Top Rated For:

Our Take

TD Ameritrade is one of the most well-known brokers in the country, attracting a wide range of investors thanks to a far-reaching offering that enables all users to pursue their preferred investment strategy, regardless of experience level. Beginner investors will find it easy to get started with no balance minimums and straightforward pricing. Educational content is also outstanding for the breadth and scope of material covered. Advanced traders can leverage TD Ameritrade’s renowned thinkorswim platform, which offers a powerful combination of top-tier research tools, screening functions, and financial calculators. While some features aren’t available, such as fractional shares, it’s no accident that TD Ameritrade won four of our “best broker” categories as the platform resonates with a wide spectrum of users.

Bear in mind that, even though Charles Schwab has acquired TD Ameritrade, the broker still operates as a separate entity. Next, we’ll explore TD Ameritrade in detail so you can see all that they offer.

Introduction

TD Ameritrade was established in 1975 as a full-service broker in a discount package and has built a brand as a leader in trading innovation, client experience, and education over the years. In 2020, Charles Schwab announced it had acquired TD Ameritrade for $26 billion, a merger that’s expected to be complete in 2023. 

TD Ameritrade’s platform appeals to all kinds of traders. New investors have access to a wide range of educational tools, which are available in a variety of formats and cover a broad assortment of topics. Customer service is easily accessible through several different channels, providing new investors with needed support and peace of mind. No balance requirements and relatively low, transparent pricing also lets beginners feel comfortable getting into the market.

Another standout area for TD Ameritrade is their dynamic, intuitive portfolio tools. All types of users, regardless of experience level or investing preference, can leverage a comprehensive range of trading features and analysis tools that are customizable to their personal strategies. A well-implemented design makes it easy to find what you’re looking for and execute your desired investment strategy effectively. Desktop, web, and mobile experiences are all easy to navigate, with full feature parity across each version.

TD Ameritrade may be best known for their flagship trading platform, thinkorswim. This powerful offering combines sophisticated research tools, screening features, and financial calculators with backtesting capabilities, letting investors experiment with their investment approach based on historical data before entering the market. New product enhancements continue to roll out, such as updated charting functionality and a portfolio digest feature announced in July, 2022.

Users report that TD Ameritrade's overall intuitive design, extent of trading tools, and consistent innovation are some of the top things to like about the platform. Some notable pieces are missing from their lineup, however, such as fractional share trading and direct crypto exposure. On the whole, however, TD Ameritrade’s robust investment options paired with mostly low fees, outstanding client support, and a deep educational catalog, resonates with investors of all backgrounds. 

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Wide range of educational content available in many different formats

  • Expansive trading tools and resources for all types of investors

  • Well-designed mobile app and website

  • Excellent client support

Cons
  • Fractional shares are not offered

  • No direct crypto trading

  • No automatic enrollment for the cash sweep program

Pros Explained

  • Wide range of educational content available in many different formats: This lets investors build their market knowledge and trading expertise. Beginners, in particular, can take advantage of TD Ameritrade’s stellar educational tools and feel more confident as they learn how to invest.
  • Expansive trading tools and resources for all types of investors: This enables users to pursue their preferred investment strategy seamlessly. Whether you’re looking for options screeners, research insights, or trading idea generators, TD Ameritrade can deliver just about anything you need. 
  • Well-designed, user-friendly mobile app and website: Users are provided with a smooth investing experience and consistent functionality across the different platform versions. TD Ameritrade has split the user experience at the core, having casual investors follow a TD Ameritrade path for website and mobile while traders and more active investors will gravitate to thinkorswim desktop and mobile. 
  • Excellent client support: TD Ameritrade offers support that is second to none in the industry, bolstering investor confidence with quick resolutions and reliable service.

Cons Explained

  • Fractional shares are not offered: This is a hurdle for investors looking to add portions of high-priced securities to their portfolio. Charles Schwab offers fractional share trading, but it remains to be seen if this feature will be ported over to TD Ameritrade once the brokers complete their merger. 
  • No direct crypto trading: Only indirect exposure to the cryptocurrency market is available through funds, Bitcoin futures, and over-the-counter (OTC) trusts. Investors who prefer trading actual cryptocurrencies should look for alternatives. 
  • No automatic enrollment for the cash sweep program: Rather than being automatic, users can opt into this feature which holds cash in an FDIC-protected account. The extra step likely means that some investors are missing out on interest on their idle cash.

Usability

TD Ameritrade’s focus on the client experience has resulted in a seamless and easy-to-navigate platform, no matter which version you prefer to use. Each version offers many customizable features, letting users optimize the trading platform to fit their particular needs and preferences.

TD Ameritrade’s web version offers a doc tool, which provides the ability for users to fully modify and tweak their dashboard. Traders can choose from 13 different modules to view, including watchlists, account balances, RSS feeds, market news, and other similar reports. Modules can then be rearranged as desired.

The mobile app shows investor positions and balances on one screen, making it easy to quickly monitor your holdings. Market news pertaining to investor positions is also included, giving traders even more insight and ability to make position changes if needed. 

Active investors will enjoy the ease with which you can scan for useful information on just about any security. By simply entering the ticker symbol, investors can effortlessly see earnings information, analyst ratings, dividend payouts, charts, price history, and more.

Trade Experience

Entering, executing, and monitoring trades on the web platform is a straightforward process with TD Ameritrade. Users can enter the ticker symbol in the search tool and input orders directly from the site. Both the web platform and mobile app offer the same asset classes for the most part, with the exception of fixed-income products. 

TD Ameritrade also equips investors with screening tools so you can filter stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and more to find assets to trade that match your interests. You can filter by industry, market capitalization, sector, and more, or create your own unique screens based on the tools provided. This area helps everyone from beginners looking to narrow down potential investment choices to experienced traders looking for new investing ideas. 

The thinkorswim platform is built for advanced traders, allowing users to add indicators, draw trendlines, and conduct technical analysis through the portal. This functionality is just the beginning, as thinkorswim can be downloaded and further customized to match trader preferences. Analysis tools are accessible for more sophisticated investments, such as derivatives or options chains. 

A trading simulator goes even further, permitting users to build their own tools using the thinkScript® programming language. As a result, advanced traders will primarily favor the thinkorswim experience given that the extent of available features and functionalities far surpass the other TD Ameritrade versions.

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Mobile Trade Experience

TD Ameritrade really shines with their mobile experience, winning our best broker for mobile app category. Trading on the mobile app is, at minimum, just as seamless as trading on the web platform, a rare industry feat that speaks to how TD Ameritrade innovatively approaches mobile investing. 

To get started, a prominent, green “trade” button greets users on the top right of the screen. Simply enter a symbol and you can execute a trade in just a few taps. User’s are supported with real-time data streams, watchlists, and market news. Even though the mobile app doesn’t support the ability to draw on charts, trades can be initiated directly from these screens. 

If you’re looking for more advanced charting functionality, like chart customization, use the thinkorswim mobile app as the capabilities increase by a considerable extent. You can also use the thinkorswim mobile app to trade multi-leg options, perform analysis on positions, and more, with similar functionality to the thinkorswim downloadable platform.

Range of Offerings

TD Ameritrade clients can trade a wide variety of assets on both the web platform and the mobile apps. These assets include ETFs, stocks, options, and futures. TD Ameritrade also rolls out innovative products that appeal to a variety of traders, such as micro futures, which increases investor access to these contracts and lowers the cost. 

One notable limitation is that TD does not offer fractional shares or international bonds, and the mobile app does not support fixed-income purchases. Beyond that, investors using TD Ameritrade can access:

  • Stocks (long and short)
  • Mutual funds (more than 13,000 on offer, 3,628 of which are no-transaction-fee funds)
  • Bonds (corporate, municipal, Treasury, and CDs)
  • Futures/commodities
  • Single and multi-leg option contracts
  • Bitcoin futures
  • Foreign exchange (70 currency pairs)
  • OTCBB (penny stocks)
  • Micro Futures

Order Types

TD Ameritrade offers many order types across their platforms, including the standard market, limit, stop-limit, and trailing stop orders. However, only the thinkorswim® platform lets you use conditional orders such as order-triggers-other (OTO), one-cancels-the-other (OCO), order-triggers-two (OTT), and similar orders. 

Support for more sophisticated order types (like OCO) is important because they help traders navigate risk, quickly enter and exit positions, and take gains off the table. As a result, traders can spend more time analyzing the market and look for their next move without having to watch current trades as closely. 

Notably, all TD Ameritrade platforms let you stage orders for later entry. Investors also have the ability to select a specific tax lot when placing orders, helping to optimize tax implications.

Trading Technology

Fast, accurate order execution is a priority for many investors, but particularly for active traders. Markets move rapidly at times, so when a streamlined, precise order routing process is followed it helps ensure consistent execution. The method by which a broker routes trades determines the probability of receiving the best price when the order is placed. When a trade is executed at a price better than the best quoted market price at the time, this is known as price improvement.

TD Ameritrade uses their own proprietary order routing technology. However, clients also have the ability to route orders directly to specific exchanges if they so choose. On average, TD Ameritrade’s orders are executed within 0.04 seconds. Execution quality data covers market order sizes from 1 to 1,999 shares, with 97.4% of trades placed receiving price improvement. Net price improvement per share stands at $0.0180 on average. 

Interestingly, TD Ameritrade is one of just a handful of brokers that offers backtesting, which allows for a trading strategy to be tested against historical data. This useful feature lets you fine-tune an investing philosophy so you can execute your strategy, supported with more market knowledge.

Costs

TD Ameritrade, like others in the industry, has reduced fees over time. Some fees are a bit higher than competitors in a few areas, but for the most part, the broker fees align with industry standards.

  • TD Ameritrade charges no commissions for online equity or ETF trades.
  • OTCBB trades incur a commission of $6.95/transaction - most other brokers have made these trades free.
  • There is no per-leg commission on options trades. Per-contract commissions are $0.65. VIP option customers are able to privately negotiate discounted commissions based on volume.
  • An order for 50 options contracts is $32.50.
  • A covered call trade of 500 shares plus five contracts would cost $3.25.
  • Mutual fund commissions for funds outside the No Transaction Fee program range from $49.99 to $74.95. 
  • Fixed income is sold on a "net yield" basis, which means TD Ameritrade is marking the price of the bond up for a purchase or down for a sale. The fee is not transparent.
  • Most orders incur exchange fees, which are typically fractions of a penny per share or contract, which TD Ameritrade absorbs rather than passing them through to its customers.
  • Margin interest ranges from 11.5% for a $10,000 balance to 10% for a balance of more than $100,000 as of June 2022. This rate is meaningfully higher than some competitors. High-net-worth account holders can negotiate lower margin rates based on account size.
  • Futures transaction fees are $2.25 per contract per side plus exchange fees.
  • Forex currency pairs are traded in increments of 10,000 units and there is no commission. The cost of the trade is reflected in the spread and TD Ameritrade is compensated by its liquidity provider based on the volume.
  • No fees for inactivity.
  • Transferring part of an account incurs no charge. Transferring an entire account is $75.
  • Sending a wire is $25. Sending a paper check is free, though there is a $15 fee if the client requests overnight mail.
  • Voluntary reorganization fee for corporate actions is $38.
  • Paper statements incur a $2 handling fee for accounts with low balances. Trade confirmations are free.
  • Live broker fee is $25 per trade across asset classes.

How This Broker Makes Money From You and for You

Industry competition and innovative trading platforms have resulted in reduced prices for many investors. However, while you may see $0 commission prominently advertised, there are other costs associated with trading that may not be as immediately obvious. Some of these costs are noted below: 

  • Interest on cash: TD Ameritrade clients do not earn any interest on cash held in their accounts by default. Clients have to opt into TD Ameritrade’s cash sweep program to earn interest on idle cash. Right now the rate is 0.01% on idle funds. This can be perceived as a slight disadvantage since there are competitors who automatically enroll clients into a cash sweep program.
  • Payment for order flow: It is common for brokers to generate revenue by directing trade orders to different parties known as market makers. Some competing brokers like Vanguard and Fidelity do not accept payment for order flow on equities. TD accepts roughly $0.001 per share for equities and $0.50 per contract for options on average. This is average among the brokers that accept PFOF. 
  • Stock loan programs: Although TD Ameritrade clients can participate in a stock loan program, they do not have the ability to choose which stock can be loaned. Stock loan programs generate revenue for brokers who are usually providing the loaned shares to traders and hedge funds shorting the stock.
  • Price improvement: TD Ameritrade reports that their net price improvement per share is $0.0180 on average for orders sized between 1 and 1,999 shares. TD Ameritrade does not disclose net price improvement on options orders. 
  • Portfolio Margin: Qualified investors who have a portfolio value of $125,000 or more may qualify for portfolio margining, which can increase their buying power significantly as compared with standard margin accounts. The goal of portfolio margining is to set margin requirements that reflect net risk, which may allow clients to benefit from lower margin requirements and more effective use of capital.

Account and Research Amenities

TD Ameritrade has all the research features and analysis tools you would expect from a large online broker. There is an extensive menu of screeners, calculators, charts, and analysis tools that are at your disposal, to name just a few. In addition to this already extensive list, TD Ameritrade launched more innovative features as well, such as the Social Sentiment tool which measures social media trends.

Stock Screeners

Clients can choose from 25 predefined stock screeners or build their own screens, using parameters such as fundamental metrics, sector, valuation, performance, and technical indicators. The thinkorswim desktop platform allows for a more robust screening functionality compared to the website, as it's geared towards traders who have experience with a wide variety of technical and fundamental filters.

ETF and Mutual Fund Screeners

Much like TD Ameritrade’s stock screeners, the ETF and mutual fund screeners have similar capacities when it comes to the range of options available. You’re able to save the last five customized screens for use in the future, and you can also turn these screens into a personalized watchlist.

The Morningstar category alone gives clients the ability to select from nearly 100 fund categories, ranging from large growth funds to alternative investment funds, such as real estate. There are even funds for investors who desire exposure to specific regions or strategies.

Options Screeners

TD Ameritrade offers an option-specific screener as well as a strategy builder. Clients can use tools like Spread Hacker and Options Hacker, which allow for screens ranging from simple to detailed and complex. Available screening capabilities include iron condors, iron butterflies, double diagonals, covered calls, and the like. Real-time data streams are available for certain parameters, such as volatility, time to expiration, spread price, probability of profit, and more.

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Fixed Income Screeners

Traders can access a fixed income screening tool, the Bond Wizard. The tool allows for filtering of individual bonds, CDs, and build a bond ladder. Pre-selected bond ladders can also be chosen from the menu.

Tools and Calculators

A plethora of financial calculators and tools are available for TD Ameritrade users. For instance, an Income Estimator helps investors understand how much income can be derived from a portfolio over a specified time frame. Other popular tools include the Portfolio Planner, Retirement Calculator, Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) Calculator, and IRA selection tool. These are just a few of the available options that TD Ameritrade provides to help investors stay on track financially.

Charting

Another area where TD Ameritrade excels is charting, particularly on the thinkorswim platform. Both beginners and sophisticated traders will find comprehensive, impactful charting features that can be adjusted for color, size, strategy, and more. TD Ameritrade allows for charts to be saved and shared, adding even more usefulness to this functionality.

The ability to add indicators and trendlines is available on the website, but these features are not as easy to set up and use as charts on the thinkorswim version. As with most mobile charts, spatial limitations reduce the impact and usability of these features compared to desktop or downloadable versions. Instead, you’re better served using the thinkorswim experience when it comes to getting the most out of charts.

Trading Idea Generators

Investors have access to a ton of market news, information, and analyst reports that help with the trading ideation process. Industry-recognized reports from organizations such as the Dow Jones, Credit Suisse, and other notable resources are available for use. A far-reaching library contains extensive research and insights on industries, funds, and more that helps spark new trading ideas and helps users make thoughtful trading decisions.

News

Investors have access to the TD Ameritrade Network, Dow Jones, Benzinga, Midnight Trader, MarketWatch, numerous press release wires, TradersAudio live pit audio, CNBC Video, Benzinga Audio Squawk, Econoday calendar data, and Wall Street Horizons at no additional cost. Access to Yahoo Finance, Barrons, and The Wall Street Journal is available as well. CNBC segments are integrated with the TD Ameritrade web experience to go alongside new streams and other real-time market information.

Third-Party Research

Even though all of TD Ameritrade’s platforms offer charts for no additional costs, the broker also offers daily market reports and fee-based research. In addition to the free Market Edge reports, clients can choose to subscribe to two levels of premium Market Edge subscriptions. The first premium tier offers real-time reports and commentary. The second tier, at $19.99 per month, offers full access to Market Edge's platform and its research, screeners, commentary, and tools.

Cash Management

Although TD Ameritrade does not automatically sweep client funds into a money market fund, clients can opt-into the cash sweep program to earn higher interest (currently 0.01%).

Fractional Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP)

TD Ameritrade provides a dividend reinvestment program (DRIP) to clients who own dividend-paying assets. The DRIP does not use fractional shares, so excess cash that cannot purchase a full share would be returned to the cash balance of your account.

SRI/ESG Research Amenities

TD Ameritrade’s platforms have screening capabilities, but none are specific to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria or socially responsible investment (SRI) factors. This can be perceived as a disadvantage for investors that are seeking both financial and social returns on their investments.

Portfolio Analysis

Portfolio analysis is available via TD Ameritrade web and thinkorswim, as well as in Personalized, Selective, and Essential Portfolios via the TD Ameritrade Portfolios App. Portfolio analysis is customizable, and the broker offers the ability to aggregate holdings from outside accounts for reporting and analysis purposes using Personalized Portfolios. Both realized and unrealized gains/losses are reported in real time, as well as net deposits and withdrawals. Margin, buying power, and account balance data are also displayed in real time. Moreover, clients can attach trade notes before and after executing orders and maintain a trading journal within the platform.

Although investors cannot calculate the tax impact of future trades, capital gains reporting is available monthly and can be accessed directly from the website. In addition, TD Ameritrade offers the enterprise integration of GainsKeeper, a third-party tax reporting service that helps determine the tax consequences of trades. GainsKeeper is integrated directly within their platform for all clients free of charge, regardless of activity or asset level.

Education

TD Ameritrade stands above the rest when it comes to the range and depth of education resources, winning our best broker for education category. Users have access to learning material across a wide variety of channels and formats across desktop, mobile, and web. The education center holds an extensive library of content that is easily searchable depending on your goals, investment knowledge, and topic of interest. Tutorials, podcasts, videos, webinars, and even investment coaching is available, and more.

The Immersive Curriculum, in particular, is one of the most all-inclusive, free educational client portals in the industry. Trading concepts and investing strategies are broken down into individual lessons, allowing users to learn and grow their knowledge at their own pace. Topics include fundamental analysis for stocks, income investing, trading options, and similar, wide-ranging material.

TD Ameritrade successfully pairs education with technology so your learning experience continually improves. Suggested educational material is personalized based on your preferences, account history, and other investors in a comparable financial situation. As you grow your understanding of investing over time, the site adjusts recommended material to ensure it matches your interests and needs. 

New investors who are looking for a hands-on learning experience will find that paperMoney® is a powerful demo account tool. This feature allows users to experience the flagship platform, thinkorswim, as an investment simulator so you can improve your market knowledge without investing real money. This tool is accessible on the device of your choice, making it easy to have this learning resource at your fingertips.

Customer Service

  • TD Ameritrade has a telephone helpline that operates 24/7.
  • Clients can get trading and account support by phone, email, website, and directly from the trading platform, as well as on Twitter and Meta.
  • TD Ameritrade also provides chat support through thinkorswim mobile, where clients can chat live with a support associate without leaving the app.
  • TD Ameritrade clients can talk to a live broker, but fees may apply. Many of the reps staffing TD’s trading desk and answering client questions were either former professional floor traders and market makers themselves or were trained by such.
  • Clients have the ability to speak with TD Ameritrade financial advisors.
  • Chatbox capability is supported using Apple Business Chat, Meta Messenger, Twitter Direct Messages, and, in Asia, WeChat

Security and Reliability

  • Clients can use two-factor authentication for all of their platforms, as well as a biometric fingerprint scanner and facial recognition.
  • TD Ameritrade provides each client with $149.5 million worth of protection for securities and $2 million of protection for cash through supplemental coverage provided by London insurers.
  • If clients lose cash or securities from their account due to unauthorized activity, TD Ameritrade will reimburse for the cash or shares of securities that were lost. 
  • TD Ameritrade has not reported any significant data breaches in the last four years.
  • Due to unprecedented volumes of activity, TD Ameritrade has encountered login issues across multiple TD Ameritrade platforms that impacted some clients’ ability to log in during 2020. 
  • On January 27, 2021, TD Ameritrade, along with several other brokerage firms, experienced intermittent downtime, with users struggling to log in, check their portfolios, or perform any trades. It is likely the downtime came as Gamestop stock ($GME) surged due to a market dislocation.

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 offers a deep, wide-range of account types that are suitable for a number of financial goals and investment strategies. Here are the accounts you can open:

  • Individual Brokerage Accounts
  • Joint Brokerage Accounts
  • Guardianship or Conservatorship Accounts
  • 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 powerful brokerage platform with an abundance of attractive features. A solid menu of assets, trading resources, and educational content empower both new and sophisticated users alike to carry out their preferred investing approach. An intuitive design makes it easy to find what you’re looking for, with seamless navigation across web, mobile, and desktop versions. Excellent client support options further enhance TD Ameritade’s reputation as a user-focused offering.

The premier investing platform, thinkorswim, offers in-depth and nearly unparalleled screening functionality, research capabilities, and analysis features. TD Ameritrade’s ongoing integration with Charles Scwhab will add to this already comprehensive experience. Some investors, however, may need to find alternative solutions if they want to directly trade cryptocurrencies or use fractional shares. But overall, a wide array of investors can find everything they need with TD Ameritrade’s well-rounded platform to fully implement their trading strategy.

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Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. This year, we revamped the review process by conducting an extensive survey of customers that are actively looking to start trading and investing with an online broker. We then combined this invaluable information with our subject matter expertise to develop the framework for a quantitative ratings model that is at the core of how we compiled our list of the best online broker and trading platform companies.

This model weighs key factors like trading technology, range of offerings, mobile app usability, research amenities, educational content, portfolio analysis features, customer support, costs, account amenities, and overall trading experience according to their importance. Our team of researchers gathered 2425 data points and weighted 66 criteria based on data collected during extensive research for each of the 25 companies we reviewed. 

Many of the brokers we reviewed also gave us live demonstrations of their platforms and services, either at their New York City offices or via video conferencing methods. Live brokerage accounts were also obtained for most of the platforms we reviewed, which our team of expert writers and editors used to perform hands-on testing in order to lend their qualitative point of view. 

Read our full Methodology for reviewing online brokers.