Scottrade vs Thinkorswim in 2015: Account Pricing, Commissions, Fees
- Stocks and ETFs: $7
- Stocks and ETFs broker assisted: $32
- Stocks and ETFs interactive voice response (IVR) telephone system: $32
- Options: $7 + $1.25 per contract
- Mutual funds: $17
- CDs, OTC Secondary Corporates, OTC Secondary Municipals, U.S. Treasury Bills, Notes, Bonds and STRIPS, New Corporate Offerings: subject to a markup or markdown
- Listed Corporate Bonds: $35 + $3 per bond (minimum investment $1,000)
- Unit Investment Trusts (UIT): $50 liquidation fee
- Foreign Stocks Transferring In or Out: $60
- Investment products: stocks, options, mutual funds, CDs, munis, U.S. Treasury, Canadian and foreign stocks, ETFs
- Scottrade minimum deposit to open account: $2,500 ($0 for IRA accounts)
- All Scottrade fees
- Stocks and ETFs: $9.99
- Stocks and ETFs broker assisted: $49.99
- Stocks and ETFs interactive voice response (IVR) telephone system: $34.99
- Options: $9.99 + $0.75 per contract
- No-load mutual funds: $49.99
- Treasuries at auction: $25
- All other bonds and CMOs, CDs: on a net yield basis
- Futures: $2.25 per contract (plus exchange & regulatory fees)
- Forex: Non-commission currency pairs trade in increments of 10,000 units (and do not contain a "#" symbol suffix). There are no additional fees or charges.
- Investment products: stocks, mutual funds, options, ETFs, bonds, CDs, UITs, futures, and forex
- Thinkorswim\TOS minimum deposit to open account: $0 for cash account, $2,000 for margin account
- All Thinkorswim fees
- No inactivity, account maintenance or hidden fees
- No-fee IRAs
- 500+ local branches for in-person assistance
- Great support for beginner investors with a massive number of educational resources
- Good banking services: savings, CDs, money market and free checking accounts (free ATM withdrawals, VISA check card, and free first order of checks)
- Free real-time streaming quotes
- Flexible and free dividend reinvestment programs (DRIPs)
- Large number of mutual funds available - over 14,500
- Instant funds deposits
- No surcharges on penny stocks, large orders, or after-hours trading
- Large and well-known company with 126 local branches
- Two excellent trading platforms: Thinkorswim and Trade Architect
- Users can practice trading without risking real money using PaperMoney virtual trading
- Easy access to myTRADE trader community
- No-fee IRA accounts
- No account maintenance or inactivity fees
- Free streaming quotes, including Level II
- Rich selection of independent, third-party research from 12 firms (Standard & Poor's, Morningstar, Jaywalk, TheStreet, etc.)
- 100+ ETFs with no commissions
- Large number of mutual funds - over 13,000 available; 2,500 NTF (no-transaction fee) funds
- Free DRIP (dividend reinvestment plan)
Scottrade vs Thinkorswim: Cons
- Outdated, cluttered website design
- Additional 0.5% of the principal value commission for stocks under $1
- No electronic withdrawals, but clients can use a debit card, checks, or ACH transfer from their bank
- $25,000 account balance, or 9+ stock/option trades during the previous three months is required to use advanced trading platform (ScottradeELITE)
- High $2,500 minimum to open regular brokerage account (but $0 for IRA)
- High commissions on all investment products
- High margin rates
TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim vs Scottrade: Comparison Summary
First, we have to mention that Thinkorswim was bought by TD Ameritrade, and is now a division of one of the top brokerage houses in the country. All new Thinkorswim and TD Ameritrade
customers have the same account with identical pricing, features, tools, and services. The Thinkorswim platform can be downloaded by opening an account at TD Ameritrade, logging in, and going to "Trading Tools -> thinkorswim"
in the main menu. Unlike many other online brokers, there are no monthly fees to use this sophisticated software.
Thinkorswim's/TOS (Thinkorswim Review) commission plan
is more expensive than Scottrade's (Scottrade Review):
$10 versus $7 per stock/ETF trade. Scottrade, however, charges additional fee on penny stock trades (stocks priced under $1). Unadvertised secret is that Thinkorswim's rates are negotiable for active traders.
Both firms don't have account maintenance and inactivity fees as well as surcharges on extended hours trading and large orders. There are no IRA fees at either
company (Scottrade doesn't even have IRA termination fee, which almost all other online brokers charge!). We rated Scottrade and Thinkorswim/TD Ameritrade
as the Top IRA Firms in 2015.
Scottrade is also one of the Best Brokerages for Beginners,
offering lots of learning materials, 500+ local branches for in-person visit, and easy-to-learn and use trading tools.
TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim provides excellent independent investment research (from 13 firms), and powerful, versatile trading platform. The firm also offers free virtual
trading, where investors could test different trading strategies and improve their skills without risking their money.
In summary, we recommend Scottrade for IRA accounts, to beginners and mutual funds investors. TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim would work better for everyone else.
You could also open accounts with both firms (with no money down at TDA and $2,500 at Scottrade) with no obligation (non-IRA accounts don't have account closing fee).
It could be done in about 20 minutes, and you can take advantage of everything these top brokerage houses have to offer at no charge.