07 Dec

TD Ameritrade Review – Holds Up To The Competition

td ameritrade review

You might have heard mumblings of how your coworker lost or gained a fortune from trading stocks, but have you ever considered that you might be able to dip your toe into trading as well? Brokers like TD Ameritrade make it easy for you to start trading and learning more about the stock market using a comprehensive set of tools.

What Is TD Ameritrade?

TD Ameritrade is an Omaha based brokerage firm. The TD in TD Ameritrade stands for Toronto-Dominion Bank, which is the firm's largest shareholder. TD Ameritrade specializes in providing services for individuals and institutions that invest online.

Target Investors

The world of investing can be daunting for anyone that’s not well versed in how everything works. Fortunately, that’s where TD Ameritrade comes in. It’s a perfect fit for long term investors and active traders. The firm offers constant professional guidance through phone, email, online, and in person communication methods.

Additionally, you TD Ameritrade customers are given access to multiple tools, research insights, and educational videos and courses that can help with filling in any gaps in your investment knowledge.  

Account Minimum

TD Ameritrade does not require a minimum amount of money to open a new account with them. However, they do need a $2,000 deposit so that you can qualify for margin and options privileges, even if you're taking advantage of a promotional offer.

Commission Fees & Other Costs

TD Ameritrade has very reasonable commission fees so that you can trade through their firm. The commission fees are as follows:

  • For Internet trades: $6.95 and an additional $0.75 fee per contract.
  • Options exercised and assignments: $19.99
  • Interactive Voice Response Phone System: $34.99 and an additional $0.75
    fee per contract.
  • Broker-assisted trades: $44.99 and an additional $0.75 per contract.
  • A fee of $49.99 for no-load mutual funds.

There are other costs included in TD Ameritrade’s services including:

  • A $25 fee for bonds.
  • Futures trading carries a $2.25 fee per contract.
  • Certificate Withdrawal Delivery fee of $500.
  • An outbound full account transfer fee of $75.
  • A $25 fee for domestic and international wire transfers.

Trading Platforms and Usability

TD Ameritrade offers many different trading platforms for their customers to use.

Web Platforms

TD Ameritrade recommends this platform for investors of all skill levels. You can pull trading insights from Twitter using social signals, as well as track social sentiments. Additionally, in the customizable dock for TD Ameritrade’s web platform, you can learn valuable stock information that’s generated by Yahoo! Finance. Investors are also given access educational resources, planning tools, and third-party research.

Trade Architect

TD Ameritrade offers this trading platform for active traders who might like to utilize customizable, interactive charts made by as well as identify stock trends with options screeners and independent research.

The Trade Architect platform has an added perk of being able to stream live news from CNBC so that you can stay in the loop.

thinkorswim

This professional level trading platform is designed for serious traders. It comes equipped with technology that can monitor your potential risk/reward ratio, elite tools that perform analyses and test strategies and onboarding tools. The onboarding tools will be a great buy for any serious trader that wants to get started quickly, the thick Manual and Swim Lessons tools.

Mobile Trading

TD Ameritrade is putting maximum usability first, as there are plenty of mobile tools that a novice or expert trader can utilize. From one of TD Ameritrade’s optimized apps, traders can manage their current investments and seize new trading opportunities. TD Ameritrade has the added advantage of having the number one trading app in the app store.

General Tools

TD Ameritrade is equipped with additional tools to allow their traders, regardless of their skill level, to get the most out of their investment with the brokerage firm.

Heatmaps

TD Ameritrade has been careful to consider the wants of all types of investors. There are some investors that are attracted to the prospect of investing in semiconductors. Semiconductors are small but powerful building blocks that are used in the creation of automobiles, smartphones, computers, and industrial equipment.

In the thinkorswim platform, TD Ameritrade gives traders the option to use a heat map that will reflect a graphic of semiconductor companies. The size of the square used on the heat map will inform the trader of the company’s market cap, and the color will reflect the company’s price movement.

Integrated Watch Lists

If you use the web platform on TD Ameritrade's website, you can create a personal watch list. TD Ameritrade's advanced technology will be able to let you view real-time updates and stats about the trade option's that have piqued your interest. There's a bonus in the watch list feature; you can view earnings estimates, news, charts, and fundamental research on stocks that you've added to the list.

Live-Streaming CNBC

Want to be kept up to date on current stock trends? TD Ameritrade allows you to live stream CNBC through the thinkorswim platform. If you're a seasoned trader, you'll want to consider learning more about the platform. Traders with the thinkorswim tool will be able to keep up with breaking news regarding business news, stock market trends, and investment information.

myTrade Community

The myTrade Community tool is a valuable asset for traders that are new to investing. When a trader utilizes the myTrade Community tool, they’re able to get insight generation from professionals in the investment community, as well as share ideas with other traders that use TD Ameritrade for their investments.

Idea Generation

TD Ameritrade wants to help you find your next lead. The brokerage firm will provide tools that and valuable research that can help you narrow down what you might like your next investment opportunity to be.

Education & Research Tools  

TD Ameritrade is equipped with several education and research tools that will help traders of all skill levels with their investments.

Education

TD Ameritrade has an Education Center so that their customers will always be equipped with knowledge that can help them succeed in trading and investing.

The Education Center houses a few subcategories that will help traders select a learning curriculum that caters to their current interests and current investment knowledge. The learning curriculums are split into three categories like Rookie, Scholar, or Guru Essentials. However, you can always search TD Ameritrade’s videos and create your own curriculum to aid you in your trading.

TD Ameritrade allows you to take some of their educational videos for a test drive, head over to their website if you're interested in viewing their videos on investing basics, retirement planning, saving for college, a glossary of trading terms, and account types.

Third-Party Research

TD Ameritrade gives their traders the option to use third-party research to assist them throughout the trading process. TD Ameritrade believes that if their traders are armed with as much information as possible, that they will be more successful in the long run. You can obtain vital trading information from some of their third-party research tools like CFRA Columns, CFRA Portfolios, Market Edge, and reports from Research Team Company Reports.

Market Edge

Stay in the loop with Market Edge. You'll receive weekly and easy to read reports that detail analysis' of the stock market. The program also offers you thorough market commentary that can assist you with evaluating your trade strategies for the current and future market.

ETF Market Center

ETFs are exchange-traded funds. Exchange trade funds are baskets of securities that trade like the stocks that you would see on an exchange. In the ETF Market Center, you can narrow down your search for investments by industry, (healthcare, industrials, real estate, technology, utilities, energy, financial services, and more) invest in global and emerging markets, and identify ETFs with a specific stock.

Social Signals

Social signals is a trading tool that TD Ameritrade offers that will save you any time that you may have spent investigating product trends on social media. Social signals gather insights from Twitter to help you find new investment opportunities. The social signals tools then gather all of these in once place.

Stocks Overview

The stocks overview tool helps you locate stocks that might pique your interest. You can use this tool to see which stocks are high and low, what's moving, and it allows you to see what's trending on social media and keep up with stock related news.

Stocks Charts

Using customizable charts, you can set the parameters on the tool to help you find trends that and opportunities that suit your investment strategy.

Screeners

TD Ameritrade offers screeners that are filters to help you invest in or follow a trade. You can search for mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, and options using filters like lifecycle, lowest expense ratio, highest alpha, strong buys, and more.

Premier List

You can identify the best mutual funds using the Premier List tool. The Premier List tool is an unbiased, third-party tool that allows you to search for no transaction fee funds that cover over 45 different categories. This list is redone on a quarterly basis and is created by trade experts at Morningstar Investment Management LLC.

CD Center

TD Ameritrade's CD center offers you some tools that can help you research the right CD for you, and view TD Ameritrade's brokered CDs, which offer many choices at very competitive rates.

Bond Wizard

The Bond Wizard can help you find bonds and CDs that can assist you in meeting your long term investment goals. The Bond Wizard works by asking you a few questions and generating a list of potential investment options based on your answer.

Market Java

You’ll be able to sit down with a cup of coffee and the most recent market updates with the daily morning-report. TD Ameritrade has made it so that you’ll be able to keep up with significant changes in the stock market, market conditions, and how the stock market has done internationally while you were sleeping.

Account Types

To best suit your needs and long term goals for investing, TD Ameritrade wants to help you find the right account type for your investments.

Standards

You can have a standard account that gives you access to objective research, comprehensive investment products, and trading platforms. You can have a joint standard account or an individual one, and TD Ameritrade gives you the option to upgrade for forex trading, futures, and options.

Retirements

Traders that are hoping to have a sizable retirement account have the options of choosing from a Rollover IRA, Traditional IRA, or Roth IRA. There are several tax advantages to this kind of account, and TD Ameritrade promises to work with you to find the right method to aid you in your retirement planning.

Specialty

If your financial needs are a bit broader, TD Ameritrade recommends a specialty account to help you address your plans for your financial future. Specialty accounts include pension plans, business partnerships, and individual trusts.

Managed Portfolios

TD Ameritrade offers a set of professionally managed portfolios that can help you save time and pursue your long term financial goals regardless of whether or not they change over the years.

Margin Trading

Traders can borrow money from TD Ameritrade with this account so that they can increase their securities' buying power up to 50%. If you're hoping to elevate your trading status, this is one way to get there.

Quality Of Their Customer Service

TD Ameritrade is making a strong effort to stress that they take your business and your investments very seriously. They’ve made it a point to be available to answer any questions that you may have whenever you need. You can call or email TD Ameritrade on a 24-hour basis, or you can visit a branch.

You can find a branch location near you by searching for one in your zip code on the TD Ameritrade website.

Shortcomings Of TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade offers a lot of perks to their customers, but they do fall short compared to the competition in some areas. For example, their flat fee of $6.99 per trade is more expensive compared to other online brokerages. Additionally, the $44.99 and the $49.99 fees on no-load mutual fund trades when you're assisted by one of their brokers are still more expensive than average.

Lastly, the full range of apps and tools can be overwhelming for new customers. Since TD Ameritrade tries to appeal to traders of all skill levels, the apps and extra research tool could leave customers confused as to where they fit in.

Is It The Right Choice?

Are you a seasoned investor? Or are you just hoping to get started with building your investments? If you're an experienced investor, TD Ameritrade is going to be a better fit for you because you'll have a better idea of how to properly utilize the additional research tools, analytical tools, and exclusive features.

New investors might have trouble navigating everything that comes with TD Ameritrade’s programs, as well paying for TD Ameritrade’s trade fees since they have yet to make any money from their investments.