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 next few months. 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 funds 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 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 for your full account, 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 5,600 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.
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