Compare ZacksTrade and TD Ameritrade: IRA, commissions, investing fees, trading tools, account differences, pros and cons. Which online broker is better?

Overview of ZacksTrade and TD Ameritrade

ZacksTrade is a new brokerage firm trying to bring some competition to TD Ameritrade. Our investigation will compare these two firms in important areas and then make some recommendations so that you can choose the right broker for your trading needs.

Broker 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
ZacksTrade $3+ $27.95 $0.75 per contract $0 $0

Services

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

Promotions

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

ZacksTrade: Trade stocks, options & ETFs for as low as $1 for a full year.


Customer Support

If you need help with your ZacksTrade account, you can reach an agent anytime between 8 in the morning and 5 in the evening. The brokerage house is located in Chicago, so these hours are Central Standard Time. Unfortunately, the company does not provide any weekend hours, nor does it offer any other locations other than its Chicago office.

We found social media accounts for ZacksTrade, but they aren’t very active. One feature that may be more useful is an on-line chat tool that can be found at zackstrade.com. We gave it a test run, but weren’t always able to reach an agent or get an answer.

There’s a self-help section on the ZacksTrade website that will allow its clients to bypass some of the other customer service channels. We found links to update profile information and connect an external bank account.

While Zacks has done a decent job in this category, it doesn’t quite measure up to TD Ameritrade. The latter broker provides phone support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It has multiple brick-and-mortar locations, and its website surpasses Zacks’ for customer service functions. During our research, we found links to contact the broker (in English or Chinese), download forms, subscribe to data, open a credit card account, and join multiple accounts. There is also a robo-chat service on the TD Ameritrade website (although not a human service). We give it a C+ for its accuracy.

Trading Software

Second on our list, but definitely not second in importance, is trading technology. When we logged into our ZacksTrade test account, we were immediately disappointed to discover that there is no trading capability. The brokerage firm’s website is used for account management.

The first trading platform Zacks offers is a browser-based trading environment called ZacksTrader. It offers several functions, including mutual fund trading and option chains. Charting, however, is very rudimentary and basically worthless.

A fantastic improvement is ZacksTrade Pro, a desktop program that happens to be the same software that Interactive Brokers uses. Charting of course is much more advanced, with full-screen mode, charting tools, and technical studies. There are very advanced option tools, plus an excellent trade ticket that comes with direct-access routing and multiple order types.


Zacks Trade vs Ameritrade


Comparing Zacks to TD Ameritrade, we see some improvement. The TDA website can be used for trading and learning, which is definitely an upgrade over the Zacks site. Moreover, TD Ameritrade has a very handy trade bar called SnapTicket that sits at the bottom of the window. It can be used to quickly submit orders for equities and options.

A browser platform was available inside TD Ameritrade’s website, but it has recently been taken down due to compatibility issues with Flash Player. We hope to see it back soon because we thought it was a step up from ZacksTrader. Charting was more advanced, for example.


Ameritrade vs Zacks Trade


Still available is thinkorswim, TD Ameritrade’s crown jewel in the software category. It boasts the most technical studies we have ever seen (around 400) plus other professional-level services, such as advanced order types and direct-access routing.

One final trading tool worth mentioning is a skill for Amazon’s Echo devices, which TD Ameritrade offers, but not Zacks.

Mobile Platforms

ZacksTrade offers two apps: a phone platform and one for tablets. The phone app comes with direct-access routing, a really nice feature. Charting and streaming quotes are on tap as well. In addition to stocks, it’s also possible to trade bonds, options, and mutual funds.

At TD Ameritrade, there are actually three apps, which may be somewhat of a disadvantage. It might be simpler to combine some of the features into two apps. In any case, there are a lot of great features in these platforms, not least of which is very advanced charting on the thinkorswim app. Although this app really impressed us with its sophisticated trading ability, missing is direct-access routing. Mutual funds and options can be traded on the broker’s platforms.

Both brokers provide apps for Apple Watch.

Mutual Funds and ETF’s

The TD Ameritrade mutual fund screener displays 11,283 funds available for purchase. A few thousand of these have no load and no transaction fee. Over 300 ETF’s are available commission-free.

ZacksTrade does offer mutual fund trading, but the brokerage house wasn’t able to tell us how many funds it provides. We do know they have approximately 50 to 75 fund families. We are disappointed that there are no transaction-free funds at Zacks.

There are many research materials on the TD Ameritrade site for both mutual and exchange-traded funds, and ZacksTrade has failed to match this level of fund research. Zacks does provide free information from Zacks Investment Research.

Recommendation

If you plan to trade mutual funds, we recommend TD Ameritrade. The broker’s large list of funds, combined with a fairly decent list of transaction-free funds and lengthy fund education gives it the nod here. Because the brokerage firm also has extensive ETF research materials and a long list of commission-free funds, we also advocate TD Ameritrade for ETF traders.

Although ZacksTrade does provide free learning materials from Zacks Research, TD Ameritrade offers a lot of educational and research materials from multiple independent analysts. So we have to go with TD Ameritrade for beginners. Plus, the broker offers better customer support overall.

Investors who need cash management features should stick with TD Ameritrade as well because Zacks doesn’t offer any.

Active stock and options traders could go with either firm because both have great software. If you prefer to do most of your trading on a website platform, we recommend TD Ameritrade due to its very well-thought-out site.

Promotions

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

ZacksTrade: Trade stocks, options & ETFs for as low as $1 for a full year.


ZacksTrade vs TD Ameritrade Summary

ZacksTrade (reviews) has tried but failed to outperform TD Ameritrade (review). Nevertheless, Zacks may be worth it if you make lots of trades of less than 300 shares.





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