Trade Ideas vs Thinkorswim

Trade Ideas vs Thinkorswim: which trading tool wins the race? This comparison details all functionalities, costs, discounts and usability.

Alexander Voigt

By Alexander Voigt | Updated June 07, 2023

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The ability to quickly scan through thousands of available stocks for the best opportunities is critical for day traders and an important asset for any stock investor.

Trade Ideas and Thinkorswim provide advanced charting, market news and analysis, and more in addition to the stock scanner.

There are, however, significant differences regarding the features and costs. In this head-to-head comparison of Trade Ideas vs Thinkorswim, we’ll compare the major features of each platform.

This comparison review aims to help you decide which of these two options is best suited to assist you in your trading, while the in-depth review about Trade Ideas explains every feature and functionality in full detail.

About Trade Ideas

trade ideas

Trade Ideas is an exceedingly feature-rich trading platform that satisfies the needs of even the most advanced traders. It was initially developed in 2003 as a stock scanning program designed for use by professional traders at large financial institutions. Since then, it has been adopted by countless individual retail investors and continually expanded the services it offers.

Its most noteworthy features are the artificial intelligence (A.I.) algorithm “Holly,” the Stock Race comparison mode, automated trading and brokerage connections to E*Trade and Interactive Brokers. Trade Ideas is close to being the perfect trading assistant for self-directed investors.

Trade Ideas vs Thinkorswim – Features

Trade Ideas offers numerous helpful stock trading features, including an advanced stock scanner and charting program, the ability to backtest trading strategies, real-time price data, market news and analysis, and its proprietary artificial intelligence program.

Following is an outline of the main trading tools you can access with a subscription to Trade Ideas.

Trade Ideas Stock Scanner

The Trade Ideas stock scanner comes pre-loaded with more than three dozen stock and option scans that you can use. You also can create your own scans using hundreds of available trade based on fundamental and technical analysis. Scans can also incorporate social media factors from websites such as Reddit and Stocktwits.

trade ideas channel bar

In addition, you can customize the scanner and create watchlists and trade alerts. The platform’s “channel bar” feature provides fast access to the pre-configured scans. Just click on a scan of your choice to see the scan parameters and current results, or adjust the scan parameters based on your requirements. Your scans refresh fast and accurately. A neat extra is the ability to compare the performance of different scan selections and the backtest functionality to determine the best parameters in current market conditions.

trade ideas scanner

Trade Ideas: Trader Education Resources

The Trade Ideas live trading chat room is moderated by a long-term trading expert sharing and explaining his personal trades throughout each trading day, along with market analysis and screen share.

Trader Ideas offers a wide array of trader education resources that includes an extensive video library, new daily webinars, support sessions that share and analyze trading strategies, and even one-on-one trading instruction and coaching. Especially impressive is a 36-part trading video training program where professional trader, Michael Nauss, teaches an absolute newbie how to trade stocks.

Trade Ideas: Holly AI, the Artificial Intelligence Feature

The crown jewel of Trade Ideas is “Holly,” its artificial intelligence trading program. Holly utilizes multiple algorithms as she scans for the best trade opportunities. The market analysis is conducted from every conceivable angle – technical, fundamental, social, short-term, and long-term. Once she settles on a trade idea, she lays out trade entry price levels and profit targets for you.

trade ideas holly ai

Every night, Holly scans her way through hundreds of thousands of trade possibilities to provide you with the most-likely-to-succeed trades before the market opens for the next daily trading session.

Note: Holly has outperformed the S&P 500 every year since her introduction in 2016.

Trade Ideas: Charting and Backtesting Trading Strategies

The Trade Ideas charting capabilities are a great addition to the stock scanner. In addition to real-time price data, it offers multiple charting timeframes and numerous technical indicators to choose from and combine. You can set up price alerts and click right through to the latest market news and analysis of the stock you’re charting. However, Trade Ideas does not focus on charting how TrendSpider and Tradingview do. Instead of 100+ trading indicators, you only find the most popular ones to choose from.

trade ideas backtesting

In addition, Oddsmaker” is the platform’s backtesting program, capable of evaluating the profit performance of individual indicators, specified trading strategies, or your stock scan criteria. Oddsmaker even offers to optimize a selected trading strategy for you and track its probability of profit. The cool thing about Oddsmaker is that it works with the mouse and entirely without any need to write code in C# or something. Instead, just select the backtest parameters and backtest stock universe, hit the backtest button, and see the results within seconds, including extensive performance insights.

Trade Ideas Automated Trading

Trade Ideas’ “Brokerage Plus” feature lets you set up automated trades that can be executed through either Interactive Brokers or E*Trade. More brokerage APIs are planned. However, its automated trade features do not include all the advanced order options available with Thinkorswim, as detailed below.

Trade Ideas – Other Services

Trade Ideas offers real-time price data, along with up to the minute relevant market news and analysis from multiple sources. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide access to as many different news, market analysis, and data sources as Thinkorswim users can access. Still, you’re not likely to miss any important market news or feel lacking in market analysis and commentary.

Users can access the online web platform, use the downloaded software version, or access the platform’s mobile app. A new feature is the Trade Ideas Stock Race, where you can visualize the best-performing stocks based on your defined scanner criteria.

trade ideas stock race

Trade Ideas Cost

Trade Ideas offers a choice of two paid subscription levels. A “Standard” plan subscription costs $999 a year or $118 monthly. The “Premium” option costs $1,999 a year or $228 a month. The key extras that the Premium service provides are access to the Holly AI program, the ability to backtest trading strategies with the charting software, and the direct trading connection to brokers.

Trade Ideas Pro Costs: Standard vs Premium
Regular Price Standard Plan Premium Plan
Monthly Payments $118 $228
Annual Payments $999 $1.999

Trade Ideas Discount

You can subscribe to Trade Ideas with a nice discount by using this link. Use the promo code provided on the linked page to save. Alternatively, sign up for the free Trade Ideas weekly newsletter.

Payments and Discounts Trade Ideas Standard Trade Ideas Premium
Monthly Get Discount Get Discount
Annual Get Discount Get Discount
Free Chat Room Click Here Click Here

Trade Ideas vs Thinkorswim: Who is Trade Ideas Best For?

Trade Ideas is the top choice for day traders who need an edge in scanner algorithms and want to take advantage of its artificial intelligence trading feature, automated trading and brokerage connections.

It also appeals to traders who want a sophisticated but easy-to-use stock screener with charting and excellent trading strategy backtesting capabilities.

It’s not, however, the best choice for traders on a budget or casual, buy-and-hold investors who don’t really feel the need for its advanced trading tools.

About Thinkorswim

thinkorswim td ameritrade platform

Thinkorswim is an online trading platform that has drawn many new clients to TD Ameritrade, the brokerage firm that offers it for free to all clients. Like Trade Ideas, it’s accessible online, through a desktop software program, and through a mobile app. Because Thinkorswim is directly connected to TD Ameritrade, users can easily place trades across a range of financial markets, including stocks, futures, options, ETFs, and forex.

Thinkorswim Features

Thinkorswim features include stock screening, research and analysis resources, advanced charting options, and live or demo trading. In addition, the platform layout and each of its trading tools can be customized to suit your personal preferences. The key features offered with Thinkorswim are outlined below.

Thinkorswim Market News and Analysis

Thinkorswim doesn’t leave much out if you’re looking for extensive market news and fundamental analysis. It offers news and market analysis and commentary from more than a dozen sources, including Morningstar, Reuters, the Federal Reserve Economic Database, TheStreet, Argus, and the Center for Financial Research and Analysis (CFRA – formerly known as S&P Capital IQ).

Thinkorswim Stock Screener

The Thinkorswim stock screener offers traders the ability to preset scans for multiple fundamental or technical analysis criteria, such as P/E ratio, percentage gainers or losers, and specified chart patterns. Investors can easily create watchlists and trading alerts. The scanner and the charting program provide real-time price data, including Level II price quotes. There’s also a variety of market heat maps and separate screeners for options and spreads.

The screen layout and appearance are both customizable.

Thinkorswim Charting

The charting package that comes with Thinkorswim includes hundreds of the most commonly used technical indicators and more than a dozen drawing tools. Traders can also search for chart patterns such as “Bullish Only Candlestick Patterns” and “Intraday Flag Patterns.” In addition, there are endless technical and fundamental indicators to choose from. For example, there are more than 20 different moving averages you can apply to a chart.

You can also customize the program’s indicators or create your own indicators and apply them to charts over multiple timeframes. Watchlists and trade alerts can be created in the charting program, just like in the stock screening program.

The charting program also provides access to “thinkBack,” the platform’s accessory that enables traders to backtest trading strategies with extensive historical price data.

Thinkorswim Order Placement and Automated Trading

Thinkorswim shines when it comes to placing customized orders. You can place orders to trade stocks, options, futures, or forex directly from the charting program. The software provides the ability to analyze trade risk and potential profits before dispatching an order. The “confirm and send” screen adds information about the brokerage fees for each trade.

You can also effectively place orders by selecting an option to flatten your current trading position or reverse your current position (e.g., close out your long position in Apple stock and initiate a short sell position).

Thinkorswim offers many complex order types beyond the standard market, limit, and stop orders. Using the program’s “thinkScript” feature, you can even specify the conditions for executing an order – such as, “Buy Stock A if it trades above $125 in the next 10 minutes”, or “Buy Stock A if price retraces to the 20-period EMA”.

Thinkorswim: Other Features

Because Thinkorswim is connected to your TD Ameritrade brokerage account, it offers several additional portfolio analysis features not available with Trade Ideas. These include real-time access to your current margin trading capability and both realized and unrealized gains.

You can also access a current capital gains tax report. Other available features include a trading journal of all your trades and real-time tracking of your internal rate of return (IRR).

The trading education features in Thinkorswim are significantly more basic than those offered through Trade Ideas. The platform videos help new brokerage clients to make their first steps on the platform.

Thinkorswim Cost

One thing is sure about Thinkorswim: you can’t beat the cost. As noted, access to all its features comes free with a TD Ameritrade account.

Thinkorswim vs Trade Ideas: Who is Thinkorswim best for?

Thinkorswim is a platform geared for use by active, experienced traders. Novice or casual investors are likely to find learning to use the platform a bit daunting.

With plenty of market data, hundreds of technical indicators, and the ability to analyze trade risk and backtest trading strategies, it can serve the needs of virtually any trader. On the other hand, the Trade Ideas artificial intelligence trading algorithms and backtest features are one of a kind and especially helpful for day traders. A Thinkorswim plus is that it offers the ability to directly place futures and forex market trades in addition to stock trades.

Trade Ideas vs Thinkorswim – Conclusion

Although Trade Ideas is ultimately the more sophisticated of the two platforms – thanks to its Holly AI program – it is also the more user-friendly, especially for less experienced traders. The learning curve with Trade Ideas is less steep, and it offers significantly more trading education resources.

Thinkorswim’s screen can be visually overwhelming to novices. Menus are everywhere – on the left-hand side, along the top of the screen, on the right-hand side, and everywhere in between. In addition, many of the menus go two or three levels deep, so you may have to tunnel through to get to what you’re looking for.

However, Thinkorswim has basic fundamental stock screening abilities essentially on par with Trade Ideas, while Trade Ideas scanners are much better for day traders.

The charting and technical analysis capabilities of Thinkorswim are better since the tool is more designed for charting. At the same time, Trade Ideas focuses on stock screening, alerts, and brokerage APIs for automated trading.

Thinkorswim is free with a TD Ameritrade account, while Trade Ideas comes with a subscription-based model (monthly and annual subscriptions).


Is Trade Ideas useful for day trading?

Yes. Trade Ideas is an excellent resource for day trading. With all the scanning and charting services, it provides multiple benefits for day traders. The backtesting engine, Stock Race and A.I. features are one of a kind.

Does Thinkorswim offer automated trading?

Yes, the Thinkorswim platform provides the ability to automate even complex order execution with ThinkScript. Traders have to write code for ThinkScript, while Trade Ideas offers a menu-based backtest system.

More Trade Ideas Comparisions:

Alexander Voigt
Alexander Voigt is the founder of DAYTRADINGz, was a regular contributor to Benzinga and has been featured and quoted on leading financial websites such as Business Insider, Investors, Capital and Forbes.