TD Ameritrade vs TransAmerica in 2022

TransAmerica Fees and Investments

Through different mergers and acquisitions, Transamerica has been serving customers for 100 years. Under their 401k plans, they offer quite a few investment choices. These include short term, long term, and aggressive bonds, small, mid, and large-cap stocks, international stocks, and multi-asset target date stocks. There are 34 different options across these different investments with expense ratios varying from 0.58% to 1.45%.

TransAmerica Pros

Expense ratio can really help or hinder a number of gains on investments. These little fees can add up over time. That is why having the option to pick funds with low expense ratios is one benefit of TransAmerica's 401k plan. Although these fees aren't as low as other many other options available outside of company 401k plans, there are decent options. Expense ratios under 1% are ideal and the majority of TransAmerica's investment options offer expense ratios under 1%. Expense ratios can be located on the company's website so customers have this information readily available when they need it.

To assist customers with managing their portfolios, there is a tool called PortfolioXpress® provided on the company's website. PortfolioXpress® automatically rebalances retirement portfolios based on risk preference and anticipated retirement year. Some customers prefer a hands-off approach to their finances. This option provides added convenience to these customers by relieving them of initially selecting funds and continuously monitoring performance.

There is another tool on the company's website called Are you OnTrack®? The purpose of this tool is to deliver a personalized retirement income analysis. This tool predicts the annual or monthly income once a customer retires based on his or her current investing strategy. This kind of analysis helps to put the future in perspective and can demonstrate if there need to be more savings or if it is acceptable to continue with the current path.

Cost Comparison

Overview of TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade is the swiss army knife of online brokers. With the proper account approvals, you can trade stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, options on futures, and forex, all in the same account.

And with a variety of professional-level trading platforms available, as well as responsive customer support, you get the feeling of a full-service brokers without the costs. There is no minimum deposit for standard individual accounts, and trade commissions are the same no matter how much you deposit or how often you trade.

Sign-Up and Funding

The sign-up process is straightforward for anyone who has opened a brokerage account previously. TD Ameritrade offers a variety of account types, including individual, IRA, Roth IRA, 401(k) rollover, education savings, and specialty accounts for trusts and organizations.

First you click on their current promotion offer: $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement. Then you hit "Open new account" button and select the correct account type. After that you supply your contact information and various other personal details, and your account should be opened within one day.

Additionally, TD Ameritrade asks you questions about your investment objectives and what kind of trading you are planning to do in your account. If you are mainly going to buy and hold stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds, then this process is straightforward. However, if you opt to apply for a margin account with additional trading privileges, you will also be quizzed about your trading experience with these products.

After completing the sign-up process, you will be presented with options for funding your account. TD Ameritrade offers a neat feature called “Express Funding”, which allows you to begin trading almost immediately, rather than waiting the 2-3 business days for an ACH transfer to clear. You simply supply your online banking login details, and TD Ameritrade verifies your account balance before initiating the requested transfer. The transfer amount is then made available to you for non-margin trading (that is, long positions on stocks, bonds, and mutual funds).

Margin Accounts and Specialty Trading

TD Ameritrade makes it easy to sign up for a margin account with them. A margin account allows you to borrow money from your broker in order to increase your buying power. A margin account is also required in order to trade derivatives like options, futures, and forex.

As mentioned, you will be asked about your investing goals and trading experience when applying for a margin account or extra trading privileges. These requests are subject to review by TD Ameritrade, and not all investors will be approved.

If you are approved for margin, you must fund your account with at least $2,000, and 30% of your account must be in equities or cash (that is, not invested in short stock positions, options, or futures).

Requests for approval for options, futures, options on futures, and forex are also subject to review, however in general once you have a margin account approved, the approval process for derivatives trading is trivial.

Open TD Ameritrade Account

Open TD Ameritrade Account

Trading Platforms

TD Ameritrade provides a variety of ways for you to execute trades in your account. All of these platforms are free to use with an account of any size or trade volume, and there are no extra fees for real-time streaming market data. This is in contrast with many other online brokerages, which require a minimum number of trades or a minimum account size in order to use their advanced trading tools.

Online Trading: This is the most straightforward option for most investors who are looking to buy stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. You can enter market, limit, and stop orders for these securities in a straightforward way. The website also provides many tools for market research, news, and investing ideas, and trades can be initiated from many of these as well. More advanced trades and short positions can also be initiated from the web interface, but this requires manual input.

Thinkorswim: This is a downloadable trading platform that gives the individual investor unprecedented access to a wide variety of tools that are normally reserved only for those who are working with millions of dollars. The interface looks like a Bloomberg terminal that you would see on a hedge fund trader’s desk. Thinkorswim allows you to set up complex options trades, trade futures and forex, and model the outcomes of these strategies with precision. Of course, there is a steep learning curve to such an advanced tool, but the program includes built-in training classes and webinars that can help.

Mobile Trading: TD Ameritrade offers both its own app, and a Thinkorswim mobile app that can help you monitor your account on the go, and even execute trades if you so desire.

Fees and Commissions

TD Ameritrade has a straightforward and fair pricing structure that does not change depending on your account balance or trading volume. There are no maintenance or platform fees, either, which makes it a good choice for both buy and hold investors and more active traders.

Online stock and ETF trades are $0 per trade. Options trades are $0.65 per contract. No-load mutual funds are $49.99, but TD offers 4,200 mutual funds without commissions. Futures are $2.25 per contract. Forex trades on most major currency pairs are commission-free.


TD Ameritrade is a reputable brokerage with good customer support, a fair commission structure, and a wide variety of trading and research tools that are available to you no matter your net worth. Whether you are just starting out, or you are looking to expand into advanced trading strategies, TD Ameritrade is one of the best brokers for retail investors.

Open TD Ameritrade Account

Open TD Ameritrade Account