TD Ameritrade vs E*TRADE: 2021 Platform Comparison

When choosing a trading platform, users often compare TD Ameritrade vs E*TRADE to see how they fare against one another.

Both TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE are reputable online brokers of nearly the same industry rank and status. Due to a similar pricing structure, the online brokerage comparison between these two platforms is both logical and common in the day trading circles.

So, here’s our input on this topic!

E*TRADE vs TD Ameritrade: Side by Side Comparison

The most accurate way to make an online broker comparison is to see the platforms’ features side-by-side. Here are several of the most relevant (and most commonly inquired about) factors.

TD Ameritrade E*TRADE
Fiduciary: Yes Yes
AUM: $1.32 trillion $346 billion
Account Minimum: $0 $0
Human Advisor: Yes Yes
Mobile app: Yes Yes
Desktop app: Yes No
Robo advisory service: Yes Yes
SIPC coverage: Yes Yes
FDIC insurance: Yes Yes
Trading fees (stocks and ETFs): $0 $0

E*TRADE vs Ameritrade: Ease of Use and Trading Offerings

Let’s start with the registration process and trading offers of both of these platforms. This should set a perimeter for an unbiased broker comparison.

Registering on TD Ameritrade and use of the platform

Starting out on the TD Ameritrade platform takes only several minutes, and it requires just the most basic personal information.

First, you need to list personal and contact info. Second, you need to give your Social Security Number (SSN), Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), and some basic employer data (if applicable).

It’s important to note that the TD Ameritrade platform doesn’t require an account minimum. So, after providing the necessary details, you’re ready to begin your trading journey.

To start trading a specific asset, you need to go to the Client Services, Your Profile, Selections, and Routings section. Then, click enable on the selected asset type.

Here, you can trade:

In terms of cryptocurrency, TD Ameritrade currently offers a chance to trade in Bitcoin futures indirectly.

The platform’s interface is intuitive, and the option of social trading, alongside predefined covered call strategies, makes the TD Ameritrade brokerage account quite beginner-friendly.

Registering on E*TRADE and use of the platform

Like its counterpart, E*TRADE requires personal details, including SSN, residency, and employment information. For non-margin brokerage users, the account minimum is $0, like with TD Ameritrade. The only situation where E*TRADE requires a minimum deposit of $2,000 is when you opt for a margin account. Due to its simplicity of use, this platform is widely considered one of the top stock broker companies for beginners.

Once you transfer money to your account on the E*TRADE platform (which can take 1-10+ business days, depending on the deposit method), you can trade directly from the order-entry platform (its stocks tab).

The assets you can choose from are:

  • Currencies
  • Bonds
  • ETFs
  • Stocks
  • Mutual funds
  • Futures

At the moment, crypto trading with E*TRADE is possible, but not directly. Instead, the platform offers futures trading with access to the CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange). The situation is similar to that with TD Ameritrade, which is one of the reasons why E*TRADE Vs Ameritrade is such a common comparison.

TD Ameritrade vs E*TRADE: Fees

A brokerage fees comparison between TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE is quite close-cut in terms of fees and pricing structure. Here are some examples:

TD Ameritrade E*TRADE
Stocks $0 $0
ETFs $0 $0
Mutual trade funds $49.99 $19.99
Options (per contract) $0.65 $0.65
Futures (per contract) $2.25 $1.50
Broker Assisted Trades $25 $25
Domestic/International wire fee $25 $25

For those interested in trading stocks or ETFs, there’s just a slight difference between the TD Ameritrade fees and those of E*TRADE. Still, if you want to diversify your portfolio further, consider the costs of mutual trade funds, futures, and broker-assisted trades. Here, E*TRADE’s fees are somewhat lower.

Partial account transfers out cost $25 on E*TRADE and $0 on TD Ameritrade. On the other hand, full account transfers out are $75 on both platforms.

In terms of account fees, neither of the two brokers has an annual IRA fee. However, E*TRADE does have an IRA closure fee of $60. So, at least in terms of TD Ameritrade IRA fees, this platform definitely gets ahead of its competitor.

Robo Advisors

When it comes to comparing online brokers through the cost of the robo advisor feature, the difference is quite significant. Namely, on TD Ameritrade, this option is possible through TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios, which charge a 0.30% annual management fee. The minimum account requirement here is $5,000.

On E*TRADE, the robo advisor feature is available for users of E*TRADE Core Portfolios. Here, the annual management fee is also 0.30%, but the account minimum is just $500, making for one of the most noticeable differences in this E*TRADE versus TD Ameritrade comparison.

Considering the broker-assisted trade’s affordability, we can conclude that the total cost is generally in favor of E*TRADE.

Security

In terms of security, both platforms have apps that rely on biometric recognition. This means that either a face or a fingerprint scan will cut it. So far, neither of the brokers had any significant data breaches reported. In other words, this can hardly be used as a determination for those choosing between E*TRADE or Ameritrade.

In terms of money protection, all E*TRADE accounts are FDIC insured, and the same goes for TD Ameritrade.

E*TRADE also offers fraud protection, privacy protection, encryption, and network defenses, as well as two-factor authentication. Security alerts here are automatic and instant, which means that any suspicious activity pushes you to the front as a high-priority security alert.

TD Ameritrade also excels when it comes to security procedures and policies. The asset protection is guaranteed. Also, all measures to protect the devices and identity of its users are in place.

As a part of the TD Ameritrade for beginners plan, there’s a large number of educational resources on the platform. There are also links to free third-party spyware scanners that users should consider before they start trading.

Mobile Apps

E*TRADE has two mobile applications available for both Android and iOS users. While similar in many ways, each of these apps has a specific niche to fill. The first one is E*TRADE Mobile, which is considered the beginner-friendlier E*TRADE app. This platform is great for standard day trading tasks like portfolio management, market research, trading options, watch lists, etc. Its other app, Power E*TRADE Mobile, is an advanced mobile app that contributes to the user experience with an impressive Live Action Feature. In terms of responsiveness, this platform is simply unparalleled.

TD Ameritrade has its own amazing mobile app. This platform also supports both iOS and Android devices, which means that its users can trade and manage their portfolios on the run. TD Ameritrade app for mobile devices is quite responsive and allows you to “move at the speed of the market” in the words of its own creators. Most users report having a positive customer experience with the app.

Desktop Apps

When speaking about apps, it’s important to mention that the most significant difference between these two platforms lies in the fact that E*TRADE completely lacks a desktop app. TD Ameritrade, on the other hand, has an outstanding thinkorswim app available. Maybe because of its amazing desktop (and mobile) app, a common customer complaint is that the app’s web version is not that great. In other words, a fair comparison would be that of thinkorswim vs E*TRADE web-based experience.

An important thing to keep in mind is that while thinkorswim has its own set of features, this platform is only available to TD Ameritrade users. This means that the process of using E*TRADE is simpler, even if it’s not more user-friendly in the long run. Neither TD Ameritrade nor thinkorswim (as a standalone) require an account minimum. This means that there’s virtually no downside to registering in both of these trading platform forms. Moreover, thinkorswim fees are completely in alignment with the rest of TD Ameritrade fees.

Customer Service

Looking into the platforms’ customer services is another way to compare online stock brokers. The differences are subtle, yet worth-considering.

TD Ameritrade customer support

Customer support of TD Ameritrade is available in several different forms. There’s a great FAQ page that helps the community resolve a plethora of minor issues on their own. The platform also has a live chat feature, both with human operators and highly sophisticated chatbots. This chatbot is available on most IM services, ranging from Facebook Messenger and Twitter, all the way to Apple Business Chat and WeChat.

The next relevant thing for this E*Trade versus Ameritrade comparison is their phone chat option, available 24/7 in English. The platform also offers support in Spanish and Chinese. Nonetheless, these options are available only during working hours — Monday-Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

E*TRADE customer support

E*TRADE offers customer support in both its online and offline versions. Online customer support is available via email and live chat. The platform also has a great FAQ page, which provides users with most of the answers they seek.

Like TD Ameritrade customer service, E*TRADE provides outstanding support to their clients via phone. To streamline things, E*TRADE has a different phone line depending on the topic. One more thing that is interesting (as well as worth mentioning) is the fact that users of E*TRADE have an option to submit their customer service inquiries via mail. While many may not see this as a preferred customer support form, it’s an additional option at their disposal.

Responsiveness

For those who try to compare E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade through their customer service responsiveness, it’s a pretty close call.

Via email, the response arrives within hours (sometimes as little as 20-30 minutes). Bear in mind, though, that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, phone lines of both these brokers are swamped, which means that it may take a bit longer to get a response.

Who Is E*TRADE Best for?

The E*TRADE platform has so much to offer to its users. First of all, tools are easy to use. Second, fees are either low or non-existent. In most ways, E*TRADE options are similar to those of its TD Ameritrade counterpart. There are also human-assisted trades and robo advisors available, which can be quite helpful for new and inexperienced users. The brokerage also offers great customer support and a large investment asset selection to choose from. Minimum account requirements for E*TRADE Core Portfolio, however, are significantly lower than those for TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios ($500 to $5,000).

Although the E*TRADE day trading venue is quite beginner-friendly, it’s clear that it takes a bit more experienced traders to get the most value out of it. Popular choice among intermediate users, this platform holds a high spot on any top day trading platforms list.

Who Is TD Ameritrade Best for?

TD Ameritrade is usually described as the ultimate day trading platform for beginners. Its thinkorswim is one of the best desktop apps in the industry. Tools and educational materials available on this platform are one of its strongest selling points. There’s no account minimum, and the TD Ameritrade commission is low or non-existent for all available assets.

The trading algorithm on this platform is second to none, and the responsiveness is similar on desktop, web-based, and mobile. Given the fact that E*TRADE doesn’t have a desktop app, to begin with, in this regard, TD Ameritrade is clearly ahead in this comparison of brokerage firms.

Which Is Better, E*TRADE or Ameritrade?

There are several factors to consider as part of this TD Ameritrade vs E*TRADE comparison. TD Ameritrade is clearly superior for beginners, while intermediate users may be able to get more from E*TRADE.

The robo advisory feature on E*TRADE is more frugal for starting out due to a lower initial deposit, but the management fees for this service are the same for both platforms.

Lastly, E*TRADE has superior mobile options (two excellent apps). On the other hand, E*TRADE lacks a desktop app, while TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim is arguably the best desktop app in the industry.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Content writer and amateur boxer. A few years ago, I dived into the financial world with an aim to help both heavyweight and lightweight investors make a knockout. I love to spend my free time watching movies and playing video games. Other than this, doing the best I can to support my kid in achieving his lifelong dream of becoming a Ninja Turtle.

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