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

FEATURES

Title
  • Bonds You can trade bonds.

  • Easy to Borrow Stocks You have access to easy-to-borrow stocks that you can sell short.

  • ETFs You can trade exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

  • Forex You can trade forex or foreign exchange markets.

  • Futures Markets You can trade futures markets.

  • International Markets You can trade markets outside of the U.S.

  • Mutual Funds You can trade mutual funds.

  • Options You can trade options.

  • Pink Sheet and OTCBB Securities Market Access You can trade pink sheet stocks and over-the-counter (OTC) securities.

  • Stocks You can trade stocks.

  • Commission-Free ETFs You can trade commission-free exchange-traded funds.

  • Android The broker offers an app for Android devices.

  • Cross-Platform Integration The mobile trading application integrates with your trading account in real time, including watch lists, alerts, and other account information.

  • Favorable App Store Reviews The broker's iPhone application has received three stars or greater from users in the Apple App Store.

  • iPad The broker offers a dedicated app for the iPad.

  • iPhone The broker offers an app for the iPhone.

  • Mobile Deposits You can deposit checks or electronic funds into your account with a mobile application.

  • Mobile Research You can conduct research using one of the mobile applications.

  • Place Trades You can place trades using your mobile device.

  • Portfolio Tracking You can track your portfolio using a mobile device.

  • Streaming Quotes The broker offers streaming quotes on mobile devices.

  • BlackBerry The broker offers an app for BlackBerry devices.

  • Create Alerts You can create alerts with one or more of the mobile trading applications.

  • Mobile Website The broker offers a separate mobile website for accessing your account on the go.

  • Other Tablet The broker offers an app for another tablet device besides the iPad.

  • Virtual Demo You can demo the mobile trading platform by using a virtual trading account.

  • Watch List You can create watch lists using a mobile app or device.

  • Windows Mobile The broker offers trading on Windows Mobile devices.

  • Alerts You can set up personalized alerts for your portfolio or other investment products.

  • Automated Trading The broker allows you to place trades by setting automated triggers to execute a trade.

  • Conditional Orders You can place orders that, when executed, immediately triggers or cancels another trade.

  • Customizable Interface You can customize the layout and look of a trading platform.

  • Level II Quotes The broker gives you access to the book order of individual stocks so you can see live buyers and sellers of that stock.

  • Option Chains You can simply find an options premium by following the corresponding maturity dates and strike prices.

  • Options Exposure You can view a detailed display of your options positions' possible sensitivity to key risks using industry-standard greek calculations.

  • Options Tools The broker offers a variety of options trading tools.

  • Platform - Advanced The broker offers an advanced trading platform.

  • Platform - One-Size-Fits-All The broker offers a platform that is fitting for traders of all levels.

  • Quick Order Entry You have the option to quickly enter or cancel orders faster than normal.

  • Real-Time Charts The broker offers access to charting tools that update in real time.

  • Smart-Order Routing Technology The broker sends orders to different market centers that seek to fill your order quickly and at the best available price.

  • Spread Builder The broker offers a tool to build your own spreads between multiple investment products.

  • Streaming Real-Time Quotes The broker provides streaming real-time quotes so you can see up-to-date prices of investment products.

  • Trailing Stops You can set a stop-loss as a percentage below the market price that adjusts as the price fluctuates to help you secure profits and cut losses.

  • Watch List You can create watch lists to keep an eye on investment products that interest you.

  • Account Balances Displayed Your account balances are displayed on the page where you access detailed portfolio information or account reports.

  • Account History Reports You can create reports or view statements of your portfolio or account information.

  • Download Statements You can download your account statements to your computer.

  • Export Data You can export your portfolio or account statements.

  • Gain/Loss You can run reports to view your gains and losses to determine the impact on your taxable income.

  • Order Status You can quickly view your current trading positions and open orders.

  • Portfolio Planner You can view your current portfolio allocation and create a plan to measure against it.

  • Real-Time Updates Your account balances update in real time, adjusting for any open positions.

  • Courses The broker offers educational trading or investment courses.

  • Education Levels The broker offers a variety of education levels based on experience.

  • Live Seminars The broker offers live in-person seminars around the country that you can attend.

  • Online Community The broker has an online community to have discussions and share advice with other traders.

  • Webinars The broker offers webinars to help you learn about investment products.

  • Glossary The broker has a glossary that defines important investment terms.

  • Charts The broker offers access to charts so you can conduct research on investment products.

  • Company Publication The broker produces and distributes a company publication to account holders.

  • Market Commentary The broker offers market commentary from outside experts.

  • News The broker provides daily market news and updates.

  • Research Reports The broker offers a selection of research reports.

  • Screens You can screen investment products to narrow down the type of investment you are looking for.

  • Tailored Research The broker provides you with research tailored to your current portfolio, watch lists, or interests.

  • Third-Party Research The broker offers independent investment research from outside parties for free.

  • Blog The broker keeps an updated blog that includes company and investment information.

  • Upgraded Research The broker offers upgraded research at an additional cost.

  • Additional Languages The broker offers additional languages besides English for some aspect of its business.

  • Dedicated Tech Support The broker offers dedicated support strictly for technical issues.

  • Email The broker offers email support to customers.

  • Facebook The broker has an active Facebook page where you may be able to post questions and get a response.

  • Fax The broker has a fax number displayed on their website.

  • Live Chat The broker offers live chat on their website.

  • Phone The broker offers phone support to customers.

  • Twitter The broker has an active Twitter page where you may be able to post questions and get a response.

  • 24-Hour Support The broker offers some form of 24-hour support, which is usually phone support.

  • Retail Location The broker has a retail location where you can talk to a representative live in person.

  • FINRA Listed The broker is regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

  • SIPC Member The broker belongs to the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which acts as trustee or works with an independent court-appointed trustee to recover any missing funds.

  • Special Security Measures The broker offers additional security measures to protect your account.

  • Asset Protection Guarantee The assets in your account are protected from any unauthorized activity.

  • IRA The broker offers access to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) that provides tax advantages for retirement.

  • Retirement Planning The broker offers retirement strategies and advice.

  • Small Business Tools The broker offers specific services or plans for small businesses.

  • Tax Tools The broker offers tax planning tools to provide tips and help with your investment strategy.

  • Banking Services In addition to trading services, the broker offers online banking services.

  • College Saving Plan The broker offers a college savings account.

  • Credit Card The broker offers access to a credit card through its banking services.

  • Debit Card The broker offers access to a debit card through its banking services.

  • Wealth Assessment Tool The broker offers an interactive program that calculates your wealth so you can see how these factors will affect your retirement.

  • Introductory Offer The broker has a special offer for new traders who open an account.

  • Customer Rewards Program The broker offers a referal program or customer rewards program.

  • Free Trading Demo The broker offers a free trading demo so you can try one of the trading platforms.

  • FAQs The broker has an FAQ page or pages to answer common questions.

  • User Guides The broker offers some sort of user guide to help understand the product.

  • Virtual Trading You can make trades with a virtual account to test your strategies.

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