TD Ameritrade Review
TD Ameritrade delivers the ultimate package for investors, including $0 trades, fantastic trading platforms, excellent market research, industry-leading education for beginners, and reliable customer service. This outstanding all-round experience makes TD Ameritrade our top overall broker in 2020.
Top Takeaways for 2020
After spending five months testing 15 of the best online brokers for our 10th Annual Review, here are our top findings on TD Ameritrade:
- Once again, TD Ameritrade bested its competitors in our rigorous testing and came out on top as our #1 Overall broker. Alongside placing first Overall, TD Ameritrade finished first in four other categories: Platforms and Tools, Customer Service, Education, and Beginners.
- TD Ameritrade's desktop trading platform, thinkorswim, is our top recommendation for traders in 2020. The mobile app companion to thinkorswim, Mobile Trader, also won our award for the No. 1 Trader App. Needless to say, TD Ameritrade delivers for all trader types, including day traders, options traders, and futures traders.
- Thanks to technology and artificial intelligence (AI), customers can access TD Ameritrade's quote and basic account functionality everywhere, from Alexa to Facebook, Twitter, Apple Messages, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. TD Ameritrade also runs its own media network, where it broadcasts market commentary, interviews, and educational segments every trading day. Oh, and yes, stock and ETF trades are $0.
- Get up to $375 and trade commission-free with TD Ameritrade. Open Account
|Commissions & Fees|
|Offering of Investments|
|Platforms & Tools|
|Ease of Use|
Commissions & Fees
Thanks to a pricing war in late 2019, on October 3rd, 2019, TD Ameritrade slashed its $6.95 stock trades (including ETFs) rate down to $0, with options trades now costing just $0.65 per contract.
However, despite $0 stock and ETF trades, there is still a $6.95 flat-rate fee for trading penny stocks.
TD Ameritrade pricing summary:
|Stock Trade Fee (per trade)||$0.00|
|ETF Trade Fee||$0.00|
|Options Base Fee||$0.00|
|Options Per Contract Fee||$0.65|
|Mutual Fund Trade Fee||$49.99|
|Broker Assisted Trades Fee||$44.99|
Platforms & Tools
Once again, for the ninth consecutive year, TD Ameritrade is number one for trading platforms and tools, thanks to desktop-based thinkorswim. Whether day trading, options trading, futures trading, or you are just a casual investor, thinkorswim is a winner.
Charting: As far as charting goes, thinkorswim is so advanced it is rivaled only by TradeStation. A few clicks of the mouse will have dozens of charts streaming real-time data. Even the pickiest trader will be satisfied with the 400+ technical studies available for each chart (the highest in the industry). Better yet, each study can be customized using thinkscript, thinkorswim's proprietary coding language.
Trading tools: TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim is home to an impressive array of tools. Highlights include virtual trading with fake money, performing advanced earnings analysis, plotting economic (FRED) data, charting social sentiment, backtesting, and even replaying historical markets tick-by-tick. TD Ameritrade also enables traders to create and conduct real-time stock scans, share charts and workspace layouts, and perform advanced options analysis. The rabbit hole goes as far as any trader's imagination will take them. It's a dazzling offering of choices that will set your mind spinning – in a good way.
Earnings Analysis: The thinkorswim Earnings Analysis tool is my favorite for planning ahead for earnings releases and assessing each company's results afterwards. The tool plots price action and volatility before and after previous releases. It also pulls data from Wall Street analysts and crowd-sourced ratings from Estimize to plot EPS estimate ranges alongside actual results. The whole experience brings clarity with much less noise. It's awesome.
No web platform: TD Ameritrade used to offer a browser-based trading platform, Trade Architect. Trade Architect was beneficial for casual investors because onboarding required less of a learning curve than thinkorswim. It was shut down in 2018 because it was flash-based and unsupported by modern browsers. As of early 2020, a new platform has not been launched yet to take its place.
Thanks to the TD Ameritrade Network and a unique line-up of tools, TD Ameritrade provides investors a substantial research offering.
TV network: The TD Ameritrade Network, TD Ameritrade's live streaming financial network, broadcasts live every day from 8:00 ET to 5:00 ET, and includes an excellent mix of market analysis as well as trader education. Schwab is the only other online broker to offer live broadcasting during market hours.
Market commentary: TD Ameritrade also provides written daily market commentary and analysis through The Ticker Tape. Content is widespread, covering day-to-day markets as well as general finance, savings, retirement, and trader education. Together with The Ticker Tape, TD Ameritrade publishes thinkMoney, a quarterly print (and digital) magazine, which focuses entirely on education. Bottom line, for stock and options trading, TD Ameritrade is great. For long-term investing and retirement-related content, I prefer Fidelity Viewpoints and Schwab Insights.
Social trading: TD Ameritrade's website includes a handful of unique tools. For example, the Social Signals tool displays both a real-time streaming feed of algorithmically filtered brand-relevant tweets and a summary chart of the most-tweeted brands. Social sentiment can even be plotted on charts with thinkorswim. Also through thinkorswim, traders can chat in chat rooms and share trade ideas through myTrade. All in all, TD Ameritrade offers the ultimate trader community.
To score Customer Service, StockBrokers.com partners with customer experience research group Confero to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the United States. For our 2020 Broker Review, 280 customer service tests were conducted over ten weeks.
- Average Connection Time: <1 minute
- Average Net Promoter Score: 9.5 / 10
- Average Professionalism Score: 9.1 / 10
- Overall Score: 9.43 / 10
- Ranking: 1 st (14 brokers)
With mobile, TD Ameritrade took a different approach by offering not one, but two smartphone apps: TD Ameritrade Mobile and TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader. TD Ameritrade Mobile is designed for casual investors. Meanwhile, TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader is designed for the feature-hungry active trader. Both apps are fantastic.
TD Ameritrade Mobile: TD Ameritrade Mobile welcomes everyday investors with a customizable dashboard. Navigating the app is seamless and includes all the features any investor could want. Watchlists are streaming and fully customizable. Meanwhile, stock quotes include price alerts, news, clean (and fully-featured) charting, and third-party ratings are accompanied by PDF research reports. Placing trades is a breeze; the list goes on and on.
TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader: Looking at mobile apps specifically, Mobile Trader is my top pick for traders in 2020. Upon login, you are taken straight into your watch lists, which sync with thinkorswim. In fact, the app mirrors thinkorswim throughout. Charting includes all 400+ indicators from the desktop platform, and chart preferences sync in the cloud. Orders and alerts management is fluid, and I really love the easy access to Trader TV, which includes not only the TD Ameritrade Network, but CNBC as well.
AI and tech innovation: TD Ameritrade was one of the first brokers to offer an Alexa Skill, and in August 2017, it became the first broker to integrate with Facebook Messenger, embracing the future of artificial intelligence (AI) with its own chatbot. Next, in 2018, Apple Business Chat, which I am using more and more frequently to grab quick stock quotes. Then, in 2019, TD Ameritrade for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both rolled out. All in all, TD Ameritrade is the undisputed leader in mobile and can be found everywhere you are.
Offering of Investments
TD Ameritrade provides everything one might expect of a full-service brokerage, from stock trading to retirement guidance. All account types are supporting. Also offered are both futures and forex trading. If there is one drawback, it is with international trading; TD Ameritrade customers can only trade US and Canadian-listed securities.
Excellent education makes TD Ameritrade an easy winner for beginners. Organized into courses with quizzes, over 200 videos are available, which all include progress tracking. Also provided each month are hundreds of webinars and educational sessions, and the website gamifies learning by awarding points alongside badges to encourage further education.
If that wasn't enough, TD Ameritrade even publishes its own magazine, called thinkMoney, and blog, The Ticker Tape. Education is also broadcasted through the TD Ameritrade Network. There is no better broker in which to learn the basics of the stock market than TD Ameritrade.
TD Ameritrade provides essential banking services to customers through 284 retail service centers across the United States. Like its closest competitors, TD Ameritrade offers mobile check deposit, online bill pay, and ATM fee reimbursement. TD Ameritrade also offers cash management accounts with FDIC-insurance protection. For investors who maintain high amounts of uninvested cash in their brokerage accounts, however, TD Ameritrade does not share the interest it earns.
TD Ameritrade is a technology-focused company that understands its customers and delivers a high-quality client experience.
Any investor or trader, new or seasoned, will find TD Ameritrade a great fit for their needs. The main gripe with TD Ameritrade used to be cost, but with TD Ameritrade now offering $0 stock trades, TD Ameritrade is undoubtedly on top in 2020.
About TD Ameritrade
Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, TD Ameritrade was founded in 1975 as one of the first online brokerages in the United States (1). As of September 2018, TD Ameritrade is home to over 11 million funded broker accounts and $1 trillion in total client assets (2). Each day the market is open, TD Ameritrade clients place approximately 860,000 trades, on average (3).
2020 Review Methodology
For the StockBrokers.com tenth annual best online brokers review published in January 2020, a total of 3,540 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.
Participation is required to be included. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and provided executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.
About the author: Blain Reinkensmeyer As Head of Research at StockBrokers.com, Blain Reinkensmeyer has 18 years of trading experience with over 1,000 trades placed during that time. Referenced as a leading expert on the US online brokerage industry, Blain has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.