Fidelity vs. TD Ameritrade
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TD Ameritrade is a broker giant that has gobbled up multiple trading tools and brokerages. As a result, the thinkorswim platform offers the best tools for advanced traders. However, Fidelity is a low-cost brokerage with top-notch trade execution and offers a better robo-advisory platform.
Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade – Quick Comparison
Fidelity Investments has offered a well-rounded brokerage with no commissions on stocks, ETFs, or options, but that’s not enough to beat TD Ameritrade now that it has commission-free trading, too.
- $0 commission fees on stocks, ETFs, and options with a $0.65 per contract rate
- Thousands of NTF mutual funds and zero expense funds offered through Fidelity Zero program
- Stock research from over 20 different providers including Recognia, Thomson Reuters, and Ned Davis
- Fidelity Go, despite being fairly new, is one of the best robo-advisor tools for manage your portfolio at a low-cost, using comprehensive breakdowns of risk and profit.
- Intuitive mobile app for iOS and Android with all assets and complex ordering ability, as well as a customizable dashboard
- $0 commission fees on stocks, ETFs, and options with a $0.65 per contract rate
- Some higher account fees for transfers, wire transfers, and account balances with Essential Portfolios
- Robo-advisor services are comprehensive but require a $5,000 minimum deposit
- Robust education center with advanced research tools that include everything under the sun to help you with risk, diversification, strategies, and virtual simulation
- Active traders love the thinkorswim platform as it opens up more possibilities for assets and complex order types
- Multiple mobile apps that offer the best trading tools, real-time data, charts, and tools for active traders
Fees and Commissions
One of the main benefits to using a discount brokerage is that there are hardly any fees. With the change to zero commissions on trading, many brokerages have leveled the playing field. TD Ameritrade changed over to commission-free trading in October 2019.
With this change, TD Ameritrade now matches Fidelity in commission-free trading for stocks, ETFs, and options. Both brokerages charge $0.65 per contract for options. There are also no minimum account balances required, and they have no annual fees, inactivity fees, or partial account transfers.
However, they do differ in a few areas including:
- $75 full account transfer fee is required for TD Ameritrade
- Fidelity’s robo-advisory services Fidelity Go charges 0.35% of your portfolio as a fee
- TD Ameritrade’s Essential Portfolios charges 0.30% of your account balance
- Selective Portfolio is the premium advisory service, which charges 0.75% to 0.90% annual management fee
- TD Ameritrade requires a $5,000 minimum deposit for Essential Portfolios
- Mutual fund trade fees are almost the same for both, including $49.99 for TD Ameritrade and $49.95 for Fidelity
- Broker-assisted trades cost $44.99 for TD Ameritrade and $32.95 with Fidelity
- TD Ameritrade charges fees for returned ACH, returned wires, stock certificate delivery fees, domestic wires, and international wires
- Fidelity only charges a $100 stock certificate delivery fee, compared to TD Ameritrade’s $500 delivery fee
Margin rates are also significantly higher with TD Ameritrade for all investment account balances. You can save by trading on margin with Fidelity, although the rates are still higher than other brokerages like Robinhood or Interactive Brokers.
Winner: Overall, Fidelity has lower fees for all trades, account costs, and services.
This is a close match-up for almost all tradable securities. Both brokerages offer stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, and forex. However, cryptocurrencies are not available to trade with Fidelity.
TD Ameritrade announced a partnership with ErisX, which means it will offer cryptocurrency trading to its customers. You currently can’t trade cryptocurrency directly with Fidelity.
TD Ameritrade offers over 13,000 mutual funds, and 4,000 of them can be traded without any transaction fees. However, if you don’t like any of these funds, it will cost you $49.99 in commission fees. While load funds do not have a fee, you will have to pay a sales commission.
There are over 3,900 mutual funds with Fidelity that don’t have a fee, but the rest also require a $49.99 per trade cost.
To trade on the forex with Fidelity, then you’ll need to sign up with Fidelity Forex, which is separate from the main brokerage. You get access to more currencies and complete direct transfers to and from your brokerage accounts. TD Ameritrade also offers forex, but it’s not available for all currencies like with Fidelity.
Winner: TD Ameritrade offers more investments since futures and cryptocurrencies are not available on Fidelity. However, forex traders would be better suited to Fidelity.
Trade Experience and Security
This category was difficult to determine due to the size and breadth of both brokerages. Fidelity and TD Ameritrade do their best to offer as many tools, order types, and research capabilities to their customers.
TD Ameritrade is the larger brokerage that has merged with many other brokerages to form such a comprehensive platform. You can use thinkorswim, Trade Architecture, and other tools to ensure that you have the best portfolio.
These are considered best-in-class due to their customization features. The thinkorswim platform also offers more benefits to day traders with ladder trading, trade ideas through the virtual simulator, and streaming time horizons.
For serious traders who want to trade in higher volumes with stocks, ETFs, options, futures, and forex, the thinkorswim platform is regarded as the best. It has every feature that an advanced trader might need, including technical analysis tools, studies, customizable screeners, market heat maps, and advanced order types.
There are also more technical analysis tools, customizable screeners, backtesting tools, and other paper trading options, and none of them have any trade balance minimums.
In comparison, traders have access to plenty of tools on Fidelity’s platform, and you get more help if you are not sure how to buy stocks for the first-time. All platforms sync together through the cloud, and you can customize just about everything with the desktop application Active Trader Pro. If you place at least 36 trades in a year, you will automatically get a subscription to Active Trader Pro, but otherwise, you’ll need to request access.
There are about 20 third-party providers available with Fidelity, including Ned Davis, Recognia, Thomson Reuters, and McLean Capital Management. You can view stock snapshot pages that combine all ratings for governance, social, and environmental factors.
Fidelity also offers more guidance inside of its tools to help new investors figure out difficult orders and understand all asset classes. Both active and passive investors can take advantage of Fidelity’s intuitive platform and tools.
Winner: TD Ameritrade has a better platform with thinkorswim, which is regarded as the best on the market. However, Fidelity has more tools for new investors who need guidance.
Online Advisors and Educational Offerings
As two comprehensive brokerages, Fidelity Go and TD Ameritrade do their best to offer the latest in robo-advisor technology and educational tools. In our review, we found that it may be more difficult to use Essential Portfolio from TD Ameritrade than Fidelity Go.
Fidelity Advisors and Educational Tools
Fidelity Go is the brokerage’s intuitive, incredibly detailed robo-advisor and account management platform. With their low fees and $0 account minimum, there are some drawbacks for those who want tax-loss harvesting.
Fidelity employs a different pricing model for the robo-advisor including a $0 minimum to open an account, but you’ll need $10 to start investing. Fidelity Go charges a fee of 0.35% of your portfolio per year, which is deducted quarterly.
The main draw to this robo-advisor is the low-cost index funds. The robo-advisor builds portfolios that combine with human brokers and management team monitors for rebalancing and price improvements. Investors also do not pay expense ratios through Fidelity’s own funds.
However, there isn’t a tax strategy provided with Fidelity Go, so you won’t get any tax-loss harvesting features. One thing it does differently is tax-advantaged municipal bonds in taxable accounts. You also cannot transfer securities with Fidelity Go, so you have to sell these before enrolling with the robo-advisor service.
For education, Fidelity has some of the best tools available in the discount brokerage class. You can access over 20 resource providers, like Ned Davis, Thomson Reuters, and Recognia. There are also multiple ETF research tools, and you can access options analysis through LiveVol software.
Streaming stock quotes also have an equity summary score, which shows a consolidation of all ratings for a quick analysis that points to a stock’s health. You can also use quizzes to identify providers that will cater to how customers want to invest, and a scorecard shows the accuracy of the provider’s stock recommendations.
Education is pretty important to Fidelity, and you’ll find that every platform features guidance and tips throughout to help new investors understand different asset classes, market order types, and other nuances. With videos, webinars, articles, and quizzes, you can learn more about how to trade stocks and check out different analysis tools to change up your trade style.
TD Ameritrade Advisors and Educational Tools
TD Ameritrade offers Essential Portfolios for automated profile management, and it’s quite competitive to other robo-advisory services. Clients are charged a 0.30% annual management fee, and you are required to invest $5,000 minimum to get started. While Essential Portfolios is the basic offering, you can upgrade to a premium package for a higher fee.
While TD Ameritrade does not have its own funds to cut costs, they are recommended through Morningstar data, so you get the best funds available for your goals and benefits. The shares mainly come from iShares and Vanguard, as they have the best track record for low risk.
They also have pretty low expense ratios. There is also a long list of account types supported, including business accounts, which are typically not managed by robo-advisors.
For educational support, TD Ameritrade goes above and beyond to supply as many screeners, videos, articles, slideshows, and quizzes to customers. There are also live online seminars and even in-branch presentations that may help beginner investors even more.
The “Ask Ted” feature is an AI chatbot that can point you in the direction of any resource or even help you start a market order. You can get directions for any of the investing tools, look at tutorials, and find key data to making a move on a stock.
The virtual trading simulator is another proprietary tool that TD Ameritrade offers to clients. You can use $100,000 in practice money to test different trading ideas, and it’s available in the mobile app as well.
Winner: TD Ameritrade simply outshines every brokerage with their plethora of platforms, advisory tools, and research. However, Fidelity Go is much cheaper and easier to get started than the $5,000 minimum investment required with TD Ameritrade.
Mobile and New Trade Tech
Mobile trading has increased significantly in the past few years. TD Ameritrade and Fidelity both have amazing mobile trading platforms.
TD Ameritrade offers multiple stock trading apps for iOS and Android. These include TD Ameritrade Mobile, which syncs up to the desktop platform.
However, if you use thinkorswim as an active trader, then you would use TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader. If you don’t want to download an app, there is always the mobile browser-based tool TD Ameritrade Mobile Web.
If you like the web-based platform, then the simplicity of TD Ameritrade Mobile will appeal to you. It provides all the basic trading capabilities, and you can also access Level II quotes, custom watchlists, educational videos, and more alerts.
TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader also has access to futures and forex trading, but the real beauty is the complex option ordering capabilities with three or four legs. If you need support, you can also access a live chat feature. For virtual trade simulation, you can use TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader to set up practice trades and test strategies.
If that’s not enough, there is also the TD Ameritrade Portfolios app, which offers clients with managed portfolios a way to monitor their investments and see the latest changes made by the broker or robo-advisor.
Fidelity may not have as many mobile apps as TD Ameritrade, but they are incredibly intuitive and easy-to-use. In addition, you can place complex order types and trade all assets available through Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro platform.
Unlike many other brokerages, screeners and other research tools can also be accessed on mobile, allowing you to look at strategies, historical data, streaming real-time quotes, and stock trends. There’s even a notebook where you can save different ideas during your research.
With a customizable dashboard on the home screen, you can get floating market cards, newsfeeds, watch lists, and other insights quickly.
While Fidelity’s apps are quite intuitive, they still lack some of the features that active traders love. Only seven indicators are available for charting, which is less than comprehensive charting available on TD Ameritrade. Fidelity will likely build a separate mobile app for active traders that matches their offerings to its desktop platform Active Trader Pro.
Winner: TD Ameritrade simply offers more apps for different types of investors. With more tools and order types, you can trade to your heart’s content with TD Ameritrade, although we like the layout and smooth functionality of Fidelity’s mobile app a little better.
Frequently Asked Questions: Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade
Is Fidelity or TD Ameritrade better for retirement?
Many investors look at big brokerages with the same question, is TD Ameritrade good for retirement accounts? TD Ameritrade truly shines in mutual fund selection as there are thousands to choose from, and many have them have no transaction fees.
In addition, it’s easy to get started with Essential Portfolios as the platform bases recommendations on your goals and interests for investing. However, you may not like the $5,000 required investment.
With Portfolio Planner from TD Ameritrade, you can also analyze and change up your portfolio, adding new accounts and optimizing others to get the best return. You can open no-fee IRA and Roth IRAs, too. If you like to trade stocks or options, you should note that you have to trade at least 300 ETFs per month or face a standard of $13.95 per trade fee.
In contrast, Fidelity offers more cost-friendly retirement options including a balanced and nearly free portfolio with zero-expense-ratio funds. There are over 3,500 no-transaction-fee mutual funds available, and there are another 700 mutual funds available with expense ratios under 0.50 percent. Many of these are part of Fidelity Zero Total Market Index funds and other Fidelity-owned zero-cost funds.
While both brokerages offer cost-cutting advantages, Fidelity has more options for those who are saving on a budget, and we like that their portfolio builder and advisory tool Fidelity Go does not require a minimum like TD Ameritrade.
Does Fidelity or TD Ameritrade offer better customer support?
Fidelity offers the best customer support with 24/7 customer service via live chat, phone, or email. You can reach a broker at any time or talk to a customer service representative.
With that said, TD Ameritrade does offer 24/7 phone support, and they have in-branch support if you would rather talk to a broker face-to-face.
Which One is Right for You?
When it comes to Fidelity and TD Ameritrade, both brokerages offer amazing tools, investment selections, and low-cost trading. However, we get the sense that Fidelity wins on commission-free costs and free tools, whereas it may cost much more to use TD Ameritrade’s robo-advisory tools.
If you want access to streaming TV and more education tools, TD Ameritrade may be the way to go since they have built a very complex education center. The thinkorswim desktop platform and corresponding mobile app are much better for active traders than anything with Fidelity. If you are an active day trader, then you probably have already heard about the advanced platform.
Overall, the zero commissions, zero-cost mutual funds, and low-cost Fidelity Go robo-advisory platform may be easier to use and more cost-effective for beginner investors.