Good alternatives to ThinkOrSwim?

Discussion in 'Retail Brokers' started by danw76, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. danw76


    This may not be the right place for this.. . . but

    On Monday, March 21st all option routing within ThinkOrSwim was down from ~10-12:30. Although the issue was related to a tooling upgrade, the platform was not able to be rolled back. Customer support was swamped and unreachable.

    My problem was not with this issue (as big as it was), it was with the fact there was a corporate decision NOT to inform customers what was going on.

    Long story short, I feel I have no choice but to take my account(s) and go somewhere else.

    So where should I go? I really don't know what else is out there that may be similar or not.

    My requirements:
    - I do mostly option trading (vertical spreads, calendars, etc)
    - Ability to sell naked options ( I do this once in a while stepping in or out of a position)
    - I like to see real-time data for my watch lists and for my portfolio
    - multiple accounts need to be easily accessible
    - basic charting (sma, drawing trend lines)

    Nice to have:
    - Auto trading, I don't do much with this, but I plan to moving forward
    - Forex trading, decent ToS overnight rates, etc

    I currently pay $1.25 per option w ToS, everything else is standard
    Previous years, I have spent ~40K in commissions, not sure that matters.
  2. You might want to take a look at Interactive Brokers. The transition will take a bit of getting used to, although from a commission standpoint alone, it's probably not a bad idea.

    The IB desktop platform (TWS) provides a bare bones interface, but does allow some basic charting, watchlists, etc.
    If you require more advanced charting, you can use NinjaTrader, which is free unless you place live trades from it, or some of the cheap alternatives like SierraCharts. Keep in mind, that IB doesn't offer a true "tick" feed, so if you need to do things like tick charts, you might need a data source as well.

    You have the basic capability to place standard option style trades (vertical, calendar, etc) and they do offer some option analytics, but it's a pretty far cry from the TOS platform.

    They do have a decently documented API and there are also open source platforms out there as well.

    You can test drive IB with their demo account and Ninja is also free.
    I'm not sure about the multiple account thing as I've never played with it. They do have a pretty bizarre security system (plastic "look-up" security code device in addition to your regular login), but I'm willing to put up with this extra layer of security. I'm pretty sure you can have them turn that aspect off if you don't want to use it.

    Personally, I'd leave a few bucks in the TOS account just to make use of their platform for the options analysis, and use IB for the actual orders.

    P.S: I actually have accounts with both TOS and IB, for what it's worth.
  3. uptickk


    Does anyone that uses IB know the all in commission on trading a single SPX option? From what I gather on their website it would be .70 (IB Fee) + .35 (Exchange Fee) + .00145 (Regulatory Fee) = $1.05145

    Trying to shop around.

  4. In my opinion, switching to another broker from thinkorswim would feel for you like going from a Mercedes to a Nissan. I left thinkorswim a year ago for MB Trading, thought I will save a few pennies On trading fees but pretty fast realized its not wort It.
    I think your reasons may be important to you but especially as an options trader I would recommend not moving.
  5. Catoosa


    MBTrading and TDAT's ThinkOrSwim are not in the same league as Interactive Brokers (IB).
  6. uptickk


    I plan on keeping the TOS account but wanted to expand into other markets so I am going to throw some money into an IB account and test it out, options and non option products.

    I have been very happy with TOS but am always looking to see what else is out there.

  7. I am the same.
    I think TOS is really good but I want to trade options in europe and IB looks like the best (and perhaps the only) choice for that. Tried to check out European brokers as an alternative but seems like the majority of them don't offer option trading at all.

    Regarding IB's commission schedule, I think (could be wrong) the exchange fee is charged once for each trade. So if you trade 3 contracts you would pay 3*0.70 + 0.35 + 0.00145.

    BTW there are different data fees, the bundle that includes the NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX is
    10$ per month and you need to pay extra to go deeper ( e.g level 2 quotes)
  8. Looks like exchange fee is charged per contract after all. Anyway TOS fees are much more straightforward