TD Ameritrade Review 2020

General Information

Website URL: https://www.tdameritrade.com/

Founded: 1975

Regulation: SEC, FINRA, CFTC

Languages: English, Chinese

Deposit Methods: Bank wire transfer, credit cards, e-wallets

Minimum Deposit: $0

Free Demo Account: yes

Types of Assets: CFDs, ETFs, commodities

TD Ameritrade is considered a safe broker company with several decades of experience. It is focused primarily on the beginner traders, which is strange considering how delicate and complicated it is to bring each and every one of them to the level of trading success that would satisfy them. So, what’s the company’s secret?

Since the big crisis of late 2019 on the trading market, the companies from across the globe have decided to significantly decrease their costs and commissions on the majority of transactions. As a result, Ameritrade has stripped all the clients of paying any commissions for trading stocks, as well as attach a lot smaller fees to other types of contracts that you can sign up for with your broker.

So, how does Ameritrade earn money? The majority of companies will apply significant fees to make profits on the return, no matter if you succeed on the market or not. However, Ameritrade does things a bit differently. The first way that this company is able to profit is through interest in cash. In other words, the company earns a significant amount of capital based on the difference of what you’ve deposited and how much you’ve earned through your cash balances. Next option is called payment for order flow, and it is essentially a generated income through each signed contracted between the client and the broker.

One of the most successful ways that are beneficial for both the company and the clients is called the Stock loan program. By signing up for this program, you as a client are allowing the company to lend the money as a part of your balance on the account to other clients. This is a huge commitment, and the company is able to earn a lot of profits this way. Then in return, you can earn your own benefits when it comes to positions and transactions.

Lastly, we should also mention things like price improvements and portfolio margins. The first term is referring to the price movements on the tradeable assets that you are choosing, which can be quite beneficial at times. And when it comes to portfolio margins, you can benefit from bringing down the costs based on the risk calculations on the market during each trading day.

Regulation

As we mentioned already, Ameritrade has quite a great track record when it comes to regulation in the United States. It actually owns 3 licences, which not a lot of companies are able to say. The first one is the licence by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC for short. Let us put it like this – if you want to provide trading services on the US soil, it is absolutely imperative that you own a licence provided by this regulatory body. SEC has quite a long reputation at not only regulating and overseeing the work of trading companies, but also ensuring the functioning flow of the entire financial system of the United States. 

On the other hand, FINRA is a privately owned corporation that is regulating the entire area of trading services for quite some time now. It is completely independent from the government, which only adds to its importance. Lastly, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is perhaps one of the toughest and strictest regulatory agencies in the US. It is a governmental regulatory agency that deals with all the operations attached to the commodities trading, which has its own unique characteristics and features. As a result of this, a different set of rules is needed to be applied here, and CFTC is making sure that happens with all the trading companies that it regulates, including Ameritrade.

Account Types

This is where things get a bit tricky at Ameritrade. Namely, having a lot of options is a good idea 99% of the time. When you have many options, the chances are much smaller for you to choose wrong, can you relate? However, the other 1% of the time is where Ameritrade comes in. The clients from all over the globe who want to trade with this company were taken aback by the huge variety of choices when it comes to account types. The main reason for this is the fact that they are not even sure what are the differences between most of them. This takes away the entire point of having different account packages. It also makes it more of a downside than anything else.

As we mentioned already, you will need to be a US citizen if you wish to open an account with Ameritrade. Then, there is no minimum deposit requirement, which is also good. A little too good to be true, if you ask us. Namely, there are over 10 different account types and subtypes which you can choose. The trouble here is that there aren’t much different than the other, so the beginners might lose their way. This is strange, considering that Ameritrade claims its dedication to beginner traders primarily, and making their trading journey easier than with other companies.

The first account type is the individual account, which is evident within the name itself. Then, there is also a joint account, which is also suitable. Later down the line, however, we are finding account types such as retirement and pensions, which we are still not sure what is the difference between, really. Then, there is also the trust account as well as the guardian account for minors, who cannot entering the market until they turn 18, or 21 in the United States. As you can see, there is quite a lot of confusion here, and Ameritrade could use a bit clarity in this section.

Trading Platform

The Ameritrade trading platform is quite responsive. It has three modes available – web, mobile and desktop. There is also a separate platform solution for the clients – Thinkorswim. This is a fully simulated platform. It allows you to train your skills and acquire new knowledge about the trading activity without investing any real money. This works similarly to a demo account, which is a great thing for beginner traders.

However, the main downside that we have to mention is that the platform is not fully customizable. Despite being available for all devices and operating systems, the technology does not seem to be there yet and Ameritrade. As a result, the platform takes quite a while to load and it does not offer you the chance to use the full selection of trading signals and tools through all the platform modes. This really takes away the whole point of having different platform types and modes, if you ask us.

Now, let’s get to the selection of tradeable assets. Namely, there are over 100 different assets which you can trade with Ameritrade. However, they are not able to make up for the fact that there isn’t a single currency pair available. That’s right! Ameritrade lacks the Forex trading activity completely, which is a huge downside. However, there are many options and even some mutual funds available, if you are into that sort of thing. Overall, this trading company could use a lot of improvement in this section as well.

Deposits and Withdrawals

As we mentioned already, the funding process is quite versatile and simple at Ameritrade. First, we should notify you that there are no minimum deposit requirements. Also, there are no fees or commissions attached to this process. Regardless of the amount you are trying to put into your account! Then, there is fact that the only currency available for your account is USD. This fact kind of serves as a downside for this section. And as you will soon learn, the entire section is this way – with every upside comes to the downside.

There are many different options to make a deposit on your account. You will learn that on their extensive and detailed webpage. However, one of them is the account transfer, which comes with quite a significant conversion fee. This is usually not the case at other companies, so we find it quite strange with Ameritrade. Other options are the standard bank transfers and checks, which are quite traditional options that not many companies offer today.

Verdict

Lastly, the only option that is available for withdrawals is through a bank wire transfer. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Of course, if it wasn’t for the fact that the withdrawal fee is the astonishing $25. This is quite a big commitment to ask from your clients. Also, the waiting times could take up to several business days. However, this is the only choice that you have, so think hard before you choose Ameritrade!