Tradestation vs E*TRADE (2024)


Compare E*TRADE vs Tradestation (TS): which firm/platform is better for IRA accounts, online trading/options fees, and stock broker tools.


TradeStation vs. E*Trade Introduction


E*Trade is more popular than TradeStation. Does that mean E*Trade is the better online broker? Let's find out.


Cost


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Etrade $0 $0 $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Tradestation $0 $14.95 $0.50 per contract $120* $35


Services


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


Promotions


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

E*Trade: Get zero commission on stock and ETF trades.



Investment Lineups


TradeStation is a self-directed brokerage firm that offers the following investment options:

  • Bonds and bond equivalents
  • Stocks (including over-the-counter and foreign stocks)
  • Options
  • Futures
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Closed-end funds

E*Trade does not offer foreign stocks but doesn’t have an inactivity fee, unlike TradeStation, which charges $50.

Only E*Trade offers an investment-advisory service. This robo-advisory service costs 0.30% per year and requires a $500 minimum investment. It trades ETFs with low expense ratios.

E*Trade’s self-directed accounts also have a feature called Prebuilt Portfolios, which creates a customized basket of mutual funds and ETFs for free. TradeStation does not offer a similar service.

Winner: Pretty even overall


Margin


Both firms offer margin accounts for self-directed trading, but not for robo accounts at E*Trade. Here are their margin schedules:

Debit Balance TradeStation Margin Rate
under $25,000 13.5%
$25,000 - $49,999.99 13.5%
$50,000 - $499,999.99 12.5%
$500,000+ call 800-770-4049

E*Trade has more tiers:

Debit Balance E*TRADE Margin Rates
$250,000 - $499,999.99 12.2%
$100,000 - $249,999.99 12.7%
$50,000 - $99,999.99 13.2%
$25,000 - $49,999.99 13.7%
$10,000 - $24,999.99 13.95%
$0 - $9,999.99 14.2%

E*Trade provides margin details for specific securities on its software, including margin requirements in dollar and percentage terms. TradeStation does not.

Winner: Debatable


Websites


A good place to begin trading is on a broker’s website. TradeStation and E*Trade have tools that are easy to use but powerful. TradeStation’s site is quite simple and is mainly used for account management tasks like downloading confirmations and statements.


TradeStation vs E*Trade


For actual trading, TradeStation offers a browser platform launched from its website. It has many useful resources, including:

- Advanced order form
- Full-screen charting with tools
- Simulated mode for practice
- Trading matrix with order ticket at the top
- News articles with thumbnails
- Custom multi-leg order ticket - Option chains with integrated spreads and small P/L diagrams


E*Trade’s website is robust, handling both account management and trading. E*Trade also offers Power, a more advanced platform. It has a sophisticated order ticket and high-level charting.


E*Trade vs TradeStation


Power has a Quick Trade order ticket that can quickly send an order to the exchanges, and the confirmation pop-up window can be turned off for faster execution.

Winner: E*Trade


Mobile Apps


Next up is mobile apps. TradeStation has one, and E*Trade has two. TradeStation’s app has a demo mode, and one of E*Trade’s apps has the same feature. TradeStation’s mobile software offers several features worth mentioning, such as:

  • Trade ticket with account switching
  • Watchlists
  • Alerts
  • Price ladder with trading buttons (look on the Matrix tab)
  • Hot list with various filters
  • Option chains with spreads and custom orders



TradeStation or E*Trade


E*Trade’s two apps offer several features that TradeStation’s app does not, including mobile check deposit and video financial news. One of E*Trade’s apps can also trade mutual funds, which is not possible on the TradeStation app (they have to be traded on the website).


E*Trade Power review


One feature we really liked on the main E*Trade app was a screener. It can search for stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs by various criteria, such as market segment, earnings, and volume.

Winner: E*Trade


Desktop Software


Both brokerage firms offer advanced desktop trading software. E*Trade’s desktop platform is called Pro, and it lives up to its name. The program has excellent tools for both equities and options (futures need to be traded on Power). A graph can be expanded to the full width of the screen, and there’s a right-click menu with many choices.


E*Trade versus TradeStation


TradeStation 10 is TradeStation’s latest desktop program. It offers many useful features, including:

  • Advanced order ticket
  • TradeManager Analysis tool
  • Market Depth widget
  • OptionStation Pro, an advanced derivative platform
  • Trading algorithms through TSAlgos



TradeStation or E*Trade


Winner: Pretty even


Day Trading


Extended Hours: Morning and evening sessions are available at both TradeStation and E*Trade for equities. Only E*Trade has overnight trading in some ETFs. Futures trade around the clock.

Direct Access to Venues: Available on Pro (but not Power) at E*Trade. TradeStation offers direct-access routing on both its desktop and browser platforms and has more venues.

Shorting: It’s possible to enter short positions at either broker-dealer. Only TradeStation has a short locate tool.

Routing Fees and Rebates: TradeStation has them. E*Trade does not.

Level 2 Quotes: Available at either firm.

Winner: TradeStation


Extra Services


Dividend Reinvesting: Available only at E*Trade.

IRAs: Both firms offer Individual Retirement Accounts and allow trading of futures contracts in an IRA. TradeStation has an annual $35 fee for a securities IRA plus a $50 termination fee. E*Trade only has a $25 early withdrawal fee.

Cash Management Tools: Only E*Trade has its own FDIC-insured bank, offering various banking tools, including lines of credit and ATM-fee refunds.

IPOs: Stock launches are available at both firms. TradeStation customers need to use ClickIPO. E*Trade clients should head to the IPO center under the Trading tab on the website.

Fractional-share Trading: Neither brokerage offers whole-dollar investing in stocks and ETFs.

Auto Mutual Fund Purchases: Only available with an E*Trade account. Thousands of funds are available for systematic purchases.

Winner: E*Trade


Our Recommendations


Mutual Funds: E*Trade has much better fund tools, including a mutual fund screener, All-Star funds, fund profiles, a fund comparison tool, category profiles, and Prebuilt Portfolios. None of these are available at TradeStation.

Beginning Investors: An automated account at E*Trade is the easiest way to start investing. TradeStation’s software offers simulated trading, which E*Trade Pro doesn’t have (Power does have it).

Long-Term Investors & Retirement Planning: E*Trade has more retirement education on its website. Plus, we prefer its lineup of self-employed 401k plans and target-date mutual funds.

Active Stock Trading: This one is tough. We lean toward TradeStation because its software is a bit more advanced in some areas. E*Trade has better research tools, though.

Small Accounts: Due to TradeStation’s inactivity fee and IRA closeout fee, we recommend E*Trade here (its robo service requires $500 to start).


TradeStation vs E*Trade Judgement


E*Trade’s popularity does seem to translate into a better overall experience. For global stocks, though, TradeStation is worth considering.



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.