A leading online brokerage with low fees, competitive pricing and lauded trading platform and tools, TD Ameritrade is good for beginners with a US focus.
TD Ameritrade is a leading online broker providing low-cost access to the US markets. The brokerage offers a focused selection of products - options, futures, stocks and ETFs only - but takes pains to help its customers succeed.
There’s plenty to like here - including the beginner-friendly, feature-rich trading platform Thinkorswim; well-produced, high-quality educational content featuring real-live professionals; multiple help channels; virtual trading to test your trades; and even a robo-adviser-driven option for those who seek passive investing.
While these features are certainly attractive, is TD Ameritrade a good fit for your investing style? Let’s find out.
Here’s what you’ll learn about TD Ameritrade in this article.
- Overview of TD Ameritrade
- Pros & cons of TD Ameritrade
- Reasons to invest using TD Ameritrade
- Who should use TD Ameritrade?
- Pricing, charges and fees
- TD Ameritrade promotions
- How to set up an account
- Comparison: TD Ameritrade vs other brokerages
Overview of TD Ameritrade
What you can invest in: Stocks, ETFs, options and futures
Minimum balance required: No min. balance required for account opening. However, US$500 required to receive real-time data; US$2,000 for margin capability; US$5,000 to sell options naked; and US$25,000 to actively day-trade.
Deposit fees: None
Withdrawal fees: None
Withdrawal limits: None
Commission: Zero fees for US-listed stocks and ETFs, otherwise US$7.44 for online trades of over-the-counter stocks; US$0.70 per options contract; US$2.41 per futures contract
Inactivity fee: None
Licence: Authorised by Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
|Award-winning, beginner-friendly trading platform||No demo account available|
|Multiple help channels available||Relatively limited account funding methods (at least when compared to local brokerages)|
|Low fees and competitive pricing|
|Excellent educational resources|
Why should you trade with TD Ameritrade?
#1: Beginner-friendly trading platform with host of useful tools and features
TD Ameritrade offers the Thinkorswim trading platform, which is widely recognised as among the best for beginner investors.
Available in three versions - desktop, web and mobile - Thinkorswim offers easy and clear trading powered by intuitive user interfaces. You’ll be happy to discover that all three versions are equally rich in features and capabilities, so you can seamlessly execute trades, do research, create watchlists and more.
Thinkorswim also comes with some nifty features, such as the ability to filter the stocks you want. You can also customise your trading options, which are then saved on the cloud, following you across devices.
Another beginner-friendly feature is Essential Portfolios, which is basically a robo-adviser-driven method of investing. This is great for traders who want to take advantage of portfolio management by a well-known brokerage house.
#2: Multiple help channels
As a customer of TD Ameritrade, chances are you’ll never feel lost for too long.
This is because the brokerage offers a variety of help channels that you can tap on if you need help. Besides the customary 24/7 telephone support, you can also get your questions answered via Whatsapp and email.
The website also contains a comprehensive FAQ section that covers most queries you may have.
#3: Offers popular trading instruments
TD Ameritrade doesn’t have the most extensive collection of trading instruments, but it does offer the most popular ones.
As a customer, you’ll gain access to over 5,000 listed securities across multiple markets and sectors for stocks and ETFs trades. There’s also over 50 futures products, selected for liquidity, as well as a wide range of options.
#4: Excellent educational resources
Another boon for beginners (and anyone seeking to expand their investing knowledge, really), is the excellent collection of educational resources put out by TD Ameritrade.
There are multiple content formats to choose from, including webinars, articles, courses, and even quizzes. The content is also organised according to skill level, allowing you to learn at your own pace.
You can read articles and watch videos at your leisure for ad-hoc learning, or access more structured education with TD Ameritrade Academy. The brokerage also has its own news studio, which features analysis and trading knowledge direct from the professionals.
And while TD Ameritrade does not offer a demo account, there’s a Virtual Trading feature you can use to test out your trading hypothesis to sharpen your results.
For whom is TD Ameritrade best suited?
Traders and investors who are just starting out and are looking for low-cost access to the US market should find TD Ameritrade a good fit.
They’ll likely appreciate the brokerage’s low fees (for US trades, at least), excellent trading platform and tools, and well-produced, in-depth educational resources.
What charges or fees should you look out for?
Like many online brokerages, TD Ameritrade is eliminating fees in an effort to stay competitive, although the zero-fees offer applies only when you’re trading US-listed stocks and ETFs.
However, beware of brokers who advertise zero-commission free trades: a recent article by The Business Times highlighted a trader who sold his shares for a total of US$5,000, only to realise that he found himself in an US$11,000 deficit because of the high settlement fee that he was charged (he was levied with a US$0.003 per share settlement fee on his trade).
For stocks that are not listed on the US exchange, there’s a minimum fee of US$7.44 per trade. While this isn’t the highest fee (some other brokers charge a minimum of US$10 per trade), it’ll still eat into your margins.
However, fees for options and futures are quite competitive, at US$0.70 and US$2.41 per contract respectively.
Using wire transfers or transfers from other brokerages may incur high transfer fees and charges.
What are the promotions available for TD Ameritrade?
Transfer fee rebate
- Transfer at least US$3,500 and receive up to US$100 rebate
- Rebate applicable only for transfer fees charged by banks or other brokerage firms
- Offer valid only for initial funding for new customers
How do you open and fund your TD Ameritrade account?
Opening your TD Ameritrade account
Follow these steps to open your TD Ameritrade account
- Click on the “Open New Account” button in the upper-right corner of the website.
- Follow the online prompts to fill in and submit your application.
- As this broker does not have MyInfo integration, you’ll need to manually upload some documents. To speed up your account opening, be sure to have copies of the following:
- ID verification
- Address validation
- Employment verification
Funding your TD Ameritrade account
You may fund your TD Ameritrade account using any of the following methods.
|Funding method||Crediting lead time||Fees|
|DBS/POSB Electronic Transfer||2 to 3 working days||None|
|Cheque||3 to 5 working days||Clearing fees may apply|
|Wire transfers||3 to 5 working days||Wire transfer fees may apply|
At-a-glance comparison: TD Ameritrade vs other popular brokers
|Commission fee||Minimum deposit||Maintenance fee|
|TD Ameritrade||S$0 for US-listed stocks and ETF
US$7.44 for online trades of over-the-counter stocks
US$0.70 per options contract
US$2.41 per futures contract
|No min. for account opening
Min. US$500 required to receive real time data
Min. US$2,000 for margin capability
Min. US$5,000 to sell options naked
Min. US$25,000 to actively day-trade
|Saxo Markets||Mutual funds and SGX stocks: S$0
US ETFs, CFDs and Stocks: min. S$3
US bonds: min. 0.05%
Bonds, commodities, futures and options: min. S$1.25
|S$2,000 for regular savings plan
S$3,000 for SaxoTraderGo platform
|UOB Kay Hian||SG stocks & stocks CFDs: min. S$10 to S$25
US stocks & stock CFDs: min. USS$20,
SG corporate bonds: min. S$2.14
|S$3,000 for CFDs
S$5,000 for FX
|Maybank Kim Eng||SG stocks: min. S$10 to S$25
US stocks: min. US$20
|Oanda||Daily rates and charges according to market conditions||N/A||Inactivity fee of S$10 per month applies after 12 months without trading activity|
|IG||S$10 minimum for equity CFDs per open/close||N/A||N/A|
|City Index||0.08% or S$10 minimum for Singapore CFDs||S$150||N/A|
|Tiger Brokers||SGX stocks: 0.08%, min. S$2.88 per order (currently waived)
US stocks: US$0.01, min. US$1.99 per trade
|Interactive Brokers (IBKR)||SGX stocks: 0.08% of trade value, min. S$2.50 per order
US stocks: US$0.005 per share, min. US$1 per order
|N/A||Up to USDS$10 per month (less commission paid that month)|
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