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


Overview of TastyWorks and TD Ameritrade

While TD Ameritrade is a popular brokerage firm with millions of customers and over a trillion dollars in assets, it does have competition from smaller firms. One such broker is TastyWorks, and although it so far has attracted a much smaller slice of the pie, it does offer some advantages over TD Ameritrade. This article will compare the two firms in important categories, and then try to make some recommendations.


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
Tastyworks $5 ($0 to sell) na $1.00 per contract ($10 max, $0 to sell) $0 $0


Services

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


Options and Other Financial Instruments

Derivatives are available at both companies. Moreover, the two brokerage firms have specialized software for options research and trading. Derivatives can be traded at either firm on a desktop platform, mobile app, or website. During our research, we found TastyWorks’ options trading technology to have an eye-catching interface, although we thought TD Ameritrade’s tools were more comprehensive.

Besides options, both brokerage houses also provide trading in futures contracts. TD Ameritrade offers forex, mutual funds, and bonds; while TastyWorks does not.


Extended Hours

In addition to the regular weekday trading session, both firms in our survey offer extended-hours trading. At TastyWorks, the pre-market session is from 7:00 am, CST, until the opening bell. The broker’s after-hours period starts at the closing bell and lasts 2 hours.

TD Ameritrade’s pre-market period starts at the same time as TastyWorks’, but ends 15 minutes before the opening bell. TD Ameritrade’s after-hours session starts 15 minutes after the closing bell and ends 2 hours after TastyWorks’ session. Neither company imposes any surcharges for trading during these times, although both warn their customers that bid-ask spreads can be higher compared to regular sessions.

One advantage that TD Ameritrade has over TastyWorks in this category is overnight trading in a small list of ETF’s, a service that TastyWorks does not offer.


Level II Quotes

TD Ameritrade customers can trade from a Level II window on the broker’s desktop platform. It does need to be added to the default layout, as the window is not part of the initial startup. Right-clicking on a price in the window populates a trading ticket. There is no charge for Level II data at TD Ameritrade, a great bonus.

TastyWorks does not provide Level II quotes.


Trading Software

At TD Ameritrade, it’s possible to buy and sell securities (not futures or currencies) on the broker’s website. A very handy trade ticket (appearing at the bottom of the window) called SnapTicket is able to submit orders for equities and options. If an order isn’t immediately filled, it goes to a web page where it can be quickly modified. During our investigation, we found the website to be adequate for trading bonds, CD’s, and mutual funds.

A significant step up from the website is thinkorswim, the company’s very popular desktop software. It has a very sophisticated charting program with hundreds of technical studies. Forex and futures can only be traded on thinkorswim, but the software doesn’t have the ability to submit orders for mutual funds.


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim


Moving to TastyWorks, we found a browser platform (something that TD Ameritrade no longer offers). It is rather simple with much worse charting than the TD Ameritrade website has. We did like the incorporation of tastytrade education videos on this platform. The trading ticket is also very user-friendly, for both options and equities.


tastyworks Charts


TastyWorks also provides a desktop platform, although there really is no comparison to thinkorswim. The TastyWorks system lacks advanced charting, live streaming of CNBC, and a very good stock screener, all of which are available on thinkorswim.


Mobile Apps

TD Ameritrade customers have access to three mobile apps, which seems like somewhat of an excess. One of them offers mutual fund trading and mobile check deposit. Another is a thinkorswim platform that provides a lot of the great tools that the desktop version has. During our testing, we found the trading ticket and charting to be very advanced. We also liked the ability to trade futures and forex. Missing is direct-access routing, although it is on the desktop program.


tastyworks vs Ameritrade


The TastyWorks app doesn’t have direct-access routing (nor do the other two platforms). It does have a user-friendly order ticket, though; and we especially liked the ability to place trades using a graph format rather than numbers.


tastyworks Mobile App


Margin

Margin accounts are available at both TD Ameritrade and TastyWorks. At the latter firm, a short stock position requires 50% up front, and the maintenance requirement is 30%. These figures are for equities above $5. Below that price, margin is not available.

For long stocks, the initial margin requirement is also 50%, but the maintenance figure drops to 25%. The cutoff level also changes from $5 to $3.

At TD Ameritrade, figures are pretty similar, although the cutoff price for long stock positions is $4.

Margin rates at TastyWorks vary from 5.0% to 8.0%, depending on the amount borrowed. TD Ameritrade customers pay a much higher 7.75% to 10.5%.


ETF’s

Both broker-dealers in our survey offer trading in ETF’s. But the similarity mostly stops there, as TD Ameritrade customers have access to an in-depth ETF center on the broker’s website, which doesn’t exist at TastyWorks. We found videos explaining the basics of exchange-traded funds and many other resources. For example, ETF recommendations from CFRA are available free of charge on the TD Ameritrade website.

Besides the sheer number of resources, another important difference here is TD Ameritrade’s list of commission-free funds, something that TastyWorks fails to offer.


Promotions

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

TastyWorks: Open account and pay no commission when selling stocks/ETFs/options.



Recommendation

We have to recommend TD Ameritrade over its rival for direct-access, forex, futures, Level II, fixed-income, and mutual fund trading. TastyWorks doesn’t offer these services, so it’s a non-starter here.

As for beginners, we’re going to propose TD Ameritrade as well. We liked the broker’s educational resources much better than TastyWorks’ materials, especially in the realm of stock trading.

The one area where we can suggest TastyWorks over its competitor is for budget-conscious traders. If you submit a lot of orders every month, and you’re on a shoe-string budget, go with TastyWorks.


TastyWorks vs TD Ameritrade Review

TastyWorks is a new brokerage firm trying to rival some of the bigger players in the industry. So far, aside from pricing it doesn’t look very tempting.


Open TD Ameritrade Account


Open TD Ameritrade Account

Open TastyWorks Account


Open TastyWorks Account


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