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Active Trader Pro vs Thinkorswim: Which Broker Is Better?


Busy working day at home. Side view of successful young trader in casual wear working with charts and market reports on computer screens in his home.

In the world of trading and investing, two of the most popular platforms are thinkorswim and Active Trader Pro. TD Ameritrade runs Thinkorswim, while Fidelity Investments manages Active Trader Pro. This article comprehensively analyzes the two brokers and trading platforms they provide.

Although Fidelity has a more extensive client base, TD Ameritrade is a formidable competitor. Fidelity manages more than $11.3 trillion in assets for its customers and processes more than 3.1 million daily trades on average. On average, TD Ameritrade processes over 500,000 trades every day for its 11 million customers and manages over $1 trillion in client assets. Both brokers are very competent in their respective fields, despite their relative sizes.

Active Trader Pro Overview

Fidelity’s desktop trading platform, Active Trader Pro, is web-based trading technology designed for your preferences. Access market data and manage holdings using customizable shortcuts, trade defaults, and hotkeys in Active Trader Pro. It can be downloaded as a mobile app on any iOS or Android device.

Active Trader Pro has security features, including text message notifications, two-factor authentication, and money transfer lockup to protect your company’s sensitive information. It connects with numerous financial technology companies.

Thinkorswim Overview

Thinkorswim, a robust trading platform, is used by many investors. Thinkorswim is an investment platform owned by TD Ameritrade, a company with roots dating back to 1975. It is well-known for its sophisticated and adaptable user interface packed with research and statistics.

Many individuals are trading on the high-powered platform thinkorswim, even though slick companies like Robinhood, Coinbase, and Webull get all the press because they serve the growing number of people interested in the stock market. Even though TD Ameritrade was established in 1975, its renowned trading platform Thinkorswim has only been available since 2005.

Financial education resources like Thinkorswim’s trading tools and analytics are available to self-directed investors. Its investor education offerings offer a wide range of interactive delivery modes, such as instructor-led synchronous and asynchronous online courses, in-person workshops, one-on-one, and group online coaching programs, and telephone, live chat, and email support.

Equity securities, fixed income, index products, options, futures, other derivatives, and foreign currency are all facilitated by Thinkorswim transactions. TD Ameritrade customers receive the Thinkorswim trading platform at no cost. All trades executed using the TD Ameritrade trading platform are free of charge.

Active Trader Pro vs Thinkorswim Service & Feature Comparison


Online trading in U.S. equities, American and Canadian exchange-traded funds, and options with Thinkorswim has no costs. In contrast, option transactions cost $0.65 per contract. The commission for buying or selling equities that aren’t traded on a major U.S. exchange is $6.95. The standard fee for a deal executed by a broker is $25.

There are several ways to earn interest on your balances with both, including sweeps. Both brokerages provide a stock loan service through which you may split the profits from lending the stocks in your account to third parties, typically for short sells.

Education and Research

Thinkorswim’s Learning Center is accessible via the tab labeled “Education,” It covers a wide range of topics, including platform structure, entry and exit methods, and the Forex Trader interface. Webcast courses on futures trading and using the Calendar are also available in the Learning Center. This interface includes earnings reports, conference calls, and similar mediums. And if you need help with something outside of thinkorswim, you can find a video walkthrough on YouTube.

Both brokers provide superior learning materials for traders of all skill levels. Each website features a learning area where visitors may access resources, including stock trading seminars, articles on options trading, and financial planning films. Each trading platform has a help section where you can get detailed instructions on using various aspects of the interface and placing trade orders.

Every search engine is different, yet they all have similar research capabilities. Both allow you to scan stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options quickly and easily for potential trading and investing possibilities. TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform features many helpful tools for options traders, including an option strategy search engine called Option Hacker and a spread strategy search engine called Spread Hacker. To top it all off, if you trade ETFs, Fidelity provides a robust screener that allows you to search by themes and create custom screens based on almost 100 ETF parameters.

Range of Investments

Both brokers allow clients to trade using cash or use margin. Both let investors buy and sell stocks, options, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, fixed-income, and initial public offerings. Thinkorswim allows you to trade futures and forex; however, Fidelity Active Trader pro does not.

Everything a client would expect from a major brokerage is available on thinkorswim. Although Fidelity facilitates trading in a wide variety of assets, it does not yet give customers the ability to buy or sell futures or options on futures or futures in cryptocurrency. But let’s say you’re a stockbroker who deals in mutual funds. If that’s the case, you might be interested to know that Fidelity offers more no-load, no-fee funds than TD Ameritrade does (nearly 3,300 against about 1,600).


Active Trader Pro helps you make better choices before, during, and after a deal. Gain access to insightful data, visual snapshots for tracking assets, and potent trading tools, all in near real-time. Discover actionable insights in one convenient location with the Daily Dashboard, which compiles the real-time news, earnings, and economic events that may affect your trading.

The thinkorswim trading package has expanded to include thinkorswim online in response to user requests. You don’t need to install anything, yet you get all the core features of the thinkorswim desktop on this user-friendly platform. This facilitates their accessibility and comprehension. TD Ameritrade provides the tools and resources you need to improve as a trader, including access to award-winning educational content.

Trading Technology

Thinkorswim is a trading platform that may be used from a pc, the web, or a mobile device. Thinkorswim is accessible in a desktop download version and as mobile apps for the iPhone, Android, iPad, and wristwatch.

You can invest in stocks, ETFs, bonds, futures, options, and currency pairs on thinkorswim. There are a variety of editions of the system, each with its unique set of capabilities.

Active Trader Pro from Fidelity and thinkorswim from TD Ameritrade are robust trading systems with many valuable features. For day traders, futures traders, FOREX traders, traders who need sophisticated charting, and traders who wish to employ automated trading scripts, Thinkorswim is the superior platform. Active Trader Pro is the superior platform for novice traders and those looking for simple, straightforward charting. Trading options or swing trading on any platform is a great idea.

Thinkorswim also has online and mobile versions, while both platforms provide downloaded desktop versions. There are no additional or covert fees or charges for any service. The level 2 and live streaming quotations available on both platforms are free. Thinkorswim has a feature called “paper trading,” but Fidelity does not.

The user interfaces of both systems are old and maybe a little clunky. If you’re searching for a trading platform with a modern, minimalist design, like Webull, you’ll be disappointed with either option. Though, thinkorswim has a convenient user interface. In contrast to Active Trader Pro, which despite its user-friendly interface, looks cramped, everything here seems to flow naturally. You may resize and reposition windows, float them, show or hide side panels, and save your own layouts in both interfaces.

Order Entry System

Right-clicking on a chart or utilizing specialized buttons like “sell bid” and “buy ask” are only two of the many order entry methods available on both systems. A platform’s core order input system may look similar to another, yet they are not. Line by line, you fill out order tickets in Active Trader Pro’s streamlined, classic-looking order entry system. Thinkorswim’s order input mechanism, Active Trader (not to be confused with Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro), is sophisticated and scary.

Active traders can use Thinkorswim’s streaming ladder-based order entry system, which displays a price column in the center, a column on the left displaying the cumulative bid sizes at each price level, and a column on the right displaying the cumulative ask sizes at each price level. Simply click the corresponding button to place an order at the current bid or ask price.

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Features & Tools

Thinkorswim’s charts are well-known among traders since the platform offers more than 400 distinct charting patterns. There is a lot of room for personalization on the charts as well. Candle, Bar, Line, Equivoque, and Heikin Ashi charts are just a few of the types that may be selected. The standard view is a candlestick chart, which plots prices in a column to the right and time on an axis. The period’s low and high values are shown as rectangular bubbles, while icons denote earnings reports and stock splits. A bar chart of daily volume is provided below.

Those interested in tinkering with charts have a wide variety of options for customizing the time range, color scheme, pointer, and backdrop. You may add studies like volatility indicators, section off and zoom in on select periods, make comments with drawings, and share your creations with others.

You can predict a stock’s future movement using a Probability Analysis tool. Skilled traders who want to go further into thinkorswim may do so with the help of the programming language thinkscript, which allows them to create their own research, trading methods, alerts, and more.

Thinkorswim offers over three times as many technical indicators as Active Trader Pro, at over three hundred. More than twenty different sketching tools, each of which may be personalized and saved, are available on both systems. Unlike Active Trader Pro, thinkorswim lets you zoom in and out of charts with the press of a button or by dragging and clicking.

You may trade, follow the market, read the latest financial news, keep tabs on your portfolio, and more with Active Trader Pro’s flexible and adaptable features. Active Trader Pro may be customized to fit your preferred workflow.

Any time intraday volume in a user’s selected stock range exceeds the average volume over the preceding three trading days, the app will notify them with actionable notifications. Investors may establish their own entry and exit points and receive alerts on price changes.

Market participants may stay abreast of breaking news, earnings reports, and other economic developments with the help of the daily dashboard. Experts can keep tabs on their portfolios with real-time access to data like streaming quotations or balances, order status updates, and gain/loss calculations.

Portfolio Analysis

Comparable portfolio analysis tools may be found at both Fidelity and TD Ameritrade. The internal rate of return and unrealized and realized profits are all available in real-time, as are details on your purchasing power and margin. They both provide valuable tax reports and data. You may get a snapshot of your financial situation by linking your external accounts in Fidelity. GainsKeeper is a tax calculator available to TD Ameritrade customers.

Customer Service

Each broker takes care of their clients very well. In addition to a phone line that is always open, Fidelity also provides an online chat option (with restricted hours) and a private email site. The Virtual Assistant is a chatbot designed to assist you in locating information.

TD Ameritrade has chatbots on Twitter, Meta Messenger, Apple Business Chat, and WeChat. Its phone lines are open around the clock (in Asia). The app facilitates real-time communication.

My Preference: Thinkorswim continues to add and grow

Thinkorswim is stocked to the gills with trading tools and gadgets that may be used with virtual or real money in a live account. Trader TV may be found in the left sidebar, and live news headlines are aggregated from several sources. The Watchlist feature lets you keep track of the price and other relevant market information for your chosen securities. Although thinkorswim’s Watchlists are fully customizable, novice users are advised to start with a more basic index like the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Calculator, Quick Chart, Scratch Pad, and Tetris are some widgets that may be added and removed from the sidebar using the plus and gear icons, respectively. You may reorganize the various parts by dragging the vertical and horizontal separators.

Active Trader Pro’s user interface makes its order input method more approachable to new traders. Thinkorswim’s active trader order method appeals to experienced traders because of the considerable time savings it promises once the technology is mastered.

There are benefits and drawbacks to using Fidelity, its Active Trader Pro platform, TD Ameritrade, and its thinkorswim platform. Because of the importance of personal choice, we advise trying out both brokers and trading platforms.


Does Thinkorswim offer a demo or trial account?

You can become comfortable with trading on the thinkorswim interface and hone your skills without risk, thanks to paperMoney, as this function is formally known. A $100,000 practice margin account and a $100,000 practice IRA account are included with the paper currency. In the top left-hand corner of your account, you will find an Account Info gadget where you may view your purchasing power and net liquidation value.

Can I customize my Active Trader Pro?

Changing the program's basic settings, using an existing layout, making your own, and adding tools and components are all simple options.

What is Active Trader Pro?

You may trade, follow the market, read the latest financial news, keep tabs on your portfolio, and more with Active Trader Pro's flexible and adaptable features. Active Trader Pro may be customized to fit your preferred workflow.

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