TD Ameritrade Review
TD Ameritrade is, juridically, a fairly old broker company. They story began in mid-70s, but it wasn’t until 1997 that this online broker we know came to life. In addition to being an experienced old provider, they have tons of investment targets to offer – from stocks to Forex to crypto.
In fact, Ameritrade’s collection of assets is among the most numerous and most versatile in the industry. That’s one of the main reasons a lot of people choose them as their primary broker, but it’s certainly the only one. There are more unique and helpful features on this website that can appeal to a regular or a professional investor. Let’s see how beneficial they are to trade with and what they have to offer for what they demand.
Ameritrade is a unique case. They have various account types to offer based on your preferences. However, unlike most other brokers, TD doesn’t really provide bonuses, better treatment or different fee policies from type to type.
Instead, their trading solutions provide a viable and legally clear income. A lot of these offers have specified provisions about property (account and all of its assets) ownership, as well as certain requirements that make particular account types more suited for retirement savings or rent payment.
A lot of them, as you might’ve guessed, are supposed to be a helping hand for Americans who suffer from the usual problems of this country – college debts, housing costs, and so forth. Hilariously, a lot of these various offers don’t differ that much from one another.
It’s a huge list of plans, but most of them simply set a minimal deposit sum (often none), restrict you to certain products or specify property rights to the assets and portfolios. This whole affair is pretty unorthodox but, considering that Ameritrade keeps you aware of what’s going on with your money tax-wise, you can control your funds much better.
There are 4 main account types, each subdividing into many more offers that don’t differ all too much. There are slight distinctions, which is beneficial if you look for ‘the one’ offer that suits you best, but it’s also highly confusing. Let’s get to the bottom of them, one by one.
- Standard accounts
That’s a usual array offers that gives you access to most products, although if you’d like to trade in Forex, options or futures, you’ll have to deposit at least $2,000. The account is technically active right from the start, even before you deposit anything onto it.
However, since the minimal deposit volume is $50, you pretty much can’t trade unless you deposit that much money. As for other limitations or bonuses, there are none. This part is basic enough, and it’s identical for all 6 Standard offers.
The only thing that changes from one to another are property rights. You can simply choose an individual account to trade as you’d like for eternity, but it’s also possible to share your assets with your tenants, patron or any other person. In this case, every owner has equal rights to all equities from broker’s and legal perspective.
It’s not often that a broker specifies these things. Usually, they simply gloss over most of legal details and simply give you an abridged version with only the interesting stuff that affects the daily trading routine.
- Retirement accounts
These accounts are, as the name suggests, meant for older people who wish to improve their chances of a satisfying retirement by placing some of your legal income into Ameritrade and use this money to invest. When you feel like benefiting from your investments, you can do it for free, and there are also no maintenance fees.
This account’s main purpose is to give older people (the minimal age when you can set up one of these is 60) an ability to invest and rip dividends or other bonuses from their investments. Tax on a lot of this income is also going to be deferred, great news.
You can do what you want with this account actually – trade with all possible products, then withdraw your money and deposit again. There are no minimal deposits, and you can give this broker as much money as you want. These offers are pretty advantageous from this point of view.
But the better strategy would be to put some of your income here, invest into something and then start getting dividends off of it. Once you’ve reached 71, you’ll also be able to start getting pension pay for investing into stuff. However, exactly how it’s going to work for you should be clarified with Ameritrade staff.
They didn’t make a good enough job explaining, but there are many deals and if you’re well-versed in this legal sector, you might understand what they mean in some of these.
- Education accounts
These accounts are terribly similar to Standard types, although this type people who get to trade (college students, mostly) get to start without any limitations. There is also no minimal deposit amount, even technically. You can start trading with just 1 Dollar.
Good news is that the income you’ll get from investing here is also light when it comes to taxation. In many cases, the money isn’t even taxed, so you won’t lose it to the government.
You likely wouldn’t even pay taxes on it in the first place, because the American government isn’t really keen on collecting taxes off trading. Regardless, it seems like an alright deal, considering that TD seems to operate as legally as possible.
These tax-free and cheap offers are possible because TD operates through funds that relieve the burden of paying debts for college students and other young people. In terms of functionality, you don’t get or lose anything.
- Specialty accounts
These accounts are much like corporate plans other providers offer to organizations, corporations, trust, small businesses, even charities. These offers also have their own tax-specific provisions.
At worst, you won’t get into trouble for investing into stuff as a business, while generally receiving the same income. TD tries to keep everything legal, and it’s partially why they are so cheap – so you wouldn’t have to complain too much about paying taxes that you might’ve not paid for your investment income before.
That’s pretty much it. Like other types, you can trade with as little money as you want, while pricing and features are all available to you. There are also minor changes, as with some other subtypes, but they are pretty obscure and specific. If you’re interested in getting legal income off investments at a reasonable price, check the full list out.
Low pricing is a key advantage of this broker. Most relevant assets are traded at zero commission (so, for $0). Non-US stock and ETFs demand token pay of $0,65, and that’s about it for the standard products.
When it comes to spreads, it’s unknown what they are, Ameritrade doesn’t tell you anything about bid/sell differences. Obviously, there are spreads, and they must benefit from them. However, you won’t get any clear numbers until you start to trade with them. And by then, you’re already too deep in.
If we assume the spreads are ‘competitive’, then it’s a fairly good deal, overall. Be aware, though, that zero commission offers are usually rife with wide spreads. This broker is not a charity, they are bound to receive profits somehow.
But with that said, there are some minor tools that, if used by you, demand pay. They are mostly management and advisor tools. For instance, TD has a hotline that advises people on investments decision that receives $5 for advice per asset.
It’s probably a good time to mention that TD is a bit outdated compared to many other brokers. Their website looks pretty fresh, but they arrange many things on a face-to-face basis rather than online. More on that after the software review.
Ameritrade has several platform options to choose from. Like many established brands, they decided to leave MT 4 out of the roster.
Well, it’s understandable – however good their own solutions are, people would still overwhelmingly prefer MT 4, an undeniable leader in trading interfaces.
Well, you won’t find it here. What you will find is some solutions designed by them. Let’s start digging, then.
- TD Web
This is a main platform used on this website. It’s an online platform focused on two things: giving you extensive information surrounding assets, and also plan your decisions with the instruments they supplied.
It’s a basic platform when compared to other available online. It doesn’t have too many indicators or tools, but there are solutions that allow you to easily manage your portfolios (your assets) and receive research and updates surrounding the products that interest you.
This Web platform is basically a research kit. Anytime you like, you can simply choose the product you want and an order through a menu that always sticks to the top of your screen wherever you go on the platform. All to let you build your strategies correctly. To help with it even more, you can receive signals for your preferred products.
Thinkorswim (styled ‘thinkorswim’, but we won’t be using that) is an array of three products for a more in-depth approach to trading. Unlike TD Web that doesn’t really have all the products – they apparently don’t allow trading options and other stuff there – Thinkorswim has everything a trade might want to trade.
These solutions also have more charts, tools and an intuitive interface that accommodates all the necessary instruments and information without overloading the screen.
Other than that, it’s not too special. While TD Web is an interesting research station with the trading capabilities always at hand, Thinkorswim is just an alright solution – much like MetaTrader 4. In fact, it might be an answer to those people who wanted to use MT 4 but couldn’t quite find it here.
There are 3 versions of it: Web, desktop and mobile. If you’d like anything for desktop, there’s only this one.
- TD Mobile
TD Mobile is the same thing as TD Web, but on mobile. That’s pretty much it. You get a more expressive and optimized design, owing to the fact that they had to make the interface smaller.
But you can still view quotes and important information, while always being able to switch to the actual trading whenever you’ve found something worth checking out. Its primary advantage is the fact it fits the pocket, of course. Because of it, you can do all the trading you need away from home.
TD Ameritrade is known for their efficient research functionality. You can learn anything you want about any product, both now and in general. It’s a basic concept, however – if you know anything about brokers, you know how it feels and looks. Helpful as it is, there’s not much to tell.
What you should be told about is how bureaucratic this broker is. They have a very elevated management service that allows you to even visit one of the broker’s branches offline and make a few investments decisions, arrange your portfolio and discuss your possibilities.
They are very much a bank, which is why they are considered old-fashioned. In practical sense, it means they are hard to contact. The customer support can’t be reached easily they have to see to so many things at once. That’s the price of their overextension.
TD Ameritrade is confusing, that’s the best word to describe them. Their offers are decent enough if you figure them out, but they are unreasonably stretched out to several smaller deals that don’t differ from the main ones that much, but still need tons of explaining and informative text.
The problem is that they operate as a banking establishment – they don’t talk about what you can do on their platforms, and they seem to only care about providing beneficial offers taxation-wise.
It’s not really how brokerage providers work nowadays, and there are much more concise and friendly-looking brokers.