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How to Trade Options on TD Ameritrade

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Written by Timothy Sykes
Updated 4/20/2023 7 min read

Learning how to trade options on TD Ameritrade will change in 2023… September 2023 is the proposed date for when all TD Ameritrade accounts will be transitioned to Schwab’s platform.

This is the final stage in the gradual transition into one broker since their merger was confirmed in 2020.

Options trading is a battlefield, so you need a weapon that serves you well. I’ll share my thoughts about TD Ameritrade here, but it’s on you to determine whether it’s right for your needs. What works for others might not work for you and vice versa.

In any case, Schwab’s options trading offerings should also fit into your decision.

I think TD Ameritrade is a great online broker for trading options, but you might think differently. Read on to dive deeper into TD Ameritrade’s features and decide whether it’s right for you.

Trading on TD Ameritrade

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You actually have multiple platform choices when trading options on TD Ameritrade. You can use TD Ameritrade’s web trading platform. You can also use its more powerful desktop platform thinkorswim.

Thinkorswim is geared more toward experienced option traders. It has multiple advanced features. These features help you monitor stocks, perform technical analysis, and plan trades.

Thinkorswim’s app also has a mobile version. This helps you monitor and make option trades from your phone or tablet.

If you’re in the market for a power trading platform, try StocksToTrade. It’s my favorite trading platform (and the one I helped design).

Give StocksToTrade a try today — a 14-day trial is only $7!

What else does TD Ameritrade offer? Here’s a look at its other features:

  • Educational material in multiple formats
  • Multiple customer support options
  • High-level trading and charting tools
  • Desktop, web, and mobile apps

Looking for online brokers other than TD Ameritrade? Check my guides to options trading with Webull and Charles Schwab.

Benefits of Trading Options Using TD Ameritrade

What are the benefits of trading options using TD Ameritrade? Here are some of the top ones:

Affordable Options Trading Fees

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Like most brokers, TD Ameritrade charges a $0.65 contract fee and no commissions on options.

I don’t mind paying this additional transaction cost in exchange for good executions. You’re probably doing something wrong if you can’t be profitable because of trading fees.

Great Trade Execution

TD Ameritrade has some of the fastest executions out there. This means your orders should execute when you want them to.

The broker claims an average execution time of 0.04 seconds. Your mileage may vary. This is one of the biggest differences you should look at when you try out a new broker.

No Minimum Balance Requirement

Like most brokers, TD Ameritrade doesn’t require a minimum deposit. Between this and thinkorswim’s great paper trading platform, you can get your feet wet and try options trading on the cheap (or free).

Various Tradable Assets

This platform has tradable assets of every type. TD Ameritrade lets you trade stocks, options, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, and more. Even if you have a strategy that doesn’t factor in these assets, it’s nice to know that your broker can change if you decide to.

Solid Customer Service

You want a brokerage service with solid customer service that won’t leave you high and dry. TD Ameritrade has 24/7 customer support through numerous channels. Some of its customer support options include phone, text, email, and social media.

Steps to Start Trading Options on TD Ameritrade

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Here are the four steps to start trading options on TD Ameritrade:

1. Open a TD Ameritrade Account

The first thing to do is sign up for a TD Ameritrade brokerage account.

2. Log into the TD Ameritrade or Thinkorswim App

Once you have an account, log into your TD Ameritrade or thinkorswim app. You can trade on both platforms, but they have some differences.

Thinkorswim is better for advanced traders thanks to its sophisticated trading tools. TD Ameritrade works if you’re just learning to trade options.

After you’re logged in, ensure your account is funded before continuing.

3. Select “Options” on the App

TD Ameritrade needs to approve you for options trading. Go into the Options menu and select Request Options Approval or Upgrade.

Finish the application form to continue. This form gauges your trading experience and risk profile.

You’ll get sorted into one of four trading levels based on experience and risk level. Level 1 only has access to basic options strategies. The higher the level, the more advanced options strategies you can use.

4. Start Trading Options

The usual rules still apply:

  • Don’t copy other traders. Your goals and risk tolerance may differ from other active traders.
  • Learn from successful traders. You can join online communities and talk with veteran traders.
  • Make your own stock watchlists. Learn the thought behind a traders’ picks and make it your own.
  • Record and review every trade to learn what can be improved. Becoming a self-sufficient trader means learning from your mistakes and getting better every day.

Learning from experienced traders is especially important. You can skip a lot of trial and error by following their tips and studying their options strategies.

If you’re searching for a mentorship program, check out my former student Mark Croock’s Evolved Trader. He’s taken my penny stock strategies and applied them to options trading — making $3.9 million in career earnings in the process!

Here’s a sneak peek of Mark’s curriculum:

Sign up for the Evolved Trader program today and start your journey to becoming a self-sufficient options trader!

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Timothy Sykes

Tim Sykes is a penny stock trader and teacher who became a self-made millionaire by the age of 22 by trading $12,415 of bar mitzvah money. After becoming disenchanted with the hedge fund world, he established the Tim Sykes Trading Challenge to teach aspiring traders how to follow his trading strategies. He’s been featured in a variety of media outlets including CNN, Larry King, Steve Harvey, Forbes, Men’s Journal, and more. He’s also an active philanthropist and environmental activist, a co-founder of Karmagawa, and has donated millions of dollars to charity. Read More

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* Results are not typical and will vary from person to person. Making money trading stocks takes time, dedication, and hard work. There are inherent risks involved with investing in the stock market, including the loss of your investment. Past performance in the market is not indicative of future results. Any investment is at your own risk. See Terms of Service here

The available research on day trading suggests that most active traders lose money. Fees and overtrading are major contributors to these losses.

A 2000 study called “Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors” evaluated 66,465 U.S. households that held stocks from 1991 to 1996. The households that traded most averaged an 11.4% annual return during a period where the overall market gained 17.9%. These lower returns were attributed to overconfidence.

A 2014 paper (revised 2019) titled “Learning Fast or Slow?” analyzed the complete transaction history of the Taiwan Stock Exchange between 1992 and 2006. It looked at the ongoing performance of day traders in this sample, and found that 97% of day traders can expect to lose money from trading, and more than 90% of all day trading volume can be traced to investors who predictably lose money. Additionally, it tied the behavior of gamblers and drivers who get more speeding tickets to overtrading, and cited studies showing that legalized gambling has an inverse effect on trading volume.

A 2019 research study (revised 2020) called “Day Trading for a Living?” observed 19,646 Brazilian futures contract traders who started day trading from 2013 to 2015, and recorded two years of their trading activity. The study authors found that 97% of traders with more than 300 days actively trading lost money, and only 1.1% earned more than the Brazilian minimum wage ($16 USD per day). They hypothesized that the greater returns shown in previous studies did not differentiate between frequent day traders and those who traded rarely, and that more frequent trading activity decreases the chance of profitability.

These studies show the wide variance of the available data on day trading profitability. One thing that seems clear from the research is that most day traders lose money .

Millionaire Media 66 W Flagler St. Ste. 900 Miami, FL 33130 United States (888) 878-3621 This is for information purposes only as Millionaire Media LLC nor Timothy Sykes is registered as a securities broker-dealer or an investment adviser. No information herein is intended as securities brokerage, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to sell or buy, or as an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any company, security or fund. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes cannot and does not assess, verify or guarantee the adequacy, accuracy or completeness of any information, the suitability or profitability of any particular investment, or the potential value of any investment or informational source. The reader bears responsibility for his/her own investment research and decisions, should seek the advice of a qualified securities professional before making any investment, and investigate and fully understand any and all risks before investing. Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes in no way warrants the solvency, financial condition, or investment advisability of any of the securities mentioned in communications or websites. In addition, Millionaire Media LLC and Timothy Sykes accepts no liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of this information. This information is not intended to be used as the sole basis of any investment decision, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the investment needs of any particular investor. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future returns.

Citations for Disclaimer

Barber, Brad M. and Odean, Terrance, Trading is Hazardous to Your Wealth: The Common Stock Investment Performance of Individual Investors. Available at SSRN: “Day Trading for a Living?”

Barber, Brad M. and Lee, Yi-Tsung and Liu, Yu-Jane and Odean, Terrance and Zhang, Ke, Learning Fast or Slow? (May 28, 2019). Forthcoming: Review of Asset Pricing Studies, Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=2535636”

Chague, Fernando and De-Losso, Rodrigo and Giovannetti, Bruno, Day Trading for a Living? (June 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: “https://ssrn.com/abstract=3423101”