TD Ameritrade at a glance
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.
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.
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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