Thinkorswim and TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade is an online brokerage service that offers access to a variety of tradable securities. Thinkorswim is its trading platform, free to use for TD Ameritrade account holders and richly steeped with advanced research and analytics tools for active traders. TD Ameritrade acquired Thinkorswim in 2009 from the Thinkorswim Group.
This review specifically goes over the Thinkorswim trading platform. If you’re looking for more information on opening a brokerage account, check out our TD Ameritrade brokerage review.
Thinkorswim is one of several trading platforms available to TD Ameritrade account holders. In fact, Thinkorswim alone comes in three varieties: Thinkorswim Desktop, Thinkorswim Mobile and the newly launched web platform, Thinkorswim Web. TD Ameritrade also offers a second set of web and mobile platforms, TD Ameritrade Web and TD Ameritrade Mobile, leaving its investors spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting a platform.
Due to the variety of features it offers, Thinkorswim is best for:
- TD Ameritrade customers. Thinkorswim is free for TD Ameritrade account holders.
- Experienced investors. Thinkorswim is an advanced platform with a comprehensive suite of technical trading features, including advanced charting technology and options statistics.
Thinkorswim’s offerings are tied to that of its parent brokerage, TD Ameritrade. It offers access to just about every asset on the market, excluding cryptocurrency.
Thinkorswim offers a comprehensive suite of research and analytics tools:
- Economic data. Access over 400,000 economic data points from six continents to better assess the US and global economies.
- Custom alerts. Create custom alerts by selecting from a prepopulated list of events or by using your own personalized criteria.
- Social sentiment. Gauge social media sentiment for stocks you follow with Thinkorswim’s social data graphs.
- Charting tools. Utilize over 400 technical studies across 20 drawings, including eight Fibonacci tools.
- Options statistics. View implied and historical volatility and compare the current day’s option volume to the past five-day average.
- Company profiles. Explore key revenue drivers by company division for projected revenues.
- Live media. Track market movement with newsfeeds from CNBC and the TD Ameritrade Network.
- Strategy roller. Create covered call strategies that automatically roll forward monthly.
- Market Marker Move (MMM). Measure the projected magnitude of price movement by market volatility to anticipate stock movement.
While TD Thinkorswim offers a wealth of digital research tools, new users or passive investors may find it overwhelming. Most of these are best for experienced day traders and active investors.
You can access Thinkorswim via three distinct platforms: desktop, mobile and web. Each platform allows you to execute trades but offers a unique blend of tools and functionality.
- Desktop. Perhaps the most robust of the three, Thinkorswim’s desktop platform offers a dedicated trade desk, customizable testing algorithms and high-grade charting tools with over 400 technical studies.
- Web. If you’d prefer not to download any software, Thinkorswim’s web platform offers a streamlined version of its trading platform with a prebuilt inventory of charts and technical studies and access to the futures and forex markets.
- Mobile. The Thinkorswim mobile app can operate on your mobile device, tablet or Apple Watch and seamlessly syncs with preferences and settings set in the Thinkorswim desktop platform.
Thinkorswim is a well-equipped platform, but that robust functionality comes with a clear tradeoff: it’s not the most user-friendly software on the market.
We turned to Reddit for a deep dive into Thinkorswim’s interface and discovered that traders are quick to praise the platform’s charting capabilities but report that the platform is slow and clunky to navigate. Some warn that Thinkorswim is intimidating — but that with practice, the platform can operate as a powerful tool.
The bottom line? This may not be the best platform for beginners. The learning curve is steep and as new features are added on a regular basis, traders need to be comfortable navigating Thinkorswim’s offerings to stay ahead of the curve.
Pros and cons
- Advanced tools. Expect a professional-grade trading platform, complete with advanced charting tools, analysis, data points and options statistics.
- Paper money. The ability to trade in a virtual stock exchange allows you to practice and try new strategies without putting real money at risk. This idea isn’t completely unique, but it’s a feature many competitors lack.
- Mobile features. Thinkorswim’s mobile app includes live chat and nearly all of the features found on its desktop platform.
- No minimum investment amount. Thinkorswim is free for TD Ameritrade account holders.
- Educational resources. TD Ameritrade provides countless educational tools, such as videos and articles, covering general investing tips and how to get the best out of Thinkorswim.
- Low fees. As of January 2021, the platform charges $0 commissions with a $0.65 contract fee for options.
- Steep learning curve. Thinkorswim’s extensive offerings and sophisticated tools may be difficult to navigate for new traders.
- No direct access to foreign stocks. Some international stocks are available over-the-counter but there’s no direct access to foreign markets.
- No fractional shares. If you were hoping to nab a fractional slice of expensive stock, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
*Signup bonus information updated weekly.
Disclaimer: The value of any investment can go up or down depending on news, trends and market conditions. We are not investment advisers, so do your own due diligence to understand the risks before you invest.
Thinkorswim reviews and complaints
Overall, Thinkorswim is well-received by investors. Since the platform is owned by TD Ameritrade, its Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot pages have very little feedback to go on. Luckily, Redditors have plenty to say.
Redditors rave about the platform’s robust research tools, solid customer support and paper trading service. The two most common complaints? High commissions and slow fill times.
The trading platform’s dedicated mobile app receives mixed reviews. As of March 2021, it earns 4.7 out of 5 stars in the Apple App Store after 213,725 ratings but only 3.1 out of 5 stars in Google Play after 10,060 ratings. Apple users love the app’s real-time charting tools and workstation setup. Google users complain that the app is buggy, glitchy and slow.
Thinkorswim’s customer service is available 24/7.
- For new accounts, call 800-454-9272.
- For existing accounts, call 800-669-3900.
- Live chat: Text 898832 or speak with a representative through Facebook or Twitter.
- In person: TD Ameritrade has over 360 branch locations across the US.
Thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade targets active traders seeking a high-grade platform with sophisticated research tools and three unique trading interfaces. But beginners may find the wealth of features overwhelming and tricky to navigate.
Before making a final decision, compare other trading platforms to find the best fit for your trading needs.