Fidelity or TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade vs Fidelity


Compare Fidelity Investments versus TD Ameritrade - which discount broker is better in 2021? IRA/Roth accounts, online investing fees, stock broker mutual fund rates, and differences comparison.



Overview


TD Ameritrade and Fidelity are two titans in the brokerage world. They both attract a lot of customers for both short-term and long-term investing. Is one of these ahead of the other? Let our research provide the answer.


Cost Comparison


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Margin
Rate
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
TD Ameritrade $0 $49.99 9.5% $0 $0
Fidelity $0 $49.95 8.325% $0 $0


Services


Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
TD Ameritrade
Fidelity


Promotions


TD Ameritrade:$0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.

Fidelity Investments: Get $0 stocks commissions.



Category 1: Available Investments


Fidelity:

If you open a self-directed Fidelity account, you’ll be able to trade these assets:

- Stocks, including foreign and over-the-counter instruments
- Fixed-income securities
- Funds (closed-end, mutual, and exchange-traded)
- Annuities

Besides its self-directed accounts, Fidelity offers a suite of managed account solutions. Starting off the list is Fidelity Go, a robo service. It costs just 0.35% per year (or less) and trades mutual funds with zero expense ratios. The broker’s traditional packages cost a little more and deliver much more.

For both types of customers, Fidelity offers a lineup of insurance products that includes both life and long-term care.

TD Ameritrade:

TD Ameritrade has eliminated its automated investing service, but it still offers old-school management packages. They cost less than 100 basis points annually and come with expected services like financial planning and consultations with someone who’s not a robot.

Self-directed traders will find the largest selection of investments at TD Ameritrade. The list includes:

- Forex
- Futures
- Stocks, excluding foreign exchanges but not the OTC marketplace
- Bonds
- Funds (all 3 types)
- Annuities

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Category 2: Margin Accounts


Why trade with your own money when you can trade with someone else’s? Each broker-dealer in this competition provides margin trading, so you just need to put up some collateral.

Fidelity:

Fidelity starts at 8.325% and drops its rate to 4.025% for loans above a million dollars.

TD Ameritrade:

Like Fidelity, TD Ameritrade charges margin interest on a sliding scale. The company begins at 9.5% and pauses at 7.5% with a margin debit of $250,000 or more. (Above $250,000, Fidelity charges 4.25%.) Loans above $500,000 at TD Ameritrade receive negotiated (and unpublished) rates.

Winner: Fidelity


Category 3: Websites


Fidelity:

The Fidelity website is well-designed and easy to use. During our trial of it, we found the search bar in the upper-right corner to be very helpful, although there is also a watchlist and a very helpful top menu which could be starting points.


Fidelity or Ameritrade


Fidelity has retired its pop-out trade ticket, so all orders are now submitted through simple web pages. The broker’s order ticket nevertheless does have some good features. These include a share calculator, eight trade types, and five time-in-force choices.

Fidelity’s charting software has not changed. It continues to have many good features. These include the ability to save a chart, export it as a spreadsheet or image, detach it into its own window, or print it. There's also a link to a video that shows how to use the charting software. And of course there are many tools that can be used in full-screen mode.

TD Ameritrade:

TD Ameritrade’s website also has a good charting program. Like Fidelity’s site, a chart can be detached into its own window and saved. However, there is no video for chart education, and a graph cannot be saved as a spreadsheet. TD Ameritrade’s software does of course include many tools that can be used with full-screen capability.

Although Fidelity has retired its pop-out trade ticket, TD Ameritrade continues to use its trade bar SnapTicket. This we consider a very good thing because the widget delivers a great trading experience. Located at the bottom of the screen, SnapTicket can be used to submit orders without the need to go to a web page. It displays a small graph, shows real-time trade data, and even has a rapid-fire mode.


TD Ameritrade or Fidelity


Other areas of TD Ameritrade’s site are easy to access thanks to a user-friendly top menu. Here, other tools will be located. These gadgets include bond ladders, more sophisticated order tickets, software demos, and a portfolio planner.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Category 4: Desktop Programs


Fidelity:

Active Trader Pro is Fidelity’s desktop program. It is compatible with both Mac and Windows, and is capable of pleasing the most demanding of traders.

During our examination of the platform, we found it powerful yet easy to use. Color-coded Level II quotes are integrated. The trade ticket has the same eight order types as the website (four of them are trailing orders) and six duration choices (the extra one is a custom feature).


TDA vs Fidelity


Besides the default order ticket, there are others on ATP. A conditional order form has triggers and conditional orders. A discrete order form must be used to incorporate direct-access routing (we found four venues).

Besides the very useful trade tickets, Fidelity’s desktop system also streams live Bloomberg TV and has a time & sales window.

TD Ameritrade:

Not to be outdone by its rival, TD Ameritrade adds Linux to the list of possible operating systems for thinkorswim, its very excellent desktop trading environment. The program has forex and futures dealing boxes, which of course are missing on Active Trader Pro.

thinkorswim has just one trade ticket, but it can be used for direct-access routing (we found just two venues) and complex orders. Examples include blast all, order cancels other, and first triggers all. There are no less than fifteen order types.


TD Ameritrade or Fidelity


Bloomberg won’t be found on thinkorswim, but CNBC and TD Ameritrade Network will.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Category 5: Mobile Apps


Fidelity:

During our examination of Fidelity’s mobile app, we found much to like about it. Charts have technical studies, multiple graph styles, comparisons, and technical indicators. A graph can be displayed either in vertical or horizontal format.


Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade


The app’s order ticket has the same eight order types as the website, and there’s a simplified version that can be used to make order entry a little faster.

Fidelity has added plenty of market news to its app. It uses thumbnails for news articles. Market movers are shown in tile format, and there’s quick data on sectors and geographic regions. An artificial intelligence is an added highlight.

TD Ameritrade:

There is no AI on TD Ameritrade’s apps (there are two of them), but they provide a lot of other tools. The trading app is called thinkorswim (not surprisingly). It has lots of technical studies on its charting program and a very advanced trade ticket.


TD Ameritrade or Fidelity


The regular app offers market news, an economic calendar, bill pay, and lots of other goodies. It too can be used for trading. The order form has plenty of trade types and a discrete sell short button.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Category 6: Security Research


Fidelity:

On the Fidelity website, we found screeners for every asset the broker offers. The mutual fund screener doesn’t have the ability to search by load status, which is one weakness. But all of the screeners have many search variables, which generally make them very helpful.

Stocks profiles at Fidelity have enormous amounts of information on them, including ESG data, technical analysis scores from Recognia, information on top competitors, analyst reports, and much more. For Uber, we found ten reports, downloadable in pdf format.

TD Ameritrade:

Over at TD Ameritrade, we found seven reports for Uber plus trade recommendations from TipRanks. The broker’s stock profiles do have plenty of details, although they seem a little briefer than Fidelity’s. For example, there are no social sentiment scores on TD Ameritrade’s profiles, although they do exist on Fidelity’s.

Screeners at TD Ameritrade are quite good with plenty of search criteria. The mutual fund widget has load status and many other criteria. The ETF screener can search for exchange-traded notes.

Winner: Pretty even


Category 7: Extra Services


Individual Retirement Accounts: No-fee IRAs can be opened at both brokers in this evaluation.

DRIP Service: It’s easy to sign up on the Fidelity site and the TD Ameritrade site, too.

Cash Management Features: Both firms have debit cards, checkwriting, and FDIC insurance. Fidelity has more insurance.

Fractional Shares: Fidelity, but not TD Ameritrade, has a very good fractional-share trading service for both stocks and ETFs.

Extended Hours: Both Fidelity and TD Ameritrade provide their customers with pre-market and after-hours trading. Only TD Ameritrade has overnight trading.

Periodic Mutual Fund Investing: Available at both brokerage houses.

Initial Public Offerings: Initial and follow-on offerings are available at TD Ameritrade and Fidelity (subject to various eligibility requirements).

Winner: Draw


Our Recommendations


Mutual Fund Trading: With Fidelity’s screener, we found 9,625 mutual funds (3,412 have no transaction fee and fewer than this number also have no load). TD Ameritrade has more no-fee, no-load funds (we counted more than 4,200), and more total funds (roughly 13,000). TD Ameritrade is out pick.

ETF & Stock Trading: TD Ameritrade has better trading tools.

Small Accounts: Both are very good.

Beginners: Fidelity and TD Ameritrade both have 24/7 customer support, branch locations, demo trading on their desktop programs, and good learning materials. Either will do.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: Again, both firms have similar resources, such as individual 401k plans, annuities, target-date funds, investment advice, and retirement education.


Promotions


TD Ameritrade: $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.

Fidelity Investments: Get $0 stocks commissions.



TD Ameritrade vs. Fidelity Investments: Results


Although TD Ameritrade came out ahead overall, Fidelity is still a good choice for many investment activities, most notably fractional shares and mutual funds investing.


Updated on 10/18/2021.