Compare Thinkorswim vs Active Trader Pro which trading platform is better in 2019? Fidelity ATP vs TD Ameritrade TOS active trader software.

Overview of thinkorswim and Active Trader Pro

While Fidelity and TD Ameritrade are known for their great customer service and fund offerings, they also have excellent trading technology. In particular, both brokers offer a desktop trading platform. Active Trader Pro is available at Fidelity, while TD Ameritrade customers have access to thinkorswim. This article will compare the two programs and see which one is the better choice.


Requirements

In order to gain access to Active Trader Pro, Fidelity clients must place 36 or more trades in a rolling 12-month period. In the past, there was no way for anyone else to gain access to the software. Recently, however, Fidelity has allowed interested traders to download a demo and try out the program with no obligation. Both guests and Fidelity customers who don’t meet the trading minimum can download the platform. Keep in mind that the demo version only works on PC’s.

TD Ameritrade is a rarity in the brokerage world by not imposing any trading requirements or account minimums to use thinkorswim. Investors who aren’t clients of TD Ameritrade can download the program. It will function for 60 days in a simulated trading mode.


Starting the Program

Both platforms are desktop applications. Active Trader Pro consistently starts up faster than thinkorswim (15 seconds v. 30 seconds). Thinkorswim usually downloads updates when it starts, which may be why it’s slower to load. The thinkorswim logon window has an option to choose either the regular trading mode or a paper trading version.


Taking a Look Around

Both programs display a lot of information in small windows that fill the computer monitor. Active Trader Pro’s default font is a little larger and easier to read. Nevertheless, thinkorswim is customizable, and its font size can be adjusted.

The windows in Active Trader Pro can easily be moved around and resized. In thinkorswim, they can’t be repositioned as easily, although a window can be detached and moved around the screen.


TOS vs Fidelity ATP


Features

There is a convenient Home Screen that automatically displays in the center of the screen upon logging into thinkorswim. After closing the window, you can bring it back up by clicking on ‘Home Screen’ at the top of the program.

The Home Screen displays a CNBC window where financial news streams free of charge. There is also a list of upcoming conference calls. Clicking on one of them produces a pop-up window with more detailed information and a method to listen on-line. An alert can also be set. Other economic events are listed, including earnings announcements and futures liquidation.

Thinkorswim has more features than Active Trader Pro. For example, futures and forex can be traded on thinkorswim, but not on Fidelity’s platform. The forex and futures trading windows are easy to manipulate and read. They can also be customized for complex order types.


Thinkorswim Futures Trading


The basic trading ticket on Active Trader Pro only offers four order choices: buy, sell, buy to cover, or sell short. TD Ameritrade’s platform, on the other hand, has many complex order types, such as order cancels other and blast all. Fidelity’s platform does have the ability to create and save up to 50 orders, or submit a maximum of 20 orders at once.

Paper trading is available on thinkorswim. It is a permanent feature of the program. ATP does not offer anything beyond its demo mode. Several features are disabled in this version, whereas thinkorswim’s paper trading version does not disable any functions.


Active Trader Pro vs TOS


Similarities

Both programs are customizable. Thinkorswim can be displayed in white or black, with a new or older color scheme. Active Trade Pro offers white, black, or blue. Both platforms have real-time news along with alerts and watch lists.


Thinkorswim Charts


Platform education is available with both brokers. TD Ameritrade offers live webinars to help traders master its software. The broker calls them Swim Lessons, and they are held on a daily basis.

Active Trader Pro has a help link at the top of the window that displays a host of instructional materials. These include articles, videos, and FAQ’s that address a wide variety of platform issues. These include charting, setting up the program, trading derivatives, and more. Fidelity has occasional live events for ATP users.


Mobile Trading

TD Ameritrade has come up with an ingenious idea: offer thinkorswim in mobile version. Like its desktop counterpart, the thinkorswim mobile app comes with no account minimums. It has all the drawing tools and technical indicators that the desktop platform offers, although some areas have more limited capabilities. Fidelity has failed to offer Active Trader Pro in mobile format.


Options Trading

Derivative contracts can be traded on either platform. There are two option search features on thinkorswim: option hacker and spread hacker. These can quickly find hundreds of option trading ideas by searching based on various criteria, such as delta and probability of profit.

Active Trader Pro has even more option search tools. A window displays option chains. Besides calls and puts, butterflies, diagonals, and iron condors are available. The option chain window can be expanded full screen. There is also an option statistics window that displays a wealth of information, such as open interest and volatility numbers.


Promotions

TD Ameritrade/Thinkorswim: Trade free for 60 days + Get up to $600.

Fidelity: Get 500 free trades with $100,000+ deposit.



Advantages of Fidelity’s Program

Besides being better for option traders, Fidelity’s software is easier to navigate and learn. The platform has a better look to it and is easier to use. Bloomberg business news also streams on Fidelity’s platform instead of CNBC.

Thinkorswim has more complexity. This increases the difficulty in using it. Although Fidelity’s platform has fewer features, it is more user-friendly and the trader isn’t overwhelmed with information.


Active Trader Pro vs Thinkorswim: Recommendation

Both brokerage firms have created excellent platforms for their customers. Active Trader Pro is simpler to use and takes less time to learn. Thinkorswim, on the other hand, would be a better choice for professional stock, futures, or currency traders.


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