TD Ameritrade vs Vanguard vs Etrade vs Fidelity (2021)


Compare trading and investing fees, IRA (Traditional, ROTH, and SEP) accounts, stock/mutual fund/ETF pricing, and brokerage service differences.



Pricing


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Margin
Rate
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Ally Invest $0 $9.95 7.75% $0 $0
TD Ameritrade $0 $49.99 9.5% $0 $0
Etrade $0 $19.95 8.95% $0 $0
Fidelity $0 $49.95 8.325% $0 $0
Vanguard $0 $20 8.5% $20* $20*

** Vanguard is charging $20 annual maintenance fee (waived if user chooses to receive statements and other information electronically).


Services


Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
Ally Invest
TD Ameritrade
Etrade
Fidelity
Vanguard


TD Ameritrade vs Fidelity vs Vanguard vs Etrade: Overview


Vanguard, E*Trade, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and Ally Invest collectively have the lion's share of investment dollars in America. Let's make a detailed analysis of these brokers, and try to determine which firm delivers the best value.


Commissions, Fees, and Account Minimums


Investors at all five brokers pay $0 for stock and ETF transactions.

For derivatives, investors at Fidelity, E*Trade, and TD Ameritrade pay an additional $0.65 per contract. Vanguard clients pay $1 per contract. Ally Invest has the lowest rate of 50 cents.

Trading with a human broker at TD Ameritrade, E*Trade, and Vanguard is $25, while doing the same at Fidelity is $32.95. Ally charges $20.

Brokerage accounts have no maintenance fees or inactivity fees at any of the four companies, although Vanguard requires clients with under $10,000 to sign up for electronic delivery of statements. Fidelity has a minimum initial deposit of $2,500 for a regular brokerage account, while E*Trade requires $500, and TD Ameritrade, Ally and Vanguard are at $0.

Ally Invest takes this category.


Mutual Funds and ETFs


At TD Ameritrade, investors have access to over 13,000 mutual funds. Almost 4,200 have no transaction fee and no load. Transaction-fee mutual funds cost $49.99.

Fidelity has more than 10,000 mutual funds. Of these, less than 3,500 have no load and no transaction fee. Mutual funds with a transaction fee cost $49.95.

E*Trade gives its customers more than 10,000 mutual funds. Roughly 4,200 of these have no load and no transaction fee. Investors are charged $19.99 for trading transaction-fee funds.

Traders at Vanguard have access to more than 16,000 mutual funds, some of which have no load and no transaction fee. Mutual funds with a transaction fee are $20.

Ally Invest has over 12,000 mutual funds and the lowest commission — $9.95 per trade. Even though the broker does not offer NTF funds, the funds you actually want to own will likely not be on that list anyway.

For ETF investors, all five brokers have no commissions.

Ally Invest is victorious in this category.


Ally Invest


Customer Service


Fidelity's customer service representatives can be reached all hours of the day. The firm also has over 180 locations in the U.S. for investors who want more than the Internet.

E*Trade currently has 30 branch locations. The broker has telephone support around the clock.

At TD Ameritrade, investors can reach customer service reps on the phone 24/7. Like Fidelity and E*Trade, the firm has a nationwide network of branches. Currently, the broker has over 450 locations.

Vanguard offers phone service only during the weekday. Disappointingly, the firm does not have local branches.

An Ally Invest representative can be reached 7am-10pm ET, 7 days a week. Besides phone service, the broker also provides a chat function on its website. There are no local branches.

Fidelity wins the category.


Trading Tools


E*Trade's web site is well-designed and easy to use. Investors have access to advanced trading platforms, in desktop and browser formats. Frequent-trader requirements must be met to use the most advanced platform.

Fidelity's website is also easy to navigate. The site has a trade ticket for quick order entry. All customers can use an advanced platform. Fidelity has an app for Apple TV.

At TD Ameritrade, investors will find a user-friendly web site, which also has a convenient trade ticket. The broker offers Thinkorswim, arguably most advanced platform in the industry. There are no requirements for any of the platform.

Investors who want to use a trading platform have access to Ally Invest LIVE, a browser-based program that is fairly simple. Charting comes with technical studies, comparisons, and multiple graph styles. There is no desktop platform here. The broker does provide a trade bar, and orders can be placed on it.

Compared to the other four brokers, Vanguard's website is harder to navigate. Trades are placed within the web browser. Disappointingly, the firm has no advanced platform.

TD Ameritrade wins this category.


Mobile Platforms


Fidelity has platforms for Android, Apple, and Windows phone. Mobile check deposit is available, and live steaming of Bloomberg news is free of charge.

E*Trade has apps for Kindle Fire HD, Amazon Fire, Android phone and tablet, Windows phone, and Apple. Features include videos, charts, and a mobile check deposit.

Investors at TD Ameritrade can choose among three separate apps. They are available for Apple and Android. One of the apps can be used on Windows 10. Live streaming of CNBC is free of charge.

At Vanguard, investors can trade on Android, Kindle Fire, and Apple. Mobile check deposit is available. Regrettably, there's no live streaming of business news.

There is one Ally mobile app, and it can be used for both banking and investment purposes. The brokerage side has watchlists, positions, market news, and option chains. Charts are also available, and the software has some technical indicators.

TD Ameritrade wins again.


TD Ameritrade


Banking Features


Investors at E*Trade can open a checking account that comes with checks and a debit card at no cost. The company reimburses ATM fees for accounts with balances over $5,000.

TD Ameritrade clients also can open a checking account. The account comes with checks and a debit card at no cost. ATM charges are refunded, and FDIC insurance protects the account up to $500,000.

Fidelity offers the Cash Management Account. It has checks and a debit card at no cost. The broker refunds all ATM fees the account incurs, and FDIC insurance covers the first $1,250,000.

Vanguard offers cash management features, but investors must have a minimum of $500,000 in order to apply. Checks and a debit card can be used, but they both have fees for accounts under $1,000,000.

Ally Bank checking, savings, or money market accounts are easily linked to an Ally Invest account. Transfers between bank and brokerage accounts are instantaneous. The firm offers one of the best rates on savings account today: 0.5%.

Fidelity wins here.


Vanguard App


Recommendations


Ally Invest is our recommendation to customers new to investing or for IRA accounts.

TD Ameritrade is a great broker for traders and anyone looking for the most advanced trading tools.

Fidelity Investments and Vanguard are recommended brokers to the clients who want to invest mostly in their respective families of mutual funds and ETFs.

E*Trade doesn't have retirement account fees and is an excellent option for an IRA account.

Before opening any brokerage account we strongly encourage our readers to take a look at the detailed brokerage reviews (containing promotional deals for new customers) for Ally Invest (learn more), TD Ameritrade (learn more), E*trade (learn more), Fidelity Investments (learn more), and Vanguard Brokerage (learn more).


Promotions

Ally Invest: Up to $3,000 cash bonus + $0 commission trades.

TD Ameritrade: $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.

Fidelity Investments: Get $0 stocks commissions.

E*Trade: Get zero commission on stock and ETF trades.

Vanguard: None