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Updated on Monday, February 1, 2021
Thinkorswim is a free online trading service offered by TD Ameritrade to its customers. It provides three different platforms — web, desktop and mobile versions — that allow customers to chart analysis and trade securities. Users can typically trade U.S. exchange-listed stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and options for free, 24 hours a day, five days a week.
Thinkorswim is best for investors who are already TD Ameritrade customers or those who may want to become TD Ameritrade customers. Below, our Thinkorswim review takes you through the details of this platform.
|Minimum deposit||$0 required|
|Sign-up bonus||No current sign-up bonus is being promoted|
- What Thinkorswim offers and whom it’s for
- Thinkorswim fees and costs
- Thinkorswim investing tools and research
- Thinkorswim user experience
- Thinkorswim investor education
- Thinkorswim security
- Alternatives to Thinkorswim to consider
What Thinkorswim offers and who it’s for
Thinkorswim offers robust trading tools, a wealth of free educational resources and a user-friendly format for investors of all levels. It’s only available to TD Ameritrade customers, but because neither requires an account minimum, investors may want to sign up for TD Ameritrade solely for access to Thinkorswim.
It’s also great for those who want the option to access a full-service broker and/or want the ability to trade around the clock.
- $0 commission trading: There are no fees for trading U.S. exchange-listed stocks, ETFs and options, though there is a fee of $0.65 per option contract.
- Robust educational offerings: TD Ameritrade offers plenty of options for investor education, including a risk-free paper trading platform that allows users to practice by trading virtual money.
- 24/5 trading: Investors can trade some securities 24 hours a day, five days a week, with the exception of holidays. This allows investors to make investment decisions based on breaking news and also trade when it’s convenient for their schedule.
- Short-term trading fee: While investors can trade ETFs commission-free, if they’re not held for at least 30 days, there’s a $13.90 fee charged.
- Fee for broker-assisted trades: There’s a $25 fee for broker-assisted trades.
- Limited investment options:Investors who want to invest in cryptocurrencies or initial public offerings (IPOs) aren’t able to do so through Thinkorswim.
Thinkorswim fees and costs
|Option trading fees||$0 commission, $0.65 per contract fee|
|U.S. stock trading fees||$0|
|ETF trading fees||$0|
|Short-term trading fee for ETFs||$13.90|
|Online trades of over-the-counter stocks||$6.95|
|Interactive voice-response phone calls||$5|
|Full account transfer (outbound)||$75|
|Partial account transfer (outbound)||$0|
Like most, but not all, online brokers, Thinkorswim lets investors trade U.S. exchange-listed stocks, ETFs and options for free. There is a $0.65 per option contract, and investors who frequently trade ETFs may balk at the trading fee for those held less than 30 days.
While Thinkorswim offers an amazing array of educational resources for free, investors who want a little more help in the form of broker-assisted trades will have to pay $25. Some online brokers, such as Zacks Trade, offer broker-assisted trades for free.
While you have to be a TD Ameritrade customer to use Thinkorswim, there’s no minimum account balance required and no annual fee for either.
Thinkorswim investing tools and research
Thinkorswim offers a wide variety of investing tools and research options. Some of the stand-out ones include:
This program lets users practice investing without any risk. Instead of using real money, investors can trade with “paper money” to trade up to $100,000 virtually as they learn.
Users can use this tool to automate their strategy. Using predefined criteria, this tool can help users keep investments in line with their goals. Alerts provide control to pivot as necessary.
Market Maker Move
This tool helps users keep track of major price movements and market volatility to inform trading decisions. Once activated, an indicator will show up in the platform when volatility is detected.
Users can enter criteria on what they’re looking for in stocks, and Stock Hacker will help them find stocks that fit those specifications.
For users who want ultimate customization, thinkScript — a built-in programming language — can help them build their own order execution and strategic testing algorithms to test how various scenarios may work.
Thinkorswim offers a variety of tools for users to analyze data and make their best investing decisions. The platform includes a library of more than 400 studies and strategies, as well as tools to chart, track patterns and more.
Thinkorswim user experience
Thinkorswim offers three trading platform options — desktop, various web options and mobile. The web platforms (classic, next gen and Thinkorswim web) allow users to chart and trade on their web browsers. The desktop version offers the most robust assortment of tools and educational resources. Mobile allows access from a phone or tablet, as a companion to the classic web platform.
TD Ameritrade provides a variety of ways customers can get support for the Thinkorswim platforms or any of its other services, day or night. Customers can call 800-454-9272, send a message on Facebook or Twitter, text or fax the company or visit one of its more than 175 physical locations nationwide.
Thinkorswim investor education
Thinkorswim really steps it up when it comes to investor education. In fact, it is consistently named No. 1 in education by StockBrokers.com. It offers live and on-demand videos that provide real-time market insights and strategy recommendations from industry professionals, as well as free access to other real-time financial information.
It also offers free educational courses, tutorials, webcasts and in-person events. Additional premium research subscriptions can be purchased for a fee.
- Firewalls and encryption
- Member of FINRA) and SIPC
- Reimbursement for unauthorized activity
TD Ameritrade works to ensure security by using firewalls, anomaly detection, intrusion detection and encryption technology to keep users’ information and assets safe.
While investing always carries the risk of losing funds, TD Ameritrade guarantees that if you lose funds from your account because of fraudulent activity, it will reimburse you. The firm is also federally insured against insolvency as it is a member of both the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).
Alternatives to Thinkorswim to consider
Thinkorswim will appeal to a wide variety of investors, though particularly to those who are already TD Ameritrade customers. While experienced investors are probably most likely to take advantage of all its tools and resources, Thinkorswim also offers options for people still learning the investing ropes.
For those who want to branch out beyond basic investments, Thinkorswim may not fit the bill, as it does not currently offer the ability to invest in cryptocurrencies or other alternatives. Those investors may find a better fit in online brokers such as Robinhood or TradeStation.
|Cost per trade||Minimum deposit||Best for ...|
|Thinkorswim||$0||$0||Investors of all experience levels, particularly those who are already TD Ameritrade customers|
|Robinhood||$0||$0||Beginning investors and those looking to trade cryptocurrencies|
|TradeStation||$0 for stocks and ETFs||$2,000 for the TS Select plan, $0 for TS Go||Serious, data-hungry investors who trade frequently and want a variety of investment options|
Thinkorswim vs. Robinhood
Both Robinhood and Thinkorswim offer commission-free trading on a variety of securities and charge minimal fees. While Thinkorswim offers more robust tools and a wider variety of free educational resources, those who want to trade cryptocurrencies or fractional shares may find Robinhood more appealing, as Thinkorswim doesn’t currently offer options for either. Robinhood’s simple interface may be less overwhelming for beginning investors as well.
Thinkorswim vs. TradeStation
TradeStation provides a wider array of investment options than Thinkorswim. In addition to stocks, ETFs, options and futures, investors can choose from crypto, IPOs and bonds. Most can be traded for $0 commission, though per contract fees apply to stock options, futures and futures options.
Designed for financial professionals, TradeStation may be a better choice for experienced investors who will take advantage of the deep research options. While its mobile platform doesn’t require a minimum balance, users who want the more robust tools and offerings of the TS Select plan must have a minimum of $2,000 to invest, whereas there’s no minimum balance required by Thinkorswim.
Fees mentioned in the article are accurate as of the date of publishing.