TD Ameritrade Review – Is It the Best U.S.-Based Forex Broker for Professional Traders?
American brokers are generally well-known for their reliable trading platforms backed by strong investor-centric regulatory guidelines. These protective measures are imposed by top financial market regulators such as the SEC, CFTC, NFA, and FINRA, which offer excellent levels of investor safety. Still, they can also lead to restrictive trading conditions. Nevertheless, TD Ameritrade is one step ahead of its peers, mainly because of its immensely positive reputation in the U.S. market.
The company has added further to its strength and credibility through its recent merger with Charles Schwab. This partnership is reported to hold more than $6 trillion in assets through millions of retail and institutional brokerage accounts. There are several benefits to trading Forex, stocks, and CFDs at the company, but the main aim of this TD Ameritrade Forex review is to understand whether the broker is a good fit for our readers.
We have received numerous questions from our readers regarding the positives and negatives of opening a TD Ameritrade Forex account. Does the broker cater to retail Forex traders? What are the desktop and mobile trading platforms on offer? Does the broker offer competitive pricing for its products? Is the company good for beginners? To answer all the above questions and many more, we have generated this comprehensive TD Ameritrade review, where we cover several aspects of the company to provide a complete picture of the broker’s products and services.
- Wide selection of investment choices
- Free trading platforms
- Commission-free online trading+
- Interactive courses and webcasts
A Look into the Different TD Ameritrade Forex Account Options for Retail Trading
We start this TD Ameritrade review by evaluating the different types of accounts offered to traders. We also provide a detailed explanation of the process involved in signing up for a trading account, which will help you find an option that would best suit your trading requirements. However, before moving on, here is a shortlist of all the pros and cons to give you a glimpse into the underlying characteristics of the company.
- One of the largest U.S.-based brokers that cater to a global clientele.
- Outstanding regulatory compliance.
- Excellent choice of markets and tradable instruments.
- Great choice of desktop, mobile, and web trading platforms.
- No TD Ameritrade withdrawal fees.
- Zero TD Ameritrade commission for all asset classes.
- Useful collection of market research and educational materials.
- Restrictive trading conditions owing to regulatory intervention.
- Negligible bonus offers and no cash rebate program.
- No option to make a TD Ameritrade deposit via e-wallets or cryptocurrency wallets.
- TD Ameritrade Forex spreads are average.
The broker is indeed a perfect fit for most retail and institutional traders, albeit it might not be conducive for traders who prefer a high TD Ameritrade Forex leverage. Nevertheless, let’s look at the different types of trading accounts offered by the broker and their associated features.
TD Ameritrade Forex Account Types – How to Choose the Correct Option
The company offers a wide range of trading accounts suited to different trading needs. There are both institutional and retail account options, with each category further subdivided into different tiers to offer the most customized option for different investment requirements. Therefore, traders must have a clear idea about their primary investment goals before choosing an account category that best suits their requirements.
TD Ameritrade Forex accounts are categorized into Standard, Retirement, Education, Specialty, Managed Portfolio, and Margin Trading accounts. Except for the Margin Trading accounts, all account types are conventional brokerage accounts suitable for stock trading, portfolio management, investment schemes, and other similar investment opportunities. The company even grants its clients an opportunity to open individual accounts, partnership accounts, trusts, and corporate accounts, ensuring that all categories of investors, traders, fund managers, and portfolio allocation companies can open an account at TD Ameritrade.
There aren’t any minimum TD Ameritrade deposit requirements for most of these accounts, but the minimum amount for electronic funding is $50.
However, TD Ameritrade Margin Trading accounts have a higher minimum deposit requirement, where traders must deposit at least $2,000 to start trading. This account offers access to the entire range of financial products, but the maximum available TD Ameritrade Forex leverage is restricted to 1:2. Hence, with a 50% TD Ameritrade Forex margin, a $1,000 investment will only be eligible for a borrowing power of up to $1,000, which is very low in the context of the retail FX trading market.
While the low TD Ameritrade Forex leverage may inhibit high-risk traders from leveraging their positions in the market to considerable levels, the upside benefit is that the risk of ruin is highly limited. Under ordinary circumstances, trading on margin does come with immense risk, especially when we consider the volatility in the market. Still, the high TD Ameritrade margin requirement ensures that traders don’t over-leverage their positions in the market.
Registering a TD Ameritrade Forex Account
As part of our standard reviewing framework, we opened a live trading account to compile this TD Ameritrade review. As anticipated, the account opening procedure was quite lengthy, but we have had similar experiences with other comparable brokers that follow strict regulatory compliance. U.S. Regulation also plays a key role here since American brokers are required by law to collect all the appropriate information from traders and investors before assigning them a brokerage account.
The entire registration process spans over 6 steps and can take between 15 to 30 minutes to complete. Traders are required to choose the type of trading account at the beginning of the registration process itself. For a TD Ameritrade Forex margin trading account, selecting the “Actively Trade Stocks, ETFs, Options, Futures or Forex” button is vital. It is an important step to ensure that you get full access to the margin-traded products provided by the company, including Forex and CFDs.
Despite the lengthy signup procedure, the account registration process is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. Ensure that you submit accurate information to the broker, including your personal information, financial background, employment details, source of funds, experience in financial markets, investment goals, and other similar information. You should also read and accept the company’s terms and conditions, after which you are given the option to set up your user ID and password. Should you run into any issues during signup, the broker has provided a detailed FAQ section that offers useful information, or you can always contact the broker’s customer support for any assistance.
Finally, you have to verify your account by confirming your identity, which means that you should keep your identification and address documents handy at the time of signup. You will be asked to upload these documents to the account signup interface, and the broker’s accounts team will verify your information before activating your trading account. The verification process will take some time since the broker adopts a strict scrutinizing procedure to comply with the regulatory guidelines. Nevertheless, the broker will activate your trading account within a week, and you can subsequently make your first TD Ameritrade deposit to start trading.
Assessing the TD Ameritrade App Options for FX Trading
The broker has chosen a route of innovation and technical breakthroughs for developing a range of proprietary TD Ameritrade apps that offer unhindered access to all markets. These proprietary apps are indeed some of the most powerful trading platforms in the industry and are available in different forms. For starters, there are 2 distinct categories of TD Ameritrade apps. The company’s classic trading platform, known as the “Investing Platform,” is developed for investment accounts that offer access to conventional assets. In contrast, a more modern interface, known as “thinkorswim,” is developed for active traders who wish to trade more exotic markets such as Forex and futures.
The Investing Platform is available as both a web platform and a mobile app. Its primary responsibility is to offer investors a classic trading environment that allows them to build their portfolio through the conventional investment approach. It provides a basic trading interface that allows traders to view a single chart, change time frames, add indicators, and trade the market through the proprietary SnapTicket trading terminal.
Although this platform makes do with a few basic charting features that may appear severely limited when compared to a dedicated desktop trading interface, it does offer extensive in-depth information on individual assets that can paint a complete picture for advanced traders. Traders are also provided several research materials, which further accentuate the investors’ capabilities in making informed investment decisions.
However, if you want to access margin-traded products such as Forex, you should choose the award-winning thinkorswim TD Ameritrade app. You can either download the thinkorswim desktop app for full market access or choose the web version for flexible trading options. The desktop and web versions of the thinkorswim TD Ameritrade apps are very similar in features and performance. Still, the desktop version may offer slightly better trading performance by using system resources directly. Nevertheless, you can access all markets on both the desktop and web interface, thereby helping you create a diversified portfolio.
If you have been trading for a while or have previous experience trading with other platforms, it is easy to get comfortable with the TD Ameritrade app. However, if you are new to trading, the layout and the arrangement of different modules may be challenging at first. Nevertheless, it would be a good idea for all traders to open a demo account to get a feel of the platform, which can be done by subscribing to a paperMoney account at TD Ameritrade.
Regarding the overall feel and design of the user interface, there are unlimited customization options to get the trading dashboard set up to the trader’s liking. The dark theme helps concentrate on the markets with minimal distractions, while the charting tools such as technical analysis tools and indicators provide excellent opportunities to analyze the markets.
Another inherent advantage of the broker’s proprietary platform is that there are no TD Ameritrade fees for platform usage, unlike some leading American brokers that charge a fee for live data and platform services. The company does not impose any minimum trading volume requirement or charge any subscription costs. The trading performance of the TD Ameritrade app is also far superior to other proprietary apps offered by mainstream Forex brokers.
In some cases, the performance is almost similar to third-party apps such as MetaTrader and cTrader. Of course, the company does not offer MetaTrader and cTrader as an option, which might inhibit using social trading or copy-trading strategies. However, the broker supports automated trading through its thinkScript tool, which uses object-based coding to build algorithms for automated trading and strategic testing. Nevertheless, traders might miss the open-source nature of third-party apps, but aside from this minor inconvenience, the proprietary TD Ameritrade apps are perfect for all traders.
Trading Performance of the Mobile TD Ameritrade Apps
The TD Ameritrade mobile app and the thinkorswim TD Ameritrade app are offered to both iOS and Android users. The mobile version of the investment platform replicates all the features of its web counterpart by allowing traders to track their investment portfolios, set pricing alerts, receive analyst reports, and get real-time quotes, all in one place. Of course, flexibility is restricted, as the platform does not offer the full suite of analytical tools. However, traders are still free to open charts and add indicators, along with the option of opening, closing, and managing open trades via the interface.
The TD Ameritrade mobile app is available for all Apple devices running the latest version of iOS, including the Apple Watch. In contrast, the Android app is compatible with almost all smartphones and tablets running the latest versions of Android.
Although the TD Ameritrade mobile app is a good mobile platform for managing investments, the thinkorswim mobile app is on another level when it comes to performance, trading tools, features, and customizable options. It allows active trading 24 hours a day for 5 days a week and offers several advanced trading functionalities, such as multitouch charting features and more than 300 technical indicators.
Thinkorswim is the default platform for the Forex and futures market, and the trading functionalities are carried over from the desktop app, although at the expense of reduced screen space. Nevertheless, we came away truly impressed by the sheer usability, performance, and graphical prowess of the company’s proprietary trading apps.
Availability of Bonuses and Cash Rebates
One drawback that we anticipated against the broker in this TD Ameritrade review is the absence of any promotional offers. However, contrary to our expectations, the company does offer free bonuses to its clients but not at a significant amount of money and certainly not to all account holders. For instance, the company offers a free cash offer for its brokerage or retirement account holders. Still, there is a minimum TD Ameritrade deposit requirement of $250,000 to participate in the offer.
Despite the high minimum investment requirement, the cash incentive is pretty small, with the broker rewarding a meager $350 for a $250,000 deposit. The company does offer a higher bonus of $2,500, but traders are required to deposit at least $2 million to qualify for the maximum bonus.
There is indeed a referral bonus when traders signup for an account through a referral, which is once again a trivial amount of bonus. The bonus program starts with a $150 cash incentive for a TD Ameritrade deposit worth anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000, while the broker offers a maximum bonus of $1,000 for a minimum investment of $500,000. Once again, the bonus alone does not add much equity into your initial capital, and we wouldn’t wholly recommend accepting the bonus from the broker. These bonuses are subject to the broker’s terms and conditions, and the money can only be withdrawn after the trader satisfies a minimum trading volume requirement.
Regulated brokers usually offer an incentives program that offers a cash rebate or cashback for a specific volume traded to circumvent the ban on bonuses and promotions imposed by regulators. However, while creating this TD Ameritrade Forex review, we discovered that there aren’t any rewards or cash rebate programs, which is strange. Such a loyalty program would have interested high-volume traders, who regularly transact a significant amount of trading volumes. Nevertheless, if you are not concerned about bonuses or other free money promotions, TD Ameritrade should fit the bill perfectly.
Depositing and Withdrawing Funds
You must have a fully verified account to make your first TD Ameritrade deposit. However, the most pressing concern for traders might be that the company does not support online payment systems such as e-wallets or cryptocurrencies. Of course, digital payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay are an option for American traders, but these payments have to be routed via a TD bank account. It can indeed be a hassle for most traders, which is why the direct-deposit method is the most preferred TD Ameritrade deposit option.
Nevertheless, you can add funds through a regular wire transfer or an ACH electronic bank deposit. ACH deposits are generally transferred within minutes, while bank wire transfers can take 2 days.
Alternatively, traders can also send in a check, which will take around 3 to 7 working days for the funds to reach your trading account. There are no minimum TD Ameritrade deposit requirements for bank wire and check deposits, but a minimum $50 deposit is required for ACH transfers.
|TD Ameritrade Deposit Options|
|Deposits Availability||Min. Deposit||Deposit Fee|
|Deposits Availability: from several minutes to 2 days||Min. Deposit: $50||Deposit Fee: -|
BANK-WIRE MASTERCARD VISA
Traders can also transfer their existing brokerage accounts, investments, stocks, retirement accounts, and other investments to TD Ameritrade by using the Account Transfer option. It allows a full transfer of funds from one firm to the other, which involves a small transfer fee. Such an option is generally restricted to firms within the United States. Still, the broker may allow transfers from selected international firms provided they comply with existing U.S. regulations and anti-money laundering laws.
All TD Ameritrade withdrawal requests are processed within 2 days, and owing to the regulatory compliance of the broker, all withdrawals are processed on time. Of course, if there are any issues with the payment systems or any legal hurdles, the withdrawals may be delayed, but in most cases, the withdrawals are processed without any issues.
|TD Ameritrade Withdrawal Options|
|Transaction Time||Min. Withdrawal||Withdraw Fee|
|Transaction Time: 2 days||Min. Withdrawal: -||Withdrawal Fee: -|
BANK-WIRE MASTERCARD VISA
The company charges only minimal TD Ameritrade withdrawal fees, which can hardly make any meaningful dent in the amount you ultimately receive in your bank account. The low TD Ameritrade withdrawal fees are indeed one of the company’s highlights, which is in stark contrast to other similar U.S. brokers, which may charge hefty fees for any withdrawals or money transfers.
TD Ameritrade Fees – Forex Spreads, Commissions, and Other Trading Costs
Traders get to enjoy a zero TD Ameritrade commission trading environment for all markets, including stocks, ETFs, options, and Forex pairs. The zero-commission policy has resulted in some of the most competitive TD Ameritrade fees prevalent in the U.S. financial market. Of course, traders have to pay a fixed contract fee for options, while the broker charges a spread for other instruments such as stocks and Forex.
Nevertheless, the overall trading costs are lower, and the broker does not charge any data fees, platform fees, or other miscellaneous trading charges. It is certainly an added advantage since most American brokers are known to charge additional costs for platforms and live data or stipulate a minimum volume to be traded every month.
The broker is highly transparent about the TD Ameritrade Forex fees structure and lists all the costs associated with a TD Ameritrade brokerage account. Through its Charles Schwab partnership, the company offers access to the FX market, where the trades are facilitated through a market maker protocol. Of course, it may induce a conflict of interest, primarily because of the nature of the market maker model. Still, the broker has partnered with leading liquidity providers to ensure that traders get the best trading conditions. Traders do not have to pay a TD Ameritrade commission for the 70-odd FX pairs on offer, but the cost of trading is included in the TD Ameritrade Forex spread.
The real-time TD Ameritrade Forex spread for the EUR/USD pair is around 1.2 pips on average, which is neither too expensive nor too competitive. Other major currency pairs, such as the GBP/USD, quoted around 1.5 pips on average, similar to the average spread offered by other competing brokers in the FX market.
We would have preferred the broker to offer more competitive pricing for its Forex pairs. Still, we understand that the broker works as a market maker and does not charge any TD Ameritrade Forex commissions. Nevertheless, for regular traders, the average TD Ameritrade Forex spread shouldn’t make a significant increase in the overall costs of trading when compared to other brokers unless you trade high volumes at a higher frequency.
Staying Safe with TD Ameritrade – Facts about Regulatory Compliance
During our comprehensive TD Ameritrade review, we found that TD Ameritrade is one of the safest brokers in the market. Aside from having the best trading platforms and excellent trading conditions, regulatory compliance is also a key forte. Being located in the United States, traders are protected by regulatory guidelines imposed by the CFTC, NFA, FINRA, and the SEC, which also comes with several trading restrictions such as a high TD Ameritrade margin requirement for different asset classes.
Scalpers and high-frequency traders may also be disappointed with the low TD Ameritrade Forex leverage, thereby limiting their market exposure. However, on the positive side, the broker’s stringent trading conditions provide a relatively safer trading environment, especially for amateur and smaller retail traders.
Traders’ investments and trading capital are also protected through several regulatory measures, such as insurance against broker insolvency, segregation of funds to prevent unauthorized financial transactions, and ensuring that the firm operates with sufficient operating capital to meet its financial obligations. Although the broker accepts traders from international markets, it does not accept traders from some countries, such as Canada, Australia, the UK, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and countries in the European Union. Traders should contact the broker directly to ascertain whether they can open an account and trade with a TD Ameritrade Forex account in their home country.
Trader Guidance and Dispute Resolution – TD Ameritrade’s Customer Care Policies
Clients can use excellent trading resources and FAQs for all matters related to account management, market research, and making informed financial decisions. Independent third-party service providers provide all educational and market research materials, so the company may not vouch for the authenticity or accuracy of this information.
Nevertheless, when it comes to customer care, the broker ensures that it attends to its clients’ issues and finds a solution in the client’s best interest. There are many direct methods available to contact the broker, including multiple phone numbers for different departments, e-mail support, fax, or direct point of contact through the broker’s different local branches. However, we couldn’t find an option for live chat, which is a drawback, but international traders have an international toll-free number. The broker even supports multilingual support for certain languages, including TTY services for the hearing impaired.