TD Ameritrade: tools and trading

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TD Ameritrade works to position itself as a market leader in providing excellent trading tools and platform and believes that this is central to its success. This review finds a company that looks to offer both a trading experience and a level of service they believe is hard to beat.

Having been in the game for 40 years, they already have a wealth of experience behind them and have used this to cement further their position as a broker that knows how to look after its clients.  Whilst already providing a top-tier offering TD Ameritrade continues to be particularly innovative and is seen as an early adopter of new trading support tools.  This not only gives users access to the latest ideas but also a degree of comfort that they are unlikely to be missing out on something that is being offered by other platforms.

 

With a range of different platforms and tools, this organization provides as many real-time updates as it can, to help traders make profitable inroads into the market as often as possible.

They present a clear pricing structure and aim to position themselves as particularly transparent when it comes to knowing how much each trade will cost you, while there is also a raft of asset types to choose from, so there is always something with which to become involved.

This clear brand identity has helped TD Ameritrade secure several awards over the years, typically for aspects such as long-term investing, where they have managed to scoop the same award six years running. Recognition such as that has allowed them to grow and build on their customer base to get their products and services out to even more clients, and that is undoubtedly why they continue to make market inroads.

This TD Ameritrade broker review also finds that the company offers a wealth of educational and training facilities for investors who want to learn more, and to develop their trading into new asset classes. This broker also prides itself on displaying quality insights into the markets from a range of authoritative sources.

Products and trade offers intro

The TD Ameritrade website shows it is eager to illustrate how many different asset types you can trade on its platforms, and this review revealed a strong offering that allows many types of investors to find something that interests them. The investment options include:

  • Stocks: Backed by strong market analysis and news offering, this broker positions itself as a great place to trade stocks. With all the major exchanges listed, there is certain to be something worth investing in whenever the market is favourable.
  • ETFs: With more than 300 different ETF opportunities available, there is a lot to contend with here. They are commission-free, and the broker recommends them as an option because of their superior tool selection.
  • Mutuals: There is an incredible amount of mutual funds available to trade. This forex broker review has them claiming more than 13,000 in which to invest. In addition, it is possible to choose desired funds via filter mechanisms, so you can choose by the level of risk, the objectives of the investment, or how ethical it is in nature.
  • Futures: This broker’s offering on futures is wide, particularly for those they deem as qualified investors, with access granted to up to 60 markets, six days a week. They also have a virtual fund option to allow newer traders to test out certain products and get a feel for them. TD Ameritrade also offers bitcoin futures.
  • Forex: With so much political uncertainty around the world, capitalizing on market movements for foreign currency exchanges offers up a lot of potential at the moment. This broker says its tools and platforms make it a great choice to trade while keeping as up to date as possible with the market’s clients wish to operate in.
  • Cryptocurrencies: This relatively new market still has a lot of volatility and movement, and there is plenty to trade with. TD Ameritrade also offers traders the chance to use a regulated crypto exchange, which allows them to set themselves apart from many other brokers out there. Increased legalization of crypto worldwide is seeing this become a more mature market.
  • What else? With one of the widest ranges of asset classes available, there are also opportunities to invest with managed portfolios, bonds, fixed income funds, IPOs, and annuities

 

Commission and fee charges

 

 TD AmeritradeMerrill EdgeFidelity E*TRADE
Standard Stock Trade$6.95$6.95$4.95$6.95
Broker Assisted Trade$44.99$29.95$32.95$25.00
Mutual Fund Trade$49.99$19.95$49.95$19.99
Commission-Free ETFs2960265270
Options Per Contract$0.75$0.75$0.65$0.75
Options Base Level$6.95$6.95$4.95$6.95

As indicated earlier, the high fees in comparison to many brokers could be seen as a hindrance, however, at least it is transparent in that sense. Many brokers make it difficult to ascertain exactly what you will end up paying for each trade, and in some cases, hidden costs make it more than you originally anticipated.

As this TD Ameritrade review shows, you will pay $6.95 regardless of what you trade, how much you trade, and how often you trade. This can be a lot easier to comprehend in that regard, as some brokers seem to make it a bit of a challenge for investors to discover exactly what they are paying for and in what circumstances it might change.

It is worth pointing out that although this $6.95 fee stands for those investing on their internet platforms, if you call up to make a trade it will cost $34.99 with their automated service, and if you need a broker to sort it for you, it will cost $44.95.

While commission-free ETFs do not factor in any other costs, the ones that do will be subject to the same pricing structure. Also, no-load mutual funds, which come directly from an investment company, will also be hit by a charge, this time at $49.95.

For those looking to trade options, there are contract fees on top of the standard charges, and they start at $0.75. Meanwhile, futures have an additional contract fee of $2.25, and with forex, those pairs that do attract commission have a minimum of $1 per trade, with $0.10 costs per 1000 units trading.

 

What others say

 

 

To get an idea of clients’ opinions about one broker or another beyond the typical reviews you see, getting hold of real client sentiment can present a clearer picture and give you a better idea of what people might really think about a service.

One important source to take into account in that regard is the user review collation service called Trustpilot, which offers a forex broker review determined entirely by the customer. However, there are very limited views on there, given that there are only five of them, and thus it is particularly hard to ascertain exactly what the overall view is on balance. Some say the trading platform is not great for traders who are inexperienced, while others complain at a lack of ease of withdrawing funds.

When it comes to other views on this broker, a different TD Ameritrade review from Credit Donkey hails the broker’s great tools and platform and says for many investors that will easily make up for the higher fees. However, some may well be put off by it, and suggests this broker is probably not the best one for beginners.

Stockbrokers.com also cites their wide range of platforms and tools, as well as their strong education aspects to help their traders keep learning.

Positive reviews also come in from nerdwallet.com, who praise their broad offering and scope for drawing in experienced investors, while forexbrokers.com say this is a sophisticated choice of broker and add that they like additions such as bitcoin futures.

 

Customer service

Having scooped several awards to this end, it is clear that TD Ameritrade seeks to pride itself on its customer service offering, providing as much support as possible to help traders when they need it most.

Some detailed insight into just how good their customer support has already been compiled by forexbrokers.com, who say this broker is the best out there for customer service, rating them as 9.2 out of 10. The score is underlined by particularly quick connection times of under a minute, and how professional they are considered to be when you speak to them, as well as how effectively they deal with your issue.

Part of this being one of their strong suits is because they have availability every day of the week, at all hours. Many brokers do not provide that level of service and fail to have anyone to contact on weekends. That can be a problem if you are trading in markets that close after Friday or open before they answer on a Monday. You can reach them in all the usual ways, via phone, live chat online and through email.

 

Platform features and tools

A lot has already been said about what they put on the table here. They have pioneered their own services, one of them called thinkorswim, which they say offers a holistic approach to trading.

 

 

The platform thinkorswim facilitates much more in-depth opportunities for analysis and is positioned at traders at the more experienced end. It factors in everything from heat maps, key economic indicators and earnings calendars to help you bring everything together.  It’s available for use with mobile devices as well as desktop, which ensures traders have ease of access.

It includes real-time quotes on a feed from CNBC, the ability to estimate how your investments will perform against the market based on the latest data, and hone down your list of best trading options with the ability to filter through strict criteria. With so many asset types available, things like this can make it a lot easier to start screening and accessing the ‘myspace’ portal allows you to share ideas on live trades with other traders.

 

 

There is also a simpler version, which is aimed more at beginners. This is called Trade Architect and still offers the chance to find all the latest information, customize your charts and strategy, and also factor in all their research. It happens to be less analytical, but that will suit some people.

 

 

Mobile trading

It would be difficult for any broker to establish itself as a market leader without taking mobile formats seriously. Given the nature of trading, and how quickly the market can move, it is important to be confident that you can trade quickly when you need to while on the move.

This TD Ameritrade broker review finds them somewhat ahead of the curve, with two different apps to suit different investor types.

The first, and easiest to use, is called TD Ameritrade Mobile. The app allows you to keep track of all your trades, get access to the latest news and data, and manage your account.

 

 

Their other app has a similar name, which is worth paying attention to when you choose at which level you want to start trading. This is TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader which features the additional benefits of having in-app support from specialists, more tools to play with, and a greater range of charts with which to view your strategies.

 

 

App selection will be based on functionality preferences but both mobile services benefit from the Ameritrade mission statement:  “Anything your desktop can do, your devices can too”.

 

Robo trading

TD Ameritrade has a strong ambition to continue with innovation and to enable as much automation as possible. With over 300 charts to customize your data to allow better insight into robo trading, you can craft more effective trading strategies.

They also have what they call robo advisors for automated trading, within their Essential Portfolios section. You can set rules to trigger orders automatically and for rolling out your strategies at any time, whenever the market shifts and some of your criteria becomes checked.

 

Research and learning section

Like many other brokers, offering an education aspect has become an integral part of the broker experience, as they look to find new ways to attract custom and retain clients.

Labelling knowledge as one of the most vital aspects for any client, they offer what they term an immersive curriculum which has been designed by experts in the industry. Each lesson plan comes with an exam at the end of each module, with plenty of quizzes to try out on the way.

Also, there are many different types of media with which to absorb this new information. From articles and videos to webcasts and events you can attend in person, it is clear they have sought to deliver a wide-reaching offering that can benefit someone interested in learning more about trading.  Those traders that are active in the market can benefit from the free TD Ameritrade Live Broadcast service which offers Live original news, comment and investor education.

When it comes to research, there is a raft of tools in place to help traders analyze how well their strategies are performing and to provide greater insights into how you can reach more of your goals by figuring out why something went wrong. That includes market commentary, daily and weekly analysis, and technical information alongside quantitative data.

 

Regulatory details

Since TD Ameritrade is only available to US customers, they are not legally trading anywhere else. That means they are regulated by FINRA, the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, and all customer accounts are segregated from the rest of the business, ensuring that funds are protected in the event of a crisis, like a broker suddenly becoming insolvent.

There is some confusion over exactly whether constituents of other countries can participate, with various websites offering different opinions. However, their website indicates that at present only those from the US can trade with them, although they may be licensed elsewhere and planning to branch out in the future.

TD Ameritrade ProsTD Ameritrade cons
A wealth of great toolsComparably high trading fees
A wide range of asset typesPlatform can seem overwhelming at first:
Known for great customer supportShort-term trading fees
Easy access to top-level offering.Potential Operational risk
Educational & Realtime Content

 

Our Conclusion

It is fair to say that TD Ameritrade comes with a level of prestige behind it that many other brokers do not, and that is what sets it apart. With a clear intent to deliver serious innovation as often as it can, and to weave it into its current offering, the organization seem to always have one eye on moving forward.

Given that the company has been around for 40 years, that may not be a surprise. They have pioneered many new and useful tools, as well as having various platforms for traders to use. Those looking for something that is more analytical than some other offerings may well find themselves at home here, and there are many interesting mechanisms to use to gain new insights.

However, for traders who are only just starting out, this may not be the best platform, unless you want to attain a high level and are happy to work towards that end.

Some of the fees are high, and the standard rate of $6.95 will be of frustration to many, however, perhaps that should be considered balanced out by the useful features this broker provides.

 

Brian Ducey

Brian graduated from Chaminade High School and the University Of Vermont Kalkin School Of Business with a concentration in Finance. He began his career with Knight Capital Markets, working his way to market maker. Brian later expanded his market repertoire, working with various sell-side research brokerage firms, such as Sidoti & Co., and William O’Neill & Co., as an Account Executive. With over 20 years-experience in the financial industry, Brian has built a unique perspective into “market intelligence” understanding an ability to read the tape and apply second level thinking in a fast paced environment. Brian also carried several market licenses, including the series 7, 24, 55, 65, and 63 licenses as well as previously passing The Connecticut Life and Health Insurance Exam