TD Ameritrade vs Motif Investing vs Etrade 2019

Rivalry: Motif Investing vs TD Ameritrade and E*Trade

Motif Investing has a new method of financial management, but it has a lot of competition from E*Trade and TD Ameritrade. Let’s compare these three brokerage firms and see if one is the top dog.


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
Motif $4.95 na na $0 $0


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

Range of Investments

At Motif Investing, traders buy and sell baskets of securities called motifs. They are composed of stocks and ETF’s. The brokerage firm does not offer options, bonds, or mutual funds. While this is rather disappointing, one advantage of Motif is that fractional shares of stocks and ETF’s can be traded. Motif Investing also offers access to IPO’s.

E*Trade and TD Ameritrade clients can trade in IPO’s, too. TD Ameritrade restricts its IPO offerings to large accounts, whereas E*Trade does not. At both brokerage firms, traders can buy and sell options, bonds, and mutual funds; and this of course is a huge advantage over Motif Investing.

TD Ameritrade customers can trade futures and forex, while E*Trade offers futures but not forex.

This category is a tie between E*Trade and TD Ameritrade.

Trading Technology

Motif Investing clients can buy and sell stocks, ETF’s, and motifs using the company’s simple website. There is no browser platform, no desktop software, and no advanced anything. Charting is available on the site, and comparisons can be made. Unfortunately, there is no trade bar on the site. This brokerage house obviously isn’t designed for active trading.

Motif Investing Account

Moving to E*Trade, things improve considerably. The brokerage firm has advanced charting on its website and a decent trade ticket. A major step up is Power E*Trade, the company’s browser system. The software offers a very advanced order ticket and good charting tools. Option chains are available, and the platform has pre-defined multi-leg strategies.

Finally, the broker offers a desktop platform called E*Trade Pro. It does come with active trader requirements (unlike Power, which is free for all clients). The Pro system offers the broker’s most advanced tools, including Level II quotes and time & sales data.

Etrade review: advanced trading

TD Ameritrade rivals E*Trade here. The TD Ameritrade website is user-friendly, just like E*Trade’s, and offers a lot of useful features. One advantage that TD Ameritrade offers over E*Trade is a trade bar called SnapTicket. The tool is able to submit orders for equities and options.


Because of software incompatibility issues, TD Ameritrade has retired its browser platform. However, it still offers its desktop system free of charge to all clients, which is another advantage over E*Trade. The software offers the most advanced charting program we have seen. Plus, there are many other great features, such as direct-access routing, Level II data, and complex order types.

TD Ameritrade is the victor here.

Mobile Trading

All three broker-dealers in this survey offer mobile apps. Motif Investing’s app provides watchlists and basic security info. The information is rather brief. Charting is even more elementary without horizontal mode or charting tools. There is no mobile check deposit or streaming financial news. The platform is designed for searching for motifs.

At E*Trade, investors get much more. Charting is better, with technical studies, horizontal view, and more. We were impressed to find multi-leg option strategies included in the software. The app can also trade futures, a nice service. And of course, the broker has remembered mobile check deposit.

TD Ameritrade actually offers a total of 3 apps. Combined, they provide check deposit, streaming financial news, futures and forex trading, and some of the best charting we have seen on a mobile device. Option trades can be sent to specific market makers, another unusual feature.

TD Ameritrade wins again.

Investment Research

Motif Investing dedicates its resources to searching for motifs. This means that individual stocks and ETF’s don’t have a lot of details on their profile pages. A search engine for motifs is able to look at specific categories, such as biotech themes or social networking motifs. Also displayed are 30-day winners and high dividend yields. A profile for a motif doesn’t display a great deal of info; we found the date the basket was created, top holdings, performance history, and a small chart. There are no resources for general financial education.

Shifting to E*Trade, the situation improves dramatically. We found articles and videos on a wide range of investment topics. These include how to trade futures, the basics of stock analysis, how to use the company’s software, and more.

Profile pages at E*Trade include lots of helpful info, including earnings history, insider trading activity, financial statements, option chains, news articles, and more. We were especially impressed with the broker’s free stock reports.

TD Ameritrade also provides extensive learning materials. Its website has a learning center where resources can be sorted by experience level or material type, such as article or video. Besides investing, there are resources on personal finance. We found videos on compound interest, real estate investing, and portfolio management. One strength that TD Ameritrade has that the other two don’t is a new Internet channel named TD Ameritrade Network. It provides live market commentary.

We like TD Ameritrade best in this category.

DRIP Service

All three broker-dealers in this investigation offer a free DRIP service. E*Trade requires that a security be priced at $5 or more to be enrolled. Motif Investing has the most unusual plan. Instead of automatically converting cash dividends into more shares of the security that pays it, the broker sends the cash dividends into a separate account, and these funds can be used to purchase fractional shares of any stock or ETF. Dividends cannot be used to purchase additional shares of a motif.

This is a tie between TD Ameritrade and Motif.


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

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

Motif Investing: None


For active stock and option traders (more than 10 transactions per month) either E*Trade or TD Ameritrade will work. For low-volume traders, we suggest TD Ameritrade over E*Trade.

For retirement saving and customer service, we propose TD Ameritrade.

For managed account services, E*Trade’s free first year is hard to pass up.

Motif Investing seems strong only for traders who are interested in the company’s motifs.


Outside of motif trading, TD Ameritrade is the top dog.

TD Ameritrade Promotion

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E*Trade Promotion

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Motif Promotion

Open Motif Account

Updated on 2/21/2019.