Trading is getting much easier because you’re about to read this TD Ameritrade – ThinkorSwim Review. Yes, we are biased because this platform is in a class of its own. However, we have a bit of a romance with the Thinkorswim platform, mostly because their charts and tools are as good as it gets and easy to use for pro and novice traders alike…
Undoubtedly because Thinkorswim offers a state-of-the-art, paper trading account to TD Ameritrade account holders so that traders can practice risk-free with no worries that their capital will end up “Gone with the Wind.”. And yes, they have free commission trading these days, like everyone else.
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ThinkorSwim Review Introduction
If you are a US-resident trader when you think TD Ameritrade, you think…Thinkorswim or, as we like to call it, TOS for short. That’s because TD acquired TOS in 2009. And the platform has been a favorite of many professional traders for years, including us at the Bullish Bears. Is Thinkorswim free? Yes and no.
You can fund an account and not trade or do anything with it, and you won’t get whacked. So, no, but you can fund an account and not get charged inactivity fees, and you can get free commission trades…so that’s pretty amazing in our book!
Charles Schwab recently acquired TD, so things keep changing! You’ll see all of the ThinkorSwim review articles being updated lately.
It’s ideal for active and advanced traders but also has features that make it great for newbies. So let’s look at what this trading tool can do for you.
How to Use the T.D. Ameritrade Platform
Thinkorswim is available in mobile and desktop versions and can be used for stock trading, ETFs, futures, forex, and multi-leg options.
Thinkorswim is an advanced platform on your desktop with all the bells and whistles a serious trader could desire. The charts are highly customizable, with ample types available. Traders can choose time charts, tick charts, range charts, or even seasonal charts with various tools to draw on them.
Regarding charting, Thinkorswim’s good reputation precedes them so much that many traders will open an account with T.D. With minimal funding, Ameritrade uses Thinkorswim to plan its trades and chart while trading with another broker. The ThinkorSwim review articles speak for themselves.
Tools You Can Use With Thinkorswim
Do you like to write your script? We’re not talking about a movie script here. Instead, I refer to the Thinkorswim coding language called “thinkScript,” which helps traders create indicators. It already has 300 built-in studies and strategies, which users can add to their favorite plays.
Indeed, many steps can be automated with Thinkorswim. The Strategy Roller, for example, enables options traders to set up a custom rolling strategy in an automated fashion for any covered call position from one expiration date to the next, according to the user’s preset rules.
Customizable scanning and screening tools filter stocks and options. For example, the Stock Hacker tool will scan for stocks that meet your criteria and update you with alerts.
The Option Hacker tool works similarly for options. In addition, spread Hacker helps traders search for spreads, and Spread Book shows traders’ orders using Thinkorswim, though they are kept anonymous.
Thinkorswim has a mobile app for both Apple and Android users. Unlike most trading apps that only offer core functions, Thinkorswim Mobile has much of the functionality and features of its desktop platform. You can even sync it with your desktop.
ThinkorSwim Paper Trading
Traders can test their strategies using Thinkorswim’s Paper Money trading account without risking real money. It’s available for both desktop and mobile versions, and it’s an excellent tool to use in combination with backtesting to perfect one’s trading strategies. Take our TOS Course for more help getting your platform set up.
If you open a T.D. Ameritrade account, you’ll be automatically registered for the paper money account. Otherwise, you can register to try it for free for 60 days.
Thinkorswim has many more features and tools. For example, it has social media communities and forums, like myTrade, for traders to connect and share strategies.
ThinkOnDemand is a backtesting tool that enables users to test trading strategies on historical data. For example, you can use their fundamental data tab to get company stats or their Fast Beta tool to analyze securities that break out of historical trends.
If you’re going to be successful at trading, you will be backtesting strategies a lot. And you are practicing at odd hours of the day. So take advantage of this tool, spend as much time with the ToS simulator as possible, and prove you can make money with your strategy on paper first!
T.D. Ameritrade Broker
A Thinkorswim review without including some info on T.D. Ameritrade would not be complete since the two are integrated.
The brokerage service has various account types to suit every need. I could write an entire article on the various accounts alone. Instead, to view the account types available, go to T.D. Ameritrade and explore all the options.
Traders can fund their accounts via wire transfer, check, ACH (electronic bank deposit), external securities transfer, or physical stock certificates. (Note that with ACH funding, there’s a limit of a $50-$250,000 transfer, which is not the case with the other funding options). No minimum amount is required to open an account, but if you’re playing with margin on options or futures, you will need money in the 1,000+ range to play in that area.
Cash accounts are great for those under the PDT rule. I trade options in a cash account because options settle overnight (T1 rule). Check out our list of best brokerage firms.
“Where Shall I Go? What Shall I Do?”
It’s no secret that we now have a strong penchant for the Thinkorswim platform. That’s because we use it every day. Of course, as experienced traders, it is not the only platform we use, but for a beginner trader, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend starting with TOS. And we don’t say that lightly.
Some drawbacks and there are not many. First, order executions sometimes lag; you must be careful when trading low-float stocks with thinkorswim. They are not the FASTEST at order execution, but they are good.
T.D. does not always have the best short located for shorting. There are better brokers currently if you desire to short mid and small caps. Try Speedtrader or IBKR. (we have reviews on our site for them too)
T.D. requires a lot of margin for futures, so you are better off going with a ninja trader if you have limited funds. But you can still trade the micros with a small account.
ThinkorSwim Review Final Thoughts
The thinkorswim app is so feature-rich that it can be a bit mind-boggling for the beginning trader. At Bullish Bears, we are really familiar with using their platform. Since it’s what we use to plan much of our trading, we know a lot of the ins and outs. We can clearly show you how Thinkorswim works, how to set yourself up, and how you can make the most of its tools and features.
Frequently Asked Questions
- $0 cost to open a ThinkorSwim Account. Just your deposit of funds
- It may require a small deposit to add real-time data to your simulated account
- $0 commissions for U.S. exchange stocks, ETF
- $0.65 per options contract
- Mutual Funds - no commission fee
- Futures are $2.25 per contract plus exchange and regulatory fees. Pricey.
- Forex - no commissions but the cost of the trade is reflected in the spread
- Level 2 data included
- 3rd-party research reports
- No minimum amount is required to open an account
Currently, the rate for stocks and ETFs is free. See T.D. Ameritrade for detailed information about pricing, fees, and margin & interest rates.
Because of the tough competition for free trading from up-and-coming brokers, T.D. had to lower its fees. As a result, T.D. Ameritrade offers a lot to make it attractive to traders on a budget. The broker wars are good for the consumer as long as the service does not suffer.
Investors cannot purchase shares of ThinkorSwim, but they can of their parent company Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW).
ThinkorSwim (TOS) is a free trading platform. All you need to do is fund your account. They also have a simulated trading account that you can use. Call, and they will change your paper trading simulated data to real-time, but you might have to add a small deposit into your account. It's well worth it, though. You'll never regret owning this tool as a trader or investor. They have great features that beat every broker in the industry overall.
T.D. Ameritrade's thinkorswim (TOS) platform is not just a good platform; we think it's great. It's one of the most popular trading platforms on the market and allows you to trade stocks, options, penny stocks, and futures. It's good for beginners and advanced traders. Their charts, filter studies, and scanners are top-notch in the industry. They are a solid overall trading broker. The only drawback is they have had some issues with lag lately. Market orders are taking a while. Not pretty if you are day trading and your market order takes a long time to fill.