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.


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


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


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


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


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, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.