Hi. I'm very interested in getting into commodity spreads in order to provide some diversification to my equities trading. I've read several books on the subject, and one common theme in all of them is that spreads have MUCH smaller margin requirements compared to outright futures positions. However, when I contacted a rep from my broker's (Thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade, and yes, I know they're a sponsor here) customer service department, he had this to say -- in this case, by the way, I was asking particularly about a potential Crude Oil spread, which is why I'm putting this post in the Energy Futures forum, even though this really applies to all spreads: "Futures spreads are used by buying and selling two separate contracts of the same commodity (in this case /CL) in order to capitalize on a discrepancy in prices. You can profit from the change in price differences but these can change quickly. Regardless, if you wish to place 2 orders for /CL you need to meet the margin requirements which is currently $12,000 initial per contract. If either of your trades should go against you, you may need to meet a margin call as well." Have things just changed dramatically over the past few years (the books I read are all at least 5 years old now)? Is Thinkorswim just a "bad" broker for futures spreads? Does it sound to you like the rep just doesn't understand what spreads are? Obviously, I'm a bit confused in light of all I had read about spreads. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated -- thanks!