TD Ameritrade® review 2023
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TD Ameritrade: Best for
- Trading platform and mobile app
- Wide range of securities
- Research and education
TD Ameritrade continues to provide rock-solid service, especially in some of its strongest areas such as its trading platform and its research and education offerings. The broker’s thinkorswim platform remains robust, and the broker’s new parent – Charles Schwab – promises that it will make the leap over as TD Ameritrade clients are integrated with Schwab over the course of the next year or so. Thinkorswim also comes in a mobile version, as does TD Ameritrade’s core platform. Another notable highlight here is the range of tradable securities, including the usuals (stocks, bonds, funds) but some of the not-so-usuals (forex and futures). As in years past, TD Ameritrade remains a solid pick, though new customers may also want to warm up to Schwab.
Given that imminent integration, clients may want to check out Charles Schwab as well as one of its top rivals Fidelity Investments, both of which regularly score highly in Bankrate reviews. If you’re looking for good research, you might also turn to Merrill Edge.
TD Ameritrade: In the details
Pros: Where TD Ameritrade stands out
TD Ameritrade does right by investors here, offering more than 3,600 no-transaction-fee mutual funds. That’s a boon for investors who focus on funds. TD Ameritrade allows you to screen the funds for a variety of characteristics, though the screening function is not as useful as it could be. Each fund has a page dedicated to showing its key statistics, including holdings, performance across various time periods and more.
You can trade almost anything you want at TD Ameritrade – stocks, bonds, options, forex, futures and, of course, funds. And if cryptocurrency is your thing, you can trade that via futures contracts, though you won’t be able to trade it directly as you can at a number of other brokerages, and you can buy publicly traded mutual funds and ETFs that own crypto, of course.
Research and education
TD Ameritrade offers education for beginners on up — with live webcasts, news and analysis on almost any market-related topic. From basic “how to trade stocks” guides to arcane options trading sessions, you’ll find many of the investing education resources you’ll need to help make the most of TD Ameritrade. TD Ameritrade even takes advantage of its physical presence, offering in-house sessions for investors at its more than 175 branch locations.
Those investing in individual stocks will appreciate the broker’s research, including reports from Morningstar, CFRA, Thomson Reuters and many others. Each stock page includes access to SEC filings, earnings, and any related news, so you’re fully up to date.
A range of trading platforms
Like most brokers, TD Ameritrade offers a trade ticket so that you can quickly input orders and execute trades. It gets right to the point, and it’s easy for one-off orders when you want to trade and go. But the broker also offers two high-featured platforms that can do much more.
Web platform: The broker’s classic platform does all the fundamentals – trading stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds and options. It also includes streaming news, third-party research and watchlists.
Thinkorswim platform: This platform ups the ante, with the addition of futures, forex, and futures options on top of the web platform’s tradable securities. You’ll be able to trade some of these securities 24 hours a day, five days a week. With access to more than 400 technical studies, charting tools and advanced analytics, the platform is a professional-grade suite with many of the toys experienced traders are looking for. It comes in web, desktop and mobile versions.
TD Ameritrade offers not one, but two apps, corresponding to the broker’s two trading platforms. TD Ameritrade Mobile mimics much of the more straightforward desktop platform, offering practical functionality in an easy-to-use package.
Meanwhile, the thinkorswim mobile app transforms the thinkorswim platform into your handheld device. It offers more advanced trading, such as futures and multi-legged options, so you can trade virtually anything as long as you’re web-enabled. You can also stream live video from CNBC and the TD Ameritrade Network while getting access to Level II quotes.
Wide range of account types
TD Ameritrade is also highly accommodating when it comes to the types of accounts you can open. In addition to standard types such as individual and joint taxable accounts, you’ll also be able to open custodial accounts, 529 accounts, education savings accounts, trusts and partnership accounts. Those looking for retirement accounts won’t receive short shrift either, with the standard traditional and Roth IRA accounts as well as pension and profit sharing accounts and business retirement accounts: SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA and the solo 401(k).
TD Ameritrade offers a wide range of types, meaning you’re highly likely to find what you need.
TD Ameritrade’s simulator – called paperMoney – lets you practice your trading strategies, setting users up with $100,000 in virtual cash, as well as a margin account to increase your buying power. The simulator uses the broker’s robust thinkorswim trading platform and is free for customers — though it’s also available for a 60-day trial run for non-customers.
You’ll get to customize the platform’s layout, backtest your strategies, and generally do anything else that you’d be able to do on the real-money platform.
Cons: Where TD Ameritrade could improve
While TD Ameritrade doesn’t charge an inactivity fee, it does impose a $75 transfer-out fee, though partial transfers are free. And although the broker doesn’t impose a fee for trading some mutual funds, it will dock you a short-term trading fee of $49.99 if you don’t hold the fund for at least 180 days. It does not charge a short-term redemption fee on ETFs, however.
A handful of brokers, including Fidelity Investments and Interactive Brokers, now charge no fees for ACATS transfers.
The broker allows you to reinvest your dividends into partial shares of stock, but does not permit you to purchase stock as fractional shares. That’s too bad since fractional shares are a great way for newer investors to get all their money invested in those high-priced securities they want.
Meanwhile, key rivals such as Charles Schwab and Fidelity offer both fractional purchases and dividend reinvestment. For TD Ameritrade customers it may be something of a moot point, however, as Charles Schwab begins integrating the broker into its own operations.
Mutual fund fees
TD Ameritrade offers more than 23,000 mutual funds, and more than 3,600 of them can be traded without incurring a transaction fee. However, if you don’t trade one of these fee-free funds, you’ll be stuck with up to a $49.95 commission for no-load funds when you buy, though some fund families will cost as much as $74.95. TD Ameritrade doesn’t charge when you sell no-load funds, however. For load funds, the broker won’t charge you a fee, but you’ll likely be hit with an even bigger sales commission.
Firstrade4.0 Bankrate Score
Firstrade is a solid brokerage offering that may particularly appeal to options traders because of its commission-free options trades. You’ll also get access to quality research and its mobile app, but mutual fund investors may be disappointed by the small number of no-transaction fee funds available.
WellsTrade2.5 Bankrate Score
WellsTrade handles most of the basics well and could be a good fit for existing Wells Fargo customers looking to consolidate accounts in one place. However, active traders should likely look elsewhere for their brokerage needs due to high options costs and a barebones trading platform.
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing3.0 Bankrate Score
J.P Morgan’s Self-Directed Investing platform is a good fit for existing Chase customers who are looking for a low-cost way to trade stocks, ETFs and mutual funds while getting access to the bank’s easy-to-use mobile app. However, only a few account types are offered and If you’re looking to trade forex, futures or crypto, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Interactive Brokers5.0 Bankrate Score
Interactive Brokers keeps adding new features and improving its offerings year after year, and now has new mobile apps to pair with long-time strengths such as its wide number of tradable securities and access to global markets. Low margin rates, high interest rates on cash balances, and a leading number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds serve to make this broker a top pick.
E*Trade4.5 Bankrate Score
E-Trade is likely to be a suitable broker choice for many investors who will appreciate its low trading costs, high-quality research and education, and 24/7 access to customer service. However, if you’re starting small and looking to trade fractional shares, you’ll need to find a different option.
Ally Invest4.0 Bankrate Score
Ally Invest offers a solid brokerage with many of the features that investors have come to love, especially no-commission trades on stocks and ETFs, but it ups the game with low-cost options trades, too. All-hours customer support and an all-encompassing mobile app will make sure you get business done on your terms, though mutual fund investors may be a bit disappointed.
Merrill Edge4.5 Bankrate Score
Merrill Edge brings strong research and education to the investing space, offering a solid trading platform for stocks, bonds, options and funds. You’ll likely find some extra things to love here if you’re already a customer of parent Bank of America, with 24/7 phone support and in-branch service potentially making that relationship even more meaningful to clients.
Fidelity5.0 Bankrate Score
Fidelity Investments is back again with another blowout performance in Bankrate’s reviews. This broker seems to do it all right, from low costs to plenty of research to mutual funds to prompt and courteous customer service. And with so much under the Fidelity roof – banking, credit cards and more – you could capably run your financial life here.
Charles Schwab5.0 Bankrate Score
Charles Schwab is a great all-around broker, whether you’re just getting started investing or are more advanced, and it can bring the heat on almost anything you’re likely to need. Add on strong customer support, a wide investment selection, no-commission mutual funds, and tons of research, and you have the makings of a five-star broker.
Webull4.0 Bankrate Score
Webull offers a lot that investors will like such as commission-free trading, fractional shares and a slick mobile app that allows you to trade on the go or keep tabs on your favorite stocks. But only a few account types are offered and you won’t find the level of research that is available through other brokers.
Robinhood3.5 Bankrate Score
Robinhood has taken its game up a notch or two, pairing its traditional no-cost trading with new IRA accounts (and a special bonus match for clients) as well as improvements in customer service, including 24/7 chat. The mobile app remains an attractive place for options traders but is a no-go for those looking for mutual funds or a wide range of account types.
Vanguard3.0 Bankrate Score
Vanguard’s brokerage offering can handle the basics well and may be a good fit for long-term fund investors. But more active traders will be disappointed by the basic trading platform and high commissions for options trading.
TradeStation3.5 Bankrate Score
TradeStation’s brokerage offering is likely to suit active traders better than it does new investors or those just looking to save for retirement. Customers will get an advanced trading platform with low commissions, but you won’t find fractional shares and the mutual fund offering is limited.
SoFi Active Investing3.0 Bankrate Score
SoFi Active Investing is a low-cost broker that should meet the needs of new investors looking to only trade stocks and ETFs. More experienced investors may be disappointed by the lack of options or mutual fund trading and a limited research offering.
moomoo3.0 Bankrate Score
Moomoo joins a crowded field of discount brokerages with an appeal to individual traders, offering some atypical features, including access to U.S., Hong Kong and Chinese markets. Competitive pricing on stocks, ETFs and options will prove welcome with traders, though others may find the lack of account types, limited available securities and high transfer fees off-putting.
Zacks Trade3.5 Bankrate Score
Zacks Trade is a broker that should appeal to active traders with its advanced trading platform and ample research offering. New investors may be turned off by the high account minimum and fees for mutual fund trades.
Lightspeed3.0 Bankrate Score
Lightspeed is all about active traders who can deliver volume to the broker, and so everything is optimized around making the experience the best for them. That means discounted prices for high-volume trades and multiple high-power trading platforms, but it also means no concern for eliminating the nickel-and-dime costs that other brokers routinely slash.
tastytrade3.5 Bankrate Score
Tastytrade offers some of the lowest commissions around, whether you’re trading stocks, options or even cryptocurrency – and it actually caps your commissions on the latter two. Traders should find a lot to like here, among the commissions, trading platform and the variety of trading securities on offer, though long-term investors may bemoan the lack of mutual funds.