TD Ameritrade vs TradeStation


TradeStation Securities against TD Ameritrade - which is better in 2022? Compare IRA/Roth accounts, online investing fees, stock broker mutual fund rates, and differences.


TradeStation vs TD Ameritrade Rivalry


If you’re looking for a broker that specializes in advanced trading with today’s highest level of software, look no further than TradeStation and TD Ameritrade. But which one should you choose? Make sure you look over our research before making a decision.


Cost Comparison


Broker Review Broker
Rating
Stock/ETF
Fee
Mutual Fund
Fee
Option Promotion Offer
TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade rating

$0 $49.99 ($0 to sell) $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.
Tradestation
Tradestation rating

$0 $14.95 $0.50 $150 cash bonus when you transfer funds into TradeStation.


Services


Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
TD Ameritrade
Tradestation


First Category: Available Investments


A self-directed account at TD Ameritrade opens up the possibility of investing in the following asset classes:

  • Mutual funds
  • Closed-end funds
  • Exchange-traded funds
  • Stocks (including OTC instruments)
  • Fixed income
  • Annuities
  • Forex
  • Futures

TradeStation customers lose annuities and forex but gain access to the cryptocurrency market. There are currently four coins available for trading plus one stablecoin. Through a partnership with Interactive Brokers, TradeStation also delivers access to foreign exchanges, a great service not available through TD Ameritrade.

The above assets are for self-directed accounts only. Although TradeStation only has self-directed trading, TD Ameritrade offers more: managed accounts. These are accounts that investment advisors manage on behalf of clients. For a small fee (less than 1.0% per annum), customers can get personalized financial advice (in traditional format only) and a portfolio constructed of stocks, bonds, and funds.

Winner: Debatable, but TradeStation seems to be more forward looking


Second Category: Day Trading


Level II quotes: Both brokerage firms in this contest deliver Level II data. TradeStation charges for it. TD Ameritrade does not.

Maker-taker fees: Rebates and fees are available to TradeStation clients, but not to TD Ameritrade customers.

Direct-access routing: Available at both brokers.

Shorting: TradeStation has a short locate tool on its desktop platform (discussed up ahead). TD Ameritrade does not have this.

Winner: TradeStation


Third Category: Websites


Now, can we finally start trading? TradeStation has a good website for this. Clicking the log in button at the top of the firm’s website generates a pop-up window with several choices.

The client center is where you’ll find basic account management services like funds transfer and a document library. For actual trading, there are three platforms to choose from: a futures platform, a crypto platform, and something called Web Trading. This last one is for securities.


TradeStation vs Ameritrade


The securities platform has a demo mode, which is a great place to start. It’s not that difficult to learn. During our experience with it, we found the trade ticket to be very valuable. It has multiple trade types, lots of duration choices, direct-access routing with several venues, and a discrete color-coded sell short button.

Charts on the securities platform are easy to use and provide some drawing tools and several technical studies. Right-click trading is another highlight. The futures and crypto platforms are more elementary but must be used to trade those products.

TD Ameritrade has no browser platform at all. Instead, its website is designed for order entry (the TradeStation website is not). At the bottom of TD Ameritrade’s website sits SnapTicket, the broker’s custom-designed trade bar. During our trial of it, we found it easy to use. Real-time data is displayed on it, and it’s easy to submit orders on the fly.


TD Ameritrade versus Trade Station


Charts on the TD Ameritrade site are available in several styles. Technical indicators are also on tap, but there are no drawing tools (except for trendlines).

TD Ameritrade’s website has no simulated-trading mode, a notable weakness compared to its rival here.

Winner: TradeStation


Fourth Category: Desktop Programs


Although TD Ameritrade failed to add practice trading to its website, it remembered on its desktop platform. Called thinkorswim, this piece of software delivers a professional-level trading experience with no account minimums or trading requirements.

thinkorswim has very advanced charting with hundreds of technical indicators and a right-click menu that provides many choices, including alert creation and trade links.





The order ticket on thinkorswim has some really complex order types, including 1st triggers OCO, trailing stop limit, and market on close.

Video networks from CNBC and TD Ameritrade Network add to the overall experience.


TD Ameritrade or Trade Station


TradeStation doesn’t offer any video news on its desktop platform, but like its browser cousin and thinkorswim, it does have simulated trading.


TradeStation or Ameritrade


TradeStation recently launched TradeStation 10, its latest desktop software upgrade. To submit orders on it without incurring any commissions, clients must sign up on the TS Select pricing plan, which requires a $2,000 deposit.

Despite the account requirement, TradeStation 10 does have some very good features. These include many more venues for direct-access routing than thinkorswim has, excellent charting, and an app store where additional widgets can be purchased.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Fifth Category: Mobile Apps


The TradeStation mobile app is available to customers on all pricing plans. It continues the broker’s tradition of providing many order types (trades such as one cancels other are available). Direct-access routing is also on the mobile app, and we did like the incorporation of technical studies in the app’s charting program.


TradeStation review


But TD Ameritrade has more technical studies in its thinkorswim app, which is just one of two apps the broker-dealer has. There is live streaming of CNBC, mobile check deposit, and a great deal of market news on the two available apps.


TD Ameritrade or Trade Station


To top it off, TD Ameritrade has a platform for Apple Watch. TradeStation does not.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Sixth Category: Margin


Trading with borrowed funds is possible at either broker in this survey. TD Ameritrade has three levels below $50,000:

For margin debit up to $10k margin rate is 10.25%
Up to $25k margin rate is 10%
Up to $50k margin rate is 9.75%

TradeStation has just one level below $50,000. The interest rate is 9.5%.

Above $2 million, TradeStation charges a very low 3.5%. TD Ameritrade customers who actually borrow that much receive negotiated rates.

Winner: Most traders will probably stay below $50,000, so we will pick TD Ameritrade


Seventh Category: Extra Services


Extended Hours: Both firms have pre-market and after-hours trading in securities. TD Ameritrade has a longer morning session. Plus, it also has overnight trading in some funds. As with other brokerage firms, cryptocurrencies at TradeStation can be traded around the clock.

DRIP: Despite TradeStation’s many advantages, it still does not offer dividend reinvesting for stocks and ETFs. TD Ameritrade does.

Fractional Shares of Stocks: Not available at either broker.

Individual Retirement Accounts: Both have IRAs.

Periodic Mutual Fund Investing: Only available through TD Ameritrade.

Public Offerings: Both firms offer access to stocks before they begin trading.

Cash Management Features: Available at TD Ameritrade, but not at TradeStation.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Recommendations


Mutual Fund Trading: Although TradeStation offers mutual funds, it doesn’t provide a fund screener, analyst ratings, fund information, or much of the information that TD Ameritrade does. Easy choice.

ETF & Stock Trading: This one comes down to the software you prefer, which is inherently subjective. We do lean towards TD Ameritrade for better stock and ETF research tools.

Small Accounts: In some areas, TradeStation still caters to large accounts. We endorse TD Ameritrade.

Beginners: Although both firms do have online learning materials, we lean towards TD Ameritrade for its portfolio management, in-person learning events, and 24/7 customer service, all of which will benefit beginners.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: Does TradeStation offer annuities? No. Does TradeStation have 401k’s? No. Does TradeStation charge IRA annual and termination fees? Yes. Easy choice.


Promotions


TD Ameritrade: $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.

TradeStation: $150 cash bonus when you transfer funds into TradeStation.



TradeStation vs TD Ameritrade Verdict


TradeStation continues to excel for day and swing traders, and its global trading and new crypto service are both very attractive. For other types of trading and investing, TD Ameritrade appears to be the better choice.


About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for Brokerage-Review.com, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.