TD Ameritrade Review

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TD Ameritrade Review

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Our Take

TD Ameritrade is one of the most well-known brokers in the nation, drawing a diverse spectrum of clients with a comprehensive offering that allows all customers, regardless of skill level, to follow their chosen investing plan. With no minimum balance requirements and transparent pricing, new investors will find it simple to get started. The range and variety of subject provided in educational materials is likewise exceptional. Advanced traders may take use of TD Ameritrade’s acclaimed thinkorswim interface, which includes a robust set of top-tier research tools, screening capabilities, and financial calculators. While certain services, such as fractional shares, aren’t accessible, it’s no coincidence that TD Ameritrade won four of our “best broker” categories since the platform appeals to a broad range of consumers.

Keep in mind that, despite the fact that Charles Schwab has bought TD Ameritrade, the broker continues to function as an independent organization. Following that, we’ll go through TD Ameritrade in depth so you can see all they have to offer.

Introduction

TD Ameritrade was founded in 1975 as a budget full-service broker and has since acquired a reputation as a pioneer in trading innovation, customer experience, and education. In 2020, Charles Schwab announced the acquisition of TD Ameritrade for $26 billion, with the deal scheduled to be completed in 2023.

The interface at TD Ameritrade caters to all types of traders. New investors have access to a number of teaching materials, which come in a variety of forms and cover a wide range of subjects. Customer service is readily available through a variety of channels, giving new investors with the necessary help and peace of mind. Beginners might feel safe entering the market since there are no balance restrictions and pricing is reasonably reasonable and straightforward.

Another notable feature of TD Ameritrade is their dynamic, user-friendly portfolio tools. Regardless of expertise level or investment choice, all sorts of users may take use of a full set of trading features and analytical tools that are tailored to their own plans. A well-executed design makes it simple to identify what you’re searching for and efficiently execute your preferred investing plan. The desktop, online, and mobile interfaces are all simple to use, with complete feature parity across each version.

Thinkorswim, TD Ameritrade’s premier trading platform, is perhaps best recognized. This robust service combines comprehensive research tools, screening features, and financial calculators with backtesting capabilities, allowing investors to evaluate their investing strategy against historical data before joining the market. New product additions, such as enhanced charting tools and a portfolio summary feature announced in July 2022, continue to be released.

Users praise TD Ameritrade’s general straightforward design, breadth of trading tools, and constant innovation as some of the platform’s best features. However, certain key components are lacking from their offering, such as fractional share trading and direct crypto exposure. Overall, TD Ameritrade’s wide investment alternatives, along with largely moderate costs, excellent customer assistance, and a comprehensive educational library, appeal with investors of various backgrounds.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • A diverse selection of instructional information is offered in a variety of media.

  • Trading materials and tools for various sorts of investors

  • Well-designed mobile app and website

  • Excellent client support

Pros Explained

  • A diverse selection of instructional information is offered in a variety of formats: This allows investors to expand their market knowledge and trading skills. Beginners, in particular, may benefit from TD Ameritrade’s excellent teaching resources and gain confidence as they learn how to invest.
  • Trading resources and tools for all sorts of investors: This allows consumers to easily pursue their desired investing plan. Whether you’re seeking for options screeners, research insights, or trading idea generators, TD Ameritrade has you covered.
  • Mobile app and website that are well-designed and easy to use: Users get a seamless investment experience and consistent functionality across all platform versions. The user experience has been separated at the core by TD Ameritrade, with casual users following a TD Ameritrade route for website and mobile, while traders and more active investors will gravitate to thinkorswim desktop and mobile.
  • Excellent customer service: TD Ameritrade provides industry-leading customer service, boosting investor trust with swift responses and dependable assistance.

Cons Explained

  • There are no fractional shares available, which is a barrier for investors wishing to add pieces of high-priced assets to their portfolio. Although Charles Schwab supports fractional share trading, it is unclear if this functionality will be carried over to TD Ameritrade after the brokers complete their merger.
  • There is no direct cryptocurrency trading: Only funds, Bitcoin futures, and over-the-counter (OTC) trusts provide direct exposure to the cryptocurrency market. Those who like to trade genuine cryptocurrencies should hunt for alternatives.
  • There is no automatic enrolment in the cash sweep program: Users may choose whether or not to utilize this function, which keeps funds in an FDIC-protected account. Because of the added process, some investors are likely losing out on interest on their idle capital.

Usability

The emphasis on the client experience at TD Ameritrade has resulted in a fluid and easy-to-navigate site, regardless of whatever version you want to use. Each edition has a plethora of adjustable options that allow users to tailor the trading platform to their own requirements and interests.

The online edition of TD Ameritrade has a doc tool that allows customers to freely customize and alter their dashboard. Traders may see watchlists, account balances, RSS feeds, market news, and other comparable items from one of 13 separate modules. Modules may then be rearranged anyway they choose.

The mobile app displays investor positions and balances on a single page, making it simple to keep track of your holdings. Market news about investor positions is also published, providing traders with even more knowledge and the option to make position modifications if necessary.

Active investors will appreciate how simple it is to search for helpful information on almost any asset. Investors may easily see earnings statistics, analyst ratings, dividend distributions, charts, price history, and more by just entering the ticker symbol.

Trade Experience

With TD Ameritrade, entering, executing, and monitoring transactions on the online platform is a simple procedure. Users may use the search feature to enter the ticker symbol and place orders straight from the site. With the exception of fixed-income products, both the online platform and mobile app provide the same asset classes.

TD Ameritrade also provides investors with screening capabilities, allowing you to select stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and other assets to trade based on your preferences. You may filter by industry, market capitalization, sector, and more, or use the tools offered to construct your own custom screens. This section is beneficial to everyone, from novices wanting to narrow down prospective investment options to experienced traders searching for fresh investment ideas.

The thinkorswim platform is designed for expert traders, with the ability to add indicators, draw trendlines, and do technical analysis directly from the site. This is just the beginning, since thinkorswim can be downloaded and further modified to meet the needs of individual traders. For more complicated investments, such as derivatives or option chains, analysis tools are available.

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A trading simulator takes things a step further by allowing users to create their own tools using the thinkScript® programming language. As a consequence, sophisticated traders will prefer the thinkorswim experience since it offers considerably more features and functions than the other TD Ameritrade versions.

Mobile Trade Experience

TD Ameritrade outperforms the competition in our top broker for mobile app category. Trading on the mobile app is, at the very least, as easy as trading on the online platform, a rare industry achievement that demonstrates how TD Ameritrade addresses mobile investment creatively.

To begin, a big, green “trade” button appears on the top right of the screen. Simply input a symbol and execute a transaction with a few touches. Users may access real-time data streams, watchlists, and market headlines. Despite the fact that the mobile app does not permit drawing on charts, trades may be initiated straight from these displays.

If you need more complex charting tools, such as chart modification, utilize the thinkorswim mobile app, since its possibilities expand significantly. You may also use the thinkorswim mobile app to trade multi-leg options, do position analysis, and other functions comparable to the thinkorswim downloadable platform.

Range of Offerings

Clients of TD Ameritrade may trade a broad range of assets through the online platform and mobile applications. ETFs, stocks, options, and futures are examples of these assets. TD Ameritrade also introduces novel products that appeal to a wide range of traders, such as micro futures, which expands investor access to these contracts while lowering the cost.

TD does not provide fractional shares or overseas bonds, and the mobile app does not facilitate fixed-income purchases. Aside from that, TD Ameritrade customers have access to:

  • Stocks (long and short)
  • Investing in mutual funds (more than 13,000 on offer, 3,628 of which are no-transaction-fee funds)
  • Bonds (corporate, municipal, Treasury, and CDs) (corporate, municipal, Treasury, and CDs)
  • Futures/commodities
  • Option contracts with a single or several legs
  • Bitcoin futures
  • Currency exchange (70 currency pairs)
  • OTCBB (penny stocks)
  • Micro Futures

Order Types

TD Ameritrade’s systems support a variety of order types, including market, limit, stop-limit, and trailing stop orders. Only the thinkorswim® platform, however, allows you to employ conditional orders like order-triggers-other (OTO), one-cancels-the-other (OCO), order-triggers-two (OTT), and others.

Support for more complex order types (such as OCO) is critical since they let traders negotiate risk, enter and exit positions rapidly, and take profits off the table. As a consequence, traders may spend more time monitoring the market and planning their next move without having to pay as close attention to existing trading.

Notably, all TD Ameritrade systems allow you to queue orders for later execution. When making orders, investors may optionally choose a certain tax lot, which helps to optimize tax effects.

Trading Technology

Many investors, especially aggressive traders, place a premium on fast, precise order execution. Markets may move quickly at times, so following a simplified, accurate order routing method can assist assure consistent execution. When an order is made, the technique by which a broker routes transactions impacts the likelihood of obtaining the best price. Price improvement occurs when a deal is done at a price that is higher than the best stated market price at the moment.

TD Ameritrade use its own order routing system. Clients may, however, route orders directly to certain exchanges if they so want. TD Ameritrade orders are typically completed in 0.04 seconds. Execution quality data ranges from 1 to 1,999 shares, with 97.4% of transactions obtaining price improvements. On average, net price improvement per share is $0.0180.

TD Ameritrade is one of just a few brokers that provides backtesting, which enables a trading strategy to be evaluated against previous data. This valuable tool allows you to fine-tune an investment philosophy so that you can implement your plan with more market understanding.

Costs

TD Ameritrade, like others in the sector, has gradually decreased its costs. Some prices are somewhat higher than rivals in a few sectors, but the broker fees are generally in line with industry norms.

  • For online equities or ETF transactions, TD Ameritrade does not charge a fee.
  • OTCBB transactions are subject to a $6.95 transaction fee; most other brokers have eliminated this fee.
  • Options transactions have no per-leg commission. The commission per deal is $0.65. Customers with the VIP option may privately negotiate volume-based commission discounts.
  • The cost of 50 option contracts is $32.50.
  • A 500-share covered call deal plus five contracts would cost $3.25.
  • Outside of the No Transaction Fee program, mutual fund commissions run from $49.99 to $74.95.
  • Fixed income is traded on a “net yield” basis, which implies that TD Ameritrade raises or lowers the price of the bond for buy or sale. The charge is not disclosed.
  • Most orders incur exchange costs, which are generally fractions of a cent per share or contract and are absorbed by TD Ameritrade rather than passed on to clients.
  • As of June 2022, margin interest varies from 11.5% for a $10,000 amount to 10% for balances more than $100,000. This rate is much greater than that of certain rivals. Account holders with a high net worth may negotiate reduced margin rates depending on account size.
  • Transaction costs for futures contracts are $2.25 per contract per side, plus exchange fees.
  • Forex currency pairings are exchanged in 10,000 unit increments with no fee. The spread reflects the cost of the deal, and TD Ameritrade is reimbursed by its liquidity provider depending on volume.
  • No fees for inactivity.
  • There is no fee for transferring a portion of an account. The cost of transferring a whole account is $75.
  • A wire transfer costs $25. Sending a paper check is free, but if the customer desires overnight shipping, there is a $15 cost.
  • The price for voluntary restructuring for corporate activities is $38.
  • For accounts with low balances, paper statements include a $2 processing charge. Trade confirmations are completely free.
  • The live broker cost is $25 per transaction, regardless of asset type.

How This Broker Makes Money From You and for You

Many investors’ prices have been cut as a consequence of industry rivalry and new trading platforms. While $0 commission may be widely promoted, there are additional fees connected with trading that may not be as clear. Some of these expenses are listed below:

  • Interest on cash: By default, TD Ameritrade customers do not receive interest on cash stored in their accounts. To receive interest on idle cash, clients must enroll in TD Ameritrade’s cash sweep program. The current rate on idle money is 0.01%. Because some rivals automatically enroll consumers in a cash sweep program, this may be regarded as a little disadvantage.
  • Payment for order flow: Brokers often gain fees by steering trade orders to other companies known as market makers. Some competitors, like as Vanguard and Fidelity, do not take money for equities order flow. On average, TD takes $0.001 per share for stocks and $0.50 per contract for options. This is typical among brokers that accept PFOF.
  • Stock lending programs: While TD Ameritrade customers may participate in a stock loan program, they do not have the option of selecting which stocks can be borrowed. Company lending programs create money for brokers, who often lend the shares to traders and hedge funds that are shorting the stock.
  • Price increase: According to TD Ameritrade, the average net price improvement per share for transactions ranging between 1 and 1,999 shares is $0.0180. Net price improvement on options orders is not disclosed by TD Ameritrade.
  • Portfolio Margin: Qualified investors with a portfolio worth of $125,000 or more may qualify for portfolio margining, which may dramatically improve their purchasing power when compared to normal margin accounts. Portfolio margining aims to create margin needs that reflect net risk, allowing customers to benefit from reduced margin requirements and more efficient capital utilization.
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Account and Research Amenities

TD Ameritrade provides all of the research and analytical capabilities that you would expect from a big online broker. To mention a few, there is a vast selection of screeners, calculators, charts, and analytic tools at your disposal. TD Ameritrade added additional creative tools to its already vast roster, such as the Social Sentiment tool, which evaluates social media trends.

Stock Screeners

Clients may choose from 25 established stock screeners or create their own using factors including fundamental metrics, sector, value, performance, and technical indicators. Because it is aimed at traders who have familiarity with a broad range of technical and fundamental filters, the thinkorswim desktop tool provides more powerful screening capability than the online.

ETF and Mutual Fund Screeners

The ETF and mutual fund screeners, like TD Ameritrade’s stock screeners, have comparable capabilities in terms of the breadth of choices accessible. You may keep the previous five customized screens for future usage, and you can even convert these screens into a customised watchlist.

Clients may choose from approximately 100 fund categories in the Morningstar category alone, ranging from huge growth funds to alternative investing funds such as real estate. There are also funds available for investors who want to be exposed to certain locations or techniques.

Options Screeners

TD Ameritrade provides a strategy builder as well as an option-specific screener. Clients may utilize tools such as Spread Hacker and Options Hacker to create displays that range from basic to sophisticated and complicated. Iron condors, iron butterflies, double diagonals, covered calls, and other screening techniques are available. Certain factors, including as volatility, time to expiry, spread price, chance of profit, and others, are accessible in real time.

Fixed Income Screeners

The Bond Wizard is a fixed income screening tool available to traders. The tool enables you to filter individual bonds, CDs, and create a bond ladder. Bond ladders that have been pre-picked may also be selected from the menu.

Tools and Calculators

TD Ameritrade customers have access to a wealth of financial calculators and tools. An Income Estimator, for example, assists investors in determining how much income may be generated from a portfolio over a certain time period. Portfolio Planner, Retirement Calculator, Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) Calculator, and IRA Selection Tool are all popular tools. These are just a handful of the available choices from TD Ameritrade to assist investors in staying on track financially.

Charting

Charting is another area where TD Ameritrade shines, notably on the thinkorswim platform. Both novice and experienced traders will appreciate the complete, powerful charting tools that can be customized for color, size, strategy, and more. Charts may be stored and shared with TD Ameritrade, making this feature much more handy.

The website allows you to add indicators and trendlines, but these capabilities are not as simple to set up and use as charts in the thinkorswim edition. Spatial restrictions, like with most mobile charts, decrease the effect and utility of these elements when compared to desktop or downloading counterparts. When it comes to getting the most out of charts, you’re better off utilizing the thinkorswim experience.

Trading Idea Generators

Investors may get a lot of market news, information, and expert reports to assist them come up with trading ideas. Reports from well-known organizations such as the Dow Jones, Credit Suisse, and others are accessible for usage. A comprehensive library provides significant research and insights on industries, funds, and other topics that help users generate fresh trade ideas and make informed trading choices.

News

TD Ameritrade Network, Dow Jones, Benzinga, Midnight Trader, MarketWatch, various news release wires, TradersAudio live pit audio, CNBC Video, Benzinga Audio Squawk, Econoday calendar data, and Wall Street Horizons are all available to investors at no extra cost. Yahoo Finance, Barrons, and The Wall Street Journal are also accessible. CNBC segments are incorporated into the TD Ameritrade online experience to complement new streams and other real-time market data.

Third-Party Research

Although all of TD Ameritrade’s platforms include free charting, the broker also provides daily market reports and fee-based research. Clients may subscribe to two tiers of premium Market Edge subscriptions in addition to the free Market Edge reports. The first premium tier provides real-time information and analysis. At $19.99 per month, the second tier provides complete access to Market Edge’s platform as well as its research, screeners, comments, and tools.

Cash Management

Although TD Ameritrade does not automatically transfer client assets to a money market fund, customers may enroll in the cash sweep program to obtain a better interest rate (currently 0.01%).

Fractional Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP)

Clients who possess dividend-paying assets may participate in TD Ameritrade’s dividend reinvestment program (DRIP). Because the DRIP does not employ fractional shares, any surplus funds that cannot be used to buy a complete share will be returned to your account’s cash balance.

SRI/ESG Research Amenities

Although TD Ameritrade’s platforms offer screening capabilities, none are tailored to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) or socially responsible investing (SRI) considerations. For investors seeking both financial and social benefits on their investments, this may be regarded as a negative.

Portfolio Analysis

Portfolio analysis is accessible via TD Ameritrade online and thinkorswim, as well as the TD Ameritrade Portfolios App in Personalized, Selective, and Essential Portfolios. Portfolio analysis is configurable, and the broker uses Personalized Portfolios to combine assets from outside accounts for reporting and analytical reasons. Realized and unrealized gains/losses, as well as net deposits and withdrawals, are published in real time. Data on margins, purchasing power, and account balances are also provided in real time. Clients may also attach trade notes before and after orders are executed and keep a trading log inside the site.

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Despite the fact that investors cannot assess the tax implications of future transactions, capital gains reporting is accessible regularly and may be obtained straight from the website. TD Ameritrade now provides enterprise integration of GainsKeeper, a third-party tax reporting program that assists in determining the tax ramifications of transactions. GainsKeeper is free to all customers, independent of activity or asset level, and is incorporated directly into their platform.

Education

When it comes to the breadth and depth of its educational tools, TD Ameritrade wins our top broker for education award. Users may access instructional content via a range of channels and media, including desktop, mobile, and online. The education center has a large collection of information that can be readily searched based on your objectives, investing knowledge, and subject of interest. There are tutorials, podcasts, movies, webinars, and even investing counseling accessible, among other things.

The Immersive Curriculum, in particular, is one of the industry’s most comprehensive, free educational client portals. Individual classes break down trading principles and investment techniques, enabling users to learn and improve their expertise at their own speed. Fundamental stock analysis, income investment, trading options, and other broad topics are covered.

TD Ameritrade effectively combines education and technology to continuously enhance your learning experience. The recommended instructional content is tailored to your interests, account history, and other investors in a similar financial condition. The site modifies suggested information to ensure it fits your interests and requirements as your grasp of investing grows over time.

PaperMoney® is a powerful demo account tool for new investors looking for a hands-on learning experience. This tool enables users to experience the flagship platform, thinkorswim, as an investment simulator so you may increase your market knowledge without spending real money. This tool is available on the device of your choosing, making it simple to have this learning resource at your fingertips.

Customer Service

  • TD Ameritrade provides a telephone hotline that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Trading and account help is available via phone, email, website, and directly through the trading platform, as well as on Twitter and Meta.
  • TD Ameritrade also offers chat assistance via thinkorswim mobile, allowing customers to communicate with a support representative without leaving the app.
  • Clients of TD Ameritrade may speak with a live broker, although fees may apply. Many of the representatives working on TD’s trading desk and handling customer queries were either former professional floor traders and market makers or had been educated by them.
  • Clients may communicate with TD Ameritrade financial advisers.
  • Apple Business Chat, Meta Messenger, Twitter Direct Messages, and, in Asia, WeChat all feature chatbox functionality.

Security and Reliability

  • Clients have the option of using two-factor authentication across all platforms, as well as a biometric fingerprint scanner and face recognition.
  • Through extra coverage offered by London insurers, TD Ameritrade protects each customer with $149.5 million in securities protection and $2 million in cash protection.
  • If customers lose cash or stocks from their accounts as a result of unlawful activity, TD Ameritrade will compensate them for the lost cash or shares of securities.
  • In the previous four years, TD Ameritrade has not revealed any big data breaches.
  • Due to record quantities of activity, TD Ameritrade has experienced login challenges across numerous TD Ameritrade systems, affecting the ability of certain customers to log in throughout 2020.
  • TD Ameritrade, along with numerous other brokerage businesses, had intermittent disruption on January 27, 2021, with customers unable to log in, examine their accounts, or execute any transactions. The delay was most likely caused by a market disruption, as Gamestop stock ($GME) rose.

Transparency

TD Ameritrade’s fees and pricing structure are, for the most part, transparent and clear. There’s a dedicated area of the website for fee disclosures, pricing, and other associated costs. Some pricing, such as the setting of margin rates, may be updated more frequently than other types of more static prices, like transfer out fees.

What Type of Account Should I Open at TD Ameritrade?

TD Ameritrade provides a comprehensive array of account types that are appropriate for a variety of financial objectives and investing strategies. You may open the following accounts:

  • Individual Brokerage Accounts
  • Joint Brokerage Accounts
  • Accounts for Guardianship or Conservatorship
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Rollover IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Solo 401(k)
  • SIMPLE IRA
  • Pension or Profit
  • Trust
  • Limited Partnership
  • Partnership
  • Investment Club
  • Limited Liability
  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Corporate
  • Non-Incorporated
  • Small Business Plans
  • Charitable
  • Margin

Final Verdict

TD Ameritrade is a robust brokerage platform with a plethora of appealing features. A robust portfolio of assets, trading tools, and instructional material enables both novice and experienced investors to execute their chosen investment strategy. With seamless navigation across web, mobile, and desktop editions, an intuitive design makes it simple to locate what you’re searching for. Excellent customer assistance choices add to TD Ameritade’s reputation as a user-friendly product.

Thinkorswim, the leading investment tool, provides extensive and practically unrivaled screening functions, research capabilities, and analytical features. The continuous integration of TD Ameritrade with Charles Scwhab will enhance this already comprehensive service. However, some investors may need to discover alternate alternatives if they wish to trade cryptocurrencies directly or utilize fractional shares. However, with TD Ameritrade’s well-rounded platform, a broad range of investors may discover everything they need to completely execute their trading plan.

Methodology

Investopedia is committed to delivering honest, detailed evaluations and ratings of online brokers to investors. We updated the assessment process this year by conducting a large poll of clients who are actively searching to begin trading and investing with an online broker. We then used this essential information in conjunction with our subject matter experience to create the basis for a quantitative ratings model, which is at the heart of how we built our ranking of the top online brokers and trading platform businesses.

This model prioritizes essential variables such as trading technology, offering variety, mobile app usability, research amenities, instructional material, portfolio analysis features, customer assistance, prices, account amenities, and overall trading experience. Based on data acquired during rigorous investigation for each of the 25 organizations we analyzed, our team of researchers amassed 2425 data points and weighted 66 factors.

Many of the brokers we looked at also provided us with live demonstrations of their platforms and services, either in their New York City offices or through video conferencing. For majority of the platforms we assessed, live brokerage accounts were acquired, which our team of specialist writers and editors utilized to do hands-on testing in order to contribute their qualitative perspective.

Read our full Methodology for reviewing online brokers.

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