TD Ameritrade Review – 2020

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As one of the nation’s largest brokerage firms, TD Ameritrade is equally well suited to beginner investors as it is to full-time traders. The firm offers a variety of educational tools and in-branch seminars for novice investors. Their downloadable Think or Swim platform is ideal for advanced investors looking for customized data and wanting to trade forex. After acquiring Scottrade in 2017, the firm now has 280+ physical branches available for investors and live staff support through several chat platforms.

While there are multiple tools available, investors will need to switch between different programs to get the full picture of their investment analysis. This might be inconvenient, but TD Ameritrade makes up for it with convenient high tech via its mobile, web, and app platforms. Think or Swim is powerful and very similar to the full desktop application since customized options only need to be set once. These can also be automatically adjusted for its mobile and desktop versions.

Available investments

The brokerage firm offers a variety of investment products including CME Bitcoin futures, but cryptocurrency trading isn’t currently offered. Investors can place and schedule trades from both mobile, web, and Think or Swim without restriction between platforms. 

Some of the most common products offered by TD Ameritrade are:

  • Stocks, Options, & EFTs
  • Futures & Forex
  • Annuities, Bonds, & CDs
  • Cash management & managed portfolios

TD Ameritrade offers a wider variety of investment products than some of its top competitors but it also has higher fees. The firm reluctantly modified its pricing structure later than most and still has higher rates in some areas. A merger between TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab was announced in late 2019. Despite this, it’s uncertain when Schwab will implement its own pricing and product offerings on TD Ameritrade customers.

Customer service 

It’s important to take reviews with a grain of salt. A company will only display their best feedback on their site, while third-party sites are often overly negative. So, it’s important to consider the context of each review. 

TD Ameritrade has a 2-star rating on TrustPilot with some of their branches having received similar 2-star ratings on Yelp. Many of the complaints reference restrictions placed on accounts without notice and having difficulty placing trades quickly enough. Long wait times to resolve these issues is another frequent complaint.

TD Ameritrade offers AI chatbots on Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Apple Business Chat, and WeChat (Asia), as well as live chat support. These methods can help traders escalate issues while being able to work on other things at the same time.

On their website, the firm touts their superiority and proudly displays being ranked #1 Best Overall Broker by Stockbrokers.com for the second year in a row. In both positive and negative reviews, the Think or Swim platforms receive accolades for being a superior investment software for all types of investors.

Ease of use

The firm offers a large educational library, but investors have had to take significant time to uncover specific queries. Novice investors could be initially overwhelmed trying to find the right keywords when searching for guidance and the array of customization offered on the Think or Swim platform. Overall, new and experienced investors will experience a proportional learning curve with TD Ameritrade, but it can be mastered quickly.

The company offers a 24/7 phone line, chatbots and live chat support and many detailed guides for Think or Swim users. It also has a large library of educational articles, videos, and offers live training sessions at branch locations. It may take a bit of patience for investors to find the resource they are looking for, but TD Ameritrade has answers to most financial questions. Overall, investors will find the platforms intuitive and easy to use.

Key differentiators

Like most brokerage firms, TD Ameritrade joined the bandwagon and now offers $0 commissions for most common investment choices like ETFs and US Stocks. It’s also an affordable option as it doesn’t have a minimum account balance requirement. Zero commission trades, no account balance requirements, and the massive educational resources make it a great choice for beginner investors.

Pros

  • $0 commission for online stocks, EFTs, and options.
  • Quality screeners, tools, and analytical research.
  • Education resources are plentiful and quite helpful.
  • It offers more types of investments compared to its main competitors like Fidelity and Charles Schwab. Investors can trade cryptocurrency and Forex with TD Ameritrade’s platforms.

Cons

  • Investors will likely need to use more than one trading system to access all relevant tools.
  • The firm has a vast offering of tools and education, which can make it hard to quickly find the relevant resources.
  • Investors are limited to mainly American and some Canadian investments. It’s not a good fit for those looking for international exposure.

The firm does charge a flat fee of $6.95 for penny stocks and has some other additional fees that competitors don’t. Therefore, it might not be the best choice for experienced and purely cost-focused investors.

Beginner investors will find the expansive collection of educational resources and highly customizable options in the Think or Swim platform to be overwhelming. They can find other alternatives by using its standard dashboard. Think or Swim isn’t for beginners, but they can learn this program in time with TD Ameritrade’s vast instructional resources.

Bottom line

In late 2019, Charles Schwab announced that it would be acquiring TD Ameritrade in a $26 billion deal. However, it could be some time before TD Ameritrade customers see any changes. It’s uncertain how this will impact current investors regarding fee changes and ease of use. This merger could result in a stronger firm with superior customer service and resources if they’re managed correctly.

As it operates now, TD Ameritrade is an excellent firm to invest with for both new and seasoned investors. Its educational library, robust Think or Swim platform, and minimal trading costs make it stand out from the rest. It also has valuable insights and offers top-notch tools to its customers, which can be seen via its positive customer service ratings. 

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