Both TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab offer fee-free trading and a large selection of investments, but which one is better? We’ve reviewed the features, fees, trading tools, available assets, customer service, and security.

When it comes to investing, simplicity is key. And finding a quality broker that offers both an intuitive platform and low fees is the holy grail of investing.

Both TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab are known for their access to fee-free trading and large selection of investments, but you might not know that they both also offer two of the best mobile apps for new investors, as well as world-class user education to help you learn more about finance and investing concepts.

And while both companies are under the Charles Schwab umbrella (Schwab bought TD Ameritrade in 2020), they are two separate platforms with differing features.

We’ve reviewed the features, fees, trading tools, available assets, customer service, and security to help you determine which trading platform is right for you.

TD Ameritrade vs. Charles Schwab overview

Both TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab offer no-fee trading on stocks and ETFs. They also each offer advanced trading platforms with a wide selection of trading tools, access to market news and research, and both options contracts and futures.

TD Ameritrade’s large educational library is ideal for beginners, alongside its live broadcasts covering financial market news.

Of the two, Charles Schwab offers access to more international markets than TD Ameritrade, including 30 different countries and 50+ international exchanges.

 TD AmeritradeCharles Schwab
Trading fees● None on stocks, bonds, ETFs
● $0.65 per options contract
● $2.25 per futures contract
● $25 broker-assisted trade fee
● Up to $74.95 on mutual funds
● None on stocks, bonds, ETFs
● $0.65 per options contract
● $2.25 per futures contract
● $25 broker-assisted trade fee
● Up to $74.95 on mutual funds
Account fees$75 transfer out (full)$25/$50 transfer out (partial/full)
Tradable assets● Stocks
● Bonds
● Mutual funds
● ETFs
● Futures
● Options
● American Depositary Receipts (ADRs)
● 1 international market (Canada)
● Forex
● IPOs (on certain accounts)
● Stocks
● Bonds
● Mutual funds
● ETFs
● Futures
● Options
● American Depositary Receipts (ADRs)
● 10+ international markets
● IPOs (for certain members)
Account minimums$0$0
Mobile app available?YesYes
EducationNews, commentary, and research from over a dozen external sources, including Morningstar and ReutersNewsfeed, research from multiple third-party analysis platforms, including Nasdaq and Reuters
Customer service● 24/7 phone, email, and chat
● In-person at local branches around the U.S.
● 24/7 phone, email, and chat
● In-person at local branches around the U.S.

About Charles Schwab

6 Best Stock Trading Apps For Android Users - Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab is one of the largest online brokers in the U.S., offering access to fee-free stocks and ETFs, low-cost options contracts, and even margin and futures trading. It is a full-service brokerage that offers a wide range of investment services, including access to financial advisors, a fee-free robo-advisory platform, and multiple apps for investing and active trading.

In fact, Charles Schwab owns TD Ameritrade, though both companies still operate as independent platforms. Charles Schwab offers access to fractional shares of stocks and ETFs, making it more accessible for investors making smaller trades who want access to more expensive stocks and funds. Users can also trade a wide variety of assets, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, futures, and options contracts, with access to 10+ international markets.

Read more: How to invest in ETFs

The standard Charles Schwab mobile app offers a very simple user experience, helping guide investors through buying and selling assets, as well as creating a diversified investment portfolio. The StreetSmart Mobile app is for active traders, offering options and futures trading with advanced charting, live data feeds, and watch lists.

Overall, Charles Schwab is a great low-fee investing platform for beginners, as well as a decent firm for active traders who want access to more advanced trading features.

Visit the Charles Schwab website to learn more.

About TD Ameritrade

How To Sell Your Inherited Valuables - TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade was acquired by Charles Schwab in 2020, but still operates as an independent platform. Designed for beginners, TD Ameritrade offers a vast library of educational articles, videos, and tutorials to help new users get up-to-speed on investing and other financial topics. It also offers an intuitive mobile app that makes it easy to deposit funds and start trading.

TD Ameritrade allows users to invest in stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, futures, and options contracts, as well as a large selection of forex currency trading and access to certain IPOs.

Read more: A beginner’s guide to forex trading

Active traders will enjoy a massive library of research and analysis, curated from research firms such as Reuters and Morningstar. For live analysis, the TD Ameritrade Network streams on weekdays, offering real-time market updates and commentary.

TD Ameritrade offers two trading platforms:

  • The standard TD Ameritrade app offers access to a customizable dashboard, stock quotes, price alerts, and the ability to track your favorite investments in a watch list.
  • The thinkorswim web and mobile apps offer one of the best selections of trading tools and indicators, access to futures and forex trading, as well as live market analysis and community features.

Overall, TD Ameritrade offers something for everyone, with its simplified mobile app, as well as the thinkorswim advanced trading platform. With no-fee trading of stock and ETFs, as well as low-fee options and futures contracts, TD Ameritrade is a solid choice for any investor.

Try TD Ameritrade or read our full review.

TD Ameritrade vs. Charles Schwab investment performance

Both Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade offer access to no-fee trading of thousands of stocks and ETFs, as well as access to futures and options trading on their advanced platforms. The performance of these investments will vary based on the portfolio mix and individual investment choices for each account.

Charles Schwab does offer a robo-advisory service called Schwab Intelligent Portfolios (SIP) that builds diversified investment portfolios for investors automatically. The historical performance of these portfolios has been tracked since inception and can be found on the Charles Schwab website.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the investment performance for the Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios “Global Portfolio” as of May 2022:

 1-year3-year5-year
Conservative0.01%4.72%3.91%
Moderately conservative0.90%6.15%5.28%
Moderate1.71%7.30%6.33%
Moderate growth2.69%8.74%7.41%
Growth3.31%9.96%8.32%
Aggressive growth3.31%9.96%8.32%

TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios is a robo-advisory service that also helps build a diversified portfolio of low-cost ETFs. These portfolios offer a different investment mix based on user goals and risk tolerance, and the performance for these portfolios are listed on the TD Ameritrade website.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the investment performance for the TD Ameritrade Essential Portfolios as of May 2022:

 1-year3-year5-year
Conservative-2.10%4.26%3.98%
Moderate-0.53%6.14%5.50%
Moderate growth0.72%7.62%6.67%
Growth2.62%10.35%8.81%
Aggressive4.23%12.06%10.21%

TD Ameritrade pros & cons

Pros

  • Massive library of educational content.
  • Advanced trading on thinkorswim mobile app.
  • Large forex trading selection (70+ currencies).

Cons

  • Large $75 outgoing transfer fee.
  • Mutual funds are expensive (up to $74.95).
  • No fractional share investing.

Charles Schwab pros & cons

Pros

  • No-fee stock and ETF trading.
  • Access to 10+ international markets.
  • Fractional share investing.

Cons

  • StreetSmart mobile not as intuitive as thinkorswim mobile.
  • No forex trading.
  • No trading simulator available (no “paper trading”).

Why choose TD Ameritrade?

Educational library

TD Ameritrade offers one of the best educational resources of any online broker, with training videos, tutorials, and articles to help new investors learn about important financial topics. This includes basic personal finance topics, as well as advanced trading strategies.

Advanced trading on-the-go (thinkorswim mobile)

The thinkorswim platform offers some of the best trading tools in the industry, and the mobile app is one of the most intuitive advanced trading apps on the market. Most settings from the desktop version will sync with mobile, carrying over saved chart indicators and drawings, watch lists, and stock alerts.

Read more: TD Ameritrade vs. thinkorswim: same company, very different platforms

Research and analysis

In addition to the educational library, TD Ameritrade offers access to research from third-party partners such as Morningstar and Reuters, as well as stock screeners, backtesting, and even the ability to paper trade with fake money (on the thinkorswim platform).

Why choose Charles Schwab?

Fractional share investing

Charles Schwab offers fraction share investing for as little as $5 of any stock or ETF, while TD Ameritrade does not.

Access to more international markets

Charles Schwab offers access to more than 10 international markets, including China, Germany, and the United Kingdom. This requires working with an investment service consultant, but offers access to over 50 markets in about 30 different countries.

Access to SRI/ESG funds

Charles Schwab allows you to seek out investments with a socially responsible investing (SRI) filter, to help choose more cause-oriented stocks and ETFs.

Read more: Socially responsible investing: how to become a conscious investor

Summary

Both Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade offer commission-free trading on stocks and ETFs, as well as intuitive mobile apps that cater to both beginners and professional traders. Both platforms also offer a wide selection of assets, including stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, forex, options contracts, and futures trading.

But while Charles Schwab is a low-cost platform that offers a wide range of investments and services to help new investors, TD Ameritrade is ideal for both beginners and professional traders alike. It includes advanced analysis, dozens of trading tools, and hundreds of charting indicators, as well as live streaming analysis, built directly into the platform.

Overall, Charles Schwab offers a simple platform for beginners to access fee-free trading and a wide range of investment choices, while TD Ameritrade is great for both new investors and active traders who want access to educational resources and trading tools to make investing earlier.

Featured image: insta_photos/Shutterstock.com

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About the author

Total Articles: 29
Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past 10 years. He has written professionally for The Balance, Investopedia, Money Crashers, LendingTree, Hedge With Crypto, Money Under 30, and other widely-followed sites. As a cryptocurrency enthusiast and investor, Jacob enjoys researching and writing about the latest in crypto and blockchain technology. He’s been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance. Jacob has deep experience in most areas of personal finance, including budgeting, investing, saving money, debt management, and life insurance. He is also an avid credit card rewards enthusiast, having earned over $30,000 in travel rewards since 2012.