Tradestation vs Thinkorswim

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TradeStation review 2015
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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: $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: 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 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

Tradestation vs Thinkorswim: Pros


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim

  • Great direct-access platform
  • Best charting package
  • Trading modeling functionality
  • Rich selection of investment products
  • Active online trader community

  • 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

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). Excluded are also accounts with $100,000 balance
  • High stock and ETF commissions for those who don't trade a lot
  • Lots of fees for market data
  • Direct routing up to 1,000 shares is no additional charge, $0.004 per share thereafter
  • $35 annual IRA fee
  • Steep learning curve: trading platform is too complicated for beginner investors
  • Poor research amenities
  • Excluding the first 10 free cancels, if the total number of cancels is more than the total number of contracts executed per day, per account, there is a $1.00 options cancelation charge per each cancel that is over and above the number of contracts executed
  • 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 its 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 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 2/12/2015.

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