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Robinhood was made for the mobile generation while TD Ameritrade has a historic reputation for leading the online stock brokerage industry.
With expanding tools and an advanced mobile app, you can do just about everything with TD Ameritrade. However, are all those tools necessary? In comparison to Robinhood, investors may save more and profit more with better research and intuitive AI tools from the larger brokerage.
Charles Schwab recently announced a merger with TD Ameritrade. While there was an attempt to block the Schwab-TD merger, it looks like the two brokers will merge over the next few years.
Check here quick comparison of these two online brokers, side-by-side:
Investor Warning: All securities trading, whether in stocks, exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), options, or other investment vehicles, is speculative in nature and involves substantial risk of loss. Robinhood Financial encourages its Customers to invest carefully and to use the information available at the websites of the SEC at http://www.sec.gov and FINRA at http://FINRA.org.
Large discount brokerage with multiple apps and over 13,000 mutual funds
Commission-free stocks, ETFs, trades, and over 4,000 NTF mutual funds
Multiple tools including a virtual trade simulator and social trading signals
Amazing thinkorswim platform for active traders
Mobile trading app with simple tools to make commission-free trades
All trades cost $0 but only include stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency
Not suitable for long-term investors or those who like a lot of research tools
No streaming quotes or real-time data
Basic charting and synced watchlists available in mobile app
Fees and Commissions
Since October 2019, TD Ameritrade started a domino effect within online brokerages. After changing to $0 commission fee for stocks, ETFs, and options, though investors still pay $0.65 per contract.
Robinhood was revolutionary in its $0 commission rates when it first joined the scene in 2013. Commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options had never been seen before. The mobile app was, in the words of its founders, designed to attract a new millennial base that would predominantly trade on their phones.
While TD Ameritrade used to be more expensive, their new rates make them the most competitive, as they have combined multiple platforms for an easy trading experience that offers something for every investor type. Their margin interest rates still remain at the high end. However, margin rates are the lowest for investors at Robinhood, which caps at 5 percent.
There are no annual fees, inactivity fees, and maintenance fees with either TD Ameritrade and Robinhood. However, if you sign up for Robinhood Gold, you do have to pay a $5 monthly fee, which includes access to margin trading and more research tools like Morningstar reports.
Winner: TD Ameritrade wins on fees and commission rates, but loses on margin rates.
Robinhood is based on simplicity, so the lack of diverse investments is on purpose. Millennials started looking into Robinhood at the forefront of mobile trading in 2013. It was made for those who already knew what they wanted to trade, and they also did not want to spend a dime on commissions.
With Robinhood, you can invest in:
TD Ameritrade started big and then grew bigger by swallowing up several other brokerages. You can trade just about any asset with any market order. TD Ameritrade meets the needs of beginner investors, active traders, and long-term investors.
The large selection of mutual funds combined with commission-free stocks, options, and ETF trades makes it the best discount brokerage with online and mobile options.
With TD Ameritrade, you can invest in:
TD Ameritrade offers the most in tradable securities, but you have to be approved to invest in IPOs and Bitcoin futures. There are also over 4,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
Winner: TD Ameritrade wins by a landslide in this category. You can diversify to your heart’s content on this platform.
Online Advisors and Educational Offerings
Robinhood offers the minimal when it comes to advisors, education, and research tools. Basically, you can set up a news feed and sync up your watchlists, but all of your research and education will need to be done outside of Robinhood. It’s not made to provide you with information so much as monitor your investments with the most basic tools.
TD Ameritrade is the exact opposite. There are almost too many resources available with TD Ameritrade thanks to its mergers with several brokerages.
The digital education center includes videos, slideshows, quizzes, courses, presentations, webinars, and resources to help you find your way and test different strategies.
For specific guidance, you can also load up “Ask Ted,” which is a chatbot that can provide you quick access to all of TD Ameritrade’s tools, streaming quotes, data, charts, and whatever else you want to look up.
Perhaps one of the most crucial tools for TD investors is the thinkorswim platform, which includes a virtual trading simulator. You can use the desktop platform to play with $100,000 of practice money. This lets you set up all kinds of trades and test strategies to your heart’s content.
Winner: TD Ameritrade is best for beginner investors and advanced investors because you can search and look up any kind of trade methodology, asset, stock quote, options spread, and so much more. Some of the information is hard to find and dated, but the new “Ask Ted” feature makes it easy to find just what you were looking for.
Trade Experience and Security
There are two trading platforms available with TD Ameritrade. Both also have a mobile app. The TD Ameritrade web platform is browser-based and offers everything an investor needs to research different stocks, options, mutual funds, and ETFs. You can also screen stocks, create custom charts, and place orders directly from real-time data.
The thinkorswim platform offers the most tools for serious traders. It has everything you need including technical analysis tools, studies, customizable screener tools, custom charts, backtesting, real-time news feeds, streaming quotes, and even market heat maps.
Trade execution and order routing are superb with TD Ameritrade. You’ll likely see more price improvements with their thinkorswim platform.
In contrast, Robinhood offers a sleek, trimmed down mobile app and website, but you can only place simple trades and some complex options. You do not get the same research and streaming quotes as you do with TD Ameritrade. However, if you pay $5/month, you can upgrade to Robinhood Gold, which opens up Nasdaq level II quotes and more reporting.
Commission-free trades on a simple platform
Made for mobile users
No short selling, no streaming quotes, no research tools
Advanced investing through thinkorswim platform
Smart options chains and strategies
No discounts for high volume traders
Better for retirement planning and semi-active traders
Mobile and New Trade Tech
Although Robinhood’s mobile app is pretty popular for millennial investors and beginners, it may not have everything that you want to be a successful trader. For example, the mobile app offers an overview of accounts, but it doesn’t offer streaming quotes.
Some actions are available such as simple trade orders, account transfers, mobile check deposits, and watchlists. Basic charting is available, but it only has 5 years of historical pricing data.
TD Ameritrade has multiple apps, and each has its advantages. Their main app has all kinds of features, but TD has really pushed forward with AI advisors. TD Ameritrade Mobile is designed for casual investors, and you’ll get a customizable dashboard, Alexa integration, and tips through Facebook Messenger.
The TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader works with the thinkorswim platform and connects investors with a customizable dashboard and automated trading features.
Simple mobile trading app made for new school investors
No research, streaming quotes, or advanced order types
Works well for placing commission-free trades on-the-go
Synced watchlists with browser platform
Two mobile apps for passive, semi-active, and active traders
Connect to thinkorswim platform through TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader app
Research, customizable dashboard, and real-time data available
Monitor all trades and get AI assistance with lots of convenience options
Winner: TD Ameritrade offers two mobile apps, but lots of features can be confusing. TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader may work best for active investors. Robinhood is designed for those who know what they want and don’t mind that quotes may be delayed.
Which One is Right for You?
We think TD Ameritrade is more suitable for investors since it has more research options, screener tools, streaming data, and everything else under the sun. While this can be overwhelming, the amount of education and AI tools available make it easy to trade smarter.
Robinhood is a mobile app that works well for traders who want to make fast on-the-go trades and don’t need a lot of research tools. While it is designed for beginners, investors may spend more money if they don’t do research elsewhere.
Frequently Asked Questions: TD Ameritrade vs Robinhood
Which is Better for Retirement Accounts: TD Ameritrade vs Robinhood?
TD Ameritrade offers the most options for mutual funds and retirement accounts. Based on our own review of the platform it’s best in class for IRA accounts, research, and portfolio analysis. TD Ameritrade offers thousands of mutual funds, most of which are no-transaction-fees. You can search through 13,000 mutual funds.
Does TD Ameritrade Offer 24/7 Customer Support?
Yes, you can contact TD Ameritrade’s phone support 24/7. In addition, they offer email, chat, and 360 physical branch locations. You can also chat with Facebook and Twitter support.
How Does the Social Signals Tool Work for TD Ameritrade?
There are a number of useful tools on TD Ameritrade’s website, but the Social Signals tool is a new one that uses real-time streaming to analyze brand-relevant mentions. It also provides a summary chart of the most-tweeted brands, which can be customized with filters.
Find out how Robinhood and TD Ameritrade stack up against other competition.
All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on TheTokenist.io. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.
Tim Fries is the cofounder of The Tokenist. He has a B. Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Tim served as a Senior Associate on the investment team at RW Baird's US Private Equity division, and is also the co-founder of Protective Technologies Capital, an investment firms specializing in sensing, protection and control solutions.
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