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November 11, 2015

Online Stock Trading

TradeStation Review

Offering professional-level tools and advanced educational resources, TradeStation is a great option for serious traders. Although monthly charges and trading fees can be high for low-volume traders, most active clients find the overall costs to be very competitive.

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The Good

Professional platform and trading tools

There's a lot to like in TradeStation's award-winning trading platform, especially if you're an advanced trader. Identifying new trading opportunities is a snap with the RadarScreen tool, a powerful real-time search and tracking function built right into the TradeStation Platform. You can customize RadarScreen to automatically follow and chart market trends that meet your investment criteria, allowing you to hone in on opportunities and execute trades before others in the market can react. You also won't have to worry about your trade order getting lost in the shuffle with TradeStation's speedy order execution technology. In fact, the TradeStation platform gives you a direct, reliable connection to dozens of exchanges, allowing you to get your order filled fast.

Complete strategy customization with EasyLanguage

If you're a trader that loves to experiment with strategy and develop your own specialized market indicators, TradeStation's EasyLanguage is sure to excite you. This proprietary coding language allows you to build customized trading strategies and tracking indicators to put your investment ideas into action. TradeStation clients can even share or sell their EasyLanguage creations in the TradeStation Strategy Network. Though EasyLanguage takes a bit of effort to learn, TradeStation offers home study courses and live and on-demand video courses to get you up to speed. While some advanced courses are fee-based, a variety of free training materials are available.

Strong trader community

TradeStation is one of the few online trade brokers to offer a quality community forum, which is a great way to connect with other traders and share information. You can read and join in on vibrant discussions covering a wide variety of investing topics, from trading strategy to investor psychology. The TradeStation Wiki is another great source of user guides and insightful tips and tricks from the community's most experienced traders. In combination with TradeStation's great educational resources, you'll have ample opportunity to learn about and discuss just about any aspect of trading. And you might just build some friendships along the way.

Access to all major investment products

If you're looking for diversity in investment products, TradeStation is the broker for you. You can trade in all major products, from stocks and bonds to options and mutual funds. If you're interested in international markets, TradeStation has you covered there, too. You can even jump right into forex and futures markets, an opportunity that few other brokers offer. Though TradeStation does offer exchange-traded funds (ETFs), you won't be able to trade commission-free, just about the only omission in the TradeStation product lineup.

Attractive pricing structure for active traders

When you make more than 30 stock and ETF trades per month, TradeStation charges a flat fee of only $6.99 per trade, plus $0.01 per share on the first 500 shares and $0.006 on each additional share. Though you can find better pricing, this is a pretty favorable deal, especially compared to other major brokers. For options trades, you pay only $1.00 per contract with no base or flat fees assessed on the trade. This is also quite attractive in comparison to most of the other brokers.

Major upgrades to educational resources

TradeStation has made some great strides toward building a comprehensive, easy-to-use educational resource center. TradeStation University is the place to go for free video tutorials, e-books, and articles on using the TradeStation Platform, learning about different investment products, and getting started with EasyLanguage. Once you have the basics down, move over to TradeStation Labs to really nail down the finer points of investment analysis and strategy. In the Labs section, you can find on-demand video tutorials from TradeStation experts and well-known industry analysts. You can even join in on live webcasts to participate in discussions and get your questions answered by the experts. Whether you're a beginner or an old hand, you'll appreciate all the learning resources TradeStation puts at your fingertips.

Trade free for 60 days

One great thing about starting up with TradeStation is that you'll get access to the company's trading platform and real-time monitoring tools free for your first 60 days of trading. You can also get up to $500 in rebates on commissions for trades in equities shares, options contracts, and futures, which is no small sum. To be perfectly clear, most online brokers do not charge a monthly fee for use of their trading platform. Though it would be a major plus if the TradeStation Platform came with no fees at all, 60 days of free access to a professional-level platform is definitely a plus.

The Bad

$99 monthly charge to use TradeStation software

Low-volume traders will be disappointed to learn that TradeStation charges for use of its trading software, a practice relatively uncommon in the industry. Though the TradeStation Platform ranks among the best in the industry, with a variety of professional-level analysis tools and high-quality trade execution technology, the cost is probably not worth it for casual traders. On the other hand, if you are an active trader who plans to trade more than 5,000 shares or 50 options contracts per month, this is not an important issue, since the $99 charge is waived for users who exceed these trade minimums.

$5,000 minimum deposit to get started

If you're looking to ease into trading with a smaller account balance, TradeStation is not going to work for you. A $5,000 minimum daily balance requirement is very high for the industry, presenting a pretty big hurdle to many investors. That said, the requirement is not exactly surprising given TradeStation's focus on providing advanced tools and technologies to serious traders.

Behind the curve in terms of web trading

TradeStation has also fallen behind its competitors in terms of web-based trading tools. Even though it has recently released a browser-based trading solution with most basic trading functions in place, the company's primary focus is clearly on its downloadable software package. For example, if you're interested in accessing some of TradeStation's excellent analysis and charting tools, such as RadarScreen and Scanner, you simply won't find them in the web trading platform. This is surprising, as other online brokers have managed to include advanced tools in their web-based offerings.

The Details

Trading Costs and Fees

  • Broker Assisted Trades: $50
  • Futures Contract Fee: $0.25 - $1.20
  • Maintenance Fees: $99.95/month (unless minimum criteria is met)
  • Margin Rates: 6.25% - 8.50%
  • Minimum Account Balance Fee: Trading account restricted
  • Mutual Funds Fee - Load: $14.95
  • Mutual Funds Fee - No-Load: $14.95
  • Options Contract Price: $0.20 - $0.70
  • Options Flat Fee: $4.99 - $9.99
  • Stock Flat Fee: $4.99 - $9.99

Other Fees

  • ACH/EFT Withdrawal: $25
  • Bounced Check: $25
  • Check Withdrawal: $25
  • Domestic Wire Withdrawal: $25
  • Forced Margin Sellout: $20
  • Full Account Transfer: $125
  • IRA Annual Fee: $35
  • Partial Account Transfer: $0
  • Stop Payment on Check: $25
  • Telephone Orders: Unknown

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