TD Ameritrade, boasting over $6 trillion in customer assets and over 28 million customers, is one of the largest brokerages in the United States. Judging by its sizable customer base, it meets the expectations of many traders and investors, but does that mean it’ll meet yours? That’s exactly what you’ll find out as you read this article, as we’ll break down every feature of TD Ameritrade, what it offers, and what it doesn't, so you can decide whether it’s the broker for you.
TD Ameritrade provides clients with an outstanding trading experience, with zero-cost trades, extensive market analysis, a seamless platform experience, useful trading tools, industry-leading educational material, and reliable customer support. And since it is a safe broker that is regulated by top-tier authorities, traders are assured that their money is in a safe hand. For some, however, it might be a deal breaker that TD Ameritrade does not offer fractional shares or direct access to cryptocurrencies.
TD Ameritrade Overview
Here is a quick fact overview of TD Ameritrade.
|Headquarters||Omaha, Nebraska, United States|
|Stock Trading Fees||$0|
|Number of No-Transaction-Fee Mutual Funds||3,700+|
|Regulation||(FINRA), (SEC), and (CFTC)|
|Tradable Securities||Stocks, ETFs, Mutual funds, Bonds, Options, Foreign ADRs, IPOs for qualified accounts, Futures, Forex|
|Customer Support||Phone, email, live chat, texting, social media, and in-person support at branches|
Pros & Cons
TD Ameritrade enviably shines in many aspects as an online broker while falling short in a few.
|Above-average trading platforms||No fractional shares|
|No account minimum||No direct access to cryptocurrency|
|Commission-free stock, options trades, and ETF.|
Best Alternative to TD Ameritrade is eToro
- #1 Copy Trading Platform
- Regulated by Top Tier Regulations
- Safe & Secure
- 0% Commission on Stocks*
Disclaimer: CFDs are complex instruments that come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. Make sure you understand how CFDs work and if you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. Your capital is at risk. Other fees apply. For more information, visit etoro.com/trading/fees. eToro USA LLC does not offer CFDs, only real Crypto assets available.
*on selected US stocks
TD Ameritrade Compared
There’s no doubt that TD Ameritrade offers a lot of great features, but to understand what it offers more than others, we compared some of its features to other well-known brokers in the industry below:
|Charles Schwab||Interactive Brokers|
|Commissions||No||No||Zero commissions on U.S. stocks||No||Zero commissions on U.S. stocks and ETFs|
Commissions & Fees
TD Ameritrade cut their $6.95 stock trades (including ETFs) rate to $0 on October 3rd, 2019, thanks to a pricing battle in late 2019, with options trades now costing $0.65 per contract. There is still a $6.95 flat-rate cost for trading penny stocks, although stock and ETF trades are still free.
It’s worth mentioning that you'll have to pay a $75 fee if you move all of your assets to another broker, which is relatively high. Partial transfers, as well as annual and inactivity fees, are not charged by TD Ameritrade.
TD Ameritrade offers a wide range of investments, including forex, futures and bitcoin futures trading for approved clients. The following is a list of tradable securities offered by the broker:
- Mutual funds.
- Foreign ADRs.
- IPOs for qualified accounts.
Although there is no direct access to cryptocurrencies, crypto coin trusts are offered over the counter, and qualified traders can trade CME Bitcoin futures.
Platform & Tools
TD Ameritrade’s platform is a winner when it comes to trading tools and the user experience in general. So, whether you’re day trading, trading futures, or trading options, it will most probably meet (or even exceed) your expectations. The broker has a desktop trading platform called thinkorswim that is geared toward serious stock, ETF, options, forex, and futures traders.
As for charting, thinkorswim offers a plethora of charts streaming real-time data. The 400+ technical studies offered, which make up the largest collection in the industry, guarantee the satisfaction of even the pickiest clients. And that’s not to mention thinkScript — thinkorswim's coding language – allows each study to be customized.
There are many thinkorswim desktop trading tools to enjoy and test out, including virtual trading with practice money, plotting economic (FRED) data, performing advanced earnings analysis, charting social sentiment, replaying historical markets tick-by-tick, and backtesting with thinkOnDemand. TD Ameritrade also allows you to create and conduct real-time stock scans, perform advanced options analysis, and share charts and workspace layouts.
Traders also get to use the thinkorswim Earnings Analysis tool, which helps them plan for earnings releases and assess each company's results afterward. Before and after previous releases, the tool shows price movement and volatility. It also plots EPS estimate ranges with actual results using data from Wall Street analysts and crowd-sourced ratings from Estimize.
TD Ameritrade's newest platform, thinkorswim web, makes it a breeze for users to manage their accounts while still having access to key trading features.
At first glance, thinkorswim web may seem simple, but it still has several sophisticated features. For example, from the same trading window within charts, traders can place multi-legged options orders and choose from 5 default strategies. Furthermore, when you make an order, it is kept on the same page as the ticker symbol, so if you switch views to another symbol and then return, the order will be there until you execute or remove it.
A virtual trading simulator is offered by TD Ameritrade. Not many online brokers provide virtual trading accounts on their websites, making this a relatively unique offering.
The paperMoney virtual simulator from TD Ameritrade is a desktop-based platform aimed at frequent and advanced traders. It comes with $100,000 in practice money and a margin account. Non-customers can join for a free 60-day trial, but it's available for free through the broker's two platforms and Mobile Trader app.
TD Ameritrade provides not just one, but two smartphone apps: TD Ameritrade Mobile and thinkorswim Mobile. TD Ameritrade Mobile is the mobile version of TD Ameritrade. Meanwhile, thinkorswim Mobile is aimed at active traders hungry for more trading features.
Once you login into TD Ameritrade Mobile, you’ll be welcomed with a customized dashboard and will be treated with seamless navigation through the app that includes most (if not all) of the features a trader wishes for.
TD Ameritrade Mobile offers many of the same trading features as the web-based platform, as well as Level II quotes that aren’t available on the web platform. Users can be alerted about changes to their holdings through the app's long list of alert settings. They also get to enjoy custom watchlists and educational content.
As for thinkorswim Mobile, you’ll immediately be directed to your watch lists – which are synced with the thinkorswim desktop and web versions – after logging in. All 400+ indicators from the thinkorswim desktop platform are included in the app.
The TD Ameritrade Network (TD Ameritrade's live streaming financial network) streams live from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET every day and has a great combination of market analysis and trader education. Aside from broadcasting, TD Ameritrade now offers CNBC streaming TV for the Europe, US, and Asia trading sessions.
Orders and notifications are easily managed, and traders have quick access to Trader TV, which covers not only the TD Ameritrade Network, but also CNBC. Futures and FX trading, chat support from TD's trading desk, and sophisticated option ordering capabilities are all available in the thinkorswim app.
TD Ameritrade offers a comprehensive research experience to investors through the TD Ameritrade Network and a unique set of tools. Several unique tools are available on the TD Ameritrade website. For example, the Autotrade tool is a service that allows traders to automate trade recommendations from 10 different third-party sources, including the TradeWise options newsletter.
Through The Ticker Tape portal, TD Ameritrade delivers daily written market analyses. There is a wide range of topics, including general finance, day-to-day markets, retirement, trader education, and savings. TD Ameritrade also publishes thinkMoney, a quarterly print (and digital) magazine devoted only to education, in collaboration with The Ticker Tape.
Traders can use thinkorswim to talk in chat rooms, discuss trade ideas using myTrade, and check the trades that others have shared from the Trade Fees section. Thinkorswim also has social sentiment data, which counts the amount of times a symbol has been discussed on Twitter and offers rankings. If you look at a chart of Tesla (TSLA), for example, you can see the social sentiment represented by the percentage of positive, neutral, and negative mentions.
TD Ameritrade reigns supreme in terms of educational material. 200+ available videos — which all include progress tracking — are organized into courses with quizzes. Hundreds of webinars and sessions are also available each month.
TD Ameritrade offers a gamified Learning experience by offering badges and points for progress. The TD Ameritrade Network also broadcasts educational material. Furthermore, TD Ameritrade has several YouTube channels, including one dedicated to its Trader Talks webcast series, which has 1,000+ archived webcasts. They even have their own magazine, thinkMoney, as well as a blog, The Ticker Tape.
The thinkorswim Learning Center offers extensive educational content in all aspects of technical analysis, such as custom indicator coding.
Is TD Ameritrade Regulated and Safe?
In short, yes. TD Ameritrade is regulated by top-tier authorities, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). With that said, it is safe to say that TD Ameritrade is a safe online broker.
The customer service at TD Ameritrade is great; it offers help via phone, email, and live chat support. Support is available via Facebook Messenger, Twitter direct message, Apple Business Chat, Amazon Alexa, and text. You get help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and if you prefer in-person help, there are 250+ locations nationwide.
Phone number: 800-669-3900
TD Ameritrade stands out among many competitors, especially for a broker with zero commission on stock, ETF, and options trades. Users enjoy an outstanding array of services, such as an almost perfect platform, high-quality research, various trading tools, a large selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds, excellent beginner education, and portfolio-building guidance.
This broker is great for both beginner and advanced investors, as well as fund investors. So, if you think you can turn a blind eye to the fact that it does not offer fractional shares or direct access to cryptocurrencies, this may well be a great broker for you.
What is the fastest way to open a TD Ameritrade account?
The fastest and easiest way to open and fund an account is to do it online. Most securities can be traded the same day your account is opened and funded. To transfer assets from another broker, mutual fund company, or transfer agent, log in to your account and proceed to My Account > Account Transfer.
How much does it cost to open an account on TD Ameritrade?
You can fund your account with any amount using one of the five supported funding methods. There’s no minimum deposit necessary to open a TD Ameritrade account. In some cases, using an ACH transfer to fund your account has a limit of $50 to $250,000 per deposit; other methods, such as wire transfers, have no such limit.
Is there a monthly fee with TD Ameritrade?
Although there are no fees for keeping your TD Ameritrade account, even regardless of balance, you may be charged service fees depending on how your account is set up. For accounts with less than $10,000 in liquidation value, there is a $2 cost for monthly paper statements, but this fee is eliminated if you choose electronic statements instead.
Can I day trade with TD Ameritrade?
On cash accounts, TD Ameritrade enables an unlimited number of day trades. On a margin account with a balance of less than $25,000, you are allowed three-day trades in every five days.