Thinkorswim is one of the premier platforms for active traders. It’s one of the most well respected trading platforms in the industry, and for good reason. Thinkorswim has just about everything an active trader needs: desktop, mobile, customizable chart tools, research, screeners, knowledgeable staff, and the capability to execute complex option strategies.
Voted #1 for beginner traders and #1 for long term investors in Barron’s Magazine in 2015, parent TD Ameritrade has plenty of awards to show for. Thinkorswim was originally an options trading platform before TD acquired them in 2009. Originally built by traders, for traders, Thinkorswim stands out as the premier platform for active traders. It is one of the most well respected trading platforms in the industry, and for good reason.
Currently, Thinkorswim is running a promotion for all new account owners to trade free for sixty days. Stocks and exchange-traded-funds (ETFs) are charged a flat rate of $6.95 per trade when done electronically through the platform. Options are $6.95 + $0.75 per contract. If you use a live broker to place the trades on stocks and ETFs, they charge $44.99 fee. No-load mutual funds are charge $49.99 fee. Futures are $2.25 per contract + plus exchange and regulatory fees. The minimum deposit is $2,000 for a margin account. There are no monthly software, maintenance or activity fees.
Thinkorswim has just about everything an active trader needs. Desktop, mobile, customizable chart tools, research, screeners, knowledgeable staff, and the capability to execute complex option strategies. Join “Swim Lessons” daily to learn the ropes if you’re a beginner, and use paper money to test your skills trading bonds, stocks, options, etfs, and more. Find great research through the providers on the platform including CFRA, Dow Jones, Morningstar, Thomson Reuters and more.
The charts on the mobile app are probably the most impressive feature of Thinkorswim. Not only are they easy to use, but they have almost everything the desktop app has, including moving averages, RSI, bid/ask prices, and customizable fundamental data as well. You can easily switch from the chart to the options or news tab in the app as well. The app also has market depth, which Schwab currently does not.
Traders will find great use of Thinkorswim’s alerts. Easily set up and manage alerts on an array of symbols that you’re monitoring so you don’t miss a beat.
— TD Ameritrade Network (@TDANetwork) November 10, 2017
Margin interest rates vary due to the base rate and the size of the debit balance. When setting base rates, TD Ameritrade considers indicators like commercially recognized interest rates, industry conditions related to credit, the availability of liquidity in the marketplace, and general market conditions. As of July 1, 2017 the current base rate is 8.25%. The rates are structured based on your cash balance all the way to $1,000,000 where the marginal rate is -1.50%.
Thinkorswim has a 24/7 hotline and a very convenient and easy to use live chat that’s available from 8 AM to 6 PM on weekdays. Send emails directly through the website and expect a prompt response from the knowledgeable staff.
In the case of listed stock execution, Thinkorswim routes to the NYSE SuperDot system. NASDAQ orders will be routed to the one of eight different ECNs that has the best market, and option trades are routed to the exchange with the best market. The option exchanges are: AMEX, CBOE, PHLX, PCX and ISE.
A hard-to-borrow or easy-to-borrow indicator is located on every quote ticket. Unfortunately, stocks that are hard-to-borrow require that you call the hotline or live chat in order to obtain a locate. This is similar to Charles Schwab’s platform, and for day traders, where time is of the essence, this could be a dealbreaker.
Pros & Cons
The mobile app is the best in the business. Real time futures pricing, customizable charts with fundamentals, moving averages, and other indicators are just a small part of the app.
Backtesting strategies is a huge focus for algorithmic traders especially. Thinkorswim has ThinkBack, which allows traders to do so and also gives access to historical options prices.
For aspiring traders, the platform offers paper trading, which can easily be switched back and forth to your live account. Paper trading comes fully equipped with futures quotes, watchlists, and all the features that live accounts come with.
- The desktop app takes up a considerable amount of memory and RAM.
- Thinkorswim is a bit more pricier than its competitors. This can be rough on traders who frequently scalp.
- New traders can easily be overwhelmed by the amount of material and functionality that Thinkorswim provides.
- Real-time quotes are unavailable for traders that don’t keep a minimum of $3,500 in their account. This can be devastating, especially if you’re unaware of the stipulation. If you can’t maintain the threshold, this would require you to use different resources to obtain real-time quotes. This is simply not practical if you’re using the app, since 15 minutes in real time trading is an eternity.
The Thinkorswim mobile app and desktop app are the best in the industry. No other mobile app comes close to the features that Thinkorswim has to offer. If you can muster the priciness, Thinkorswim is a trader’s dream platform.