Traders can now trade bitcoin on the legendary ThinkorSwim trading platform, and take advantage of the unparalleled research, analytics tools, and customer support that Ameritrade has to offer.
- United States
- Bank Wire, ACH
- America’s number one online brokerage
- Exceptional platform in sink or swim, and the best analysis out there
- 66% margin requirement on CBOE contracts
- $25,000 minimum account balance to trade
- Offers only CBOE contracts
Ameritrade is considered one of the top products in the online stock and derivatives trading marketplace. Founded in 1975 (under the much catchier name First Omaha Securities) Ameritrade has earned its market leading position the good old fashion way – blood, sweat, and a lot of acquisitions.
The first, and most important when staring through our bitcoin-infused glasses, is their acquisition of ThinkOrSwim way back in 2009. ThinkOrSwim provided Ameritrade a top of the line web-based derivatives trading platform, and it is on this platform that we bitcoin aficionados are now able to trade CBOE bitcoin futures contracts.
The second acquisition, and much more recently done, is Scottrade, with the combined behemoth servicing over 11 million clients. And what does this mean for the user? Ameritrade laps the market when it comes to their array of trading instruments, their 100 + offices across the US, their exceptional platform available to all customers, and their ridiculous amounts of research material.
Bitcoin Futures Trading at Ameritrade
Unlike some of the competition, Ameritrade offers customers only CBOE bitcoin contracts. The main advantage in the CBOE Futures is the smaller contract size of 1 bitcoin each, as opposed to the five bitcoin contract of CME. That is…a much smaller trading requirement, though you will need to have an account balance of at least $25,000 to begin trading bitcoin futures.
Ameritrade requires a 66% margin, meaning you will need to pony up two-thirds of a bitcoin for each contract, or approximately $8,000 at time of writing. As far as the US brokers running CME or CBOE contracts go, this margin is better than most. Bitcoin holders looking to trade futures, however, will be better off using bitcoin-collateralized contracts.
The fees – $2.50 per contract – fall right into the middle of the pack. The bitcoin contract fees across all the brokerages seem to us so low that we find them an insignificant factor when picking your bitcoin futures broker. Perhaps all things being equal, fees might help to pick amongst equals.
Like all brokerages running the CME or CFE (CBOE) futures, contracts are settled in USD. Ameritrade liquidates your contracts at expiration and adjusts your account appropriately. See below the stats…
Ameritrade CBOE Contracts
Index Tracker Gemini
Mon 17:00 - Fri 16:00, CST
Point Value $1
Price Intervals 10 points
Margin Requirement 66%
Ameritrade Fees $2.50
The Ameritrade Bitcoin Trading Platform
We unfortunately are not the most sophisticated of stock traders out there, and so our ability to recommend one platform over another is somewhat limited. However, as it pertains to the trading platforms out there, it seems TD Ameritrade is widely considered to be best in class – so says Barron’s for instance, which placed TD Ameritrade in a three way tie with Interactive Brokers and Fidelity at the top of its list. Thinkorswim is an extremely powerful platform which will fit the needs of the most advanced of traders. It is free for everyone, unlike, for instance, e*trade’s pro platform account which requires a $250k account balance for admission.
So what makes this platform best in breed? First is the access. Any Ameritrade client may take advantage of thinkorswim, without any trade minimums or criteria. There are more technical analysis tools than you could hope to use – over 300 it seems – with multiple chart types all offering streaming data.
Another vote in Ameritrade’s favor is the massive number of instruments available for trade. Ameritrade simply offers more mutual funds, options and ETFs than the competition, and that includes Interactive Brokers and e*trade. This review, preoccupied entirely by Ameritrade’s bitcoin offering, will not delve too deeply into this particular aspect but here is one number we find particularly impressive: 12,500 different mutual funds.
If you are a veteran online stock trader, you are most likely accustomed to a relatively high level of support. Ameritrade will exceed even the most exacting of requirements. With 100+ offices across America and 1000s of employees, you can expect knowledgeable and prompt responses to your queries, 24/7.
If you come from the bitcoin exchange world, you will be entirely gobsmacked. This is the way support is meant to behave, something we have perhaps all forgotten thanks to the Coinbases of the world.
You might look elsewhere if:
You actually own bitcoin.
If you own bitcoin, you can avoid all the laborious KYC and get much higher leverages through one of the bitcoin-collateralized futures exchanges. The best is Bitmex, but they do not accept US traffic – though many do circumvent this using a VPN.
You prefer trading the CME contracts.
CME contracts are much bigger, but they have a more logical underlying index. Bitcoin veterans might be scratching their heads at CBOE’s decision to base their price on Gemini alone – and we are also scratching our heads. If CME’s 5 bitcoin contract size does not scare you off, you can open an account with e-trade instead.
With Ameritrade, you have arguably the best trading platform in the market, available to all customers. To trade bitcoin futures make sure you have enabled futures in your account, and then bug support to unlock bitcoin trading as frequently as required for them to simply acquiesce. Once trading is unlocked, you are limited to trading the CBOE, you must keep a $25k account minimum, and your margin requirement is 66% of your positions nominal value.
Pretty sweet that Ameritrade offers bitcoin futures trading.