Thinkorswim vs TD Ameritrade

The volatile world of stock trading may appear tricky and intimidating at times, but having the right tools can help you become more confident. By using the right tools, you can analyze the market in order to determine the best course of actions to take. In this article, we will discuss the comparisons between Thinkorswim vs TD Ameritrade, which are both popular trading platforms on the market. As a matter of fact, the two trading platforms belong to the same company. So, what is the difference between Thinkorswim and TD Ameritrade, and which one is better?

Product Overview

First of all, we need to know why the TD Ameritrade company has decided to keep two different platforms for the users. Obviously, the two products are designed for different users and needs. The company itself is a brokerage firm which is based in Omaha, Nebraska. The company provides various services for those who are investing online.

TD Ameritrade comes as a web platform, which means that you need to use a web browser to access the website and services. TD Ameritrade has a considerably wide array of features and tools, such as screeners, alerts, and a customizable workspace.

On the other hand, Thinkorswim is a software product that provides tools as well as educational services for online investing. Thinkorswim was originally developed by the Thinkorswim Group Inc. but was sold to TD Ameritrade in 2009.

While TD Ameritrade’s original web platform was designed for the general investors, Thinkorswim has evolved to become a platform for elite users and experienced investors. It is described by the company as their most advanced trading platform which is armed with elite-level tools, sophisticated analytical resources, and efficient strategy execution.

Investment Access

The next difference between Thinkorswim vs TD Ameritrade is regarding the investment access that they offer. If you are interested in mutual funds or bonds, TD Ameritrade is probably the best choice for you. There are several investment types that are only available on TD Ameritrade and not on Thinkorswim. TD Ameritrade can give you access to stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, options, bonds, and CDs. However, keep in mind that TD Ameritrade does not provide access to futures/forex and complex options with three or four legs. So, if you are interested in futures/forex or complex options, TD Ameritrade is not the best trading platform for you.

On the other hand, Thinkorswim is quite more specialized. It does not provide access to mutual funds, bonds, and CDs. However, it provides access to stocks, futures/forex, options, and complex options with three or four legs. So, Thinkorswim is not for you if you want to invest in mutual funds, but it is great for people who just want to focus on the stocks, options, or futures/forex.

Thinkorswim Features

Thinkorswim vs TD Ameritrade are equipped with different sets of features. In general, Thinkorswim is more feature-packed. It comes with more advanced features which TD Ameritrade lacks. Thinkorswim comes with all the basic features that you would expect from a trading platform such as screeners, alerts, and a customizable workspace. In addition, it also has streaming market commentary and chatting features, which are great to allow deeper analysis with other fellow investors.

Thinkorswim is armed with a number of advanced features, including conditional orders, which you can utilize to deliver orders only under certain situations, and the streaming of CNBC and Dow Jones news – it becomes so much easier to stay up to date with the latest happenings.

Thinkorswim allows visual profit/loss analysis, which is very handy for many people. It has level-II quotes, Strategy Roller, backtesting, and paper (mock) trading. For idea generation, Thinkorswim has a few options that you can utilize. It comes with a market heat map, which is definitely very handy, and the myTrade community where you can collaborate with other fellow investors. Nevertheless, it also allows you to use a third-party research service.

TD Ameritrade Features

On the other hand, the features of the original TD Ameritrade are quite more limited. It has the basic features of a trading platform such as screeners, alerts, and a customizable workspace. However, it does not have the streaming market commentary and chatting, so you can’t use it to collaborate with other investors. TD Ameritrade does have conditional orders, which is arguably very important for precision timing. But it does not have any other advanced feature. It even does not provide visual profit/loss analysis or paper (mock) trading.

TD Ameritrade does not have its own features for idea generation. It has neither the market heat map nor the community. So, if you choose TD Ameritrade,you will need a third-party research service for idea generation.

System Compatibility

Now, let us see the system compatibility of Thinkorswim vs TD Ameritrade. The difference is very significant here, so make sure that you make your choice based on your actual usage. The product that you choose must be able to keep up with your work flow.

If you prefer to use a web browser without installing any thing on your computer, TD Ameritrade is the way to go. It is a web-based service. It is also much more flexible and versatile, as you can access the website from any browser on any device. This is great for people who work through multiple devices.

On the other hand, Thinkorswim requires desktop installation. It needs to be installed on a computer. So, it is not very flexible. You will be able to access it only through a single computer. If you are often on the go, you may want to consider installing it on your portable laptop which you can easily bring along.

ThinkorswimTD Ameritrade
- Access to stocks, futures/forex, options, and complex options with three or four legs- Access to stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, options, bonds, and CDs
- Has more advanced features, such as conditional orders, visual analysis, streaming, and paper trading- Has fewer features and conditional orders
- Desktop installation- Web-based, no installation
- Market heat map, myTrade community, or third-party service for idea generation- Third-party service for idea generation


Thinkorswim is designed more for serious elite users and experienced investors. It is packed with a number of advanced features that can benefit these people, but not beginners. In addition, Thinkorswim is also suitable for people who want to invest in futures/forex or complex options.TD Ameritrade is more suitable for beginners and average investors. The features will not overwhelm you very much. This is also a good choice if you want to invest in mutual funds or bonds.

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