Our Review of thinkorswim, Division of TD Ameritrade, Inc.
Can ThinkorSwim 'Roll' with the Times?
ThinkorSwim has been an industry staple for 15 years in online brokerage firms. But are they still one of the best 'bets' in online trading options?
We think so. Here's why:
If online Forex traders like eToro are the sexy 'newish' comers for the novice and younger generational trading base, ThinkorSwim is the grandaddy counterpart. Ever the wise, gentile teacher, it offers a wide and almost overwhelming selection of options.
ThinkorSwim has been trading an educating online traders since 1999. Bought in 2010 by TD Ameritrade, the company was bolstered both by the firm's broadly resourced base and thus was given an edge.
Unlike other platforms, almost every kind of asset is offered here. ThinkorSwim is a Forex trader, and offers an array of alternative and substantial options from Spreads, Future Options, Stocks and Single options. What's even cooler is they offer an overwhelming variety of categories, from Day orders, Stop, or Stop Limit orders. They go one step further, in providing multiple tabs to conveniently review and learn what each order means.
One gets the strong brand sense behind the firm: ThinkorSwim's here to educate you, and help you find the best opportunities. They hit the mark here.
Commission and Spreads
ThinkorSwim isn't interested in 'nickel and diming' its customers. It offers high visibility on rates and fees and flat rates for unlimited commissions for most assets.
It's obvious TD Ameritrade's asset base offers an advantage, allowing ThinkorSwim to outshine its competition. ThinkorSwim offers commission free trades bonuses and $600 cash sign ups. Though there's a limit, about 500 across the board in trades. That's a huge draw for consumers, whether they're trading daily or making just a few trades a week. It's a nice feature.
But the best feature is how streamlined their rates are. A monthly fee of $9.99 for internet trading, and about $0.75 to $2.25 for contract-based trades, means commission free trading for most instruments. But Forex trades are set-up a little differently. ThinkorSwim offers a 'Non-commission Currency Pairs' option and 'Commission Currency Pairs' option, as in a EUR/USD 1% or $1.00 commission for a $1,000 trade.
Depending on your preference, ThinkorSwim's software and user-experience could be polarizing. They offer thinkDesktop. A well-known, time-tested platform. But the downloadable option could cause problems for some users. Though there's some room in it's operating system requirements, they recommend users have at least a 10.7 Mac OS or Windows XP or 7. It's a Java-based platform with a dense user experience. And this is where some users could run into snags. While the company philosophy is apparent, it becomes rather oppressive in its density to educate, inform and offer options. Fluency on the platform might take a little longer than needed. It's got a Windows feel, requiring left-hand clicks to reach different options like their 'ScanTab,' where users can sort by personal watchlist, volatility or fundamentals.
But it's daily 'Swim Lesson', a daily online webinar, offsets user-ability issues here, and we'd suggest overall the platform's worth the time.
Deposits and Withdrawals
Deposit amounts range from a minimum of $500 to $250,000. However, it's deposit and withdrawal process is not as fluid as others, offering only bank account transfer or EFT, check or wire. Withdrawals are done to the users TD Ameritrade account or an outside institution transfer and can include a fee.
Again, this online platform offers excellent service, with both 24/7 telephone support and up to 100 U.S. locations. The online support is comparable to most other platforms, with the added lesson touch. Their aim to educate bolsters their customer support, too.
Regulations and Safety
Customers can use play money, up to $100,000 to start with, so they get an understanding of the platform and its safety features. It's SSL encrypted platfrom, along with powerhouse support through TDAmeritrade, offer a robust safety net.
ThinkorSwim offers a one-size-fits all Leverage option, offering a 50:1 or 200:1 option as the maximum.
Though it's not the 'sexiest' platform around, we ThinkorSwim is still one of the best options overall. Even since the 2010 TDAmeritrade takeover, the platform has only gotten better, providing dense visibility, robust educational resources and overall low fees.