Tradestation vs Thinkorswim

Account Pricing, Commissions, and Fees



  • Stocks and ETFs flat-rate plan: $8.99 (1 to 49 trades/month); $6.99 (50 to 199 trades/month); $4.99 (200 or more)
  • Stocks and ETFs per-share plan: $0.01 per share first 500 shares, $0.006 per share after that; $1.00 minimum per trade
  • Options per trade plan: $8.99 + $0.70 per contract (1 to 49 trades/month); $6.99 + $0.50 per contract (50 to 199 trades/month); $4.99 + $0.30 per contract (200 or more)
  • Options per contract plan: $1.00, no base or ticket charge, market or limit orders
  • Futures: from $1.20 (1 to 300 monthly contracts) to $0.25 (20,000+ monthly contracts) per side, per contract + exchange, regulatory & overnight fees
  • Mutual funds: $14.95
  • Bonds: $14.95 + $5 per bond
  • Investment products: stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, futures, forex, ETFs
  • Tradestation minimum deposit to open account: $5,000 for non-daytraders, $5,500 for IRA accounts, and $30,000 for daytraders
  • All Tradestation fees
  • Tradestation promotions

  • Stocks and ETFs: $9.99
  • Stocks and ETFs broker assisted: $49.99
  • 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
  • Thinkorswim login, Thinkorswim promotion and Thinkorswim referral

Tradestation vs Thinkorswim: Pros



  • Very low commissions for active traders
  • Great direct-access platform
  • Best charting package
  • Trading modeling functionality
  • Rich selection of investment products
  • Active online trader community
  • Virtual trading (practice account)
  • Good mutual funds pricing at $15 per transaction

  • Best trading platform on the market
  • No surcharges on penny stocks, large orders, or after-hours trading
  • Trading with one of the largest and well-known brokerage houses in the country
  • Users can practice trading without risking real money using PaperMoney virtual trading account
  • 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 13 firms (Standard & Poor's, Morningstar, Jaywalk, TheStreet, and others)
  • 100+ ETFs with no commissions

Tradestation vs Thinkorswim: Cons



  • $99.95 monthly fee if not traded at least 5,000 shares in previous month (or 50 options contracts a month; or 10 round-turn futures or futures option contracts; or 50 round-turn single stock futures). Fee doesn't apply for accounts with $100,000+ balance
  • $35 annual IRA fee
  • Steep learning curve to master the trading platform
  • Only about 100 mutual funds available
  • Minimum amount to open account is high: $5,000 for non-daytraders and $30,000 for daytraders
  • Direct routing fee of $0.004 per share applies. Orders greater than 10,000 shares will be charged $0.001/share for all shares in excess of 10,000 in the same order.

  • Higher than the average commissions on many investment products
  • High margin rates

TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim vs Tradestation: Comparison Summary

TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim/TOS (Thinkorswim Review) and Tradestation (Tradestation Review) are the most popular direct access, discount brokerage firms on the market right now. They offer very similar flat rate plans on the first 9 stock and ETF trades per month - $10 per trade. Tradestation gets cheaper starting with 10th trade in a month, with rates dropping to as low as $4.99 per trade for clients making 200+ trades per month. Unadvertised secret is that Thinkorswim's rates are negotiable for active traders - one of our traders right now has $5.99 per trade rate.

Both companies developed impressive, customizable, powerful trading platforms, and offer their clients access to helpful online trader communities. Some traders prefer TOS platform, others prefer Tradestation - it's a matter of taste and personal preferences. A trader will have to try both platforms personally to see which one works better in his unique case.

The two brokers provide the widest selection of investment products to trade as well as access to most markets around the world for customers who trade internationally.

Unlike Thinkorswim, Tradestation charges a steep $99 monthly fee if customer did not trade at least 5,000 shares in the previous month (or 50 options contracts a month; or 10 round-turn futures or futures option contracts; or 50 round-turn single stock futures). The fee is waived for accounts with $100,000 or more. This fee makes Tradestation too expensive for most investors who are not active traders or don't have large account balance. Thinkorswim doesn't charge fees - the platform is available free of charge to all TD Ameritrade customers and has no access or volume requirements.

Retirement account seekers will be disappointed with Tradestation's $35 annual IRA fee. Thinkorswim does not charge this fee and therefore is a more attractive choice for an IRA account.

Thinkorswim is now owned by TD Ameritrade, and its clients also take advantage of all the rich offerings of the parent company (Thinkorswim and TD Ameritrade accounts are now 100% identical). The most valuable of these are access to the best independent investment research, excellent mobile trading apps, and free level 2 quotes.

Because of fewer fees (especially no platform fee), which could cost customers a fortune over the years, we strongly recommend Thinkorswim over Tradestation to fairly inactive investors. However, active stock, options, and futures traders should definitely open account with Tradestation.

No matter if you are active or inactive trader, you can also open accounts with both firms with no obligation (non-IRA accounts don't have account closing fee), and take advantage of their unique and valuable features free of charge: indefinitely for Thinkorswim and 90 days free at Tradestation (promotion links are below).

Updated on 1/12/2017.

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