TD Ameritrade Forex Review
With nearly 80 currency pairs to trade alongside a plethora of trading tools and research, TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform provides US-based forex traders a winning experience.
Top Takeaways for 2020
After spending five months testing 30 of the best forex brokers for our 4th Annual Review, here are our top findings on TD Ameritrade:
- Founded in 1975, TD Ameritrade is publicly-traded and regulated in five tier-1 jurisdictions, making it a safe broker (low-risk) for forex trading. Note: TD Ameritrade forex trading is only available to residents of the United States.
- Thanks to TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim desktop trading platform, TD Ameritrade finished Best in Class (top 7) for Platforms & Tools, Mobile Trading, and Research. Our testing of thinkorswim left us so impressed that we awarded the platform two industry awards: Best Desktop Platform and Best Platform Technology.
- Being a US-only forex offering, TD Ameritrade does not offer copy trading or MetaTrader (MT4).
- Get up to $600 + Trade Commission-Free for 60 Days Visit Site
|Offering of Investments|
|Commissions & Fees|
|Platform & Tools|
Is TD Ameritrade FX Safe?
TD Ameritrade FX is considered low-risk, with an overall Trust Score of 96 out of 99. TD Ameritrade FX is publicly-traded, does operate a bank, and is authorised by five tier-1 regulators (high trust), zero tier-2 regulators (average trust), and zero tier-3 regulators (low trust). TD Ameritrade FX is authorised by the following tier-1 regulators: Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), Securities Futures Commission (SFC), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Learn more about Trust Score.
|Publicly Traded (Listed)||Yes|
Offering of Investments
In addition to trading forex, TD Ameritrade’s FX offering also supports additional forex instruments such as options and futures on pairs, as well as the US Dollar Index. TD Ameritrade also offers interest rates, metals, grains, stock indices, energy, soft commodities, and livestock futures contracts, giving you the ability to execute orders on the CME, CBOT, NYMEX, COMEX, ICE US, and CFE. In 2020, TD Ameritrade was Best in Class for its Offering of Investments.
Digital assets: For cryptocurrency trading, clients can trade Bitcoin futures as well as the first exchange-traded Bitcoin product, Greyscale’s Bitcoin Investment Trust (Ticker $GBTC). Moreover, TD Ameritrade invested alongside a cohort of institutional investors in ErisX, a CFTC-regulated derivatives exchange and clearing organization that will provide cryptocurrency trading in spot cash and futures markets. TD Ameritrade plans to make these cryptocurrency services available to its clients through ErisX once the platform is ready.
|Forex: Spot Trading||Yes|
|Currency Pairs (Total Forex pairs)||75|
|CFDs - Total Offered||0|
|Social Trading / Copy-Trading||Yes|
|Cryptocurrency traded as actual||No|
|Cryptocurrency traded as CFD||No|
Commissions & Fees
Assessing the exact costs of trading forex with TD Ameritrade is simple thanks to its average spread data for its most recent fiscal year. The broker offers competitive pricing that is in-line with the industry standard. Fees for trading forex on thinkorswim are straightforward as the broker recently discontinued its commission-based offering, leaving the commission-free contract as the ony option and thus the cost to trade forex is limited to the spread.
Estimated carry costs: It's worth noting that TD Ameritrade provides a useful calculator tool that can help traders estimate their cost-of-carry for various currency pairs (i.e., for positions held overnight), depending on the trade direction and order size.
Pricing: TD Ameritrade uses GAIN Capital, the owner of FOREX.com, as its liquidity provider to handle its forex execution (on an agency basis). The spreads at TD Ameritrade for the EUR/USD contract was 1.06 pips, using average spread data from Oct 2018 through September 2019.
|Minimum Initial Deposit||$0.00|
|Average Spread EUR/USD - Standard||1.065 pips (Sep 2019)|
|All-in Cost EUR/USD - Active||1.065 pips (Sep 2019)|
|Active Trader or VIP Discounts||Yes|
Platforms & Tools
The backbone of the TD Ameritrade forex trading experience is the desktop-based trading platform thinkorswim. The platform takes time to learn; however, the plethora of tools and depth are well worth the patience required. In 2020, TD Ameritrade won our award for best Desktop Platform, as well as Platform Technology, thanks to its thinkorswim platform.
Instead of grouping all products into the same area, thinkorswim separates them into individual tabs, which makes trading streamlined and efficient. Under the Forex Trader module, rates are displayed for six currency pairs by default. Users can choose from 75 different forex pairs, and each pair lives in its module that can be further customized.
Charting: I was impressed to find 382 technical indicators – by far the most in the industry. Furthermore, there are an additional 83 indicator-based strategies available that will trigger a trading signal when conditions are met. Without question, technical analysis enthusiasts will quickly fall in love with the endless depth available to them. For example, in addition to automatically identifying 58 common candlestick patterns, there is an editor that enables users to create custom candlestick patterns. Also, by using the thinkScripts tool, you can modify and create new technical indicators, which are similar in functionality to custom indicators on the MT4 platform or the JForex3 platform from Dukascopy.
While not built solely for forex trading, the thinkorswim platform from TD Ameritrade is complete with powerful research tools. For example, there several advanced screeners alongside coverage from live CNBC and TD Ameritrade Network TV. Third-party data flows in from sources, including Dow Jones, Thomson Reuters, Morningstar, and FXWirePro. Overall, in 2020 TD Ameritrade finished Best in Class for Research.
US economic data: One area I found useful for fundamental research is the FRED Data, which includes historical data on US interest rates and other US economic indicators that affect monetary policy and currency markets.
Economic calendar: Beyond the basics typically found in an economic calendar, thinkorswim adds smart features such as the ability to filter the calendar based on various news events, and even set alerts on upcoming events relevant to your portfolio.
Social research: Numerous social features developed from in-house and third parties are also found on the platform, including the Social Signals service that pulls insights from Twitter, adding to the broad range of research and content that TD Ameritrade delivers.
The TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader app, available for iOS and Android devices, comes packed with a ton of features, ranging from advanced charting with over 300 optional indicators to creating custom watch lists, all organized neatly in a modern, user-friendly way. In 2020, TD Ameritrade was Best in Class in the mobile category for the fourth consecutive year.
Mobile research: In terms of research in the app, the same calendar experience from the desktop platform is present for filtering news events by symbol, watchlist, or account positions. This filtering makes sense and ensures that traders will always view the news that is most relevant to their portfolios, including global economic indicator events for forex traders.
Mobile charting: Charting is also robust, as the thinkorswim app includes nearly 400 technical indicators that are easily insertable in charts. After adding a study to a chart, they become the default template when other charts are opened or when logging back in (i.e., they save automatically. Trend lines I drew on the EUR/USD in the desktop app charts synced perfectly with the mobile app charts, which is a handy feature for technical analysis across devices.
For US-based investors and traders, TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform is a sophisticated multi-asset desktop experience that is great for forex trading. The one drawback is that thinkorswim’s tools are primarily for trading other asset classes such as equities and options, but this is merely a minor distraction.
Overall, forex traders will find powerful charting capabilities alongside forex news headlines, and a platform rich with features when using thinkorswim at TD Ameritrade.
Note: this review focuses on TD Ameritrade’s forex offering. For TD Ameritrade’s stocks and options trading services, please see the TD Ameritrade review on our sister site, StockBrokers.com.
About TD Ameritrade
Serving only US-based forex traders, TD Ameritrade is home to over 11.5 million funded client accounts, with over $1.1 trillion in customer assets. TD Ameritrade offers investors stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures, and forex trading. Under its CFTC-regulated entity, TD Ameritrade Futures and Forex LLC, publicly-traded TD Ameritrade (AMTD) remains one of the few regulated brokerages to still offer retail forex trading in the United States.
TD Ameritrade Trading Features
|Virtual Trading (Demo)||Yes|
|Desktop Platform (Windows)||Yes|
|Social Trading / Copy-Trading||Yes|
|MetaTrader 4 (MT4)||No|
|MetaTrader 5 (MT5)||No|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies (Total)||382|
|Charting - Drawing Tools (Total)||20|
|Charting - Trade From Chart||Yes|
|Watchlists - Total Fields||548|
|Order Type - Trailing Stop||Yes|
TD Ameritrade Research Features
|Daily Market Commentary||Yes|
|Forex News (Top-Tier Sources)||Yes|
|Trading Central (Recognia)||No|
|Social Sentiment - Currency Pairs||No|
TD Ameritrade Mobile App Features
|Apple iOS App||Yes|
|Trading - Forex||Yes|
|Trading - CFDs||No|
|Alerts - Basic Fields||Yes|
|Watch List Syncing||Yes|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies||397|
|Charting - Draw Trend Lines||No|
|Charting - Trend Lines Moveable||No|
|Charting - Multiple Time Frames||Yes|
|Charting - Drawings Autosave||Yes|
2019 Review Methodology
For our 2019 Forex Broker Review we assessed, rated, and ranked 28 international forex brokers over a six month time period. Each broker was graded on 81 different variables and, in total, over 60,000 words of research were produced.
While encouraged, broker participation was optional. Each broker had the opportunity to complete an in-depth data profile and provide executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting.
All data submitted by brokers is hand-checked for accuracy. Ultimately, our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .1% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.
Forex Risk Disclaimer
"There is a very high degree of risk involved in trading securities. With respect to margin-based foreign exchange trading, off-exchange derivatives, and cryptocurrencies, there is considerable exposure to risk, including but not limited to, leverage, creditworthiness, limited regulatory protection and market volatility that may substantially affect the price, or liquidity of a currency or related instrument. It should not be assumed that the methods, techniques, or indicators presented in these products will be profitable, or that they will not result in losses." Learn more.
About the author: Steven Hatzakis Steven Hatzakis is the Global Director of Research for ForexBrokers.com. Steven previously served as an Editor for Finance Magnates, where he authored over 1,000 published articles about the online finance industry. Steven is an active fintech and crypto industry researcher and advises blockchain companies at the board level. Over the past 20 years, Steven has held numerous positions within the international forex markets, from writing to consulting to serving as a registered commodity futures representative.