Tradestation vs Thinkorswim

TradeStation review 2015
4-star brokerage firm rating

Thinkorswim review

Thinkorswim vs Tradestation 2015: Pricing


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim

  • Stocks and ETFs flat-rate plan: $9.99 (1 to 9 trades/month); $7.99 (10 to 29 trades/month); $6.99 (30 to 99 trades/month); $5.99 (100 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
  • Options per contract plan: $1.00, no base or ticket charge, market or limit orders
  • Options per trade plan: $9.99 + $0.70 per contract (1 to 9 trades/month); $7.99 + $0.50 per contract (10 to 29 trades/month); $6.99 + $0.40 per contract (30 to 99 trades/month); $5.99 + $0.30 per contract (100 to 199 trades/month); $4.99 + $0.20 per contract (200 or more)
  • Futures: $0.25 - $1.20 per side, per contract + exchange, regulatory & overnight fees
  • Mutual funds: $14.95
  • Bonds: $14.95 + $5 per bond
  • Forex: commission-free with tight spreads and fractional pips
  • OTCBB: $9.99 (100,000 share position maximum)
  • Pink Sheet Stocks: $9.99 (100,000 share position maximum)
  • Investment products: stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, futures, T-Bills, OTCBB, Pink Sheet Stocks, Forex, ETFs
  • Tradestation minimum deposit to open account: $5,000 for non-daytraders, futures and forex accounts, $5,500 for futures and forex IRA accounts, and $30,000 for daytraders
  • All Tradestation 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

Tradestation vs Thinkorswim: Pros


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim

  • Low commissions for active traders
  • Great direct-access platform
  • Best charting package
  • Trading modeling functionality
  • Rich selection of investment products
  • Active online trader community
  • Good mutual funds pricing at $15 per transaction

  • 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)

Tradestation vs Thinkorswim: Cons


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim

  • $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 also doesn't apply for accounts with $100,000+ balance
  • High stock and ETF commissions for those who don't trade a lot
  • Direct routing up to 1,000 shares is no additional charge, $0.004 per share thereafter
  • $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

  • High commissions on all investment products
  • High margin rates

TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim vs Tradestation: Comparison Summary

TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim/TOS (Thinkorswim Review) and Tradestation (Tradestation Review) offer very similar flat rate plans on first 9 stock and ETF trades per month - $10 per trade. Tradestation gets cheaper starting with 10th trade in a month. However, it also has a $0.004 per share surcharge on every share in a order over 1,000. Unadvertised secret is that Thinkorswim's rates are negotiable for active traders.

Both companies developed impressive, customizable, powerful trading platforms, and offer their clients access to helpful trader communities. They also provide a wide selection of investment products and access to many international markets for customers to trade.

Unlike Thinkorswim, Tradestation charges a steep $99 monthly fee if customer did not trade at least 5,000 shares in previous month. This makes it too expensive for most prospective investors with exception of active traders.

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.

Thinkorswim is now part of TD Ameritrade, and therefore its clients also take advantage of all the features of the parent company (Thinkorswim and TD Ameritrade accounts are now 100% identical).

Because of fewer fees (especially no platform fee), which could cost customers a fortune over the years, we strongly recommend Thinkorswim over Tradestation to 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 for 90 days at TradeStation (promotion links are below).

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

Thinkorswim review

Tradestation Promotion - trade commission
free for up to 90 days:

TradeStation review 2015

This article was updated on 8/14/2015.

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