No matter what your financial goals are, you’ve probably already heard of both Fidelity Investments and TD Ameritrade. The brokerage firms and financial service providers are often compared because they both garner consistently high reviews and offer many of the same services, ranging from retirement planning to stock and bond purchase assistance.
But which firm reigns supreme, and which is better for your financial future? We’ve set these two giants against one another in four of the most common categories that traders and investors can consider before making a commitment.
- Beginner investors
- Advanced traders
- Investors who want portfolio-building advice.
TD Ameritrade vs. Fidelity: Fees
Fidelity and TD Ameritrade are evenly matched in many fee categories. Neither company charges an annual inactivity fee like some competitors, nor do they charge a fee for opening an account with less than a certain minimum balance. However, this is where the similarities end.
Fidelity charges $4.95 commission per stock or options trade compared to TD Ameritrade’s $6.95. “Low cost” is the name of the game for Fidelity, also offering lower fees per options contract ($0.65 vs. TD Ameritrade’s $0.75) and broker-assisted trades ($32.95 vs. TD Ameritrade’s $44.99). There’s no question here: Fidelity’s fees are much lower.
TD Ameritrade vs. Fidelity: Selection of securities
Though both brokerage firms offer a large selection of stocks and bonds along with forex options, TD Ameritrade goes a bit farther to offer a host of investment offerings. TD Ameritrade offers a few more choices when it comes to investing in mutual funds (4,000 compared to Fidelity’s 3,700) and a much larger selection when it comes to commission-free ETFs (over 300 compared to Fidelity’s 90).
However, there’s one situation in which you’ll absolutely want to go with TD Ameritrade: if you’re interested in futures trading. Fidelity’s platforms currently do not support futures trading.
TD Amertirade vs. Fidelity: Ease of platform use
TD Ameritrade has poured a lot of time and money into the research and development of its trading platforms. The brokerage firm offers three separate platforms for customers, each of which are aimed at a different section of the market. Beginner traders will appreciate the intuitive and easy-to-navigate TDAmeritrade.com, which comes with access to an automated chatbot named “Ted” that offers basic trading advice. TD Ameritrade also offers a well-designed mobile app that offers the same functionality as the firm’s online platforms as well as iPad and Apple Watch compatibility.
Finally, TD Ameritrade offers a separate trading platform for professionals called “thinkorswim” that’s been applauded by critics for its in-depth features, ranging from test strategies and market scans that can identify and suggest opportunities give thinkorswim a mind of its own.
Fidelity’s trading platform is also impressive and offers a simple online platform similar to TD Ameritrade’s. Fidelity also provides a basic mobile app that offers most of the same features as the desktop site. Fidelity also offers the “Active Trader Pro” desktop and browser to the most serious traders, though you’ll need to trade at least 36 times in a year to gain access.
Though both brokerage firms offer impressive platforms, TD Ameritrade wins out with its diversity of options. No matter if you’re performing complicated analyses using thinkorswim or you’re looking to trade on-the-go via the Apple watch app, TD Ameritrade can offer you a lot of options.
TD Ameritrade wins this category.
TD Ameritrade vs. Fidelity: Research quality
Comprehensive and unbiased research can make or break any trader. Investment research from Fidelity is impressive, reflecting the firm’s desire to cater to more proactive traders.
The online platform aggregates market research and opinions from over 20 expert sources and offers investors a weighted opinion that considers multiple points of view. Fidelity’s website also offers a number of expert-level video research tools to help seasoned traders learn how to interpret investment movements and indications on their own.
TD Ameritrade also offers research and market news, along with extended technical and trading support options. Platforms offer live-streaming news from CNBC International and TD Ameritrade’s media partner, TD Ameritrade network. However, these limited options pale in comparison to Fidelity’s research opinions, which condense the market into a quick snapshot using data from a breadth of sources.
Fidelity is the clear winner here.
When it comes to choosing a brokerage firm, the “best” option will heavily depend upon who you are and what your individual needs are. If you’re a frequent trader who has his or her trading education down and who doesn’t need a lot of handholding, you’ll probably prefer Fidelity’s lower fees and Active Trader Pro desktop platform.
If you’re just beginning to trade and you need someone to show you the ropes, you might not mind paying a little extra in fees to access TD Ameritrade’s advanced chat and advice options.
|Broker||Best For||Commissions||Account Minimum||Choose your platform|
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1 Minute Review
This publicly listed discount broker, which is in existence for over four decades, is service-intensive, offering intuitive and powerful investment tools. Especially, with equity investing, a flat fee is charged, with the firm claiming that it charges no trade minimum, no data fees, and no platform fees. Though it is pricier than many other discount brokers, what tilts the scales in its favor is its well-rounded service offerings and the quality and value it offers its clients.
Trade commission–free for 90 days & get up to $2500
||$4.95||$0 for IRAs. Some accounts may require a minimum opening balance of $2,500||
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1 Minute Review
Fidelity's customized market research for individual investors is unmatched. Fidelity is best for experienced traders willing to make a minimum 36 trades per quarter. Not only does Fidelity offer 24/7 customer support, there are branches nationwide that offer in-person seminars and webinars to ensure that customers are always informed on the latest market research and technologies.
Commission-free trades good for 2 years