One of the great things about using TradeStation is the access it gives you. Whether you are a trader in stocks, options or futures, even forex markets, you are catered for at TradeStation with the technology meaning easy crossover from one instrument to another. Add to this trading of mutual funds and you really do have a platform that meets all your needs.
Competitive Commissions, up to a point
There are two commission structures for stock and ETF trading. The first is a 1 cent per share charge (up to 500 shares, and the 0.6 cents per share) and a minimum commission of $1.
This means it’s actually cheaper than low cost brokers such as OptionsXpress if you are only buying a small number of shares. though if you buy more than 700 shares you may be better opting for their second option.
For traders who execute more than 30 trades per month, the per trade cost comes out at $6.99.
At $14.95 per trade, TradeStation’s mutual fund pricing comes in as low as that of Tradeking.
Broker assisted trades are charged at $20 plus the fees above which is moderately competitive, ETrade charge $44.95, but Tradeking charge $4.95.
IRA accounts incur an annual fee of $35, which compares about average when measured against its main rivals (though both OptionsXpress and Scottrade offer fee free IRAs).
A platform charge suited to active traders
Using the TradeStation platform incurs a monthly charge of $99.95, though this is discounted to zero if you trade 5000 shares in the month prior to charging. However, you will receive charges on the market data feeds that you receive, and these can mount up, so you need to ensure you only request the markets you will be trading.
What this adds up to is an expensive platform for occasional traders, but one on which active day traders will be able to manage costs well.
The Trading Platform
The platform is designed with day traders in mind. There are several ways to input and execute orders, including from the level 3 screen and direct from a customizable chart. There’s also a single click order entry facility for faster execution.
With a virtual trading facility, it’s possible to back test (with 27 years of historical data available) and then real time test trading strategies before setting them in motion in the live environment. If you wanted to, TradeStation also has automated trading capability that you can use on your trading strategies.
For the chartists, its chart tools compare with the very best, and there are over 100 indicators that you can set up to aid your trading decisions.
Position monitoring is clean and simple, with winning and losing positions color coded. From this screen you can access all your account details, open order details – from where you can manage those orders, too – and administer your trading strategies. It’s one of the cleanest tools available, though does take some getting used to. For the trader new to TradeStation, its website has an instructional video for all aspects of its system.
The Final Call
The deposit requirements to open an account will be viewed by many as restrictive. You need $5,000 to open a non-day trading account and a whopping $30,000 for a day trading account. On top of this, the exchange data fees and platform fee might also be seen a prohibitive by some.
But when it comes to trading technology, direct market access, and speed of trading, the TradeStation platform puts you on a par with traders in the trading rooms of large Wall Street brokerages.
For those that like to discuss their trading with others, then TradeStation has its TradeStation Community forums and Wiki, which allow trading of ideas, questions, queries, and problems. It also releases regular educational materials by way of White Notes, designed to help with the wider issues of economy, markets, business, and equity trading.
You’ll also receive market news and views via its Blue Notes, and Daily Market Updates several times a day, which are exclusive to TradeStation customers.
Trading through TradeStation isn’t the cheapest option, but the platform is probably the most professional amongst its peers with great position and order monitoring functionality, and is clearly designed for the active day trader.
Barron was right to rate TradeStation so highly.