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Robinhood vs. TD Ameritrade 2019


Robinhood has revolutionized the online brokerage industry since 2013, offering commission-free stock, ETF and options trading to a rapidly growing millennial customer base. Cryptocurrency trading is available in 35 U.S. states, as part of a rollout that was originally scheduled for nationwide completion at the end of 2018. They now tell clients that cash management is “coming soon” after being forced in December 2018 to discontinue a program launch due to regulatory violations.

TD Ameritrade is the product of mergers and acquisitions of former rivals that include National Discount Brokers, Datek Online Holdings, Mydiscountbroker.com, TD Waterhouse, Scottrade and thinkorswim. They now boast more than 11 million customers and one trillion dollars in client assets focused on short-term trading, slow-paced investing and traditional wealth management.

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0
  • Awards: Best for Low Cost

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $6.95 for stock and ETF trades, $6.95 per leg plus $0.75 for options
  • Awards: Best for Beginners and Expert Traders


Trade Experience

Robinhood offers mobile and web trading in four venues: stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrencies, and doesn’t allow short selling. The fine print indicates that streaming quotes may be delayed, rather than industry standard real-time data. There are no back-testing tools and the system throttles day traders, limiting activity to three trades per rolling 5-day period. TD Ameritrade’s feature-rich thinkorswim platform provides advanced support for clients speculating on futures and currencies as well as stocks, ETFs and options. Back-testing, conditional orders, paper trading and Level II quotes round out trading tools that include comprehensive options chains and in-depth charting functionality.

Trade Experience

Robinhood

  • Commission-free trading
  • Convenient for new investors
  • No short selling

TD Ameritrade

  • Advanced thinkorswim platform 
  • Comprehensive options chains and strategies
  • No volume discounts


Mobile and Emerging Tech

Mobile and Emerging Tech

Robinhood

  • Easy to use mobile app
  • News links to watchlist tickers
  • Web platform needs better documentation

TD Ameritrade

  • Access thinkorswim through mobile app
  • Low fee robo-advisor
  • 300+ indicators and studies


News and Research

Robinhood’s bare-bones website contains no headline news or research tools while the mobile app features a limited toolkit with filtered news, fundamental stats and a volatility tool. The web platform adds a variety of research features that are poorly documented. Ameritrade’s MarketEdge provides in-depth commentary as well as timely market data and technical analysis. Clients also benefit from the ETF Market Center, allowing them to compare hundreds of commission-free ETFs. A Social Signals portal scans Twitter, seeking community insight and sentiment, while Stocks Overview tallies the day’s price action and sizes up new opportunities.

News and Research

Robinhood

  • Limited research and analysis
  • Filtered news
  • Volatility tool

TD Ameritrade

  • Feature rich technical analysis reports
  • Extensive webinar schedule
  • Advanced platform aggregates social media cues


Education and Security

Robinhood drops the ball when it comes to trader and investor education, providing few resources. TD Ameritrade has done an excellent job assembling tutorials under a well-organized Education menu. Clients can sort and filter content by topic, media type and skill level while tracking progress that opens new materials based on growing interests and current knowledge.

Both companies are regulated by FINRA and SIPC but only TD Ameritrade carries additional third-party insurance coverage.. 

Education and Security

Robinhood

  • Few educational resources
  • Two-factor authentication
  • FINRA and SIPC account protection

TD Ameritrade

  • Beginner, intermediate and advanced materials
  • Comprehensive course syllabus
  • Additional third party insurance coverage


Costs

Robinhood offers commission-free trading, making money through payment for order flow with third parties, delayed quotes and interest on the uninvested portion of client funds. Robinhood Gold charges a monthly fee rather than overnight lending rate for increased buying power up to $50,000. It isn’t a cheap service, costing $200 per month for the highest tier.

TD Ameritrade charges $6.95 to trade stocks and $2.25 per futures contract but offers no volume discount program. The list of commission-free ETFs has now grown to more than 300. Trading options costs $6.95 + .$0.75 per contract while Robinhood offers options at no cost.

Costs

Robinhood

  • Commission-free trading
  • Robinhood Gold adds buying power for a monthly fee
  • Delayed quotes raise trust issues

TD Ameritrade

  • Stock trade fees: $6.95
  • Options trade fees $6.95 + $0.75 per contract
  • Futures trade fees: $2.25 per contract

Methodology

Investopedia’s mission is to provide online investors with the most unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of self-directed brokers. Vetted by multiple industry experts – including a financial research firm with more than 20 years of experience in broker ratings – Investopedia’s Broker Ratings and Reviews embody industry best practices for research design.

Investopedia consulted independent researchers, and financial institutions, and conducted multiple tests, to design a system that rates brokers based on 10 categories and 149 carefully selected variables. Selection of ratings elements was a culmination of 5,498 survey responses, 100+ hours of industry research, and 100 hours of user feedback. Each category encapsulates the key elements needed for thorough evaluation. All have been tested for replicable results with a battery of evaluators. Every review goes through a rigorous verification process to maintain editorial separation and ensure an unbiased ratings result.



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Written by sortiwa

mosesmasoud@gmail.com