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TD Ameritrade vs. Robinhood

When it comes to research and reliability, one platform emerges a clear winner.

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Both platforms offer commission-free securities, but low fees doesn’t always mean it’s the best choice. After comparing fees, platform tools, support options and features, one of these trading platforms takes a commanding lead.

Which one is better?

  • Choose TD Ameritrade if you’re an intermediate to advanced trader seeking sophisticated research tools.
  • Choose Robinhood if you’re a first-time investor seeking low fees and educational support.

TD Ameritrade topples its competitor with no fewer than seven tradable securities, five distinct trading platforms and some of the most well-designed research tools in the industry. But even though it’s one of the most robust trading platforms on the market, investors shouldn’t write Robinhood off just yet — the platform could still be worth considering.

Robinhood has some attractive features on deck, including commission-free trades, instant deposits of up to $1,000 and an intuitive user interface. Robinhood specializes in first-time investors, offering educational materials for beginners and an easy-to-navigate platform. But Robinhood falls short in several key areas. Namely: reliability and research tools.

Multiple service outages have been reported for Robinhood in 2020. Robinhood suggests that the 2020 outages were a result of traders flocking to the platform in the wake of volatile market conditions triggered by the pandemic. That said, the service outages have continued since and also weren’t a first time occurrence — according to DownDetector, Robinhood outages were a common occurrence in 2019, too. And the platform’s analytics tools can’t contend with TD Ameritrade’s offerings — an impressive lineup of advanced charting tools courtesy of its Thinkorswim platform.

Beginner traders may be curious about what Robinhood has to offer, but most others will want to opt for TD Ameritrade.

How do Robinhood and TD Ameritrade compare?

TD AmeritradeRobinhood
TD Ameritrade logo
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Robinhood logo
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OverviewTD 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.Robinhood is an online trading platform that offers self-directed brokerage services. Investors can trade commission-free stocks, ETFs and options with 24-hour access to 17 different cryptocurrencies. It’s well-suited to new investors looking to start buying and selling their own stocks.
Stock trade fee$0$0
Option trade fee$0 + $0.65/contract
or $25 Broker-assisted
$0
Annual fee0%0%
Minimum deposit to open$0$0
Benefits
  • Available assets. TD Ameritrade offers traders an impressive lineup of seven tradable securities, including futures and the forex market.
  • Multiple trading platforms. Traders gain access to five different trading platforms for desktop, web and mobile.
  • Robust research tools. Thanks to TD Ameritrade’s acquisition of Thinkorswim, its research and analytics tools are comprehensive enough to satisfy even the most advanced traders.
  • 24/7 support. Active members have access to 24-hour live chat support.
  • Beginner friendly. Robinhood holds a strong reputation as one of the best platforms for beginners.
  • Commission-free. Robinhood traders pay no commissions on stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrency trades.
  • Instant deposits. Deposits of up to $1,000 are approved in seconds.
  • Recurring investments. Investors can sign up to have a set amount of money automatically invested in stocks or ETFs daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly.
Drawbacks
  • Steep learning curve. Multiple complaints from TD Ameritrade investors have surfaced citing the platform’s steep learning curve.
  • Commissions. Investors need to be wary of platform commissions on options, no-loan mutual funds and futures contracts.
  • Limited support. Robinhood support is only available by email.
  • Limited research. While its research offerings may be sufficient for new investors, experienced traders will be disappointed by the platform’s lack of advanced charting tools.
  • Service outages. Multiple service outages have been reported in 2020.
Tools and research
  • Economic data. Tap into over 400,000 data points from six continents to gauge the US and global economies.
  • Custom alerts. Design your own custom alerts from a populated list of events.
  • Charting tools. Wield over 400 technical studies across 20 drawings, including eight Fibonacci tools.
  • Options statistics. Review implied and historical volatility and compare current option volumes to previous five-day averages.
  • Strategy roller. Craft covered call strategies that automatically roll forward on a monthly basis.
  • Market Marker Move (MMM). Measure projected price movements by market volatility to better anticipate market shifts.
  • TradeWise. Receive affiliate newsletters with recommendations from former Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) floor traders.
  • Market monitor. Track the market and your portfolio with interactive heat maps.
  • Newsfeed. Scan relevant investor news from the Financial Post, MarketWatch, Reuters and the New York Times.
  • Daily stock information. Review a daily rundown of significant movers in the stock market.
  • Robinhood Gold. Upgrade to Robinhood Gold for a $5 monthly premium to receive Morningstar and Nasdaq Level II Market Datastock research reports.
Reputation and customer reviews
  • Reviews are: Mixed.
  • Customers praise: Free educational resources and affordable trades.
  • Customers complain about: Steep learning curve.
  • Reviews are: Mostly negative.
  • Customers praise: Intuitive platform and commission-free trades.
  • Customers complain about: Limited support and service outages.
Apple App Store reviews

★★★★★ 4.5/5

★★★★★ 4.8/5

Google Play Store reviews

★★★★★ 3.4/5

★★★★★ 4.3/5

Support
  • 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.
  • Email. Fill out an online support ticket request on Robinhood’s website for an email response from the customer service team.
Learn more

Read our review

Read our review

Bottom line

TD Ameritrade takes the crown this round with advanced research tools, 24-hour support and multiple trading platforms. But Robinhood remains a viable option for newbies — although its service outages are worrisome.

Before you sign up for either platform, explore your account options with other providers to find the brokerage best suited to your needs.

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