2019 TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim trading platform review. TOS fees, cost, minimum system requirements, commissions, and promotion.


Rating:  4.5-star brokerage firm rating


Overview of TD Ameritrade thinkorswim Platform

TD Ameritrade customers get to buy and sell securities (and more) using the broker’s highly developed desktop software thinkorswim. It is at a professional level, and is one of the most advanced platforms we have used. While it does take time to learn, it may be worth it if you’re looking for the investment world’s best tools.


TD Ameritrade thinkorswim Technical Requirements

TD Ameritrade thinkorswim uses Java 2, so you need to have that installed on your computer. The platform will run on Windows or Mac. For Windows users, the software requires at least XP SP3 and an Intel Atom processor of 1.6 GHz. One GB of RAM is required, and you need at least 50 MB of hard disk space. If you plan to use multiple charts simultaneously or use technical studies, you should have a more powerful machine than these minimum specs.

Mac users need to have at least 10.4.11 iOS and at least a PowerPC processor of 1.42 GHz. TD Ameritrade thinkorswim requires at least 2 GB of RAM for Mac users. Once again, if you plan to do complex charting, plan on having better specs than the minimums.


TD Ameritrade thinkorswim Pricing and Account Requirements

Despite TD Ameritrade thinkorswim’s complexity, TD Ameritrade has managed to offer the software for free. There are no trading requirements or account minimums. Even traders without an account at TD Ameritrade can download the software and try it out in demo mode at no charge.


Margin Requirements

If you’re trading inside a cash account, then obviously you don’t need to worry about margin. If you plan to borrow money from TD Ameritrade to buy stocks, or if you plan to short stocks, then you’ll want to be aware of the broker’s margin policies.

Borrowing money inside a margin account currently costs 10.50%, a rather steep rate. This charge is applied to the first $10,000. TD Ameritrade has a tiered margin schedule, which drops to 7.75% for loan balances above $999,999.

The initial margin requirement at TD Ameritrade is 50% of an equity’s value, and the maintenance requirement is 30%. Some stocks have higher numbers.


Thinkorswim Promotion

Trade free for 60 days + Get up to $600.

Open Thinkorswim Account

Opening the Platform

TD Ameritrade thinkorswim is launched from the desktop. Because it has a lot of powerful tools, it takes a while to load. Once you get to the login window, you’ll see a toggle switch that gives you two choices: Live Trading and Paper Money. The first option is for regular trading with real money, and the second is a simulated trading system with a fake currency. If you’ve never used the platform before, be sure to practice with it first.


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim Review


Outline of the Platform

By default, there’s a column of information on the left-hand side. Here, you’ll find account information (such as buying power), a watchlist, and various windows that can be switched from one tool to another. To do this, click on the plus sign in the lower-left corner. A pop-up window will display all the available choices, some of which are FX currency map, calculator, mine sweeper (yes, the video game), Trader TV, and Level II quotes.


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim Review


The Second Half

To the right of this column is where all the action takes place. There is a top menu with several choices. “Monitor” displays working, filled, and cancelled orders. Next in line is “Trade.” As the name suggests, this is a good place to submit orders. Under the tab are choices for forex, futures, and pairs.

The next tab is “Analyze.” Here, you’ll find several security analysis tools. One is thinkBack, which is a backtesting tool. Another is Probability Analysis, which displays the likelihood in graph format of a security reaching a specific price by a certain date.

The next tab is “Scan.” Using the tools here, you’ll be able to search for securities by a wide variety of criteria. There’s a search engine for stocks and another for derivatives. There’s also something called Spread Hacker, which will deliver lots of multi-leg option trades.

Under “MarketWatch” you’ll find alerts and a very detailed market calendar. After this is “Charts,” which, as the name implies, is where the software’s graphing program sits. It’s very advanced with roughly 400 technical studies.

The charting section is also a good place to submit orders. With a right-click of the mouse, you’ll get a drop-down menu with several choices. These include both simple and complex orders.

The next tab is “Tools,” and here you’ll find on-demand videos from Reuters and CNBC. Also available is mytrade, which presents recent trades from other TD Ameritrade clients.

There’s also an “Education” tab, which displays learning materials from the TD Ameritrade website. We found videos on how to use thinkorswim; so this section will definitely come in handy.

Finally, there’s a “Help” tab at the end of the menu. Here, you’ll find phone and fax numbers plus an email address that goes to a thinkorswim help desk. There’s also a system menu that displays how much data, memory, and throughput TD Ameritrade thinkorswim is utilizing.


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim Review


Customization

In the upper-right corner of the TD Ameritrade thinkorswim window you’ll see a “Setup” icon. This is where the software can be customized. A layout can be saved and used as the startup arrangement so that you get the saved layout when the platform launches.

Font sizes can be adjusted in this menu, hot keys can be set up, the background color can be changed, and the platform’s language can be switched to Chinese. If you have more than one TDA account, you can specify a default account.

If you want to change the colors of a graph, you’ll need to right-click anywhere on the chart and select “Style” and then “Settings....”


Customer Service

If you have any questions about TD Ameritrade thinkorswim (and you probably will; it’s a very complex program), TD Ameritrade has added a contact icon in the top-right corner. Click on “Support/Chat” for several contact options, one of which is ‘Live Support.” This is an internal e-mail service that isn’t quite instantaneous. In a test run, it took us several minutes to get a response. But the service is there if you need it.


Thinkorswim Promotion

Trade free for 60 days + Get up to $600.

Open Thinkorswim Account

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TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim Reviewed by TopRatedFirms.com. Rating: 4.5