TD Ameritrade® Review 2019

James Royal is a reporter covering investing and wealth management. Before joining Bankrate, he worked as a writer for NerdWallet and a stock analyst for The Motley Fool. He holds a doctorate in literature from the University of Florida.

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TD Ameritrade Logo

Best For

  • Trading platforms for a range of users
  • Full-service experience
  • Fee-free ETFs and mutual funds

TD Ameritrade offers one of the more comprehensive broker experiences in the marketplace, whether you’re a beginning or advanced investor. The firm offers many of the benefits of a full-service broker, and caters to a wide range of investors’ needs. Active traders in need of a solid trading platform will find it especially attractive.

Many investors will appreciate the hundreds of commission-free exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which may help offset a trading commission that’s a couple bucks higher than what rivals such as Charles Schwab and Fidelity Investments offer. Overall, TD Ameritrade presents a compelling product for investors of all experience levels.

TD Ameritrade at a glance

Star Rating

4.5
  • Affordability: 3 of 5
  • Usability: 5 of 5
  • Tools & Research: 4 of 5
  • Mobile: 4 of 5
  • Scalability: 5 of 5
  • Minimum Balance:
    $0
  • Cost per stock trade:
    $6.95
  • Cost per options trade:
    $6.95+$0.75 per contract
  • Promotion:
    60 days of free trades and up to $600 in cash
  • Commission-free mutual funds or ETFs:
    300+ commission-free ETFs
  • No-transaction-fee mutual funds:
    4,100+ NTF mutual funds
  • Securities tradable:
    Stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, options, futures, forex, cryptocurrency
  • Customer service:
    Phone 24/7, email, >360 branches, Facebook/Twitter messaging
  • Account fees:
    $75 transfer fee
  • Mobile app:
    TD offers the “TD Ameritrade Mobile and TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader” app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store

Features you’ll love

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 watch lists.

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.

Trading simulator

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.

Where TD Ameritrade rocks

Fee-free funds: TD Ameritrade does right by investors here, offering more than 300 commission-free ETFs and more than 4,100 no-transaction-fee mutual funds. So if you wanted to own just these funds, you could get by at the broker with effectively no trading commissions. That’s a boon for investors who focus on funds, to the exclusion of other securities.

Investment selection: You can trade almost anything you want to at TD Ameritrade – stocks, bonds, options, forex, futures and of course funds. The broker is even raising the stakes by launching cryptocurrency trading, after investing in ErisX, a regulated exchange for crypto trading. The company plans to offer spot and futures contracts.

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 branch locations.

Those investing in individual stocks will appreciate the research that the broker offers clients, including reports from Morningstar, Credit Suisse, CFRA, The Street and many others. Each stock page includes access to SEC filings, earnings transcripts, and any related news, so you’re fully up to date.

Mobile apps: TD Ameritrade offers not one, but two apps, corresponding to the broker’s two trading platforms. TD Ameritrade Mobile mimics much of the desktop platform, offering practical functionality in an easy-to-use package.

Meanwhile, the TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader 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 access streaming video from CNBC and the TD Ameritrade Network while getting access to Level II quotes.

 

Quick comparison of Brokerage options:
Brokerage Overall Rating Avg. Cost Per Trade Usability Rating
TD Ameritrade logo
$6.95 5 of 5
Ally Invest® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$4.95* 4 of 5
Charles Schwab® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$4.95 5 of 5
Fidelity® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$4.95 4 of 5

Where TD Ameritrade could improve

Trading fees: TD Ameritrade’s trading fees – at $6.95 for stocks and $6.95 plus $0.75 per contract for options – sits at the high end of the industry. That’s only a couple dollars higher per trade than a few key full-service brokers, such as Schwab and Fidelity, so it’s not a fatal flaw. However, investors seeking the absolute lowest cost may want to turn somewhere else. That said, if you confine yourself to the fee-free funds, you’ll get by with no trading fees.

Account fees: 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 certain ETFs, it will dock you a short-term trading fee of $49.99 if you don’t hold the fund for at least 30 days.

Bottom line

TD Ameritrade should be in top contention for a spot as your broker, especially if you’re sticking to the funds where the broker charges no fees.

  • If you’re not sticking to fee-free ETFs, you’ll pay a trading commission that’s on the higher end of peers, but that’s not a huge difference unless you’re trading frequently.
  • With its full range of services, professional-level tools, extensive research and educational offerings, TD Ameritrade is a great selection for investors just starting out, as well as more advanced hands.

Investors looking for comprehensive research should also check out Merrill Edge, which offers the broker’s in-house research and reports. Those on the hunt for a great all-around experience will also want to have a look at Charles Schwab and Fidelity Investments.

 

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