TD Ameritrade Review – An IRA Broker for Advanced and Beginning Investors

January 21, 2013 No Comments »
TD Ameritrade Review – An IRA Broker for Advanced and Beginning Investors

Looking to open or rollover an IRA account this year? Good move!

Since you’re here, you’re probably trying to determine which IRA account is best for your particular needs.

And the truth of the matter is that many of the most well-known brokerages provide similar services for their IRA customers. That being said, there are minor differences in fees and features (as well as promotional sign-up bonuses) that you may want to take into consideration.

Current Sign-Up Bonus available with TD Ameritrade: Trade free for 60 days + Get up to $600

Although our review today is on TD Ameritrade’s IRA’s, I should note that I’ve personally opened accounts with TD Ameritrade, Scottrade and E-Trade in the past five years and tout TD Ameritrade as my personal favorite.

[See my review of E-trade's IRA here.]

Below is complete review of their features, fees and awards received. Depending on what, exactly, you’re looking for with your IRA account, however, other brokerages may cater slightly more to your needs.

Before making any decision on a brokerage, I would recommend first understanding what investment vehicles you are looking to fill it with as well as what sort of trading platforms and mobile capabilities you may need (if any).

The TD Ameritrade Brand:

You may connect Sam Waterston of Law & Order with TD Ameritrade as he has been their spokesperson since 2003, but he is no longer. Can you guess who’s the new voice of this organization just from listening to new the commercial?

 

 

If you guessed Matt Damon, you’d be correct! In an attempt to freshen their image (and perhaps draw younger investors), TD Ameritrade has hired Matt Damon to be their new spokesperson. Unlike Waterston, though, you’ll never see Damon; he’ll simply provide his recognizable voice to the TD Ameritrade commercials.

Of course, as an investor, you likely don’t care much about who pitches the commercials but rather about what brokerage firm is the best for handling your retirement investments.

Types of Retirement Accounts Available at TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade offers 6 different retirement account options. For the individual, they offer a Traditional IRA, a Roth IRA, and a Rollover IRA. For the self-employed or small business owners, they offer a SEP IRA, Individual 401k, and Simple IRA.

If you are unsure which type is best for you or your business, you can call or e-mail a representative or stop by one of the 126 national branches. You can also consult their online IRA guide.

Types of Investments Available

TD Ameritrade offers a wide variety of investment options including stocks, bonds, CDs, exchange traded funds, mutual funds, and annuities (fixed and variable). At any time, you can talk to a representative for free.

You can also access their online tools to help you determine the right investment for your situation. For instance, the Bond Wizard asks you a few questions about your financial situation and desired time frame, and you will receive a list of bonds and CDs that are a good fit for your situation. Making investment decisions solely based on these tools isn’t recommended, but they can give you options to consider.

Likewise, TD Ameritrade is home to the highly touted thinkorswim trading platform where you can trade stocks, complex options, futures, and forex while on the go. They offer single click trader entry, and an analyze option where investors can analyze risk and reward probabilities. Even better, you can customize thinkorswim for your unique situation and preferences. For newer investors, there is a training center, and customer service is available 24/7.

Awards

TD Ameritrade routinely wins awards. Barron’s named TD Ameritrade #1 in Customer Service & Education in 2012. In a field of 26 competitors, this is quite an accomplishment.

SmartMoney named TD Ameritrade one of the top 3 discount brokerage firms in 2012. They also gave TD Ameritrade the highest possible rating for Trading Tools, Research and Banking Services. Kirk Duplessis, a TD Ameritrade thinkorswim enthusiast told SmartMoney of thinkorswim, “Compared with what other Web-based trading platforms offered when he first started trading stocks–and even with what many are offering now–he says, ‘it’s a different beast altogether.’”

Stockbrokers.com in 2012 named TD Ameritrade, competing against 23 other brokers, the best broker, and TD Ameritrade was awarded 5 out of 5 stars.

Fees

For a smart investor, learning the benefits of a particular broker is important, but the fees are just as important. Luckily, TD Ameritrade offers not only excellent customer service, trading platform and educational materials, but fees that are on par with other brokers.

- Online trades are $9.99 each. (You’ll pay $44.99 for a broker-assisted trade or $34.99 for an Interactive Voice Response trade.)

- Option contracts are .75 per contract.

- Mutual funds have no transaction fees.

- No load funds are $49.99.

- Treasury bonds have a flat $25 fee.

- Future contracts are $3.50 per contract.

TD Ameritrade does not charge maintenance or inactivity fees.

Minimum Opening Deposit

Unlike some other brokers, TD Ameritrade has no minimum amount required to open an account. However, a $2,000 deposit is required for margin and options privileges (though TD Ameritrade doesn’t recommend them for most investors).

Final Thoughts

TD Ameritrade is a strong broker that has won numerous awards. The straight forward fee schedule as well as the lack of a minimum required to open an account make this an attractive broker for those who want to start investing in small amounts.

For the more advanced broker who likes to trade while on the go, the thinkorswim trading platform makes TD Ameritrade a worthwhile broker.

Have you joined TD Ameritrade? What has been your experience?

Current Sign-Up Bonus: Trade free for 60 days + Get up to $600

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