Interactive Brokers vs Tradestation


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



Overview of TradeStation and Interactive Brokers


TradeStation and Interactive Brokers are very similar in many ways. They both offer excellent software and active trader services. And which one has the upper hand? Let our research provide the answer.


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: Get $0 stock/ETF commissions.



Investment Vehicles


At Interactive Brokers, traders can buy and sell the following assets:

  • Precious metals
  • Forex
  • Futures (including Bitcoin)
  • Structured products
  • Contracts for difference
  • Warrants
  • Stocks (including penny and OTC)
  • Options (including options on futures)
  • ETFs
  • Closed-end funds
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds

That’s quite a long list. TradeStation clients get the following investment vehicles:

  • Futures
  • Stocks (including penny and over-the-counter stocks)
  • Options (including options on futures)
  • ETFs
  • Closed-end funds
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • Cryptocurrencies (Ethereum, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and XRP)

Both brokers offer access to Initial Public Offerings as well. TradeStation does have a global stock service, although it’s actually offered through Interactive Brokers, who has a much larger global investment service.

Although TradeStation does have the better crypto offering, the overall victory in this category is awarded to Interactive Brokers.


Desktop Platforms


TradeStation has a desktop platform that is free for TS Select customers. The software has some very powerful features, including a trade ticket with very advanced tools. Features include bracket orders, OCO, direct-access routing, and several duration choices.


IB vs Tradestation


Charting on TradeStation’s platform comes with some very robust tools, including drawing tools, technical studies, and an order ticket that sits to the right of the chart.

Many other widgets exist on the platform under the TradingApps menu. Highlights include an options platform, a time & sales window, and Level II quotes.

Over at Interactive Brokers, we found another desktop platform. Named Trader Workstation, this one also packs quite a punch. During our test drive of the software, we really liked the trade ticket, which sits in the top-left of the platform. It has many of the same features that TradeStation’s platform has.


Tradestation vs IB


Charting on TWS has many advanced tools, including 30-second candles and right-click trading. One feature that TWS has that TradeStation doesn’t is iBot, an artificial intelligence. Both platforms have a simulated trading mode, a must-have feature to learn either program.

Overall, we’ll call it a tie here.


Other Computer Software


If you don’t want to use a desktop program, both brokerage firms offer other trading platforms for laptops and desktops.

The TradeStation website offers basic account management functions like downloading statements, transferring funds, and updating contact information. For actual trading, there is a browser platform. It offers several important tools, although the platform isn’t nearly as complex as its desktop cousin. On the browser platform, we found charts with technical indicators, multiple graph styles, and a few drawing tools. The order form includes direct-access routing, multiple order types, and the same duration choices as the desktop platform. News stories are displayed on the platform along with a trading matrix.

TradeStation also has a dedicated browser platform for cryptocurrency trading. Order tickets are integrated with charts.

Over at Interactive Brokers, there is a client portal. Accessed through the website, it offers both account management features and trading tools. The order ticket offers several advanced tools, including whole-dollar investing and algo trading, neither of which is available at TradeStation. IB’s charting, however, is much simpler than TradeStation’s browser platform.

IBKR WebTrader is a browser platform (available only to IBKR Pro clients) that delivers another trading experience. Charting is even worse than on the client portal, however. But we did like the order ticket, which offers direct-access routing for options.

Overall, it’s pretty close here.


Mobile Apps


Traders at Interactive Brokers get a mobile platform with several great tools. iBot makes another appearance, along with advanced charting and two order tickets. Combined, they offer several advanced order types. Options can be traded either as calls and puts or as spreads. Charting can be accomplished in horizontal mode with multiple tools, including graph styles and technical indicators.


Interactive Brokers versus Tradestation


Moving to TradeStation, we get horizontal charting, but the top of the screen is occupied by trade data, which decreases visibility. The app offers better options trading, though, with more pre-defined spreads in the app. We also like the trade ticket better, as we found it easier to use than IB’s.


TradeStation vs TWS


Once again, pretty close here overall.


Day Trading


Extended Hours. IB and TradeStation both offer pre-market and post-market trading. IB has a longer early-bird session.

Level II Quotes. Level II data is available at both broker-dealers (although not for free).

Margin. Trading with borrowed funds is available at either firm. IB consistently has lower rates than TradeStation.

Shorting. Both companies offer online short locating tools.

Routing Fees and Rebates. Adding and removing liquidity with directly-routed orders at both brokers can result in fees and rebates.

Looks like Interactive Brokers has a slight edge.


Other Services


Dividend Reinvestment Program: Interactive Brokers, but not TradeStation, offers a DRIP plan free of charge.

IRAs: An Individual Retirement Account can be opened at either IB or TradeStation. The latter broker has the SIMPLE account, but the former doesn’t.

Automatic Mutual Fund Investing: Neither broker-dealer provides automatic mutual fund investing.

Draw.


Lastly, Our Recommendations


Beginners: Neither brokerage house is spectacular for newbies as both of them are designed for experienced traders. Interactive Brokers does seem to have a larger selection of learning materials.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: TradeStation has a slight edge here due to its SIMPLE IRA.

Mutual Fund Traders: Neither broker is designed for mutual funds, although they do offer them.

Stock/ETF Trading: This one is quite difficult. Both brokerage firms now have similar pricing schedules with very comparable platforms. It really boils down to software, which is a matter of personal preference.

Small Accounts: Both brokers have decent policies for accounts with a $0 balance.


Promotions


TradeStation: Get $0 stock/ETF commissions.

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



Interactive Brokers vs Tradestation Judgment


These two companies are really similar and many active traders use both of them. TradeStation is definitely the better firm for cryptocurrencies, while Interactive Brokers has the advantage for global trading.

After canceling its monthly software fee, TradeStation is now affordable for everyone. With only $2,000 minimum deposit it is now easier than ever to try this legendary software.