TD Ameritrade Paper Trading

TD Ameritrade Paper Trading Practice Account (2022)

TD Ameritrade demo account for paper trading. TD Ameritrade thinkorswim platform virtual money simulation to practice trading stocks, options, and futures.

Overview of Paper Trading at TD Ameritrade

If you’re a TD Ameritrade customer, or just thinking about opening an account with the broker-dealer, there are methods to practice trading before committing real money.

thinkorswim, which is available as a desktop program and a mobile app, has a demo mode where a fake currency can be used to place mock trades. There is no charge to use the broker’s simulated trading tools.

Account Setup

The first thing you need to do to start paper trading at TD Ameritrade is to open an account. If you already have one, then you simply need to log in and download thinkorswim. Click on “Trade” in the top menu and then select thinkorswim under the heading “Trading Platforms.”

Possibly the best part of paper trading at TD Ameritrade is that you don’t have to be a customer to download the broker’s flagship software and practice. To download thinkorswim without an account, head over to the thinkorswim website and register for a demo account.

Is TD Ameritrade Paper Trading Free?

There’s no obligation, no account fees, and you don’t need to deposit any money. TD Ameritrade's paper trading account is free.

Free TD Ameritrade Account

$0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.

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Logging In

Once you have the software downloaded, it’s time to get inside and start trading. At the login screen, you’ll be presented with two options: live trading and a simulated mode. This second option the broker calls “Paper Money.” Make sure you select this option if you have an existing account; otherwise, you’ll be trading with real money.

TD Ameritrade Paper Trading

Verifying Simulated Mode

Once inside you’ll want to check and make sure that you’re indeed in simulated mode. This will be represented by a brown tab at the top of the platform that reads “SIMULATED TRADING.” That’s a pretty good sign you’re in demo mode. If it’s green, you’re inside a live account. If this happens, you have to log out to get back to the login screen.

Underneath this section, you’ll also see balance information. You should have $200,000 worth of buying power. That’s another sign you’re on a simulator.

TD Ameritrade Demo Account

Now, Let’s Practice

thinkorswim is a rather complex software program, so there are lots of tools to play with and learn. A good place to start is in the charting section. Just click on the “Charts” tab in the top menu to get a graph. Alternatively, there may be one already displayed in the left-hand column. In either case, right-click trading is enabled. Just click on a chart with a right-click of the mouse to get the trade menu. Buy and sell are both possibilities.

Whether you select a buy or sell order, a trade ticket will be generated. It will appear in the bottom-right corner. Once again, a brown label will appear reminding you that you’re about to place a simulated trade. So go ahead, make it a good $100,000 if you wish.

The trade ticket by itself is rather complicated; so be sure to practice with several trades. You can submit orders for stocks, ETF’s, closed-end funds, option contracts, currencies, and futures. Unfortunately, mutual funds and bonds can’t be traded on thinkorswim, which means they’re not available for paper trading.

The order ticket offers many advanced order types, including OCO (order cancels other), trailing, stop, pair, and blast all. Practicing these is an absolute must before using them in real trades.

thinkorswim Paper Trading

Resetting Positions

After you place a trade in simulated mode, you can either leave it there or close it out by placing the opposite trade. Nothing bad will happen if you just leave it there.

If you want to exit all positions you have created and reset your account balance to $100,000, just click on the “Monitor” tab in the top menu and select “Activity and Positions” in the sub-menu. Then, right-click on any open position and select “Reset all positions.”

It’s also possible to adjust the share price of a holding and the quantity held. Open the same menu and select “Adjust position....” Or you can add to or subtract from your account balance. Just select “Adjust cash...” and enter any value up to $10 million. Too bad you can’t do that in a live account.

Take a Break from Trading

A recent addition to thinkorswim is an educational section. Believe it or not, it’s found underneath the “Education” tab that appears in the top menu.

Here, you’ll find two sub-tabs: Learning Center and Education. Learning Center contains tutorials, quick guides, and references for all sorts of functions on thinkorswim. There are resources on how to use technical analysis (there are many indicators in thinkorswim’s charting program), how to trade forex and futures, how to submit an options order, how to scan for potential trades, and much more.

The Education tab replicates the learning center that appears on TD Ameritrade’s website.

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Mobile App

thinkorswim also makes an appearance as a mobile app. At login, you’ll see two choices: Live Trading and paperMoney®. For the simulated side of things, obviously you want to choose paperMoney.

Once inside, you’ll find some good trading resources, not least of which is very advanced charting. There are lots of technical indicators on this mobile app, so be sure to experiment with them.

The mobile platform also incorporates many multi-leg option strategies, which create an excellent opportunity to try them out. There are iron condors, vertical rolls, double diagonals, and more.

The order ticket delivers more sophistication with many professional-level features. For example, it’s possible to submit an order at a specific time during the trading day or upon a market condition, such as when a bid or ask price reaches a certain level.

TD Ameritrade Practice Account

There are also many order types you’ll want to play with. An example of an advanced order is “1st trgs Seq.” If you select this choice, when one order executes, it will automatically trigger another order that you specified. Several orders can be selected, and they can all trigger like dominoes as long as the previous order gets filled.

Unfortunately, the mobile platform doesn’t have the same ability to modify holdings or reset account balances.

Open TD Ameritrade Account

$0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.

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About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.