Content of the material
- What you’ll need to get started
- E-Trade vs. TD Ameritrade: Tradable securities
- E-Trade vs. TD Ameritrade: Customer support
- TD Ameritrade Compared to Others
- What Are TD Ameritrade’s Drawbacks?
- No Fractional Shares
- Not Good for Advice & Planning
- Who Is TD Ameritrade Best For?
- Is It Worth It?
- Step 2: Enter personal information
- TD Beyond Checking
- Bottom Line
What you’ll need to get started
TD Ameritrade’s website says that setting up a new account with them will only take a few minutes and that you’ll need just a couple things to get started:
- Your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
- Your employer name and address (if applicable)
The company charges a flat $6.95 fee per trade, no matter how many times you buy or sell within the account. TD Ameritrade doesn’t have require a minimum cash deposit to get started, but if you want to do options or margin trading, you’ll need to have at least $2,000 in the account.
Like other online brokers, TD Ameritrade provides a customer service number you can call for assistance, and there’s also a chat box that will periodically pop up on the screen offering you the chance to ask questions as you fill out the application.
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E-Trade vs. TD Ameritrade: Tradable securities
E-Trade and TD Ameritrade are also similar in terms of the number of securities you can trade through their platforms. Each broker offers stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options and futures. These securities should meet the needs of most investors, but TD Ameritrade also offers forex trading if you’re looking for more exotic offerings. Crypto traders will need to find a different broker altogether, as neither E-Trade nor TD Ameritrade offer cryptocurrency trading.
E-Trade vs. TD Ameritrade: Customer support
E-Trade and TD Ameritrade each offer great customer service options if you have questions about your account. You’ll be able to get someone on the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which is increasingly rare in today’s digital-first world. You’ll also be able to reach someone through chat, email or social media. Plus, each has physical locations if you need help in person. E-Trade has more than 30 branches across the U.S., while TD Ameritrade has more than 175.
Robinhood's educational articles are easy to understand (and even entertaining) but don't expect any deep dives. It can be hard to find what you're looking for because the content is posted in chronological order (and not organized by topic). There aren't any videos or webinars, but the daily Robinhood Snacks newsletter and 15-minute podcast offer useful and lively information.
TD Ameritrade provides a robust library of educational content, including articles, glossaries, videos, and webinars. It averages several hundred webinars a month and hosts live events each year. Overall, TDA comes out ahead due to its breadth of topics and multiple delivery formats.
TD Ameritrade Compared to Others
|TD Ameritrade*||Charles Schwab||Vanguard|
|Types of investing accounts||Brokerage and trading, IRAs and other retirement accounts, managed accounts||Brokerage and trading, IRAs and other retirement accounts, managed accounts, college and education savings plans||Brokerage and trading, IRAs and other retirement accounts, college and education savings plans|
|Fees||$0 trading commission fees on online trades for stocks, ETF, and option trades; other fees vary||$0 trading commission fees for online trades for stocks and ETFs; other fees vary||$0 trading commission fees on online trades for stocks, ETFs, and Vanguard mutual funds; other fees vary|
|Account fees||No annual fee||No annual, inactivity, maintenance fees||$20 annual fee on most accounts with less than $10,000|
|Index funds||Over 2,300 ETFs||Third largest provider of index funds, over 2,000||More than 100 Vanguard index funds|
|Mobile app||Investing app available||Investing app available||Investing app available|
|Customer service||Account support available 24/7 via phone||24/7 via phone and chat, brick and mortar locations||Reps available via phone 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. weekdays|
Robinhood makes it easy to open and fund an account on its app or website, and there’s no dollar minimum to open or maintain an account. With TDA, you can also get started via app or website, but it’s a bit more challenging to pick the appropriate account type due to the broker’s broader range of offerings. Like Robinhood, there’s no minimum to open an account, but with either broker, you need at least $2,000 deposited in your account to use margin.
Robinhood's website is sleek and easy to navigate, which may be a function of the broker's limited offerings. Its mobile app and website are similar enough that it's easy to bounce between the two interfaces. Still, there's not much you can do to personalize the experience, which may be frustrating for experienced traders and investors who have come to expect that capability.
TDA's website is fresh, well-organized, and easy to navigate, and you'll find a good variety of educational content, including articles, videos, webinars, and a glossary. While both brokers offer streaming quotes, TDA's are delayed by default, which means you could miss key market moves. However, you can enable real-time quotes in your account profile.
Overall, we found Robinhood makes a decent starting place for new traders, especially those who have a small account and want to trade just a share or two at a time—or those interested in a very narrow range of assets. At the same time, TDA is a better fit for investors and traders of all experience levels who want a more robust and customizable trading experience and access to more products.
What Are TD Ameritrade’s Drawbacks?
While TD Ameritrade is one of our favorite brokers, it’s not perfect. Here are a few areas where we feel it falls short.
No Fractional Shares
TD Ameritrade has built a reputation for quickly adding tools and features that the modern investor craves. And that makes it all the more surprising that it still hasn’t launched fractional share investing on any of its platforms. If you’re wanting to trade fractional shares of stocks and ETFs, here are a few alternative brokers to consider.
Not Good for Advice & Planning
Since its acquisition by Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade has begun phasing out its wealth management services. That means new clients won’t be able to access any robo advisor portfolios. If you’re looking for an all-in-one broker that can offer both self-directed trading and managed accounts, better options include Ally Invest, E*TRADE, and Fidelity.
Who Is TD Ameritrade Best For?
TD Ameritrade is best for investors who want to do their own trading on an online platform.
Newer investors would enjoy the array of educational resources, such as free online investment classes, a practice account to help newbies get their head about investing fundamentals, and custom learning paths.
Active traders can also enjoy sophisticated platforms such as thinkorswim, and enjoy the zero commission fees on U.S. exchange-listed stocks, ETFs, and options. However, if someone is looking for a robo advisor, TD Ameritrade currently doesn’t offer one. Those looking for automated investing options will need to look elsewhere.
Is It Worth It?
Overall, TD Ameritrade’s offers a ton of exceptional offerings, including commission-free ETF trades that make using their platforms both convenient and effective.
Bottom line: their services are perfect for everyone; from investors who are just starting out to seasoned traders looking for reliability and options from a trading platform.
Step 2: Enter personal information
In this section you’ll enter more personal information like your Social Security number, mailing address, date of birth, and employment information.
You’ll also be asked whether or not you or someone in your household works for any stock exchange, or if an immediate family member is a director or 10% shareholder of a publicly held company. You’ll probably answer “no” to these questions.
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TD Beyond Checking
Most perks: Get the best of the best—an account loaded with benefits.
- New checking Customers: See limited-time special offer
- 3 ways to waive the monthly maintenance fee, including with direct deposits2
- No ATM fees with a $2,500 minimum daily balance3
- Get fees reimbursed on 2 overdrafts per year,4 Rush Bill Payments5 and more
- Free incoming wires and a reimbursement for 1 outgoing wire (domestic or international) per statement cycle
TD Ameritrade is a competitive brokerage with reasonable fees, extensive resources, and great trading platforms.
While it’s no longer a great option for clients who want access to wealth management services, TD Ameritrade is still one of the best stock brokers for DIY traders and investors.
Not sure that TD Ameritrade is right for you? See how it compares to the other top stock brokers.Open an account with TD Ameritrade