It’s that time again! Another retail stock broker review. This time I’ll be sharing my full Tradestation review. Well, I shouldn’t say full, since I only use about half of what Tradestation offers.
I now have over six months of solid use to help create this review. I’ve done several videos on my YouTube channel about Tradestation. I’m hoping this written review will help clarify some of the finer details.
I will cover all of the different things I use within the platform, from data to support. I’ll try to give you as much information as possible to help you make an informed decision. Always seek extra guidance if you are not sure about something.
Table of Contents
- 1 My First Impression of Tradestation
- 2 Questions Answered In This Review
- 3 Trading Commissions
- 4 Tradestation Data Fees
- 5 Data Feed and Liquidity Events
- 6 Order Issues and Execution
- 7 Applications within Tradestation
- 8 Workspace and Desktop Layouts
- 9 Charting
- 10 Trading Matrix
- 11 Level 2 – Market Depth
- 12 Time and Sales
- 13 Radar Screen – Watchlists
- 14 Trading Simulator
- 15 Easy Language
- 16 News Feed
- 17 Accounts – Statements – Analysis
- 18 Customer Support
- 19 Frequently Asked Questions
- 19.0.1 Can You Automate Your Trading?
- 19.0.2 Do I Have a Tradestation Promo Code?
- 19.0.3 How Do I Feel About Tradestation Vs. Think or Swim?
- 19.0.4 Can You Short Stocks at Tradestation?
- 19.0.5 Does Tradestation Have a Mobile App?
- 19.0.6 Is Tradestation a Legit Broker?
- 19.0.7 Can you Trade Forex and Currencies at Tradestation?
- 19.0.8 Does Tradestation Offer Paper Trading?
- 19.0.9 Does Tradestation Work on a Mac?
- 19.0.10 Does Tradestation Offer Alerts on Their Platorm?
- 19.0.11 What Time Can You Start Trading at Tradestation?
- 19.0.12 Is Tradestation a Direct Access Broker?
- 19.0.13 How Good is the Trade Execution at Tradestation
- 19.0.14 Does Tradestation Use a Caching System to Improve Data?
- 19.0.15 Do You Have Any Issues With the Tradestation Trading Platform?
- 19.0.16 Load More
- 20 Final Thoughts on Tradestation
My First Impression of Tradestation
In terms of software and what you can do, Tradestation is one of the leaders. Although I have my concerns about their .NET development platform, it’s robust enough to handle most trading strategies. Since I’m focused on Daytrading, this review will be geared mainly to high-speed trades and how I use it. They are definitely a great platform for swing trading, Algo trading, Options trading, and more. You have full access to stocks, futures, options, currency, crypto and pretty much everything you can trade on the open markets.
Since I only focus on day trading stocks it will be hard for me to tell you how their platform handles currency and some of the other instruments. Keep this in mind as you go through this review.
In May of 2020, I decided to leave Think or Swim for a stronger retail platform that can handle the type of trading I’m pursuing. If I were trading where I didn’t need the faster execution and full market depth, Think or Swim would have been fine. With a direct access broker like Tradestation, I have the opportunity for much faster data and execution.
Is Tradestation foolproof? NO, they have their issues. I will share those with you as you move forward with the review.
Let me get into my findings and go over some of the qualities and concerns that I’ve discovered over the past 6 months. I’m sure I have a lot to learn still and if you wish to share some of your experiences, please leave a comment below.
Questions Answered In This Review
Here are some of the bigger questions asked by my viewers on YouTube and other media outlets. If you make it through the whole review, I’m sure a lot of your other questions will be answered as well.
- Is Tradestation the right broker for you?
- Do you have to pay a lot for the platform?
- Do I like Tradestation?
- Will I continue to use Tradestation in the future?
- Are there some great features?
- Do I like the charting?
- How do I find the overall speed of Tradestation?
- Is their Customer Support adequate?
Price is probably the number one question people ask before selecting a broker. Should this be the number one question though? As a beginner or one with a small account, this is definitely something of a concern. However, this shouldn’t be the ultimate factor when it comes to selecting a broker.
If you live in the USA, most retail trading brokers moved to a commission-free pricing structure. This doesn’t mean everything is free, for example, at Tradestation, you pay 0 commissions up to 10,000 shares per trade, but after that, a small amount is charged per share. Also, options are traded at a small cost, and so on.
Although you can find most of their costs on the public side of their website, you will find more details when you have an account opened. It doesn’t need to be funded to get this information, but you will need a login.
Being a direct access routing broker, you will be charged a small fee on a per-share basis if you route directly to an exchange. They do not charge extra if you use their intelligent routing. I haven’t chosen to use anything but the intelligent route so I can’t confirm the quality of this execution.
Listed below are the most common fees you will pay per transaction on the different trading instruments.
The fine print can be found below the main pricing structure of the website. Be sure to read this clearly and fully understand what you may run into.
Tradestation Data Fees
Assuming you have the minimum amount funded into your account, you will have access to the full platform. Real-time data is provided for the most part, but there are plenty of options that come at a cost. The data connections required will depend on your style of trading. If you don’t need full market depth for daytrading then you’ll most likely be fine with the minimum. However, if you are a full active daytrader you’ll want to pay the fees for the important feeds.
Listed below is the pricing structure I received when I turned it on back in May 2020. Prices have changed recently and I’m hearing the prices have gone up quite a bit. I can’t attest to that since my price is what is shown in the image below. You can always add and remove certain data feeds until you find what works for you.
If you plan to trade futures and you want full market depth, you can expect to pay quite a bit. I don’t require this market data, so I don’t need to pay for it.
Data Feed and Liquidity Events
We went over the costs of the data feeds in the previous section. Now we will break down some of those feeds and how well they work.
Market Depth – Also known as level 2 or level 3, Tradestation provides its traders with full book market depth. This allows traders insight into what the price action is above and below the current price. This will not include everything since certain traders hide their orders, but it is one of the many things that give an edge to traders that use it.
Index fees – You pay a minimal amount to see real-time data on certain markets. It’s nice to have the real-time price of the overall market.
The last thing I wanted to discuss is the actual data feed. We’ll discuss execution in the next section, however, I wanted to share something that is pretty important. For the most part, when data is coming through the internet, on to your computer, and onto the platform it works just fine. However, there are times when so much data is being loaded, that the platform gives a quick freezing look. If you plan to trade these high liquidity events, you’ll need a couple of things to help avoid missing trades.
Make sure you have the fastest Internet you can get. Also, make sure you have a real fast processor that can decipher all the data and not slow you down. Since I trade high liquidity events I have a tendency to miss trades since my computer/Internet is too slow. I’ve discussed this on my YouTube Channel and will consider moving to ETrade Pro should this continue. If I can determine it’s the speed of my computer I will spend the money on an upgrade.
Order Issues and Execution
Over the past 6 months, I’ve had a decent run when it comes to trade executions. Recently, however, I’ve been plagued by some rough trading. Once I placed an order and didn’t get filled for over 30 seconds only to find the stock I was trading moved down significantly. I also have recorded examples of my fill not going through and the platform not telling me so.
One of the worst feelings is a stuck order and a late fill since it didn’t execute. Not knowing what is happening is very scary when money is on the line. When order execution isn’t glitchy, Tradestation has real nice limit fills. When it comes to market orders I would suggest avoiding those unless you need to bail quickly.
Stop Losses – When it comes to a hard stop loss or closing a position, it seems Tradestation doesn’t give you much price improvement. In fact, it always seems like I get the fill at the worst possible price. I’m going to test sending limit orders at a lower price instead and hope the fill goes off closer to the offer than the bid.
Buy Stop Limit on Quote – This is a method of entering a trade above a certain level without getting filled until the price is quoted. I would use this all the time, but more often than not I get jumped on the price. I’ve tried many times over and I’ve given up trying since it cost me money.
What does this mean? If you used a stop limit on a stock that you want to trade at $50.00, but you don’t want to get filled until it breaks $50.00, you could place a buy stop limit on the quote order. I can set the order to make an active stop at $50.02 with a limit of $50.06. This means if the price of 50.02 is quoted, I’d be willing to pay up to 50.06. A lot of times I either get jumped completely or the price will go up and catch my limit on the way down.
There are all kinds of order types that Tradestation offers. You can go through each one at your leisure.
Overall I would rate the execution at Tradestation at about an 89. High-speed trading is the way I trade, so if you are not trading high volatile events, you will most likely be fine.
Applications within Tradestation
Where do you begin when it comes to all the different apps Tradestation offers. I can list them all, but it’s best that I list the ones I use the most. Most of the apps listed below will be discussed in more detail as you keep reading the Tradestation review.
- The Radar Screen is just like a watchlist but on steroids. You can run all of your indicators, time intervals, alerts and so much more through the RS. You can completely adjust it to your liking. Although it can be a little bit overkill, I use this every day and all day.
- I go into greater detail about the Radar Screen below and also provide a video.
- If you plan to trade with technical analysis you’ve come to the right place. The Tradestation charts are one of the best in the industry. They may be a little laggy at times, but you will get a clear look at the price action. From trading on your charts to alerting, Tradestation charts are strong.
- Details about the charting at Tradestation follows below.
- I discuss this below, but market depth is another word for level 2. If you pay the price for full books level 2 and level 3, you will get access to all of the broker books and at every level.
- Although I mainly use this for scaling out of positions, the Matrix provides you a great way to trade when the market is really moving. It may take you a little while to get used to it, but as soon as you do, you’ll find it rewarding.
Time and Sales
- You can adjust the time and sales to show what you want to see. I’ve created a video about this and it will help you understand the price action much clearer.
- Trading is about information. The more you have the better you will be.
- I use this mainly in the morning, but it works like a scanner. You can use the Tradestation default scans or create your own. From stocks gapping up to gapping down, to volume direction and everything else, the Hot Lists is a clear way to see the market.
Trademanager and Trademanager Analysis
- These are two apps that allow you to go over your trades, check balances, equity curves, fills, orders, open orders and so much more. You will use these almost every day as a day trader.
This covers the apps I use the most. There are many more apps you can use from the options chain app to the short locate app. You can also buy apps if you find something that may give you an edge in the market. There is a whole marketplace to buy and sell apps. Although all of these apps make Tradestation a bit heavier as a software program, they could help your trading.
Workspace and Desktop Layouts
When you first open Tradestation, you are introduced to a standard desktop and workspace layout. Depending on how many screens you have, you create a desktop for each screen. You can then create as many workspaces as you wish within that desktop.
You can size up things based on your needs and not have to worry about creating new layouts all of the time. You can save all your layouts and everything will come back as you saved them the next time.
Although you can change your layout whenever you want, having all of these saved layouts makes trading so much easier when you have to shut your PC down or if the platform crashes. Bringing things back online quickly is key.
One drawback to having all of these layouts is the load time. I restart my computer and clear my Tradestation cache every day. This allows for a clean start to the day. When I open TS, it does take about 30-40 seconds for everything to load. This will be different for you, your computer, and what you are using.
One of the fine features of Treadestatuoin is the charts. The charts allow you to see the price action on the markets in a clear manner. TS doesn’t hold back and allows you to create all kinds of different charts.
Linking is a great feature. Like many brokers, you can connect multiple windows within your workspace and desktop so they function as one. If you change the symbol in one area, the rest of the windows with the same linking color will then change as well. This allows for fast-acting changes when speed is the key. Listed below are some of the main data points I use on my charts.
- If there is a certain timeframe you want to see, Tradestation has it. From premarket to after-hours, time is not a factor. I like to use multiple charts at a time with different time frames. I do wish they had the times listed in the title bar, so you can click the time if you wanted to adjust real quick. Not a big deal, but it would save a second or two.
Indicators – Studies
- Tradestation is known for their studies. Not only do they provide you with all of the most common indicators, but they also provide you with showme indicators that go deeper into the price action. These studies may help you see the price action on your instrument better.
- Drawing lines and other plots is really easy on Tradestation. What I use the most is a plain horizontal line that allows me to place alerts on the line. This alert will tell me when the price climbs above or below this line depending on my parameters.
- Although I don’t trade from the charts there are many people that do. If you plan to trade using easy language or some kind of algorithm, this will be the way you do it. I’ve found the extra lines and data points for this a little distracting.
- This is what it is all about. You can customize your chart to however you want. From colors to indicators, the options are endless. I do recommend the less you use on the charts the faster the platform will be. Once you play around with it, you’ll learn the ins and outs to help you succeed.
One of the negatives I’ve noticed is if you have a lot of windows open and a lot of data flowing in, Tradestation has a tendency to lag just a second or so before everything loads. If you think about everyone rushing to the exit at the same time, but with only one door. Once loaded, the speed of the charts and other windows function as they should.
Probably the main reason I selected Tradestation as my broker was to use the Trading Matrix. This app can be used in several different ways. Although I only use it for exiting trades, there are several uses that can be applied.
You can customize the settings of the Matrix to your liking. From colors to font all the way up to price increments, the look and feel of the Matrix will be up to you.
When you open a new Matrix app a lot of information is available. I reduce this down to what is necessary for my trading. I show the open P/L, orders, what is open or what is set to open, the bid and ask size, and of course the price.
In one of my videos, I show how you can change the axis increment so it can handle the fast-moving price swings. This allows you to enter/exit orders without hesitation or lag.
Just like the trade bar, you have all of the same items. From bracket orders to ordering type. This allows you to see everything clearly right in front of you.
I have two things I really like about the matrix.
- You can fill out the default share quantity. For example, if you buy 1000 shares, you can have the field selected to sell 200 or whatever level you select. This will then sell that quantity of the 1000 shares. It makes it fast and efficient.
- Probably the best thing about the trading Matrix is how you can enter a limit order on your scale outs. If the price is moving really fast you can put in a limit below the actual quoted price and get the best limit sale possible. This allows you to get some shares off if the price drops fast. You can easily set limits above as well and pinpoint certain price locations of resistance.
If you dig into the Matrix, you will see how well it works for your trading. Although there are some times where it can be a little slow, with the right modifications, you will find it to be one of the best tools Tradestation offers.
Level 2 – Market Depth
Probably one of the most important tools for a day trader, level 2 gives you real-time market data at the moment that you are about to take a trade. Although this isn’t a lesson on level 2, this is the one thing that I’ve decided that I can’t live without.
The Tradestation level 2 or Market Depth is what they call it, is just as customizable as everything else. As I mentioned in the fee section above, you have to pay for the feeds. Once you start paying for data the market depth window will start broadcasting price levels.
Great Features with Level 2
- I use this tool for my order entry window. It allows me to watch the price action closely while time and sales are going off next to it.
- Histogram bars – The coolest thing with the Tradestation level 2 is how you set up the histogram bars. When prices are moving so quickly, the bars give you an accurate visual of where you may find support and resistance without going spread by spread.
You can watch my whole video on how I set my market depth.
Time and Sales
A lot of people consider level 2 and time and sales as a pair. If you have one, you most likely have the other. I use Time and Sales to give me the last price quoted. This information is critical, especially when dealing with stocks with wide spreads.
One of the great things about time and sales is that it can help you stay in a trade when level 2 is getting manipulated in some way. Although the bids or offers may drop off, it’s the prints that tell the real story.
The Tradestation Time and Sales are fully adjustable and will allow you to break down which price action you want to see. I use it so I only show trades. You have the option to see a lot more information.
You can customize the look of Time and Sales to your liking. I choose to see only what I need to and not the extra data that they offer.
You can watch my video on how I setup Time and Sales.
Radar Screen – Watchlists
Like most brokers, you have a tool that provides you with a list of stocks you want to watch. Although most brokers call them watchlist, Tradestation goes one step further and calls it a Radar Screen.
The radar screen is the place you can load as many symbols as you please. You can create multiple lists within one app window. You can then decide how you want to label each page. Organization and speed are critical when trading.
I usually have a new radar page for each day of the week. This allows me to watch the stocks that are in play that day. I of course keep some of my favorites on there, but by doing this, I’m able to reduce some of the noise.
The Radar Screen can be turned into a scanner of your choosing. You can apply indicators and other studies to trigger when the price action reaches your parameters. You can then create alerts for whatever you are tracking.
The Radar Screen is a heavy tool that lets you watch as many stocks as you wish. It will be up to you on how you customize it. I suggest that you simplify it and reduce the amount of data you receive so your bandwidth is free for your other tools.
You can watch a video on how I set up the Radar Screen.
The Tradestation Simulator works just like if you were trading in realtime. For that, it makes it one of the best simulators on the market. I didn’t really get to use the simulator that much. I was only able to use it to test entries and exits once I had my desktop set up as at the beginning.
The simulator allows you to test strategies in real-time as well. This makes things a lot easier when you don’t want to risk real money. Although the simulator gives you the feel of the platform, it doesn’t give you real fills on your trades. Don’t expect everything to work so clean when you use the simulator.
You start off with such a large balance. I found myself putting on trades that were nowhere near the amounts I would trade. It made it feel way more fake than it is. This is no big deal just keep that in mind if you have a small account and all of a sudden you have $5 million.
The biggest issue I have with the simulator is you have to use it during market hours. It doesn’t work on delayed or recorded data like Think or Swim. It’s great that it works in real-time, but when you want to trade live you aren’t really focused on Simulated trading.
It would be nice to have off-hours or weekend Datafeeds. Keep that in mind if you are looking for a practice account to train on.
What Tradestation is highly renowned for is its trading programming language. This proprietary software allows you to create your own algorithms, indicators, and strategies to trade. You will have the option to test and activate these strategies at your pleasure.
If you have the idea, you can find someone to help you develop it. If you are capable of developing your own then this platform is definitely for you.
Early on, I took some of the strategies I learned and turned them into an alerting study. This allowed me to see which stocks were setting up based on my liking. Something to keep in mind, although the Easy Language is pretty cool. It will take a lot of work to really get what you want. Also, just like trading itself, finding the holy grail isn’t out there, so you have to be realistic.
Newsfeeds are important to traders. Although Tradestation has a Benzinga news app within its platform, it is pretty useless when it comes to real-time. You may get some news quicker than other methods, but overall it’s not something I use unless I’m looking for news that was released some time ago. Benzinga Pro and TradeXchange are the big news squawk service out there you may want to try if real-time news is important to you.
Accounts – Statements – Analysis
Tradestation provides all kinds of accounting statements to help navigate your performance. Both on their website and on their platform you can pull up everything you’ve done.
Intraday, you can use the trade manager which will give you the days activity, balances, positions, and much more. This is the tool you should have open during the day to see which orders are opened, filled, closed and all of the other things you want to know.
The Trademanager Analysis goes a bit deeper. This is the tool that breaks down your day, week, year, or whatever time frame you wish to see. If you’ve seen my equity curve you will see how it gives a nice display of your performance. You can create all kinds of graphs and charts of your performance.
I’ve found the website for statements to be a little clunky, but it is sufficient enough.
Once set up, withdrawing and depositing funds is very easy. Using the website, you can do this in about 5 clicks. It’s really nice when you want to take some profits and move them back to your bank.
This has to be one of the biggest things I look for when either buying or using a product or service. Without good customer service, you are left out to dry should something go wrong. Although one of the more expensive departments to run for any company, customer service is what I find to make or break a company.
I can remember on several occasions where good customer service was the reason why I stood with that company.
I feel like I’m just a number when it comes to customer service at Tradestation.
I’ve called well over five times over the course of six months for many reasons. On every occasion, the gentleman I spoke with was either rude, short, or just didn’t care. This was a big turn off.
If you watched my videos on some delayed orders on Tradestation you can see the dilemma I was having. One time, I had to pull teeth to get a trade canceled.
I got a super late fill and was underwater before I could either cancel or close the trade. I called three times and spoke to three different people. Each time I got the same answer. I showed them a video of what happened as well. I then emailed two different times. To this day, I still haven’t gotten any resolution. It also turns out a lot of other traders were having similar issues that day.
If you think customer support is important then you need to know this is probably their weakest link right now. As we move forward, I really hope this department gets a lot better. I know for a fact that I will depend on customer support in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
One of the many cool features about Tradestation is their Automated Trading language. You can set up to trade automatically on the platform. Be sure to understand the risks with it before you go down that path.
At this time I do not have a Tradestation Promo Code. Once I get an offer that is applied to a promo code I will be sure to share it with you.
Think or Swim has some good about it, but overall as a fast-acting day trader there is no comparison between Tradestation and Think or Swim. It will always depend on what your needs are.
Most definitely. I rarely short a stock, but you can be sure there are plenty of short locates within the Tradestation system. They actually have an app to help you locate shares to short.
I didn’t get into much detail in the review about their mobile app, but it does what you need it to do. Don’t expect to be amazed by the look and feel.
Yes, I’ve known about Tradestation for well over 10 years. I traded with them in the past and I’m trading with them now. I find them to be way more legit than some other brokers out there.
Yes, you will have access to all the main currency pairs as well as many others to trade 24 hours a day, six days a week.
They have one of the better paper trading setups in the industry. You can trade almost everything like you were trading a live account. You can also reset your account at your leisure.
You will need to load some kind of bootloader that has Windows on it. Tradestation is built for Windows. If you don’t plan to use the full platform, you can use the web version from a MAC.
Of course. You can set this on the charts, radar screen, and by other means. You can be sent sounds, emails, and SMS notifications. It’s a real nice feature.
This will of course vary by instrument, but if you are trading stocks, you can start trading the Pre-Market at 8:00 am. I really hope one day they will push it back to 7:00 am like ETrade.
Yes, you will have all the capabilities to get filled at your ECN of choice. Some include Nasdaq, ARACA, EDGX, BATS, NYSE, ARCX, and few others.
For the way, I trade I would rate the execution at about an 89. Execution will vary from broker to broker, but for the most part, I’ve been okay with their execution.
Yes, Tradestation has a cache system to improve performance. I like to clear the cache every day and get new fresh data.
I believe no matter which broker you choose, you’ll run into broker platform issues. Since I got my PC rebuilt I’ve had really good connectivity with Tradestation. There are times when it does get glitchy, so you need to be prepared.
Final Thoughts on Tradestation
Tradestation is one of the better platforms I’ve seen. Visually it provides a lot of great tools for you as a trader.
I’ve voiced some of my concerns in this review and it’s important to understand a lot of them will depend on your trading style. No matter which broker you choose, I can guarantee that you will have an issue at one time or another. If Tradestation didn’t have issues with high liquidity events, better execution in the morning, and better customer service, I would say they are the best by far. Compared to TD Ameritrade and ETrade, I’ve found Tradestation to be the superior platform.
You will have to decide on your own if Tradestation is right for you. It’s not hard to open an account and you can start trading with $2,000.
Retail daytrading is tough. I hope this Tradestation review helps you make a decision. Please let me know if there is anything else you want to know or any way I can help.
Update – Be sure to read my 21 daytrading tips that may help your trading in the future.