.
Lower Trading Fees
As you can see from the figures detailed earlier, TradeStation has low trading fees. Futures are 0% commission and the options are $1.50 per contract. ETFs are charged at 0% commission and $0.60 per contract and these fees are essential for higher volume traders.
This feature is embedded in the TradeStation platform and it helps you to monitor and act quickly on any unusual activity. At any time, there are more than 100 active Hot Lists that allow you to see symbols that might break above the 52-week high.
TradeStation is consistently expanding its range of platform tools to improve its services. New apps and improvements made to existing apps are always in development. If they don’t have what you want right now, there is a good chance that they will have it in the foreseeable future.
TradeStation Learning Materials
TradeStation offers five educational tools to help new and even experienced traders to learn more about their platform and investing. They are:
TradeStation Labs and TradeStation University
These are a collection of resources to help everyone learn more about investing. TradeStation has provided free books, articles, and video tutorials on a wide variety of topics. You can monitor your progress with TradeStation Labs to play investment analysis and strategy.
The TradeStation Community
TradeStation has a solid forum based community that’s active on a wide selection of topics ranging from how to use the platform to investment strategies and anything in between. The discussions are constructive, helpful, and at times, vigorous.
This allows you to make risk-free test trades in real time to investigate new trading strategies and explore unfamiliar markets. This is important for new traders and more experienced investors that want to experiment without risking their own money.
This feature allows you to create your own customized analysis tools and trading strategies. Easy Language is a simple and efficient programming language that you can use to modify the TradeStation trading strategies and indicators within the platform. If you want to create new applications and/or modify existing apps to meet your needs, you will love Easy Language.
TradeStation has almost 90 years of equity data and more than 40 years of historical data for other investments. This is a significant resource, you can use this data to backtest investment strategies and study technical trends.
Is TradeStation Safe?
TradeStation has a number of built-in security measures to protect your money, data, and crypto coins. The primary custodian is BitGo which is a well regarded digital protection specialist which provides the following safeguards two-factor account authentication logins, spending limits, dual-system controls, address whitelisting, multi-signature wallets, multiple wallets, and more.
The TradeStation User Experience
TradeStation gives its users the capability to trade across multiple platforms and devices. TradeStation 10 Desktop is the flagship web-based platform and the mobile app works well on both Android and iOS devices. On every platform, you can view news, data, and charts in real time, create custom watchlists and add any technical indicators that you need. You can trade orders in multiple ways with the option to use profit targets, stop-loss orders, and conditional orders.
TradeStation may seem like a complex platform, but it’s surprisingly intuitive and you can fully customize your workspace. This will allow you to move quickly from trade to research mode and back again with the exact apps that you need. It’s easy to set up hotkeys and trade defaults to make your trading experience productive and efficient.
Every platform has a set of unique terminology to learn and TradeStation is no different. The company refers to its trading tools as apps and they are fully integrated into the platforms. Simply click the icons to launch over a dozen apps, including Hot List, RadarScreen, Time&Sales, Trade Manager, OptionStation, Chart Analysis, and more. At the TradingApp Store, you can add additional third-party tools from a selection of hundreds. Some of these tools are free and others may incur a monthly subscription fee.
Another handy TradeStation platform feature is window linking which allows you to connect multiple windows together based on a specific interval or symbol. As an example: you could click on a RadarScreen symbol and the Matrix and Chart Analysis windows would update automatically for that symbol. This feature speeds up research and order entry tasks to improve your productivity.
Every TradeStation platform has real-time data streaming, you can place, cancel and modify orders with keyboard shortcuts or from the chart at any time. The market can be monitored via the Matrix if you prefer, trades can be placed at any price level and this includes one-click limit orders. TradeStation customers have dubbed the Matrix a “Swiss Army Knife of trading tools” because it combines advanced order entry, precise tracking, and a detailed market depth window into a single customizable location.
How To Open A TradeStation Account
It only takes a few minutes to open a TradeStation account.
Visit the website, click the blue “Open Account” button and you will be directed to a six step process.
You will need to provide information to prove your personal identity, financial details, employment, and trading experience to complete the sign up process.
As soon as the account is approved, you can fund it and trade equities on the same day.
TradeStation Customer Support
TradeStation has live chat and phone support.
You can reach them by phone at 800-822-0512 (toll-free) or 954-652-7900 (direct) between Monday and Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET. At these same numbers, you can get crypto and futures support 24/7.
It’s also possible to schedule an appointment for TradeStation to contact you directly as required.
TradeStation has an A+ rating with BBB.
TradeStation Pros and Cons
TradeStation has quite a few pros, and a few cons to be aware of.
- TradeStation has commission-free stock and ETF trades with competitive prices on futures, crypto, options, and futures options. In most cases, the account minimum is $0 on the TS Go accounts and this rises to $2,000 on the TS Select accounts.
- The platform has intuitive trading interfaces with one-click and drag-and-drop trading. The interfaces are simple to use. They include Matrix, Quick Trade, Chart Trading, Trade Bar, and Keyboard Trading. You can place conditional orders, profit targets and trailing stops across every platform.
- This is a pro-level platform with fast order execution, technical analysis, trade automation, and reliability built-in. The uptime is 99.999% which is an industry leader and the stability is impressive during peak trading. High-quality trades are delivered with advanced order routing, speed, and execution reviews, and price improvement.
- Contacting TradeStation tech support can lead to a potential long hold time and this seems to be the main bone of contention for some disgruntled users. Wasting time can be a frustrating experience when you need to solve a problem quickly during trading hours.
- TradeStation is a deep and well-featured platform that has a significant learning curve. Learning how to use the amazing apps and features to maximize the potential will take some time.
- The desktop platform trading surcharges on the TS Go plan are charged at an additional $10 for every stock and options trade made and futures trades have a $1.40 surcharge per contact applied.
Who is TradeStation Best For?
TradeStation is an ideal platform for casual, novice, and advanced-level traders that want to learn more about investing. The company is well regarded by experienced traders and the company has uptime at 99.999% and they are available when trading volume spikes occur. The fast trade executions, high-quality data, learning tools, and other features make this a great choice for active traders.
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