Optionweb Review – User Experiences and Opinions

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7 Binary Options

UPDATE (17.03.2020):

We have found out that Optionweb has shut down their operations.

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Old Review:

OptionWeb is the leading broker in the Binary Options industry, operating in strict compliance with CySEC regulatory requirements and authorized to operate in over 30 countries in Europe. OptionWeb offers its ever-growing clientele excellent binary option trading conditions via its reliable and user-friendly platform: we have found OptionWeb to be a top-quality broker among all binary option brokers, offering a wide range of services and resources that enable traders to quickly familiarize with binary options and to make investments with very small amounts of capital to suit any budget.

One of OptionWeb’s major assets is its highly competent and dedicated staff: we received excellent service and personal attention from real pros with genuine understanding of the market; they did everything in their power to make our trading experience comfortable and profitable. Moreover, the platform is a highly efficient, fully equipped dashboard enabling traders to steer their trading activity with utmost clarity and ease. All these ingredients combined definitely make OptionWeb a broker that retail traders can trust.

Basic information:

Online since: 2020
Jurisdiction: Cypros
Software: Sirix
Max Returns:88%
Minimum Deposit: $200
Minimum Investment: $5
Maximum Investment: $4000
Currencies: USD, EUR, GBP
Mobile: Yes
Countries: All nations excluding USA

– Large variety of options
– Excellent returns
– User-friendly Interface
– 100% web-based platform requiring no software download
– Investment possible with as little as €5
– Highly secure and reliable deposit/withdrawal methods

– Does not accept clients from US

7 Binary Options Rating:

Maximum profits (payout)

Winning trades generate returns of up to 88% in addition to the amount initially invested. We also appreciated the fact that payouts are done in a timely manner.

Types of accounts

OptionWeb offers several types of accounts to suit all individual needs of every trader and to fit all budgets. All accounts (except for the Starter account) give access to a demo account with virtual funds for novice traders to practice with before they start placing bets with real capital.

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Starter: Starter accounts require initial deposits between €200 and €1000. This account is best suited for beginners, allowing them to trade cautiously with small amounts of capital and to quickly gain the confidence they need.
Standard: Standard accounts require initial deposits between €1000 and €3000. It’s a good account for traders with basic familiarity with financial markets.
Silver: Silver accounts require initial deposits between €3000 and €10,000. A Silver account is great for confirmed traders who are comfortable enough to place bigger bets.
Gold: Gold accounts require initial deposits between €10,000 and €50,000. This account is intended for serious traders with solid knowledge and confidence in their strategies.
Platinium: Platinium accounts require initial deposits between €50,000 and €100,000. These accounts are best suited for professional investors who trade large amounts of capital.
Diamonds: Diamond accounts require initial deposits of €250,000. This type of account is best suited for professional investors who trade considerable amounts of capital.

Assets

OptionWeb offers an over 180 assets for traders to choose from: clients can choose to trade commodities (gold, oil, sugar, coffee, corn etc.), forex (EUR/USD, USD/GBP etc.), stocks (Apple, HSBC Holdings, IBM etc.), along with indices (Dow Jones, S&P 500, FTSE 100, CAC 40 etc.). Gold and Platinum account holders also have the possibility to request additional assets.

Screenshot

Deposit Methods and withdrawals

OptionWeb’s deposit interface is easy to use and offers numerous digital payment options for the comfort of every trader. Deposits are done instantly in the safest conditions, either in EUR, YSD or GBP. The minimum deposit required upon registration is of EUR200/USD/200. Traders can fund their accounts and operate withdrawals through Visa, MastercCard, Debit cards, Bank Transfer and various secure e-wallets.
Withdrawing funds is also a clear and simple process: clients need to click on “My Account” at the top right corner of the screen, and then on “Withdrawal”; they will then need to fill out the form and send their withdrawal request directly through the website. Withdrawal requests are processed within 24 hours to 48 hours for premium accounts, and up to 5 business days for starter and standard accounts.

Customer Service

One of OptionWeb’s strongest assets is its multilingual customer support team. The personal attention and dedication they demonstrated was flawless. We found them to be very helpful and patient: they assisted us through the entire registration process, and further provided exceptional guidance in our trading activities. OptionWeb’s customer support team is available through live chat, telephone and e-mail.

Conclusion/Summary

Just like Banc de Binary, OptionWeb is a one-stop shop for comfortable and profitable trading: outstanding customer service, a user-friendly platform and interface, a large variety of account types and a considerable pool of cutting-edge tools and educational resources constitute the perfect combination for a genuinely pleasant experience in binary options trading. Check out also Binary Option Robot for automated trading and binary option signals.

Additional information

Customer Service: : in English, French and Italian, Live Chat / Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 2071002264
Languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian
Trading Options: High / Low, One Touch, Builder Options, One Touch, Pair Options and Ladder Options
Assets: Currencies, Stocks, Indices, Commodities
Early close: Yes
Expiry Times: 30 sec, 60 sec, 2min, 1 hr, 24h
Deposits and Withdrawals: Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Bank Wire, Skrill Moneybookers, Diners Club, Maestro, Visa Electron
Withdrawal Time: 3 business days
Demo account: Yes

Firstrade Review

Low costs and above average trading platforms

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  • AccountMinimum: $500
  • Fees: $0 commissions for most stock, option, and ETF trades
  • Best for: Low-cost trades

Firstrade Securities was founded in 1985 in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, New York. It served the needs of the local community, especially ethnic Chinese immigrants. While one of the low-cost leaders, Firstrade has also remained true to its roots, providing trading tools and support in traditional and simplified Chinese as well as in English.

Recently, Firstrade has switched to $0 commissions for stock and options trades, but that comes with some sacrifices in limited tools, research, and product scope. However, unlike many of the other $0 commission brokers, Firstrade is still an adequate choice for active stock and options traders looking for streamlined order entry, featuring advanced option spread trading and rock bottom costs.

Besides low costs, Firstrade also stands out with a unique securities lending program for investors interested in earning extra income by lending their stocks to other financial institutions. The securities lending program places no restrictions on the account holder who can sell their stock at any point. This could be a significant benefit for independent investors with large accounts.

$0 cost stock and options trades with many no-transaction-fee ETFs and mutual funds

Streamlined trading experience that is consistent in web and mobile platforms

Support for traditional and simplified Chinese as well as English accounts

Limited functionality in web and mobile platforms beyond order entry and rudimentary charting

No forex, crypto, futures, or futures options trading

Customer support is not available 24/7

Trading Experience

When compared to other online brokers, Firstrade’s platforms are basic but functional. Order entry is intuitive and familiar, even for complex option spread orders. Spread legs are manually entered, and an integrated chain sheet makes the process easy. Margin is calculated as trades are constructed, but streaming quotes are not always available in the order entry form. That requires a refresh to check the price. Very active traders may find the manual order entry process tedious and repetitive.

Opening or closing trades with complex order types like OCO or OCA are unavailable in the mobile and web-based platform but could be used in the advanced “Navigator” application. It is simple to create an order from most of the screening tools for stocks, ETFs, or mutual funds, however, the order entry interface is inconsistent from one product type to the next. There is no functionality to trade from the charts or create basket and staging orders.

Trading Technology

Firstrade recently built its own all-in-one trading platform, Firstrade Navigator, for more active traders based on a single-page layout with modules. However, Navigator is only available for desktop users after “applying” for it via email. The process to access the platform was convoluted, but users on an iPad can access it through the App Store without the application process. Streaming quotes and real-time data are available in the web-based Navigator and mobile platforms. For smaller traders, Firstrade is likely to be a good choice if the primary concern is to keep commission costs as low as possible.

More advanced or larger traders may want to consider a few additional factors before choosing Firstrade as a broker. Firstrade does not offer spray-routing and provides no data on price improvement for orders. Firstrade routes orders primarily to two clearing firms, Apex and Credit Suisse, and accepts payments for that order flow. While this is a common practice among low/no commission brokers, it is a controversial practice that puts the broker in the awkward position of trying to get the best price for their clients while also optimizing income for order flow.

Usability

The account setup process is extremely easy and convenient. Although all the account forms should be read and understood by a trader, most of the form blanks were prefilled in advance. For the average trader, account and margin approval is quick and convenient. For traders in the U.S. or approved foreign markets, account support is available in traditional or simplified Chinese.

Navigating the web-based trading and account management pages is very simple and orders can be entered from virtually any location on the site, mobile app, or Navigator platform. Menus are intuitive and persistent regardless of where you are in the platform or site. The Navigator platform allows for some customizability, allowing you to add or remove modules or drag them to other locations on the screen. The charts in the Navigator and mobile platforms are from MultiCharts (TradingView) so the functionality is very good. However, there is very little integration in the charts with order entry and account management.

Mobile and Emerging Tech

Like the web-based and Navigator platforms, Firstrade’s mobile app is intuitive and easy to use. Order entry includes a full range of stop, limit, and market orders but advanced order types like OCO or OCA are only available on the Navigator app for iPad users. The mobile app includes charts from MultiCharts (TradingView) which were fast and robust but did not include trades from the chart functionality.

The mobile application’s watchlist and order entry features are integrated with the web-based and Navigator platform; this creates a seamless experience. Streaming news and analysis from Morningstar, Briefing.com, and Benzinga are not available within the mobile app and there are no other research or screening tools.

Range of Offerings

Firstrade offers trading access to stocks, options, funds, and fixed income which is likely what most small retail traders need. The spectrum of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and ETFs is wide enough to cover most asset classes. Unlike most low-cost brokers, the fixed income order pages and screening tools are easy to use and could be accessed quickly through the web-based platform.

More advanced traders may find some key offerings unavailable at Firstrade. There is no trading offered for Forex or cryptocurrencies, and futures and futures options are also not available. Although Firstrade has announced plans for a robo-advisory service, at the time of this review there was not one available. Spread order entry for advanced and active options traders is easy to use and allows for up to four legs per spread.

News and Research

Firstrade has a surprising number of screening and research tools scattered throughout its trading platforms. While the stock and fund screener is easy to use, its functionality is very limited and not very intuitive. However, assuming a trader’s screening requirements aren’t very advanced, entering trades from the screeners is quick and easy. Traders can access news and analysis from Morningstar and Briefing.com, which are both high-value sources. Streaming news of lower quality was also available from Benzinga.com.

Traders can use the OptionPlay tool to generate ideas and analyze option trades and spreads in real time. While useful, this feature is hard to find and is accessed from the options chain sheets. The quality of Firstrade’s charts varies depending on the platform. The web-based platform included rudimentary charting that is difficult to use and can not be customized. The Navigator and mobile trading platforms use charts provided by MultiCharts (TradingView) and are very good.

Portfolio Analysis and Reports

Most portfolio analysis and accounting functions are unavailable in Firstrade’s platforms. However, investors can see margin requirements on a per-trade basis and monitor open positions or watchlists in real-time. Account balances and account history are also available in real-time and transactions can be easily downloaded for analysis with external tools.

Although the process for downloading account activity data into external programs like Quicken, Microsoft Money, or Excel is easy, there is virtually no functionality for tax planning or account management within the Firstrade platforms. There are some simple calculators for asset allocation, option pricing, and IRA contributions, but they have limited usefulness and aren’t integrated with your account to provide guidance and analysis.

Customer Service and Help

Although Firstrade does not offer 24/7 live support, there are two qualities that set them apart from most brokers in their category. First, they offer full support in simplified and traditional Chinese. Second, during market hours, Firstrade’s customer service is responsive and knowledgeable on the phone. During heavy call times, accounts can request a call back that was very quick in our tests. The chat responses were less satisfactory, with many responses generated automatically with links to FAQs that often didn’t relate to the question being asked.

Besides low costs and good telephone service, Firstrade can also help account holders to generate income from their stock holdings through a stock loan program. Traders can loan their shares through Firstrade to other institutional investors for daily income. Shares that have been loaned are still unrestricted and investors can buy or sell them as they normally would without participating in the stock loan program.

Education

Articles and videos covering a broad spectrum of markets and trading strategies are available at Firstrade. For new investors, the material will provide an introduction to most topics but not much more. Many of the articles and videos were produced by outside firms or organizations like the Options Industry Council so they do not include education that is very timely or related to Firstrade’s platforms and tools.

During our review, we found a lot of dead links in the educational content and much of it was dated. Although introductory education can be helpful for new investors, it does not relate well to current market conditions and new trading innovations. There are no live webinars or live events, which might have otherwise filled in many of the gaps in the education category. Although podcasts are available, they are mostly provided by the same external providers and do not relate to the live market environment.

Costs

In our view, traders evaluating Firstrade are probably focused on finding the lowest cost broker with a minimal level of trading functionality. Most stock, option, and fund trading can be done for $0 commissions. The security lending program even has the ability to lower the cost of trading further by compensating account holders for lending their shares for daily income.

Besides limited functionality and services, most low-cost brokers will charge higher fees in other areas to make up for the lack of commissions. Firstrade charges higher than average margin rates for investors with a margin account. Fees for some account transactions, such as wire transfers and ACAT transfers out, are also higher than average but not out of the ordinary.

What You Need to Know

In our opinion, there is a case to be made in favor of Firstrade if an investor is focused on the lowest trading costs available. Although Forex, futures, and crypto trading is unavailable, investors looking for stocks, options, funds and ETFs shouldn’t be disappointed. Unlike many other brokers in the low-to-no commission category, Firstrade stands out with above average trading platforms, streaming quotes, and advanced options trading functionality.

Service is good but limited to market hours, which may be challenging for traders outside the U.S. or new investors who cannot contact their broker during work hours. New investors looking for education will find a lot of introductory material aggregated from internal and external sources but limited advanced education or guidance connected to the current market environment.

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Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. Our reviews are the result of six months of evaluating all aspects of an online broker’s platform, including the user experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on their platforms, costs and fees, security, the mobile experience and customer service. We established a rating scale based on our criteria, collecting over 3,000 data points that we weighed into our star scoring system.

In addition, every broker we surveyed was required to fill out a 320-point survey about all aspects of their platform that we used in our testing. Many of the online brokers we evaluated provided us with in-person demonstrations of their platforms at our offices.

Our team of industry experts, led by Theresa W. Carey, conducted our reviews and developed this best-in-industry methodology for ranking online investing platforms for users at all levels. Click here to read our full methodology.

TradeStation Review

A lot to offer experienced technical traders

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  • AccountMinimum: $2,000 for TS Select and $0 for TSgo
  • Fees: $0 stocks and ETFs, $0.60/contract and $0/trade options on TS Select, $0.50/contract and $0/trade

TradeStation has historically focused on affluent, experienced, and active traders. The company’s goal going forward is to broaden its appeal and reach with pricing changes and new services. TradeStation had a busy 2020, acquiring and relaunching a firm dedicated to education and community called YouCanTrade as well as launching a cryptocurrency brokerage called TradeStation Crypto Inc. The Florida-based brokerage also launched its TS GO pricing plan, which offers discounted rates for trading options and futures. We’ll look at how these changes have affected TradeStation’s ranking in a more competitive online brokerage industry and whether they are enough to make TradeStation the right choice for your investment needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Rated our best broker for ease of account setup
  • Technical analysis and statistical modeling of trading strategies is a key strength of the platform
  • TS GO, TradeStation’s free trade offering, allows customers to use its premier platform, the downloadable TradeStation 10, but there is a $10 surcharge for placing a trade
  • TradeStation’s desktop platform includes a number of powerful tools, the ability to backtest trading strategies, and the ability to use add-on products found in the TradingApp store, supplied by third parties as well as TradeStation developers

Who TradeStation Is For

TradeStation’s commitment to superior customer service and its focus on high-quality market data and trade executions makes them a good choice for the active trader or an intermediate level trader who wants to improve their skills. Its systems are stable and remain available during surges in trading volume. Overall, TradeStation has put a great deal of effort into making themselves more attractive to the mainstream investor, but the platform is more geared toward the active, technically-minded trader.

Stable platform that has very little downtime

Excellent charting and technical analysis tools

Portfolio Maestro analyzes performance in a variety of ways

Education content is top notch

Steep learning curve to be navigated to develop your own trading system

Multiple pricing choices that can be confusing

Fixed income transactions must be made with a broker

No forex trading and limited international trading

Pros Explained

  • The platform is extremely stable; TradeStation reports uptime of 99.999% over the last year, operating perfectly even during periods of high volatility.
  • TradeStation 10 has just about every bell or whistle a technical trader could dream of. It enjoys a well-earned reputation for excellent charting and technical analysis tools. The charting application, in particular, stands out among all the online brokers we reviewed.
  • Portfolio Maestro, TradeStation’s portfolio analysis feature, offers advanced analytics to optimize your trading strategies. Find out what is working and keep it up, or find out what’s not working and fix it.
  • TradeStation also offers futures, futures options, and cryptocurrency trading. However, these capabilities are not integrated into the main platform.

Cons Explained

  • Learning to use the TradeStation platform well enough to develop your own trading system will take some time. Though they call the development language EasyLanguage, it isn’t particularly easy to learn.
  • You have to navigate to a separate website to access TradeStation’s education offerings supplied by its new subsidiary, YouCanTrade. Similarly, the AI-powered help app, TSbot, is not yet very helpful, frequently answering, “Oops, I may not have been trained on that yet. Can you please rephrase and try once again?”
  • Fixed income transactions must be placed with a live broker, and there is no international trading available.

Usability

TradeStation’s usability has been improving over time. During 2020, TradeStation refreshed its account opening process and streamlined it as much as is legally possible—six steps—with your progress clearly illustrated. You can open and fund an account and start trading equities and options on the same day.

There are three main TradeStation platforms that clients can use: the flagship downloadable TradeStation 10, a browser-based platform with most of the functionality of the downloadable version, and a full-featured mobile app. Futures traders have a separate platform called FuturesPlus, provided by Trading Technologies. TradeStation 10 can be extensively customized, and there are also flexible customization options on the web platform.

There are approximately 85 third-party applications that can connect to TradeStation’s trading engine via API, including TradingView, Yahoo Finance, and VectorVest. If you have a favorite analytical platform, you can easily check to see that it can be linked to TradeStation.

All asset classes that a client is eligible to trade can also be accessed on the mobile app. Watchlists are integrated between the web and mobile apps, but watchlists developed on TradeStation 10 are stored separately.

Trade Experience

The first screen you’ll see after logging into either the downloadable platform or the web platform is TradeStation Today, which includes featured videos, links to workspaces, the broker’s Twitter feed, and an economic calendar. The web platform has most of the downloadable platform’s toolset, but it is a little easier to use due to its tabbed layout simplifying some of the menu-based navigation. All data streams in real-time across TradeStation. You can place, modify, and cancel trades from charts or by using keyboard shortcuts. TradeStation’s trade ticket is called Matrix, and it adapts to the asset class you’re trading. Hovering your mouse over a bid or ask price opens a trade ticket, which you can then modify prior to sending the order.

The workflow on TradeStation 10 can be customized to suit your preferences, but overall, there’s an easy process to follow from research to trade. Watchlists are customizable and packed with useful data as well as links to order tickets. All platforms allow conditional orders and bracket orders, while the desktop platform offers additional advanced order types, including trading algorithms that seek out liquidity for equities and options. TradeStation offers connectivity to about 40 equities, options, and futures market centers, though some data requires an additional subscription fee.

Mobile Trade Experience

Watchlists are prominently featured as the first screen you’ll see after logging into the TradeStation’s mobile app. Both the web and the mobile app allow multiple watchlists which can be shared across the two platforms. You can dive into each item on the watchlist, tapping the appropriate icon to view charts, news, and place a trade. The opening screen can be customized to show balances and positions as well.

Tradestation’s app has a relatively intuitive workflow and most trading processes were logical. Trading options is quite easy on the mobile app; reversing or rolling an options strategy can be done with a couple of taps.

Range of Offerings

TradeStation offers a large range of assets, including some less traditional ones like cryptocurrencies. TradeStation offers equity, options, futures, and futures options trading online. Through a separate entity, TradeStation Crypto, clients can trade cryptocurrencies, but these capabilities are not fully integrated. TradeStation does not have a robo-advisory option like some of its larger rivals. The broker also lacks forex trading and fractional share trading. Beyond that, however, investors can trade the following:

  • Stocks long and short (nearly 3,000 on the easy-to-borrow list for short sales)
  • OTCBB (Penny stocks)
  • Mutual funds can be traded with broker assistance
  • Bonds (Corporate, Municipal, Treasury, and CDs) can be traded with broker assistance
  • Futures and futures options
  • Simple and multi-leg options (up to four legs)
  • Cryptocurrency trading on TradeStation Crypto (not integrated)

Order Types

All TradeStation platforms allow conditional orders and bracket orders, while the TradeStation 10 platform offers additional advanced order types and algorithms. Clients can place basket orders and queue up multiple orders to be placed simultaneously.

You can change the default tax lot relief method assigned to your account for each asset type traded (stocks, options, etc.) through the Gain/Loss Tax Management feature within the Client Center in advance of the trade. After a trade is placed, but prior to settlement, you can adjust the tax method through the Gain/Loss Tax Management feature. Other adjustments require that you speak to a live broker.

Trading Technology

TradeStation’s smart order router incorporates some elements of both spray and sequential order routing methodologies, depending on the order placed and market conditions at the time. These methodologies are fundamentally based on an assumption that what is displayed in the market depth (price and size) is what is actually available, though there is much more liquidity thanks to hidden orders and dark pools, and therefore, there is opportunity for price improvement and better execution quality. Based on this, TradeStation employs logic intended to seek out and capture as much price improvement and hidden size as reasonably possible within a reasonable period of time.

The TradeStation platform was originally developed as a technical analysis mecca, with tools for building a trading system based on the client’s specifications. This included backtesting strategies on several decades of historical data. Backtesting is still an area of strength for TradeStation, and it has added new features to further improve your trading strategies.

Costs

TradeStation, with its history of catering to very frequent traders, has quite a few pricing plans from which to choose. The most recent plans offer some free trades, while the legacy plans offer discounts to extremely frequent traders. During the price-cutting flurry of fall 2020, Tradestation introduced two new pricing plans that both feature commission-free equity trades and options transactions with no per-leg fee. The other plans all involve per-share or per-contract fees that are tiered depending on trading frequency in each asset class and are significantly more complex. You can find the full details on TradeStation’s pricing page.   We’ll look at the costs in the new pricing plans.

  • TradeStation charges no commissions for online equity, ETF, or OTCBB (penny stock) trades for the first 10,000 shares in the order. Shares over 10,000 incur a $0.005 per share fee.
  • There is no per-leg commission on options trades. Per-contract commissions are $0.60 ($0.50 for TS GO).
  • An order for 50 options contracts is $30.00 ($25 for TS GO).
  • Covered call trade of 500 shares plus five contracts would cost $3.00 ($2.50 for TS GO).
  • Mutual fund commission for funds outside the No Transaction Fee program is $14.95.
  • Fixed income trades, placed with a live broker, are $14.95 plus $5 per bond. This is higher than most brokers that enable fixed income transactions.
  • Margin interest ranges from 9.5% for $10,000 balance to 8.75% for over $100,000 as of Jan. 2020. This is about average overall, though it’s high for brokers that cater to frequent traders. Customers with over $2 million in margin debt pay 3.5% interest.
  • Futures transaction fees are $1.50 per contract per side plus exchange fees ($0.85 for TS GO). Note that this is a separate account from the equities and options brokerage.
  • Cryptocurrency fees depend on the customer’s account balance, ranging from 0.50% of the transaction value for clients with under $100,000 to 0.125% for clients with more than $1 million. Trades that add liquidity are free for clients with over $100,000 in their accounts. Note that this is a separate account from the equities and options brokerage.
  • Transferring an account costs $125. Transferring an IRA adds a $35 custodial fee and $50 IRA termination fee.
  • Sending a wire is $25 domestic, $35 international. No charge to send a paper check.
  • Voluntary reorganization fee for corporate actions is $50.
  • Paper statements incur a $1 fee per page. Trade confirmations are also $1 per page.
  • Live broker fee is $50 per trade across asset classes.
  • TS SELECT and TS GO accounts carry an annual inactivity fee of $50 that is waived if the client maintains an average end of month balance of greater than $2,000 or has placed at least five trades in the previous 12 months.

How This Broker Makes Money From You and for You

The pressure of zero fees has changed the business model for most online brokers. In lieu of fees, the way brokers make money from you is less obvious—as are some of the subtle ways they make money for you.

  • Interest on cash: Like most brokers, TradeStation generates interest income from the difference between what you are paid on your idle cash and what they can earn on customer cash balances. TradeStation clients do not earn interest on idle cash, so this is all profit for TradeStation. You can call the trade desk to move cash into or out of a money market fund.
  • Payment for order flow: Quite a few brokers generate income by accepting payment from market makers for directing its customer’s equity and options orders to those trading venues. This is called payment for order flow. TradeStation accepts an average of $0.0018 per share in PFOF on equity trades and $0.41 or less per contract for options trades. These rates are below average for the online brokerage space.
  • Price improvement: TradeStation’s order router seeks out liquidity and price improvement while executing your order in a reasonable amount of time. On average, TradeStation equity orders receive $0.005 per share in price improvement and approximately $4 per contract on options orders. The latter is very high and a benefit to options traders using the platform.
  • Stock loan programs: These programs generate revenue for brokers when the stock held in your account is loaned to another trader or hedge fund, usually for the purposes of selling that stock short. TradeStation has a Fully Paid Stock Lending program that clients can opt in to, and they share 30% of the revenue with the client holding the stock. You must have a minimum account of $25,000 to take advantage of this. 
  • Portfolio margining: TradeStation does not offer portfolio margining, which can lower the amount of margin needed based on the overall risk calculated. Given the terrific risk management tools built into the platforms, it’s surprising that portfolio margining is not available. Typically, portfolio margining works best for customers who trade derivatives that offset the risk inherent in their equity positions.

Account Amenities

  • TradeStation does not offer portfolio margining
  • TradeStation has a Fully Paid Stock Lending program that clients can opt in to, and they share 30% of the revenue with the client holding the stock 
  • There is no interest paid on uninvested cash
  • Clients must telephone the trade desk to move cash into or out of a money market fund
  • Clients cannot enroll in dividend reinvestment programs

Research Amenities

Given TradeStation’s legacy as a technical analysis platform, it offers some excellent research capabilities. Most of the tools emphasize technical triggers using charting functions.

Stock and ETF Screeners

RadarScreen and Hot Lists allow very specific screening capabilities. You can screen on technical or fundamental data. There are dozens of screeners already programmed into the TradeStation 10 platform, or you can customize your own. RadarScreen lets you build a list of up to 2,000 stocks that you can continuously monitor in real-time, based on more than 180 technical and fundamental criteria. It’s one of the best stock and ETF screeners offered by any online brokerage.

Options Screeners

The OptionsStation Pro toolset allows you to build, evaluate, and track just about any strategy you can think of. It includes visual representations of options chains that let you see your strategy’s break-even probability across a series of expiration dates. You can use Hot Lists to find options opportunities as well.

Mutual Fund Screener

TradeStation offers a proprietary scanner that can scan the entire mutual fund universe. This isn’t a fund-focused broker, though, so the scanner could best be described as rudimentary—especially in comparison to the stock, ETF, and options screeners.

Fixed Income Screener

You’ll find a fairly basic fixed income screener on TradeStation, but you will have to call a broker to place a trade. Investors who are primarily focused on fixed income and require more detailed screening criteria should look elsewhere.

Tools and Calculators

TradeStation doesn’t offer the typical calculators, such as those devoted to retirement planning, that you might find on other sites. Its tools are all geared to active traders, such as time and sales, market depth, and snapshots that show how your positions are performing.

Trading Idea Generator

Hot Lists are available on all platforms, including mobile. TradeStation’s RadarScreen offers endless sorting and screening possibilities. You can open a hotlist inside RadarScreen to further filter and screen. The Trader Concierge feature generates trading idea alerts.

The TradeStation 10 platform has a News tab on the right-hand side of the screen that can be set up to show a headline only or a headline and an accompanying graphic. You can symbol link positions and watchlists to stream news or filter the news by a topic such as energy or cannabis. The general market news displays on the TradeStation Today page. TradeStation’s in-house market commentary, called TradeStation Market Insights, is available on the desktop platform and is updated five to ten times during the trading day.

Third-Party Research

There is limited third-party research built into the TradeStation platforms, but you can subscribe to tools and research through the Trading App Store. Most of these add-ons incur some additional cost, however. There are also no analyst reports available.

Charting

TradeStation offers top-end charting capabilities on all of its platforms. The web charting has been greatly enhanced and includes all streaming real-time data with the ability to add overlays and all kinds of indicators. TradeStation 10 offers incredible charting capability based on tick data. Automated technical analysis was also added to charting, displaying technical patterns on the charts as they form. You can trade directly from a chart, including previewing a closing bracket order on a chart. The order ticket can be modified by dragging and dropping closing price targets onto the chart. This is one of the best charting applications available from any broker, and it is especially notable for how well it is integrated with TradeStation’s order management system.

Portfolio Analysis

The Portfolio Maestro includes analytics, optimization, and performance reporting to give traders a realistic perspective of their portfolio. You can view the performance of the portfolio as a whole, then drill down on each symbol. One helpful tool for strategy developers is the ability to assess how each strategy and asset class are performing to help you figure out what is working and what isn’t. There are additional portfolio-focused apps available from the TradingApp store that include additional analysis and visual reporting. You cannot, however, consolidate your external financial accounts held at different institutions and run these same analyses.

All balance, position, and margin data is presented in real-time. The Gain/Loss Tax Management feature calculates cost basis for your closed positions, but you can’t run an analysis on a potential trade.

You can use the charting features to create a trading journal. A visual representation of each trade can appear on a chart of the financial instrument (stock future, etc.) being traded, and customers can add notes to those charts.

Education

TradeStation says it does not directly provide education services anymore now that it has acquired YouCanTrade.com. It’s Learn page directs you to investment and trading educational presentations and materials on YouCanTrade’s website.   Courses that focus on how to use the TradeStation platforms are offered free of charge; other topics require a subscription.

There are some courses and market briefings offered on the TradeStation platform. TradeStation’s Knowledge Center appears to be undergoing a remodel. The articles are not as easy to find as they were a few months ago. TradeStation’s frequently-asked questions page leads with TSbot, which is the TradeStation chatbot. As mentioned, TSbot is not yet very helpful, frequently answering, “Oops, I may not have been trained on that yet. Can you please rephrase and try once again?” 

One incredibly valuable tool for traders looking to learn is TradeStation’s trading simulator, which has all the tools you’ll find on TradeStation 10. This includes the large historical database for backtesting strategies, though the simulator itself uses delayed data. 

Customer Service

  • Phone support 8 a.m.–8 p.m. ET (trading desk hours differ by asset)
  • Online chat with a human agent
  • Chatbot on the website
  • During market hours, a live broker is available to answer questions; orders placed with a live broker incur a $50 surcharge

Security

TradeStation security is up to industry standards:

  • Two-factor authentication is available.
  • Biometric (face or fingerprint) login for mobile devices.
  • In 2020, the firm implemented technology designed to detect attempted fraudulent account openings, and it added enhancements to safeguard against fraudulent cash transfers out of client accounts.
  • TradeStation carries excess Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) insurance provided by Lloyd’s of London with an aggregate limit of $300 million to pay amounts in addition to those returned in a SIPC liquidation. The maximum for any single customer is $24.5 million with a cash limit of $900,000 per customer.
  • Through Nov. 2020, there were no significant data breaches at any TradeStation location reported by the Identity Theft Research Center. 

Our Verdict

TradeStation has put a great deal of effort into making themselves more attractive to the mainstream investor, but the platform is still best suited for the active, technically-minded trader. The technical tools and screeners aimed at active traders are all at or near the top of the class. One thing we’d like to see is the futures and cryptocurrency trading platforms integrated into the equity/options platforms to provide a single interface experience. Despite this minor annoyance, the focus on technical research and quality trade executions make TradeStation a great choice for active traders. Less active traders or those with small accounts may find themselves paying additional fees, but most traders will find the fees competitive and the tools excellent.

In contrast, the tools aimed at regular investors, including the mutual fund and fixed income screeners, are a noticeable step down. TradeStation is clearly taking steps towards being more friendly to retail investors, but it has a long way to go in this regard. This isn’t the place for an investor who wants to “set it and forget it” or needs educational resources to get started. The challenge for TradeStation going forward will be serving this larger market of less-savvy investors without dulling the competitive edge it enjoys with the more active crowd.

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