Practice Trading with paperMoney® Free Stock Market Simulator

Use paperMoney®, TD Ameritrade's free stock market simulator, to practice stock trading on a virtual stock exchange with no risk of losing real money. Try it. practice with paperMoney®
4 min read
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Key Takeaways

  • Test your trading strategies in a virtual stock market without risking a penny
  • With paperMoney, you can trade different product lines such as options, futures, or forex, or try out different chart indicators or studies
  • Learn about the annual thinkorswim® Challenge

The well-known saying “practice makes perfect” is a bit misleading because it’s almost impossible to become perfect at anything in life. In the world of trading, we don’t aim to be perfect, but to be generally profitable—and one way to pursue that goal is to practice, practice, practice on the paperMoney platform on thinkorswim.

paperMoney, a stock market simulator, allows you to test your trading strategies as you would in a real, live situation, but without risking a penny on a stock exchange. It’s a great way for anyone to hone their trading skills, but the virtual trading simulator is particularly well-suited for those who:

  • Are interested in trading stocks but don’t yet have enough funds to do so 
  • Have the capital to trade but aren’t sure where to start  
  • Are experienced traders and want to use paperMoney to test new strategies to add to their arsenal

Don’t Have thinkorswim Installed? Here’s How.

  1. Log on to your account at
  2. Go to the Trade tab and, at the far right of the dropdown menu, click the “Start swimming today" link. 
  3. Click on the green “Download thinkorswim" button and install the platform. 
  4. Upon initializing thinkorswim, slide the toggle switch under your username and password to paperMoney and log in.
  5. Once logged in, you will have access to most of the same suite of tools, charts, and indicators offered on the state-of-the-art thinkorswim live platform.

Be the Kid in the Candy Store

Now that you have access to paperMoney, there’s no better way to explore the power of the thinkorswim platform—with no risk—than by digging in and trying things you normally wouldn’t.

FIGURE 1: PAPERMONEY LOGIN. On the thinkorswim platform, make sure to toggle over to paperMoney to access the stock market simulator. For illustrative purposes only. 

This is your opportunity, not just to trade stocks in a trading simulator, but also perhaps to perform in-depth research on those biotech or fintech stocks you keep hearing about. Or maybe you want to step outside your comfort zone and trade new products or different assets classes.

Are you a stock trader who’s considering adding options to your strategy? paperMoney allows you to test the waters of basic options strategies. Or, maybe you’re interested in futures and forex markets, which are used by advanced retail traders and institutional investors to speculate and hedge risk. In the process you might find you like having access to additional asset classes. Or you might realize why such derivative products aren’t for everyone. Of course, even after investors consider the risks, not all investors will qualify for options, futures, or forex trading.

paperMoney also offers you a great chance to try out different chart indicators and studies to see how they work in conjunction with your trading.

Now, Settle Down with These Five Tips

Once you’ve gotten that all out of your system, it’s time to develop your trading mettle by focusing on the type of asset and strategy with which you feel most comfortable. Here are five helpful tips to get the most out of paperMoney.

1. Optimize your layout. The paperMoney platform has a variety of customizable configurations. For example, the left-hand column provides “gadgets” for watchlists, live news, Level II quotes, Trader TV, and much more. There’s even a scratch pad to write down trade notes. In the main screen, you can set up multiple charts in a flexible grid system. This can be the perfect opportunity to create the layout that works best for you.

2. Use the power of data. Your trading data can be a powerful learning tool, and with paperMoney, it’s all at your fingertips—automatically. paperMoney records all your trades (including paper commissions) and displays them in the form of profit and loss analysis, which you can view in multiple time frames. Reviewing this data regularly is a good way to spot holes in your trading strategy and fix them.

FIGURE 2: HIT THE RESET BUTTON. Made a mistake, or tried something that didn’t quite work out? Ready for a reset? Easy. Image source: the TD Ameritrade thinkorswim platformFor illustrative purposes only. 

3. Trade “as if.” When no money is at risk, you can’t get hurt—but you should trade as if you can. If you trade outsize positions and take wild risks, it won’t help you when it’s time to switch to live trading. The power of virtual stock trading is that it gives you the ability to refine a strategy based upon the way you’ll trade with real money, so trade “as if” you are. 

4. Use your “do overs.” You’re going to make mistakes; that’s the nature of learning and the reason for practice. But if you think you’ve made too many, don’t be afraid to start over from scratch. You can do this by going to the Monitor tab on the upper left-hand corner of the main screen, scrolling down to the Position Statement line, and looking to the far-right hand side. There you’ll see a button titled Adjust Account. When selected, you’ll see an Account Adjustments box. Just check Reset All Balances and Positions and hit Apply, and you’ll get a clean slate. See figure 2.

5. Go on about your business. The reality is that most of us don’t have the luxury of sitting at a trading desk all day long. Life intrudes and often we have to be elsewhere during the trading day. But just like the live thinkorswim platform, paperMoney goes with you wherever you go via the TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader app. Use it to practice managing trades on the go the same way you would with live trading.

paperMoney offers a special opportunity for college students interested in studying the markets. TD Ameritrade hosts an annual trading competition, the thinkorswim Challenge, where teams of two to four students from colleges and universities across the country use the paperMoney platform to trade an account funded with $500,000 in virtual dollars. The competition provides students not only the chance to win prizes for themselves and their school, but gain valuable experience as well. 

The thinkorswim challenge is subject to full official rules available on the thinkorswim challenge page. Must be 18+ to enter. No purchase, investment or brokerage account necessary. Registration runs 9/3 through 10/1.


Key Takeaways

  • Test your trading strategies in a virtual stock market without risking a penny
  • With paperMoney, you can trade different product lines such as options, futures, or forex, or try out different chart indicators or studies
  • Learn about the annual thinkorswim® Challenge
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The paperMoney software application is for educational purposes only. Successful virtual trading during one time period does not guarantee successful investing of actual funds during a later time period as market conditions change continuously.

Futures and futures options trading is speculative and is not suitable for all investors. Please read the Risk Disclosure for Futures and Options prior to trading futures products.

Forex trading involves leverage, carries a high level of risk and is not suitable for all investors. Please read the Forex Risk Disclosure prior to trading forex products. 

Market volatility, volume, and system availability may delay account access and trade executions.

Past performance of a security or strategy does not guarantee future results or success.

Options are not suitable for all investors as the special risks inherent to options trading may expose investors to potentially rapid and substantial losses. Options trading subject to TD Ameritrade review and approval. Please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options before investing in options.

Supporting documentation for any claims, comparisons, statistics, or other technical data will be supplied upon request.

The information is not intended to be investment advice or construed as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular investment or investment strategy, and is for illustrative purposes only. Be sure to understand all risks involved with each strategy, including commission costs, before attempting to place any trade. Clients must consider all relevant risk factors, including their own personal financial situations, before trading.

This is not an offer or solicitation in any jurisdiction where we are not authorized to do business or where such offer or solicitation would be contrary to the local laws and regulations of that jurisdiction, including, but not limited to persons residing in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, UK, and the countries of the European Union.

TD Ameritrade, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. TD Ameritrade is a trademark jointly owned by TD Ameritrade IP Company, Inc. and The Toronto-Dominion Bank. © 2019 TD Ameritrade.

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