TD Ameritrade Review

TD Ameritrade is one of the best online brokers for stock trading, long-term investing, and retirement planning. It now offers $0 commissions and minimums along with a bunch of free tools.

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Stock Brokerage

AT A GLANCE

  • Free, powerful trading platforms
  • Interactive courses and webcasts
  • Commission-free online trading
  • Dependable, professional support
Overall Rating
4.5/5

Best stock brokerage for long-term investors

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Pros & Cons

Pros

  • $0 trading fees or commissions
  • $0 minimum deposit
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Extensive trading tools

Cons

  • $25 fee for broker-assisted trades
  • Can't invest directly in crypto

What’s the best investment platform?  If you asked 50 people, you’d get 50 different answers. But it ultimately depends on the type of investing you want to do and what you’re looking for in a platform. 

Do you want one that offers oodles of alternative investments like real estate and commodities?  Or do you prefer to play it safe with stocks, bonds, and low-cost index funds?

How much money do you have to get started?  We may not be able to definitively tell you THE best investment platform on the market.

But we have a contender worth looking into. Who is it you ask?  Well, it’s none other than TD Ameritrade — a name you’ve probably heard of a time or two. 

Read on as we explore the nitty-gritty of this giant online broker

TD Ameritade icon

Quick Summary

Account Minimum: $0

Fees: $0 per trade

Promotion: Up to $600 (cash credit with a qualifying deposit)

About TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade is an online investment platform that’s been in business for over 40+ years.  And while it used to charge steep commissions back in the day, it ditched all that in October 2019 when it adopted a $0 commission model. 

The platform is built around making you a smart, confident investor — and it has the tools and research to back it up. It offers state-of-the-art research and data, award-winning investing tools, and a huge selection of securities.

The best part?  You get access to all these perks for free - because the TD Ameritrade network doesn’t charge trading fees and it has a $0 investment minimum. 

TD Ameritrade was voted #1 Overall Broker by StockBroker.com in 2019 and Kiplinger in 2018.  It was acquired by Charles Schwab in November 2019.

While it’s currently still operating as usual, only time will tell how the platform may change with this new merger.

How Does It Work?

To begin with, it's worth noting how many different applications and portals TD Ameritrade customers can access.  TD Ameritrade Mobile lets you access your accounts on the go - and there are intuitive web portals accessible from virtually any device.

The desktop trading platform is especially powerful and will satisfy even the most info hungry professional investor. TD Ameritrade offers two investing platforms: one for average investors and one for active traders.

It also has a virtual stock market simulator for those who aren’t quite ready to invest with real dollars.  Let’s take a look at each to see which may be a good fit for you.

TD Ameritrade

The first investing platform is the regular TD Ameritrade web platform.  It’s ideal for traditional investors who want to leverage tools and products that help them manage their portfolio with ease.

With this platform, you can buy and sell these securities:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Fixed-income assets (CDs, annuities, cash management accounts)
  • Options

There’s also a mobile app you can download if you want to manage your account and make trades on the go.

thinkorswim

The second platform is thinkorswim. It’s ideal for serious traders who want access to one of the most advanced platforms on the market. 

Thinkorswim helps you strategize the most efficient way to execute trades by giving you access to resources like technical analyses, heat maps, options statistics, company profiles, and more.  

With this platform, you can trade: 

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
  • Complex options (3 or 4 legs)
  • Futures
  • Forex

There’s also a thinkorswim mobile app you can use to execute trades at any time.

paperMoney

When you open your brokerage account, you get exclusive access to paperMoney — TD Ameritrade’s virtual stock market simulator.

Each paperMoney account is loaded with $100,000 of virtual money, so you can test different trading strategies without risking a single penny. 

Try your hand at executing trades based on technical chart indicators and studies.  Or, buy a few shares of that fintech stock you’ve been eyeing and see what happens. The sky’s the limit! 

If you fail and lose everything, guess what?  It was all fun and games. You can hit the reset button and start over knowing you didn’t waste any of your hard-earned dollars.

Thinkorswim is especially helpful if you:

  • Want to start trading but don’t have enough money saved
  • Are a new trader and you aren’t sure what to do
  • Are an experienced trader but want to test new strategies

When you’re ready to hang up your virtual hat and invest for real, TD Ameritrade and thinkorswim will be waiting for you.

What Securities Can You Buy Through TD Ameritrade?

TD Ameritrade offers every security imaginable (or so it seems). Below is a detailed list of all the security you’ll find with this broker: 

  • Stocks 

  • Bonds

  • ETF trades

  • Mutual funds

  • Futures trading

  • Options

  • Forex

  • Managed portfolios

  • Fixed-income assets (CDs, annuities, cash management accounts)

  • Cryptocurrencies

  • Margin trading

Note: Not all securities are available on both trading platforms. For example, you can buy fixed-income assets on TD Ameritrade but not on thinkorswim. You can’t buy forex on TD Ameritrade, but it’s available through thinkorswim.

Pricing & Fees

One of the great things about TD Ameritrade is that you can open an account with as little as $0 and you won’t pay any trading fees when you buy and sell stocks, ETFs and options. (That means more money in your pocket to fund all those investing goals you have.)

But there are still a few fees to be aware of:

Security

Price

US exchange-listed stocks, ETFs, and options

$0 per trade

Over-the-counter stocks, ETFs, and options (not listed on the US exchange)

$6.95 per trade

Broker-assisted trades

$25 per trade

Options contracts

$0.65 per contract

Futures contracts

$2.25 per contract

Account Types

TD Ameritrade has an investment account for every need — whether it’s retirement, education, regular investing or anything in between. 

Here’s a brief overview of the 6 different types of accounts you can open:

TD Ameritrade Investment Accounts
  • Individual brokerage accounts. This flexible account gives you access to all the objective research and investment securities your heart desires. You can open this account individually or jointly. 
  • Retirement accounts. Saving for those golden years? Open a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or Individual 401(k). Or, take it a step further and open a money purchase pension plan or profit-sharing plan for your small business. 
  • Education accounts. Give your kids and grandkids a brighter future by opening a flexible 529 College Savings Plan, Coverdell Education Savings, or a UGMA/UTMA account. 
  • Specialty accounts. TD Ameritrade has nearly 10 specialty accounts to choose from including trusts, pensions, business partnerships, and more. 
  • Managed portfolios. Short on time? Let TD Ameritrade manage a portfolio for you that’s 100% built around your financial goals. Each portfolio is built by Morningstar and has a competitive 0.30% management fee.  But you’ll need to have $500, $25,000 or $250,000 to get started (depending on which portfolio you choose). 
  • Margin trading account. Want to increase your buying power?

Borrow funds from TD Ameritrade through a margin trading account. But you must have at least $2,000 in cash or marginable securities to qualify.

Who Is TD Ameritrade Best For?

While TD Ameritrade’s $0 commission and $0 investment minimum make it a great fit for most investors, it’s especially appealing if you fall into one of these four categories:

  • Beginner investors. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an online broker that has more educational tools than TD Ameritrade. Watch videos, read reports, attend in-person workshops and learn the ropes in paperMoney until you’re comfortable enough to strike out on your own.
  • Active traders. If you’re a serious stock, ETF, options, crypto, futures or forex trader, hop on over to the thinkorswim platform where you can dive into advanced trading tools, customizable screeners, robust research, real-time quotes, market heat maps, and news. 
  • Hands-off investors. Looking for a robo-advisor? TD Ameritrade has that. Start by answering a short questionnaire about your risk tolerance, time horizon, and investment goals. Then, TD Ameritrade will recommend a pre-built portfolio aimed to help you reach your long-term financial goals.  
  • Fundamental investors. TD Ameritrade has an extensive list of third-party research you can use to analyze market performance and plot your next move. Dive into research from Market Edge, Morningstar, Thomson Reuters, CRFA, and Social Signals.

What Do Customers Say About TD Ameritrade?

It's fair to say that the platform has a mixed reception with reviewers.  The good? Many customers love that TD Ameritrade now offers fee-free trades on stocks, options, and ETFs.

Others enjoy the research tools available on the site. Even novice investors can use these tools to build their confidence and make smart decisions with their money.

TD Ameritrade Reviews

This screenshot shows recent TD Ameritrade reviews from Trustpilot.

The bad? Most customers complain about TD Ameritrade’s customer service.  Even though the company advertises 24/7 customer service, reviews state it takes forever to get a hold of representatives during non-business hours.

Others complain about unhelpful responses when you live chat a representative.  

Unique Features

What makes TD Ameritrade shine? Let’s dive into 6 ways it stands out from the pack. 

Promotions

Currently, TD Ameritrade has a promotion where you can get up to $600 when you open a new individual, joint or IRA account by April 30, 2020, and fund it within 60 days.

Here’s a breakdown of the offer:

  • Get a $100 bonus when you deposit $25,000 or more.
  • Get a $300 bonus when you deposit $100,000 or more.
  • Get a $600 bonus when you deposit $250,000 or more.

Multiple Platforms

TD Ameritrade has two major trading platforms, a virtual stock market simulator, and a robo advising service. Between all of these options, there’s bound to be a platform that meets your investing needs.

Plus, each platform has its own corresponding mobile app, so you can manage your portfolio and execute trades on the go.

Educational Tools

TD Ameritrade’s extensive list of educational tools are a breath of fresh air.  Seriously, it has every type of resource you could think of — blog posts, videos, reports, quizzes, stock market simulators, in-person events, webinars, and the list goes on.

When you set up your account, TD Ameritrade will ask about your current skill level (i.e. beginner, intermediate, experienced). Then, it will recommend research and resources based on your experience. 

Here are the top two most noteworthy tools every new investor should use: 

paperMoney

If you’re not ready to invest with real money on trading platforms just yet, you can use TD Ameritrade’s virtual simulator, paperMoney.

This simulator allows you to “invest” up to $100,000 in the stock market without risking your own money. Plus, you get access to a virtual margin account.

When you’re ready to ditch the fake dollars for real ones, you can move on to either TD Ameritrade or thinkorswim depending on what type of investing you want to do. 

In-Person Events

If you just so happen to live near a branch, take advantage of in-person events when you can.  Attend workshops on topics like implementing technical analysis, options strategies 101, and investing fundamentals.

Or, attend branch seminars on topics like swing trading, tax-efficient investing strategies, and harnessing the power of thinkorswim. 

You can find in-person events in your area by going to TD Ameritrade’s website, clicking on the Find a Branch link at the bottom of the home screen.

24/7 Customer Service

TD Ameritrade offers round the clock customer support. Plus, there are several ways to get in touch with someone: 

  • Call 800-454-9272 (for new accounts)
  • Call 800-669-3900 (for existing accounts)
  • Start a live chat in your account portal (for existing accounts)
  • Send a Facebook message to @TDAmeritrade
  • Tweet @TDAmeritrade

In-Person Support

If 24/7 customer support wasn’t good enough, TD Ameritrade has nearly 300 physical branch locations. That’s right! In the world of online banks and digital robo-advisors, this brokerage has real live people you can talk to!

If you visit a branch location, you can get a free investment consultation with a financial representative.  During this meeting, they’ll review your financial goals and help you choose the products and services that enable you to reach your investing goals.

Overall Product Selection

TD Ameritrade offers over 30+ unique accounts for individuals, minors, businesses, education, and more. So, if you’re looking to start a college savings plan for your child, open a taxable investment account for yourself, and start a profit-sharing plan for your small business, you can do it all with this one company. 

How Do I Get Started With TD Ameritrade?

Think you may want to open your free investment account with TD Ameritrade?

Follow these steps to get started:  

Step 1:

Go to the official TD Ameritrade website and click Open new account. 

Step 2:

Select the type of account you wish to open, review the details, and click Open this account.

Step 3:

Enter your personal information including your name, address, Social Security number, and employer’s information, and click Continue.

Step 4:

Follow the prompts to enter your financial information, review your documents and agreements, and fund your account.

Should I Open a TD Ameritrade Account?

Whether or not you should open an account with TD Ameritrade ultimately boils down to one question: what are you looking for in an investment platform.

If you’re looking for a platform that lets you:

  • Get started with just a few dollars.
  • Learn how to invest with fake money before you put your real dollars on the line.
  • Won’t charge you an arm and a leg to trade stocks, options, and ETFs.
  • Then TD Ameritrade may be for you. 

We’ve yet to see an investment platform that offers extensive features like $0 commissions, a robust educational suite (that includes a virtual simulator and in-person seminars), and a staff of highly trained professionals ready to help every step of the way. 

But that’s what you get with TD Ameritrade.  If you’re thinking about investing — whether it be passively or actively — TD Ameritrade is a solid place to start.

It has nearly every investment imaginable, including no-transaction-fee mutual funds, options, and forex.  Many investors choose TD Ameritrade because it has a solid reputation and a breadth of trading options.

And with its new integration with Charles Schwab, we only expect it to get better with time. 

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade is one of the best online brokers for stock trading, long-term investing, and retirement planning. It now offers $0 commissions and minimums along with a bunch of free tools.

TD Ameritade icon
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4.5 stars
  • 80%

  • TD Ameritrade
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: April 12, 2022


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