Investment selection: TD Ameritrade offers a full selection of investment products, including futures and forex. The company’s list of over 100 commission-free 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. 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.
TD Ameritrade also offers a mutual fund Premier List, also compiled by Morningstar and updated quarterly. The list provides independent recommendations in over 45 different fund categories, with approximately three top funds chosen in each. All funds on the Premier List are no-transaction fee.
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 platforms: 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 via its Mobile Trader app, which virtually mirrors its trading platforms with live-streaming news, full options order capabilities and customization.
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.