TradeStation was established in 1982 in Florida and is one of the very few top brokerage firms for serving institutional trader markets. Since 2011, the company has been owned by the Japanese Monex Group and is listed on the Tokyo stock exchange. Recently, the TradeStation platform has become much more accessible to the average trader. While it is still best-suited for active professionals, the quality of the service makes it an appealing prospect for anyone.
Commissions and Costs
TradeStation has a number of commission structures, with the most-recent addition being TSgo, a free trading plan that was unveiled at the start of October 2019 as a response to the ongoing price wars. This plan opens up the leading investment broker firm to casual investors, with unlimited $0 stock and ETF trades, while option trades are at an industry-low of $0.50 per contract. This plan does limit you, though, as you can’t use the TradeStation desktop trading platform, which is the best and most feature-heavy product.
The other, more-widely used pricing plan is the base-pricing or flat-fee plan, which allows you to use the desktop platform, as well as web and mobile versions of the brokerage house software. With this plan, equity trades are $5 and option trades are $5 + $0.50 per contract.
Delving deeper, there are also different structures for equities and options that work on per-share, unbundled, or flat-fee payment plans, but none of these offer commission-free ETFs like TSgo does. There is, however, the TradeStation Salutes program for active military personnel, veterans, and first responders. This plan provides completely free ETFs, stocks, and option trades to eligible customers. If you belong to any of those groups, TradeStation is a particularly good choice for you.
TradeStation has two main trading platforms: the simple Web Trading platform and the flagship TradeStation desktop platform, which has long been known for its impressive features. The Web Trading platform itself is quite competent and even surprasses some flagship platforms with its powerful tools, especially when it comes to chart trading.
The desktop TradeStation platform is still, however, the much more-complete and robust piece of software. It was also recently redesigned and is easier to use than ever, with more customization and a vastly improved interface. The tools themselves are both numerous and professional, especially since it has more pieces of historical data and studies than many other online brokerage services. And while charting tools on the platform are obviously the most impressive aspect, there are plenty of other powerful, top-quality tools like OptionStation Pro, Radar Screen, Matrix, and Walk-Forward Optimizer.
When it comes to ETF funds, there are about 4,900 options. However, unlike other competitors, TradeStation does not provide in-depth research on them, nor are there any commission-free ETFs on offer.
While the TradeStation website is not that impressive from a design viewpoint, especially compared to some of the top broker firms, it is still pretty straightforward, with all the necessary information laid out in an accessible way. There are a ton of webinars, video guides, and live-streaming education events featured on the platform. Even more excitingly, there are plans for a TradeStation University, which would essentially be an electronic campus that offers a variety of courses. There are also community forums and an impressive wiki that can serve as a great source of information and knowledge.
Not only does this provider help you learn how to buy stocks online but also it makes sure to answer any specific questions that you may have. TradeStation customer service can be reached via phone, live chat or email, and the response times on each method are excellent. You will most likely have to wait less than a minute before you get a response, and the support officers are both kind and knowledgeable.
It must be noted that live chat support is only available during work hours, so we prefer the phone support option, as it is much more reliable. TradeStation also falls behind the other best brokerage accounts in that it doesn’t have branch offices across the US, so you can’t get any in-person guidance or assistance.
TradeStation remains one of the finest brokerages in the US, especially for active and experienced traders, as well as military personnel and first responders, who can take advantage of the Salutes program. While it can be pricey in comparison to some of the other best brokers we’ve listed, it still deserves its spot on our list.
The quality of the desktop trading platform and the huge variety of tools backed by decades of market data make it as alluring as ever for those seeking a truly professional platform. And with the recent addition of the TSgo free trading plan, the brokerage is more open to casual investors than ever.
Reasons to Open an Account
- Top-quality desktop trading platform
- Best option for military personnel and first responders
- Wealth of knowledge and resources