TD Ameritrade vs Firstrade


Firstrade or TD Ameritrade - which is better in 2022? Compare IRA/Roth accounts, online investing fees, stock broker mutual fund rates, and differences.


Outline


Although TD Ameritrade is better known, Firstrade may be able to deliver a better value for some investors. Before choosing one of these brokerage firms, consider the following comparison:


Cost


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Firstrade $0 $0 $0 per contract $0 $0
TD Ameritrade $0 $49.99 ($0 to sell) $0 $0

When it comes to commissions, Firstrade is much better priced than TD Ameritrade. The firm also offers lower margin rates, which is important if you'll be borrowing money from your broker.


Services


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


Promotions


Firstrade: Get 2 FREE stocks and $0 commission in ALL trades!

TD Ameritrade: $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.



Trading Styles


At Firstrade, you’ll find self-directed accounts that provide access to the following financial instruments:

  • Fixed-income securities
  • Equities
  • Options
  • Exchange-traded funds
  • Closed-end funds
  • Mutual funds

TD Ameritrade has all of these assets plus annuities, futures contracts, and traditional currencies.

On top of self-directed accounts, TD Ameritrade also has traditional portfolio management starting at less than 1% per year.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Margin Accounts


Trading with borrowed funds is possible at both brokerage firms. But of course the idea of free trading has not yet migrated to this arena.

Firstrade’s rates are very appealing, especially for large accounts:

Up to $10k — 9.5%
Over $250k — 7.75%

TD Ameritrade’s rates are competitive but a little pricier than Firstrade’s:

Up to $10k — 11%
Over $250k — 9%

Margin requirements are very similar at both places, although there are a few small differences. For example, TD Ameritrade has a 100% margin requirement for stocks priced below $2, whereas Firstrade places the floor at $3.

Winner: Firstrade


Websites


Investors at Firstrade have an effective website to conduct research and place trades. During our examination, we found the platform to be simple but capable. Navigation is easy thanks to a row of tabs at the top of the site that produce drop-down menus. At the bottom of the site is a trade bar. It doesn’t take up much space, and when expanded, it can submit orders for equities and options directly to the exchanges.


Firstrade vs Ameritrade


There are six order types on the trade bar and five duration choices. Sell short is a discrete trade type. Switching to a different display delivers security information, including Morningstar ratings. Option chains for calls and puts and a few spreads can be displayed directly above the trade bar.

Mutual funds and bonds have their own trade tickets on discrete web pages. Firstrade customers who don’t find what they’re looking for in options trading with just the website or trade bar can upgrade to OptionsPlay free of charge.

Stock charts on Firstrade’s site are on a high level thanks to a partnership with TradingView. There are countless tools and widgets that will please the most sophisticated of investors.

The TD Ameritrade site has more information on it than Firstrade’s, although that doesn’t mean it’s harder to navigate. During our test drive of it, we found it easy to use.


Ameritrade versus Firstrade


Like Firstrade’s site, the TD Ameritrade site has a trade bar. It’s similar in capability. The primary difference is that TD Ameritrade’s gadget has a rapid fire mode. Just type in a string of characters to submit an order. For example, s240ge103.84 would be a sell order for 240 shares of General Electric at $103.84 or higher.

Like the Firstrade site, the TDA site has other web-based order forms. One of these is for stocks, and it has advanced orders not found at Firstrade. Examples include:

- OCA bracket
- Contingent order (Trade trigger)
- One triggers OTA

Charts on TD Ameritrade’s site come in full-screen mode with many tools, although they’re not quite on the same level as TradingView’s software.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Mobile Platforms


Now we come to mobile apps, and TD Ameritrade actually has two of them. One of them is called thinkorswim. It is a trading app on steroids. It has a very advanced order ticket with lots of trade types, advanced charting, and a practice trading mode.


TD Ameritrade or Firstrade


The regular app itself is quite impressive with mobile check deposit, Level 2 quotes, market movers, an economic calendar, market news, and more.

Firstrade has only one app, and it fails to deliver many of the tools and widgets that TD Ameritrade’s two apps have. It does boast an impressive charting program with a horizontal mode and many technical indicators, one of the few highlights.


Firstrade or TD Ameritrade


TD Ameritrade has software for Apple Watch and iPad, but Firstrade does not.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Extra Services


Dividend Reinvesting: Both Firstrade and TD Ameritrade offer free DRIP services.

Fractional Shares: Only whole shares of equities and ETF’s can be traded at Firstrade and TD Ameritrade at this time.

Individual Retirement Accounts: No-fee IRA’s are available at Firstrade and TD Ameritrade.

Cash Management Features: Although both brokerage firms in this survey provide their customers with checks and debit cards, only TD Ameritrade reimburses ATM fees. Plus, TD Ameritrade has no account minimum. Firstrade requires $25,000 in equity.

Extended Hours: Investors at both Firstrade and TD Ameritrade can buy and sell securities before the regular session and after it closes. TD Ameritrade has slightly longer hours plus overnight trading in some funds.

Periodic Mutual Fund Investing: Available at both firms.

Initial Public Offerings: Only TD Ameritrade clients can get in on IPO’s before they go live.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Our Recommendations


Mutual Fund Trading: Firstrade’s mutual fund screener returns over 16,000 securities available for new investors (no kidding!). All of these have zero transaction fees, and nearly 10,000 have no load as well. We definitely recommend Firstrade.

ETF & Stock Trading: Because TD Ameritrade has a desktop platform and Firstrade does not, we have to go with TDA.

Small Accounts: Neither brokerage firm has account minimums or annual fees.

Beginners: Only TD Ameritrade has branch locations and thorough learning materials. Plus, its desktop platform and mobile app both have practice modes.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: Although Firstrade does have target-date mutual funds and IRA’s, only TD Ameritrade has annuities, solo 401k plans, and old-fashioned financial planning services.


Promotions


Firstrade: Get 2 FREE stocks and $0 commission in ALL trades!

TD Ameritrade: $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.



Firstrade vs TD Ameritrade - Results


Despite TD Ameritrade’s size and popularity, Firstrade easily outperforms its rival here in the realms of options, margin trading, and mutual funds. Overall, both firms succeed in delivering good-quality brokerage services at minimal cost.


About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for Brokerage-Review.com, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.