TD Ameritrade is very popular among basically all types of investors, and it’s easy to see why. They offer something for just about everyone: first-timers, veteran traders and everyone in-between. You can buy/sell stocks, prepare for retirement, learn investment strategies and more.
A lot of people turn to TD Ameritrade for their investing needs. But should you be one of them? I took an in-depth look at TD Ameritrade.
The best way to approach TD Ameritrade is to have a clear understanding of what investment services you’re interested in. There’s a lot of options on TD Ameritrade. Knowing your goals is the best way to not feel overwhelmed.
They have a full selection of investment products. This includes over 100 commission-free ETFs, 4,000 mutual funds, futures, forex and more. Investors will find plenty of curation tools and guidance to help build a portfolio.
There are three ways you can trade on TD Ameritrade:
Looking to keep trading simply? The web platform is the best starting point for new investors.
First, you’ll select a skill level from “rookie” to “scholar.” This tailors the resources and automated help you’ll receive. You’ll learn how to balance your portfolio with the right stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and ETFs. You have the option of using either pre-built or customized asset allocation models.
This is the best option for active and options investors. Trade Architect’s trading tools include news, quotes and even market heat maps. Features include custom charts, screeners, probability analysis, profit/loss graphs and other tools.
ThinkorSwim is for the serious, experienced investor. Advanced trading features included backtesting, customizable screeners, analysis tools, in-depth studies and even a mock paper trading account.
What’s Great About TD Ameritrade?
No Account Minimum
IRAs and taxable brokerage accounts have a $0 account minimum. There’s a $2,000 minimum account balance if you want to trade options or on margin, although that minimum is an industry regulation. TD Ameritrade does a good job of avoiding inactivity fees and other “nickel and diming” fees you’ll find at deep discount brokers.
Mutual funds are selected mainly by Morningstar, an independent investment research firm. Their quarterly Premier List includes 45 mutual funds picked exclusively for TD Ameritrade clients. These top picks have no transaction fees.
Here’s a look at Morningstar’s Portfolio Analysis:
All TD Ameritrade customers have access to a vast library of investing data. Keep up-to-date with the markets via streaming from CNBC, market heat maps and real-time quotes. There’s also market analysis from S&P Capital IQ, Market Edge and Credit Suisse.
Their myTrade services connect you to a community of other investors. You can discuss ideas, ask for advice and otherwise get input from investors of every level.
What’s Needs Improvement?
TD Ameritrade has some of the highest commission rates among the big trading sites. They recently lowered their rates to $6.95, but that’s still higher than most other large brokers.
TD Ameritrade offers broker-assisted trades. These average between $25 and $35, which is quite a bit more than the competition. If you opt to use their interactive voice response system you can save about $10 off the price.
My Account Page
There’s a lot of data here but navigation can be confusing. Specifically, there’s a lot of real-time stock data here. While that’s important, I don’t need to see it when I’m simply trying to change account settings.
ETF Short-Term Fees
Commission-free ETFs must be held for at least 30 days. Otherwise, Ameritrade will charge you a $19.99 short-term trading fee. While this fee is common elsewhere, it’s usually significantly less than $19.99. If short-term trading is your main focus, this fee can really add up.
Is TD Ameritrade the Right Choice for You?
This platform is great for new investors. There are tons of teaching tools including a variety of personalized instructions depending on your experience level. T
The Web Platform actually tailors instructions based on what you need to know. For more experienced invested, the Trade Architect platform provides tons of resources as well as an explanation of how to use them. Finally, ThinkorSwim offers some high-end tools for investing pros (although pros might not like the relatively high fees).
TD Ameritrade is also a great choice if you’re looking to accomplish a specific investing goal. Want to set up a retirement or college fund? Ameritrade can easily help you do that.
If you’re an experienced investor who trades in specific market segments only, then you’re probably better off choosing a specialty broker. But for everyone else, there’s a lot to like about TD Ameritrade.
Also, if you’re primarily interested in short-term trades, you might want to skip TD Ameritrade. Their short-term commission fees are pretty high. You can probably find a better deal elsewhere.
TD Ameritrade is very accessible. They offer a bit of everything. You can trade stocks, mutual funds and even riskier products such as forex. While their fees are a bit on the high side, their prices are also clearly stated. You don’t have to worry about hidden fees – which is more than I can say when investing in many smaller agencies!
Overall, I recommend TD Ameritrade if you’re interested in accomplishing a specific goal such as setting up a retirement account. They’re also a great choice if you’re interested in learning about trading in general. Their teaching materials are top-tier.
Beyond all the advertising and marketing, there’s a solid financial platform here. If you’re new to trading, you can use TD Ameritrade to explore new types of trades at your own pace. While the advanced trader might not need all these resources, they’re a great choice for everyone else.
TD Ameritrade is a gigantic financial platform with a great resource center for new traders. Traders of any level can grow their portfolio investing in stocks, mutual funds, and other common products. While there’s not a lot of specialization, this is a great general purpose investing company for anyone interested in steady, long-term growth.