TD Ameritrade Forex Review
With over 70 currency pairs to trade alongside a plethora of tools, research, and education, TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim platform provides US-based forex traders the ultimate trading technology experience.
Top Takeaways for 2021
Here are our top findings on TD Ameritrade:
- Founded in 1975, TD Ameritrade is publicly traded (NASDAQ: AMTD) 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 United States residents (excluding Ohio and Arizona).
- Thanks to TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim desktop and web trading platform, TD Ameritrade finished Best in Class (top 7) for Platforms and Tools, Mobile Trading, and Research and Trust Score. Our testing of thinkorswim left us so impressed that it won our award for Best Desktop Platform.
- Being a US-only forex offering, TD Ameritrade does not offer copy trading or MetaTrader (MT4). That said, currency ETFs and exchange-traded forex futures and options on forex futures help distinguish TD Ameritrade's forex offering.
|Offering of Investments|
|Commissions & Fees|
|Platforms & Tools|
Is TD Ameritrade FX Safe?
TD Ameritrade FX is considered low-risk, with an overall Trust Score of 98 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 supports exchange-traded forex instruments such as options and futures on various currencies, including the US Dollar Index. TD Ameritrade also offers interest rates, metals, grains, stock indices, energy, soft commodities, and livestock futures contracts, which provides traders the ability to execute orders on the CME, CBOT, NYMEX, COMEX, ICE US, and CFE. In 2021, TD Ameritrade was Best in Class for its Platform and Tools, Research and Mobile Trading. TD Ameritrade (U.S. stock trading) also ranked No. 1 overall in our StockBrokers.com Annual Review, which covers the top U.S. equities trading firms.
Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin: For cryptocurrency trading, clients can trade Bitcoin futures or the exchange-traded Grayscale's Bitcoin Investment Trust (Ticker $GBTC). TD Ameritrade plans to make underlying cryptocurrency trading available to its clients through ErisX, a CFTC-regulated derivatives exchange and clearing organization (Note: TD Ameritrade is an investor in ErisX).
TD Ameritrade FX offering of investments:
|Tradeable Symbols (Total)||N/A|
|Forex Pairs (Total)||73|
|US Stock Trading (Non CFD)||Yes|
|Int'l Stock Trading (Non CFD)||Yes|
|Social Trading / Copy-Trading||No|
Commissions and Fees
While its US stock-trading is at zero dollar commissions, TD Ameritrade's forex pricing is slightly higher than the global industry average, yet is comparable to US competitors such as OANDA and FOREX.com.
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 (positions held overnight). I also found it useful that TD Ameritrade's rollover costs are sortable in the thinkorswim platform, which helps you find carry-trade opportunities on specific currency pairs when holding trades past 5 pm ET.
Pricing: TD Ameritrade uses various Liquidity Providers (LPs) to handle its forex execution, after recently expanding its LPs to include JP Morgan, Citadel Securities, XTX Markets, HC Technologies, and Virtu Financial. As a result, forex trading is now offered 23 hours a day, with one hour from 5-6 pm ET being suspended trading, which is usually the quietest time anyway due to rollovers period.
TD Ameritrade FX pricing summary:
|Average Spread EUR/USD - Standard||1.26 pips (August 2021)|
|All-in Cost EUR/USD - Active||1.26 pips (August 2021)|
|Active Trader or VIP Discounts||No|
|Execution: Agency Broker||Yes|
|Execution: Market Maker||No|
Platforms and Tools
The backbone of the TD Ameritrade forex trading experience is the desktop-based trading platform thinkorswim, which is also available for the web. The desktop version of the thinkorswim platform takes time to learn; however, the lineup of tools are well worth the investment. In 2021, TD Ameritrade won our award for best Desktop Platform, thanks to its thinkorswim platform.
thinkorswim (desktop) overview: Instead of grouping all products into the same area, thinkorswim desktop separates them into individual tabs, making trading streamlined and efficient. Under the Forex Trader module, rates are displayed for six currency pairs by default. You can choose from 73 different forex pairs to trade or analyze, and each pair lives in a module that can be further customized.
thinkorswim (desktop) charting: I was impressed to find 348 technical indicators – by far the most in the industry. Furthermore, an additional 77 indicator-based strategies are available that will trigger a trading signal if conditions are met. Without question, technical analysis enthusiasts will quickly fall in love with the endless depth available in thinkorswim desktop charts.
thinkorswim (desktop) advanced features: In addition to automatically identifying 80 common chart patterns, there is an editor that enables users to create custom candlestick patterns. The thinkScripts tool lets you modify and create new technical indicators, similar in functionality to custom indicators on the MT4 platform or the Trading Station platform from FXCM.
thinkorswim (web) overview: TD Ameritrade recently introduced a web-based version of thinkorswim, which is much lighter than its desktop counterpart in terms of features and tools, but also easier to learn. For example, charts come with just 11 indicators compared to the hundreds found in the desktop version. Nonetheless, thinkorswim web has a good foundation for a new platform.
thinkorswim (web) features: While the full range of pre-defined watch lists are not available on the web-version of thinkorswim, custom watch lists automatically sync, so if you create a one on the desktop or mobile, it also appears on the web version.
Some advanced capabilities available in the web version of thinkorswim include trading options on forex futures, with four default strategies and custom multi-legged options trading supported. Besides forex, if you want to trade options on forex futures, TD Ameritrade provides simple and advanced tools on both the web and desktop versions.
TD Ameritrade FX trading platform:
|Virtual Trading (Demo)||Yes|
|Desktop Platform (Windows)||Yes|
|Social Trading / Copy-Trading||No|
|MetaTrader 4 (MT4)||No|
|MetaTrader 5 (MT5)||No|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies (Total)||360|
|Charting - Drawing Tools (Total)||23|
|Charting - Trade From Chart||Yes|
|Watchlists - Total Fields||564|
|Order Type - Trailing Stop||Yes|
While not built solely for forex trading, the thinkorswim platform from TD Ameritrade is complete with powerful research tools. TD Ameritrade finished Best in Class for Research in 2021.
Research overview: TD Ameritrade offers traders a variety of tools and data, including several advanced screeners. Alongside articles, coverage from live CNBC and the TD Ameritrade Network TV is also available. Finally, third-party data flows in from sources including Dow Jones, Thomson Reuters, Morningstar, and FXWirePro, among others.
Written articles: TD Ameritrade staff and third-party providers produce a large variety of market analysis covering technical and fundamental research for global asset classes, including forex. For example, there is a dedicated currencies section on the research section of TD Ameritrade's website, with articles from MarketWatch and related news headlines.
Third-party research aside, TD Ameritrade's Ticker Tape hub provides a Daily Market Update and Market Insights category. While these series cover the broader financial markets, I found the economic news category, which covers monetary policy, relevant for forex research.
Charting US economic data: One area I found fascinating and useful for fundamental research is the FRED data charting tool on thinkorswim desktop. TD Ameritrade’s FRED data tool includes an extensive library with current and historical data points such as US interest rates and global economic indicators.
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. Traders can even set alerts on upcoming events relevant to their portfolio. That said, the calendar is more optimized for stock trading, but I did find forex-related event headlines from Econoday, which are available in the desktop version of thinkorswim.
Social research: Numerous social features developed from in-house and third parties are found on the thinkorswim desktop platform. One highlight for me is the integrated chat rooms, which includes the forex dedicated Global FX Chat channel. Chat aside, the Social Signals service pulls insights from Twitter to help gauge sentiment by tracking the number of times a symbol is mentioned. This way, when you are looking at a chart, the social sentiment results are displayed as positive, neutral, or negative.
TD Ameritrade FX research:
|Daily Market Commentary||Yes|
|Forex News (Top-Tier Sources)||Yes|
|Trading Central (Recognia)||No|
|Social Sentiment - Currency Pairs||No|
There is an extensive array of educational material available from TD Ameritrade. Compared to peers, TD Ameritrade ranks well above the industry average in this category.
Learning Center and Ticker Tape portal: Under its Learning Center within the thinkorswim desktop platform, and within the Ticker Tape portal, there is an extensive array of content for forex traders. For example, from among over 400 items (video and written content), there are at least 24 directly related to forex in the Learning Center library. I found it easy to navigate this library as there are drop-down menus to filter by category and sub-category, and progress tracking is enabled so you can track what you have learned along the way.
Many of TD Ameritrade's video materials are also available on its YouTube channel, including its Trader Talks Webcasts, which are archived webinars.
Written articles: There are nine articles within the Forex section in the Ticker Tape education hub, and an additional 40 articles covering advanced technical analysis, alongside hundreds of articles covering broader markets. I found the educational material to be of high quality. For example, one article on forex market volatility compares the use of the VIX and options on forex futures to find implied volatility ahead of geopolitical events like the US election.
TD Ameritrade FX education:
|Has Education - Forex or CFDs||Yes|
|Client Webinars (Archived)||Yes|
|Videos - Beginner Trading Videos||Yes|
|Videos - Advanced Trading Videos||Yes|
|Investor Dictionary (Glossary)||Yes|
TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim mobile app, available for iOS and Android devices, comes packed with an extensive selection of features. From complex order types and advanced charting with over 300 indicators to creating custom watch lists, all elements are organized neatly in a modern, user-friendly platform design. In 2021, TD Ameritrade was Best in Class in the mobile category for the fifth 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 helps ensures that traders will always view the news that is most relevant to their portfolios, including global economic indicator events.
Mobile charting: Charting is also robust, as the thinkorswim app includes over 300 technical indicators that are easily insertable into 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).
Mobile innovation: One advanced feature I found interesting is the Blast All order type. This order type allows you to put on a multi-legged position simultaneous across various symbols and could be useful for advanced strategies that include long and short positions. You can also require fingerprint authorization when placing trades, and not just when logging in. Finally, module linking can carry over from devices, so if you are viewing the EUR/USD pair on the desktop version, it appears highlighted in thinkorswim mobile.
TD Ameritrade FX mobile trading:
|Apple iOS App||Yes|
|Alerts - Basic Fields||Yes|
|Watch List Syncing||Yes|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies||360|
|Charting - Draw Trendlines||Yes|
|Charting - Trendlines Moveable||No|
|Charting - Multiple Time Frames||Yes|
|Charting - Drawings Autosave||Yes|
Overall, TD Ameritrade provides US residents a terrific trading platform that will satisfy even the pickiest of traders. 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. No question, TD Ameritrade offers a winning experience for US forex traders.
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 13.2 million funded client accounts, with approximately $1.3 trillion in customer assets as of its latest annual report filing. For forex specifically, TD Ameritrade has over 52,000 forex accounts as of Q2 2020.
Under its CFTC-regulated entity, TD Ameritrade Futures and Forex LLC, TD Ameritrade offers investors stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures, and forex trading. Publicly traded on the NASDAQ (AMTD), TD Ameritrade remains one of the few regulated brokerages to offer retail forex trading in the United States. Read more on Wikipedia.
2021 Review Methodology
For our 2021 Forex Broker Review we assessed, rated, and ranked 27 international forex brokers over a three-month time period resulting in over 50,000 words of published research.
Each broker was graded on 108 different variables, including our proprietary Trust Score algorithm. This innovative scoring system ranks the level of trustworthiness for each broker based on factors such as licenses, regulation and corporate structure (read about Trust Score here).
As part of our annual review process, all brokers had the opportunity to provide updates and key milestones and complete an in-depth data profile, which we hand-checked for accuracy.
Ultimately, our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .1% each year, providing site visitors with 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.