Fidelity vs. TD Ameritrade: How the brokerages compare

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Fidelity vs. TD Ameritrade: The biggest differences

Fidelity and TD Ameritrade are behemoths when it comes to the online brokerage space. Both cater to multiple types of investors, and both offer commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options. You can also utilize IRAs and copious investment types at either platform. 

However, Fidelity will be your best option if you’re in search of the lowest fees. Its most basic automated investing account, Fidelity Go, includes a fee-free option (i.e., you’ll pay $0 in advisory fees if you’ve got a balance lower than $10,000, and — regardless of account balance — you won’t have to account for expense ratios in the funds it uses). 

Its advisor-guided, automated account, Fidelity Personalized Planning & Advice, has a $25,000 minimum and 0.35% fee, but it also waives expense ratios, thanks to the Fidelity Flex mutual funds. TD Ameritrade’s managed accounts are no longer accepting new clients, but the fees for those accounts exceeded that of Fidelity’s managed accounts anyway.

TD Ameritrade has now merged many of its products with Charles Schwab’s (since Schwab acquired the brokerage), but it’s still the better choice for trading platforms, mutual funds, and futures trading. 

Fidelity and TD Ameritrade’s features and account options also vary.

Is Fidelity right for you?

Fidelity is an online brokerage offering self-directed trading accounts, automated investing accounts, IRAs and retirement accounts, wealth management, and more. 

And like many popular investment platforms, you can exchange stocks, ETFs, and options without commissions, and its self-directed brokerage accounts don’t have a minimum requirement. Its options contracts have a $0.65 fee, but many brokerages charge this amount for options contracts.

The brokerage mainly offers three different interfaces: its web platform, Active Trader Pro interface, and its mobile app. Active Trader Pro caters to advanced users looking to access real-time market data and news and stronger trading tools all in one space.

Fidelity also offers multiple other investment types, including bonds, CDs, money market funds, annuities, IPOs, index funds, and mutual funds. In fact, it has more than 10,000 funds, nearly 3,400 of which are no-transaction fee mutual funds. It also offers expense ratio-free mutual funds (it calls these the Fidelity Flex mutual funds), and it uses these in its automated investing portfolios.

Its most basic robo-advisor, Fidelity Go, invests your money into a personalized portfolio of the previously mentioned mutual funds. There isn’t a minimum account size requirement to open this account, and Fidelity separates its fee schedule into three tiers: users with balances under $10,000 pay $0 in fees, those with between $10,000 and $49,999 pay $3 per month, and users with $50,000 and above pay 0.35% per year.

Its other automated investing account, Fidelity Personalized Planning & Advice, combines robo-advice with one-one-one financial advisor guidance. However, this account has a $25,000 minimum requirement and a 0.50% advisory fee.

When it comes to retirement accounts, Fidelity offers traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, Roth IRA for Kids, rollover IRAs, self-employed 401(k)s, and Fidelity Advantage 401(k)s. And if you’re in need of wealth management, you can take advantage of one-on-one planning and investment management through Fidelity Wealth Management. This service has a $250,000 minimum and 0.50 to 1.50% advisory fee.

Fidelity also provides private wealth management, giving you access to a complete team of Fidelity advisors. To qualify, you’ll need to have a minimum of $2 million managed through Fidelity Wealth Services or Fidelity Strategic Disciplines and at least $10 million in total investable assets.

Plus, beginners or users in search of more knowledge can utilize multiple educational resources. For instance, the brokerage has a Learning Center that contains live webinars, trading and investing coaching sessions, online classes, and expert market insights. 

Read our Fidelity Investments review »

Is TD Ameritrade right for you?

TD Ameritrade also offers commission-free trading for stocks, ETFs, and options, with self-directed trading, automated investing, and more. Plus, its investment selection consists of futures, mutual funds, forex, bonds, CDs, over-the-counter crypto trusts, bitcoin futures, and annuities.

Like Fidelity, TD Ameritrade offers a platform specifically for advanced, active traders: thinkorswim. But you’ll get more out of thinkorswim than with the Fidelity equivalent. TD Ameritrade has thinkorswim web, thinkorswim desktop, and thinkorswim mobile platforms. Plus, these platforms offer an array of features, including real-time market monitors, earnings tools, options statistics, economic data, stock scanners, and more.

The brokerage also has a $0.65 options contract fee, just like Fidelity, but due to Charles Schwab’s acquisition, its automated investing accounts — Essential Portfolios, Selective Portfolios, and Personalized Portfolios — are no longer available to new clients. If you’re a hands-off investor in search of robo-advice, you’ll have to set up an automated account through its affiliate, Charles Schwab.

Charles Schwab offers two automated investing accounts: Schwab Intelligent Portfolios and Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium. The former has a $5,000 minimum requirement and no advisory fees. It invests your money into a personalized portfolio of ETFs and offers features like tax-loss harvesting, portfolio monitoring, and portfolio rebalancing. The latter account option adds in unlimited CFP guidance. Like Fidelity Personalized Planning & Advice, it has a $25,000 minimum. But you’ll pay a $300 one-time planning fee a $30/month advisory fee.

On the retirement side, it provides traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, solo 401(k)s, and pension or profit plans. And it offers more than 13,000 mutual funds, with nearly 3,700 of them being no-transaction-fee funds. Fidelity only offers more than 10,000 (only about 3,400 of them are no-transaction-fee funds).

Plus, TD Ameritrade has an extensive selection of educational resources. These include webcasts and videos on different investing topics, step-by-step market guides, and market news and research.

Read our TD Ameritrade review »

Fidelity vs. TD Ameritrade — Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

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