Know Your Trading Platform: Thinkorswim
One of the most popular trading platforms around is Thinkorswim. Originally it was a product of Thinkorswim Group, Inc., but in 2009 it changed hands and is now a service of TD Ameritrade. The platform can be used to trade numerous different assets including equities, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, futures, bonds, and foreign exchange currencies.
Considering trading forex on Thinkorswim, but not sure yet if you want to take the plunge? In this article, we will teach you everything you need to know about this platform, so you can decide if it is the right fit for you.
History of The Thinkorswim Platform
One of the reasons to choose Thinkorswim is the platform’s reputation. The history of Thinkorswim dates all the way back to 1999. That year the platform was established, initially just for options trading. Through the years that followed, Thinkorswim was affected by quite a few different acquisitions and mergers. The platform achieved a milestone in 2007 when it generated $318 million in revenue. As of the year’s end, client assets totaled to nearly $2.6 billion. By the time TD Ameritrade purchased Thinkorswim in 2009, the value of the platform was about $606 million.
As mentioned before, you can trade far more than options on Thinkorswim today. With so many years to roll out tools and benefits, Thinkorswim has become one of the most intuitive and feature-rich platforms available to traders on the web. Backed by the TD Ameritrade name, the Thinkorswim brand is now stronger than ever.
How to Use Thinkorswim
If you want to use Thinkorswim, you need to open a margin account. This involves filling out a few screens of basic information, agreeing to the terms of service, creating your account and setting a password.
You do need to make an initial minimum deposit of $3,500 to get started. This rule applies across the board for all Thinkorswim accounts, regardless of the type. This is a significant sum, but it is less than what you would have to deposit to trade with some other brokers. You will also need to verify your identity.
Once your account has been created, you will be able to download the platform. You can install it on any type of computer and may also use it on multiple devices. There is one additional step to trade currencies, which is to scroll down to your account summary and click the button which allows you to add an FX account. Once more you will have terms to sign and documents to provide. You then transfer the money that is in your margin account to your newly created forex account.
You do not need to download anything additional at this point. Just keep using the same software. You will notice an ‘FX’ tab which will pull up the forex trading platform. Click on that and you will have the trading interface right in front of you.
If you choose to trade through Thinkorswim (rather than just plan your trades—see the next section), the minimum lot size is 10,000. The maximum leverage is 50:1 on major currency pairs. For exotic currency pairs, it is limited to 20:1.
One awesome thing about Thinkorswim is that there are no commissions or fees for forex trades. There is however a spread, so just be aware of that when you are planning your trades.
Which Forex Brokers Are Offering Thinkorswim?
Thinkorswim is a proprietary platform of TD Ameritrade at this point, which means that the platform is available exclusively to TD Ameritrade customers. You cannot link up any other broker accounts. This wasn’t the case in the past, but it all changed when TD Ameritrade took over.
That said, that doesn’t mean you cannot make use of Thinkorswim even if you prefer to go through another broker to actually place your trades. It just means you cannot link the two together.
In other words, let’s say you love the charting features in Thinkorswim, and you cannot stand the charts your broker offers—but you like that broker for other reasons (perhaps, for example, because they offer you custom lot sizes) and want to use them as your financial intermediary instead of going through TD Ameritrade.
What you can do is open accounts at both and use Thinkorswim to plan your trades. You can then hop on over to your broker’s platform to place your trades. That way you get the great tools and features at Thinkorswim to help you get set up for trades, but you are trading with the broker you prefer. It may sound like a pain, but you will get used to it fast, and it is a common practice among forex traders.