TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE and Fidelity are three of the top online investment brokerages targeting self-directed investors. They are full-service brokers offering a wide range of investment products. Their pricing and fees are competitive and they offer extensive market research and educational material for investors. They also offer retirement accounts. You have to dig deep to discover the type and scope of their differences when comparing TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE and Fidelity. Let’s compare fees, platform features and use.
If you’re looking for a hands-on approach to investing, a financial advisor can help you create a financial plan for your needs and goals.
TD Ameritrade vs. E*TRADE vs. Fidelity: Overview
TD Ameritrade is a decades-old brokerage. Before and since online trading, TD Ameritrade has had brick-and-mortar offices in more than 175 locations. It’s been around since 1971. They have educational events at their brick-and-mortar branches, as well as virtual events, for investors. They also have large amounts of educational material on their website along with state-of-the-art market research. TD Ameritrade has more than 12 million client accounts and handles some 2.1 million trades per day. It is a full-service brokerage with a complete line of investment products and services.
E*TRADE, also a full-service brokerage, was established in 1982. It also allows you to trade a comprehensive line of investment products such as stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds and mutual funds. Even though you can’t trade cryptocurrency on E*TRADE, you can trade futures of two of the major coins. E*TRADE also offers educational material for investors.
Fidelity, established in 1946, is another of the long-established, trusted brokerages and has upwards of 25 million investors. One of the differences in Fidelity is that it offers a wide array of its own products. One product offering distinguishes Fidelity from E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade: It offers investments in international stocks and covers 20 additional stock markets.
TD Ameritrade vs. E*TRADE vs. Fidelity: Fees
Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE all offer $0 stock and ETF commissions. TD Ameritrade offers no minimum deposit to open a brokerage account or an individual retirement account (IRA). Fidelity requires a minimum investment of $2,500 for a brokerage account and an IRA except if you deposit $200 per month to your IRA.
E*TRADE requires a $500 minimum investment to open a brokerage account and there is no minimum investment for an IRA. TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE require $2,000 to open a margin account and Fidelity requires $2,500.
As of April 2023, TD Ameritrade had a base margin rate of 13%, with the effective rate higher or lower, depending on a customer’s balance. As of March 2023, Fidelity had a current base margin rate of 11.825%, and E*TRADE had a base margin rate of 11.2%. Both Fidelity and TD Ameritrade charge $49.95 for mutual fund trades and E*TRADE charges $19.95. Please note that fees may change frequently.
Comparing Fees at TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE and Fidelity
|Trading and Account Fees||TD Ameritrade||E*TRADE||Fidelity|
|Stock and ETF trades||$0||$0||$0|
|Mutual fund trades-no load||$49.99||$19.99||$49.99|
|Options per contract||$0.65||$0.65||$0.65|
|Open margin account||$2,000||$2,000||$2,500|
|Bitcoin futures||Testing trades in Bitcoin||$2.50 per contract||N/A|
|IRA – Fee to open account||$0||$500||$2,500|
|IRA – Transfer out partial||$0||$0||$0|
|IRA – Transfer out full||$75||$0||$0|
|Robo-advisor||$5,000 + 0.3%||$15 + 0.3%||$5,000 + 0.35%|
TD Ameritrade vs. E*TRADE vs. Fidelity: Platform
E*TRADE has two mobile apps, a browser platform and a desktop program. It has one of the best web-based platforms. New and experienced investors are likely to find whatever they want on E*TRADE’s website, including educational material, market data and the ability to buy, sell and trade most existing financial instruments.
E*TRADE has two mobile apps – E*TRADE and Power E*TRADE . The E*TRADE app includes the learning materials plus the basic trading instruments. Power E*TRADE is more complex and includes advanced features like charting tools and risk analysis.
ActiveTrader Pro, Fidelity’s platform, is one of the premier online brokerage platforms. It usually appeals to advanced traders. Fidelity does make some stipulations regarding the use of ActiveTrader Pro. A trader has to make 36 trades in a 12-month time period to be eligible to use it. ActiveTrader Pro provides the investor with many options and features. It is especially good for the options trader. In some surveys, the platform is ranked above average.
TD Ameritrade has its Think or Swim platform. It is primarily for advanced traders as it has many features that beginning or retail investors wouldn’t necessarily need. TD Ameritrade’s platform is often ranked No. 1 among trading platforms, although Android users find it is a little glitchy. The Think or Swim platform was developed by traders for traders and is part of TD Ameritrade’s Essential Portfolios and roboadvising service. There is a $5,000 minimum deposit for Essential Portfolios along with 0.30% management fee for roboadvising. The company also has a simplified app for less experienced investors.
TD Ameritrade, Fidelity and E*TRADE are all ranked as three of the top five brokerage platforms in 2021. TD Ameritrade is ranked the best overall platform and the best of the three for beginners. Fidelity is ranked as best for everyday investors and E*TRADE is ranked as having the best web-based platform.
TD Ameritrade vs. E*TRADE vs. Fidelity: Uses
When reviewing TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE and Fidelity, we find many similarities in their strengths. These are three of the top brokerages and they are all full-service brokerages. The details about the uses of each brokerage help investors make informed decisions.
- Pricing. All three brokerages have a $0 commission on stocks and ETF trades. A major difference is noted for mutual funds where TD Ameritrade and Fidelity both charge a $49.95 commission for mutual funds. E*TRADE charges $19.95.
- Investing in mutual funds. All three brokerages have thousands of mutual funds listed. TD Ameritrade has around 13,000 funds available and 4,200 are no-load and have no transactions fees. E*TRADE and Fidelity have 10,000 each available. E*TRADE has around 4,200 no-load and with no transaction fee, and Fidelity has 3,500 with no-load and no transaction fee. Fidelity has a lot of its own products available.
- Investment vehicles. All three brokerages are full-service. They offer a comprehensive range of possible investment vehicles except for cryptocurrency. None of them offer cryptocurrency with the exception of TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE offering Bitcoin futures. TD Ameritrade offers almost everything except precious metals and international stocks. The E*TRADE offerings are not quite as broad as the TD Ameritrade offerings. They don’t offer precious metals, foreign stocks and foreign exchange (currencies). Fidelity offers trading in international stocks on foreign exchanges. It also offers various debt instruments like CDs, commercial paper and U.S. Treasurys. It doesn’t offer currencies, futures or options. Fidelity offers a stellar list of IRAs.
- Mobile trading. TD Ameritrade offers mobile apps that can be used for trading on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Windows 10 and Android. Investors can watch CNBC and Reuters. E*TRADE offers mobile trading on Android tablets and phones, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Amazon Fire Phone, Kindle Fire HD and Windows. If you are an active trader, you can have access to streaming CNBC. At Fidelity, you have access to mobile trading using iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch, Windows Phone and Windows. Live streaming of Bloomberg is included.
- Educational content. TD Ameritrade has a vast selection of educational content for investors It also boosts a robo-advisor, but it is tied to TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios. A $5,000 initial deposit is required. Fidelity also has excellent educational material for its investors. E*TRADE may be the lightest on educational support articles, but its selection is still more than adequate.
If you compare TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE and Fidelity in the online brokerage space, you will find many similarities and some differences. TD Ameritrade has a strong platform, a lot of helpful educational content and a wide variety of vehicles for an investment portfolio. E*TRADE offers excellent pricing and phone and chat support. Fidelity has a strong platform and international investing. Your choice should follow your needs as an investor.
Tips on Investing
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