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Fidelity Investments vs. TD Ameritrade

April 11, 2018
Brokers, Investing
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Both TD Ameritrade and Fidelity fare well in our reviews, but Fidelity earns an edge for one big reason: notably lower trade commissions of $4.95 to TD Ameritrade’s $6.95.

Still, cost isn’t the sole factor in deciding which broker to choose — most investors should also consider account minimums, trading platforms, investment selection and educational support. Below, we’ll take you through a head-to-head comparison to help you decide whether TD Ameritrade or Fidelity is the best choice for you.

Comparison: Fidelity Investments vs. TD Ameritrade

Trade Fee

$6.95

$6.95

Account Minimum

$0

$0

Promotion

60

60

days of commission-free trades with qualifying deposit

Trade Fee

$4.95

$4.95

Account Minimum

$0

$0

Promotion

300

300

commission-free trades with a qualifying deposit

» Want to compare more brokers? View our picks for the best brokers for stock trading

Commissions and fees

There’s not much to debate here: Fidelity wins handily, by charging a close-to-rock-bottom $4.95 compared with TD Ameritrade’s $6.95. Investors who trade frequently or prioritize costs above all else will likely want to look no further than this line item.

If they do dig further into fees, however, they’ll find that in addition to lower trade commissions, Fidelity also beats TD Ameritrade for options trade costs, account fees — though both charge very few — and broker-assisted trades ($32.95 to TD Ameritrade’s $44.99).

Winner: Fidelity

Investment selection

Truthfully, it’s close to a toss-up unless you’re a futures trader, in which case you’ll want to skip Fidelity, which doesn’t offer futures capabilities.

Aside from that, both brokers cover all the bases, though you could say TD Ameritrade covers them a bit better: The broker trumps Fidelity’s selection of commission-free ETFs and no-transaction-fee mutual funds, and has more mutual fund offerings overall.

Winner: TD Ameritrade

Research, tools and trading platforms

Both TD Ameritrade and Fidelity get five stars from us across the board here: for mobile app, trading platforms and research and data. They stack up pretty similarly, though each has an advantage.

For TD Ameritrade, that advantage is largely in its trading platforms, which are best-in-class: In addition to the web platform — which comes complete with “Ask Ted,” a chatbot to guide beginners — the broker offers Trade Architect and the renowned thinkorswim. Both will appeal to active traders, but thinkorswim steps it up with a strong line up of technical analysis tools and studies, customizable screeners, backtesting and paper trading capabilities. All three TD Ameritrade platforms are available to all customers, with no trade or balance minimums.

Fidelity’s platforms are also strong — in addition to the web functionality, the broker has a customizable desktop offering called Active Trader Pro. Active Trader Pro is available to investors who place at least 36 trades per rolling 12-month period. Others can contact Fidelity’s Active Trader Services to request access.

Where Fidelity really shines is in its breadth of available research, bringing together roughly 20 providers, including Recognia, Ned Davis, Thomson Reuters and McLean Capital Management. Investors can view an accuracy-weighted snapshot of research provider ratings in each stock quote’s Equity Summary Score.

Fidelity also brings impressive tools for retirement and casual investors, including retirement calculators, a Roth vs. traditional IRA evaluator, a budget checkup and an interactive estate planner.

Winner: TD Ameritrade gets the win for platforms and tools, but Fidelity excels for research.

Which is right for you: TD Ameritrade or Fidelity?

For those who trade regularly, the answer to this question is Fidelity. After all, when it comes to investing, costs are king — and Fidelity’s low $4.95 commissions combined with its quality trading platforms and best-in-class research offerings mean you get more than you pay for.

The exception: Investors after the very best trading technology may be willing to swallow TD Ameritrade’s higher $6.95 trade commission because it grants them access to thinkorswim, one of the most advanced trading platforms available from a discount broker.

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