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thinkorswim Review 2020 – Best Options Trading Platform
thinkorswim® was acquired by TD Ameritrade in 2009 and remains one of the best trading platforms for active traders, especially options traders.
The reason thinkorswim® stands head and shoulders above most of its competition is its platform was originally built by traders for traders.
One of its original founding team members, Tom Sosnoff, is renowned in options trading circles as walking the talk, meaning he actively trades. And the thinkorswim® platform reflects his deep expertise of equities and options trading strategies with advanced order entry, access to portfolio margin and tools galore.
thinkorswim® is one of the most well respected trading platforms for serious traders. And while its interface can seem overwhelming at first glance, it is well worth taking the time to peer behind the veil where you will discover an extensive tool suite capable of advanced screening, charting, and back-testing.
Table of Contents
For active options traders, thinkorswim® has few rivals.
thinkorswim® stands out among its competitors with highly customizable screening tools, a support staff with deep knowledge and understanding of options strategies, extensive research capabilities and advanced charting capabilities.
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Is thinkorswim® Right For You?
thinkorswim® trading platform is best for traders who are active, self-directed and proficient in options trading.
thinkorswim® carved out a position in the marketplace as a trading platform with fast, accurate execution, very affordable commissions structure, powerful screening tools, advanced charting capability, real-time quotes, and a focus on options and futures trading.
Traders Who Demand The Best
thinkorswim® is constantly ranked among the very best trading platforms.
Best Binary Options Brokers 2020:
Options traders will take comfort knowing it was featured among the Best for Options Traders, in Barron’s 2020 Online Broker Survey, and with good reason.
As a platform started by options traders originally, it stands head and shoulders above most of its competition when it comes to analyzing options trades.
Any trader who demands the best combination of commissions, tools, accuracy, and customer service will find a home.
Plus, accounts are commission-free for the first 60 days after you sign up, making it easier than ever to get started.
Traders Who Want Cutting-Edge Research Tools
thinkorswim® offers a ton of research tools.
If you register with this platform, you’ll have access to over 400 technical studies and 8 Fibonacci tools to help you make trading decisions using technical analysis.
You’ll have access to tools that analyze option volumes, compare them to the previous five days and be able to research company profiles using the latest technology.
Clients Who Want To Backtest Strategies
Before you commit any of your hard-earned cash, test it out using the PaperMoney platform.
This innovative tool allows you to use an imaginary $100,000 worth of both IRA funds and virtual margin so that you can test out investment ideas and see what might happen to your money before you invest a dime of real cash.
You can experiment to your heart’s content and gain confidence in your trading ideas by backtesting your strategy first.
Traders On The Go
thinkorswim® offers mobile access, so if you’re on the road a lot, this might be a good option for you.
You can check stock info, make trades, and manage your account from your mobile device, giving you the freedom to take care of your investments from anywhere in the world.
thinkorswim® is Best For Traders Who Are:
thinkorswim® supports a wide range of options trading strategies, including:
thinkorswim® Promo Deal
thinkorswim® is offering a promo deal to new account holders:
thinkorswim® Review: Trading Tools
Create your own technical indicators, view over 300 chart studies, screen and scan for stocks and options, view heat maps, automate the sale of covered calls, and practice your trading strategies risk-free.
The first impression traders who are new to the thinkorswim® platform often have is that a thinkorswim® tutorial is needed. How to use thinkorswim® is perhaps the most common first question in the minds of newbies. But take a deep breath and don’t be overwhelmed. Mastering the thinkorswim® platform is worth the effort.
thinkorswim® Charts & Technical Studies
No other platform comes close to thinkorswim® when it comes to feature rich charts and the number of technical studies available.
Most traders select time charts but you can also select tick charts to view intraday action, as well as range charts that display price accumulation.
And you can pick standard chart modes, monkey bars, or a wide variety of other chart types so you can view price action over various time periods.
Seasonal charts are available too so, if some stocks have an unusual tendency to rise or fall at certain times of the year, you can spot the seasonality.
And once you are done customizing your charts, you can look to place a trade on your favorite security, whether stocks, options, futures, or forex.
Virtually any trader no matter how proficient will be impressed and served well on the thinkorswim® platform. Advanced traders may like the Thermo Mode that provides lookback visibility at various time intervals.
You can even draw on charts, whether standard or Japanese candlestick charts.
When stocks break out of historical trends and become more volatile, how do you analyze them? The idea behind Fast Beta, a TD Ameritrade trademarked service, is to weigh recent price action more heavily with a view to gleaning insights that may otherwise be undetectable.
If you are a trader who likes to hunt for stocks that are breaking out or making big moves caused by earnings announcements or other fundamental catalysts, the Fast Beta trading tool is well worth checking out to help you spot trading opportunities.
Covered call options traders may fall in love with Strategy Roller for the amount of time it saves scouting for opportunities to generate premium.
If you have a long-term equity position in your portfolio, like say Amazon stock, and want to sell calls regularly against your position, Strategy Roller automates the process for you by continually selling call options against your share ownership position.
Scanning & Screening
Looking for stocks that are traded with high volume? The Sizzle Index that features in the Scan Hacker scanning tool displays stocks with unusually high volume.
But that’s just the beginning of its capabilities. You can customize your own screening criteria to include or exclude stocks. For example, you could screen out penny stocks or choose large market capitalization stock only if you wish.
These are just a few examples of the numerous scanning and screening features available, but almost anything you might to screen or scan for you can find possible on the thinkorswim® trading platform.
Before diving into advanced trading strategies using thinkorswim® level 2 trading quotes, practice using the thinkorswim® paper trading section called paperMoney.
By combining thinkorswim® backtesting with paper trading, you can find the best strategies to suit your risk tolerance, capacity for risk and financial goals.
You don’t have to risk a penny during the learning phase. And if you do get stuck, you can visit the thinkorswim® learning center or contact thinkorswim® support, who we found to be very helpful. thinkorswim® paperMoney tutorials are also available.
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thinkorswim® Pros and Cons
The TD Ameritrade thinkorswim® platform supports trading in stocks, futures, forex, mutual funds, ETFs, fixed-income, and ETFs at reasonable cost, and provides the most extensive range of tools, screeners, chart studies and scanners of any trading platform that we have reviewed. You get free third-party research, free real-time data, and free analysis software but with so much on offer, the platform risks overwhelming first-time users. Our recommendation is stick with it because the more you look the more value you find.
thinkorswim® caters to the following securities.
Mutual funds and bonds cannot be traded via thinkorswim® trading platform but can be traded via its parent company, TD Ameritrade.
thinkorswim® fees are charged on trading transactions as follows.
thinkorswim® Platform Features
thinkorswim® Review Summary
For serious options traders, thinkorswim® has virtually no peers. While competitors have caught up over the years, thinkorswim® stands alone for its combination of extensive research, advanced charting, fast order execution, knowledgeable staff, capability to execute complex options trading strategies, and comprehensive screening tools.
Whether you are looking to create your own technical studies or use any of the 300+ existing one, or take advantage of free real-time data, free third party research, free analysis software on your desktop or mobile device, thinkorswim® has got you covered.
The commissions and fees are very reasonable for the value provided, especially considering almost any security imaginable can be traded, including stocks, options, futures, forex, mutual funds, fixed-income, and ETFs.
The bottom line is if you want a 5-star trading platform designed for the active traders who is cost conscious and wants an extensive range of tools to make more informed trading decisions, thinkorswim® is worth checking out.
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Thinkorswim is TD Ameritrade’s forex trading platform. It’s a full-service brokerage for savvy investors, and allows you to trade forex alongside your other investment products all from the same account. This powerful platform puts every imaginable forex trading tool at your fingertips, but the level of advanced features may not be ideal for beginners.
Thinkorswim claims to offer access to elite-level trading tools and resources. You’ll be able to trade equities, options, futures, and forex on a platform powered by insights, education, and a dedicated trade desk to help you nail even the most complex strategies and techniques.
Is it true?
Yes. Thinkorswim has all the resources of TD Ameritrade, a company with client assets in excess of 1.2 trillion dollars — with that kind of worth, you know they’re doing something right for its 11 million clients.
You’ll find some nice tools available, like paperMoney, which gives you a virtual margin account and virtual IRA, each funded with $100,000, to try out your strategies before you put real money on the line. You’ll be able to set rules to automatically trigger orders that help to manage risk, and access 400-plus technical indicators ranging from support and resistance to candlestick and profile. You can even build your own algorithms with something called thinkScript.
These features and many more make thinkorswim a terrific option for experienced forex traders, and the ability to do all your trading out of one account offers a streamlined experience even if forex is only part of your trading program.
Those who know what they’re doing with forex, and want a powerful tool that allows them to trade as they wish and take quick advantage of changing market conditions. Thinkorswim is also great for the investor who has multiple accounts across the board: forex, futures, stocks, options, and more, and are looking for a professional solution to manage and track a diverse portfolio. Some brokers make you open separate accounts to trade different products. With thinkorswim, it’s seamless and efficient.
Thinkorswim has so much on offer that it might be a bit much for novice investors. It takes some work, and good knowledge of the language of finance, to get up to speed on the platform. Beginners might be happier with a platform that’s a bit simpler and easier to manage. Thinkorswim’s minimum deposit is $3,500, which may also put it out of the running for first-timers.
Commission and non-commission pricing
If you’re looking for flexibility, thinkorswim’s variable pricing structures give you options. Non-commissioned pairs trade in increments of 10,000 units, with the company compensated through the standard spread. If you’re interested in commission-based trading, thinkorswim charges a fee for each trade, which can lower trading costs for higher-volume investors.
Great mobile app
If you do business from your cell phone, you’ll like the real-time quotes and charts with more than 180 studies that let you execute in-depth technical analyses and find the best price on the spur of the moment. Set up custom alerts to let you know about position changes, so you can easily stay on top of things. The app has earned 4 stars on Google Play and 4.5 stars on Apple’s App Store — this product has a lot of fans.
Top broker for currency pairs
Thinkorswim offers 70-plus tradable currency pairs, which puts them at the top of the pile among brokers in this category. If you have the experience, you’ll be able to leverage currency fluctuations in less developed economies and add some nice diversity to your portfolio.
Autotrade availability limited
Although thinkorswim is generally a robust platform, it lacks an automated trading option, unless you are a subscriber to one of their partner advisory newsletters. The problem there is that most of the newsletters are focused on options trading, not forex. If you absolutely need an autotrade feature, take a look at FXDD or eToro.
Chaotic chat room
Thinkorswim’s chat rooms are a mixed bag. Sure, you’ll find some knowledgeable individuals online with whom to share strategies and ideas. But it can also get pretty chaotic, and there’s no way of knowing if the person you’re talking to is good at what they do or not. Any tips you pick up in a chat room should definitely be taken with a grain of salt.
thinkorswim vs. Ally Invest
If you’re looking to get started in forex trading, Ally Invest might be a better option for you than thinkorswim. You can begin trading with only $250 — compared to $3,500 for thinkorswim — and a very favorable fee structure lets you put more money in your account and less in a broker’s pocket. Ally’s trading platform is user-friendly and easy for newbies to figure out. Trading panel shortcuts let you customize the experience so that it works well for you. One caveat: Ally Invest, unlike thinkorswim, doesn’t allow you to do all your trading within the same account, which can be a hassle if you’re also interested in trading stocks, options, or futures.
thinkorswim vs. ATC Brokers
ATC Brokers, like thinkorswim, is more suitable for the experienced investor. High-end trading tools and perks like a non-dealing desk environment are appealing. The platform lets you customize and execute orders quickly, and move between analysis and trading without having to navigate between windows. It lacks beginner-friendly features like extensive educational resources, but does provide backtest trading software to run simulations and test run your strategy.
thinkorswim vs. OANDA
OANDA offers benefits for newbies and experienced traders alike, with robust platforms that work well on desktop or mobile. Its focus is exclusively on forex trading, so if you’re interested in diversifying your interests, thinkorswim is a better option. OANDA has some great perks, though, like its access to historical exchange rate data, which allows you to backtest strategies. You can also subscribe to a data feed to gain even more and deeper analysis before you trade.
How easy is it to make money with forex?
Forex trading takes skill and, to maximize your returns, deep pockets. It’s certainly possible to make money with forex, but it’s also possible to lose money.
As Forex.com says on its risk warning page: “The possibility exists that you could sustain a total loss of initial margin funds and be required to deposit additional funds to maintain your position. If you fail to meet any margin requirement, your position may be liquidated and you will be responsible for any resulting losses.”
In other words, it’s entirely possible to not only lose all the money you deposit, but also owe additional money on top of that loss. Factors from currency volatility to market manipulation can play a role in your ability to earn a positive return. If you’re a beginner, you may want to limit your initial investment and leverage, and use all the resources available at a reputable forex brokerage like thinkorswim to help give you an edge.
How do I go about picking the best forex broker for me?
We’ve given you some tips on what you should be looking for in our review, but here are a few other things to take into account.
First, be suspicious of unregulated firms. In the U.S., brokers are regulated by the National Futures Association (NFA). Canada and much of the EU also employ regulatory firms. Outside of those areas, however, you may see firms with no regulatory oversight. Approach them with caution.
Second, create a budget before you look for a forex broker. That way you won’t be swayed by a flashy company with a high minimum or expensive fees — which is easy to do when you’re starting out.
Third, do your homework. Forex trading is complex. Check out the wealth of free information at sites like Investopedia and Bloomberg (which allows some access for non-members) so that you understand the language of forex and how the process works before you dive in.
Do I need to worry about the safety of my funds with forex trading?
Possibly. For one thing, brokers can get hacked and they can, unfortunately, go bankrupt. If you’re trading in stocks, your funds are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). Forex traders don’t have this reassurance.
Also check to see if brokers offer negative balance protection, which says you won’t be liable for more money than your account balance if there’s a crash. If this is a concern for you, you’ll want to go with a brokerage house that’s allied to a bank or well-known financial institution.
The Bottom Line
Thinkorswim is worth considering if you’re an experienced trader who wants to be able to access and view multiple trading options — forex, stock options, etc. — from one account. With a flexible pricing structure and powerful trading tools and resources, the platform allows you to respond quickly to financial shifts and offers some real leverage if you’re looking to make money in forex.
About the Authors
Philip Palermo Lead Senior Editor – For the Home
TD AMERITRADE – THINKORSWIM REVIEW
Trading with TOS is about to get a lot 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. We have a bit of a romance going with the Thinkorswim platform. Many traders do. It’s not just because they have the best features for pro traders.
Undoubtedly because Thinkorswim offers a free, 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.
Is ThinkorSwim a Good Platform for Beginners & Advanced Traders? (TD Ameritrade – ThinkorSwim Review)
Alright, so 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 many 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 wacked. No, but you can fund an account and not get charged inactivity fees, and you can get free comission trades. so that’s pretty amazing in our book!
TD was recently acquired by Charles Schwab, so things keep changing! You’ll see by 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 as well. Let’s take a closer look at what this trading tool can do for you.
Watch Our ThinkorSwim Review Tutorial to See How to Use the TD Ameritrade Platform
Thinkorswim is available in both mobile and desktop versions and can be used for stock trading, ETFs, futures, forex, and options, including multi-leg options.
On your desktop, Thinkorswim is an advanced platform 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 an assortment of tools to draw on them.
In fact, when it comes to charting, Thinkorswim’s good reputation precedes them. So much so that many traders will open an account with TD Ameritrade with minimal funding just so that they can use Thinkorswim for planning their trades and charting while actually trading with another broker. The ThinkorSwim review articles speak for themselves.
1. Tools You Can Use
Do you like to write your own script? We’re not talking about a movie script here. I am referring to the Thinkorswim coding language called “thinkScript” that helps traders create their individual 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. 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. Spread Hacker helps traders search for spreads, and Spread Book shows all the orders of traders 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. Take a look at a list of the top trading companies . Also, here’s a list of the top free trading brokers.
2. Practice Makes. Money
Traders can test their strategies by using Thinkorswim’s Paper Money trading account without risking any real money. It’s available for both the 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 TD 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. 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. 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’re going to be backtesting strategies a lot. And practicing at odd hours of the day. Take advantage of this tool and spend time with the ToS simulator as much as possible and prove you can make money with your strategy on paper first!
By the way we do show how to use TOS live each in our trading rooms. Check out our trading service and get a first hand education.
3. TD Ameritrade
A Thinkorswim review without including some info on TD Ameritrade would not be complete since the two are integrated as one.
The brokerage service has a wide array of account types to suit virtually everyone and every need. I could write an entire article on the various accounts alone. To view the account types available, go to TD 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.)
There is no minimum amount required to open an account, but if you’re playing with margin on options or futures, you’re going to need a 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.
How Much Does It Cost to Open a ThinkorSwim Account? (TD Ameritrade Fees & Pricing Breakdown in 2020)
Currently, the rate for stocks and ETFS is free. See TD Ameritrade for detailed information about pricing, fees, and margin & interest rates (find out how to open an investment account).
Because of the strict competition for free trading from up and coming brokers, TD had to lower their fees for 2020. TD Ameritrade offers a lot to make it attractive to traders on a budget. The broker wars are good for the consumer, as long as service does not suffer.
1. “Where Shall I Go? What Shall I Do?”
It’s no secret by now that we have a strong penchant for the Thinkorswim platform. That’s because we use it every day. 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.
After all, the Bullish Bears community was created with the vision of becoming the most trusted stock market trading community in the world, and our mission is to give our community members an honest, realistic, and affordable education in the stock market. Take our TOS course.
2. TOS Drawbacks
Some drawbacks, and there are not many. Order executions sometimes lag, you need to be careful when trading low float stocks with thinkorswim. They are not the FASTEST at order exectution, but they are good.
TD 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)
TD required a lot of margin for futures, so you are better off going with ninjatrader if you have limited funds.
Is It Free to Use Thinkorswim?
The Thinkorswim app is so feature-rich that it can be a bit mind-boggling for the beginning trader. At Bullish Bears, we are experts at using this platform. Since it’s what we use to plan much of our own trading, we know all the ins and outs of it.
We can show you very clearly how Thinkorswim works, how to get yourself set up, and how you can make the most of its tools and features.
You’re not Scarlett O’Hara, and “Frankly my dear, we DO give a damn”. Take our ThinkorSwim course to help you get started, which is found under our trading courses.
Thanks for reading our TD Ameritrade – Thinkorswim review and be sure to check out the rest of our free courses when you are ready to get started using it! Enjoy!
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