TD Ameritrade vs Vanguard vs Etrade vs Fidelity

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

Etrade vs TD Ameritrade vs Vanguard vs Fidelity: Comparison Charts

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
TD Ameritrade $6.95 $49.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0
Etrade $6.95 $19.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0
Fidelity $4.95 $49.95 $4.95 + $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Vanguard $7-$20 $8-$35 $20 + $1.00 per contract $20* see

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

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

TD Ameritrade vs Fidelity vs Vanguard vs Etrade: Overview

Vanguard, E*Trade, Fidelity, and TD Ameritrade 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 TD Ameritrade and E*Trade pay $6.95 for stock and ETF transactions ($4.95 at E*Trade for clients making 30 or more trades per quarter), while Fidelity clients pay $4.95, and Vanguard's commission is between $0 and $20. Traders with under $50,000 in Vanguard mutual funds and ETF's pay $7 for the first 25 trades in a year. All trades thereafter are $20.

For derivatives, investors at Fidelity, E*Trade, and TD Ameritrade pay an additional $0.75 per contract. Vanguard clients pay $1 per contract plus a base charge of $20, $7, or $1. The base charge is calculated according to account size. Traders with under $50,000 invested in Vanguard funds are charged the $20 commission.

Trading with a human broker at TD Ameritrade is $44.99, while doing the same at Fidelity is $32.95, and E*Trade charges $25. Typical for Vanguard, the price varies based on funds invested in Vanguard products. The broker's charge ranges between $25 and $0.

Brokerage accounts have no maintenance fees or inactivity fees at any of the four companies, although Vanguard requires clients with under $50,000 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 and Vanguard are at $0.

Mutual Funds and ETF's

At TD Ameritrade, investors have access to over 11,000 mutual funds. Almost 2,000 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 1,000 have no load and no transaction fee. Mutual funds with a transaction fee cost $49.95.

E*Trade gives its customers more than 8,000 mutual funds. Roughly 1,300 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 $35 in a small account (less than $50,000 deposited in Vanguard products). This commission decreases to either $20 or $8 for accounts with higher balances.

For ETF investors, E*Trade offers 118 exchange-traded funds that are free to trade, TD Ameritrade has 101, Fidelity provides 84, and Vanguard offers 55.

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 100 locations.

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

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 these platforms.

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

At TD Ameritrade, investors will find a user-friendly web site, which also has a convenient trade ticket. Trade Architect, a Java-based platform, is also available. Finally there is Thinkorswim, the broker's most advanced platform. There are no requirements for any of these platforms.

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

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.

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.


TD Ameritrade is our recommendation to customers new to investing, for IRA accounts, and for traders (commissions are negotiable for those who trade often). The firm is also great for 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. Vanguard is also the best priced broker out of these four for customers with $1 million or more available to invest.

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 TD Ameritrade (learn more), E*trade (learn more), Fidelity Investments (learn more), and Vanguard Brokerage (learn more).


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

Fidelity Investments: Get 500 free trades with $100,000+ deposit.

E*Trade: At E*TRADE, get $6.95 trades + 65₵ per options contract.

Vanguard: None