TradeStation vs TD Ameritrade vs Scottrade vs TradeKing: Day Trading Brokers Compared

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These three online brokers offer many tools for the serious day trader and investor. TradeStation has the best tools for the sophisticated day trader with several back-testing tools. TradeKing has the best options commissions for frequent traders, just sl


TradeStation began in 1982 as Omega Research Inc., and in 1991, they launched their main product, TradeStation. Recently, TradeStation earned the highest overall ranking in Barron's review of online brokers and best for frequent traders along with many other awards.

TradeStation Products

TradeStation sells the following products.

  • The TradeStation trading platform.
  • TradeStation web trading that allows you to trade from anywhere
  • Radar Screen allows you to monitor the stock market in real time.
  • Portfolio Maestro is a back-testing tool with advanced analytics, optimization and performance reporting.
  • OptionStation is real-time options analysis.

TradeStation Features

With TradeStation, you can trade following all on one trading platform.

  • Stocks
  • Options
  • Forex
  • Futures
  • Bulletin board and pink sheet stocks
  • T-Bills, bonds and mutual funds

You can use TradeStation with your browser on Windows or Mac with the following features.

  • Quote View will display up to 35 symbols which are continuously updated all day.
  • Chart analysis including symbol and interval linking and create charts using many indicators.
  • Indicator Manager allows you to add and remove indicators and arrange how you want them to appear in the charts and quote windows.
  • The web trading bar lets you place a trade quickly.

TradeStation Day Trading Tools

TradeStation offers many tools that can help not only day traders, but also investors and frequent traders including the following tools:

TradeStation Stocks

  • Dynamic stock market scanning and institutional quality analysis features.
  • With TradeStation, you can back-test and automate trading strategies with 90 years of historical data.
  • Rapid order execution with their direct-access technology.

TradeStation Options Trading

TradeStation Futures Trading

  • Have direct access to all U.S. futures exchanges and Eurex 24 hours per day.
  • Back-test strategies with 48 years of historical data.
  • The ability to scan all futures markets in one window.

TradeStation Forex Trading

  • Buy and sell any currency pair quickly with one click of the mouse.
  • Hundreds of indicators or customize your own indicators.
  • Back-test currency trading strategies with 40 years of historical data.
  • You can track 34 currency pairs in one window.

TradeStation Commissions

TradeStation has numerous commission plans and you should choose the one that best fits your monthly trading frequency.

Stocks and ETFs:

  • Per-share commission is 1 cent per share up to 500 shares and 0.6 cents after.
  • Flat fee commission ranges from $4.99 per trade for 200 or more trades per month to $9.99 per trade for 1-9 trades per month.

Options Pricing:

  • Per contract commission is $1 per contract with no base or ticket charge, minimum 1 ticket, market or limit.
  • $4.99 per trade plus $0.20 per contract for 200 or more trades per month.
  • $5.99 per trade plus $0.30 per contract for 100-199 trades per month.
  • $6.99 per trade plus $0.40 per contract for 30-99 trades per month.

Traders can also make fewer trades per month at an increasing amount of commissions.

Futures Pricing:

Unbundled futures cost between $0.25 and $1.20 per contract per side. Commissions get lower the more monthly contracts you trade. There are also standard regulatory fees for each market.

Forex Pricing:

There are no commission fees for forex trades. TradeStation is paid from the small markup in each trade, known as the spread.

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade has been helping their clients since 1975 take control of their financial and investment decisions. Clients can make their own informed decisions and trade and invest as they wish on TD Ameritrade.

TD Ameritrade Features

TD Ameritrade offers a full range of brokerage, trading and investing services including:

  • Heat Maps: You will be able to find the stock market hot sectors and the lower performing sectors with their heat map.
  • Watch List: Stay on top of all of your investments and trades.
  • Objectivity Research: Read third party research reports that will help you make the right financial and investing decisions.
  • Live CNBC Streaming: The ability to watch CNBC as you make your decisions will help you keep up with the economic news and reports.
  • Tools and Calculators: TD Ameritrade offers many tools and calculators like retirement planner, Morningstar Instant X-Ray, IRA comparisons and many more.
  • Educational Resources: These resources will help you learn about every type of investment so you can make the informed decisions.

TD Ameritrade offers access to all of the following platforms:

  • Web Platform
  • Trade Architect
  • ThinkorSwim
  • Mobile Trading

On TD Ameritrade, you can trade and invest in the following stock market products:

  • Annuities
  • Bonds
  • CDs
  • Forex
  • ETFs
  • Futures
  • Mutual Funds
  • Options
  • Stocks

TD Ameritrade Pricing and Commissions

TD Ameritrade offers the following prices and commission:

  • Stocks and ETFs cost $9.99 on the internet, $34.99 over the phone and $44.99 for a broker assisted trade. These prices are per trade.
  • They offer hundreds of no-transaction fee mutual funds; otherwise it is $49.99 for no-load funds and no commission for load funds.
  • Options cost $9.99 plus $0.75 fee per contract for internet trades.
  • Futures and options on futures cost $2.25 fee per contract (plus exchange & regulatory fees).


Scottrade was founded in 1980 by Rodger Riney and has been one of the top online brokerage firms. They offer transparent and easy to understand and cheap commissions on stock trades.

Scottrade Investment Products

With Scottrade, you can trade in any type of investment product, including:

  • Stocks
  • Options
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Fixed income
  • IRAs and international investing.

Scottrade Features and Tools

Scottrade offers investors and traders the following tools and features:

  • Powerful Tools for Portfolio Management: This tool is powered by Morningstar and will help all investors and traders select the right trade or investment.
  • Quick Trade Bar: You will be able to place trades while browsing online. If you find a news item that you want to trade on, you will be able to do so quickly.
  • Morningstar Quotes: Morningstar quotes and review information.
  • Birds Eye View: This feature will show you top market performers.
  • Market Snapshots: Get the pulse of the market with these snapshots of stocks, ETFs and mutual fund screeners.

Scottrade Pricing and Commissions

Scottrade offers the following trading prices and commissions:

  • Stocks and ETFs cost $7 per trade online and $32 for broker assisted trades and telephone trades.
  • Online option trades cost $7 plus $1.25 per contract.
  • No fees for no load no transaction fee mutual funds, $17 for no-load funds. Fees are higher for broker assisted trades.


TradeKing was founded in 2005 and has been one of the leaders in low commission online brokerages. They offer low cost pricing that is easy to understand and many useful free tools for both traders and investors.

TradeKing Trading Products

TradeKing offers the following trading and investment products:

  • Options
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual Funds
  • Fixed Income that includes bonds, zero coupon bonds, corporate bonds and municipal bonds
  • Pre and After Hours Trading
  • Auto Trading

TradeKing Trading Tools

TradeKing offers many types of trading and education tools. As soon as you join TradeKing, you will have access to the following trading tools:

  • Options Pricing Calculator will show you the Greeks, implied volatility and theoretical prices that you can compare to the current prices.
  • Options and Strategy Scanner allows you to screen over 150,000 option contracts with a choice of 25 criteria for you to scan for.
  • Profit and Loss Calculator makes it easy for you to see your option trade’s strategy possible loss and profits.
  • Probability Calculator uses implied volatility that will show you probability of hitting your targets.
  • Stocks, ETF and Mutual Fund Screeners
  • Tax Managers
  • Technical Analysis

In addition to the above trading tools, TradeKing also offers these great features:

  • Market and Company Overviews
  • Market Stats and News
  • Market Snapshots
  • Earnings Forecasts
  • Company Profiles and Financials
  • Insider Activity

TradeKing Prices and Commissions

TradeKing has the following prices and commissions on stocks and option trades:

  • Stocks: $4.95 flat rate
  • Options: 65 cents per contract plus a $4.95 base

TradeKing has the following option trades commissions:

  • 10 contracts: $11.45
  • 50 contracts: $37.45
  • 100 contracts: $69.95


TradeStation offers many software tools and trading platforms for the serious day trader with various commissions for the frequent day trader. TradeKing currently has the best option trade commission for frequent traders and TD Ameritrade and Scottrade are best for investors and traders that will trade occasionally per month.