Robinhood vs TD Ameritrade


TD Ameritrade or Robinhood - which broker is better in 2021? Compare IRA/Roth accounts, online investing fees, stock broker mutual fund rates, and differences.



Overview


TD Ameritrade and Robinhood attract a lot of attention and customers. Before opening a brokerage account with either firm, make sure you consider the following comparison:


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
Robinhood $0 na 2.5% $0 na


Services


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


Promotions


TD Ameritrade: $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.

Robinhood: Get one free stock when you open an account.



Investing Methods


TD Ameritrade provides many account types, including joint, individual, small business, education, and retirement accounts. Because TD Ameritrade’s robo service is no longer open to new clients, these accounts can only be opened in self-directed or traditionally-managed format.

Customers who open a self-directed account will gain to access to a wide variety of investment classes, including:

- Futures contracts
- Forex
- Equities (including OTC assets)
- ETF’s
- Closed-end funds
- Mutual funds

TD Ameritrade’s old-school portfolio management offers some, but not all, of these asset classes.

Robinhood only has self-directed accounts. Moreover, unlike TD Ameritrade, Robinhood only delivers individual taxable accounts. And the brokerage house has a smaller list of investment vehicles. They are:

- ETF’s
- Options
- Digital currencies
- Stocks

Robinhood does not offer access to most of the over-the-counter marketplace for stock trading.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Margin Accounts


Robinhood’s individual account can be either a cash or margin account. In the latter form, Robinhood assesses a $5 monthly fee whether money is borrowed or not. This fee includes Level 2 quote data, $1,000 in borrowing capacity, and Morningstar research.

Accounts that surpass $1,000 in debit balances pay 2.5% per annum.

TD Ameritrade has no monthly fee for its margin accounts. The brokerage firm gives security research and Level 2 data away for free (to both professionals and non-professionals), but charges margin interest on loans as small as a penny. The firm’s highest rate is 9.5%, and its lowest rate is 7.5%.

Winner: Questionable


Promotions


TD Ameritrade: $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.

Robinhood: Get one free stock when you open an account.



Websites


For research and order entry, TD Ameritrade has a user-friendly but very powerful website. During our exploration, we found SnapTicket to be very useful. This is the company’s trade ticket. It sits conveniently at the bottom of the website. It is not distracting at all, and in fact, it can be minimized.


TD Ameritrade vs Robin Hood


In minimized form, SnapTicket is able to deliver last trade price, bid and ask numbers, volume, and most recent trade price. In slightly expanded form, SnapTicket provides six order types and six duration choices.

More advanced orders will be found on the broker’s page-based order ticket. Using a web page to enter an order creates a much larger trading area. The ticket offers OCA (one cancels another), bracket orders, OTT (one triggers two), and more.

A chart on the TDA website can be detached into its own window. In this mode, it can be expanded the full width of the screen. There are multiple graph styles, technical studies, trendlines, and company events.

Charts on the Robinhood site don’t have trendlines, company events, or many technical indicators. Charts can be blown up full screen, however, and there are two display styles.


Robin Hood or Ameritrade


Robinhood’s site doesn’t have a trade bar, but it does of course have an order ticket. It sits in the upper-right corner of an asset’s profile. Unfortunately, sell short isn’t an available order type because Robinhood doesn’t permit shorting (TDA does and sell short is an available order type).

Robinhood’s order form has six trade types and two duration options.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Desktop Software


TD Ameritrade hits another home run out of the park with its desktop platform. It contains some very powerful trading tools, including:


TD Ameritrade or Robinhood


- Advanced charts with drawing tools, hundreds of technical studies, and right-click trading
- Sophisticated default order ticket with professional-level trade types
- Quick order ticket that can be customized
- Free streaming of CNBC business news and TD Ameritrade Network
- Forex and futures dealing boxes
- Demo mode
- Backtesting tool
- Video library
Educational section to help learn this pro-level software

Robinhood has no desktop platform at all.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Robinhood vs Ameritrade


Mobile Apps


TD Ameritrade has two mobile apps. One is modeled after its desktop platform, while the other provides a more user-friendly experience. The basic app does nevertheless have some powerful features. Here are some highlights:

- Mobile check deposit
- Funds transfer
- Market news
- Watchlists (one is app only, while others sync with the website)
- Alerts
- Level II data


TD Ameritrade or Robin Hood


The same six order types from the web ticket appear on TDA’s basic mobile app.

The advanced app has several more trade types, including market on close, order cancels other, and blast all.

Charting is very good on either TDA app.

Robinhood has just one app, and charting is not good at all. There is no horizontal viewing capacity, and there are no tools to comment on.


Robinhood versus Ameritrade


Robinhood’s mobile trade ticket is the same one that appears on the website, and this means there are no pro-level order types or even the ability to sell short.

Other highlights on TD Ameritrade’s apps, like mobile check deposit and streaming video news, are absent on Robinhood’s mobile platform.

Both brokers have apps for Apple Watch.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Stock Research


Equity research at Robinhood is fairly straightforward for the simple fact that the brokerage firm doesn’t offer many research tools. The company doesn’t have a stock screener, although it does group stocks into categories like energy and software.

Stock profiles on the Robinhood site have a few details such as earnings histories and analyst ratings.

Over at TD Ameritrade, the experience is very different. Right off the bat, the firm has a stock screener, and it’s very good. Examples of search criteria include:

- Volume range
- Earnings surprise
- Price to sales (TTM)
- EPS growth

Stock profiles further amplify the research experience by adding pdf reports from multiple analysts with trade recommendations. TipRanks adds more trade recommendations for an overall score. Profiles also have peer comparisons, an income estimator, and valuations in bar-chart format.

Winner: Once again, it’s TD Ameritrade


Customer Service


Robinhood does not publish its phone number on its website, which is a pretty good indication of the level of service you will get from this company. It does have a help section and a contact form on its site (click on the Account tab in the top-right corner of the site and select Help).

TD Ameritrade does publish its phone number (it’s 800.669.3900 for English speakers and there are several numbers for Chinese speakers). The website itself has a very large section with many self-help features. Examples include:

- Download forms and agreements
- Report a security issue
- Ask Ted (the company’s artificial intelligence)
- Internal messaging

TD Ameritrade also has a large network of brick-and-mortar locations. These will integrate with Schwab’s network when the two brokers finally merge.

Winner: TD Ameritrade easily


Additional Services


DRIP: Auto dividend reinvesting can be turned on at either TD Ameritrade or Robinhood.

Individual Retirement Accounts: Available only at TDA.

Cash Management Features: TDA offers debit cards and checkwriting, while Robinhood has only debit cards.

Fractional Shares: Robinhood, but not TD Ameritrade, offers whole-dollar investing in stocks and ETF’s.

Extended Hours: Pre-market and after-hours trading are possible at either firm in this contest. TDA has longer hours.

Initial Public Offerings: Stock launches are available at both firms. TDA has higher account minimums.

Periodic Mutual Fund Investing: Available at TD Ameritrade.

Winner: TD Ameritrade


Our Recommendations


Mutual Fund Trading: TD Ameritrade is the only option here.

ETF & Stock Trading: Robinhood is the only choice for fractional-share trading. But for the best software and research tools, TD Ameritrade gets our endorsement.

Beginners: Robinhood’s software is easier to use, although TDA’s desktop platform has a practice mode. TD Ameritrade has better learning materials, and its managed account service may be worth a shot.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: TD Ameritrade.

Small Accounts: TD Ameritrade’s managed accounts have steep minimums. For self-directed trading, Robinhood or TDA will work.


Promotions


TD Ameritrade: $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.

Robinhood: Get one free stock when you open an account.



TD Ameritrade vs Robinhood: Results


Other than cryptocurrencies and fractional-share trading, Robinhood doesn’t have much to offer here.