E*TRADE vs. TD Ameritrade 2019

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E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade brokerages have followed similar paths in the last three decades, building track records of trustworthiness and efficient order execution dating back to the advent of online trading in the early 1990’s. These financial powerhouses have grown exponentially in customer base and service offerings over the years, providing comprehensive trading, investment and research facilities for individual investors. TD Ameritrade is best-known for its powerful thinkorswim platform while E*TRADE’s OptionsHouse software has been rebranded as Power E*TRADE.

  • Account Minimum: $500
  • Fees: $6.95 stock and ETF trading
  • Awards: Best for Options
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  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $6.95 for stock and ETF trades, $6.95 per leg plus $0.75 for options
  • Awards: Best for Beginners and Expert Traders
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Trade Experience

E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade offer clean, intuitive desktop and mobile experiences. Web and platform-based portals overflow with actionable information, analytics and resources that are presented without clutter or confusion. Account holders at both brokerages can also upgrade to professional or advanced platforms that expand trading and investment opportunities.

Trade Experience

E*TRADE

  • Powerful mobile and desktop experience
  • Intuitive portfolio management 
  • Easily navigate between investment options

TD Ameritrade

  • Advanced thinkorswim platform 
  • Comprehensive options chains and strategies
  • Timely data and technical analysis

Mobile and Emerging Tech

Both brokers offer robust mobile applications for iOS and Android. E*TRADE customers seeking investment advice can build a Core Portfolio, which automates passive indexed strategies utilizing modern portfolio theory. Minimum account size is $5,000 and fees are 0.30% per year of assets managed. TD Ameritrade’s Essential Portfolios robo-advisor follows similar strategies as Core Portfolios, also requiring a $5,000 minimum balance and charging 0.30% per year.

Mobile and Emerging Tech

E*TRADE

  • Feature rich mobile apps
  • Low fee robo-advisor
  • Mobile support for advanced platforms

TD Ameritrade

  • Access thinkorswim through mobile app
  • Low fee robo-advisor
  • 300+ indicators and studies

News and Research

E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade provide complimentary tool sets that feature streaming news, asset screening, fundamental analysis and ratios, advanced technical charting and detailed analyst reports. TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform aggregates social media cues and technical signals to augment decision-making while the Power E*TRADE platform reduces the learning curve for complex options strategies. While each software package contains unique features, they are comparable in terms of research, charting and ease of use.

News and Research

E*TRADE

  • Planning tools and calculators
  • Technical analysis charting tools
  • TipRanks recommendations

TD Ameritrade

  • Feature rich technical analysis reports
  • Extensive webinar schedule
  • Advanced platform aggregates social media cues

Education and Security

E*TRADE offers a library of articles and videos suitable for beginners but the educational section is limited to core principles. On the other hand, TD Ameritrade has done an excellent job assembling tutorials under a well-organized Education menu. Clients can sort and filter content by topic, media type and skill level while tracking progress that opens new materials based on growing interests and current knowledge.

Both companies are regulated by FINRA and SIPC and carry federal deposit insurance plus additional third-party insurance coverage in case anything goes awry. 

Education and Security

E*TRADE

  • Webinars and in-person events
  • Diverse selection of videos 
  • Additional third party insurance coverage

TD Ameritrade

  • Broad range of educational materials
  • Social Signals portal that scans Twitter
  • Additional third party insurance coverage

Costs

E*TRADE charges $6.95 to buy and sell stocks or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), dropping to $4.95 for clients making 30 or more trades per quarter. TD Ameritrade commissions match its rival at $6.95 for stocks and ETFs but there are no active trader discounts. The list of commission-free ETFs has grown to more than 300 at TD Ameritrade while E*TRADE boasts a list of more than 250. Trading futures costs a little more at TD Ameritrade, at $2.25 per contract compared with E*TRADE’s $1.50 per contract.

Costs

E*TRADE

  • Stock trade fees: $6.95
  • Options trade fees $6.95 + $0.75 per contract
  • Futures trade fees: $1.50 per contract

TD Ameritrade

  • Stock trade fees: $6.95
  • Options trade fees $6.95 + $0.75 per contract
  • Futures trade fees: $2.25 per contract

Methodology

Investopedia’s mission is to provide online investors with the most unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of self-directed brokers. Vetted by multiple industry experts – including a financial research firm with more than 20 years of experience in broker ratings – Investopedia’s Broker Ratings and Reviews embody industry best practices for research design.

Investopedia consulted independent researchers, and financial institutions, and conducted multiple tests, to design a system that rates brokers based on 10 categories and 149 carefully selected variables. Selection of ratings elements was a culmination of 5,498 survey responses, 100+ hours of industry research, and 100 hours of user feedback. Each category encapsulates the key elements needed for thorough evaluation. All have been tested for replicable results with a battery of evaluators. Every review goes through a rigorous verification process to maintain editorial separation and ensure an unbiased ratings result.

Source: Investopedia