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TD Ameritrade vs. E*TRADE

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Founded in 1971, TD Ameritrade provides excellent online platforms for trading stocks, mutual funds, forex, options and futures. In November of 2019, TD Ameritrade received a takeover bid from Charles Schwab & Co. and the acquisition recently completed on October 6th, 2020. For more detailed information on TD Ameritrade, you can check out our TD Ameritrade Review. 

Since 1982, E*TRADE has offered retail online brokerage services, making the company one of the most experienced brokers in the industry. E*TRADE continues offering its customers excellent brokerage after recently being taken over by Morgan Stanley. If you’d like more in-depth information on E*TRADE, you can check out Benzinga’s E*TRADE Review

TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE have both been rated among the top U.S. stock brokers. This article compares the two brokers to give you an accurate assessment of both brokers’ services and platforms. 

Commissions
$0 $6.95 for OTC Stocks
Commissions
$0
Best For
  • Novice investors
  • Retirement savers
  • Day traders
Best For
  • Active traders
  • Derivatives traders
  • Retirement savers
Pros
  • World-class trading platforms
  • Detailed research reports and Education Center
  • Assets ranging from stocks and ETFs to derivatives like futures and options
Pros
  • Sophisticated trading platforms
  • Wide range of tradable assets
  • Exceptional customer service
Cons
  • Thinkorswim can be overwhelming to inexperienced traders
  • Derivatives trading more costly than some competitors
  • Expensive margin rates
Cons
  • Limited currency trading
  • Higher margin rates than competitors
  • No paper trading on its standard platform

TD Ameritrade vs. E*TRADE Fees

What TD Ameritrade Offers

TD Ameritrade charges its U.S based clients no commissions for online stock, options and exchange traded funds (ETFs) trading. Not everything is free though, since the broker charges $5.00 for communications through their Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and $25 for broker assisted trades. 

TD Ameritrade also charges $0.65 per option contract trades, a $6.95 commission on online over-the-counter (OTC) stocks not listed on U.S. exchanges, $2.25 per contract for futures trading on 50 different contracts, and a $49.99 commission on no-load mutual funds. Load and no transaction fee (NTF) mutual funds are commission free. 

What E*TRADE Offers

E*TRADE has no charge for stock and ETF trades, but you’ll pay a commission of $0.65 per option contract on option trades and $19.99 for mutual funds trades. E*TRADE also charges a $25 commission for broker assisted trades. E*TRADE’s options commissions decline for active traders, with a discount to $0.50 per contract for traders that make more than 30 trades per quarter. E*TRADE offers over 200 different futures contracts for trading and costs $2.99 per contract. 

The Better Platform

Both platforms offer similar pricing for the same services, however, TD Ameritrade charges more for mutual funds at $49.99 versus $19.99 for E*TRADE. Active options traders will prefer E*TRADE for the volume discount, while futures traders might prefer TD Ameritrade for its lower commission, although it offers trading in fewer futures contracts than E*TRADE.    

TD Ameritrade vs. E*TRADE Mobile App

Commissions
$0
Account Minimum
$0

What TD Ameritrade Offers

TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform is available for iOS and Android mobile phones, tablets and Apple Watch. The mobile app mirrors the desktop version and features over 300 different indicators and technical charts. The intuitive app lets you customize its interface and gives you access to multi-touch charts, live news, market insights and a support option. In addition to its own research, TD Ameritrade gives you access to well-respected market research from Morningstar and TheStreet.

The app also lets you analyze your risk with a “what if” feature. This feature lets you evaluate the financial risk potential of an individual trade or stress test your entire portfolio. In addition, the mobile app includes a “papermoney” demo account you can use to practice trading with $100,000 of virtual money. Furthermore, the mobile trading platform allows for conditional orders, options spreads and multi-legged option orders.   

What E*TRADE Offers

The intuitive mobile app offered by E*TRADE can be downloaded to an iOS or Android mobile phone, tablet or Apple Watch. The app lets you trade stocks, options and mutual funds on the go. You can also use it to enter market and conditional orders, as well as complex options orders such as spreads and multi-legged options strategies. 

The Better Platform

Thinkorswim wins in this category for more sophisticated traders. While the E*TRADE mobile app may be easier to operate, it has considerably less features than the thinkorswim platform by TD Ameritrade. Also, you can practice trading with virtual money using TD Ameritrade’s papermoney demo account, while E*TRADE’s mobile app does not have a demo account option.

Both brokers offer excellent mobile in-house research capabilities and charting, including analysis from third-party companies such as Morningstar and Thomson Reuters, although TD Ameritrade customers have more third party analyst options than those offered by E*TRADE. 

TD Ameritrade vs. E*TRADE Customer Support

What TD Ameritrade Offers

TD Ameritrade’s customer support is one of the most complete services of any online broker. In addition to a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page where you can get answers to the most common questions, the broker maintains largely toll-free customer service phone numbers for:

  • New accounts
  • Existing clients
  • Spanish customer service
  • Chinese customer service
  • International support outside the U.S.
  • Direct number (not toll-free) for countries not listed on AT&T’s International toll-free dialing guide 
  • Teletypewriter (TTY) mode for the hearing impaired 

TD Ameritrade’s customer support also gives you several live chat options, including a live text number, Facebook Messenger, Twitter Direct Message and their own live chat option on their website. In addition, the broker offers a fax number and three regular U.S.P.S. addresses for overnight delivery, existing accounts and new accounts.  

Furthermore, TD Ameritrade maintains over 250 offices throughout the United States where you can get in-person support under normal business conditions, although the offices are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic

What E*TRADE Offers

Compared to the extensive customer service options offered by TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE’s customer service options seem somewhat limited. You can reach E*TRADE’s customer service through live chat, a toll-free telephone number and email. In addition to the regular customer service options, E*TRADE has 30 offices in major U.S. cities that you can visit, although the offices are currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Better Platform

TD Ameritrade wins in this category for its multiple customer service options, specialized toll free telephone support and different live chat options. While E*TRADE’s customer service is more than adequate for normal markets, having more ways to reach your broker can be extremely important in fast markets. 

TD Ameritrade vs. E*TRADE Ease of Use

Commissions
$0 $6.95 for OTC Stocks
Account Minimum
$0

What TD Ameritrade Offers

TD Ameritrade’s three different platforms offer something for everyone. The web-based platform is intuitive and can be easily learned by new traders, while its desktop and mobile apps are suitable for beginners and intermediate traders. The brokers sophisticated thinkorswim desktop platform and mobile app are packed with additional useful features that can strongly appeal to experienced traders. 

What E*TRADE Offers

E*TRADE’s regular desktop and mobile apps are highly intuitive and can be learned by most people with some computer skills, while the Power E*TRADE desktop and mobile applications are more suited for seasoned and professional traders. Both platforms can be customized and give you access to all the same asset classes, other than single name bonds that can only be traded on the desktop versions. 

The Better Platform

Both of the brokers’ regular platforms can be easily learned, although the very intuitive E*TRADE platform is probably more suitable for completely inexperienced traders. With that noted, TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform has more research options and features than Power E*TRADE, so TD Ameritrade would probably be the best choice for experienced traders. 

TD Ameritrade vs. E*TRADE Accounts and Features

What TD Ameritrade Offers

TD Ameritrade’s regular brokerage account gives clients access to trading in stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit (CDs), options, futures, mutual funds, ETFs and forex. Additionally, the broker offers managed portfolios, cash management accounts and annuity securities. Other account types available through TD Ameritrade include traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, Rollover IRAs and trusts, to name just a few. 

What E*TRADE Offers

E*TRADE’s tradable assets include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options, futures and CDs. E*TRADE customers can trade Bitcoin, forex and commodities futures, although spot trading is not available in those asset classes. 

With respect to account types, E*TRADE has a wide range of account types, from standard brokerage accounts to various retirement and IRA accounts. E*TRADE also runs an online bank, where you can open a savings and checking account linked to your brokerage account. If you prefer managed accounts, E*TRADE offers 4 different accounts plus a retirement account for small businesses. 

The Better Platform

While both brokers offer excellent brokerage services and comparable accounts types, TD Ameritrade seems better overall for traders who wish to operate in multiple markets due to its wider selection of tradable assets that includes direct access to the spot forex market. 

Overall Winner: TD Ameritrade

If you have a strong background and experience in trading or investing, then TD Ameritrade would probably suit you better than E*TRADE due to the sophistication of its thinkorswim trading platform. In addition to a more advanced set of trading platforms, you also get a wider range of tradable assets at TD Ameritrade, including spot forex that many stock brokers like E*TRADE do not offer. 

If you’re relatively new to trading or investing, don’t wish to trade forex, are not that concerned with performing advanced technical analysis —  and especially if you want a bank account associated with your trading account — then E*TRADE would probably be a good choice since it is an excellent online stock broker and its basic trading platform seems easier to learn and navigate.

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