Charles Schwab vs TradeStation (2024)


Compare TradeStation versus Charles Schwab - which is better for fees, IRA/Roth accounts, mobile app, online stock trading, and mutual funds investing in 2024?


TradeStation vs. Schwab Introduction


Sophisticated trading experiences can easily be had at both Schwab and TradeStation. To figure out which broker-dealer you should pick, keep reading.


Services


Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
Charles Schwab
Tradestation


Commissions


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Charles Schwab $0 $49.95 ($0 to sell) $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Tradestation $0 $14.95 $0.50 per contract $120* $35


Promotions


Charles Schwab: $0 commissions + satisfaction guarantee at Charles Schwab.

TradeStation: Get up to $150 cash bonus with a $5,000+ qualifying deposit



Investment Lineups


Schwab traders get to buy and sell equities, option contracts, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, closed-end funds, bonds, and futures. TradeStation has the same list of asset classes.

One thing that Schwab offers that TradeStation doesn’t is managed accounts. Both automated and human packages are available, and management fees can be as low as 0%.

A wide range of account types are available at both firms, including trusts, corporate accounts, and custodial accounts. Only Schwab has a self-employed 401k.

Both brokerage firms offer trading in foreign securities and accounts for non-US residents. Only TradeStation has an annual inactivity fee (currently $50).

Winner: Small advantage to Schwab


Margin


Cash and margin accounts are available at both TradeStation and Schwab. Both firms publish lists of margin requirements for specific securities, which is helpful for obvious reasons.

Only Schwab has a web-based tool to upgrade a cash account to margin ability online (a margin account can’t be downgraded online to cash status, though).

Pricing at both firms is on a tiered schedule. Schwab’s system starts at 11.825% and ends at 13.575%. TradeStation customers pay anywhere between 12.5% and 13.5%. Debit balances above $500k receive negotiated rates.

Winner: Pretty even overall


Websites


TradeStation’s website is used for account management tasks, such as downloading trade confirmations and checking on an account’s balance details. Trades of most asset classes do not take place on the site itself, although there is a mutual fund trade ticket on the site.


TradeStation vs Schwab


For everything else, there are separate platforms that should be launched from the site. These will create separate tabs within the browsing window.

Equity traders have their own platform. The order ticket on the securities platform is very advanced, though. It has bracket, OCO, OSO, and trailing orders, for example. Charting can be accomplished in full-screen mode with many tools.

Over at Schwab, there is only one web-browser platform, although the website itself has some very good tools. There are multiple trade tickets, and combined, they offer some of the order types we found at TradeStation. Charting is on a high level at Schwab, too, especially on its browser platform.


Schwab or TradeStation


The primary difference between the two firms in this category is that TradeStation’s platform has direct-access routing and paper trading, but Schwab’s does not.

Winner: Pretty close overall


Mobile Apps


TradeStation’s mobile app also provides simulated trading and direct access to specific ECNs and market venues. Schwab’s app doesn’t offer these unique features. However, it does deliver some really nice resources that TradeStation’s app doesn’t have. These tools include video and audio news of the day’s market moves, a virtual help bot, mobile check deposit, bill pay, and so much more.


TradeStation vs Charles Schwab


But Schwab’s app doesn’t have the advanced trade types that TradeStation’s app delivers. A second app at Schwab, however, does improve the situation. Called thinkorswim Mobile, it offers trailing, contingent on price, OTO, and other advanced trade types.


Schwab vs TradeStation


Winner: Draw


Desktop Platforms


The software battle continues on the two companies’ desktop platforms. TradeStation 10 is TradeStation’s desktop software, while Schwab has christened its program thinkorswim.


TradeStation vs Schwab


Edge offers free technical analysis from Recognia, profit-loss diagrams, integrated option spreads, and many more useful tools.


Schwab vs TradeStation


TradeStation 10 has OptionStation Pro, a discrete options platform with a lot of useful tools. Other really nice features include a price ladder, a walk-forward optimizer, time & sales data, a quick trade bar, and so much more.

Winner: TradeStation


Day Trading


Shorting: Both broker-dealers permit short positions. Only TradeStation publishes a list of securities that are easy to borrow.

Routing Fees and Rebates: Fees and rebates for trading are available only at TradeStation.

Extended Hours: Early-morning and late-night trading are possible at either firm.

Level II Quotes: Both firms have them.

Direct-access Routing: Available on thinkorswim and all platforms at TradeStation. TradeStation has more venues.

Winner: TradeStation


Additional Services


DRIP Service: Available only inside a Schwab account.

Initial Public Offerings: Available at Schwab and TradeStation (with ClickIPO).

Fractional Shares: Schwab offers the same for the 500 stocks that make up the S&P Index.

Individual Retirement Accounts: TradeStation offers securities and futures IRAs. These have various fees. The securities IRA has a $35 yearly fee and a $50 closeout fee. Schwab has no such fees, although it is not possible to trade futures contracts in a Schwab IRA. Schwab has a Minor IRA, which TradeStation doesn’t have.

Banking Tools: Schwab has an FDIC-insured bank with lots of cash management resources, including a debit card with fee-free ATM withdrawals all over the globe. TradeStation does not offer these perks.

Periodic Mutual Fund Investing: Only available inside a Schwab account.

Winner: Schwab


Our Recommendations


Beginning Investors: A managed account with Schwab.

Stock and ETF Trading: Both firms have very good software, although TradeStation delivers the more advanced experience. Schwab has better security research.

Small Accounts: Due to zero account fees, Schwab is better for self-directed trading (an automated account requires $5k).

Mutual Funds: Schwab has better mutual fund resources, including a very good screener.

Retirement Planning and Long-Term Investing: Only Schwab has human investment advisor representatives, lifecycle mutual funds, retirement calculators, and solo 401k plans.


Promotions


Charles Schwab: $0 commissions + satisfaction guarantee at Charles Schwab.

TradeStation: Get up to $150 cash bonus with a $5,000+ qualifying deposit



Tradestation vs Schwab Outcome


Schwab does a better job of delivering a holistic financial experience with bank accounts, investment advice, financial planning, and more. High-powered traders will want to choose TradeStation, though.


Updated on 5/20/2024.


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.