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TD Ameritrade Logo
4.8
Best desktop trading platform

Summary

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

TD Ameritrade was founded in 1978 and it is one of the biggest US-based stockbrokers. It is regulated by top-tier regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

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

Best desktop trading platform

We selected TD Ameritrade as Best desktop trading platform for 2020, based on an in-depth analysis of 57 online brokers that included testing their live accounts.

Overall Rating
4.8
Fees
4.0
Account opening
3.0
Deposit and withdrawal
2.0
Trading platform
4.0
Markets and products
4.0
Research
5.0
Customer service
5.0
Education
5.0

TD Ameritrade pros and cons

TD Ameritrade's trading fees are low and it has one of the best desktop trading platforms, Thinkorswim. The customer support team gives fast and relevant answers.

With a TD Ameritrade account you can trade only in the US markets. The account opening is slow and not fully online. TD doesn't provide credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfers.

Pros Cons
Low trading fees (free stock and ETF trading) You can trade only in the US markets
Superb desktop trading platform Slow and not fully digital account opening
Great customer support No credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfer
TD Ameritrade main features and highlights
🗺️ Country of regulation USA
💰 Trading fees class Low
💰 Inactivity fee charged No
💰 Withdrawal fee amount $0
💰 Minimum deposit $0
🕖 Time to open an account 1-3 days
🎮 Demo account provided Yes
🛍️ Products offered Stock, ETF, Forex, Fund, Bond, Options, Futures
Gergely Korpos

Gergely Korpos

Co-founder, CPO

Author of this review

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

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

TD Ameritrade review
Fees

4.0
TD Ameritrade provides free stock and ETF trading. The forex, bond, and options fees are low as well. On the other hand, they charge high fees for mutual funds.
Pros Cons
Low trading fees High fund fees
Low non-trading fees
Free stocks and ETFs
TD Ameritrade fees snapshot
Assets Fee level Fee terms
US stock Low Free stock and ETF trading
EURUSD Low The fees are built into spread, 1.0 pips is the average spread cost.
Mutual fund High $49.99 per transaction, there are also ~4,000 free funds
Inactivity fee Low No inactivity fee

How we ranked fees

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 related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees, and non-trading fees.

In the sections below, you will find the most relevant fees of TD Ameritrade for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing, commissions are the most important fees.

We also compared TD Ameritrade's fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Charles Schwab and E-Trade. This selection is based on objective factors such as products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc. See a more detailed rundown of TD Ameritrade alternatives.

To have a clear overview of TD Ameritrade, let's start with the trading fees.

TD Ameritrade trading fees

TD Ameritrade trading fees are low. In 2019, many US brokers, including TD Ameritrade, removed the commission of stocks and ETFs.

Stock fees and ETF fees

TD Ameritrade provides free stocks and ETFs.

TD Ameritrade stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade
  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
US stock $0.0 $0.0 $0.0

If you prefer stock trading on margin or short sale, you should check TD Ameritrade financing rates.

But what is the financing rate? A financing rate, or margin rate, is charged when you trade on margin or short a stock. This basically means that you borrow money or stocks from your broker to trade. For this borrowed money/stock you have to pay interest. This is the financing rate. It can be a significant proportion of your trading costs.

TD Ameritrade has high margin rates.

TD Ameritrade annual financing rates for stocks, futures and options
  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
USD margin rate 10.3% 9.3% 10.8%

TD Ameritrade's financing rates are volume-tiered. It applies a base rate plus a premium/discount depending on the borrowed amount. The base rate is set by TD Ameritrade and it can change in time. At the time of our review, the base rate was 9.0%

TD Ameritrade - annual financing rates
Debit balance Rate% Base rate + / -
$250,000 - $999,999 8.25% -0.75%
$100,000 - $249,999 8.50% -0.50%
$50,000 - $99,999 8.75% -0.25%
$25,000 - $49,999 9.75% +0.75%
$10,000 - $24,999 10.00% +1.00%
Under $10,000 10.25% +1.25%

The financing rates above are also applied for options and futures trading, not just stocks.

Forex fees

TD Ameritrade's forex fees are low. Charles Schwab and E-Trade doesn't offer forex trading.

To have a clear picture on forex fees we calculated a forex benchmark fee for major currency pairs. This catch-all benchmark includes commissions, spreads and financing costs for all brokers.

Forex benchmark fee of a $20,000 30:1 long position held for one week
  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade Interactive Brokers
EURUSD benchmark fee $13.0 - - $17.9
GBPUSD benchmark fee $9.3 - - $13.6
AUDUSD benchmark fee $13.3 - - $12.0
EURCHF benchmark fee $5.3 - - $7.1
EURGBP benchmark fee $9.7 - - $13.0

Fund fees

TD Ameritrade charges generally high fees for funds. 

TD Ameritrade commission for a $2,000 fund purchase
  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
Mutual fund $50.0 $24.8 $20.0

The fees for mutual funds are $49.99 per trade. It is a big plus that TD Ameritrade offers ~4,000 mutual funds free to trade. However, if you sell these free funds within 180 days after the purchase, a $49.99 fee is charged for the sale.

Bond fees

Bond trading is free at TD Ameritrade. The bond fees vary based on the bond type you buy. We calculated the fees for Treasury bonds.

TD Ameritrade commission of a $10,000 government bond trade
  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
US Treasury bond $0.0 $0.0 $0.0

There is no commission for the US Treasury bonds. In the case of corporate bonds, TD Ameritrade will charge $1 per bond on secondary transactions (subject to a $10 minimum and a maximum of $500).

Options fees

TD Ameritrade options fees are low.

TD Ameritrade stock index options commission of 10 contracts
  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
US stock index options $6.5 $6.5 $6.5

The options fees are based on the number of traded options contracts.

Futures fees

TD Ameritrade futures fees are average and are calculated on a volume base, $2.25 per contract.

TD Ameritrade stock index futures commission of 10 contracts
  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
US stock index futures $22.5 $15.0 $15.0

Non-trading fees

TD Ameritrade has low non-trading fees. For instance, there is no inactivity fee.

There is no withdrawal fee either 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 Charles Schwab E-Trade
Account fee No No No
Inactivity fee No No No
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

TD Ameritrade review
Account opening

3.0
As a new client, you can change from many different account types at TD Ameritrade and as US citizen you will face no minimum deposit. Unfortunately, the process is not fully digital.
Pros Cons
No minimum deposit Not fully digital
Many account types

Can you open an account?

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TD Ameritrade targets U.S. clients. On the other hand, we discovered 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.

Watch out! The offered services may 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 is $0 for U.S. clients if you choose the basic cash account. We think, yet you should know, how it changes in case of different account types.

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

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

Account types

TD Ameritrade offers several account 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

The 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, e.g. 529 Plan 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

TD Ameritrade has straightforward, but not fully digital account opening process. When you complete the online account opening form, you have to mail or fax the generated document and the copy of the relevant ID card to TD Ameritrade. It took us 3 business days for us to open the account.

In the following steps, we walk you through the account opening at TD Ameritrade:

  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 days.

TD Ameritrade review - Account opening

TD Ameritrade review
Deposit and withdrawal

2.0
TD Ameritrade has user-friendly account funding and charges no deposit fees, but are several drawbacks as well. You can use only bank transfer and a high fee is charged for wire transfer withdrawals.
Pros Cons
No deposit fee Credit/Debit card not available
User-friendly High withdrawal fee for wire transfers

Deposit fees and options

Let's start with the good news. TD Ameritrade charges no deposit fees. In terms of deposit options, the selection varies. U.S. clients can use checks, ACH, and wire transfers, while clients from Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore can use only wire transfer and checks to deposit. 

Unfortunately, credit/debit cards and electronic wallets are missing. 

TD Ameritrade deposit options
  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
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. The wire transfer can take several business days.

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

TD Ameritrade review - Deposit and withdrawal - Deposit

TD Ameritrade withdrawal fees and options

TD Ameritrade charges no withdrawal fees in most of the cases. The only exception we find is the bank/ wire transfer, which costs $25.

TD Ameritrade withdrawal fees and options
  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
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 business days.

You can only withdraw money to accounts in your name.

Follow us through the next steps to see how to withdraw money from TD Ameritrade:

  • 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

4.0
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 Cons
User-friendly No two-step (safer) login
Clear fee report Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
Good variety of order types
TD Ameritrade platforms to choose from
Trading platform Score Available
Web 4 / 5 stars Yes
Mobile 4 / 5 stars Yes
Desktop 5 / 5 stars Yes

Let's point out our key findings on the platform selection first. TD Ameritrade offers both web and desktop trading platforms. The first, web is suitable for trading execution and research on investment products, like stocks and ETFs. You are interested in trading with complex products? No worries, then Thinkorswim is just right for you. Thinkorswim is the inhouse developed desktop platform of TD Ameritrade. This offers more products as forex and futures and has sophisticated technical research tools.

The web trading platform is available in English, Chinese.

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
Newsfeed Yes Yes

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. We were happy to see that automatic suggestion works on the platform. You can search by typing both a company's name or asset's ticker.

On the flip side, the relevancy could be further improved. For instance, 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 order time limits you can use:

  • Good 'til canceled (GTC),
  • Good 'til canceled extended hours,
  • Day,
  • Day + extended hours,
  • Extended hours am/pm,
  • 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. If you want to set them, go to 'Research & Ideas' and select 'Alerts' section.

You can set up alerts on 2 email addresses and 2 phones to stay tuned. 

Portfolio and fee reports

TD Ameritrade has clear portfolio and fee reports. Go to 'My Accounts', select 'History & statements' and finally select the 'Transactions' section. 

You can download the reports, but only in CSV format.

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TD Ameritrade review
Mobile trading platform

4.0
The TD Ameritrade Mobile trading platform is great. It is user-friendly and well-designed. However, it lacks the two-step login.
Pros Cons
User-friendly No two-step (safer) login
Good search function
Price alerts

It is great that TD Ameritrade offers two mobile trading platforms. Based on the level of your proficiency and goals, you can select which one you want to use. To show you a clear picture, we summarized the main differences between the two.

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. 

The app is available both for iOS and Android, but our test was done on iOS. The mobile trading platform is available in English.

Look and feel

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.

TD Ameritrade review - Mobile trading platform

 

TD Ameritrade review - Mobile trading platform - Search

Placing orders

The order types and order time limits are limited compared to the web platform. You can use the following order types:

  • Market,
  • Limit,
  • Stop-Market,
  • Stop-limit,

There are also order time limits you can use:

  • Fill or Kill (FOK),
  • All or Nothing (AON)

TD Ameritrade review - Mobile trading platform - Order panel

 

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TD Ameritrade review
Desktop trading platform

5.0
The Thinkorswim desktop platform is one of the best on the market, we really liked it. The only feature we missed was the two-step authentication.
Pros Cons
User-friendly No two-step (safer) login
Clear fee report
Good customizability (for charts, workspace)
Trading support functions
Great learning materials

Thinkorswim 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

Security, similarly to web and mobile trading platforms, provides only a one-step login. A two-step login would be safer.

Search functions

The search functions are OK. You can search for an asset by typing its name or ticker as Thinkorswim has an automatic suggestion feature. We were not 100% delighted with the relevancy. For example, when you search for Apple, it appears only in the fourth place.

TD Ameritrade review - Desktop trading platform - Search

TD Ameritrade review - Desktop trading platform - Search

Placing orders

You can use several order types:

  • Market,
  • Market on close,
  • Limit, Limit on Close,
  • Stop-Market,
  • Stop-limit,
  • Trailing stop %,
  • Trailing stop $

There are also 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 price 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. Go to  'Account information', if you want to check them. 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

4.0
At TD Ameritrade you can trade with a lot of asset classes, from stocks to futures and forex. We also liked the additional features like social trading and the robo-advisory service. On the other hand, the offered products cover only the U.S. market.

The availability of products may vary in different countries. For example, clients from Singapore can only trade with stock, ETF, options, and futures. US clients can trade with all the products listed below.

  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
Stock Yes Yes Yes
ETF Yes Yes Yes
Forex Yes No No
Fund Yes Yes Yes
Bond Yes Yes Yes
Options Yes Yes Yes
Futures Yes Yes Yes
CFD No No No
Crypto No No No

In the following lines, we share a clear overview of TD Ameritrade's product offering in comparison with its competitors. 

Stocks and ETFs

During our TD Ameritrade review, we discovered that it covers products only from the U.S. market.  It offers roughly the same number of stock exchanges and ETFs as Charles Schwab or E-Trade.

  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
Stock markets (#) 5 4 5
ETFs (#) 2,300 2,300 2,300

You can trade on the following stock exchanges: NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, OTCBB, other OTCs.

Forex

  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
Currency pairs (#) 77 - -

Funds

The selection of funds is great, it beats Charles Schwab and E-Trade.

  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
Fund providers (#) 740 600 530

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

Bonds

TD Ameritrade has a smaller bond selection compared to Charles Schwab and E-Trade.

  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
Bonds (#) 40,000 60,000 88,000

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

Options

At options offer, TD Ameritrade is average if you compare with brokers, like Interactive Brokers that gives access to options markets all over the world.

In comparison with its closest competitors, like Charles Schwab or E-Trade, the available number of options markets is great.

  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
Options markets (#) 8 8 1

We found the following exchanges available: CBOE, AMEX, PHLX, ISE, BOX, NASDAQ, NYSE BATS, and C2.

Futures

Similarly to options, the futures offer is average as well.

  TD Ameritrade Charles Schwab E-Trade
Futures markets (#) 5 8 3

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.

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 from five ETF portfolios. These portfolios will be automatically rebalanced when needed. $5,000 is the minimum to start a TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolio.

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.

From $250,000 TD Ameritrade offers a professionally managed Personalized Portfolio.

TD Ameritrade review - Managed Portfolios

TD Ameritrade review
Research

5.0
TD Ameritrade has great research tools. You can use many tools, including trading ideas and detailed fundamental data.
Pros Cons
Good interactive chart None
Trading ideas
Data on asset fundamentals

Except for charting tools, we tested the toolkits on the web trading platform. We tested the charting tool on Thinkorswim desktop platform 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

Are you a beginner or in the phase of testing your trading strategy? We have good news for you.TD Ameritrade provides trading and investment ideas for stocks and ETFs, mutual funds, and fixed incomes. 

To have a clear view, worth to note 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. Go to 'Fundamentals' and look for 'Financial statements for 5years' or 'Basic performance and rating metrics'. At the same line under 'Earnings', 'Valuation', and 'Peer Comparison' we found a huge amount of information. Yet, our favorite part was the benchmarking under the Valuation menu.

TD Ameritrade review - Research - Fundamental data

Charting

TD Ameritrade has good charting tools.  You can use 400 technical indicators and the charts are easily editable. By the way, the number of indicators TD Ameritrade offers is one of the most extensive on the market.

TD Ameritrade review - Research - Charting

Newsfeed

The newsfeed is OK. It was easy to read for us, but we missed 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. If you want to try them, go to 'Research & Ideas' and select '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

5.0
TD Ameritrade has great customer service. They are available 24/7 and give relevant answers.
Pros Cons
Phone support None
Live chat
Fast response time

In our test, we tried all three channels of customer support:

  • live chat
  • telephone
  • email

The customer support line is available in English, Chinese and Spanish languages.

The live chat is great. The answers are fast and relevant.

The phone support is also good. 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

5.0
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 Cons
Demo account None
Trading platform tutorial
Educational videos

Beyond the demo account, TD Ameritrade offers many other ways to improve your knowledge:

  • 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 we found useful articles and education materials (besides the platform's FAQ). 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). Don' worry if you cannot catch any real-time occasion. 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 for securities and $250,000 for cash. On the negative side, negative balance protection is not provided.
Pros Cons
Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority No negative balance protection
High level of investor protection
Banking background

Is TD Ameritrade regulated?

Yes, it is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

TD Ameritrade is based in USA and was founded in 1978.

Is TD Ameritrade safe?

To be certain, we highly advise to check two facts:

  • how you are protected if something goes wrong
  • and what the background of the broker is.

TD Ameritrade operates several legal entities, but all customers are covered by the U.S. 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 national 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.

Not all investments are protected by SIPC. In general, SIPC covers notes, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other investment company shares, and other registered securities. It does not cover instruments such as unregistered investment contracts, unregistered limited partnerships, fixed annuity contracts, currency, and interests in gold, silver, or other commodity futures contracts or commodity options.

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

TD Ameritrade legal entities
Country of clients/Product 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 1978. The longer track record a broker has, 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 is listed on the stock exchange, NASDAQ, which is a big plus for safety as TD Ameritrade releases financial statements regularly and transparently.

Having a banking license, being listed on a stock exchange, providing financial statements, and regulated by a top-tier regulator are all great signs for TD Ameritrade's safety.

Find your safe broker

TD Ameritrade review
Bottom line

TD Ameritrade is one of the biggest US online brokers. Reflecting the wave of introducing commission-free trading at the end of 2019, TD Ameritrade now charges no commission of stock and ETF trades.

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 financing (margin) rates and it doesn't provide credit/debit cards and electronic wallets for money transfers. Furthermore, the product portfolio covers products only from U.S. markets. 

As there are great education tools including a demo account, feel free to try it.

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