Tradovate Review: In the connected world we live in today, having a broker platform that connects with other services is an added feature that should be a standard among all brokers. Tradovate does just that, and makes it easy! Not only that, but this unique broker stands apart from most others who require traders to cover the margin of a futures contract based on the current CME SPAN system. With the growing popularity of futures trading, there’s a growing demand for brokers who set a consistent price for day margin on futures contracts.
When it comes to day trading futures, the broker that we choose to use is so important. From platform access, standard charting features, drawing tools, fill rate, and pricing per contract, the broker we chose can seriously help, or hinder our ability to trade consistently.
Table of Contents
Review of Tradovate as a Broker
Why is Tradovate at the top of our list? Well, for starters, Tradovate has a low, set cost for trading mini and micro index futures and has a $250.00 minimum to open an account. But that’s not all.
When it comes to getting access to the futures market as a new trader with limited funds, Tradovate has set the example for how to do it right, and make it easy for us. You worry less about margin, and as a result can focus a lot more on trading effectively.
Below is a list of the top futures brokers available to retail traders:
- TD Ameritrade
- Interactive Brokers
- Charles Schwab
- Generic Trade
- Discount Trading
This Tradovate review has so many features to cover, we had a hard time trying to find a starting point. But, since everything comes down to account size, I think we should start there.
The Tradovate minimum balance for opening an account is $250.00. Yes, you read that correctly. With micro index futures priced at $50 per contract, this offers a smaller account an opportunity to grow; while proving consistency.
Mini index futures (regular size) are priced at $500 per contract. Giving us access to the futures market at a serious discount compared to the “institutional brokers” who haven’t adjusted to the changing market landscape. This is a big perk that makes them a great entry level broker for someone with only a little capital.
These minimum account balances and contract prices are not unique to Tradovate. However, they do demonstrate how Tradovate has adapted with the changing markets; micro futures came out on May 6, 2019.
Opening an Account
Getting the account started was very simple to do. In fact, I was seriously impressed. I’ve opened a few different futures accounts in the last year.
I don’t recall an easier experience anywhere else. Not only was it easy, I was able to immediately contact someone who answered questions for me. I like how the account representative had answers right away.
I was never put on hold or transferred to another department. These small details matter! Customer service is critical and if your broker can’t help you when there’s no emergency, can you imagine how helpful they’ll be in an actual emergency?
Another great feature with Tradovate is the integration of external cloud-based services. This is just a fancy way to say Tradovate seamlessly connects to other trading services to increase your access to trading tools.
Tradovate connects to TradingView, JigSaw, and Collective2. That’s a distinguishing characteristic that helped me in my decision to join the growing users of Tradovate.
This modern trading system changed everything I knew about trading futures products. Antiquated institutional brokers have failed to modernize their platforms.
They just don’t offer the retail trader any edge in today’s market. Tradovate also connects to Investor/RT, MotionWave, CQG, and Sierra Chart.
Now that we’ve talked about the costs of trading in this Tradovate review, I want to talk more about the actual trading platform.
In my busy life, there are times when I just need to trade while away from my trade station. This means I need a mobile trading rig.
Tradovate has that covered with browser access to the full Tradovate platform. I was so excited to finally cut the cord and get away from my desk.
However, I was worried about what would be missing from the platform. Tradovate is fully supported on the browser. In fact, so are all the great additional features that make Tradovate such a pleasure to use; such as the analysis module.
The analysis module was a pleasant surprise; real-time news and research right on the chart! This really cut down on the active windows running on my trading system.
When I’m trading from a mobile device it saves me from swapping into different apps to keep track of fundamental data (take a look at a list of the top trading apps).
- When I first started trading futures, I had a broker that didn’t offer advanced or complex orders. Therefore, I didn’t learn about how valuable these can be to our trade win rate until I began trading with Tradovate. With Tradovate, entering complex orders are easy. This means developing trade strategies which use these complex orders is easy as well.
For example, when using a pure momentum scalping trading strategy, where 3 ticks are the target with 1 tick of risk. Placing this trade order on my old broker was tricky; as I was trying to click the active trader ladder (on thinkorswim) while price was moving in an excited tape.
There were no advanced trade orders without paying extra for the service. With Tradovate, I can customize the trade order.
Then take the “scalp trade” strategy, with a single click; my entry, target profit exits, and stop loss orders are all placed at once. I can even use multiple trade targets; where each order activates another set of orders! Not too shabby.
I like to use this feature when I take swing trades. When I hit a target profit zone and I want to scale into the market with another contract, I can use advanced orders to move my stop loss order while increasing the total contracts in that stop order.
I found it very easy to set up these orders. But Tradovate does offer guides to walk you through these different trade order options. So if you’re unsure about all this yet, don’t stress over it. There is plenty of education available on the topic of setting up orders.
One thing that worried me about using such a modern trading system like Tradovate was getting familiar with the platform. I wanted to practice using the new system to place orders.
I wasn’t disappointed in what Tradovate has to offer. Paper trading in Tradovate is based on real time live market data. Your account can be setup with the size of account you’d actually be trading. It’s very important to set your paper trading account up with exactly the amount of money you would actually trade with…or you’re doing yourself an injustice.
I started developing scalping strategies right away. Therefore, I needed to back-test these scalp entries to see if the setups were profitable.
And do you know what I did next? I used the market replay feature to let the trades play out. I was able to develop a fully formed trade strategy and back-test it without risking my account. I have to pat myself on the back for that one!
Adding to all this goodness, Tradovate also has trade performance statistics, which let me see the performance of the strategy and compare that to my other strategies.
Market replay is something I want to cover a bit more in this Tradovate review. I like the idea that with Tradovate, I don’t need to download the market data and I still get a full depth of market replay.
I can trade that replay in simulation to test the outcome of the setups. When I’ve tried to use these features on other brokers, the system would lag, the data wasn’t full, and there were limits to what I could do. Not fun.
However, Tradovate has eliminated all those issues.
Options and Futures
When the new micro futures first came out, I was an options trader who’d never traded futures before. After I began trading futures with my first futures broker, I realized they didn’t offer futures options.
I found that disappointing. While futures options aren’t the same as stock options, I knew that I wanted to eventually trade futures options.
I’d spent a lot of time learning to trade options. Tradovate has a great options chain that’s clean and uncluttered; while still offering me all the information I need to see to feel confident in the trade.
The marketplace doesn’t offer options on micro futures products yet. However, trading options on futures is still important to me.
When I want to take my futures trading to the next level, I want to do it from the same broker. Tradovate has this covered.
I definitely want to point out a great feature on Tradovate options chain that I rarely see anywhere else; you can set alerts on the options chain and be notified when your alert is triggered.
I’ve found this useful when waiting for an option spread to finally fall into a fair market value for an entry. Or when I am waiting for a specific delta. I don’t like too wide a spread, and typically when the spreads are tighter, there is a great entry to be had.
Tradovate offers the typical charting tools that you ‘d expect. This includes drawing tools and indicators; Heiken Ashi, Renko and Point and Figure chart types are also an option if you’re interested in something more than the typical candle chart.
You can place a trade directly from the chart. You can see your trade history on the chart, and you can see your pending trade orders on the chart. This is useful for chart traders (which we tend to be in this world).
All of these are important to me because I like to screenshot my trades as part of my trade journaling but also because I can review the trades I’ve taken and see exactly where my entries and exit orders were at.
I’ve found this to be a great time saver and it has improved my trading through the easy review process. Since we are talking Tradovate review, I wanted to take a minute to discuss the trade statistics calculated by Tradovate.
With Tradovate, trading performance statistics are developed into a report for you to review and analyze all your trading activity.
I can’t begin to express how much time this has saved me! Tradovate calculates the trades performance for me, taking a lot of the work off my shoulders.
What Are Tradovate’s Fees and Commissions? (Pricing Review)
- Tradovate’s commission breakdowns are “free” access with no monthly fee and trades cost $0.79 per side on futures and $0.99 per side on futures options. Active Trader pricing is $99 per month. Commission Free Membership is $199 per month.
This is really a large part of where our edge comes in trading. Tradovate offers three price models for traders. Starting with free trading plans and moving up through “active trading” and into “commission free” trading. That’s amazing. Think about how much edge this offers.
In micros, trading without a commission means your strategy can use your entry as your trigger exit if the trade goes against you. On range days, I’ve easily traded 25 – 30 contracts.
That adds up quickly. The micros are a great way to begin trading the futures. But the contract fees can really eat into your profits.
With these trade plans offered by Tradovate, that handicap can be set aside permanently. These prices aren’t just introduction offers.
Tradovate Margin Rates
- ES (E-Mini S&P 500) Initial – $7260 | Day – $500
- NQ (E-Mini NASDAQ 100) Initial $8260 | Day – $500
- YM (E-Mini Dow) Initial $6050 | Day – $500
- RTY (E-Mini Russell 2000) Initial $3250 | Day $500
- GC (Gold) Initial $550 | Day $2750
- CL (Crude Oil) Initial $3850 | Day $1925
- MES (Micro E-mini S&P 500) Initial $726 | Day $50
- MNQ (Micro E-mini NASDAQ 100) Initial $825 | Day $50
- MYM (Micro E-mini Dow) Initial $605 | Day $50
- M2K (Micro E-mini Russell 2000) Initial $352 | Day $50
Tradovate vs NinjaTrader
- NinjaTrader limits you between their free and paid platform. Tradovate doesn’t
- You don’t get full order flow with NinjaTrader unless you buy or lease their program
- With NinjaTrader mobile you need to have their paid platform. Tradovate is included
- NinjaTrader doesn’t give trailing stops unless you buy or lease their program
- NT doesn’t give you all the features of the “DOM” unless you get their paid platform
- NinjaTrader’s platform is antiquated, confusing and looks like Windows 98 (opinion)
- You can’t upgrade older indicators unless you buy or lease the NT platform
- Use the web, mobile, or download app on computer with Tradovate
- Tradovate has custom indicators that are easy to code, similar to the excellent platform at TradingView
- Tradovate integrates with TradingView and you can place trades directly on TradingView
- Tradovate is an easy to use and intuitive futures trading platform compared to others out there
In this Tradovate review, I know we covered a lot of ground, but it was worth it. At this point, I’m sure that you’re ready to open your own account and begin testing this amazing trading platform. So let me just wrap up this review with a quick recap. Opening up a simulation account on Tradovate takes only a few minutes, so there’s plenty of time to get started and practice trading.
Tradovate is a modern trading platform that offers cloud-based trade services and has web based, app based, and computer program-based trading with seamless integration between each platform.
Tradovate integrates with third-party tools which can offer the retail trader some powerful tools not typically found on other less powerful futures trading platforms.
The active trader (or DOM) can be used to develop and enter complex orders and has hotkey customization while the cloud-based platform holds all of these orders safely; you never have to fear losing an order due to user side connection issues.
The Bottom Line
Tradovate offers customized alerts and real-time news right on the chart module. This means you can shut off multiple browser tabs and have all of this provided in one spot.
It also has on-demand reporting of all your order, positions, cash, and membership activity which really makes your trading review sessions a simple procedure.
People who’ve never traded futures believe it’s too difficult to get started. However, Tradovate has been the futures platform I recommend because they’ve made futures trading less complicated and more enjoyable.