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

Overview of SpeedTrader and TD Ameritrade

SpeedTrader and TD Ameritrade attract a lot of advanced traders who need sophisticated technology for equities, options, and more. This review is going to compare the two firms in important categories so that you’ll be able to make a more informed choice between them.

Cost

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
SpeedTrader $6.95 na $0.40 per contract ($1.99 min per trade) $120 (if under 15 trades in a quarter) $75

Services

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

Customer Support

SpeedTrader customers can reach a company associate anytime during the week from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm, EST. We didn’t find any evening or weekend hours. Because the broker-dealer specializes in day trading, these hours aren’t all that surprising.

Besides phone support, the SpeedTrader website offers online chat. Outside of business hours, the link is replaced with an e-mail messaging service. Besides its online tools, the company has one physical location in New York State.

TD Ameritrade, by contrast, has more than three hundred branch locations located in multiple states. Although the brokerage house doesn’t have a human chat service like SpeedTrader, we did find a robo-chat function on the TD Ameritrade website. During our research, it did a fair job of answering questions.

If you would rather just pick up the phone and talk to a human rep, you could do so around the clock as TD Ameritrade offers 24/7 service. We were also impressed with the broker’s self-help resources on its website, which will negate the need for any type of representative on many issues.

Trading Software

Now we come to trading technology, a very important category for these two as many traders will be looking for the best software. SpeedTrader has two desktop platforms: Pro and Elite. The Pro software is built by DAS. It comes with Level II quotes (including the ability to trade from the Level II window), hot keys, multi-account management (something professional traders will want), and advanced charting.

SpeedTrader does charge for the Pro platform. Day traders may find the fee worth it if they place enough trades, though.


speedtrader activeweb


The second platform that SpeedTrader offers is Sterling Trader Pro. Called Elite at SpeedTrader, it comes with basket trading, real-time market news and scanners, alerts, robust option tools, and API access. Like Pro, it also comes with a monthly charge, which may result in a higher or lower monthly trading cost depending on how many trades you place.

Finally, there is a browser-based trading platform called ActiveWeb. While simpler than the other two, it is cheaper than the desktop programs, but still offers a lot of features. We found option chains, basic charting, streaming news, and direct-access routing.

TD Ameritrade also offers a browser platform. Called Trade Architect, it offers charting, streaming financial news, and option tools. The broker’s website itself is designed for trading (SpeedTrader’s is not) and includes a really nice trading ticket. If you don’t care for any of these features, you can download thinkorswim, the company’s flagship desktop software. While TD Ameritrade only offers one platform, it is free of charge and includes a lot of great features. For example, charting comes with 400 technical studies, which is more than either platform at SpeedTrader.

TD Ameritrade offers a skill for Amazon Echo, while SpeedTrader does not.


Thinkorswim Futures Trading


Promotions

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

SpeedTrader: Get $100 in ACAT fee reimbursement when you move account to SpeedTrader.


Mobile Platforms

Traders at both firms have mobile platforms to assist with account management and buying and selling investments. SpeedTrader’s is once again developed by DAS. We liked the inclusion of option chains, Level II data, market news from Yahoo, and charting with technical indicators. Position and account information are both shown as well.

Going to TD Ameritrade, we found three mobile apps. Each one has its own unique characteristics. For example, one can trade mutual funds. Another is a thinkorswim app with very advanced charting capability. The thinkorswim app can also trade futures and forex. On TDA’s apps, we also found mobile check deposit, bill pay, and free equity reports.

Mutual Funds and ETF’s

Moving to mutual and exchange-traded funds, we found some very good resources at TD Ameritrade. Using the broker’s mutual fund search tool, we discovered over 11,000 products that were available for purchase. When we specified no-load and no-transaction-fee, the list was shortened to around 3,800. A mutual fund’s profile page has a lot of good information on it, including Morningstar risk and return analysis, sector breakdown, a fund brief in pdf format, a downloadable prospectus, and a performance history.

TD Ameritrade customers also have access to ETF’s, and the same great resources are available for them. One difference is that many ETF’s have third-party equity reports from places like MarketEdge, TheStreet.com, and CFRA. There is no charge for them. TD Ameritrade also maintains a list of 300+ ETF’s that are completely commission-free.

Moving to SpeedTrader, we don’t find the same level of offerings. The brokerage house specializes in day trading of equities and options. As a result, it does not offer any mutual funds, and this is a pretty big failure. It does provide ETF’s, however. We were disappointed in the ETF resources that were available; there were far fewer materials than TD Ameritrade customers have access to. And a lack of commission-free ETF’s is another failure here for SpeedTrader.

Recommendation

We can endorse SpeedTrader for day traders since the broker’s commission schedule and software fees are built around this class of investor. We can just as easily recommend TD Ameritrade for mutual fund investors since SpeedTrader does not offer these securities.

It’s a little more difficult when it comes to trading technology. If you’re a technical analyst, go with TD Ameritrade. thinkorswim has around 400 studies, far more than SpeedTrader’s software offers. If you want something simple, then we would also recommend TD Ameritrade for its great website tools and Trade Architect.

Beginning traders will be better served at TD Ameritrade as well. The broker’s 24-7 service plus great educational tools surpass SpeedTrader. We also propose TD Ameritrade for ETF traders due to the company’s very good ETF services.

SpeedTrader vs TD Ameritrade Results

SpeedTrader and TD Ameritrade both offer some admirable resources for investors. TD Ameritrade seems to have the edge for everyone except frequent day traders.

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Open TD Ameritrade Account

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