Interactive Brokers vs. Tradestation

Any customer of Interactive Brokers or Tradestation, knows that both trading sites have a vast selection of tools, connections to third-party applications, data feeds, and modifiable portfolio analysis tools. 

Their connections with third-party applications allow the use of automated trading methods and comprehensive analyses of data. Although TradeStation and Interactive Brokers are more suitable for advanced investors, they have begun to make efforts to assist novice investors. Both trading platforms operate on a zero-commission policy which is attractive to individuals who do not trade all the time. 

Who Should Use Tradestation?

Tradestation is meant for novice and veteran —stock, futures, and options— traders. Tradestation makes provision for active traders, but it does not offer forex trading. If you do not have intense trading ethics, Tradestation might not be suitable for you.

Who Should Use Interactive Brokers?

Interactive Brokers is suitable for you if you need a convenient forex trading partner. It is even more perfect if you prefer sophisticated trading methods to facilitated interfaces. It has comprehensive charts and a comprehensive set of innovatory trading tools, which makes it perfect for veteran traders. 

Interactive Brokers vs. Tradestation

Interactive Brokers and Tradestation are both great trading platforms, but one may serve you more than the other, depending on what you need. Here are some specifications that illustrate Interactive Brokers vs. Tradestation:


Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers offers a diverse range of education programs for investors that are free, besides the login. The name of the curriculum is Traders Academy; it is rigid and structured designed for investors, students, financial experts, and teachers that want a better understanding of currencies, markets, tools, asset classes, and functionality. 

They give tests and quizzes according to learning goals to follow up progress but also allow the students to learn at their speed. Traders Academy’s website contains a Frequently Asked Questions section and a trading glossary. IBKR, alongside various industry professionals, provides daily webinars on many different topics, gives how-to instructions on trading international products, options education, platforms and tools, and other topics. 

A demo version of Traders Workstation is available for download. You can download this demo to practice complex trading. 


The Tradestation platform provides market briefings and courses. TradeStation’s Frequently Asked Questions section is built with a chatbot —the TSbot. The TradeStation Learn page leads you to educational videos on trading and investments, as well as materials and presentations on YouCanTrade’s website. 

The courses that show how to use TradeStation platforms are free of charge, while other topics require a subscription before you can access them. The demo version of TradeStation 11 allows you to test the platform before using your money to trade. 


Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is a United States-based broking company that obeys financial regulation domestic laws. A visible sign of their trustworthiness is that Interactive Brokers is traded publicly on a stock exchange. Interactive Brokers is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). 

Interactive Brokers has an insurance plan that allows their clients to protect funds of up to $2 million. The SIPC also guarantees returns on your invested funds if the broking company goes into bankruptcy. This insurance is provided by Lloyd’s of London.

Every account in the firm is covered for about $150 million, with an additional $30 million —which includes $900,000 in cash. Their Bank Deposit sweep program allows customers to add $2,500,000 FDIC insurance on qualified cash balances to their $250,000 SIPC insurance. 

Although Interactive Brokers is US-based, it has clients from all over the world, which makes security a priority. Interactive Brokers meets and surpasses the industry’s standards. Some of the protective strategies put in place by Interactive Brokers include:

  • Numerous types of two-factor authentication like the IBKR Mobile Key. 
  • The Interactive Brokers Mobile Application supports pin verification and fingerprint recognition. 
  • The mobile app also supports biometric verification —fingerprint or face.


TradeStation is also US-based, which also translates to high security. It was bought by the Japanese Monec Group in 2011 and is now under the Japanese Stock Market, but before that, it was listed under Nasdaq. TradeStation is also a member of SIPC and FINRA.

TradeStation offers fund protection of up to $500,000 in case the broking company goes bankrupt. It also provides more insurance to clients from Lloyd’s of London. TradeStation’s insurance plan covers up to about $25 million and a company limit of $300 million. 

Some other protective methods by TradeStation are:

  • Two-factor authentication for mobile devices. 
  • Biometric —fingerprint or face— verification for login. 
  • Technology designed specifically to expose attempted fraudulent activities implemented in 2019
  • Features to prevent fraudulent cash transactions out of accounts. 

Interactive Brokers

Both companies prioritize their clients’ security and have many different policies put in place to protect their information. Although there are differences between the amounts of insurance under SIPC, any trader interested in either can use alternative means of insurance. 

Available Platforms and Tools

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers allows trading on every type of device. It provides mobile, desktop, and internet-based trading platforms. 

The Trader Workstation (TWS) is Interactive Brokers’ desktop platform. It is the best choice for advanced traders that enjoy multitasking with the platform’s advanced features. Its high-quality features make it slightly more difficult for beginner traders to use. TWS provides resources such as market research tools, trading tools, chafing tools, and order management tools. 

WebTrader, Interactive Brokers’  internet-based platform, is simpler than Trader WorkStation. Average traders usually find it easier to use WebTrader because of its simple technical features like flexible screeners and charts. 

Interactive Brokers’ mobile trading app is much simpler than the other two trading platforms because mobile phones are traditionally smaller than desktops and personal computers. Because of their size, users can’t use multiple features at once, unlike on WebTrader and Trader WorkStation. 


TradeStation has many trading platforms, including desktops, the internet, and mobile devices, which make trading easy, no matter where you are. 

TradeStation’s desktop platform is customizable and comprehensive.  It offers many high-quality features that may seem complicated to beginners but are great for advanced investors. 

If the desktop platform doesn’t suit you, you can check out TradeStation’s web-based platform. All you need is an internet connection to use it. The web-based platform streams real-time market data to keep clients updated. 

TradeStation has a basic but practical mobile platform. It allows you to monitor trades in real-time. The mobile platform is great for beginner investors and traders. 

Bottom Line

Interactive Brokers has a comprehensive platform. It is completely equipped with all the resources needed by traders. The desktop platform could be a little too complex for beginner investors and traders, but with a bit of dedication and practice, it will be the best investment. 

Tradestation’s platforms are advanced but slightly less comprehensive than Interactive Brokers. Beginner investors and traders may be more comfortable with Tradestation’s platforms while they are still learning. 

Research Tools Offered

Interactive Brokers 

Interactive Brokers provides many comprehensive research tools on the mobile apps and the Client Portal. Traders WorkStation makes researching even more advanced with real-time scans and international trading data. The market scanner gives many criteria for global options and equities. 

Interactive Brokers’ Fundamentals Explorer researches many data points thoroughly and contains analyst rankings from TipRanks. There are also bond and Mutual fund scanners on all Interactive Brokers’ platforms. Customizable charts are provided on all platforms, including real-time data and indicators. The Options Strategy Lab allows customers to find spreads that achieve the client’s market predictions. 

Interactive Brokers also offers news releases and insights from Thomson Reuters and Dow Jones. It also provides analysis from Zacks Investment Research and Morningstar. You can even link a third-party information provider to any platform, although some sources need a subscription.


TradeStation built its brokerage on top of a top-notch technical analysis and charting platform, so you’ll find things like automated technical analysis that shows you technical trends on the charts as they form. 

The OptionsStation Pro tools allow you to create, evaluate, and monitor just about any stock or ETF using RadarScreen and Hot Lists. Its tools allow you to build, evaluate, and track just about any stock or ETF. Time and sales, market depth, and snapshots that demonstrate how your positions are doing are all tools geared toward active traders. 

TradeStation’s massive archive of historical data is one of the reasons it is such a research powerhouse. Analysis and industry perspectives from experienced analysts and traders are among its other research features.

Less-experienced traders will benefit from a comprehensive education program. If you’re having trouble adjusting to the TradeStation platform, it can provide you with resources on how to make the most of your trading resources.

Bottom Line

Neither of these companies can provide you with wow-factor market research, but they can provide you with the most relevant market data. Interactive Brokers includes comprehensive analysis from reputable outlets, but TradeStation seems to have a slightly more extensive range of research. Both brokers have a broad range of research options, as well as access to third-party providers.

Mobile Platform Experience

Interactive Brokers

The workflow on Interactive Brokers’ mobile app is intuitive, simple, and moves smoothly from one stage to the next. It offers real-time data sources, but only on one platform per time. This one-at-a-time approach could be problematic for traders who use multiple devices in their trading workflow, but it isn’t a problem for conventional trading sessions on a single GUI. 

Both of these features are available on the mobile platform. The mobile app provides the research features of the Client Portal, which includes options strategies, aids, and screeners. 


After signing into the TradeStation mobile app, the first screen you’ll see is dedicated to watchlists. Multiple watchlists are supported on both the web and the mobile app, and they can be shared between the two platforms. To display maps, news, or position a trade, tap the appropriate icon next to each item on the watchlist. Balances and positions can be shown on the opening screen if desired. 

Most trading processes are systematic, and Tradestation’s mobile platform has an intuitive workflow. Trading options on the mobile app is simple; rolling or undoing an options strategy takes just a few taps.

Range of Assets Offered

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers is the only broker offering such a diverse range of services. As soon as it is theoretically feasible, the firm adds new goods in response to consumer demand and connects to new electronic exchanges. The firm is entirely focused on satisfying its clients and responding to their needs as quickly as possible.

IBKR broadened its mutual fund marketplace in April 2020 and offers over 34,000 funds from over 285 fund families. Clients may use Interactive Brokers’ versatile and widened investment options —known as Interactive Advisors— to create automatic investments.


TradeStation offers a wide variety of services, including those that are less common, such as cryptocurrencies. Online trading of equities options, stocks, and futures options are available via TradeStation. 

Clients may exchange cryptocurrencies via TradeStation Crypto, a separate organization. However, these capabilities are not completely incorporated. Unlike some of its larger competitors, TradeStation does not offer a robot-advisory service. TradeStation also does not provide either fractional share or forex trading options. 

Customer Service

Interactive Brokers

Clients and prospective clients can contact Interactive Brokers across a variety of channels. Every business or working day, Interactive Brokers can be reached via email and live chat, while email support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on weekends and holidays.


Customer service is available via phone calls, live chat, and email, at TradeStation. Customer service at TradeStation is available during business hours, except for a few key components, for example, the technical department, which is accessible on Sundays.

Bottom Line

Interactive Brokers offers phone and chat support only during working hours, but email support is available on weekends and holidays. 

On the other hand, TradeStation does not have a branch that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and most of its departments are only available during business hours.

Technology For Trading

Interactive Brokers

Clients that use Interactive Brokers’ Pro pricing system benefit from the order execution engine, which monitors market dynamics and re-routes all, or sections of your order for price improvement, rebate maximization, and optimum execution.

Clients may choose the route for rebates or the router can search out the best place to execute each leg of a spread for multi-leg options orders. TWS clients have the option of selecting a specific location for the execution of their orders. Portfolio Builder guides you by developing investment strategies focused on fundamental data and analysis that you can tweak and backtest.

Clients may use a trial version of TWS to practice the platform and try out trading strategies. Customers who use IBKR Lite can place free orders on any website or mobile app other than IBKR Mobile Web. For Lite customers, the order router prioritizes payment for order flow, which is not shared with them.


Depending on the order placed and business conditions at the moment, TradeStation’s smart order router combines several elements of both spray and sequential order routing methodologies. TradeStation utilizes logic to find and catch as much price change and hidden size as possible in as little time as possible.

TradeStation’s platform was created as a technological analysis haven, complete with software for customizing a trading system to a client’s requirements. Backtesting techniques on decades of historical data was part of the process. Backtesting is still a strong suit for TradeStation, and new features have been introduced to help you refine your trading strategies even further.

Types of Orders

Interactive Brokers

On the TWS, Client Portal, and smartphone platforms, Interactive Brokers supports a wide range of order forms, including conditional orders like one-triggers-the-other and one-cancels-the-other. TWS supports conditional orders based on margin buffer, volume, price, regular profit and loss, the trading venue’s rebate, the number of shortable shares available, and so on.

Interactive Brokers provides a MidPrice form of order, which can be routed to many different venues, including the IEX. It’s a floating order that adapts to changing markets and looks for faster fills as well as better prices. For any asset class, you can swap share dollar lots or regular lots.

A customer can also determine Deliverable Value for an options order, which specifies the dollar value of the stock assigned to the customer if the option has expired in the money. This is a one-of-a-kind feature specific to Interactive Brokers.


Conditional orders and bracket orders are available on all TradeStation platforms, and the TradeStation 10 platform has additional specialized algorithms and order types. Clients can place several orders as well as basket orders in a queue to be processed at the same time.

Both brokers support a wide range of order types, as well as basket trades. Customers can also change the tax lot when closing a portion of a place on both platforms.

Tradable Assets Offered

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers has a large selection of tradable assets covering almost all of the financial assets a trader requires to cover the various portfolio groups. Forex, securities, metals, ETFs, futures, mutual funds, options, and bonds are all available to trade.


TradeStation also offers a diverse range of assets to trade. Stocks, futures, options, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs are among the instruments that can be traded. ETFs with no commissions are not available on TradeStation. 

Bottom Line

Interactive Brokers has a more extensive selection of financial assets that can be traded. In three areas, Interactive Brokers outperforms TradeStation: metals, commission-free ETFs, and Forex. 

Given that the forex market is the largest in the world, TradeStation isn’t suitable for almost half of all international traders.

Simplicity of Use

Interactive Brokers 

Trading with Interactive Brokers is not easy. To use its TWS platform safely, it needs more than just good trading preparation. Its platform also works better on different screens; a laptop with a 13-inch display isn’t the easiest way to get started with TWS.

While Interactive Brokers provides a simpler trading solution that can be accessed via a web browser, it pales in comparison to TWS. WebTrader can be used by beginners, but not for long. You’ll eventually need to upgrade to a more advanced platform, and the difference between WebTrader and TWS is quite significant.


TradeStation is a slightly more user-friendly version of an advanced investment solution. Its tools and forum are designed to meet the needs of intermediate traders, as well as some beginners. You can always try the web-based interface if you think the desktop platform is too complex.

Among TradeStation’s web and desktop platforms, there isn’t much of a learning curve. The desktop platform is a standard move that you’ll have to make eventually.

In Summary

TradeStation and Interactive Brokers are both great online-based trading solutions, but to make a decision, here are some points to consider:

  • If you are interested in Forex: Interactive Brokers is a Forex trader, TradeStation isn’t. 
  • If you trade actively: TradeStation has slightly better offers than Interactive Brokers for active traders. 
  • If you are interested in trading commission-free ETFs: Interactive Brokers provides this option, while TradeStation doesn’t.
  • If you are a beginner trader: Interactive Brokers is comprehensive but not as easy to use as TradeStation
  • If you aren’t an active trader: Interactive Brokers is a better choice for non-active traders. 
  • If you are an advanced trader: Interactive Brokers is an excellent choice for professional traders. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Platforms are Interactive Brokers Available on?

Interactive Brokers is available on desktop, web, and mobile platforms. 

Does TradeStation Trade in Forex?

No, it doesn’t. 

Can Beginners Use Interactive Brokers?

Beginners can use Interactive Brokers, although it might be a little complex. 

Can Advanced Traders Use TradeStation?

Advanced traders can make use of TradeStation. It functions for both beginners and advanced traders. Interactive Brokers and TradeStation are both too-of-the-line brokerages with advanced and groundbreaking technology.

TradeStation is a more basic trading solution, but it might not be able to satisfy your needs. If you have a little patience and help from a more advanced trader, Interactive Brokers can cater to all your needs and help you grow from a beginner to a professional trader.

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