Thinkorswim rating

TOS Review

What TOS Has to Offer

TOS or Thinkorswim was bought by TD Ameritrade (member of SIPC) and is now part of this one of the largest brokerage houses in the U.S. The Thinkorswim/TD Ameritrade brokerage account is a good choice for most investors for a few different reasons.

First, there are no fees for the account. Unlike other banks and brokerages, Thinkorswim does not charge any annual fees which is a big advantage for the investor looking to earn as much possible by reducing investment costs.

Second, there is no minimum deposit required to open the account. This is a great feature because it allows investors to open an account easily at any point in their investment career.

Third, Thinkorswim has 296 commission free ETFs that investors can trade, many of which are popular Vanguard funds with very low expense ratios. Users must first enroll in the commission free ETF program, otherwise they will pay normal commission fees. Another caveat to keep in mind is that if commission free ETFs are sold within 30 days of purchase, they are no longer commission free.

Opening an Account

Opening a new brokerage account with TOS is quite simple and straightforward. Click on their promotion link to get 60 days of free trading plus up to $600 bonus - Trade free for 60 days + Get up to $600. - hit "Open an Account" button and you'll get to account application screens. Information required includes: Personal information, Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number as well as some information about a current employer. If an applicant already has a different Thinkorswim account, he or she can simply provide their current account information to speed up the process.

The way that Thinkorswim handles multiple account types owned by the same person is very odd. Instead of having one username and password with which to log in to the website and then consequently view all accounts for that owner, Thinkorswim issues a separate username and password for each type of account. This means that if multiple accounts are created by the same owner, they will need to be linked to one another, which is a fairly convoluted process. Once the accounts are finally linked, the owner can log in to any of the linked accounts and see all of them at once.

TOS Platform Review

Thinkorswim has made a name for itself by offering a wide variety of trading and investment tools. The most appealing feature of Thinkorswim is their trading platform.

TOS Review

The professional layout of the platform features many tabs, tools and data charts to keep investors informed. It may seem overwhelming at first, but the logical layout of Thinkorswim has been designed to be both comprehensive and quick to learn. All panels can be edited. Quick quotes, watch lists, live news and more are all available to be added or removed.

Two-thirds of the client is the main pane. This is where the bulk of user interaction happens. There are various research tools and direct investing tabs on the upper part of this pane. The Monitor tab gives you a general overview of your account, such as your activity and positions. Another commonly used tab is the Trade tab. This is where most investors will spend their time.

TOS Broker

In this picture Apple Inc. (AAPL) is used as an example. The shear amount of data can be overwhelming to a novice investor. Thinkorswim is certainly a high-end, yet free, product with all of the extra bells and whistles. TOS is designed to organize vast amounts of technical data so investors can have all the information they need to make an informed decision. In this picture, there is general information about the underlying stock price, volume, yield and P/E ratio. For the more technical and advanced investor there are more graphs, data and analytical tools available. By right clicking the options contract the user may select from numerous choices, including TOS charts, fundamental tools, and trade grids and more.

TOS Brokerage Review

Alerts can also be setup from this selection to inform investors of a change in stock or options prices. In the settings pane, users may enter an email or even a phone number to be informed about these changes while they are away from the client. The number of tools and charts available on TOS are incomparable to almost all other online brokers.

TOS Broker

There are many features that aren’t well known but are important nonetheless. For example, there is a built in scripting language within TOS. This language is known as thinkscipt. It allows users to create their own studies and indicators.

The chart features of Thinkorswim are also highly customizable. There are options to compare and view multiple charts simultaneously. TOS also offers easy to access to information and profiles on companies and their associated stocks. This level of customization and detail makes TOS an extremely powerful investment platform.

Read detailed Thinkorswim platform review »

Customer Service

Thinkorswim’s customer service is knowledgeable and easy to reach. It takes less than a minute to begin speaking with a real person, and they are very helpful and knowledgeable. They do try to sell some of their other accounts and services, but will quickly stop when asked.

TOS vs. the Competition

Thinkorswim is a great option for most investors who are looking to keep all or most of their assets under one easy to use roof. Thinkorswim is also a good option for investors looking to trade ETFs fairly actively because of the commission free ETF program.

Investors that are looking for the low price on all mutual funds as well as no-transaction-fee mutual funds often choose Ally Invest, that charges just $9.95 for mutual fund transactions. However, trading tools at this broker are nowhere near those at TOS.

Perhaps the fiercest competitor to Thinkorswim is TradeStation. We provide detailed review of this brokerage firm here.

The Good

Aside from offering top level trading tools for every investor's experience level, Thinkorswim also offers a bunch of valuable services that either are not provided at other firms or are provided at additional price. Some of the most popular of these free services are streaming quotes (including level 2), dividend reinvestment for both stocks and mutual funds, rich selection of third party investment research, 100 ETFs at no commission, virtual trading to practice trading strategies, and an access to trader community.

The Bad

Commissions at Thinkorswim for some mutual funds are on the higher side at $49.99 per transactions. The company defends their pricing by saying that in price are included a lot of services and tools for which other online brokers charge additional fees.

Stock and ETF commissions at $6.95 are much higher than $4.95 TradeStation and Ally Invest are charging. However, if you are an active trader with account at Thinkorswim, give them a call and they will match these rates.


TOS Broker Review Conclusion

TOS' parent company, TD Ameritrade, does not charge taxable accounts and IRA accounts fees. Their no-fee policy and excellent trading tools make it an excellent brokerage firm for an individual retirement account. The broker is also great option for active traders as well as mutual funds, ETFs and stock investors.

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TOS reviewed by Rating: 4.5