Tradestation vs. Interactive Brokers

TradeStation and Interactive Brokers (IBKR) each provide sturdy and customizable buying and selling platforms for classy merchants. Whereas historically catering to this area of interest market, these brokers have expanded their choices to incorporate cryptocurrency buying and selling, and to decrease the barrier to entry for extra novice merchants. Regardless of the adjustments to broaden their attraction, Interactive Brokers and TradeStation are nonetheless finest suited to energetic, high-volume merchants. We’ll take a more in-depth have a look at these highly-respected brokers to see which one would be the proper selection on your buying and selling and investing wants.

  • Account Minimal: $0
  • Charges: $0 shares and ETFs. Choices are $0.60/contract and futures are $1.50/contract ($0.50 for micro e-minis)
  • Account Minimal: $0.00
  • Charges: 
  • $0.00 commissions for equities/ETFs obtainable on IBKR’s TWS Gentle, or low prices scaled by quantity for energetic merchants that need entry to superior performance resembling order routing. $0.65 per contract for choices on TWS Gentle; that can be the bottom price for TWS Professional customers, with scaled charges based mostly on quantity.Futures $0.85 per contract


TradeStation presents purchasers each cellular and net buying and selling. Its desktop platform, TradeStation, connects on to dozens of inventory, futures, and choices market facilities to assist high-quality fills. The corporate additionally has a full-featured cellular app. Buyers have the choice to commerce shares, ETFs, choices, futures, futures choices, IPOs, bonds, mutual funds, and cryptocurrencies. Whatever the platform, buyers can view charts with real-time streaming information and information, add technical indicators, and create customized watchlists. 

Interactive Brokers has Dealer Workstation (TWS), a desktop platform, and two cellular apps. The corporate offers buyers the power to speculate globally throughout 150 markets in 33 international locations in shares, ETFs, choices, futures, currencies, bonds, mutual funds, and cryptocurrencies from a powerful all-in-one platform, 24 hours a day and 6 days every week. Accounts will be funded in 24 currencies and commerce belongings denominated in a number of currencies. Merchants even have entry to the GlobalAnalyst instrument, which has the power to scan world markets for undervalued shares. Moreover, IBKR presents entry to real-time streaming information, charting, instruments, analysis, and information on all of the platforms.

Whereas TradeStation has been identified for catering to high-net-worth, skilled, and energetic merchants, the corporate has undergone considerably of a rebranding by increasing its attain to buyers of all expertise ranges. Interactive Brokers nonetheless stays targeted on the extra refined, energetic dealer with its Professional account, however presents comparable choices to extra novice buyers with its IBKR Lite account. As each of those brokers are nonetheless, at their coronary heart, largely constructed with the skilled dealer in thoughts, they’re tied when it comes to usability.

Commerce Expertise

Desktop Expertise

TradeStation’s desktop platform, TradeStation 10, presents buyers spectacular instruments for each velocity and suppleness together with highly effective market-scanning instruments, totally customizable charting, fast and reliable commerce execution, and superior order administration. Key options of the desktop platform embody RadarScreen, which might monitor as much as 1000 symbols in real-time, based mostly on greater than 180 totally customizable technical and basic indicators. TradeStation additionally presents the Matrix, which is a buying and selling instrument that mixes the advantages of an in depth market depth window, a extremely superior order-entry instrument, and a exact order-tracking system—all into one utility. Final, there’s OptionStation Professional, a robust choices buying and selling evaluation app. 

TradeStation additionally presents window linking between functions. This permits merchants to attach one window with one other window (or a number of home windows) based mostly on a standard image or interval. Because of this buyers can enter a logo in RadarScreen, and the Chart Evaluation and Matrix home windows, for instance, will routinely replace to that image, thereby taking analysis and order entry to the following stage. All TradeStation platforms provide real-time streaming information, and you’ll place, modify, and cancel orders instantly from a chart. 

Interactive Brokers’ Dealer Workstation additionally offers buyers a plethora of performance and options, primarily created for energetic merchants who’re on the lookout for flexibility and entry to a number of merchandise. Dealer Workstation is customizable and offers buying and selling, order administration, portfolio administration instruments, and charting. Merchants have entry to a mess of order varieties together with algorithmic buying and selling, defining hotkeys to put orders rapidly, and choices to stage orders for later execution—both separately or in a batch. Buyers can set a date and time for an order to be executed, or submit a conditional order that turns into energetic after particular parameters have been met. Orders will be positioned, modified, and managed instantly from the chart. Streaming real-time quotes, charting, and information can be found throughout platforms, even in the event you’re utilizing a number of units concurrently.

As anticipated, each desktop platforms from these brokers provide a strong buying and selling expertise. TradeStation 10 has an edge in automation, providing EasyLanguage as a method to code technique and backtesting to try it out. IBKR has its personal power in that you just want one platform to commerce throughout asset lessons and world markets. The commerce expertise on each is great, so it’s extra a matter of whether or not you need to automate extra or to commerce throughout extra markets and belongings.

Cell Expertise

Most merchants with Interactive Brokers and TradeStation might be utilizing the desktop platforms, however even essentially the most devoted dealer is away from the desk at occasions. The TradeStation cellular app is offered for iOS and Android, and helps the identical commerce varieties as engaged on desktop – shares, choices, futures, and crypto. Merchants may also entry real-time streaming information and free information offered by Benzinga. 

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Interactive Brokers’ essential app, IBKR cellular, is designed off TWS, with the inherent capability to commerce all the identical asset varieties and execute the identical orders. The cellular platform presents the identical analysis capabilities and instruments, so it really works as an on-the-go answer in the identical manner that TradeStation’s does. Moreover, IBKR presents GlobalTrader, a brand new worldwide buying and selling app which permits buyers to deposit funds in native foreign money and commerce shares from 90+ international inventory exchanges out of your cellphone or pill, and Impression, which is a cellular app created for buyers enthusiastic about ESG investing. 

Each corporations provide merchants an identical cellular expertise for energetic merchants, with comparable buying and selling choices, order executions, and analysis capability. Nevertheless, IBKR does provide extra apps for worldwide buying and selling and ESG investing, so Interactive Brokers will get the sting on this class. 

Vary of Choices 

TradeStation presents an honest vary of buying and selling merchandise; nonetheless, not all trades can happen through the desktop or app, however somewhat, should have dealer help. Whereas buyers can commerce shares, ETFs, choices, futures, and IPOs from the desktop, net, and cellular platforms, they need to choose their equities account from a dropdown menu earlier than putting trades, since equities, crypto and futures all commerce on separate platforms. 

Interactive Brokers permits buyers to fund their accounts with certainly one of 24 currencies and commerce any product in a distinct foreign money. IBKR additionally helps buying and selling in fractional shares. Prospects can commerce almost 35,000 mutual funds, about 8,300 of which are not any transaction payment funds, and all funds in its market are no-load. This flexibility is obtainable by an all-in-one built-in account.

Due to the expansive vary of choices, the all-in-one buying and selling platform, and the extra flexibility of fractional share buying and selling, Interactive Brokers simply has the sting on this class.

Order Varieties

TradeStation platforms allow conditional orders, bracket orders, and trailing stops, and a number of orders will be entered concurrently. The TradeStation 10 desktop platform presents extra superior order guidelines, resembling activation guidelines that permit orders to be despatched to the market based mostly on value or time.

Interactive Brokers presents entry to over 100 order varieties and algos, additionally providing third celebration algos to supply extra order kind choices for purchasers. Whereas Good Til Canceled (GTC) orders are usually not supported by Interactive Brokers algos presently, the huge array of order varieties provided by IBKR nonetheless makes them a standout within the trade on this class.

Buying and selling Know-how

TradeStation was based as a know-how firm, and so focuses on offering these advantages to tech savvy merchants with a full-powered platform on which the corporate’s personal flagship merchandise are constructed. Merchants are ready to make use of any programming language that may entry the web (C#, C++, Python, PHP, Ruby) and mesh TradeStation’s dynamic information into their signal-based system to scan for brand new concepts, analyze efficiency, and extra. TradeStation additionally acknowledges the way in which a dealer routes your order has an impact on whether or not you obtain the very best value obtainable, so TradeStation makes use of clever order routing know-how to supply automated routing to the market and routinely chooses the very best route for you once you place the order.

Comparatively distinctive to the trade, TradeStation presents buyers a buying and selling simulator instrument. With this buying and selling simulator, buyers can check out funding methods and concepts utilizing simulated digital foreign money by selecting between real-time or back-testing ways with one of many trade’s largest historic market databases.

Interactive Brokers employs know-how that enables merchants to instantly transmit orders from the chart utilizing Hotkeys; set alerts based mostly on time, value, margin, and different standards; select from over 120 technical indicators and overlays so as to add to their charts; scan world markets for undervalued shares; fund accounts in 24 currencies; and commerce belongings denominated in a number of currencies. 

IBKR additionally presents SmartRouting to buyers with a Professional account. SmartRouting routinely transmits the very best obtainable costs for shares, choices, and combos throughout exchanges. SmartRouting isn’t a one-and-done course of however considers every leg of the transaction and constantly evaluates quick altering market situations and has the potential to re-route all or elements of your order in search of to attain optimum execution and maximize your rebate. Moreover, IBKR SmartRouting Autorecovery re-routes your US choices order within the case of an change malfunction, with IBKR endeavor the chance of double executions. Lastly, to help in delivering value enchancment on massive quantity and block orders and benefit from hidden institutional order flows that might not be obtainable at exchanges, IBKR contains eight darkish swimming pools in its SmartRouting logic.

Each corporations are fairly aggressive with one another and throughout the trade with regards to technological choices for merchants, however TradeStation is ready to rise above the competitors on this space with the simulated buying and selling.


TradeStation presents straight-forward, commission-free pricing on all accounts. The corporate can be providing new account holders the chance to lock in 50 % off futures brokerage charges ceaselessly, utilizing code FUTRAFZT, making micro futures $0.25 per contract, per facet, and futures choices $0.75 per contract, per facet. Following is TradeStation’s rundown of charges:

  • Shares & ETFs: $0 fee
  • Inventory Choices: $0 fee + $0.60 per contract
  • Futures: $0 fee + $1.50 per contract, per facet
  • Micro Futures: $0 fee +$0.50 per contract, per facet
  • Futures Choices: $0 fee + $1.50 per contract, per facet
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Interactive Brokers’ commissions and payment schedule is usually a bit convoluted to determine. Precise prices fluctuate relying on whether or not the investor has an IBKR lite account or IBKR professional account and the nation from which the shopper is buying and selling. The corporate does provide low commissions on merchandise throughout 150 international markets, with no added spreads, ticket costs, platform charges, or account minimums. 

TradeStation presents commonplace, easy pricing, whereas Interactive Brokers’ pricing is a little more complicated to know, albeit probably saving cash for the investor per commerce with low beginning value ranges. One other key distinction is margin charges, with IBKR Lite charging 5.58% for lower than $100,000 (Professional 4.58%) and TradeStation charging 10% for a similar quantity. For the decrease beginning ranges, the decrease margin charges, and different potential value financial savings to the investor, Interactive Brokers wins the associated fee class.

Analysis Facilities

TradeStation presents restricted analysis, noting 30-minute lag occasions from the market. Virtually all of its instruments deal with the technical facet of buying and selling, so basic analysis is sort of fully handed over. Merchants can discover “Scorching Lists.” that are movers and shakers available in the market, “Analyst Prime Buys & Sells,” and think about the newest market tales from Benzinga beneath the “Market Information.” 

Interactive Brokers presents a number of free sources of real-time analysis, information, and evaluation to purchasers. There are additionally a number of extra paid providers that buyers can subscribe to, many providing a free trial interval. Analysis providers are additionally obtainable to buyers with demo accounts and don’t require an account utility to be authorised or funded. 

With the profusion of free, real-time analysis and information, IBKR simply edges out TradeStation on this class.

Portfolio Evaluation

Portfolio Maestro is a free, exterior characteristic to the TradeStation platform. It permits you to backtest and look at the efficiency of a gaggle of methods utilized to a basket of symbols in a portfolio, in addition to rebalance the allocation of your portfolio belongings. The efficiency is predicated on the trades generated by the foundations in your methods, together with your cash administration and rating standards. There are a number of reporting and analysis options that allow you to optimize your portfolio, by viewing the efficiency of the general portfolio and every particular person image.

Interactive Brokers offers each particular person and institutional buyers with PortfolioAnalyst, an progressive portfolio administration software program and account aggregation system. PortfolioAnalyst permits buyers to consolidate, monitor, and analyze their portfolios. The system offers real-time monitoring, evaluation and buying and selling, superior reporting, international assist, benchmarks, danger metrics, and highly effective on-the-go analytics. Buyers can add the next accounts to get an total complete image of their monetary state of affairs: funding, checking and financial savings accounts, bank cards, annuities, mortgages, scholar loans and extra.

As a result of IBKR has the power to hyperlink exterior accounts and get an total monetary image, the corporate positively has a bonus in portfolio evaluation.


TradeStation has varied academic articles and tutorials to assist buyers higher perceive the markets and methods to make the most of their TradeStation account. Buyers can simply discover data on quite a lot of subjects. TradeStation additionally presents a large assortment of dealer training shows and programs by its affiliate, YouCanTrade. By YouCanTrade, you’ll be able to ask questions and work together with coaches, obtain commerce alerts, be a part of free webinars, take programs, and watch stay buying and selling in its buying and selling rooms. Essentially the most helpful training instrument for merchants, nonetheless, is the buying and selling simulator. 

Interactive Brokers additionally presents merchants free sources for investor training. Buyers begin out on the IBKR Campus to seek out the informational sources they want. Merchants’ Academy helps merchants discover ways to make funding choices concerning equities, fixed-income, choices, crypto, futures, foreign exchange, and extra. Buyers may also discover ways to use IBKR’s buying and selling instruments, together with methods to navigate Dealer Workstation (TWS), in addition to IBKR Cell, Consumer Portal and TWS API functions. Then there are Merchants’ Insights from analysts, webinars, podcasts, blogs, movies, and a buying and selling lab. IBKR additionally presents multi-language tutorials to help worldwide buyers. Right here once more, although, essentially the most helpful academic instrument is the power to make use of TWS for paper buying and selling follow.

Each corporations provide an excessive amount of academic sources however the expanse of academic sources is a little more encompassing at IBKR.

Buyer Service

TradeStation presents Consumer Providers and Technical Assist through cellphone or stay chat, Monday by Friday, 8 a.m. to five p.m. Jap. There may be additionally entry to the TSbot, an internet chat field, wherein potential or present purchasers can ask questions and obtain pre-programmed solutions to primary questions. The Commerce Desk has extra prolonged hours to satisfy merchants investing wants: 

  • Shares / Choices: Monday – Thursday, 7:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. ET, Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET
  • Futures: Out there 24 hours from Sunday 5:00 p.m. to Friday, 6:00 p.m. ET
  • Crypto: Out there 24 hours a day, seven days every week, besides the second weekend of every month when the corporate is closed from Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Saturday 5:00 p.m. ET
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IBKR offers 24-hour customer support every enterprise day through regional Consumer Providers Facilities situated all through America, Europe and Asia. The corporate has Fast Suggestions, which is designed to reply primary shopper questions. There may be additionally a chat bot that guides you to sources. Nevertheless, if assist continues to be wanted, customer support brokers can be found for help. Current purchasers, in addition to purchasers within the utility part, are inspired to submit formal inquiries through the Message Heart situated inside Account Administration or through the e-mail hyperlink on the assist web page as a result of inbound communications despatched through industrial e-mail are usually not supported because of safety and spam issues. IBKR presents stay, on-line chat providers to present and potential purchasers 24 hours a day Monday by Friday, and 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET on Sundays.

Whereas each corporations do provide some type of 24-hour customer support, TradeStation’s scope of service is restricted to buying and selling help, besides throughout conventional enterprise hours. IBKR offers 24-hour customer support every enterprise day, narrowly edging out the competitors on this class.


In an effort to defend shopper information, TradeStation has applied two-factor authentication by the Auth0 Guardian app, Google Authenticator app, and SMS textual content messaging and biometric login for cellular units. The corporate additionally makes use of a 256-bit information encryption to guard its web sites and functions and has applied superior {hardware} and software program firewalls to forestall unauthorized events from having access to the methods. TradeStation carries extra Securities Investor Safety Company (SIPC) insurance coverage offered by Lloyd’s of London with an mixture restrict of $300 million to pay quantities along with these returned in a SIPC liquidation. The utmost for any single buyer is $24.5 million with a money restrict of $900,000 per account.

IBKR requires all customers to be two-factor authenticated and doesn’t permit customers to partially or totally decide out. Cell app customers can log in with face or fingerprint recognition, or a passcode. Interactive Brokers’ internet-facing servers are shielded from entry by firewalls and/or different safety units and important servers reside on remoted networks that haven’t any direct web entry. Encryption know-how is employed for information transmissions throughout public networks and on moveable media units. Consumer accounts at Interactive Brokers LLC are protected by the Securities Investor Safety Company (SIPC) for as much as $500,000, with a money sublimit of $250,000. Extra SIPC protection offers as much as a further $30 million, with a money sublimit of $900,000.

Interactive Brokers and TradeStation each have wonderful safety that’s above trade requirements. This class is a tie.

Remaining Verdict

Though each of those brokers have made efforts to attraction to a wider vary of buyers, we nonetheless see them as being finest for energetic merchants. TradeStation and Interactive Brokers provide dynamic, technologically superior buying and selling platforms. TradeStation is extra of a pure technical buying and selling platform, whereas Interactive Brokers offers you the elemental instruments with the technical ones. In terms of technical buying and selling, they’re very evenly matched. 

General, nonetheless, Interactive Brokers edges TradeStation out in most of our comparability classes. That is due to the all-in-one platform, the power to hyperlink exterior accounts for a extra complete portfolio evaluation, the over 100 order varieties, the large vary of markets and tradable belongings, the provision of fractional shares, and the huge academic sources offered to purchasers. Interactive Brokers dominates many alternative niches with regards to serving refined merchants. That being stated, TradeStation does outperform Interactive Brokers with regards to buying and selling automation and backtesting. For a subset of refined merchants, it is a crucial space and provides TradeStation a distinct segment that IBKR hasn’t made a lot progress in the direction of taking up.

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Investopedia is devoted to offering buyers with unbiased, complete critiques and rankings of on-line brokers. This 12 months, we revamped the evaluate course of by conducting an in depth survey of shoppers which can be actively trying to begin buying and selling and investing with an internet dealer. We then mixed this invaluable data with our material experience to develop the framework for a quantitative rankings mannequin that’s on the core of how we compiled our record of the very best on-line dealer and buying and selling platform corporations.

This mannequin weighs key elements like buying and selling know-how, vary of choices, cellular app usability, analysis facilities, academic content material, portfolio evaluation options, buyer assist, prices, account facilities, and total buying and selling expertise in accordance with their significance. Our group of researchers gathered 2425 information factors and weighted 66 standards based mostly on information collected throughout in depth analysis for every of the 25 corporations we reviewed. 

Most of the brokers we reviewed additionally gave us stay demonstrations of their platforms and providers, both at their New York Metropolis workplaces or through video conferencing strategies. Reside brokerage accounts had been additionally obtained for many of the platforms we reviewed, which our group of professional writers and editors used to carry out hands-on testing with a view to lend their qualitative standpoint. 

Learn our full Methodology for reviewing on-line brokers.