Which Options Platform is better for you? (tastyworks vs thinkorswim)
Coming from someone who’s primarily an options trader, and who’s traded with both platforms, I’d say one of these brokers have a slight edge in multiple areas, which makes the decision on which to use quite easy in my opinion.
I won’t bury the lead; my pick out of these two is without a doubt Tastyworks. They’re the ones I trade with every week and have traded with for multiple years now.
The reasons for me picking tastyworks in the end, and sticking with them for so many years, is quite simple. Tastyworks has slightly lower fees, a cleaner better functioning platform with much less clutter, and better support & less hostile margin calls.
I’ll go into the detail and mention some specifics about each broker below, as some people might prefer TdAmeritrade (thinkorswim) to Tastyworks, and I’ll mention the type of person who’d likely prefer them near the end of this article.
Which Platform has better features?
This depends on what you’re looking for, as thinkorswim offers more asset-classes than Tastyworks, such as offering forex trading directly (rather than futures), as well as access to bond-markets.
Beyond that though, tastyworks has all the actually useful features thinkorswim has, but with a better interface (in my opinion) that’s easier to understand and less cluttered with nonsense. Personally I use futures to trade currency (forex) markets, and have a small trading account with forex.com, and I like the compartmentalization of using different brokers for different things.
In short: This category is basically a toss-up in my opinion, some people may like thinkorswim more as they offer bond-markets and forex trading, while others will prefer Tastyworks because of the interface and easier access to margin.
What's that about Margin?
You’re planning on having a margin account, aren’t you? I’d assume so, as you’re familiar with tastyworks and their strategy (naked option selling) requires a margin account for you to make good returns and have reduced buying-power-reduction.
Well here’s the deal: Tastyworks will give you a margin accounts if you can deposit the minimum of $2000 into their brokerage — as that’s what’s legally required to have a margin account and have it matter.
Sounds good, right?
Well here’s the problem: With thinkorswim they’re much stricter about giving out margin accounts. You’ll usually be denied until you’ve traded options with them for many months to years on a cash-secured account.
For serious options trader this means TdAmeritrade’s thinkorswim just isn’t going to work for them. Trading without a margin account limits you to defined-risk strategies and makes you incapable of managing trades in some cases, and generally just puts you at a huge disadvantage. This is one of the big reasons I recommend Tastyworks.
Which Platform has lower fees?
Tastyworks has about 30-50% fewer fees/commissions depending on the product you’re trading (options, futures, futures on options, stocks, etc), which may sound pretty good, but for active traders this can be an absolute avalanche of savings. In the past 12 months I’ve saved over $300 using tastyworks compared to thinkorswim. That’s pretty significant in my book.
If you plan to actually use margin buying power rather than just have a margin account for naked options Tastyworks also has significantly less interest fees, averaging at about 1-2% less than thinkorswim/TdAmeritrade’s interest rates.
Which Platform has better Customer Service?
I can’t fault either broker for their customer service: both tastyworks and thinkorswim has fantastic customer service.
The only difference in my experience is Tastyworks has slightly more knowledgeable and personal customer service when it comes to options and futures, as that’s what they specialize in and all their customer service responses comes from the tastyworks team.
Thinkorswim is a little more “professional” in their customer service and less personal, which is something I’m sure some people prefer, but personally I like the more personal relaxed behavior of tastyworks staff. They answer the questions you ask more clearly and honestly, and will try their best to help you and give advice, while thinkorswim support will strictly give you technical support and refer you to “professionals” to give you advice on what you may need help with or have questions about.
So who would actually be better off with TdAmeritrade's thinkorswim?
Really the only people I think would be better off with TdAmeritrade is people with MASSIVE accounts and want to take advantage of TdAmeritrade’s signup bonus, however unless you have $500,000 to $1,000,000+ then I don’t think they’d be worth the bonus.
Especially because Tastyworks has some bonuses/promotions that offer the potential for just as much of a bonus as TdAmeritrade’s lower bonuses. You can check out Tastyworks signup bonuses on this page.
The only other case for TdAmeritrade’s thinkorswim is if you aren’t really an options trader primarily and want to house Forex trading under the same roof/brokerage, however with the complications getting a margin account with TdAmeritrade/thinkorswim I have trouble recommending them for anyone who doesn’t have a massive account that they’d trust with a margin account.
If you want to sign up for tastyworks you can click here, remember to check out the current promotions tastyworks is offering on this page of this website for details on how to claim up to $250 cash deposited into your account — regardless of your account size!
If you want to sign up for thinkorswim by TdAmeritrade and want the bonus they offer contact us so we can send a custom referral link for you, as I believe to get the bonus someone has to refer you inside their TdAmeritrade account.