TD Ameritrade Review 2019

4.5 5 stars · Jun 2019
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TD Ameritrade logo

TD Ameritrade was founded in 1971 and it is one of the big US discount brokers. It is regulated by top tier regulators, like US SEC.

TD Ameritrade is considered safe because it has a long track record, is listed on stock exchange, has a banking background, discloses its financials, and is regulated by top-tier regulators.

Recommended for investors and traders looking for solid research and well-equipped desktop trading platform.

Pros
  • Solid research and education
  • Superb desktop trading platform
  • Great customer support
Cons
  • High trading fees
  • No credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfer
  • Only US markets covered

TD Ameritrade pros and cons

TD Ameritrade's research and education are high-quality and channel a lot of tools, including trading ideas, detailed fundamental data, and demo account. TD Ameritrade's desktop trading platform, the thinkorswim is easy to use and has a lot of features. The customer support team gives fast and relevant answers.

TD Ameritrade has high trading fees. It doesn't provide credit/debit cards and electronic wallets as for money transfer. The product portfolio covers only US markets.

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TD Ameritrade review
Fees 3 stars

TD Ameritrade has high trading and low non-trading fees. It charges no commission for some ETFs, bonds, and mutual funds.

Pros
  • No withdrawal fee
  • No inactivity fee
Cons
  • High trading fees
  • High financing rate
TD Ameritrade Fees snapshot
AssetsFee levelFee terms
US stock feeAverage$6.95 per trade, there are also ~300 free ETFs
EURUSD feeHighFX commission: $0.10 per 1,000 units and min $1; You can also choose to trade with no commission, but larger spreads
US tech fund feeHigh$49.99 per transaction, there are also ~4,000 free funds
Inactivity feeLowNo inactivity fee

We ranked TD Ameritrade's fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.

To get things rolling, let's go over some lingo relating to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees, financing rates, and non-trading fees.

We also compared TD Ameritrade's fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Interactive Brokers and Charles Schwab. This selection is based on factors like products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc.

Let's start with the trading fees.

Trading fees

TD Ameritrade trading fees are high. The fee structure is transparent and easy to understand.

Furthermore, when you open a new trading account, you get 500 commission-free trades for 60 days.

Stock fees and ETF fees

TD Ameritrade has generally low stock trading fees.

Stock fees of a $2,000 trade
  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
USA $7.0 $1.0 $5.0

 The fees for US stocks and ETFs are calculated as $6.95 per trade. TD Ameritrade offers ~300 free ETFs as well.

Forex fees

TD Ameritrade forex fees are generally high. You can choose from two forex fee structures:

  • Commission-based trading:  $0.1 per 1,000 traded units plus a small spread
  • Commission-free trading: zero commission, but larger spreads

In this review, we calculated with the commission-based pricing as this is the default fee structure.

Forex fees of a $20,000 30:1 position open, 1-week-hold, and close
  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
EURUSD benchmark fee $44.3 $23.0 -
EURGBP benchmark fee $46.5 $17.0 -

Fund fees

TD Ameritrade charges generally high fees for funds. 

Fees for a $2,000 fund purchase
  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
USA tech fund buy $50.0 $15.0 $24.8

The fees for mutual funds are $49.95 per trade. It is a big plus that TD Ameritrade offers ~4,000 free mutual funds. However, if you sell these free funds within 180 days after the purchase, a $49.95 fee is charged for the sale.

Bond fees

TD Ameritrade has generally low bond fees. The bond fees vary based on the bond type you buy. We calculated with the fees for Treasury bonds.

Fees of a $10,000 bond trade
  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
USA $0.0 $5.0 $0.0

There is no commission for Treasury bonds. For other bonds, like corporate bonds, the commission is $1 per bond with a minimum of $10 and a maximum of $500.

Options fees

TD Ameritrade options fees are generally high

Stock index options fees of 10 contracts
  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
USA $14.5 $7.0 $11.5

The options fees comprise a flat and a volume-based fee: $6.95 per trade plus $0.75 per contract.

Futures fees

TD Ameritrade futures fees are generally low.

Stock index futures fee of 10 contracts
  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
USA $22.5 $8.5 $15.0

The futures fees are volume-based: $2.25 per contract.

Financing rates

TD Ameritrade financing rates are generally high.

Financing rates are charged when you hold your leveraged positions for more than a day. It can be a significant proportion of your trading costs.

TD Ameritrade annual financing rates
  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Apple financing rate 10.8% 5.8% 9.8%
EURUSD financing rate 10.5% 4.9% -
EURGBP financing rate 10.5% 3.3% -

TD Ameritrade financing rate is volume-tiered. It applies a base rate plus a premium/discount depending on the financed amount. The base rate is set by its discretion, at the time of the TD Ameritrade review the base rate was 9.5%

TD Ameritrade - annual financing rates
Debit balance Rate% Base rate + / -
Above $999,999 8.00% -1.50%
$250,000 - $999,999 8.75% -0.75%
$100,000 - $249,999 9.00% -0.50%
$50,000 - $99,999 9.25% -0.25%
$25,000 - $49,999 10.25% +0.75%
$10,000 - $24,999 10.50% +1.00%
Under $10,000 10.75% +1.25%

Non-trading fees

TD Ameritrade has low non-trading fees. It charges no inactivity and account fees.

There is no withdrawal fee if you use ACH transfer. The withdrawals to other banks using wire transfer cost $25. Clients outside the US can only use this wire transfer. We tested ACH, so we had no withdrawal fee.

TD Ameritrade non-trading fees
  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Account fee No No No
Inactivity fee No Yes No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

TD Ameritrade review
Account opening 3 stars

Opening an account is easy, but not fully digital. For US-clients there is no minimum deposit.

Pros
  • User-friendly
  • Many account types
  • No minimum account balance for US clients
Cons
  • Not fully digital

Can you open an account?

TD Ameritrade is a US discount broker and target primarily US clients. However, there are some countries where TD Ameritrade is available: China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore. For Canadian clients the TD Direct Investing solutions are available within the TD Group, but not TD Ameritrade.

The offered services can vary in different countries. For example, clients from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore can't trade with mutual funds and forex, only stocks, ETFs, and options are provided.  

What is the minimum deposit at TD Ameritrade?

The required TD Ameritrade minimum deposit for US clients is different based on the trading preferences:

TD Ameritrade minimum deposit
Trading preferences Minimum deposit
Trading at basic accounts $0, but electronic funding has a $50 minimum
Margin trading* $2,000
Day trading** $25,000
Trading with TD Ameritrade portfolios $5,000 - $250,000

*You trade with money borrowed from the broker, also called trading on leverage

**You buy and sell an asset the same day

The minimum deposit for non-US clients can be higher. For example, the minimum deposit is $3,500 for Malaysian and Singaporian clients.

Account types

TD Ameritrade offers a lot of accounty types:

TD Ameritrade account types
Account type Short description
Individual The account is owned by a single individual
Joint accounts Two or more account owners

Business accounts

Account is owned by a legal entity
Retirement accounts (Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, etc.) Individual retirement accounts which are available only for US clients
Pension accounts For self-employed individuals and small businesses which are only available for US clients

College savings (529 Plan, etc.)

 

Accounts for college savings plans which are available only for US clients
Custodial or Guardianship accounts Special accounts which are available only for US clients
Trust The account owner entitled to transfer assets to one or more trustee which is available only for US clients

TD Ameritrade portfolios

Accounts for trading with portfolios managed by TD Ameritrade, these accounts are available only for US clients

In this review, we tested the Individual Brokerage Account.

How to open your account

The account opening is user-friendly, but not fully digital. After completing the online account opening form, you have to mail or fax the generated document and the photocopy of the relevant ID card to TD Ameritrade. It took 3 business days for us to open the account.

Steps at TD Ameritrade to open an account:

  1. Choose the account type, state your investment/trading preferences
  2. Add personal information, like Social Security Number, residency, and your employment status
  3. Review your information
  4. Acknowledge the terms and conditions
  5. Print and mail/fax the application

The online application took roughly 20 minutes and the account was verified within the next 3 business day.

TD Ameritrade review - Account opening

TD Ameritrade review
Deposit and withdrawal 2 stars

TD Ameritrade deposit and withdrawal can be improved. You can use only bank transfer, there is only USD as a base currency, and a high fee is charged for wire transfer withdrawals. As a plus, there is no deposit fee and transferring money is easy and user-friendly.

Pros
  • Free withdrawal
  • No deposit fee
  • User-friendly
Cons
  • Credit/Debit card deposit and withdrawal not available
  • Only one account base currency

Account base currencies

At TD Ameritrade, you can open your trading account only in USD.

In comparison with the competitors, you can see that Interactive Brokers has much more base currencies, while Charles Schwab offers only USD-based accounts.

Base currencies at TD Ameritrade vs similar brokers
  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Number of base currencies 1 21 1

Why does this matter? Two things. First, if you fund your account in the same currency as your bank account, you won't be charged a currency conversion fee. Second, if you trade assets in the same currency as your account base currency, you will not have to pay a conversion fee.

A convenient way to save on the currency conversion fees can be to open a multi-currency bank account. Revolut or Transferwise both offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. The account opening only takes a few minutes on your phone.

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Deposit fees and options

TD Ameritrade charges no deposit fees. US clients can use check, ACH, and wire transfers for deposit cash. Clients from Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore could use the wire transfer and the check as well. 

The credit/debit cards and electronic wallets are not provided. This is similar to competitors.

TD Ameritrade deposit options
  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Bank transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No No No

We tested ACH transfer and it took 1 business day. The minimum transfer amount is $50.

You can only deposit money from accounts which are in your name.

TD Ameritrade - Deposit and Withdrawal - Deposit

Withdrawal fees and options

TD Ameritrade charges no withdrawal fees if you use ACH withdrawal, but domestic and international wire transfers cost $25.

TD Ameritrade withdrawal fees and options
  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Bank Transfer Yes Yes Yes
Credit/Debit card No No No
Electronic wallets No No No
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

How long does it take to withdraw money from TD Ameritrade? We tested the ACH withdrawal and it took 2 days business days.

You can only withdraw money to accounts in your name.

How do you withdraw money from TD Ameritrade? You can withdraw money from TD Ameritrade by following these steps:

  • Log into the account
  • Go to the "My account"
  • Select the "Deposits and transfers \ Withdrawal" menu
  • Your TD Ameritrade account is pre-selected as "Transfer from"
  • Select the account you want to withdraw the money to as "To bank connection"
  • Add the amount you wish to withdraw and set the frequency and date of the withdrawal
  • Initiate the withdrawal

Compare to other brokers

TD Ameritrade review
Web trading platform 4 stars

TD Ameritrade offers a good web-based trading platform with a clean design. On the flip side, there is no two-step login and the platform is not customizable.

Pros
  • User-friendly
  • Clear fee report
  • Good search function
Cons
  • No two-step (safe) login
  • Limited customizability (for workspace)
TD Ameritrade Platforms to Choose From
Trading platformScoreAvailable
Web4 / 5 starsYes
Mobile4 / 5 starsYes
Desktop5 / 5 starsYes

TD Ameritrade's web trading platform is suitable for trading execution and research on investment products, like stocks and ETFs. However, if you are interested in sophisticated technical research and trading with complex products, like forex and futures, TD Ameritrade's desktop trading platform, the thinkorswim is suitable for you.

The following table summarizes the main features of the web trading platform and the thinkorswim desktop trading platform.

TD Ameritrade - web and desktop platform compare and contrast
  Web trading platform thinkorswim
Stocks, ETFs, options Yes Yes
Mutual funds Yes Quotes only
Fixed incomes Yes No
Futures, options on futures, forex No Yes
Charting Yes Yes more advanced
Research & third-party analysis Yes Yes, but limited
Demo account  No Yes
News feed Yes Yes

The web trading platform is available in English and Chinese as well.  

Look and feel

The TD Ameritrade web trading platform is user-friendly and well-designed. However, it is not customizable.

 

TD Ameritrade review - Web trading platform

Login and security

TD Ameritrade provides only a one-step login authentication. A two-step login would be more secure.

When you first log in on a new device, you have to give an answer to your security question. After the registration, you can access your account using your regular ID and password combo.

Search functions

The search functions are OK. You can search by typing both a company's name or asset's ticker.

However, the search results are not fully relevant. For example, when we searched for Apple stock, it appeared only in the third place.

TD Ameritrade review - Web trading platform - Search

Placing orders

You can use the following order types:

  • Market
  • Limit
  • Stop-Market
  • Stop-Limit
  • Trailing stop %
  • Trailing stop $

If you are not familiar with the basic order types, read this overview.

There are also a lot of order time limits you can use:

  • Good 'til canceled (GTC)
  • Good 'til canceled extended hours
  • Day
  • Day + extended hours
  • Immediate or Cancel (IOC)
  • Fill or Kill (FOK)
  • All or Nothing (AON)

TD Ameritrade review - Web trading platform - Order panel

Alerts and notifications

You can set a broad range of alerts and notifications. The alerts can be found on the Research & Ideas > Alerts section.

You can set up alerts on 2 email addresses and 2 phones to stay tuned. Alerts are provided by Markit on Demand.

Portfolio and fee reports

TD Ameritrade has a clear portfolio and fee reports. They can be found in the My Accounts > History & statements > Transactions section. 

You can download the reports, but only in CSV.

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TD Ameritrade review
Mobile trading platform 4 stars

The TD Ameritrade Mobile trading platform is great. It is user-friendly and well-designed. However, it lacks a two-step login.

Pros
  • User-friendly
  • Good search function
  • Price alerts
Cons
  • No two-step (safe) login

TD Ameritrade offers two mobile trading platforms accordingly the user proficiency and goals. The following table summarizes the main differences between the two TD Ameritrade's mobile platforms.

TD Ameritrade mobile trading platforms
  TD Ameritrade Mobile TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader
Stocks, ETFs, options Yes Yes
Futures, forex No Yes
Mutual funds Only quotes Only quotes
Conditional trading, virtual trading, chart drawing No Yes

In this review, we tested TD Ameritrade Mobile. 

It is available both on iOS and Android. We tested it on iOS. The mobile trading platform is available in English.

Similarly to the web trading platform, TD Ameritrade Mobile platform is user-friendly, has only a one-step login, provides an OK search function, and you can easily set alerts.

The order types and order time limits are limited compared to the web platform

  • Market
  • Limit
  • Stop-Market
  • Stop-Limit
  • Fill or Kill (FOK)
  • All or Nothing

TD Ameritrade review - Mobile trading platform

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TD Ameritrade review
Desktop trading platform 5 stars

The thinkorswim desktop platform is one of the best on the market, we liked it. Only the two-step authentication was missed.

Pros
  • Clear fee report
  • Good customizability (for charts, workspace)
  • Trading support functions
  • Great learning materials
Cons
  • No two-step (safe) login

thinkorswim desktop trading platform is great for deep research and trading with complex products, like options and futures.

The thinkorswim desktop trading platform is available in English and Chinese.

Look and feel

thinkorwsim has a great design and it is easy to use. It is also highly customizable, you can easily set your own layouts.

TD Ameritrade review - Desktop trading platform

Login and security

 Similarly to web and mobile trading platforms, TD Ameritrade thinkorswim provides only a one-step login. A two-step login would be more secure.

Search functions

The search functions are OK. You can search for an asset by typing its name or ticker.

However, the search results are not fully relevant. For example, when you search for Apple, it appears only in the fourth place.

TD Ameritrade review - Desktop trading platform - Search

Placing orders

You can use the following order types:

  • Market
  • Limit
  • Limit/Market on Close
  • Stop-Market
  • Stop-Limit
  • Trailing stop %
  • Trailing stop $

There are also a lot of order time limits you can use:

  • Good 'til canceled (GTC)
  • Good 'til canceled extended hours
  • Day
  • Day + extended hours
  • Extended hours am/pm
  • Fill or Kill (FOK)
  • All or Nothing (AON)

TD Ameritrade review - Desktop trading platform - Order panel

Alerts and notifications

You can set alerts and notifications on the thinkorswim desktop trading platform by using the MarketWatch function.

From pricing alerts to news alerts, you can find a lot of alert types. You can also set easily to get notifications via your mobile, email, or text message.

Portfolio and fee reports

TD Ameritrade has clear portfolio and fee reports. They can be found under the Account information.

You can easily customize the tab and add commission reports, profit/loss balance, margin level, etc.

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TD Ameritrade review
Markets and products 3 stars

At TD Ameritrade, you can trade with a lot of asset classes, from stocks to futures and forex. However, the offered products cover only the US market.

  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Stock Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes Yes No
Fund Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes
CFD No Yes No
Crypto No Yes No

TD Ameritrade has a broad fund offer. The options and futures are average. At stock, ETF and bond, TD Ameritrade lag behind.

The offered products can vary in different countries. For example, clients from Singapore can only trade with stock, ETF, options, and futures.

Stock and ETF

TD Ameritrade covers only the US market. It is almost the same as Charles Schwab but lags behind Interactive Brokers.

  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Stock markets (#) 5 74 4
ETFs (#) 2,300 20,000 2,300

You can trade with stocks on these stock exchanges: NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, OTCBB, other OTCs.

Forex

The forex offer contains the major pairs and some of the exotics are also available.

  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Currency pairs (#) 77 105 -

Fund

The mutual fund offer is superb. It even beats Interactive Brokers and Charles Schwab.

  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Fund providers (#) 740 200 600

You will find funds from the biggest fund providers like BlackRock or Vanguard and from smaller ones too.

Bond

TD Ameritrade has a smaller bond offer compared to Interactive Brokers and Charles Schwab.

  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Bonds (#) 40,000 110,000 60,000

TD Ameritrade's bond offer covers both government and corporate bonds.

Options

At options offer, TD Ameritrade is average. It lags behind Interactive Brokers which covers exchanges all over the world.

  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Options markets (#) 8 45 8

The following exchanges are available: CBOE, AMEX, PHLX, ISE, BOX, NASDAQ, NYSE BATS, and C2.

Futures

Similarly to options, the futures offer is average as well. It is much fewer than Interactive Brokers which gives access to many smaller exchanges.

  TD Ameritrade Interactive Brokers Charles Schwab
Futures markets (#) 5 36 8

You can trade with futures on these exchanges: CFE, CME, ICE, ICE EU, LIFFE.

Social signals

TD Ameritrade supports social trading via thinkorswim. Under the “Tools” menu you can set up a public profile, and with the help of this, you can follow fellow traders and share your own results.

This is a good opportunity for searching for new ideas or if you like one, easy to follow: just a few clicks and you can confirm your copied deal. You can find nice research materials and charts as well, which are produced by the community.

If you are interested in social trading, you shall pay a visit to eToro as well.

TD Ameritrade Managed Portfolios

TD Ameritrade offers three managed portfolios which are great if you need help to manage your investments.

  • Essential Portfolios
  • Selective Portfolios
  • Personalized Portfolios

The Essential Portfolios is a robo-advisory service. First, you have to answer questions about your investment goal, risk tolerance, and time horizon. Based on your answers, you can choose between the five ETF portfolios. The robo-advisor will automatically rebalance the portfolio when needed. The minimum to start a TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolio is a $5,000.

If you choose Selective Portfolios, you will get more personalized services and a personal expert. The minimum to start this premium account is $25,000 plus additional fees.

From $250,000 TD Ameritrade offers professionally managed portfolio. Additional advisory fees are applied.

TD Ameritrade review - Managed Portfolios

TD Ameritrade review
Research 5 stars

TD Ameritrade has great research tools. You can use many tools, including trading ideas and detailed fundamental data.

Pros
  • Good interactive chart
  • Analyst recommendations for stocks, bonds, etc.
  • Data on asset fundamentals
Cons
None

Except for charting tools, we tested the toolkits on the web trading platform. We tested the charting tool on thinkorswim desktop as it seemed better than other platforms' charting tools.

Similarly to the trading platforms, the research tools are available in English and Chinese.

Trading ideas

TD Ameritrade provides trading ideas for stocks and ETFs, mutual funds, and fixed incomes. 

The ideas come from third-party providers, such as analyst outlooks from TD Group, CFRA, Thomas Reuters, etc. The overviews and ideas are separated by timing or equities.

The stocks are assessed by several third-party analysis. For example, we found 8 third-party analysis at Apple, usually giving recommendations as well.  

ETF's rating is supported by CFRA, and TheStreet, however, plenty of market reports are also available. You can also find Morningstar ratings for mutual funds.

TD Ameritrade review - Research - Recommendations

Fundamental data

TD Ameritrade offers fundamental data, mainly on stocks. You will find financial data such as financial statements for 5 years, and basic performance and rating metrics under the Fundamentals menu. The Earnings, Valuation, and Peer Comparison menus are compressing a huge amount of information, we liked the benchmarking under the Valuation menu.

TD Ameritrade review - Research - Fundamental data

Charting

TD Ameritrade has good charting tools. You can easily edit the charts. There are ~400 technical indicators which is one of the most extensive offers.

TD Ameritrade review - Research - Charting

News feed

The news is OK. It is easily readable but lacks visual elements, like charts or pictures. It is provided by third-parties, like Benzinga, CNBC, MarketWatch, etc.

Other research tools you will enjoy

You can use well-equipped screeners. You can find the screeners under Research & Ideas > Screeners. From the basic company information to technical indicators, you can use a wide range of filters.

TD Ameritrade review - Research - Screeners

 

Compare research pros and cons

TD Ameritrade review
Customer service 5 stars

TD Ameritrade has great customer service. They are available 24/7 and give relevant answers.

Pros
  • Phone support
  • Live chat
  • Fast response time
Cons
None

You can contact TD Ameritrade via:

  • live chat
  • telephone, fax
  • email

There is a Chinese and Spanish customer support line as well. 

The live chat is great. We got fast and relevant answers.

TD Ameritrade has great phone support. The customer support team was very kind and gave relevant answers. The response time was OK as an agent was connected within a few minutes.

The email was also quick and relevant, we got our answers within 1 day.

It is also a big plus that TD Ameritrade support team is available 24/7.

TD Ameritrade review - Customer service

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TD Ameritrade review
Education 5 stars

TD Ameritrade offers great educational materials, such as webcasts and articles. The top league thinkorswim platform has a demo account with a virtual balance for head-starting without any risk.

Pros
  • Trading platform tutorial videos
  • Educational videos
  • paperMoney trading simulation/demo account
Cons
None

At TD Ameritrade you can learn in the following ways:

  • Demo account
  • Platform tutorial videos
  • General educational videos
  • Webinars
  • Quality educational articles

We really liked the paperMoney demo account/trading simulation and the webcast videos. The paperMoney account is powered by thinkorswim offering the full range of professional trading and charting tools while testing your skills cost even not a penny. The account gives access to the complex markets (options, futures, etc) with a dedicated amount of virtual money (in the case of stocks & ETFs it is virtual $100,000).

Worth to mention that the thinkorswim platform has a separate learning center, where useful articles and education materials (besides the platform's FAQ) can be found. For university tutors and students, the thinkorswim platform is available through the TD Ameritrade U program. 

The webinars (called webcast) are focusing on various subjects and different levels (from beginners to advanced) and scheduled basically all day long (10-11 times/business day, except Friday). If you missed real-time, it's available later as well.

TD Ameritrade review - Education

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TD Ameritrade review
Safety

TD Ameritrade is regulated by top-tier US regulators, like the SEC and the FINRA. You are also protected by a high investor protection amount, $500,000 which includes $250,000 for cash. On the negative side, negative balance protection is not provided.

Pros
  • Regulated by top tier financial authority
  • High level of investor protection
  • Banking background
  • Additional insurance coverage
Cons
  • No negative balance protection
  • No investor protection in case of futures, forex

Is TD Ameritrade regulated? Yes, it is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and regulators globally, like Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission.

TD Ameritrade is based in the USA and was founded in 1971. Is TD Ameritrade safe? To be certain, it is best to check two things: how you are protected if something goes wrong and what the background of the broker is.

How you are protected

This is important for you because the investor protection amount and the regulator differ from entity to entity.

TD Ameritrade operates several legal entities, but all customers are covered by the US investor protection scheme, called SIPC. This is because the US legal entity, TD Ameritrade Clearing, Inc. provides clearing and custodial services, holds the assets on behalf of other legal entities.

The SIPC investor protection scheme protects against the loss of cash and securities in case the broker goes bust. The limit of SIPC protection is $500,000, which includes a $250,000 limit for cash. This amount is substantially higher than the amount most investor protection schemes provide. Plus, the TD Ameritrade has an additional insurance policy, which results in a total coverage up to $152 million ($2 million cash limit) per client and $500 million aggregated limit.

If you would like to trade with futures or options on futures, you won't be covered by any investor protection scheme.

For summarizing the different regulators, legal entities, investor protection amounts, we compiled this handy table:

TD Ameritrade legal entities
Country of clients Protection amount Regulator Legal entity

US

SIPC: $500,000 ($250,000 cash limit) plus additional insurance

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

TD Ameritrade, Inc.
Hong Kong SIPC: $500,000 ($250,000 cash limit) plus additional insurance Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission TD Ameritrade Hong Kong Ltd.
Malaysia, Singapore SIPC: $500,000 ($250,000 cash limit) plus additional insurance Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) TD Ameritrade Singapore Pte. Ltd.
Futures & Forex No protection Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) TD Ameritrade Futures & Forex LLC.

TD Ameritrade does not provide negative balance protection.

Background

TD Ameritrade was established in 1971. The longer the track record of a broker, the more proof we have that it has successfully survived previous financial crises.

A good chunk of TD Ameritrade's common stocks is owned by the Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), therefore TD Ameritrade has a banking background, and as such, it is subject to tougher regulation than brokers.

TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation is listed on the NASDAQ, which is a big plus for safety as TD Ameritrade releases financial statements regularly and transparently.

Having a banking background, being listed on a stock exchange, and regulated by top-tier regulators are all great signs for TD Ameritrade's safety.

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TD Ameritrade review
Bottom line

TD Ameritrade is one of the biggest discount US brokers regulated by top-tier regulators.

Research and education are outstanding and covers a lot of tools. The thinkorswim desktop trading platform is one of the best on the marketThe customer service is great, you will get relevant answers within a short time.

It has some drawbacks though. It charges high fees. It doesn't provide credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfers. The product portfolio covers only US markets. 

As the research tools are great, the account opening is seamless, and no inactivity fee is charged, feel free to try it.

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TD Ameritrade logo

TD Ameritrade was founded in 1971 and it is one of the big US discount brokers. It is regulated by top tier regulators, like US SEC.

TD Ameritrade is considered safe because it has a long track record, is listed on stock exchange, has a banking background, discloses its financials, and is regulated by top-tier regulators.

Recommended for investors and traders looking for solid research and well-equipped desktop trading platform.

Compare to other brokers

Overall 5 stars

Pros
  • Solid research and education
  • Superb desktop trading platform
  • Great customer support
Cons
  • High trading fees
  • No credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfer
  • Only US markets covered

Fees 3 stars

Pros
  • No withdrawal fee
  • No inactivity fee
Cons
  • High trading fees
  • High financing rate

Account opening 3 stars

Pros
  • User-friendly
  • Many account types
  • No minimum account balance for US clients
Cons
  • Not fully digital

Deposit and withdrawal 2 stars

Pros
  • Free withdrawal
  • No deposit fee
  • User-friendly
Cons
  • Credit/Debit card deposit and withdrawal not available
  • Only one account base currency

Web trading platform 4 stars

Pros
  • User-friendly
  • Clear fee report
  • Good search function
Cons
  • No two-step (safe) login
  • Limited customizability (for workspace)

Mobile trading platform 4 stars

Pros
  • User-friendly
  • Good search function
  • Price alerts
Cons
  • No two-step (safe) login

Desktop trading platform 5 stars

Pros
  • Clear fee report
  • Good customizability (for charts, workspace)
  • Trading support functions
  • Great learning materials
Cons
  • No two-step (safe) login

Markets and products 3 stars

The available asset classes to trade:

  • Stock
  • ETF
  • Forex
  • Fund
  • Bond
  • Options
  • Futures

Research 5 stars

Pros
  • Good interactive chart
  • Analyst recommendations for stocks, bonds, etc.
  • Data on asset fundamentals
Cons
None

Customer service 5 stars

Pros
  • Phone support
  • Live chat
  • Fast response time
Cons
None

Education 5 stars

Pros
  • Trading platform tutorial videos
  • Educational videos
  • paperMoney trading simulation/demo account
Cons
None

Safety

Pros
  • Regulated by top tier financial authority
  • High level of investor protection
  • Banking background
  • Additional insurance coverage
Cons
  • No negative balance protection
  • No investor protection in case of futures, forex

AUTHOR OF THIS REVIEW

Gergely Korpos
Gergely Korpos
Co-founder, CPO
Gergely's aim is to bring more clarity into personal investing. He has 10 years of experience in financial markets with GE Money, KPMG and MOL. He concluded thousands of trades as a commodity trader and financial portfolio manager

METHODOLOGY

Everything you find on Brokerchooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

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