Scottrade vs. TD Ameritrade: Budget Friendliness or Feature-Rich Experience?

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    Scottrade and TD Ameritrade are two of the most prominent brokerage firms on the market right now, with a bevy of features designed to help traders get the most out of their experience.

    Let’s find out which features work better than others, and which traders would benefit from which service.

    Features, Fees & Ratings Comparison Table

    FeaturesScottradeTD Ameritrade
    💰 Account Minimum$0$0
    💸 Commission Fees$0 for online equity trades$0 for online equity trades
    💼 Investment OptionsStocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Options, Futures, CDs, Bonds, IPOsStocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Options, Futures, CDs, Bonds, IPOs
    🤖 Robo-AdvisorScottrade does not offer a robo-advisor serviceTD Ameritrade offers a robo-advisor service called Essential Portfolios with a minimum investment of $5,000
    📊 Research and AnalysisFree research from Morningstar,, and MarketEdgeFree research from Morningstar,, and MarketEdge, as well as access to independent research reports from Credit Suisse, TheStreet, and more
    📱 Mobile AppAvailable for iOS and Android devicesAvailable for iOS and Android devices
    🏦 Retirement AccountsTraditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, 401(k), Profit Sharing Plan, Money Purchase PlanTraditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, 401(k), Profit Sharing Plan, Money Purchase Plan
    🎓 IRA AccountsSame as Retirement AccountsSame as Retirement Accounts
    📈 Trading PlatformScottrade offers the Scottrader and ScottradeELITE trading platformsTD Ameritrade offers the thinkorswim and Trade Architect trading platforms
    📞 Customer Service24/7 phone and email support24/7 phone and email support, as well as in-person support at over 360 branches
    📚 Educational ResourcesFree educational resources including webinars, videos, and online coursesFree educational resources including webinars, videos, and online courses, as well as in-person workshops and events
    🌕 Fractional SharesNot availableFractional shares available for select ETFs
    🌱 Socially ResponsibleNot availableSocially responsible investing options available
    🌎 International InvestingAccess to foreign stocks and ADRsAccess to foreign stocks and ADRs, as well as the ability to trade on foreign exchanges
    💳 Cash ManagementChecking account with free online bill pay and ATM fee reimbursementChecking account with free online bill pay and ATM fee reimbursement
    🔍 Margin TradingAvailableAvailable
    ⚙️ Options TradingAvailableAvailable
    ₿ Cryptocurrency TradingNot availableAvailable for select cryptocurrencies
    🛡️ Account SecurityFDIC-insured and protected by SIPC insuranceFDIC-insured and protected by SIPC insurance
    💹 LeverageMargin accounts offer up to 4:1 leverageMargin accounts offer up to 4:1 leverage
    ⚖ RegulationScottrade is regulated by FINRA and the SECTD Ameritrade is regulated by FINRA and the SEC, as well as the CFTC for futures trading

    Scottrade vs. TD Ameritrade

    Selecting the right online broker is a crucial decision for individual investors as they navigate the world of investment opportunities. In this comparison, we will examine two well-established online brokerage firms, Scottrade and TD Ameritrade. Both companies offer a wide range of investment products and services, but they also have notable differences in terms of fees, platform usability, research tools, and additional services. By comparing the pros and cons of each broker, we aim to provide a comprehensive analysis that will help investors make an informed decision based on their unique needs and preferences.


    Scottrade Logo (1)

    Scottrade is a well-known online brokerage firm offering a variety of investment products and services, including stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, and more. In this module, we will explore the pros and cons of Scottrade for individual investors looking to open an account and compare them with TD Ameritrade, another prominent online broker.

    • Competitive trading fees
    • Wide variety of investment options
    • User-friendly platform
    • Limited research tools
    • No robo-advisor service

    Scottrade fits the bill for investors who prioritize low trading fees and a user-friendly platform. However, for those looking for more research tools or automated portfolio management, TD Ameritrade may be a better fit.

    TD Ameritrade

    TD Ameritrade Logo

    TD Ameritrade is a leading online broker with a comprehensive range of investment products and services, including stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, and more. In this module, we will discuss the pros and cons of TD Ameritrade for individual investors and compare them to Scottrade, another popular online brokerage firm.

    • Advanced trading platforms
    • Robust research tools
    • Robo-advisor service
    • Higher trading fees
    • Complex platform

    TD Ameritrade meets the criteria for investors who value advanced trading platforms, robust research tools, and robo-advisor services. However, for those prioritizing lower trading fees and a more user-friendly platform, Scottrade might be more closely aligned with those requirements. When deciding between the two brokers, individual investors should consider their specific needs and preferences to decide on a brokerage firm.

    Features & Primary Uses

    Online brokers like these make their bones on their online trading platforms, which provide traders with the tools they need to make smart, informed trades. Scottrade’s basic trading platform is more than adequate for most traders — it features portfolio tracking, account alerts, performance analysis, and more. It even offers some bare-bones charting, though nothing too impressive.

    However, their ScottradeELITE platform is an advanced piece of desktop software reserved for more active traders who maintain a $25,000 balance or make a certain number of trades in a given year. This program is one of the best out there, a premium service that provides detailed charting, innovative research tools and live streaming market news.

    TD Ameritrade’s basic platform offers a bit more functionality than Scottrade’s, with stop and conditional orders, portfolio performance analysis, rebalancing, retirement and savings calculators, and independent investment research. However, their charting is just about the same.

    Compared to ScottradeELITE, TD Ameritrade’s premium platform is perhaps even better. With its user-friendly interface, traders can do real-time stock performance tracking, risk monitoring and trade analysis, and more.

    TD Ameritrade’s online trading platform wins out in this particular race, chiefly due to the greater accessibility of both its basic and premium platforms. What’s more, they also have much greater mobile apps than Scottrade, featuring three different apps for varying skill levels, so traders of all types have an interface customized to their needs.

    Both companies feature decently good research tools, whether through their website or their trading platforms. Scottrade provides equity reports from reputable third-party providers such as S&P Capital IQ, Thomson Reuters and MarkedEdge. Furthermore, traders can educate themselves with Scottrade’s Knowledge Center, which features in-person seminars, videos, articles and webinars.

    TD Ameritrade offers many of the same third-party market research reports, but boosts their education offerings with Investools — a program that offers customers complete trader education courses at a number of skill levels. With these courses, traders can learn the ins and outs of stock, options, forex and so on, improving their understanding of the world of trading.

    Customers who want some additional help with their trading can count on both TD Ameritrade and Scottrade to provide adequate-to-good customer service. TD Ameritrade provides 24/7 phone support, while Scottrade offers phone support during business hours, as well as 24/7 chat and email support.

    Unlike most other online brokers you run into, TD Ameritrade and Scottrade both have physical, brick-and-mortar locations; this provides an excellent, unexpected resource for their customers. If you ever need more personalized, hands-on help, you just have to visit your local branch and they’ll be happy to give you a hand.

    In terms of features, TD Ameritrade just barely moves ahead of Scottrade. While Scottrade has some fantastic trading platforms and excellent customer service, TD Ameritrade’s is just that much better.

    Investment Options

    Both Scottrade and TD Ameritrade provide the ability to invest in stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, options and bonds. When it comes to bonds, both TD Ameritrade and Scottrade lets traders invest in CDs, corporate, US treasury, and municipal bonds, but Scottrade makes you pay $35 for this privilege. (TD Ameritrade charges nothing.)

    However, one thing to consider is that TD Ameritrade also allows traders to invest in futures or forex, which Scottrade lacks.

    It must be noted, however, that Scottrade does not provide commission-free ETFs (TD Ameritrade provides more than 100), so you might want to look elsewhere if that is the primary means by which you want to trade.

    In this category, TD Ameritrade wins out, simply because they have a wider range of investment options to choose from. Furthermore, the presence of commission-free ETFs simply opens up more possibilities for traders than Scottrade can truly offer.


    One thing both companies can lay claim to is an affordable flat fee structure for its traders — no matter how many shares are traded, the same basic fee will be charged. TD Ameritrade has a $9.99 commission per trade ($0.75 per options contract), while Scottrade charges $7 per trade ($1.25 per contract). Obviously, in this regard, Scottrade’s lower rates give it the edge in this regard.

    Commissions and fees aren’t the only major factor to consider when contemplating the cost of a brokerage firm — account minimums are also quite important. Scottrade requires an opening deposit of $2,500 to create your account, while TD Ameritrade has no minimum balance. However, neither company charges you monthly fees for holding onto your accounts, which makes them both very cost effective.

    If you’re looking for a company to use for investing in mutual funds, Scottrade could do the trick — their $17 fee pales in comparison to TD Ameritrade’s whopping $49.99 charge for mutual funds. Scottrade has more than 3,000 no-load funds, while TD Ameritrade only boasts about 2,500. That said, TD Ameritrade offers many more mutual funds (almost 13,000 to Scottrade’s 7,500), so your choice is between choice or price.

    Scottrade has the edge in this particular category. While TD Ameritrade’s $0 opening balance is certainly an incentive for those who want to start out trading without having much money, the cheaper commission rates boasted by Scottrade make that platform the cheaper one overall.

    Asset Allocation

    Asset allocation is always an important element of investing, finding the ideal diversification for your portfolio to match your goals and risk aversion. TD Ameritrade and Scottrade both provide some tools and resources to help make these decisions easier.

    TD Ameritrade offers a number of investment tools and articles to show traders the various attributes of each asset class, as well as training to achieve their own investment goals. Amerivest Core Portfolios are also provided by them, which are customized to the level of market aggression and ideal growth rates each trader wants.

    Scottrade, meanwhile, offers an Allocation Tool which provides flexible options for traders’ ideal investment distributions. Just select an action plan based around your preferred growth level, the locations of your investments, and more. You get real-time adjustments for it, and receive guided investment advice to make sure you allocate your assets effectively.

    With this in mind, Scottrade’s asset allocation offers more breadth of experience. While TD Ameritrade’s tools and portfolios are nice, the level of immediate customization that their Allocation Tool provides gives more direct help to traders looking for the most help.

    Which Should You Pick? Who Is Each Good For?

    In many respects, TD Ameritrade and Scottrade offer virtually identical features to traders of all types — robust trading platforms, versatile mobile apps, quality research and education, and competitive fees. They also both offer the ability to go to physical branches to receive personalized assistance with your account, though Scottrade’s physical presence is greater.

    However, the most budget-minded trader might do well to invest in Scottrade — their flat $7 commission fee really adds up if you’re a more active trader, despite the opening $2,500 deposit. Their platform and research tools are also more than adequate to work with a budget trader, even though they’re not as robust as TD Ameritrade’s.

    If you want access to a wide range of features, however, TD Ameritrade might be the way to go. If you’re willing to pay the extra couple bucks per commission, the benefits of Thinkorswim’s advanced features might just be worth the price.

    The sheer number of features TD Ameritrade’s platforms have between desktop and mobile options is ideal for the kind of trader who wants to trade on the go, so that might be the preferred option for more tech-minded traders.

    Either way you go, you’ll have a lot of high-quality support from either TD Ameritrade or Scottrade as reputable, affordable online brokers. Whether you want better investment options, or better trading technology, or cheaper rates, each company beats the other out by a small margin, so finding the best company between the two is just a matter of degrees.


    In conclusion, both Scottrade and TD Ameritrade are reputable online brokers with distinct offerings that cater to different investor needs. Scottrade stands out for its competitive trading fees and user-friendly platform, making it an appealing choice for cost-conscious investors and those who prefer a more intuitive trading experience. On the other hand, TD Ameritrade shines with its advanced trading platforms, robust research tools, and robo-advisor service, making it an attractive option for experienced traders and those seeking a more hands-off approach.

    Ultimately, the decision between Scottrade and TD Ameritrade will depend on each individual investor’s priorities and preferences. It is essential to carefully consider factors such as trading fees, investment options, research tools, and platform usability when making this important choice. By taking the time to compare these two brokers, investors can ensure they select the platform that best aligns with their financial goals and investment strategies.

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