TD Ameritrade vs TradeStation


TradeStation Securities against TD Ameritrade - which is better in 2019? Compare IRA/Roth accounts, online investing fees, stock broker mutual fund rates, and differences.



TradeStation vs TD Ameritrade Rivalry


TD Ameritrade (TDA) and TradeStation Securities lowered their fees for securities trading, and both firms also have advanced trading tools. So naturally, these two broker-dealers are rivals, but there are significant differences in some areas of investment services. This survey will find out which is better - TD Ameritrade or TradeStation.

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
TD Ameritrade $6.95 $49.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0
Tradestation $5 $14.95 $5 + $0.50 per contract $0 $0


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


Mutual and Exchange-Traded Funds


TD Ameritrade’s mutual fund screener returns 11,797 securities that are open to new investors. On this list, there are 3,952 funds that carry neither loads nor transaction fees. The search tool is very powerful. It can look at many criteria, including Morningstar style box, index funds, category rank, SEC 30-day yield, and Sharpe ratio.

There is a $49.99 charge at TD Ameritrade for buying or selling any fund that doesn’t appear on the company’s list of NTF funds. There is another $49.99 fee for selling an NTF fund in less than 180 days after purchase.

Although all US-listed exchange-traded funds are available at TD Ameritrade, the broker provides over 100 of them that are free to trade. TradeStation customers also have access to all ETF’s, but the broker does not offer any without commissions.

On the mutual fund side, TradeStation Securities provides funds from 79 fund families. But the brokerage firm does not have a mutual fund screener, and because it does not reveal how many funds it offers, there is no way to know for certain how many funds are available at TradeStation. We do know that the broker has zero transaction-free funds. TradeStation charges $14.95 for mutual fund transactions, and this fee is applied to purchases and sales.

TD Ameritrade wins the first category.


Customer Service Features


There are customer service agents on the phone at TD Ameritrade 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The broker does not provide on-line chat, but it does have a robo-chat feature called Ted. It answers questions fairly accurately. An internal messaging feature allows customers to communicate with a company associate. There are over 100 brick-and-mortar locations throughout the United States.

Like TD Ameritrade, TradeStation offers internal messaging on its website. Unlike TD Ameritrade, the broker does not provide 24/7 phone support, nor does it offer any branch locations. There is a convenient on-line chat function available during customer service hours, which are 8 am until 8 pm, EST, during the week. Sometimes the chat function is offline, however.

TradeStation fails again.





Technology


The TD Ameritrade website is user friendly. Many helpful features can be found, including a useful trade ticket that resides at the bottom of the window. Called SnapTicket, it is able to place trades for options and equities. It can also show a small graph for any symbol entered.

Traders who don’t want to use SnapTicket can buy and sell using simple web pages or one of the broker’s software programs: Trade Architect and thinkorswim. Trade Architect is a browser-based trading platform with simple but user-friendly features. Thinkorswim is a very advanced desktop program that requires a lot of time to learn, but delivers many advanced features, especially in charting. CNBC streams live on both platforms at no cost.

Unlike TD Ameritrade’s website, which has many trading and research features, the TradeStation website has very little on it. It is used primarily for account service functions, such as downloading account documents. But even here, TD Ameritrade’s site offers better features.

Like TD Ameritrade, TradeStation has two software programs for trading. One is a browser-based system, and the other is a desktop program. The browser-based software makes trading simple and straightforward, while the desktop system offers more advanced features. However, neither program offers live streaming of video news; and the desktop system has fewer technical studies than thinkorswim.

TD Ameritrade performs better here.





Trading on Mobile Devices


Both brokers have mobile apps that can be used on Apple and Android tablets and phones. The TradeStation app shows the market’s biggest price changes, account orders, and balances. Financial news can be accessed in article format. The platform includes charting with drawing tools and technical indicators. However, there is no mobile check deposit, nor is there a platform for Apple Watch.

TD Ameritrade clients can buy and sell securities using three apps. There is a thinkorswim mobile platform which has charting that is more sophisticated than TradeStation’s charting. One of TD Ameritrade’s apps has mobile check deposit, and two of them have live streaming of financial news at no cost. The broker also has an app for Apple Watch.

TD Ameritrade is the better choice in this category.



Promotions


TD Ameritrade: Trade free for 60 days + get up to $600.

TradeStation: Get $5 per trade stock and ETF commissions.




Commission Schedules


Equity transactions at TD Ameritrade cost $6.95. Unfortunately, there isn’t a discount for active traders or large accounts, a service that is becoming more common nowadays. Options cost an extra 75 cents each. There is no annual fee for a taxable or retirement account, and either account type can be opened with no deposit.

There are three pricing schedules at TradeStation. The first is a per-trade plan where stock transactions are $5 each and derivatives are an extra 50 cents. Another schedule is the per-share plan where trades cost one penny per share for the first 500 shares in a single trade and 0.6 cents for each additional share. There is a $1 minimum per order for this plan.

The third and final plan is the unbundled schedule where trades cost one penny per share for the first 100,000 shares in a month. The commission goes down to 0.2 cents per share for accounts that trade at higher volumes. The minimum commission also drops to 50 cents per trade.

TradeStation succeeds in the last category.


TradeStation vs TD Ameritrade Results


TD Ameritrade (read review) won four categories, and TradeStation (read review) was successful just once. TD Ameritrade wins comfortably. The area where TradeStation really shines is its commission schedule for high volume investors.