Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade are two of the biggest names in the industry. And with so many features in common, the right platform for your portfolio depends entirely on your level of trading experience.
Which one is better?
Choose Interactive Brokers if you’re a day trader or professional investor.
Choose TD Ameritrade if you’re a new to intermediate investor.
Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade are notoriously well-known in the trading industry — and for good reason. They stand as two of the best-equipped, most sophisticated platforms on the market.
Naming one of these platforms an unequivocal winner isn’t only tough — it’s complicated. And that’s because when these platforms are put head to head, it becomes starkly evident that Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade have a lot to offer — a point further complicated by the fact that many of their available features are the same.
Among the common offerings we find a sweeping selection of tradable securities, numerous account options, elaborate charting tools, robust research resources, paper trading, robo-advisors and no less than five unique trading platforms apiece.
With so much in common, where do we draw the line? It comes down to the type of trader each platform is best equipped to serve.
To be fair, TD Ameritrade is more than capable of satisfying the advanced investor. And Interactive Brokers offers IBKR Lite — a platform designed with the beginner investor in mind. But when push comes to shove, Interactive Brokers is the better platform for professional traders, boasting numerous third-party software integrations and wider access to international markets. And TD Ameritrade is more approachable for beginners, with less complex pricing and 24-hour customer support.
How do Interactive Brokers and TD Ameritrade compare?
Interactive Brokers offers an impressive range of tools and low fees for active or professional investors. In late 2019, it introduced IBKR Lite, a platform aimed at casual investors that charges no commissions on stocks and ETFs listed on US exchanges.
TD Ameritrade is an online brokerage service designed for beginner investors and active traders. It features user-friendly trading platforms and a variety of mutual funds. It may be best for new investors, frequent traders and advanced traders.
Stock trade fee
Option trade fee
$0 + $0.65/contract or $25 Broker-assisted
$0 + $0.65/contract
Minimum deposit to open
International markets. Investors have access to tradable securities across 140 international markets.
ESG scores. While TD Ameritrade offers a limited lineup of ETFs with high ESG scores, Interactive Brokers provides a deep-dive on individual stock performance across each category.
Third-party integrations. Outside its impressive lineup of in-house platforms, Interactive Brokers also integrates with a variety of portfolio management, order management, post-trade allocation and compliance software, including trader favorite, DAS Trader.
Forex pairs. TD Ameritrade’s 75 forex pairs are nothing to sniff at, but for traders who intend to swap currencies, IB’s 110 forex pairs offer more coverage.
24/7 support. Not many platforms offer round-the-clock support — but TD Ameritrade offers 24-hour live chat assistance for active members.
Uncomplicated pricing. With TD Ameritrade, what you see is what you get. Its commission-free stocks and ETFs cost nothing to trade no matter which of its platforms you use.
No account minimums. You can open a TD Ameritrade brokerage account with any amount, opening the door for new traders to get started without any capital requirements.
No inactivity fee. Investors are free to trade as often or infrequently as they see fit without having to worry about inactivity fees.
Complex fee structure. Interactive Brokers may be a low-cost platform, but its pricing is far from straightforward. Its pricing scheme includes fixed per-share pricing, tiered per-share pricing by monthly trading activity and commission-free trades for IBKR Lite members that trade stocks and ETFs through specific trading portals.
Inactivity fee. IBKR Pro traders face inactivity fees of up to $10 monthly if their net liquidation value falls below $10,000 or if they fail to generate at least $10 in trading commissions over the calendar month.
Commissions on mutual funds. TD Ameritrade charges a whopping $49.99 on no-load mutual funds — more than triple Interactive Brokers’ fee of $14.95.
FINRA disclosures. TD Ameritrade has 191 FINRA disclosures — legal infringements that are assigned by brokerages don’t follow the rules that govern how securities can be marketed and traded. For comparison, Interactive Brokers only has 64 disclosures.
Tools and research
Account window. Monitor account balances, funds, market value and portfolio metrics from an integrated dashboard.
Watchlists. Create personalized watchlists to stay on top of market quotes in real time.
Alerts. Set alerts by price, time, margin and volume.
Risk navigator. Calculate your risk exposure across multiple assets to refine your strategy.
Option analytics. Track price fluctuations across multiple risk dimensions to better monitor your positions.
Industry news. Tap into industry news and research from Morningstar, Reuters, Dow Jones, Zacks Investment Research and Seeking Alpha.
Paper trading. Test trading strategies before going live without risking capital.
Economic data. Track the US and global economies with over 400,000 data points from six continents.
Custom alerts. Create personalized alerts from a prepopulated list of events.
Charting tools. Perform your own analysis with over 400 technical studies across 20 drawings, including eight Fibonacci tools.
Options statistics. Compare current option volumes to previous five-day averages and review implied and historical volatility.
Strategy roller. Devise covered call strategies that automatically roll forward on a monthly basis.
Market Marker Move (MMM). Monitor projected price movements by market volatility to anticipate trends and shifts.
TradeWise. Explore affiliate newsletters with recommendations from former Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) floor traders.
Market monitor. Use interactive heat-mapping to better track the market and refine your portfolio.
Reputation and customer reviews
Reviews are: Mixed.
Customers praise: Robust functionality of the IBKR Pro platform and fair pricing.
Customers complain about: Unresponsive customer service and a high learning curve.
Reviews are: Mixed.
Customers praise: Free educational resources and commission-free trades.
Customers complain about: Excessive wait times to speak with support reps.
Apple App Store reviews
Google Play Store reviews
Phone. Call 877-442-2757.
Live Chat. Available 24/7 on weekdays or Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT.
Email. Send an e-mail to the message center anytime for a response within 24 hours.
Phone. For new clients call 800-454-9272. For existing clients call 800-669-3900.
Live chat. Available 24/7 for active members.
Social Media: Send a message via Facebook Messenger or Twitter.
Both of these platforms are well worth their salt and worthy of any investor’s consideration. But Interactive Brokers is better equipped to serve professional traders, and newbies will find more support with TD Ameritrade.
Yes, if you want to open a margin account, there is a minimum deposit amount of $2,000.
Yes, Interactive Brokers offers a free demo account for investors who want to sample the platform without signing up.
No, but Interactive Brokers suggests its investors have a “good or extensive knowledge” of the security they plan to trade before signing up for an account. If you’re a derivatives trader, Interactive Brokers states that you must have at least two years trading experience with that product and must be willing to take a test.
Shannon Terrell is a writer for Finder who studied communications and English literature at the University of Toronto. On any given day, you can find her researching everything from equine financing and business loans to student debt refinancing and how to start a trust. She loves hot coffee, the smell of fresh books and discovering new ways to save her pennies.
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