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PSA: Stay Away from TradeStation

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PSA: Stay Away from TradeStation

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  #1 (permalink)
StoxFox's Avatar
N. California
Experience: Intermediate
Platform: NinjaTrader
Trading: ES, NQ, CL
Posts: 36 since Oct 2019
Thanks Given: 8
Thanks Received: 36

I will start by saying three things:
  • I really wanted to like TradeStation. Really, really wanted to. Its reputation from many yesteryears had me believing that this is the platform of choice used by real traders. Al Brooks and Linda Bradford Rashcke used it, so I figured if it's good enough for them it should be good enough for me.
  • I don't go out of my way to leave reviews. Especially negative reviews. What I usually do in those cases is I simply avoid going back for more.
  • Frankenstein created a human monster out of lifeless body parts. TradeStation reminds me of this, in that there's no cohesiveness between the main website, the client portal, the forum, the desktop platform, the mobile device platform, the crypto trading platform, the options-on-futures (TT) platform, and the web trading platform. It feels like everything was sloppily put together by different programmers who follow different design guidelines and do not communicate with one another. Like a car with mismatched wheels, doors, and interior. I know this might sound harsh, but it is what it is.

I opened an account with them in July of 2020, a little over a year ago. So I feel I've had more than enough opportunity to give this platform and broker a fair chance.

They don't let you try out their desktop platform (TradeStation's claim to fame) until you fund an account with them. Not even a demo. Obviously they're not banking on the thing selling itself. This may no longer be the case with their TS GO plan, but any trades placed through the desktop platform on this plan will incur an unreasonable $10 one-way surcharge (on top of the commission) for equities and $1.40 for futures.

Their main, customer-facing website looks clean and professional. Wait until you get a load of their client portal access. I will refrain from mentioning any profanities to describe what lurks behind the scenes, but this is because I like and the overall tone of this community. There are a few broken links (again, no cohesiveness). The website can be unresponsive at times. And today I downloaded a PDF monthly statement of my crypto account, which had zero transactions and only two pages but still 47.5MB in size (my point being, again, that there's no cohesiveness and that the programmers obviously don't know what they're doing). This is coming from someone in his mid 30s who has been fixing computers since he was about ten years old. I'm not a programmer these days, but I have gone as far as reverse engineering software with a debugger.

Customer service? Keep dreaming. Maybe they'd actually show interest in helping if I had a six-figure account with them, but who knows. I'm computer savvy, so I never needed help with anything other than account issues. Yesterday was the last straw, when I'm pretty sure I was lied to. I got an email saying that after reviewing my account, they deem me to be a professional, and that they will start charging me professional data rates after 15 days. I called to ask what this is about, but the customer service agent told me it was an exchange-initiated review. I told him none of my other brokers sent my any such notice, but he insisted that I "should be getting something from them soon." Uh-huh, what I think actually happened was that after a year of relatively minimal activity, they decided the only way to get any money out of me is to charge me exorbitant fees for "professional" data (keep in mind I've been shopping around for brokers and have had other time commitments related to the pandemic). Lying is unacceptable. Compared to TD Ameritrade's customer service, for example, or Fidelity Investment's customer service, for another example, TradeStations' customer service ranks below getting mugged in an alley. Look them up on TrustPilot for unpaid reviews.

I spent over $2,000 on a custom desktop computer. Everything else I run on my computer is responsive and silky smooth, but TradeStation's platform stutters when scrolling a price chart (price and volume only, NO indicators!). Not to mention, it's still only available in a 32-bit version. It's 2021, not 1995.

I'm approved for options trading, level 3, but when I try to write CASH-COVERED puts, I get an error message saying I'd be opening a naked options position. Really?

I've been erroneously charged for data that's supposed to be free, but they never refunded me the amount. In fact, I had to contact customer service two months in a row to find out why my data subscription keeps being reset to exclude futures. Until finally they told me there's a minimum of $200 to keep in the futures account (they treat the equities and futures accounts as completely separate, and transfers are NOT instantaneous, by the way).

The OCO and bracket orders placed on the desktop platform DO NOT TRANSFER TO THE MOBILE PLATFORM. Their mobile platform is simplistic, and the price charts stutter (also without indicators) even though I'm using a Samsung Galaxy S21 with a Snapdragon 888 processor. Again, an example of amateur programming on their part.

This morning I closed all my positions and have submitted an ACH request for withdrawal. Prior withdrawals have gone through, but took a full week to hit my bank account. This is considerably slower than ANY other broker I have accounts with. If I experience any problems with this final withdrawal, you can be sure I'll update this post to reflect that. UPDATE: This morning (two days later) I received an email saying my "Cashiering request was declined." Upon calling the phone number included in the email, I found out why. Apparently selecting the "Withdraw All Available Cash" checkbox, for some reason, submitted a request to withdraw 20 CENTS more than was actually available in my account. I have screenshots of the withdrawal attempt, and indeed the amount was 20 cents over the available balance. I have nothing left to say about TradeStation.


- If you need customer service from them, you're going to have a bad day. TrustPilots' user reviews on TradeStation give it a solid 1.6 out of 5 stars, and this is over 108 reviews (at this time). Their attitude seems to be, "If you don't like it, go somewhere else." I still have unreplied-to emails from a few months after I opened the account. It's been over 18 months since COVID hit, and practically every business still in operation has made adjustments. TradeStation is phoning it in, and it does not look like they're committed to changing their trajectory towards disintegration.

- Poor programming practices. This becomes more and more apparent as you use the platforms. Various little glitches. A little inconsistency here, a little inconsistency there. Whatever reputation TradeStation earned from way back when is no longer valid, imo. There are better options available today.

- Honestly, I have wondered multiple times if the whole company is being run out of someone's basement or wherever. Even Robinhood and Webull feel more professionally put together.

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  #2 (permalink)
qsceszwasdx's Avatar
Taipei Taiwan
Experience: Intermediate
Platform: TV, SC, QT
Broker: Interactive Brokers & Taiwan local brokers & AMP Futures
Trading: Stocks, Commodity & Index Futures
Posts: 117 since Jan 2017
Thanks Given: 135
Thanks Received: 100

Hi, thanks for your feed back.
Fortunately, I didn't fund my account.
And the review I saw is the same with you at TrustPilot.

My experience with TS:

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  #3 (permalink)
SBtrader82's Avatar
 SBtrader82   is a Vendor
Posts: 587 since Feb 2018
Thanks Given: 222
Thanks Received: 1,332

I couldn't agree more with what @StoxFox just wrote.
I wanted to just try Tradestation and the platform crashed t least 3 times per day in a sim environment. I wanted to use Volume Profile and/or TPO profiles and you have to pay a monthly fee to use these indicators, though they are so common that you get them for free on TradingView.
Tradestation is pure marketing for newbies, they say they have some wonderful functionality and they repeat again and again how easy you can send OCO orders.... which in itself makes me laugh, because any platform allows that nowadays. Watch their webinars and youtube videos, 80% of the time the insist either on the scanner or on the OCO orders.

On top of that they rename everything, they call OCO orders differently, scanners differently .... and then there is this guy "Jesus NAVA" who speaks so slowly and it takes 30 min. to explain a basic functionality which can be explained in 5 minutes.
The customization is basically impossible and even the easiest task becomes complicated in this platform.

As a rule of thumb I would skip any platform which is developed in Java, they are all the same: fancy, visually appealing, easy to use and slow! they always crash.

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  #4 (permalink)
SMCJB's Avatar
Houston TX
Legendary Market Wizard
Experience: Advanced
Platform: TT and Stellar
Broker: Advantage Futures
Trading: Primarily Energy but also a little Equities, Fixed Income, Metals and Crypto.
Posts: 4,933 since Dec 2013
Thanks Given: 4,248
Thanks Received: 9,917

I agree with a lot/almost everything said by @StoxFox and @SBtrader82. I'm a long time Tradestation user and very disappointed in them.

Saying that I would make two points.
1/ As bad as it maybe, there probably isn't a better reasonably priced, easy to use, integrated solution out there for automating trading. Easylanguage really is the Easiest Language there is. Add in the optimization API and unfortunately I think they have very few competitors. If your not trading that way then there may be other alternatives, but in that space I'm not sure who the competition is. (And before everybody shouts NT, Learning Mimjascript/C# vs EasyLanguage can not be compared.)
2/ Every full service broker also has post after post complaining. Right below this post was a post Interactive Brokers: please, please, just stay away. There's no shortage of other posts out there about TOS, and no shortage of complaints against what's considered pro software (TT or CQG).

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  #5 (permalink)
Melbourne Australia
Posts: 71 since Mar 2022
Thanks Given: 44
Thanks Received: 112

My experience with Tradestation:

I opened an account and funded it. But I couldn't figure out how to get things working, after hours of fiddling about. I could never reach anyone on the phone. Seems there are separate sub-accounts for equities, futures, crypto, and futures options. I wasn't able to move funds between sub-accounts for some reason, and I didn't want to go through the chore of withdrawing the funds and re-depositing into a different sub-account.

Apparently I had funded a futures account, not an equities account. I discovered this when I logged on to TradingView with my TradeStation credentials. I did a test trade in TradingView, made about $5 profit, then decided TradeStation wasn't worth the hassle. I pulled my funds out and put it back with my other broker.

It has been about a year, and the TradeStation account with zero balance remains active. Which means I'm still getting free real-time futures data in TradingView. I can't tell you how useful this has been. TradingView is a superior charting platform, and I use it alongside Ninja Trader and Tradovate for execution.

So in sum, I found TradeStation to be a mess but overall a positive experience. Because I'm still getting that data feed in TradingView.

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  #6 (permalink)
 Trend Trader 
Southeast, USA
Experience: Intermediate
Platform: NinjaTrader, MotiveWave
Broker: Stage 5 Trading, TradeStation, NinjaTrader
Trading: NQ e-mini Futures
Posts: 51 since Jan 2023
Thanks Given: 21
Thanks Received: 46

TradeStation for charting ES, NQ has been reasonably satisfactory for me. I agree with the there is no perfect chart out there. The ability to use custom indicators is why I stay with them. My biggest gripe is the candlestick bars do not increase in width with increased spacing at a certain point like they used to. Other charts have it but they, for some reason, dropped it.

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