TD Ameritrade Review - NerdWallet
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TD Ameritrade Review


TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade — which we named one of the best overall IRA account providers — is a tough broker to beat. It has above-average research tools, a large selection of commission-free ETFs, over 2,000 transaction-fee free mutual funds and strong customer support, including the option to meet in person at over 100 local branches.TD Ameritrade

NerdWallet’s Rating: 5 / 5

Open a TD Ameritrade account
TD Ameritrade is best for:

  • Beginner investors
  • ETF investors
  • Technical analysis
  • Automated trading platforms
  • IRA accounts (learn more about TD Ameritrade IRA accounts)
  • Options trading

Whether you’re a beginner investor looking to open your first retirement account or a seasoned trader, you’re likely to find what you need in TD Ameritrade. The online broker has slightly higher trade commissions than some of the competition, but those higher costs include access to premium research, data, trading platforms and award-winning customer service. Investor costs are also kept down by a large, high-quality selection of commission-free ETFs and transaction-fee free mutual funds.

Current promotion

Open a new account with $3,000 or more and trade commission-free for 60 days, plus get a cash bonus on larger deposit amounts: $600 on $250,000+; $300 on $100,000 to $249,999; and $100 on $25,000 to $99,999.

TD Ameritrade at a glance

Account Types
  • Individual and joint non-retirement accounts
  • Traditional, Roth, rollover, SEP, Simple IRAs, individual 401(k)s
  • Pensions
  • 529 plans
  • Coverdell
  • UGMA/UTMA accounts
  • Trusts
  • Account Minimum $0
    Account Fees $75 outgoing transfer fee
    Stock/ETF Commissions $9.99
    Mutual Funds Over 2,000 transaction-fee free mutual funds
    Commission-Free ETFs Over 100
    Options $9.99 + $0.75 per contract
    Tradable Securities
  • Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, ETFs

  • Futures
  • Options
  • Forex
  • Broker-Assisted Trades $34.99 for interactive voice response phone system; $44.99 for broker-assisted trades
    Research and Data Free and extensive
    Customer Service Phone service and support 24/7; email support and live chat; 126 local branches

    Where TD Ameritrade shines

    ETF selection: TD Ameritrade’s offering of over 100 ETFs was curated by Morningstar, a highly respected (and independent) investment research powerhouse. The group includes a diverse mix of equity funds, bond funds, international funds and commodity funds, with reasonable expense ratios — many of the equity ETFs carry ratios under 0.25%, with several Vanguard offerings coming in at 0.1% or less. (For comparison, the average ETF expense ratio is around 0.44%.) Investors looking for ETFs could easily create a diversified portfolio at TD Ameritrade, and the ability to trade commission-free means you can dollar-cost average into them at no charge.

    Research: TD Ameritrade gives investors free access to research and data that would cost extra at many other online brokerages, including streaming CNBC and analysis from the likes of Morningstar, S&P Capital IQ, and MarketEdge. Investors can also speak to one of the company’s trading specialists — by phone or in person — for free, as well as access the company’s MyTrade social community and use virtual trading tools to test strategies risk-free.

    Trading platform: TD Ameritrade acquired Thinkorswim, a trading platform, several years ago, then revamped it last year, strengthening its lineup: Investors can now choose between that platform, which caters to active traders who want to test trade strategies and analyze potential risk and reward, and its Trade Architect platform, which is web-based and slightly less robust but still offers advanced features like a market/options heat map, screening tools and streaming news. TD Ameritrade also offers mobile trading.

    For more reading, check out our thinkorswim review, Trade Architect review, and TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader review.

    Account minimum: An account minimum of $0 is rare among online brokers, which often have minimum initial deposits of $1,000 or more. TD Ameritrade’s low minimum makes it easy for novices to get started, which is why we picked it as one of the best brokers for beginner investors. (Investors who want to trade options or utilize margin trading must have a $2,000 balance.)

    Customer service: The company is frequently lauded for its customer support, which includes 24/7 phone support, as well as email, live chat, and over 100 local branches so investors can meet with a representative in person.

    Where TD Ameritrade falls short

    Stock commissions: The company’s trade commission of $9.99 is higher than deep-discount brokers such as OptionsHouse and TradeKing, and even surpasses the trade commissions at the likes of Fidelity and Charles Schwab, where trade commissions are $7.95 and $8.95, respectively. (To compare fees at all online brokerages, use NerdWallet’s Online Brokerage Tool.) As noted above, investors do get access to premium research, data, analysis and multiple trading platforms for free, so depending on how often you use those tools, the higher cost here can easily be worth it. For more, check out our TD Ameritrade fees deep-dive.

    Broker-assisted trades: If you need assistance from a broker, you’ll be charged $44.99 for the trade; comparable online brokers charge closer to $25 on average. Investors can avoid this by completing trades solo (and as mentioned above, TD Ameritrade’s trading platforms are extremely robust).

    ETF short-term trading fees: Investors must hold ETFs for a 30 day period; otherwise, TD Ameritrade will levy a short-term trading fee of $19.99. The presence of this fee is standard in the industry, but TD Ameritrade’s is on the high side of the spectrum compared to other online brokers. (Fidelity’s fee, for instance, is $7.95.)

    The bottom line

    TD Ameritrade’s major shortfall is its higher-than-average trading commissions, but it makes up for that with higher-than-average service, research and trading tools that will make everyone from beginner investors to active traders happy. The service and account features offered are above average for this price point and more than sufficient for most retail investors, and the barrier of entry for beginners is low with a $0 minimum deposit. Whether you’re looking to open an IRA after maxing out your 401(k) at work, or you’re interested in trading in a taxable account, TD Ameritrade should be on your list of online brokers to consider.

    Open a TD Ameritrade account

    To compare TD Ameritrade to other online brokers based on the specific criteria that matters most to you, use NerdWallet’s Online Brokerage Comparison Tool.

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    • Matt Elgazar

      TD Ameritrade has done so many RIDICULOUS unprofessional things that I’ve had it with them.

      Pros: Good platform


      1). BIGGEST CON: TD Ameritrade and TOS CONSTANTLY have technical issues where the platform, App, AND TD website are all down. Why is this so important?! Well when I’m monitoring positions that I need to get out of (or enter) i literally CAN’T get out of a trade. I am at work half the time so then it is impossible for me to call in the order… BY THE WAY IF I DO CALL IN THE ORDER THEN IT TAKES 30 MINUTES FOR SUPPORT TO ANSWER THE PHONE BECAUSE EVERYBODY IS TRYING TO GET OUT OF THEIR POSITIONS BY PHONE!!!!!! UNREAL!!!!!! There is not even a backup safety feature where we can get out of positions! For example I was long an ES contract that had a stop order entered by default as a stop day order. At the end of the day i tried to re-enter my stop but the app wouldn’t start, nor would the platform or website be available for login. Well guess what, i have to hold futures position in es that I don’t want to be in and have no stop order in the market because none of these services are available, and tech support takes 30 minutes to answer a call. I could have easily lost my entire account simply because of a TOS tech support issue, but luckily the market didn’t move much against me. In the end I lost about 2 more points than i wanted to. This happened to me countless times within the last year (2015).

      2). Platform and app are EXTREMELY SLOW. My mac is by no means slow, but when i launch the platform or the app on my galaxy note 4 phone, the data will be so delayed EVEN WHEN I CLICK LIVE DATA STREAM (no delay).

      3). Fees are extremely high. Much higher than other broker dealers. Hard to lower those fees unless you trade a ton of volume.