Day traders have lots and lots of online brokerage firms for executing and managing trades. Choosing the right site for trades is a delicate balance between reliability and advanced charting ability crossed with the cost of each trade and customization of the interface. In this Ameritrade review, we will go over the pros and cons of using TD Ameritrade for your day trading needs.

The bottom line is that Ameritrade has a great platform for occasional investors that trade a few times a week, but for heavy users like day traders, the cost of commissions and lack of customized hotkeys might be deal breakers.

The research and tools on Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim platform are top-notch. The customized interface that traders can build with heat maps, company profiles and advanced charts can be an excellent tool for beginning or intermediate traders. There is also an analysis feature that shows an instant evaluation of the potential trades risk profile, giving you instant risk management. Included are a number of breaking news services from Dow Jones and others that can provide up-to-date breaking news that can affect trades and investments.

The mobile trading platform is quite good as well. The interface for Apple and Android devices give traders a chance to fund accounts, make trades and access research and tools, all from their phones. The potential for trading on the go is enormous.

Executions can be a problem. Thinkorswim has a history of slow executions, which would make the platform a problem for day traders, who need instantaneous executions. However the platform has recently added hotkeys and is making strides to becoming friendlier to day and high-volume traders.

Then we get to the commission’s. $9.99 per trade! That is a major dealbreaker for high-volume traders that depend on multiple trades per day or even per hour. Lower-volume, beginner investors are happier because they can access Thinkorswim’s bevy of research and tools, regardless of their account level. Not such a great deal for day traders. And the margin rates, starting at 7.75%, are higher than average for the industry.

Traders that play in the short game are not going to be happy. The Thinkorswim infrastructure does not have much in the way of short lists.

One of the best features of Ameritrade, especially for beginning traders, is the paper trading advantages. The platform has extensive tools that make it possible to execute virtual trades, with no actual money being risked, at the speed of the market, with the chance to learn on the job, so to speak. A large learning curve for traders starting out is figuring out how to use the particular platform. Once a trader gets comfortable making paper trades on Ameritrade’s platform, it is relatively seamless to being trading real money in the same system.

In any case, aspiring traders are going to need to put in time to understand the basics of day trading and the individual issues with each trading platform out on the market. That is the best way to make an informed decision.