TD Ameritrade versus Robinhood - compare IRA, commissions, investing fees, trading tools, account differences, pros and cons. Which online broker is better?

Overview of Robinhood and TD Ameritrade

Robinhood started out as a no-frills broker; but it has added a lot of services over the past few years without charging anything extra. This new reality makes it more competitive against brokerage firms like TD Ameritrade. This article will compare the two companies against each other and try to determine which one is the better value.

Broker Fees

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
TD Ameritrade $6.95 $49.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0
Robinhood $0 na $0 $0 $0

Services

Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
TD Ameritrade
Robinhood

Promotions

TD Ameritrade: Trade free for 60 days + get up to $600.

Robinhood: Open account and get one free $3-$6 value stock.


Range of Tradable Assets

Robinhood customers get to buy and sell ETF’s, stocks, closed-end funds, options, and a few cryptocurrencies. The broker-dealer also provides trading in a few over-the-counter securities.

We found more OTC stocks at TD Ameritrade than we found at Robinhood. TDA clients also get bonds, forex, futures, annuities, and mutual funds, which Robinhood doesn’t offer.

While cryptocurrencies are missing at TD Ameritrade, we think the broker overall is the better performer here.

Software

Robinhood provides a user-friendly (and rather simple) platform that functions within a browsing window. Available resources include the trading day’s biggest movers, market news articles from major sources, and a watchlist.


Robin Hood vs Ameritrade


Charting on the broker’s platform is rather simple with a few technical studies and two chart styles. Advanced features, such as drawing tools and company events, are missing; and five years is the maximum a graph can be displayed. On the positive side, we were able to expand a graph the full width of the monitor during our testing.

Robinhood’s order entry form leaves out trailing orders but does include stop orders. There are only two duration choices, another weakness. It’s possible to specify extended-hours on trades, one of the few highlights here.

This category is one of TD Ameritrade’s strong areas, so we won’t see much of a rivalry here. During our research, we found TD Ameritrade’s trade bar to be very useful. Called SnapTicket, it is able to send order to the exchanges for stocks, ETF’s, and options (including multi-leg strategies). Another great feature is the ability to send orders rapid fire. For example, typing in s400aep24.75 will send a sell order for 400 shares of American Electric Power at a limit price of $24.75.


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim


Charting on TD Ameritrade’s website is much more sophisticated than on Robinhood’s site. There are multiple technical indicators and graph styles. Comparisons can be made, a chart can be displayed full screen, and up to 20 years of data is available. While a graph doesn’t quite have the same eye appeal on TD Ameritrade’s site, much more can be done with it.

TD Ameritrade easily takes the victory.

Mobile Apps

In an effort to cut costs, Robinhood has simply pasted its browser platform into its mobile app. While this move was the easiest option for the company, it does mean that the mobile system doesn’t offer a lot of power. Charting comes with two graph styles and no technical indicators. A chart cannot be rotated horizontally, either.


Robin Hood Chart


The mobile order form is based on its browser cousin, with stop, market, and limit orders. An order can be set to execute during market hours only or market hours plus extended hours.

Although Robinhood’s app doesn’t offer traditional option chains, we did find its newer modified system easy to use. There aren’t any multi-leg strategies, but it’s possible to build your own.


Robin Hood vs Ameritrade


TD Ameritrade customers get to choose from three mobile platforms. Collectively, they offer tremendous trading muscle. One app has very robust charting with horizontal view and roughly 400 technical studies. Another provides Level II data and mutual fund trading. Yet another offers futures and forex trading. Other mobile features we found helpful during our investigation include check deposit and an economic calendar.

Once again, Robinhood fails to deliver.

Other Tools

Both brokerage firms in our survey offer apps for Apple Watch. Robinhood’s provides a small chart, a watchlist, and order confirmation. TD Ameritrade’s offers similar services, with managed account clients having access to Android watches as well.

TD Ameritrade is the lone broker in this survey to offer its clients a desktop trading platform. Called thinkorswim, it carries zero fees but manages to pack quite a punch. We found its charting to be some of the best we have ever tested. Level II quotes are available along with free streaming of CNBC. TD Ameritrade also has a skill for Amazon Echo devices, something that Robinhood doesn’t offer.

TD Ameritrade wins again.

DRIP Service

Many traders want a Dividend Reinvestment Program. Nevertheless, in order to cut costs, Robinhood doesn’t offer a DRIP. TD Ameritrade, on the other hand, does offer DRIP service, and the broker-dealer doesn’t charge anything, either. Enrolling is a breeze on the broker’s website.

Obviously, TD Ameritrade wins this category.

Investment Education and Research

Robinhood provides brief information on securities via its website and mobile platform. During our testing, we didn’t find any videos or articles on financial education, nor could we locate third-party equity reports. Stock profile pages are rather brief.

Shifting to TD Ameritrade, we did find much more detailed stock profile pages. We also located stock reports, and we were able to download them for free. The broker’s stock screener is easy to use (Robinhood doesn’t have one). The TD Ameritrade website has an extensive educational section that covers a wide range of investment topics, from how to trade options to buying an annuity.

The victory here goes to TD Ameritrade.

Promotions

TD Ameritrade: Trade free for 60 days + get up to $600.

Robinhood: Open account and get one free $3-$6 value stock.


Our Recommendations

New traders should pick TD Ameritrade for its extensive collection of educational materials.

For reasons discussed above, mutual fund investors and bond traders should choose TD Ameritrade. Same goes for forex and futures traders. And cryptocurrency traders should open an account at Robinhood.

Retirement savers should pick TD Ameritrade because Robinhood doesn’t offer any IRA’s.

For customer service, we recommend TD Ameritrade due to Robinhood’s poor track record.

For derivative traders, we have to suggest TD Ameritrade over its rival due to the former’s extensive materials and tools, not least of which is thinkorswim’s powerful options search tool.

Robinhood vs TD Ameritrade Summary

TD Ameritrade is the clear winner of this survey, although budget-conscious traders may still want to consider Robinhood for its free trades.

Open TD Ameritrade Account


Open TD Ameritrade Account

Open Robinhood Account


Open Robinhood Account


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