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TD Ameritrade vs. Vanguard
Both platforms are strong contenders but only one is equipped for active trading.
Both TD Ameritrade and Vanguard share commission-free stocks and access to a respectable lineup of accounts and securities. But one is better for advanced traders while the other is designed for buy and hold investors.
Which one is better?
- Choose TD Ameritrade if you’re an active trader seeking advanced research tools.
- Choose Vanguard if you’re a buy-and-hold investor seeking ETFs and mutual funds.
There’s plenty to celebrate between TD Ameritrade and Vanguard. They each offer commission-free trades, a generous selection of accounts, robo-advisor services and access to financial planners. But neither of these trading platforms is a one-size-fits-all choice. While it’s true that each brokerage has the potential to satisfy many types of investors, they each are best-suited to a particular type of investor with specific trading strategies.
For the active trader, TD Ameritrade is the obvious choice. It offers access to seven tradable securities across five distinct trading platforms. It boasts some of the most extensive analytics software on the market. It even offers paper trading for investors looking to test their trading strategies with hypothetical funds before going live. The steep learning curve associated with its Thinkorswim platform may deter new investors, but advanced traders will appreciate the robust charting software.
For buy-and-hold investors, Vanguard offers more competitive features. Featuring a sizable selection of in-house ETFs, commission-free mutual funds and free account transfers, Vanguard is designed for investors who plan to hold their securities. While its research and analytics can’t compete with TD Ameritrade’s, it simply wasn’t designed to serve the type of active investor in need of such software. But for investors who buy and hold stocks, ETFs and mutual funds, Vanguard offers a satisfying selection of securities and competitive pricing.
|Research and tools|
We awarded a bonus star for access to paper trading.
We awarded a bonus star for Vanguard’s client-owned structure.
To learn how our star ratings are calculated, read the methodology at the bottom of the page.
How do Fidelity and Vanguard compare?
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.
Vanguard is an investor-owned brokerage that specializes in low expense ratio ETFs. Its tiered investment services are best suited to long-term investors with high account balances, as it offers a personal advisor service for investors with at least $50,000 on hand. Investors that purchase its mutual funds and ETFs don’t pay commissions and become part-owners of the company.
|Stock trade fee||$0||$7|
|Option trade fee||$0 + $0.65/contract|
or $25 Broker-assisted
|Minimum deposit to open||$0||$0|
|Tools and research|
|Reputation and customer reviews|
|Apple App Store reviews|
|Google Play Store reviews|
Both TD Ameritrade and Vanguard are worthy of consideration but are best equipped to serve different trading strategies.
Not sure either platform is the right fit? Explore your account options across multiple trading platforms to find the account that best fits your investment goals.
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How we rate trading platforms
★★★★★ 5/5 — Excellent
★★★★★ 4/5 — Good
★★★★★ 3/5 — Average
★★★★★ 2/5 — Subpar
★★★★★ 1/5 — Poor
We analyze top online trading platforms and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include fees, securities available for trade, customer support, customer feedback, platform resources and overall reliability.
For a complete breakdown of how we score each category, read the full methodology of how we rate trading platforms.
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