TD Ameritrade Review [2021]: Commission-Free Trading That's Right for You?

TD Ameritrade has long been a pioneer when it comes to trading stocks and providing innovative financial tools. But is it the right brokerage for your needs?
Last updated May 28, 2021 | By Christy Rakoczy
TD Ameritrade Review

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When you're deciding how to invest money, researching the best brokerage accounts might be your first step. Whether you're just starting in the stock market or are a seasoned investor, you'll want a brokerage that offers many different kinds of investments, low or no fees, and educational materials that can help you learn how to better manage your money.

TD Ameritrade is one option available to you. The brokerage has continually earned accolades for its free trading platforms, wide selection of asset classes, commission-free trading, and top-notch customer service. Its library of educational materials is also unparalleled.

But is TD Ameritrade the right choice for you? This TD Ameritrade review will help you decide.

TD Ameritrade Benefits

  • Enjoy $0.00 commission trades on stocks and ETFs
  • Open an account in less than 5 minutes
  • Intuitive online trading platform
  • 24/7 customer support

In this TD Ameritrade review

What is TD Ameritrade?

TD Ameritrade started its life as First Omaha Securities, Inc., and it was one of the first brokerage firms to provide discounted brokerage commissions when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began allowing the practice in 1975.

Since then, the brokerage became one of the first to allow trades by phone and was a pioneer in online investing. Its innovative spirit, strong customer service, and commitment to putting the needs of traders first have made it the brokerage of choice for 11 million clients who have collectively invested more than $1 trillion in assets with TD Ameritrade.

As TD Ameritrade grew, it attracted the attention of an even bigger, more established brokerage firm: Charles Schwab. Schwab acquired TD Ameritrade for an estimated $22 billion in a deal announced in 2019. Today, new investors can still open an account with TD Ameritrade but will find their account eventually integrated into Schwab over the next 18 to 36 months.

What does TD Ameritrade offer?

As a discount broker, TD Ameritrade provides many features that investors will love, including full-featured trading platforms, tons of educational tools, the ability to invest in many different asset classes, and much more. Here's what you need to know about the brokerage's key services.

A wide range of account types and asset classes

With TD Ameritrade, you aren't limited to just the common account types such as a taxable account or IRA. There's a very long list of different kinds of accounts you can open, including:

  • Individual and joint taxable brokerage accounts
  • Custodial accounts for minors
  • Traditional, Roth, rollover, SEP, and Simple IRAs
  • Solo 401(k)s
  • Pension or profit-sharing plans
  • 529 accounts
  • Coverdell education savings accounts
  • UGMA/UTMA accounts for minors
  • Partnership and limited partnership accounts
  • Investment club accounts
  • Limited liability accounts
  • Trust accounts
  • Not-for-profit or for-profit corporate accounts
  • Managed portfolios

TD Ameritrade allows you to invest in a wide variety of asset classes, including:

  • Stocks
  • Options
  • Exchange-traded funds
  • Mutual funds
  • Futures
  • FOREX
  • Cryptocurrency
  • Managed portfolios
  • Bonds and fixed-income investments
  • Annuities
  • IPOs

TD Ameritrade also makes it easy to choose investments. For example, its Bond Wizard program allows you to customize your search to find bonds that fit your situation, whereas those who invest in futures will be able to access hundreds of charting studies at no cost. There's also a Premier List for mutual funds that allows you to narrow down your search to top fund performers chosen by Morningstar Investment managers.

Few or no fees and no account minimums

There is no minimum balance needed to open an account with TD Ameritrade, and there are no data fees, platform fees, or trading commissions. Because there's so minimum required cash to get started and you can trade without paying commission, TD Ameritrade is a great platform for new investors without a lot of cash.

Powerful educational tools and objective third-party research

TD Ameritrade has all the tools you could ever need to learn how to be a better investor and to find comprehensive information about the investments you're considering. The brokerage offers:

  • Stock market news, including a daily market update
  • Courses taught by experienced coaches who help you learn about every possible trading and investing topic
  • More than 200 instructional videos and tutorials on investing
  • Educational webcasts on long-term investing, portfolio management, active trading, and market moves
  • In-person educational seminars
  • Market Edge, which provides technical analysis and market commentary
  • An ETF market center where you can narrow down ETFs based on financial goals such as investing in a particular sector, matching a specific investing style, or getting exposure to specific investment types
  • Stock charts to track prices over time or see other key indicators in a customizable format
  • Predetermined screeners to find stocks, mutual funds, or ETFs that meet specific objectives, such as having low fees
  • Bond Wizard, which recommends bonds that meet your needs after you answer a few simple questions

A choice of trading platforms

When it comes to trading, TD Ameritrade offers access via web platform, mobile app, and desktop platforms. One of its options, the thinkorswim platform, offers elite-level trading tools in a fully customizable format. The TD Ameritrade mobile app and thinkorswim mobile app are both available for iOS and Android. In this way, TD Ameritrade offers a great deal of accessibility for traders of all kinds and experience levels.

Pros and cons of TD Ameritrade

Here are the biggest advantages of investing with TD Ameritrade:

  • It's easy to get started investing. You don't need to meet any minimum deposit requirements and there are ample educational materials to assist you. Helpful tools such as mutual fund screeners and the Bond Wizard make it easy to build your portfolio even if you don't have tons of experience.
  • There are few fees. There's no commission owed on stock trades, ETF trades, or options trades (though there is an option contract fee of 65 cents).
  • You'll have a choice of trading platforms. You can use web or mobile trading platforms, as well as the thinkorswim app. Both the web and mobile platforms have simple options for beginning investors, whereas thinkorswim is designed for more experienced and active traders who want the maximum amount of customizable data.
  • Customer support is always available. You can get in-person assistance at one of 175 TD Ameritrade branches nationwide. There's also 24/7 account support available via phone or messenger.
  • You can invest in almost anything and open almost any type of account. TD Ameritrade offers a wide selection of account options, including standard taxable accounts, many types of retirement accounts, and custodial accounts for children, among many others. You can also invest in stocks, bonds, options, ETFs, cryptocurrency, and many other types of assets. In fact, there are way more asset classes available than many brokerages offer.

Here are the biggest disadvantages:

  • Some trading platforms, such as thinkorswim, have a steep learning curve. Although the complexity is caused by its advanced charting features and huge array of tools for technical analysis, it can still be overwhelming to beginners. As such, certain tools and features may be best for experienced traders.
  • Broker-assisted trades are more expensive than with some competitors. You'll pay $25 if you need help executing a trade from a stockbroker, whereas some competitors charge a little bit less.
  • You may have to pay if you want mailed statements. There's a $2 fee for getting paper statements either monthly or quarterly, and the fee goes up to $5 if you need replacement statements by mail.
  • Your account will eventually be integrated with Schwab. If you don't want to have to worry about account changes that could result from Schwab's acquisition of TD Ameritrade, you may want to consider a different broker.

Who can open an account with TD Ameritrade?

Opening an account with TD Ameritrade is easy as there are no minimum balance requirements and many different account types, including standard accounts, retirement accounts, education accounts, and specialty accounts for trusts or for pension plans.

However, if you plan to fund your new account electronically, the minimum required deposit is $50. And you will need to deposit a minimum of $2,000 if you want to do options trading or if you want to apply for a margin account, which allows you to trade with borrowed funds.

When you open an account, you will need to provide your name, address, date of birth, and other items to verify your identity such as your driver's license information.

Because TD Ameritrade offers a choice of trading platforms and so many different asset classes, both beginning investors and experienced, skilled traders will find this brokerage has plenty to offer.

However, anyone considering opening an account does need to be aware that TD Ameritrade and Schwab will be integrating their accounts. You should steer clear if you aren't interested in trading with a brokerage owned by Schwab or don't want to deal with any transition steps that may be necessary due to the changeover.

How much can you earn with TD Ameritrade?

The amount you can earn with TD Ameritrade will solely depend on how your investments perform. There is an inherent risk of loss in investing, whether you're buying stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, futures, options, or almost any other type of assets.

However, some assets are more risky than others and there's usually an inverse relationship between risk and potential reward. In other words, the more risk you're willing to take on, the higher the returns you could potentially earn, but the greater the chance of suffering large losses.

You should consider your risk tolerance (the amount of risk you're willing to take) and investment timeline when choosing assets to invest in. You should also aim to build a diversified portfolio, as investing in many different things can maximize the chances at least some will perform well even if others incur losses.

FAQs about TD Ameritrade

How do I contact TD Ameritrade customer support

You can contact TD Ameritrade by phone. The phone number you'll need to use to contact TD Ameritrade varies depending on the purpose of your call. Here are some common numbers:

  • For opening new accounts: 800-454-9272
  • For existing clients: 800-669-3900
  • If you need a Spanish speaking customer service representative: 888-376-4684

Account service and support are available 24/7. Technical support is also available Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m.

You can also contact TD Ameritrade via text to 898832, Facebook Messenger, Twitter Direct Message to @TDAmeritrade, or fax to 866-468-6268.

You can send them mail, with the TD Ameritrade address varying depending whether you are opening a new account, have an existing account, or are sending overnight mail. You can also visit any of more than 175 branches nationwide to get in-person assistance.

How much money do you need to open a TD Ameritrade account?

There are no minimum balance requirements to open a TD Ameritrade account but you will need to deposit at least $50 if you wish to use electronic funds transfers to fund your account, and you will need to deposit at least $2,000 to be approved to trade on margin (with borrowed funds).

Is TD Ameritrade good for beginners?

TD Ameritrade is an excellent brokerage for beginners because it provides ample educational material, offers many commission-free ETFs to help you quickly build a diversified portfolio, and has helpful tools and functionality, such as Bond Wizard, which can help you find the right assets to invest in.

Can I day trade on TD Ameritrade?

Day trading refers to buying a stock and selling it on the same day. If you make four or more of these types of traders in a margin account over a rolling five-day period, you will be classified as a pattern day trader under rules set by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

There are strict requirements for pattern day traders, including maintaining minimum equity of $25,000 in your margin accounts. If you do not follow the rules, a hold may be placed on your account. These rules are not set by TD Ameritrade, but rather by FINRA, and they apply only to margin accounts. As such, you can do as much stock trading as you'd like in cash accounts on TD Ameritrade.


How to open a TD Ameritrade account

To open a TD Ameritrade account, you'll need to pick the type of account you want including, but not limited to:

  • Individual
  • Joint tenants with rights of survivorship
  • Traditional or Roth IRA
  • Rollover IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Simple IRA
  • Various types of guardianship accounts for children
  • Education savings accounts such as a 529

Once you've chosen your account type, you'll need to provide some basic information including:

  • Your Social Security number or ITIN or your visa number, passport, or foreign tax ID if you aren't a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • The name and address of your employer, as well as their phone number
  • Your contact details, including your full name, email, address, and phone number

After you've completed your application, it will be reviewed and you'll be informed immediately whether you qualify for an account. You'll have some agreements to sign electronically and can create your user ID and set up security questions to protect your account.

Other investing platforms to consider

If you aren't sure whether TD Ameritrade is right for you, you can also consider other investing platforms. There are many online brokers and traditional brokerages to choose from.

For example, Stash is a great option for beginners and offers unique features to help you get more money into your account. For example, Stash will reward you for using your Stash debit card by giving you shares of stock from companies where you make purchases (if you shop at Walmart, you'll get a small amount of Walmart stock). Learn more by reading our Stash review.

Robinhood is also an app targeted toward beginners that aims to make it fun to trade stocks through an intuitive app that's incredibly easy to use. You can learn more by reading our Robinhood review. You can also compare TD Ameritrade vs. Robinhood side-by-side to determine which better fits your investing goals.

The bottom line is that the right trading platform for you will depend on your specific financial goals, the amount of work you want to put in to managing your money, and the type of assets you want to buy. Although TD Ameritrade is a great choice, you should consider all your options when deciding which brokerage is right for you.

TD Ameritrade Benefits

  • Enjoy $0.00 commission trades on stocks and ETFs
  • Open an account in less than 5 minutes
  • Intuitive online trading platform
  • 24/7 customer support

Author Details

Christy Rakoczy Christy Rakoczy has a Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School with a focus in Business Law, and a Certificate in Business Marketing with an English Degree from The University of Rochester. As a full-time personal finance writer, she writes about all things money-related but her special areas of focus are credit cards, personal loans, student loans, mortgages, smart debt payoff strategies, and retirement and Social Security. Her work has been featured by USA Today, MSN Money, CNN Money and more, and you can learn more at her LinkedIn profile.