Vanguard vs. TD Ameritrade: 2022 Comparison

There's a lot to like about both Vanguard and TD Ameritrade. Vanguard shines for its fund selection, and TD Ameritrade has top-notch educational resources. NerdWallet compares the two brokers.
Mar 15, 2022

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Vanguard and TD Ameritrade are both powerhouse brokers. Vanguard is known for its vast selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and is a solid choice for retirement investors. However, its trading platform is no-frills, and while it does offer educational tools and research, the selection of third-party research providers is narrower than at some competitors.

TD Ameritrade shines in the educational department, plus offers free access to a wide selection of third-party research and a robust trading platform. Both brokers also offer commission-free trades of stocks and exchange-traded funds. Read more about these brokers below to decide which one might be right for you.

Vanguard
NerdWallet rating 

on Vanguard's website

Vanguard is best for:

  • Long-term or retirement investors.

  • Those who prefer low-cost investments.

  • Index fund and ETF investors.

Vanguard at a glance

Account minimum

$0; however, fund minimums start at $1,000.

Stock trading costs

$0.

Options trades

$0 + $1 per contract. Account balances with $1 million+ get 25 trades for free each year; accounts of $5 million+ get 100 free trades per year.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

No closing, inactivity or transfer fees. $20 annual account service fee for all brokerage accounts and IRAs. Waived for clients who sign up for statement e-delivery.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

More than 3,300 from outside providers; none of Vanguard's 129 open funds charges transaction fees.

Tradable securities

• Stocks. • Bonds. • Mutual funds. • ETFs. • Options. • CDs.

Crypto availability

Vanguard does not offer access to cryptocurrencies, but some crypto-based products are available.

Trading platform

Basic trading platform.

Mobile app

Trade mutual funds, ETFs and stocks; monitor account activity and analyze performance; follow market news and research investments.

Research and data

Average quality but free.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)

Phone support Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Eastern; email support.

TD Ameritrade
NerdWallet rating 

on TD Ameritrade's website

TD Ameritrade is best for:

  • Beginner investors.

  • Advanced traders.

  • Investor education/advice.

  • Fund investors.

TD Ameritrade at a glance

Account minimum

$0

Stock trading costs

$0

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

No annual or inactivity fee. $75 full transfer; $0 partial transfer.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

More than 3,700.

Tradable securities

• Stocks. • Bonds. • Mutual funds. • ETFs. • Futures. • Forex. • Foreign ADRs. • IPOs for qualified accounts.

Crypto availability

No direct access to cryptocurrencies, but crypto coin trusts are available over-the-counter, and qualified clients can trade Bitcoin futures from CME.

Trading platform

Two platforms: TD Ameritrade web and thinkorswim (desktop).

Mobile app

TD Ameritrade mobile app, TDA thinkorswim app.

Research and data

Research, analysis, commentary and news available from 15 providers, including Argus, CFRA, Reuters, Vickers and Morningstar.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website).

Phone, email and live chat support 24/7; technical phone support Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern. In-person at 250+ local branches. Support also available via text, Facebook Messenger, Twitter direct message, Apple Business Chat and Amazon Alexa.

Want to compare more brokerages? Here's our full list of the best brokers for stock trading.

Methodology

How do we review brokers?

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers by assets under management, along with emerging industry players. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.

We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The questionnaire answers, combined with demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

For more details about the categories considered when rating brokers and our process, read our full methodology.

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