Is TradeStation really free?

TradeStation does charge a commission for real stock trading on US markets, so in this sense it is not a free-to-trade broker. However, it might still be a reasonable choice for some of you, as there are many other aspects other than commissions that are important when you choose a broker. If you wish to stick with TradeStation though, then you will find the fees they charge below. Alternatively, you could check our article detailing the best zero commission brokers and how their apps scored in our test.

We should note that the payment-for-order-flow model, which is used by some zero-commission brokers to generate income (rather than relying on commissions), could potentially create a conflict of interest between you and your broker. This could result in trade execution (like routing your orders to specific market makers) that might be unfavorable for you under certain market conditions, especially when using market orders (as opposed to limit orders, which seem to be less affected).

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TradeStation fees
Overview of TradeStation fees and charges

It's safe to say that TradeStation's fees are low in general. They either don't charge a brokerage fee for things that other brokers do, or they only charge a small amount.

Here's a high-level overview of TradeStation's fees

TradeStation Fees snapshot
Assets Fee level Fee terms
US stock fee Low $0.01 per share; min $1
EURUSD fee - Not available
US mutual fund fees Average $14.95 per transaction
Inactivity fee Low $50 per year if balance <$2,000 or if less than 5 trades per year

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TradeStation fees
TradeStation fees explained

Online brokerages in general charge much lower brokerage fees than traditional brokerages do - this is largely because online brokerages' businesses can be much better scaled: from a purely technical standpoint, it doesn't make that much of a difference for them if they have 100 or 5,000 clients.

This is not to say, however, that they don't charge any fees at all. They make money by charging you various rates for various actions or events. Usually you need to keep an eye on the following three types of fees:

  • Trading fees - these are brokerage fees that you pay when you actually carry out a trade, like buying an Apple share or an ETF. What you pay is either a commission, a spread or a financing rate. Some brokers apply all of these.
    • A commission is either fixed or based on the traded volume.
    • A spread is the difference between the buy price and the sell price.
    • A financing rate or overnight rate is charged when you hold your leveraged positions for more than one day.
  • Non-trading fees. These are usually related to some operations you carry out in your account, such as depositing money, withdrawing money, or not trading for an extended period.

We compare TradeStation fees with its closest competitors, tastyworks and Interactive Brokers.

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TradeStation fees
TradeStation trading fees

TradeStation's trading fees are low, which makes it suitable for you even if you trade often (i.e. several times a week).

Let's break down trading fees according to the different asset classes available at TradeStation.

Trading fees

TradeStation's trading fees are low.

Stock fees and ETF fees

TradeStation has low stock trading fees.

Stock fees of a $2,000 trade
TradeStation tastyworks Interactive Brokers
US stock $1.0 $0.0 $1.0
UK stock - - $7.8
German stock - - $4.8

Fund fees

TradeStation fund fees are average.

Fees of a $2,000 fund purchase
TradeStation tastyworks Interactive Brokers
Mutual fund $15.0 - $15.0
EU mutual fund - - $4.4

Bond fees

TradeStation has low bond fees.

Fees of a $10,000 bond trade
TradeStation tastyworks Interactive Brokers
US Treasury bond $20.0 - $5.0
EU government bond - - $10.0

Options fees

TradeStation's options fees are low.

Options fees for 10 contracts
TradeStation tastyworks Interactive Brokers
US stock options $10.0 $5 $6.5
US stock index options $10.0 $12.5 $6.5
UK stock index options - - $22.1
German stock index options - - $13.2

Futures fees

TradeStation's futures fees are low.

Stock index futures fees for 10 contracts
TradeStation tastyworks Interactive Brokers
US micro e-mini stock index futures $5.0 $8.5 $2.5
UK stock index futures - - $22.1
German e-mini stock index futures - - $9.6

Margin rates

TradeStation margin rates are high.

TradeStation margin rates
TradeStation tastyworks Interactive Brokers
USD margin rate 9.5% 8.0% 1.6%
EUR margin rate - - 1.5%

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TradeStation fees
TradeStation non-trading fees

Some of TradeStation's non-trading fees are average.

Non-trading fees include various brokerage fees and charges at TradeStation that are not related to buying or selling assets. This can be a withdrawal fee, deposit fee, inactivity fee or account fee.

A high-level overview of how TradeStation stacks up in terms of non-trading fees
TradeStation tastyworks Interactive Brokers
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Inactivity fee Yes No Yes
Account fee No No No

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TradeStation fees
TradeStation deposit fee

Usually, brokers don't charge anything for deposits, and TradeStation is no different.

TradeStation deposit methods
TradeStation tastyworks Interactive Brokers
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No No No
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0

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TradeStation fees
TradeStation withdrawal fee

TradeStation generally doesn't charge a withdrawal fee.

TradeStation withdrawal fees and options compared
TradeStation tastyworks Interactive Brokers
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No No No
Withdrawal fee for bank transfer $0 $0 $0

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TradeStation fees
TradeStation inactivity fee

TradeStation does apply an inactivity fee and it is $50 per year if balance <$2,000 or if less than 5 trades per year. Keep this in mind to avoid getting charged after a longer idle period. The fact that TradeStation charges an inactivity fee makes it less ideal for you if you are a buy-and-hold investor.

The inactivity fee charged by TradeStation is low.

TradeStation tastyworks Interactive Brokers
Inactivity fee Yes No Yes
Inactivity fee $50 per year if balance <$2,000 or if less than 5 trades per year No inactivity fee $20 per month if you have less than $2,000 account balance and if you don't generate minimum $20 in commissions. $10 for accounts having at least $2,000 account balance, while no inactivity fee for US clients choosing IBKR Lite plan.

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Author of this article

Gergely Korpos

Author of this article

Gergely is the co-founder and CPO of Brokerchooser. His aim is to make personal investing crystal clear for everybody. Gergely has 10 years of experience in the financial markets. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and equity portfolio manager.

Gergely Korpos

Co-founder, CPO

Gergely is the co-founder and CPO of Brokerchooser. His aim is to make personal investing crystal clear for everybody. Gergely has 10 years of experience in the financial markets. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and equity portfolio manager.

Everything you find on BrokerChooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

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