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Thinkorswim review

Thinkorswim vs Scottrade

Scottrade vs Thinkorswim in 2015: Account Pricing, Commissions, Fees


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim

  • 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: 3,000+ commission-free NTF funds, $17 for others
  • 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 per transaction
  • 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 flat fee
  • All other bonds and CMOs, CDs: on a net yield basis
  • Futures: $3.50 per contract (inclusive of exchange fees)
  • Investment products: stocks, bonds, 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

Scottrade vs Thinkorswim: Pros


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim

  • No inactivity, account maintenance or hidden fees
  • No-fee IRAs
  • #1 in customer satisfaction according to JD Power and Associates
  • 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 first order of checks free)
  • Free real-time streaming quotes and charts
  • Free dividend reinvestment
  • Large number of mutual funds available - over 14,500

  • ThinkOrSwim is now part of TD Ameritrade, one of the largest brokerages in the U.S. with many local branches
  • No additional commission on stocks under $2, large orders, or extended hours trading
  • Best trading platform in the industry
  • Free virtual trading
  • Easy access to myTRADE trader community
  • No-fee retirement accounts
  • No maintenance or inactivity fees
  • Free streaming quotes, including Level II
  • Rich selection of independent research offered through S&P, Morningstar and other firms
  • Large number of mutual funds - over 13,000 available

Scottrade vs Thinkorswim: Cons


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim

  • Additional 0.5% of the principal value commission for stocks under $1
  • No electronic withdrawals, but you can use a debit card or check. Once you receive checks, you will have the routing number and account number, which you can use to withdraw money via ACH initiated from other financial institutions
  • Outdated, cluttered website design

  • 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.

Scottrade is rated #1 in the industry in customer satisfaction according to J.D. Power and Associates. We named the firm one of Best Brokerages in 2015.

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.

Scottrade Promotion Link - up to $2000

Thinkorswim Promotion Link - 60 days free
trading + up to $600:

TDAmeritrade review

This article was updated on 2/11/2015.

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