E-Trade and TD Ameritrade are two of our picks for the best online brokers available in the market today. While these firms share broad similarities in the services they offer, there are some important differences that can hopefully help you make an informed choice between these two key industry players.
Based on our comparison, TD Ameritrade seems to offer a wider range of trading options, including foreign exchange and cryptocurrency, plus more portfolio management options for larger balance accounts.
E-Trade vs. TD Ameritrade: Feature comparison
|Current promotions||New accounts with a deposit of at least $5,000, may be eligible for a cash bonus, which can range from $100 to $2,500 depending on the amount deposited.||Get up to $600 when you open and fund an account within 60 calendar days of account opening, depending on deposited amount.|
|Stock trading fees||
|Minimum deposit to open account||
|Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)||
|Commission-free ETFs offered|
|Mutual funds (no transaction fee) offered|
|Offers automated portfolio/robo-advisor|
|Ease of use|
|Mobile app||iOS, Android||iOS, Android, Windows phone|
|Customer support||Phone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 30 branch locations||Phone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email, 364 branch locations|
E-Trade vs. TD Ameritrade: Fees & account minimums
Some brokers charge an annual or monthly fee to maintain your account. Neither E-Trade nor TD Ameritrade impose such a fee, nor do they charge a fee if your account is inactive during the year. However, E-Trade does impose a $500 minimum to open an account at the firm. TD Ameritrade requires no minimum account balance.
Neither E-Trade nor TD Ameritrade charge commissions for U.S. stock trades. Both firms offer a range of commission-free exchange traded funds (ETFs) and the ability to purchase mutual funds without a transaction fee.
Both brokers charge fees for professional account management services. At E-Trade, fees range from 0.30% to 1.25% of assets under management, depending on the services chosen by the investor. At TD Ameritrade fees are similar, ranging from 0.30% to 0.90% of assets under management.
E-Trade charges a $75 fee for a full account transfer and a $25 fee for a partial transfer. TD Ameritrade charges the same $75 fee for a full account transfer. However, at TD Ameritrade, partial account transfers are free, offering investors additional flexibility.
Many online brokers offer special incentives to attract investors, and these offers can vary over time. E-Trade and TD Ameritrade currently offer $600 bonuses for deposits of $250,000 or more. E-Trade also offers a $2,500 bonus if you deposit $1,000,000 or more.
E-Trade vs. TD Ameritrade: Tradable securities
In addition to trading stocks and bonds, E-Trade and TD Ameritrade offer their customers a wide range of investable asset classes to choose from:
- Mutual funds: For investors interested in the professional management that mutual funds offer, at E-Trade you can invest in more than 4,400 mutual funds with no transaction fee. Meanwhile, TD Ameritrade offers more than 13,000 mutual funds.
- Options: An option allows an investor to sell a security at a predetermined price for a certain period of time. At E-Trade investors can trade options free of any commission, although there is an additional fee of $0.65 per contract. This fee drops to $0.50 with 30 or more trades per quarter. TD Ameritrade charges no commissions to trade options, but charges an additional fee of $0.65 per contract.
- ETFs: Including ETFs in your portfolio is a great way to add an element of diversity. E-Trade gives investors access to more than 250 ETFs free of commission. At TD Ameritrade, investors have access to more than 550 ETFs that are commission-free.
- Foreign exchange trading. At TD Ameritrade, investors can access the currencies of more than 20 countries. E-Trade does not offer foreign exchange trading.
- Futures. If you decide to trade in futures you are essentially agreeing to sell a security or other asset at a set price at a predetermined time in the future. E-Trade offers futures trading for $1.50 per transaction. TD Ameritrade gives investors access to more than 70 futures products.
- Cryptocurrency. TD Ameritrade recently began offering cryptocurrency investing through ErisX, a regulated exchange for cryptocurrency trades. E-Trade does not offer the ability to invest in cryptocurrency.
E-Trade vs. TD Ameritrade: Special features
E-Trade offers three levels of managed account services. Core Portfolios is the company’s robo-advisor product, which offers you an automated portfolio of ETFs customized to your investment goals. Just complete a five-minute online questionnaire to get started, which includes information about your goals, timelines and attitudes about risk. The minimum investment is just $500 and the annual fee is 0.30% with no commissions.
Blended Portfolios is E-Trade’s second level of managed accounts. Investors work with a financial consultant to tailor a portfolio that meets their needs, however you need a $25,000 minimum balance to gain access to Blended Portfolios. Annual management fees range between 0.65% and 0.90%, depending on the total amount of money invested under the service.
E-Trade’s third level of managed accounts, Dedicated Portfolios, includes an ongoing one-on-one relationship with a dedicated financial consultant, and it requires a $150,000 minimum investment. Annual management fees range between 0.95% and 1.25%.
TD Ameritrade also offers investors three levels of managed portfolios. Essential Portfolios is the firm’s robo-advisor option, offering five goal-oriented ETF portfolios. The minimum investment is $5,000 and the annual management fee is 0.30%.
Selective Portfolios offers more personalized service, and invests in both ETFs and mutual funds. A financial consultant helps you set investing goals, and a support team that regularly updates you on how the account is tracking towards those goals. The minimum investment is $25,000, while annual fees range from 0.55% to 0.90% depending on account balance.
Personalized Portfolios provides TD Ameritrade’s highest level of service, with tailored advice and portfolio construction. It gives you a one-on-one relationship with a financial consultant, plus extra guidance and support from a team of investment professionals. The minimum investment is $250,000, and annual fees range from 0.60% to 0.90%, depending on portfolio type and the total amount invested.
- If you are a high-volume options trader, after you do 30 trades in a quarter, the fee per contract drops to $0.50 from $0.65. TD Ameritrade offers only a flat fee of $0.65 per contract.
- E-Trade offers its clients access to solid research tools including market news, recordings and transcripts of earnings calls as well as the ability to analyze companies with fundamental stock research, technical research and bond, mutual fund and ETF research tools.
- E-Trade has a “better” bonus for new clients. For a deposit of only $10,000 you get $600 and up to 500 free trades. While TD Ameritrade offers 60 days of free trades for only a $3,000 deposit, you need to deposit $250,000 to get a $600 cash bonus.
TD Ameritrade advantages
- TD Ameritrade does not impose a minimum balance to open an account. At E-Trade, the minimum initial investment to open an account is $500.
- Some transfer fees at TD Ameritrade are lower. For example, there is no charge for a partial account transfer while E-Trade imposes a $25 fee.
- TD Ameritrade has 364 branches located around the country to provide customer support. E-Trade has only 30 branches.
- TD Ameritrade offers investors access to more mutual funds and ETFs that are free of transaction fees. For example, TD Ameritrade offers more than 13,000 mutual funds, nearly three times the number of mutual funds at E-Trade(4,400).
E-Trade vs. TD Ameritrade: Which is best for you?
With both companies offering $0 stock trading, E-Trade is likely to appeal to heavy options traders, since the cost per trade drops after 30 trades in a quarter. TD Ameritrade will appeal to investors who are looking to trade foreign exchange and cryptocurrency. And for investors who are looking for stronger portfolio consulting options, TD Ameritrade offers a wider choice of customized investing advice for larger account balances.