In the past year I've reviewed quite a few online brokers on this site. Many of them were very highly reviewed by customers and industry press alike. One that stands out among the pack, however, even with all the other great brokerages out there is TD Ameritrade .
TD Ameritrade has received accolades from such publications as Barron's, Kiplingers and Smart Money. Their slate of investing tools, research and commitment to customer education is second to none. It's a great place to invest, especially for long term investors.
So today I thought I'd do an in depth TD Ameritrade review, examining the history of this company, talking about the multiple awards they've received, as well as ticking off some of the important details like fees, mobile options and more. So here we go.
History Of TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade has a history that goes back to the 1960s when it's investment banking business roots started via a company called Rahel, Knack and Co. From Wikipedia:
The company started as an investment banking business named Rahel, Knack and Co. in the 1960s in Omaha, Nebraska. It was purchased in 1975 by J. Joseph Ricketts, Robert Perelman, and David G. Kellogg, renamed First Omaha Securities, and became one of the first firms to offer negotiated commissions.
Ricketts acquired the company completely from the other two founders in 1981. The company became AmeriTrade Clearing in 1983. In March 1997, Ameritrade became a publicly held company. In 2005 Ameritrade acquired TD Waterhouse and was renamed TD Ameritrade.
TD Ameritrade has grown significantly since those early days inthe 60's and now they have over six million customers in the U.S. If you include international customers it's even higher.
TD Ameritrade is member of SIPC, which means your investments are protected by SIPC insurance up to $500,000 and $100,000 of it can be in cash. This means that you are protected against TD Ameritrade becoming insolvent, although this of course does not mean that you are protected against market losses. Investor beware.
TD Ameritrade has consistently been ranked among the top brokerages in the industry. Among the awards they've received in just the past few years:
- Kiplinger named them #1 Best online broker for 2011 and called them “a great value proposition for long-term investors“.
- Barron's ranked TD Ameritrade #1 Best site for novices in their 2012 annual review of online stock and option brokers.
- Barron's ranked TD Ameritrade #2 Best site for long term investing in their 2012 annual review of online stock and option brokers.
- Barron's ranked TD Ameritrade #3 Best site for options traders in their 2012 annual review of online stock and option brokers.
- Smart Money recognized them as the #1 discount brokerage firm, tied with one other company in SmartMoney's 2011 review of online brokers
- Stockbrokers.com ranked TD Ameritrade #1 overall broker in their 2012 broker review.
So if you're a long term investor like me you can see that they're a great value proposition for us, as well as being rated #1 in many reviews on online brokerages. So you know they're going to be well worth a look.
TD Ameritrade Fees, Commissions And Minimums
One of the most important things when it comes to your retirement accounts are the fees, commissions and minimums on the account. Depending on how much you're paying, it can cut into your gains pretty significantly. TD Ameritrade has no account minimums, no maintenance fees and low costs when it comes to other things you'll need to do.
TD Ameritrade has a low cost $9.99 stock trade, which is in about average or slightly above average for the industry. Considering all the tools and research you're getting, it's definitely a decent price.
For option trades, they also charge $9.99 per trade, plus 75 cents per contract.
Account Minimums and Fees
There are no monthly minimums, inactivity fees or account maintenance fees with TD Ameritrade
Broker assisted stock trades are $49.99. To see a full schedule of their fees, head on over to their site.
Want to open an account? There is also no minimum account funding level to open a cash account. The minimum is $2,000 to open an options or margin account.
If you're looking for trading tools, TD Ameritrade has a bunch of great tools that you can access on their site. Their Trade Architect tool-set has custom charts, earnings and probability analysis, watch lists for your favorite stocks, as well as an integrated community to help you out when you've got a question.
TD Ameritrade's Thinkorswim Trading Platform was given the honor of being the number one trading platform by Barron’s, so you know that their tools will be helpful. Add to that the fact that they have award winning mobile trading apps. Apps are available for Blackberry, iPhone, Ipad, Android, or Windows phone. Making trades while not at home has never been easier.
If you need research, TD Ameritrade has reports available from Jaywalk Consensus, Research Team, Market Edge, S&P Columns, and S&P Research. You can also buy Premium reports from a variety of sources for an extra cost if you need more in depth analysis. Most people probably won't need that, but if you do, it's there.
Available Account Types
TD Ameritrade has a variety of investing and saving account types to choose from. You'll have the standard IRA and Roth IRA accounts along with a variety of other savings and specialty accounts.
- Standard Accounts: Individual, Joint Tenants, Tenant in Common, Community Property, Tenants by the Entireties, Guardianship or Conservatorship.
- Retirement Accounts: Traditional and Roth IRAs, Rollover IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA
- Education Savings Accounts: 529, Coverdell ESA, UGMA/UTMA.
- Specialty Investing Accounts: Trust, Limited Partnership, Partnership, Investment Club, LLC, Sole Proprietorship, Corporate, Non-Incorporated Organization, Pension or Profit Plan for Small Business.
A Great Investing Option
TD Ameritrade is one of the first options I would recommend when opening an online brokerage account. They are definitely one of the most awarded and most recommended options by industry press, receiving countless awards for long term investors over the past couple of years. Their fees are low or in line with industry average, and the commissions are more than reasonable. They also have a great slate of trading tools, investing research and mobile apps.
Definitely put them on your short list of places to open your next online brokerage account.
Have you got an account with TD Ameritrade? Tell us about your experience with them in the comments!