TD Ameritrade versus Tradestation - compare trading platforms, commissions, investing fees, account differences, pros and cons. Which brokerage firm is better?

Overview

TD Ameritrade and TradeStation offer powerful software with unbeatable $0 equity commissions. But is one firm better than the other? This study is going to try to answer that exact question.

Comparison Table

TD Ameritrade Review TradeStation Review
Rating 4.5-star brokerage firm rating TradeStation rating
Stocks $0 $0
Options (per contract) $0.65 $0.60
Mutual Funds $49.99 $14.95
Initial Funding Requirement $0 $2,000
Inactivity Fee $0 $0
IRA Annual Fee $0 $0
Full Account Transfer $0 $75
Partial Account Transfer $0 $0
Account Closing Fee $0 $0
Trading Experience & Technology brokerage ratings brokerage ratings
Mobile brokerage ratings brokerage ratings
Research Amenities brokerage ratings brokerage ratings
Portfolio & Analysis Reports brokerage ratings brokerage ratings
Customer Service and Education brokerage ratings brokerage ratings
Open an account Open TD Ameritrade account and get $0 fee stock trades. Get $0 per trade stock and ETF commissions.


As you see from the table above, Tradestation is better priced than TD Ameritrade for mutual funds. For stocks and ETF's both firms have the same $0 commission.


2nd Category: Available Investments

TradeStation customers get to buy and sell mutual funds, bonds, stocks, ETFs, futures, five cryptocurrencies, option contracts, and closed-end funds. Penny stocks and OTC securities are available as well. TradeStation has a partnership with Interactive Brokers where forex and global stocks are offered in a discrete account.

TD Ameritrade doesn’t offer foreign stocks. It does provide forex, futures, bitcoin, plus the usual range of securities: stocks, bonds, funds (mutual, exchange-traded, and closed-end), penny stocks, and over-the-counter securities.

The second category goes to TradeStation.


3rd Category: Mobile Trading

TradeStation has an app with horizontal charting; but strangely a graph cannot be shown the full height of the screen in this mode. The order ticket offers several advanced orders with direct-access routing. Alerts and a watchlist make an appearance, but mobile check deposit and video news are absent.


TradeStation vs Ameritrade


TD Ameritrade customers can use up to three apps. Combined, they offer full-screen horizontal charting, direct-access routing, Level II data, streaming financial news (courtesy of CNBC), and advanced order types. Futures and forex can be traded.


Ameritrade or TradeStation


TD Ameritrade takes the victory in the third category.


4th Category: Website Trading

Moving to the brokers’ websites, we see a major difference between the two. TradeStation’s website has a very simple feel to it, and it’s difficult to navigate. TD Ameritrade’s site, on the other hand, is very sophisticated but easy to navigate. The site has a trade bar, which can be used to submit orders for stocks, funds, and options.

TradeStation’s site has no trading capability. However, the broker does offer a browser platform, which TD Ameritrade doesn’t have. The software has good charting with drawing tools, technical studies, extended-hours price history, and four graph styles. The platform has a simulated trading mode for extra practice. The trading ticket offers a lot of advanced features, such as complex order types and direct-access routing.

Many of the features on TradeStation’s platform can be found on TD Ameritrade’s site. These include charting with tools and advanced order types. There is no direct-access routing or paper trading, however.

We'll call it a tie here.


5th Category: Desktop Trading

Both firms in this competition have desktop software. TradeStation requires a $2,000 balance to use its platform, while TD Ameritrade requires nothing for its program. During our testing, we found both of them somewhat difficult to learn due to all of the advanced features they have. But professional-level traders will appreciate features such as Level II quotes, direct-access routing, and advanced charting. TD Ameritrade’s platform has 400 technical studies, more than TradeStation offers. However, TradeStation does provide technical analysis apps for purchase. Videos news is not available at any price on TradeStation’s software. CNBC is available free of charge on TD Ameritrade’s platform.


Trade Station vs Ameritrade


The outperformer here is TD Ameritrade.


Ameritrade versus Trade Station


6th Category: Education & Research

TD Ameritrade has a lot of learning materials on its website. We found stock reports from analysts such as TheStreet.com, Market Edge, and Credit Suisse. Screeners are easy to use and provide lots of search criteria. Videos and articles cover basic information that beginners will find very valuable. And all of this is before you even get to the desktop platform, which has news articles and more scanners. The broker hosts in-person events around the country on trading topics such as charting. And it operates its own television network, too.

TradeStation’s website has a learning center called University. Here, we found videos on topics such as how to trade futures and trading the Nasdaq-100 index. Articles discuss other issues such as the basics of margin and how to place a bitcoin order. The broker’s desktop platform has scanners and other research tools.

Taken as a whole, TD Ameritrade seems to provide more here.


7th Category: Futures and Options

As mentioned earlier, both brokerage houses offer trading in both futures and options. There is no base commission, but per-contract charges are assessed. TradeStation is a little cheaper, but we found its futures trading tools to be very good anyway. Contracts can be traded on the broker’s desktop system, mobile app, or browser platform. On the desktop, OptionStation Pro is an advanced app (available free with a $2,000 account balance) that provides many tools.

TD Ameritrade’s desktop platform has an options scanner with many search criteria. Both options and futures can be traded on the desktop system and mobile app. Options can be traded on the website, but not futures.

We’ll take TradeStation in this category.


8th Category: Other Services

IRAs are available at both brokerage firms. TradeStation doesn’t offer a DRIP or periodic deposits into mutual funds, but TD Ameritrade does.

TD Ameritrade obviously is the victor here.


Promotions

TD Ameritrade: Open TD Ameritrade account and get $0 fee stock trades.

Tradestation: Get $0 per trade stock and ETF commissions.



Our Recommendations

Beginners: TD Ameritrade has better customer service, so we recommend it over TradeStation.

Mutual Fund Traders: TD Ameritrade definitely.

Retirement Savers: TD Ameritrade has a solo 401(k), which TradeStation lacks. We also think TD Ameritrade’s financial planning services would be good for retirement savers.

Trading Tools: Pretty even here.

ETF and Stock Trading: TD Ameritrade has a slight edge for its research tools.


Tradestation vs TD Ameritrade Summary

TD Ameritrade has a decent overall lead. But TradeStation is very impressive in some areas, particularly global investing.


Open TD Ameritrade Account


Open TD Ameritrade Account

Open Tradestation Account


Open Tradestation Account


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