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Updated on Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Thinkorswim is a free trading platform available to TD Ameritrade customers. You must have a TD Ameritrade account to use thinkorswim, which is described as a “professional-level trading platform for serious traders.” It lives up to this promise, providing one of the most feature-rich trading platforms on the market, right up there with Interactive Brokers or TradeStation.
Users get a raft of premium features, including real-time data streaming, more than 400 technical studies and advanced charting tools. For this reason, thinkorswim can be complicated for those not used to navigating an advanced platform.
Who should consider thinkorswim?
If you’re a TD Ameritrade customer, consider using thinkorswim if you’re an active trader or you want to test out investing strategies risk-free. It’s available as a desktop platform or an app for iOS and Android devices.
If you don’t have an account with TD Ameritrade, it might be worth opening one to get access to this powerful trading platform, which includes its paperMoney stock market simulator. The simulator allows you to test trading strategies and monitor progress without putting real money at risk. Because no minimum deposit is required to open an account with TD Ameritrade and all account holders can access thinkorswim for no fee, you have little to lose by giving the platform a spin.
Although thinkorswim provides the data you want in an intuitive and easy-to-use platform, TD Ameritrade charges a high fee of $13.90 if you invest in commission-free exchange traded funds (ETFs) and don’t hold them for at least 30 days. If you’re a frequent ETF trader and want to make regular trades, you might pay more for the privilege through thinkorswim.
thinkorswim fees and features
|Option trading fees|
|Stock trading fees|
|Amount minimum to open account|
|Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)|
|Mobile app||iOS, Android|
|Customer support||Phone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 364 branch locations|
Trading commissions on thinkorswim
As with most online brokers, thinkorswim charges no trading commission for most services, including:
- U.S. stock trades
- ETF trades
- Options trades
However, some fees are associated with thinkorswim. These include:
- A $0.65 per contract fee for options trading
- A $6.95 commission for trading stocks not listed on U.S. exchanges
- A $25 fee for broker-assisted trades
- A $5 fee for using the interactive voice-response phone system
Tradable asset classes on thinkorswim
Thinkorswim users can invest in a full array of investment products offered by TD Ameritrade. This includes:
- U.S. and international stocks
- ETFs, including more than 2,300 commission-free funds
Trading tools on thinkorswim
All the data and charting tools an investor could hope for are available on thinkorswim. When analyzing markets, you’ll have access to more than 400,000 data points from the Federal Reserve. The accessible information covers six continents, which makes it easy to examine economic indicators from around the globe.
With so much data available, robust search features are essential, and thinkorswim delivers. Those who want to track data over time also can generate charts that include data points that span decades.
Traders also can make sure they never miss opportunities that all this data helps them to identify, because thinkorswim allows traders to set rules to trigger orders automatically. So, if you’re unavailable to enter a trade manually, you won’t miss out.
Trade 24 hours per day, 5 days per week
With thinkorswim‘s advanced charting tools and ample available data, investors might find trading opportunities outside of customary trading hours. Fortunately, thinkorswim makes that possible with 24/5 trading.
Thinkorswim’s 24/5 trading covers international markets as well as a list of securities in multiple sectors. Trades made outside of normal business hours become active immediately, which enables experienced investors to react to market moves immediately.
Investor education on thinkorswim
Because a TD Ameritrade account is required for access, thinkorswim users benefit from the robust educational resources that TD Ameritrade provides. This includes:
- Real-time streaming of quotes
- Financial news from third-party sources, such as CNBC, as well as market briefings that include commentary from in-house strategists
- Courses on a wide range of subjects taught by investment coaches, which provide opportunities for new investors and seasoned traders to increase their knowledge
- In-person educational seminars periodically throughout the year
- More than 200 instructional videos and webcasts that appeal to investors at all levels
Strengths of thinkorswim
- Professional level-trading tools, rich data sources: Thinkorswim provides access to advanced charting tools including visuals, Fibonacci tools, and a choice of 20 drawings. You also can use thinkorswim to analyze more than 400,000 economic data points and economic indicators across six continents, build algorithms through thinkScript. You even can access options statistics, such as the Sizzle Index, which allows you to compare current option volume with the five-day average.
- Easy navigation and support: You can find the information you want quickly through a dedicated search engine. And if you run into trouble when you use the trading platform, a chat feature allows you to text with a trading specialist and even share your screen to get immediate assistance.
- The paperMoney trading simulator: This stock market simulator is a great option for beginning traders and experienced investors who are more risk-averse and want to see real-world results before putting their hard-earned money to work.
- 24/5 trading of a wide range of investments: You don’t have to limit your trading to standard market hours.
Drawbacks of thinkorswim
- Expensive fees for active ETF traders: For traders who take advantage of commission-free ETFs, a $13.90 fee is charged if the fund is held for fewer than 30 days. This can make frequent ETF trading costly.
- A steep learning curve: Mastering thinkorswim can be difficult for beginning investors who aren’t familiar with professional-level trading tools. A learning center is available, but it might take a lot of time to watch demos and read the training manual to learn how to navigate the platform.
Is thinkorswim safe?
Investing is never risk-free. When you buy stocks, ETFs or other investments, you assume the risk of losing money if the investments perform poorly.
However, the fact that thinkorswim is provided by TD Ameritrade should give you some peace of mind. TD Ameritrade has $1.3 trillion in assets under management and is a well-respected and well-established brokerage company.
TD Ameritrade is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC), so cash that’s deposited into your account is federally insured against insolvency. And TD Ameritrade’s FINRA BrokerCheck listing attests to the fact that it’s in full compliance with regulatory requirements.
TD Ameritrade also aims to deliver the tightest security in the industry. It even promises to reimburse you for cash or shares lost from your account because of unauthorized activity that occurs through no fault of your own.
Final thoughts on thinkorswim
If you want a full-featured trading platform that provides round-the-clock trading, automatic orders and all the data you could want, thinkorswim is a great choice. The educational information and extensive data library alone make it well worth trying out this professional trading platform — particularly because it’s free to all TD Ameritrade customers.
Fees mentioned in the article are accurate as of the date of publishing.