TD Ameritrade rating

TD Ameritrade

USAA rating


USAA vs TD Ameritrade

Overview of USAA and TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade (TDA) and USAA are two very different brokerage firms. They cater to different types of clients. This article will compare and contrast the two brokers and see where they excel and where they underperform.

Customer Service Availability

TD Ameritrade provides phone representatives around the clock. In addition to English, service is also available in Chinese and Spanish. There is a global phone number for investors who are temporarily outside the U.S. The broker-dealer’s website does not normally have on-line chat, although it has been spotted occasionally. There is an AI named Ted, which is able to answer typed questions. Finally, the company operates a nationwide network of branch locations. There are more than one hundred of them.

USAA’s brokerage division is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am until 8:00 pm, CST. Saturday hours are 8:00 am until 5:00 pm. The company is closed on Sunday, but its website is available 24/7. It doesn’t have the same level of self-service features as TD Ameritrade’s, however. USAA does have many international phone numbers that can be used by soldiers and other travelers overseas. There are four brick-and-mortar locations that can assist brokerage customers.

TD Ameritrade wins the first category.

USAA vs TD Ameritrade

Trading Tech

TD Ameritrade hits a home run with its free trading tools. First is the company’s well-designed website, which itself is pretty good for charting and trading. At the bottom of the browsing window is SnapTicket, a very useful trade bar. It can place orders for stocks, ETF’s, and options.

Traders who don’t want to use the website can launch a browser-based platform called Trade Architect. It boasts live streaming of CNBC at no charge, along with good charting and trading tools, such as screeners and ideas for trades.

Next is the broker’s flagship desktop platform thinkorswim. It possesses very robust equity and option screeners, watchlists, forex and futures trading, and much more. Charting comes with countless technical studies, several drawing tools, and CNBC video news icons on the dates when stories about a stock were released. Amazingly, this professional-level software is free of charge.

The gap between the two brokers is even larger in this category. The USAA website doesn’t have a trade bar. A chart on USAA’s site cannot be displayed the width of the monitor, for example; whereas on the TD Ameritrade website, a chart is almost full-screen. Nevertheless, USAA’s software does provide several graph styles, technical indicators, and events.

Unlike TD Ameritrade, USAA does not provide a desktop platform, a real disappointment for day traders and professional or sophisticated traders. So trading takes place on the broker’s website, which isn’t as well developed as TD Ameritade’s.

USAA loses again.

Ameritrade vs USAA Investments

Mobile Platforms

USAA customers have access to a mobile app that functions on both Apple and Android devices. It offers charting with a few technical indicators and graph styles. Basic security information is shown, such as bid-ask spread and volume. Also available are option chains and news pertaining to an entered ticker symbol. Stock reports from Argus are available in pdf format at no charge. Mobile check deposit, funds transfer, and bill pay are all available.

TD Ameritrade has three apps, all with their own specialties. One of them is a thinkorswim platform that has many of the desktop version’s advanced charting features. This app has many more technical indicators than USAA’s platform.

The other apps provide other services, such as mobile check deposit and funds transfer. Strangely, TD Ameritrade has failed to include bill pay. Nevertheless, it does offer several services that USAA doesn’t offer, such as live streaming of CNBC free of charge, and functionality with Windows phones. Two apps provide a simulated trading service.

TD Ameritrade wins again.

Mutual Funds and ETF’s

TD Ameritrade clients have access to a mutual fund screener that has many search criteria. The tool returns more than 11,000 funds that are open to new investors. More than 2,000 of these funds are no-load, no-transaction-fee products. The broker charges $49.99 for transactions of funds that don’t appear on its NTF list.

TD Ameritrade has gradually increased the number of ETF’s that are available without commissions, and the number now stands at more than 250. This is one of the largest lists in the industry.

USAA offers exchange-traded funds, but it has a much smaller commission-free list. There are 18 Fidelity ETF’s and 6 USAA ETF’s available with no trading fees.

On the mutual fund side, USAA offers 50 of its own funds. These have minimum investments from $500 to $3,000. A mutual fund-only account can be opened to trade these products, or they can be held in a regular brokerage account.

Non-USAA funds are available in a fund marketplace. Here, there are 14,620 funds available for purchase through USAA. Of these, 1,968 carry no load and no transaction fee. The broker’s transaction fee for non-NTF funds is $45.

Overall, looks like a tie here.


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

USAA: none right now.

The Cost of Trading

TD Ameritrade charges $6.95 for stock and ETF trades. There are no discounts for active traders. USAA clients pay $8.95 and receive a $3 discount after reaching 25 or more trades in 3-month period. Both brokers charge an extra 75 cents per option contract.

An account at TD Ameritrade can be opened with zero deposit. Although USAA caters to military families, a brokerage account can be opened by anyone. USAA requires a $3,000 deposit for a regular securities account, and a mutual fund-only account requires at least $500. TD Ameritrade imposes no on-going fees, while USAA charges $10 to close an account with less than $100 if it has been inactive for one year.

Looks pretty even here.

USAA vs TD Ameritrade: Results

TD Ameritrade (learn more) was victorious in three categories, USAA (learn more) failed to win a single category, and there were two ties. TD Ameritrade is the clear winner of our survey. Nevertheless, USAA would be a good choice for mutual fund investors.