Compare ZacksTrade and TradeStation: IRA, commissions, investing fees, trading tools, account differences, pros and cons. Which online broker is better?

Overview of TradeStation and Zacks Trade

Investors at TradeStation and Zacks Trade get low commissions plus great software. With our research, you should be able to choose the right brokerage firm for your investment needs.

Broker Cost

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Tradestation $5 $14.95 $5 + $0.50 per contract $0 $0
ZacksTrade $3+ $27.95 $0.75 per contract $0 $0

Services

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

Promotions

TradeStation: Get $5 per trade stock and ETF commissions. $4 per trade for IRAs.

ZacksTrade: Trade stocks, options & ETFs for as low as $1 for a full year.


Range of Investments

TradeStation customers have access to stocks, mutual funds, futures, bonds, options, and ETF’s. The broker-dealer says it plans to launch cryptocurrency trading in the future; but it hasn’t done so yet.

At Zacks Trade, we found a similar range of investment vehicles: equities, ETF’s, options, bonds, and mutual funds.

Due to its futures offering, TradeStation takes the first victory.

Website Trading

The Trade Station website offers a login with three options: client center, web trading live, and web trading simulated. The first choice provides many account management tools, such as the ability to download forms, transfer funds, change login credentials, and more.

The second option is the broker’s browser platform. It offers charting with drawing tools and technical studies. Other features of the software include option chains with multi-leg strategies, balance and position data, and a very advanced order ticket with direct-access routing and many duration choices. The third choice is a practice trading system.

Zacks Trade also provides a demo mode of its browser platform, which is similar to Trade Station’s. One important difference is the lack of decent charting. The software does provide direct-access routing and complex option orders. A client portal on the Zacks site offers account management tools and an easy order ticket.

We like TradeStation better here.

Desktop Software

TradeStation has a highly developed desktop platform. It delivers many professional-level features, including an app store that sells additional technical studies for the software’s charting program. There are many graph styles, and right-click trading is incorporated.


tastyworks Mobile App


The order ticket offers several duration choices, a variety of order types, and direct-access routing. We especially liked the addition of a simulated trading mode.

Zacks Trade has a very impressive desktop program that also comes with a practice mode. During our testing, we found excellent charting capability with many technical indicators and full-screen mode. The trading ticket is also comparable to the TradeStation ticket.


ZacksTrade vs Trade Station


One difference between the two platforms is that Zacks’ is free to all clients, while TradeStation customers on a per-share commission schedule must pay a software fee unless they meet account minimums.

Overall, we’ll take Zacks here.

Mobile Platforms

TradeStation clients can use the broker’s mobile app, which comes with horizontal charting, technical indicators, drawing tools, and four display styles. The order form includes direct-access routing, several duration choices, and multiple order types.


TradeStation Mobile App


Zacks Trade delivers charting with three display styles and several indicators. The order ticket is sophisticated but lacks direct access to market makers. One advantage over the TradeStation app is an artificial intelligence named iBot.


ZacksTrade


All in all, it’s pretty even in this category.

Extended-hours Trading

Zacks Trade’s early-hours period lasts 5½ hours. The broker’s after-hours session closes at 8 in the evening. At TradeStation, pre-market trading lasts just 1½ hours. The broker’s late-night session closes at the same time that Zacks’ does.

Zacks has a slight edge here.

Level 2 Quotes

Both brokerage firms in this study offer Level II data on their desktop platforms.

We’ll call it a draw here.

Margin

TradeStation clients pay a very steep 9.5% on loans under $50,000. The broker enforces the standard Reg T requirements of 50% for overnight positions and 25% for day trading. These figures apply to both long and short positions.

At Zacks Trade, the same loan costs just 5.88%. The brokerage house imposes the 50%/25% benchmark for long stock positions; but for short trades, Zacks requires a higher 30% as maintenance margin.

Zacks Trade wins here.

Options

TradeStation offers advanced option tools on both its browser and desktop platforms. On the browser system, we found multi-leg strategies, like straddles and iron condors. On the desktop system, in addition to complex order types, there is also an option scanner.

At Zacks Trade, multi-leg strategies are available on the browser system; plus the broker provides many option tools on its desktop software. We found a probability lab, a volatility skew tool, and an option strategy lab.

Zacks Trade is our pick here.

Education & Research

TradeStation’s website has a glossary of many investing terms. There are brief articles on some of the software tools that are available with the broker. A section called TradeStation University hosts videos and lists upcoming live events. The broker’s desktop platform offers several programs that provide security research and analysis.

Moving to Zacks, we find an equally impressive website with articles and videos. We didn’t find any live events, however. The desktop software incorporates many high-level tools, such as a security screener, an economic calendar, and an SEC filing window.

Too close to call here.

Other Services

Zacks Trade customers can sign up for the broker’s dividend reinvestment plan; although there is a commission charged. TradeStation does not offer dividend reinvesting.

Both companies in this survey offer retirement accounts. TradeStation provides reduced commissions for its IRA’s.

Although both companies do offer mutual funds, neither one has an automatic investing service.

Zacks Trade offers global trading of stocks from 17 foreign countries. Trades take place in local currencies, and higher commissions are charged. TradeStation has partnered with Interactive Brokers to provide a global account that has access to 120 foreign exchanges located in 26 countries.

Zacks Trade is the victor here.

Our Recommendations

If you intend to buy and sell equities, either firm would be a good pick. Both brokers offer per-share pricing, while TradeStation also offers flat-rate pricing.

If you’re interested in opening an IRA, we can suggest either company.

If you’re a beginner, we suggest Zacks Trade due to better customer service.

If you plan to trade mutual funds, go with TradeStation. Its transaction fee is lower than Zacks’ ($14.95 versus $27.50).

If you’re a buy-and-hold investor, both brokers are about even.

Promotions

TradeStation: Get $5 per trade stock and ETF commissions. $4 per trade for IRAs.

ZacksTrade: Trade stocks, options & ETFs for as low as $1 for a full year.


ZacksTrade vs TradeStation Summary

Very close contest here. Looks like ZacksTrade has a slight overall edge.



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