TD Ameritrade Review

Welcome to the NerdWallet review of TD Ameritrade! We’ve included all the information you need to make an informed decision. Do you already have an account with TD Ameritrade? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section so that others can learn from your experiences.

About the Company

TD Ameritrade is one of America’s most popular brokerages with over 5.8 million account holders with over $480 billion in assets. Founded in 1983, the company has built a reputation for excellence in customer service and trading tools at reasonable prices.

One Sentence Summary

TD Ameritrade provides award-winning access to premium research, data, trading platforms, and customer service for a flat $9.99/trade, a great value for most individual investors.

Pricing
  • Minimum initial deposit: $500
  • Stock Trades: $9.99 per trade
  • Options Trades: $9.99 per trade + $0.75 per contract
  • Company Research: Free
  • Data: Free
  • Trading Platforms: Free
  • Learn more from TD Ameritrade
Promotions
  • Trade free for 60 days + get up to $600 (cash bonus depends on how much you fund your account with)
  • Trade free details:  You can make up to 500 commission-free trades in your first 60 days.
  • Up to $600 cash bonus details:  $100 bonus for $25k in assets, $300 bonus for $100k in assets, $600 bonus for $250k in assets
Research
  • Individual stocks:  Research reports about individual stocks are free for account holders.
  • Market analytics:  Advanced reports about the overall market are available for $9.99 per month.
Advice
  • A registered investment advisor is available for a free no-obligation consultation to to speak with account holders about their portfolios.
  • Barron’s gives TD Ameritrade a 4-star rating (maximum) for in-person service
Trading Platforms
  • Analysis Software is included for free with screeners, alerts, and more
  • Premium “Trade Architect” platform available free (most competitors charge fees or minimum trade volumes for access to premium platforms)
  • SmartMoney gives TD Ameritrade a 5-star rating (maximum) for it’s trading tools
  • Investor’s Business Daily rates TD Ameritrade #1 for it’s mobile trading platform
Data
  • Free access to Level II quotes to gauge market depth and liquidity (not just the last trade price, but also the outstanding bids and offers, including volume)
  • Free access to streaming news
Premium Features
  • Mobile App for iPad, iPhone, and Android
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Check Writing
  • Debit Card
  • Free automated phone trades
  • Over 100 physical locations
  • Learn more from TD Ameritrade
Mutual Funds
  • Hundreds of No-Transaction-Fee Mutual Funds from leading fund families
  • Mutual fund screeners, category lists, and premier lists to help you choose the best mutual funds
Commission-free ETFs
  • Over 100 commission-free ETFs
Asset Classes
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual Funds
  • ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds)
  • Futures
  • Options – 1st place trading platform for Options by Investor’s Business Daily
  • Foreign Exchange (Currency)
Comparison to other Brokerages
  • Service & Features:
    • TD Ameritrade differentiates itself on customer service and account features, which are above average for this price point and more than sufficient for most retail investors
    • Offers premium trading platforms for free, without minimum trade volumes, unlike most competitors
  • Pricing:
    • Pricing at $9.99/trade is fairly typical of brand-name brokerages; E*trade charges the same
    • Scottrade charges slightly less ($7/trade), but provides less access to premium research and advice and no commission-free ETFs
  • For a full comparison to EVERY other brokerage, check out our brokerage comparison tool.
Awards
  • #1 for Long-Term Investing (Barron’s)
  • #1 for Options (Investor’s Business Daily)
  • #1 for Novices (Barron’s)
  • #1 for Mobile Trading Platform (Investor’s Business Daily)
  • 5-stars for Trading Tools (maximum rating, SmartMoney)
  • Best In-Person Service (tied for 1st, Barron’s)
  • Best for Options Traders (tied for 1st, Barron’s)
Customer Opinions
  • “Helpful service”
  •  “I use both E*trade and TD Ameritrade and prefer the TD Ameritrade platform”
  • “Trading tools are pretty basic”
  • “I like their no transaction fee mutual funds, but the fee for other funds is high.”
  • “Hard to believe you get so much from a discount brokerage”
  • “Great online community of traders”

Do you use TD Ameritrade? Please share your opinions in the comments section to help others make informed decisions.

Does TD Ameritrade sound like the right brokerage for you? If so, visit their website to learn more or to sign up for an account.

  • Jack Zach

    At first glance Ameritrade/TOS is a robust trading and analytics platform that comes included with having an account at Ameritrade.

    But, I will cut right to the chase and say that if you’re an experienced trader who relies on filters or such tools to suss out potential trading opportunities for the day, then Ameritrade is absolutely not the platform to use.

    Even worse, although they advertise and offer a relatively robust menu of such tools, what you eventually find out after dedicating countless hours to learning their language is that it doesn’t even matter because they don’t have the bandwidth to provide real time updates on the most basic of indicators..like Average Volume and whatnot.

    So, net net, you’ll have a really impressive looking setup but when the bell opens in the AM you’ll see glaring red codes like NAN(Not Available Now) and the ever present “loading”..which won’t resolve until at least 2 hours into the trading day

    Can I accurately relay how frustrating this is?

    No, I can’t!

    And when I spent my valuable time chasing down the person in charge of such functionality at the home office in Nebraska he basically told me that “We’re aware of this issue but unfortunately our bandwidth is prioritized toward our algo, black-box and flash trading clients”

    And there you have it..

    Pass!!

    • Guest

      What platform do you recommend?

      • Mac Stanley

        I use their platform for my serious trading and have never had or heard of that happening. Sounds like it my be a computer or internet connection issue.

        • Manny Lopez

          Hi, Mac i was wondering if you could give some advice in starting a account with Ameritrade i am looking to starting buying stocks or ETF’s and i was wanting some advice on anything you can think of in helping a beginner understand it a bit better.

  • B Laney

    I’m having the same experience as Zack. Their trading tools look great but what good is it if you can’t execute a trade in a moving market? Most of the time I have to trade through their browser interface…terrible. They should fire their software development department and startover. I don’t know how many times my browser froze up in the middle of a trade. Also, every time the market makes significant moves I get “Your account is not available at this time, call a customer service representative.” Imagine getting that when you are sitting on volitle option position. If you are an active trader and need to get into and out of positions quickly then stay away from TDAmeritrade, YOU WILL LOSE MONEY!

  • StatEco

    Ameritrade was my only broker since 1999. Besides my margin account, I set up an IRA account with Ameritrade 4 years ago. The nightmare has been with the IRA accounts. The Ameritrade/TOS IRA account has been a total complete nightmare.

    The execution problem has gotten worse last few months. I put orders to sell, they won’t hit the market for a good minute or two. By then the prices have changed greatly. If I cancel the order, and/or change the order, my account or should I say the platform just freezes, I have to close the site and start again. I trade mainly index options, and occasionally momentum stocks (big problem with execution lags). My advice is do not use Ameritrade for your IRA if you intend to trade at all. Consider I have such an ordeal trading just once or twice a week.

    Considering switching to TradeKing since trading buddies have switched to TradeKing a couple years ago.

  • Public Friend 123

    I’ve been a customer for over 15 years. Lately I’ve had many problems with TD Ameritrade’s trading platform, Trade Architect. I use this as my trades are limited to common stock equities – short and long positions. Problems I encounter are daily highs and lows not syncing in real time, intermittent time outs (they provided a quick connect band aid ~ at least it works), trades not updating in positions watch lists in real time which requires either a re-launch of Trade Architect or shuttling to the home page transactions history which seems to get updated immediately, news articles in Trade Architect that need to be identified as either headlines or articles with real information (a simple blue colored link would do the trick, otherwise back to the homepage – research – stocks to see what is often a group of articles that is better populated than the trading platform where it’s most needed during trading, excuses by Executive Support and an unwillingness to acknowledge in writing that they have problems (call them at 800-237-8692 and ask for the Office of the President), and when trying to address these complaints to a financial agency such as the SEC, don’t expect “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” in your responses as they’re not under oath and are grateful for that, but I’m not.
    The upshot, TD needs to get its act together. They have a large clientele, bankroll CNBC to a point, advertise I lot things that don’t necessarily meet the smell test, and not to push short term trading where the biggest hurdles need to be overcome, but in today’s often irrational marketplace involving high frequency trading, non-professional traders, professional traders playing both ends against the middle (by the way, most of us are the middle and we’re being systematically gutted by the big guys), short term, momentum trading is sometimes highly profitable as long as you approach it carefully. This is where TD is not providing an optimal experience.

  • ross

    I have used multiple brokers and none have compared to TDAmeritrade. The execution times are very fast when placing a trade. Also the trade pricing is good because the do not charge extra for a lot of shares which is nice for day trading. And the thinkorswim platform is free if you open a account with them which is also a plus. They also have good customer service.
    They have a referral program going on right now. If you email me at ross_linton@comcast.net and ask for the link then when signing up we each get $50!

  • Miguel

    I use TD Ameritrade! I really like their trading platform and all the information and education material that you can find on their website, however, I believe that charging $9.99 per trade can be very damaging to small investors like my self. Even though all the investment information available on their website is useful it’s just information you can actually find anywhere else by just googling it. Their main education provider is Investipedia which you can access whenever you want through their free website and get the same info that you’ll get at TD Ameritrade. If they could lower the price to at least 7.99 – 8.99 a trade I would rate it 5 stars.

  • tdsucks

    On Aug 6, 2014, TD Ameritrade forced me out of $20,000 of naked short-term call options because they thought the underlying ETF may rise 60% in a single day and wipe me out. The ETF has never moved more than 40% in a single day and they refuse to tell me how they came up with this 60% threshold.They didn’t even give me a few days to gradually average out of my positions. I also had some August options that were expiring the following week freeing up buying power but they didn’t care.They brutally forced me to close out nearly all of my positions right then. That day the ETF was trading at 36 and the market was flat. They
    forced me to close out $20k of September and December call options at
    strike prices of 70, 80 and 90. The ETF would have to move over 100%, a nearly impossible short term move.

    As you can guess, the ETF did NOT go to 70, 80 or 90. In fact it dropped to 24. I lost $20,000 thanks to TD Ameritrade.

    • Just_an_occasional_Trader

      I had a similar problem where my purchasing power was over 50K while their risk management department (not the margin department) closed my positions arguing that they did not pass a $1000 per each short option of an index ETF requirement for out of the money options. I could not find any reference to this rule anywhere on the TD Ameritrade website, including the margin handbook, but it is a rule their risk management department uses.

      I feel that this is a serious issue because you may have a significant purchasing power and yet be in violation of this additional rule which may result in trade restrictions including a possible liquidation with no warning. I feel that this adds an element of surprise that one may not want to have in their investment portfolio.