TD Ameritrade Review and Tutorial 2018
|Traders in United States welcome|
|TD Ameritrade Facts & Figures|
One of the largest discount brokers in the US, with a fixed trading commission and access to a large array of trading products and securities
|Bonus||60 days free trades when depositing $3k|
|Mobile Apps||iOS and Android|
TD Ameritrade is a publicly traded online broker, boasting over 7 million users and processing approximately 650,000 trades each day. Its comprehensive offering facilitates trading in stocks, forex, futures, options, ETFs, and other securities. This review will examine all aspects of their service, including account fees, trading platforms, mobile apps, and much more.
A Brief History
From their headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska, TD Ameritrade have been serving customers since 1971. The brokerage has nearly 50 years of experience in industry firsts, including:
- 1998 – TD Ameritrade were among the first to introduce touch-tone trading.
- 1994 – They were also one of the first to pioneer online day trading.
- Late 1990s – TD Ameritrade introduced online options order entry and electronic trade confirmations through email.
- 2000s – They were the first to guarantee trade execution speeds of 10 seconds and introduce paperless account creation.
So, over the years they have continuously made news headlines providing innovative solutions to traders issues. As a result, they now offer truly global trading in a huge range of instruments, including bitcoin, money market mutual funds, bonds, and other fixed-income securities.
Head over to their official website and you will see the aim of the brokerage exchange has always remained the same. They have “been empowering clients by helping them take control of their financial lives.” But what do user reviews say when you delve beneath the headlines?
Minimum Initial Deposit
One of the immediate benefits of a TD Ameritrade brokerage account is that there is no minimum initial deposit requirement. This is good for beginners and those with limited initial capital. In fact, this is fantastic when compared to pricing at other competitors, where account minimums can range from $500 to $10,000.
Spreads & Commissions
Reviews and research show TD Ameritrade don’t score so well in terms of margin rates and commission fees. Commissions are higher than the industry average at $6.95 per trade for stocks and ETFs. This is actually twice as expensive as some other discount brokers. In fact, when you compare TD Ameritrade vs Etrade, Interactive Brokers and Scottrade, it is only Etrade that charges as much.
Having said that, you can benefit from 101 commission-free ETFs. The only downside is that any commission-free ETFs sold within 30 days of purchase are subject to a $13.90 trading fee.
The question that will be answered below though, is are the powerful trading tools and extensive research resources enough to make these high brokerage fees good value for money?
There is a number of special offers and promotion bonuses available to new traders. In fact, new account cash bonuses range from $100 for deposits between $25,000 and $99,999 all the way up to $1000 promotions for high dollar accounts.
On top of the deposit bonuses, TD Ameritrade occasionally release promo offer codes, as well as giving users up to 500 free trades. It’s also worth keeping an eye on their website for transfer bonuses.
Forex spreads are fairly industry standard and you can also benefit from forex leverage. This is essentially a loan, allowing you to increase your position and potentially boost profits. However, trading on margin can also amplify losses.
In addition, TD Ameritrade’s margin costs are among the most expensive in the industry. The base margin rate is 7.75%, while the maximum rate is 9%. You will also have to hold a $2,000 minimum account balance for a margin account.
Other Trading Fees
Once you have your login details and start trading you will encounter certain trade fees. For example, domestic wire withdrawal will cost $25. Account transfers will cost $75, and a forced margin sellout is charged at $25 plus broker commission.
Despite that, TD Ameritrade’s pricing structure is fairly transparent. In addition, you won’t have to pay any annual or inactivity fee, unlike Interactive Brokers.
Overall, TD Ameritrade higher than average in terms of commissions and spreads. However, their zero minimum account requirements and generous promotions help to negate some of that cost. So, if you’re looking for low futures, options and mutual funds fees, you may want to head elsewhere. If you’re looking for a cheap start and a generous cash welcome, then TD Ameritrade may be a sensible choice.
Whether you live in the UK or Canada, once you sign in to your brokerage account you will have access to the same robust TD Ameritrade trading platforms. In fact, you will have three options, TD Ameritrade.com and Trade Architect which are web-based, as well as desktop application thinkorswim.
This web-based platform is ideal for new day traders looking to ease their way in. Having said that, you will be met with a whole host of information, which can make site navigation somewhat difficult. Fortunately, you can utilise the ‘Ask Ted’ chatbot, who will be able to answer questions.
You also get access to a Portfolio Planner tool. This allows you to build a target asset allocation plan, helping to create a balanced portfolio of securities. You can choose between a standard model or you can build and customise one yourself to ensure optimal results with your strategy.
TD Ameritrade’s Trade Architect is the next level up in terms of trading tools and real-time features. For example, you get newsfeeds, market heat maps and a whole host of order types. The platform is also clean and easy-to-use. Accessing data feeds is straightforward, you can customise charts, plus you have 30 stock and option screeners.
The system has also been streamlined so completing basic tasks, such as placing stop-loss limits and trailing stop orders is quick and hassle-free. In addition, there are option trading tools, such as probability analysis, profit and loss graphs, as well as target zone tools. As a result, Trade Architect is a good choice for traders with some experience looking to invest a modest sum of funds.
Originally a standalone broker until TD Ameritrade took it over in 2009, thinkorswim is considered the crown jewel in the platform offering. Once you download this desktop platform, serious traders can benefit from all of the features found in Trade Architect, plus advanced trade capabilities. In fact, it is so sopshisticated, that only TradeStation offers such a comprehensive platform.
You get access to dozens of charts streaming real-time data and over 300 technical studies for each chart. This is actually the highest number in the industry and each study can be customised. Explore ThinkScript which is thinkorswim’s proprietary coding language and you can you can also create your own indicators.
You also have:
- Company profiling
- Plotting FRED data
- Customisable screeners
- Sophisticated earning analysis tools
- Real-time stock scanning and sharing charts
- Ability to replay historical markets tick by tick
- Access to both economic and corporate calendars
Experienced traders will struggle to find such an advanced, reliable and easy-to-use platform. Customisation can go as far as the user’s imagination will take them. Therefore, in terms of trading tools and platforms, TD Ameritrade user reviews report the highest levels of satisfaction.
Also note, all three platforms can be used to trade a huge range of instruments, from penny stocks to cryptocurrency, such as ethereum and litecoin.
When you open a new account, you will also have access to two mobile apps, TD Ameritrade Mobile and TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader. The former is designed for beginners and casual investors. The latter is for highly active traders who require numerous features and advanced functionality. On the whole, iPhone, iPad and Android app reviews are very positive.
TD Ameritrade Mobile
While you can sign in with your username and password, there are also Touch ID login capabilities. Once you’re into the app, you can customise positions and watch list views. Accessing much of their in-depth research is straightforward while viewing margin balance and account information is quick and easy.
In addition, you can utilise Social Signals analysis. You’ll also find the mobile app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.
TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader
The Mobile Trader application allows for advanced charting, with an impressive 328 technical studies. In addition, you get a long list of order options. The interface is sleek and easy to navigate. Reviews show even making complex options trades is stress-free.
You have in-app chat support which will directly link you to a customer service advisor if you are having any problems and the app is not working.
There is even a screen sharing function. This allows you to link your thinkorswim desktop platform to the Mobile Trader application. You simply select the quotes tab, choose a colour next to the search bar that matches in thinkorswim, pull up a quote and thinkorswim will follow your lead. In fact, it’s so thorough that some users argue it is currently the best in the industry.
Having said that, some reviews suggest an ability to screen and set advanced alerts would improve the Mobile Trader app even further.
Methods of Payment
Clients can make direct deposits and withdraw funds with relative ease through the TD Ameritrade network.
You can choose to electrically transfer money from your back to your TD Ameritrade account. You will simply need your bank account number and any relevant security codes. Completion usually takes 30 minutes to 3 business days. However, you have to transfer a minimum of $50 and can transfer a maximum of $250,000.
The most popular funding method is wire transfer. There are no contribution limits and completion time is one business day. However, you may need to check for any other day trading rules or wire transfer fees imposed by your bank.
You can also use Paypal to fund your account and make withdrawals. Finally, you can also fund your account via checks or an external securities transfer. It may also be worth heading to their website to check for any current rewards or offers for using specific funding methods.
TD Ameritrade Accounts
The standard individual TD Ameritrade trading account is relatively straightforward to open. Once you have filled in the necessary forms and TD Ameritrade have finished their checking, you can start trading. As mentioned above, no minimum deposit is required to open an account. However, the minimum electronic funding is $50.
If you wish to use margin you will require a minimum balance of $2,000. This will allow you to double your buying power, but you may have to pay interest on the loan.
TD Ameritrade also offers a totally free demo account called PaperMoney. Funded with simulated money, you don’t have to risk real capital until you feel confident. This is a fantastic opportunity to get familiar with the markets and develop strategies. It’s also a fantastic way to test the TD Ameritrade trading platform.
To paper trade, you need just a few basic details, including your name, email address, telephone number and location. Once your confidence has grown, it’s then straightforward to close your demo account and upgrade to a live trading account.
User reviews show satisfaction with the number of useful additional features found in the TD Ameritrade offering, including:
- Social Signals – The Social Signals feature provides a real-time streaming feed of algorithmically filtered relevant tweets. You also get a summary chart of the most talked about brands. Many feel this is easier to use than StockTwits.
- Peer Comparison – The Peer Comparison tab allows you to locate clean customisable charts displaying a security’s recent performance against its competitors. This is then followed up with a table of relevant metrics.
- Free research – You can find streaming news from Zacks, Dow Jones, briefing.com, plus a number of other sources. In addition, there is analysis from Market Edge, CFRA, Credit Suisse and Vickers.
- Interactive learning – TD Ameritrade offers a range of ways you can learn, from videos and articles to slideshows and quizzes. In addition, they will monitor your progress and awards points and virtual trophies as you improve. In fact, video training reviews are quick to highlight how comprehensive and useful their educational resources are.
- Earnings calendar tools – This allows you to track earnings announcements of companies of interest. It can help you prepare for upcoming data releases and predict future price movements.
Regulation & License
In the day trading world, it’s important you can trust your broker. Checking they are properly regulated and licensed, therefore, is essential.
Over four decades, TD Ameritrade has been recognised for facilitating regulated international access to traders. The company is regulated by FINRA. In addition, clients accounts are protected under FDIC (deposit accounts held at TD Bank) and SIPC. On top of that, excess-SIPC coverage is provided by London insurers.
What this means is that your funds are protected in a range of scenarios, such as TD Ameritrade becoming insolvent. They are licensed in numerous locations, from the USA to Hong Kong. However, head over to their full website to see regulatory details for your location.
There are a number of very good reasons to choose TD Ameritrade, including:
- There is a huge selection of instruments.
- You get fast and reliable customer service.
- You can make advanced orders, including OCO and brackets.
- TD Ameritrade provides rich in-depth research and educational resources.
- Extended 24/7 trading hours allows for international access to the markets.
- They facilitate automatic synching between desktop and mobile trading platforms.
- There is access to over 350 technical studies, 20 drawing tools and 8 Fibonacci tools.
- You get free access to the advanced thinkorswim platform, with no account minimum.
- There is access to over 100 commission-free ETFs and hundreds of no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
- Portfolio margin gives some users increased leverage by basing margin requirements on total portfolio risk.
- You can choose between three trading platforms, ensuring there is a platform for traders of all experience levels.
- There are automated trading capabilities, including robo-advisors from their Investment
- Management Services and Essential Portfolios. Reviews of which show high levels of customer satisfaction.
- The Economic Data tool allows access to a range of data about the health of global economies.
- On the platform, you will find active chat rooms to share ideas and communicate with thousands of experienced traders.
Despite the number of TD Ameritrade benefits listed above, there also exist several downsides to their offering, including:
- Trading costs are inescapably high. When you put TD Ameritrade vs optionshouse and other competitors, you realise TD Ameritrade’s commission rates for stocks and ETFs, in particular, are well above the industry norm.
- You will be hit with a $19.99 short-term trading fee if you sell any of your commission-free ETFs within 30 days.
- Broker-assisted trade commissions are around $44.99, while other firms keep prices around $25 to $35.
- You also have stringent margin maintenance requirements to contend with.
- Security could be improved through the use of a two-factor authentication feature. A feature which several competitors do offer.
- New traders may be overwhelmed by the vast amount of information and tools available. As a result, novice traders may want to look for a cleaner more streamlined trading platform.
For those trading bitcoin to penny stocks, all of the above points have dragged down TD Ameritrade reviews and ratings. However, there remain numerous positives. So whether the pros outweigh the cons will be a personal choice.
TD Ameritrade trading and office hours are industry standard. The company was one of the first to announce it would offer 24-hour trading. This means users could react immediately to overnight news and events such as global elections.
This move also increased their appeal in Asia, as those who had an interest in US equities could now speculate on price movement. In the off-hours between Sunday 20:00 EST and Friday 20:00 EST, customers can trade 12 ETFs.
So, for those interested in premarket hours and a range of instruments, from index funds to bitcoin (BTC) futures and options, there will always be a trade opportunity at TD Ameritrade.
Contact & Customer Support
TD Ameritrade now offers 24/7 support via email, text and even Facebook Messenger. User reviews show wait time for phone support was less than two minutes. Support comes in a number of languages, including English, Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin. Simply head over to their website for the 24-hour number where you are based.
Emails are usually returned within 12 hours. Agents are well trained with an in-depth knowledge of both trading platforms and accounts. They should be able to help you with any TD Ameritrade.com login problems, or when the website goes down.
Unfortunately, the ‘Ask Ted’ live chat support is only for clients using the thinkorswim platform. So, there is room for improvement in this area. But if you do have access to live chat, they can help you with everything from forgotten usernames and premarket trading to referral bonuses and options approval.
Overall then, reviews show traders were extremely content with TD Ameritrade’s customer support and helpdesk. But if you want direct contact, you could head down to their numerous offices or attend one of their events. You can also head to their ‘Contact Us’ section for the nearest mailing address in your location.
Safety & Security
TD Ameritrade takes customer safety and security extremely seriously, as they should do. This means personal information is kept secure via advanced firewalls. Anomaly detection and intrusion technology are also used to detect any unusual behaviour from your account.
TD Ameritrade websites are secure and use 128-bit encryption to transmit all data between your computer and their websites.
There is also a TD Ameritrade’s Asset Protection Guarantee which will reimburse your account if you lose any funds as a result of unauthorised activity. Their website states they will “reimburse you for the cash or shares of securities you lost.”
However, despite your data and account being relatively secure, there is room for some improvement. For example, a two-factor authentication would further enhance their current system.
TD Ameritrade Verdict
TD Ameritrade is an industry leader in terms of their trading platforms and access to high-quality research and educational resources. Throw in a $0 minimum deposit requirement, detailed user guides and access to after-hours trading, and they should be a serious contender on your broker shortlist.
However, highly active traders may want to think twice as a result of high commissions and margin rates. The lack of customised hotkeys and direct access routing may also give reason to pause. Overall then, if you’re a moderately active trader who wants a powerful platform and access to extensive research, then TD Ameritrade could well be the right choice.
For further guidance, see our brokers list.
TD Ameritrade only accepts traders from United States.
|One of the largest discount brokers in the US, with a fixed trading commission and access to a large array of trading products and securities|