TIAA vs Fidelity

Compare TIAA CREF vs Fidelity

Fidelity or TIAA CREF - which is better in 2017? Compare IRA/Roth accounts, online investing fees, stock broker mutual fund rates, and differences.

The Faceoff

A variety of investment services can be found at both Fidelity and TIAA (formerly known as TIAA-CREF). While Fidelity tends to attract investors looking for a great value, and TIAA caters to educators and government workers, an account at either broker can be opened by anybody. So how do these two brokerage firms compare to each other? This article is going to find out which firm is better - TIAA or Fidelity?

TIAA and Fidelity Comparison

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
Fidelity $4.95 $49.95 ($75 for some funds) $4.95 + $0.65 per contract $0 $0
TIAA $7.95 $50 $9.95 + $2 per contract $0 $0

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

Mutual Funds and ETF’s

Fidelity’s mutual fund screener returns 11,158 products that are available for purchase. Of these, 3,757 come with no transaction fee, and roughly half of this group also offers no loads. Fidelity manages its own brand of funds. There are 320 of them, and they all have no transaction fee when purchased at Transaction-fee funds usually cost $49.95, although a few funds have a higher charge of $75. In either case, the fee is only charged on the buy side. Fidelity clients must pay $49.95 anytime an NTF fund is sold in less than 2 months after purchase.

Fidelity also offers ETF traders more than 90 exchange-traded funds that have zero commissions. They are from iShares and Fidelity. There is a short-term trade fee if they are sold in less than 1 month after purchase.

Like Fidelity, TIAA offers trading in both mutual and exchange-traded funds. Unlike Fidelity, TIAA provides no commission-free ETF’s. The broker’s mutual fund screener returns more than 7,200 securities. Unfortunately, the screener lacks the option to look for products without loads and transaction fees. Fidelity’s search tool can look for funds without transaction fees.

Also like Fidelity, TIAA operates its own brand of mutual funds. The broker has 290 of them. Some of them carry neither load nor transaction fee, although a few do have transaction fees. Unlike Fidelity, TIAA does not manage its own family of ETF’s.

TIAA customers must pay $50 for every transaction of a mutual fund that isn’t on the broker’s NTF list. Wealth management customers receive a $15 rebate. Mutual funds at TIAA must be held at least 180 days before selling; otherwise the broker charges a $50 short-term redemption fee.

Fidelity is the better choice here.

TIAA vs Fidelity

Customer Support

A Fidelity representative can be reached over the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is a phone number for customers who travel internationally. The broker’s website also has a convenient on-line chat function along with internal messaging. The broker recently added a chat bot to its website. It can answer most common questions. Fidelity manages a network of branch locations across the United States, with nearly 200 locations.

TIAA also has a nationwide network of brick-and-mortar locations. Some of the services might be more limited at some of these branches. The company does not give investment advice to self-directed customers, while Fidelity does.

A company associate at TIAA can be reached over the phone from 8:00 am till 10:00 pm, EST, during the week. On Saturday, the broker is open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. The firm is closed on Sunday. TIAA has an automated phone system that is available around the clock. Spanish service is available, as is a global phone number.

Fidelity wins the opening category primarily due to its 24/7 service.

Investment Advice and Managed Accounts

Both TIAA and Fidelity provide self-directed and managed accounts. Both firms offer licensed investment advisors at select locations who can assist clients with financial planning. TIAA charges 1.15% for this service and requires $50,000. A cheaper robo option costs 0.30% with a $5,000 required deposit.

Fidelity also offers both human and robo advisors. The robot costs 35 basis points and has the same minimum as TIAA’s. There are several traditionally-managed packages at Fidelity, which have minimums from $50,000 to $2,000,000, and with prices ranging from 20 to 170 basis points.

Fidelity has a larger selection of human-managed accounts, some at lower prices, and so it wins this category.

Fidelity vs TIAA CREF

Trading Technology

TIAA's website is not the best in the world. Charting is rather elementary. The broker provides a trade bar that sits at the bottom of the browsing window, but orders cannot be placed from it. There is no desktop platform available here.

Fidelity’s website is more user friendly. There is a trading ticket that appears on the left-hand side of the screener after clicking on a trade button. The broker also offers a desktop platform with no trading requirements. A Fidelity app for Apple TV is also available free of charge.

Fidelity easily wins this category.

Fees, Commissions, and Account Minimums

Equity trades at TIAA cost $7.95. Clients who sign up for a wealth management relationship pay only $5.95. Option contracts are an additional $2 for regular clients and $1 for wealth management clients. In either case, Fidelity is cheaper, charging all customers $4.95 for stock and ETF trades and 65 cents for options.

Both brokerage houses have automated phone systems that can be used to submit orders for securities. Using this service at TIAA costs $35 for equities and an extra $2 for options. At Fidelity, the cost is $12.95 for stocks and ETF’s, while options are an extra 10 cents.

Investment accounts at both brokers come with no annual fees or minimum balance requirements. Closing an IRA at TIAA costs $130, while Fidelity customers pay a much lower $50.

TIAA charges $55 plus an extra $2 for derivatives for orders placed with a live rep. Fidelity clients pay $32.95 (plus 75 cents for options) for the same service.

Once again, Fidelity is victorious.


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

TIAA: none right now.

TIAA vs Fidelity: Which is Better?

Fidelity (read Fidelity Review) won every contest. Looks like TIAA (read TIAA Investing Review) needs to go back to the drawing board if it hopes to attract a larger swath of traders. It does have a good selection of mutual funds, and its robo-advisory service might be a good choice for many of its customers.

Investors looking for the best flat rate pricing along with excellent brokerage services should take a look at Ally Invest. Active traders should check out TradeStation.

Updated on 8/15/2017.

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Review discount online brokerage firms comparison: Fidelity or TIAA CREF? Differences between investment companies. Recommendation for stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds investors. TIAA CREF versus Fidelity for beginner investors, long term, individual retirement accounts, active/day traders. See what stock broker service is better, cheaper, offers lower fees, cost, rated higher and easier to use. Which broker should you choose?

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