fbpx

TD Ameritrade Review

TD Ameritrade delivers a superior platform for investors, and they were one of the first to be selected for our best in class online brokers for 2018.

Benzinga Money is a reader-supported publication. We may earn a commission when you click on links in this article. Learn more.
securely through TD Ameritrade's website

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.

Best For

  • Novice investors
  • Retirement savers
  • Day traders

Pros

  • World-class trading platforms
  • Detailed research reports and Education Center
  • Assets ranging from stocks and ETFs to derivatives like futures and options

Cons

  • Thinkorswim can be overwhelming to inexperienced traders
  • Derivatives trading more costly than some competitors
  • Expensive margin rates
securely through TD Ameritrade's website

Why TD Ameritrade Over Others?  

TD Ameritrade offers the best of both worlds. On one hand, 0-commission trading and a vast library of educational articles and videos make TD Ameritrade ideal for a new investor’s first brokerage account. On the other hand, technology like the Thinkorswim platform gives accomplished traders the tools needed to pull off labyrinthine options trades or sell livestock futures at 3 a.m. 

TD Ameritrade has trading for rookies and pros alike, plus accessible customer service and an array of account types.

Top Reasons to Choose TD Ameritrade

  • Products and services for all types of investors: Multiple trading platforms across a variety of accounts gives everyone a choice when using TD Ameritrade. Companies can use TD Ameritrade to set up 401(k) plans or SEP IRAs, parents can open Coverdell ESAs or 529 plans and individual investors can open Roth IRAs or standard brokerage accounts. 
  • Wide variety of tradable asset classes: TD Ameritrade clients can trade stocks (including OTCs), ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures and currencies.
  • Exceptional customer service: The company offers 24/7 customer support through via phone and email. Live chat support is available during working hours, plus 275 physical branches are open nationwide.

TD Ameritrade Quick Summary

Asset Classes Stocks, ETFs, IPOs, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures, forex, cryptocurrencies, annuities
PlatformStandard platform for novice traders; Thinkorswim for advanced traders
Mobile AppMobile apps for both platforms retain all functionality but standard mobile app lacks access to stock screeners.
Account Minimum$0 for standard accounts, $2,000 for margin/options, $25,000 for managed portfolios
Available Account TypesTaxable, joint, custodial, IRA (traditional, Roth, SEP, SIMPLE), 529 and Coverdell, trust, limited liability and business accounts, managed portfolios

TD Ameritrade Fees, Commissions, Margin Rates and Account Minimums

TD Ameritrade recently joined the transaction cost revolution and dropped commissions from $6.95 to $0 on all stock and ETF trades. Clients can now open accounts with no minimum and execute any number of trades per month with no commission. No commission exists on bond, options and futures trades but options and futures contracts still come with fees.

Many mutual funds still come with fees and load charges. Margin rates are a bit higher than competitors like Charles Schwab and E*TRADE. Advanced investors might find better deals on options and futures trading elsewhere, however most users can open, fund and trade in their accounts for years without ever paying a fee.

TD Ameritrade Usability

TD Ameritrade has developed a user-friendly platform and tries to appease investors of all shapes and sizes. From account signup to trade execution, the process is smooth and painless. New accounts can be opened in minutes and a variety of different options are available, including retirement vehicles like Roth IRAs and custodial accounts like UTMA/UGMA and 529 plans. 

TD Ameritade’s commitment to usability and client satisfaction is unmatched in the industry. Here are 3 features that make TD Ameritrade a fan favorite:

  • Easy onboarding: New to TD Ameritrade? They’ll have you up and running in minutes. You can fill out the application online. Standard brokerage accounts can be opened, electronically funded and ready for trading all on the same day. Non-margin accounts have no minimum deposit to open and equity trades are commission-free. If you aren’t computer-savvy or simply want a helpful hand, new client account specialists can be reached 24/7.
  • Instruction and guidance: TD Ameritrade has an abundance of materials teaching users how to use the various platforms. For example, Thinkorswim is an intricate trading platform that comes with a bit of a learning curve, especially for new users. But TD offers a complete Thinkorswim Learning Center with how-to articles and videos covering all the platform’s impressive features. In the Getting Started chapter, you’ll get tutorials showing how to use keyboard shortcuts, customize the platform and use interactive elements like Active Trader. In fact, there’s a how-to article for every single tradable security available on Thinkorswim. And even if you stump the FAQ section, customer service reps are standing by 24/7.
  • Powerful trading tools: Getting new investors up to speed and ready to trade is a crucial part of TD’s mission, but they also appeal to the professional demographic of traders. And with those traders in mind, it has done some serious platform development. Few brokers offer trading tools of comparable power to Thinkorswim, which was voted #1 trading platform for both desktop and mobile by Stockbrokers.com. Experienced traders can get Level II quotes, direct market access, and different order types to execute trade with speed and precision. Over 300 different charting tools can be integrated into your research, plus probability and risk analyzers allow trades to be simulated with expected outcomes. Usability is a two-way street — investors need tools commensurate with their skill level.

TD Ameritrade Education

TD Ameritrade does great work educating its clients both on how to use its various platforms and about the market as a whole. By leveraging the resources available in these libraries, TD clients can better develop their investment goals.

  • Research reports from reputable sources: TD Ameritrade has research and news updates from sources like Morningstar, Barrons, MarketWatch, S&P Global and more. You’ll get the latest news on earning reports, economic data and current events delivered right to your screen.
  • Learning center for platform how-to’s and demos: Is Thinkorswim too intimidating for you? Perhaps it wouldn’t be after a little demonstration. The Learning Center at TD Ameritrade is loaded with how-to articles and video demonstrations showcasing its signature trading platform, as well as the standard web platform and mobile app. 
  • In-depth educational materials on markets and trading: Do you know the difference between technical and fundamental analysis? Are you unsure which retirement savings vehicle best suits your investment strategy? If you have questions about markets and investing, TD has answers. A whole stock investing curriculum is available for both current and prospective clients, plus tailored education sections on retirement planning, investing for college and preparing for taxes.

TD Ameritrade Customer Support

TD Ameritrade has several ways to get in contact with their support staff. The easiest way to get in touch is via phone. Ameritrade offers 24/7 phone support for both new and existing clients. Finding an exact email address is difficult though — you’ll just be directed to a form located on the website, which means a back-and-forth email conversation is difficult. Text support is also available, but live chat options only occur during normal working hours.

Email SupportForm on Contact Page
Phone Support 800-454-9272 (New accounts) 800-669-3900 (Existing clients)
Chat SupportText 989832
Fax Support866-468-6268

TD Ameritrade Offerings

Since TD Ameritrade appeals to traders of all levels, it has a variety of securities to trade. In addition to equities like stocks, ETFs and mutual funds, TD Ameritrade offers futures, forex and options trading. It also provides clients access to IPOs, annuities and new bond issues. The broker is working on a cryptocurrency futures trading market but it’s not ready for use yet.  

TD Ameritrade Stocks, ETFs and Mutual Funds 

TD Ameritrade was one of the first brokers to offer commission-free ETFs, a list which numbered close to 300 before they all went commission-free last year. Now you’ll get access to stocks from across the globe without paying commission, plus 2,300 ETFs and 13,000 mutual funds. Use a specialized securities screener to categorize by sector or regional exposure, net and gross expense ratio, or more than a dozen other criteria. Note that some mutual funds still carry load fees and you’ll pay a penalty for short-term trading.

TD Ameritrade Forex 

Forex trading is a breeze on Thinkorswim and Ameritrade has more than 20 currencies to mix and match. Over 75 forex pairs are available, including some rarer pairs like ZAR/JPY and USD/THB. Forex trades aren’t charged commission, but spreads can vary. Forex trading takes place 24/6 and all positions must be liquidated at the end of the night. You’ll need a margin account and access to options and futures to trade currencies.

TD Ameritrade Options 

Ameritrade clients can trade options when granted access to margin. Options traders using Thinkorswim have a plethora of tools at their fingertips — options screeners, probability analysis tools and the ability to orchestrate complex multi-leg trades. Options strategies like straddling and iron condor can be researched in the education center and implemented on Thinkorswim. Options are traded commission-free but each contract carries a $0.65 fee. 

TD Ameritrade Futures

Trading futures on TD Ameritrade requires margin access, however the list of tradable contracts is impressive for a discount broker. Clients can trade futures on interest rates like the U.S. 2-year and 10-year, metals like gold and silver and even softs like orange juice and sugar. Overall, 9 different categories are listed and over 70 contracts of various products can be traded. And yes, you can trade Bitcoin futures. 

Futures and options on futures both carry a $2.25 charge per contract, plus another $0.02 per contract in regulatory fees from the National Future Association (AFA).

TD Ameritrade has expensive margin rates for accounts with balances under $25,000, so derivatives trading won’t be worth the hassle for most investors. But inaccessible asset classes are a thing of the past and Ameritrade allows even small-time, mom-and-pop investors to dabble in various types of trading.

TD Ameritrade Mobile App

TD Ameritrade actually has 3 mobile apps for clients — the standard TD Ameritrade Mobile app, the more advanced TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader, and the mobile version of the Thinkorswim trading software. There’s something for everyone in here; the standard app is great for beginners while the Mobile Trader and Thinkorswim apps provide tools for advanced investors like day traders. The difference in user experience between desktop and mobile is virtually nonexistent and all 3 apps are available for both iOS and Android.

TD Ameritrade Mobile

The standard app is the easiest to learn and navigate. You can view your account info, set up watchlists with as many as 50 different stocks per list, and use charting tools like moving averages, RSI, MACD and Bollinger bands. Real-time news updates from sources like Dow Jones, MarketWatch and BusinessWire are sorted based on your holdings and watchlists. All screens and features are completely customizable and chat support through the app is available 24/7.

TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader

Mobile Trader has all the accessibility of the standard app with the tools necessary for complex trading strategies. You have access to all your watchlists and account info, plus all the charting tools from the standard app. Mobile Trader allows you to use 300 different technical indicators.

Indicators are grouped by strategy such as Momentum, Volatility, Trend, and Bullish/Bearish Candlestick patterns. You can even use studies from famous investors like David Elliott and John Carter. Paper trading is also available for traders who want to test new techniques without risking real cash. Note that Mobile Trader will be merged with the Thinkorswim platform later in 2020.

Thinkorswim Mobile

If you like Thinkorswim for your desktop, you’ll love the mobile app. All features are carried over, giving clients the full Thinkorswim experience from the convenience of a smartphone. You can live trade or use paper money with the full arsenal of trading and analysis tools, including the Stock Hacker and Options Hacker scanning components. Thinkorswim Mobile will eventually replace Mobile Trader as the primary advanced trading app on TD Ameritrade, so new clients should only download and use Thinkorswim to avoid disruptions or bugs once migration begins.

Overall, TD Ameritrade does a terrific job providing solutions for traders of all backgrounds and skill levels. Buy-and-hold investors or novice traders will have no issues navigating TD Ameritrade Mobile, which keeps things simple without removing too many bells and whistles. But if you’re looking for sophistication, it’s hard to top Thinkorswim Mobile. The sheer volume of screening and analysis tools might be overwhelming to new traders, but seasoned pros will feel like children opening Christmas presents.

Final Thoughts on TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade is an award-winning brokerage that makes life easy on clients, regardless of their income or skill level. Seasoned traders get the terrific Thinkorswim platform for complicated analysis and complex derivatives trading, while novices get a user-friendly desktop platform and mobile app abundant with investment education materials. 

You can open any kind of account you want with TD, trade any type of security this side of Bitcoin, and all of it without commission costs or platform fees. Derivatives traders might find cheaper ways to move options and futures contracts, but most clients will simply want to buy and sell stocks and ETFs. For those types of investors, putting out a better product than TD Ameritrade is a very tall task.

Compare Online Brokers
Broker Commission Account Min Get Started

$0 $0 Learn More

$0 $6.95 for OTC Stocks $0 Learn More

$0 $0 Learn More

FREE $0 Learn More

$0 $0 Learn More