Is TD Ameritrade The Best Online Broker?
The recent trends regarding investments and trading are enough to make any random person think towards investing in stock, precious metals, bullion, IRAs, etc.
However, as a new investor, you shouldn’t just dive in and start investing with a brokerage or custodian. You need to make proper research and read up helpful reviews regarding various brokerages that help new investors to align with the vast market of trading.
TD Ameritrade is one of those good trading/investment platforms that focuses on helping new investors align with the vast market. Here’s an unbiased review of the TD Ameritrade platform, a trading and investment company that spends more time in providing exceptional services to newbie investors.
First Things You Should Know About TD Ameritrade
Basically, there are three things a new investor to look out for when choosing the best platform, brokerage, or company to trade with.
The three things include ease of use (simplicity), availability of trading materials & resources for newbies, and reviews/recommendations by other customers who have traded with the company or are still trading with the platform.
These three tips would help any new investor to make a perfect choice in choosing an investment brokerage. Interestingly, TD Ameritrade is one of those investment brokerages that offer all the aforementioned three considerations.
This is not to hype the platform, but TD Ameritrade is inarguably one of the best companies for new investors.
More so, while TD Ameritrade looks to be a perfect choice for beginners, it is also a great trading platform for advanced investors and traders. The company offers a wide range of services for both new and advanced investors. TD Ameritrade had developed a couple of tools and platforms to simplify trading and investments for everyone, regardless of the level.
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TD Ameritrade as a Company
TD Ameritrade is a renowned online brokerage company in the United States. The company was founded in 1975 in Omaha, Nebraska, United States, and has since operated a number of electronic trading platforms where investors and traders can trade financial assets, stocks, futures contracts, options, mutual funds, cryptocurrency, etc.
The company offers comprehensive starter kits to new investors to build confidence with useful resources. For advanced investors, there are also valuable resources provided by the company to help them invest in other types of asset classes.
One of the company’s most mentioned platforms is Thinkorswim; a trading platform that offers everything any investor would ever need to discover new opportunities in the market. So far, TD Ameritrade provides so many tools, resources, and packages to help investors at all levels.
Quick Note: Charles Schwab Corp. moved to acquire TD Ameritrade in October 2020, the acquisition was successful; however, the full integration of both companies would take many years to come. Hence, in the meantime, TD Ameritrade still functions as a standalone brokerage.
Services and Platforms Provided By TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade designed Thinkorswim to be the company’s cutting-edge solution for traders and investors who want to keep up with market trends and explore the latest opportunities. Thinkorswim is available across platforms, which implies that it is available as a native desktop app, web-based app, and also mobile app for smartphone users.
This platform provides investors with the essentials to manage their accounts and investments from a clear-cut, intuitive interface. Also, Thinkorswim users can take advantage of the platform’s streamlined features such as chart analysis, preconfigure trades, and trade securities & derivatives to learn workable trading techniques daily.
Thinkorswim Mobile is optimized for smartphones and tablet devices – delivering every feature and tools available on the desktop client to your fingertips.
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TD Ameritrade Platforms
TD Ameritrade also has a couple of trading platforms branded with the company’s name. This includes Classic Web Platform, Next-Gen Web Platform, and TD Ameritrade Mobile.
As you may guess, the TD Ameritrade Mobile is for mobile phones and tablets. The app is straightforward to use, provides you with the essential tools to manage trading accounts and make investments through your mobile device.
Takeaways: TD Ameritrade is remarkable for providing relevant and tailored educational content to help its platforms’ users to develop profitable trading skills. The content is curated.
TD Ameritrade offers 24/7 phone service support. Its customers can also walk-in to any of the 120 in-branch service centers.
PaperMoney Virtual Simulator
PaperMoney Virtual Simulator is created by TD Ameritrade as a free stock market simulator to help frequent and advanced traders to practice how to trade. PaperMoney provides up to $100,000 virtual money, as well as creates a margin account for the user to practice with this platform is desktop-based and it’s open to everyone free of charge.
However, if you’re not a registered customer of TD Ameritrade, you’d need to sign up for a free 60-day trial. PaperMoney simulator lets you practice trading without using your real money. This way, newbies can get acquainted with various markets before investing with real funds.
TD Ameritrade offers IRA services, which include creating and managing clients’ IRAs, as well as offer rollover services to move assets or funds from an existing account to a newly created one. It takes just 15 minutes to open a TD Ameritrade IRA and you can rollover an eligible 401(k) to fund your account and build your portfolio.
Interestingly, TD Ameritrade provides a variety of IRA services and also provides its client with a comprehensive “Guide” to help them plan and choose the perfect IRA that’d help them to achieve their financial goals. TD Ameritrade IRA owners enjoy commission-free Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and No Transaction Fee (NTF) mutual funds. They are also provided with several managed resources and tools.
Tools and Calculators
On the web-based platforms offered by TD Ameritrade, clients can access an Income Estimator calculator that predicts the kind of income your (hypothetical) portfolio would likely produce per month.
There are equally a social sentiment tool and a Peer Comparison tool that helps with comparing similar stocks. Furthermore, clients have access to a valuation tab that compares companies’ valuation, growth rates, profitability, financial strength, and dividends; this is good for investors.
TD Ameritrade Asset Offerings
Interestingly, TD Ameritrade allows its customers and clients to trade various assets across their platforms, including the web-based platforms and Thinkorswim. However, you cannot trade cryptocurrency on TD Ameritrade platforms, at the moment, but you can trade CME Bitcoin futures.
The following are assets you can trade on the various platforms provided by TD Ameritrade:
- Penny stocks [Over-the-Counter (OTCBB)]
- Long and short stocks
- Forex (75 pairs)
- Mutual funds (over 1,900 no-load, no transaction fee)
- Municipal bonds, corporate bonds, treasury bonds, etc.
- Futures and futures options
- Trades with up to eight legs, multiple asset classes, including futures, stocks, options, and forex are possible via Thinkorswim.
- Much more international exchanges are accessible via a live broker
Basically, there are lots of assets you can trade on TD Ameritrade platforms. The availability of virtual funding makes it safe for you to practice with dummy cash and then switch to using real money when you have mastered a trade.
Pros of Investing With TD Ameritrade
- Comprehensive resource provision to educate and encourage newbie investors to start trading in different markets.
- Extensive support channels via WeChat, Facebook, Twitter, etc., making it easy for customers to quickly reach out to the support team.
- The Thinkorswim platform provides a massive variety of handy toolset, which makes it the most complete resource platform for both newbie and advanced investors.
- Provides analysis tools and real-time streaming data for different asset classes.
- Available in simplified Chinese and other popular languages
- In-person education in more than 280 offices, coupled with multiple tailored training resources on the web-based and mobile app platforms.
Cons of Investing With TD Ameritrade
- It can be a little challenging to find the exact tool or resource you need as the website is jam-packed with loads of content and tools
- Sometime in 2020, it was alleged that some of TD Ameritrade platforms went outage
- Over-the-counter (OTC) stocks attract a high commission fee of $6.95 per trade.
TD Ameritrade Fees Chart
Here’s a quick rundown of the various fees charged by TD Ameritrade for all trades performed on its various trading platforms.
|Stocks||Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Phone System||$5|
|ETF||Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Phone System||$5|
|Options||Online||$0.00 ($0.65 fee per contract)|
|Options||Options exercises and assignments||$0|
|Options||Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Phone System||$5.00 + $0.65 fee per contract|
|Options||Broker-assisted||$25.00 + $0.65 fee per contract|
|Mutual Funds||No-Transaction-Fee (NTF)||No commission|
|Mutual Funds||No Load||$49.99|
|Mutual Funds||Load1||No commission|
|Features||Futures & Options on Futures||$2.25 fee per contract (plus exchange & regulatory fees)|
Things to note:
- The $0 commission on ETFs applies to U.S. exchange-listed commodities and options.
- A $0.65 per contract fee applies to options trades, with zero assignment fees.
- $6.95 commission is charged per OTC online trades; that is, stocks that are not listed on the U.S. exchange
- TD Ameritrade provides multiple no-transaction-fee (NTF) funds from pioneer fund families
- For Futures trading, exchange fees may vary based on different factors, usually the exchange and the product being traded. Also, regulatory fees are assessed by the NFA – National Futures Association, currently $0.02 per contract.
Our TD Ameritrade Verdict
From a general Point of View (PoV), and looking at the market analysis reports provided by several platforms and websites, TD Ameritrade is generally the best investment broker for beginners though top-level investors can take advantage of the several offers and platforms provided by the company to make massive waves in various markets.
In terms of tradable securities, TD Ameritrade offers a full range of investments, and of course, this includes futures (bitcoin futures) and forex trading. All services provided by the company are made available for approved and eligible clients.
Furthermore, to ensure that everyone investing with TD Ameritrade knows exactly what they are doing, the brokerage offers a wide range of educational materials and resources to groom both newbies and intermediate investors in several trades and asset classes that can be traded on TD Ameritrade platforms, including Thinkorswim.
Another great thing about TD Ameritrade is the zero fees it charges for most trades that are carried out on its platforms. It proves to be a nice choice for beginner fund investors. The multi-format education tools (videos, slideshows, articles, online seminars, and quizzes) are readily available to all clients.
However, due to the ton of resources available, it is a bit difficult to figure out the exact resources and tools you need for a start.
But, clients can always take advantage of the routine 8-hour daily webcasts to learn lots of things; TD Ameritrade also hosts live events at its local branches annually; all these events are geared to educate beginner investors to understand how the markets operate and how to trade different asset classes.
The PaperMoney virtual simulator is an undeniable handy tool for anyone planning to go into trading but hasn’t fully understood the substantial financial risks involved. Hence, with the $100,000 paperMoney funds, new investors can experiment and trades different asset classes to see how they’d gain or lose as they try out different trading techniques.
Coming to the various platforms provided and managed by TD Ameritrade, which Thinkorswim happens to be the most prominent one clients can seamlessly trade on either of the platforms. TD Ameritrade packed all its platforms with resourceful and handy tools to facilitate any type of transaction offered by the company.
People do go everywhere with their laptops and computers, but they move about with their mobile phones. TD Ameritrade offers two mobile platforms, which are designed to offer and serve the same purpose their desktop/web versions are serving.
The Thinkorswim Mobile and TD Ameritrade Mobile solutions provide you with everything you need to trade on the go, including access to analytic reports, newsfeed, etc. There’s equally a live chat feature on the TD Ameritrade Mobile trader app.
How Secure Is TD Ameritrade’s Platforms
When you talk of security, TD Ameritrade’s platforms are designed with top-notch security algorithms; its security is apparently up to the industry standards.
- For the mobile apps, clients can use biometric authentications such as fingerprint and face recognition to login and access the mobile app.
- This broker offers $149.5m worth of protection to all its clients, as well as offer $2m worth of protection for cash coverage – provided by London insurers.
- When a client tries to log in from a new device or computer, TD Ameritrade’s security algorithm would ask serials of questions to validate the authenticity of the login attempt.
- To date, there have not been any significant breaches at any TD Ameritrade location.
TD Ameritrade’s platforms are entirely safe and secure to use. Your data is stored securely – there hasn’t been any report regarding data breach at any TD Ameritrade’s branch.
Top Alternative Brokers to TD Ameritrade
Although Robinhood is a new investment broker, launched in 2013, it offers competitive pricing that challenges what TD Ameritrade offers. Robinhood, a top-rated online brokerage, stormed the industry with a simple fee structure; offering commission-free trades in different asset classes, including cryptocurrencies.
More so, Robinhood offers an intuitive user-interface, but the desktop trading platform features limited functionality compared with TD Ameritrade desktop platforms.
Traders and investors can transact stocks (no shorts), options, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies on Robinhood. Simply put, Robinhood is more like a smaller broker while TD Ameritrade is a larger broker.
Fidelity Investments Inc., formerly Fidelity Management & Research (FMR), is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.
This online brokerage offers similar services to what you’d get from TD Ameritrade and it also offers competitive prices. Just as TD Ameritrade, Fidelity offers commission-free stock trading, options, and ETF trades.
As a full-service broker, Fidelity has online (web-based) and mobile app platforms where its clients can carry out different trades. Also, the corporation has physical locations where clients can walk-in and get attended to.
There are a lot of similarities between TD Ameritrade and Fidelity Investments; while TD Ameritrade offers Thinkorswim trading platform, Fidelity offers Active Trader Pro.
In addition, Fidelity offers banking services and focuses on providing beginner investors with comprehensive resources to get started with trading different asset classes.
In the end, TD Ameritrade is inarguably the best online broker for beginner investors and it still proves to be the ideal choice for all traders at all levels.
TD Ameritrade offers the best price/fees on trading different asset classes; more so, you can start with the paperMoney simulator until you’re ready to kickstart with real money.
The various trading platforms provided by Ameritrade are all safe and secure. In addition, they offer tailored educational resources and extensive tools (such as calculators) to help traders to get acquainted with different markets.
There’s no doubt that newer traders and active investors will enjoy using the Thinkorswim platform, considering all the interesting features it has to offer.