E*TRADE vs TD Ameritrade: Which is The Better Investing Platform?

    by Benjamin Aronson
Updated December 3, 2021

Which online broker is the best for you and your investment style? If you’re asking yourself that same question then you’re in the right place! E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade are two of the top online brokers in the market. Choosing the right firm is a hard decision, that’s why we’re here to help. In our head to head comparison, we going to strip down E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade to their bits and bolts. That way we can find the best online broker for your needs. Our team analyzed E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade from top to bottom. We based our recommendations on the general features E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade have to offer.

You are going to get a broad perspective of what they look like from above. In this review, we put a strong emphasis on fees, investment options, and trading platforms available. Overall E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade have very similar business models. The differences are in their details. We point them out down below, let’s check them out!

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How Much Do They Cost? 

E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade have joined the revolution offering free

commissions for all online trades. So which one should you pick? 

Let’s take a quick general look at the two competitors!

 

E*TRADE

Account Minimum: 0USD

Fees: E*TRADE does not charge a commission on stocks or ETF trades.

TD Ameritrade

Account Minimum: 0USD

Fees: TD Ameritrade does not charge a commission on stocks or ETF trades.

E*TRADE vs TD Ameritrade: Commission Chart 

Trading costs is one of the main things to consider when choosing an online broker. Over a lifetime, fees and commissions can eat up hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Below is a more in-depth look of the costs (commissions) associated with E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade.

Broker

Stocks

ETFs

Options

Mutual Funds 

E*TRADE 

$0 (Exchange listed U.S stocks)

$0 (online)

Contract fee

$0.65/$0.50* 

$19.99

TD Ameritrade

$0 (online U.S listed stocks)

$0 (online- domestic & Canida) 

Contract fee $0.65 per trade

$49.99

E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade don’t charge annual fees or inactivity fees.

But they do slightly differ.

E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade offer commission-free trading of stocks and ETFs. Option traders pay a per- contract charge of $0.65. Although, E*TRADE offers a reduced charge of $0.50 per contract for high volume traders (above 30 a quarter*).

Mutual fund commissions are relatively expensive, $19.99 at E*TRADE and a massive $49.99 at TD Ameritrade.

If you’re a high volume option trader or your interested in investing in mutual funds, E*TRADE is the right online broker for you. If you’re not interested in options nor mutual funds, then neither has much of a savings advantage over the other.

 

UPDATED NOTE:

  • In February 2020, Morgan Stanley announced their intent to acquire  E*TRADE
  • In November 2019, Chares Schwab released they intent to purchase TD Ameritrade

These mergers are expected to take years to complete 

Investment Selection 

E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade have a wide variety of investments that do slightly differ from one another. Truth be told, it may not be critical for the average investor, but it is important to know.

Both E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade offer countless commission-free ETFs and a wide variety of stock trading.

E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade have options, complex options, shorts, Roth IRAs, mutual funds, bonds, commodities, cryptocurrency and more!

When it comes down to futures E*TRADE has the edge. E*TRADE has over 200 futures available to trade while TD Ameritrade has just about 60.

It is important to note that foreign currency trading (forex) is only available with TD Ameritrade. E*TRADE discontinued their forex trading in 2015.

Asset E*TRADE TD Ameritrade
Stocks-Short & Long

Options/Complex Options 

ETF

Futures/Commodities

Mutual Funds

9,000+

13,000+

Bonds

Cryptocurrency

Forex

????

Roth IRA

International Exchange

????

OTC, OTCBB Penny Stocks

Fractional Shares

To put things into perspective, TD Ameritrade has a larger investment selection as well as the ability to trade forex when E*TRADE does not.

If you trade forex or you’re looking for a very wide variety of investments then TD Ameritrade might be for you.

Trading Platforms 

E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade offer clean, intuitive browser-based investing services. They offer mobile and desktop platforms that way you can always stay connected.

Were going to go over the mobile apps and desktop platforms of these two giants below.

Mobile Apps

E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade have top of the line investing apps. Both online brokers created easy to use applications for their clients.

E*TRADE identified that not all investors have the same knowledge, and therefore made two apps. 

E*TRADE

  1. E*TRADE Mobile app– A beginner app that allows you to connect to markets and accounts from anywhere.
    • Named “Best in Class” by Stockbrokers.com
    • Manage cash easily
    • News and research available on the platform
  2. Power E*TRADE app- A slightly more advanced app with an innovative program built for anyone.
    • View market with streaming quotes
    • Spot potential trades 
    • Loaded with easy to features and trading tools
  1.  

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade also created two apps so their customers can seize the opportunity to trade anywhere!

  1. TD Ameritrade Mobile app- TD Ameritrade created a beginner app for all of your basic investing needs.
    • You can navigate markets easily
    • Easy to use
    • Real-time quotes and price alerts
  2. thinkorswim Mobile app- The thinkorswim app has advanced trading platforms that upgrade the investing experience.
    •  
    • Hundreds of technical indicators
    • Helpful educational videos
    • Modern platform 

Both brokers display powerful mobile apps available for iOS and Android.

Desktop Platform

E*TRADE has two-level menus which can be confusing at the start. The two levels are identical to their mobile apps. From active trading to online learning, you can access anything you need from an investor’s standpoint.

TD Ameritrade also has a two leveled menu just like E*TRADE. They offer a traditional web platform equipped with all the tools an investor may need.

The second platform, thinkorswim is a professional-level trading platform. TD Ameritrade loaded thinkorswim with everything they have to offer. 

These platforms provide streaming news, asset screening, fundamental analysis, detailed charts and more! They separately pulled together all they could to help investors learn and maximize opportunity. 

Each broker provides advanced easy to use services to understand and get on top of the investing game. TD Ameritrade went into unbelievable detail in their standard platforms and E*TRADE has a top of the line mobile app.

Security 

Being investment companies, E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade have high levels of security.

Both brokers take security very seriously to protect clients from hackers and external dangers.

E*TRADE bank accounts are FDIC- insured and compliant with all requirements. They are also a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), meaning that clients are protected up to $500,000.

Just like E*TRADE, TD Ameritrade are members of the SIPC and all of their bank accounts are FDIC- insured.

These guys are definitely not scammers and take client security super seriously. E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade are two of the larger broker firms in the United States, you can’t expect any less.

The Verdict 

E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade are top-notch online brokers. As a seasoned investor, I can personally say that both businesses offer the best of the best.

Truth be told most investors would be happy with either. At the end of the day, the decision comes down to your style of investing. 

We analyzed the main decision points while taking the average investor into consideration.

If you still have trouble, let’s look at the bare facts. TD Ameritrade takes the gold in investment options and E*TRADE is the winner when it comes down to cost efficiency for the more active investor.

If you’re looking for variety, TD Ameritrade is for you. But if your an active trader looking for possible lower costs, E*TRADE might be right for you.

Now that you found the right online broker that fits your investing style, get investing!

 

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