Tradestation vs IBKR

Tradestation vs Interactive Brokers


Tradestation versus Interactive Brokers: compare IBKR TWS and TS trading platforms, mobile apps, charting and other tools.


TradeStation vs. Interactive Brokers Introduction


If you’re an active trader who demands the highest level of software and services, you probably have heard of TradeStation and Interactive Brokers. Our research reveals that one has a clear advantage over the other.


Pricing


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Tradestation $0 $14.95 $0.50 per contract $0 $0
IB $0 $14.95 $0.70 per contract $0 $30


Services


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


Promotion Links


Interactive Brokers: Use this referral link to get up to $1,000 of IBKR stock for free!

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



Available Assets


Interactive Brokers:

For retail investors, Interactive Brokers offers self-directed accounts, and these are the account types we will be focusing on. The brokerage firm does have accounts for institutions like hedge funds and mutual funds. It also has accounts for family advisors, although there are no robo accounts.

Interactive Brokers specializes in global trading. As such, an IB account has access to many foreign exchanges. These are generally in Europe, Asia, and North America.

On the large list of exchanges, there are many investment vehicles that can be traded. They include:

  • Fixed income
  • Stocks
  • Options
  • Funds (mutual, closed-end, and exchange-traded)
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Futures
  • Forex
  • Warrants
  • Precious metals
  • Contracts for difference


TradeStation:

TradeStation also is a self-directed broker. It has corporate accounts but does not have the institutional account offerings that Interactive Brokers has.

TradeStation also doesn’t have the same breadth of product lineup. Subtract warrants, precious metals, CFDs, and forex to get to TradeStation’s offering.

For foreign assets, TradeStation offers the TradeStation Global account. This is actually in partnership with Interactive Brokers, so the list of available assets will be a duplicate of what we just looked at above, except with TradeStation’s software. Interactive Brokers’ software is also available with this account.

Winner: Interactive Brokers


Website Trading


Interactive Brokers:

Speaking of software, Interactive Brokers has a very good website with trading capability. Called the Client Portal, it comes with an artificial intelligence named iBot. During our testing of the software, it did a decent, but not great, job of answering questions.


Interactive Brokers vs TradeStation


The order ticket on the Client Portal has 6 trade types. These include limit on the close and market on the close. Bracket orders can be turned on with toggle switches. There’s also a Price Management Algo option.

Charts on the Client Portal borrow software from TradingView, which means there’s a total full-screen viewing mode. There are 11 plot styles and close to 100 technical studies.


TradeStation:

TradeStation has an actual platform that sits in a discrete browser window. The site itself is just used for basic account management. On the platform, we didn’t find an AI, although we did find a basic order ticket with 6 trade types. There aren’t any on-the-close orders, although there are some trailing and stop orders.


TradeStation vs Interactive Brokers


An advanced tab on the ticket delivers some really high-level trade types, including these:

- Entry Long – with exit – stop limit only
- Exit – 1 limit and 1 stop limit level

Charts on TradeStation’s platform have 4 plot styles and about half the technical studies on IB’s Client Portal.

Winner: Draw


Desktop Software


Interactive Brokers:

Traders who demand more than the Client Portal may find what they need with Trader Workstation. This is Interactive Brokers’ very advanced desktop program. It comes with lots of professional-level tools for options trading and order entry. During our investigation, we found these highlights:


IBKR vs TradeStation


  • Probability lab
  • Option strategy lab
  • Volatility skew
  • Bloomberg video news
  • Multiple layouts
  • Time & sales data

iBot makes another appearance on the desktop platform, and there’s a simulated mode that is really helpful in learning the software. No account is needed with Interactive Brokers to download the platform and practice trading on it.


TradeStation:

TradeStation’s desktop platform doesn’t have an artificial intelligence, although it does offer paper trading. An account must be opened with TradeStation before downloading the software, and that account must be funded in order to log into the platform.


TradeStation or IBKR


Several nice tools are available on TradeStation’s desktop program:

- RadarScreen®, a real-time equity screener
- Back-testing tools
- OptionStation Pro, a discrete application for options trading with profit-loss diagrams in 3D

Although TradeStation’s platform has advanced charting and trade tickets like Trader Workstation, it doesn’t have any video news.

TradeStation’s desktop platform currently has a TradingApp Store where add-ons can be purchased. However, this digital store will be closed in September of 2022.

Winner: Interactive Brokers


Mobile Apps


Interactive Brokers:

As with its desktop platform, Interactive Brokers’ mobile app can be used both by guests and account holders. It has three modes: live, paper trading, and demo. The demo mode is for guests, although IB customers can use it, too.


Interactive Brokers vs TradeStation


The app has very good charting. A graph can be displayed horizontally with several technical indicators. There are two order tickets (one vertical and one horizontal) with a variety of trade types and advanced features.

iBot and mobile check deposit are integrated, but Bloomberg TV has been left out.


TradeStation:

The TradeStation app doesn’t have video news, mobile check deposit, or an AI. Graphs are on a lower level than those we found on the Interactive Brokers app, primarily due to display problems on an iPhone 6.


TradeStation app


But the order ticket on TradeStation’s app is very good. The same order types on the company’s browser platform are available, including the advanced types, such as bracket and OCO orders.

Winner: Interactive Brokers


Margin


Margin trading is of course available at both of these trading powerhouses.

Interactive Brokers:

Clients signed up on the IBKR Lite schedule pay a flat 4.08% across all debit levels. Simple enough. IBKR Pro customers get reduced rates ranging from 3.08% to2.08%.

Accounts denominated in currencies besides the U.S. dollar have a wide variety of margin rates.


TradeStation:

TradeStation has only one margin schedule because only U.S. currency is accepted. The tiered system starts at 9.5% and ends at 3.5%.

Winner: Interactive Brokers


Day Trading


Leverage: TradeStation and Interactive Brokers both offer 4:1 leverage for the day trading of equities.

Routing Fees and Rebates: Interactive Brokers and TradeStation both have maker-taker fees.

Shorting: Short positions can be established at both broker-dealers in this competition.

Extended Hours: Pre-market and after-hours trading are both available at Interactive Brokers and TradeStation. The latter firm has a shorter morning session.

Level II Quotes: Available at both firms (for a fee).

Direct-access Routing: Orders can be routed to specific ECNs at TradeStation and Interactive Brokers.

Winner: Slight advantage to Interactive Brokers


Other Services


Banking Tools: Interactive Brokers has a debit Mastercard. TradeStation does not.

Fractional-Share Trading: Only available at Interactive Brokers for stocks and ETFs. For cryptocurrencies, both firms have fractional-coin trading.

DRIP Service: TradeStation has no dividend reinvestment plan of any kind. Interactive Brokers offers a DRIP for stocks but not for ETFs.

Individual Retirement Accounts: Interactive Brokers has Roth, Traditional, Rollover, Inherited, and SEP accounts. TradeStation has Roth, Traditional, Crypto, Futures, Rollover, Inherited, SEP, and SIMPLE accounts. TradeStation’s IRAs have fees, which vary depending on whether they are crypto, securities, or futures accounts. Interactive Brokers’ IRAs have no fees.

Initial Public Offerings: Available with a TradeStation account. An Interactive Brokers account based in Hong Kong can access IPOs on the Hong Kong exchange.

Recurring Purchases of Mutual Funds: Neither firm offers the ability to set up systematic purchases of mutual funds.

Winner: Interactive Brokers


Now, Our Recommendations


Beginners: TradeStation’s browser platform would be a good place to start.

Stock & ETF Trading: For its very thorough asset research tools and fractional-share trading, we endorse Interactive Brokers.

Mutual Fund Trading: Interactive Brokers has a mutual fund screener and a list of no-transaction-fee funds. TradeStation has neither.

Small Accounts: TradeStation continues to charge a yearly $50 inactivity fee. Although it could be avoided in a couple of ways, Interactive Brokers has no such fee, so we recommend Interactive Brokers (with the IKBR Lite commission schedule).

Long-Term Investors & Retirement Savers: Although TradeStation has a longer list of IRAs, we like Interactive Brokers for its list of mutual funds with no transaction fees. Plus, it has more account types overall.


Promotions


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

Interactive Brokers: Use this referral link to get up to $1,000 of IBKR stock for free!



Interactive Brokers vs Tradestation Judgment


Interactive Brokers has performed better than TradeStation in this survey. Where TradeStation really shines is in its IPO service, and for that reason, it may be worth opening an account.


Updated on 7/7/2022.


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.