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TD Ameritrade Forex Review

CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. Trading forex carries a high level of risk. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. This content is intended for information and educational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice or investment recommendation.

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 2020

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 & 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). That said, currency ETFs and exchange-traded forex futures and options on forex futures help distinguish TD Ameritrade's forex offering.

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Overall Summary

FeatureTD Ameritrade
Overall 4.5 Stars
Trust Score98
Offering of Investments 4.5 Stars
Commissions & Fees 4 Stars
Platform & Tools 4.5 Stars
Research 4.5 Stars
Mobile Trading 4.5 Stars
Customer Service .1 Stars
Education 4 Stars

Is TD Ameritrade FX Safe?

help 98
Trust Score

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.

Regulations Comparison

FeatureTD Ameritrade
Year Founded1955
Publicly Traded (Listed) Yes
Bank Yes
Tier-1 Licenses5
Tier-2 Licenses0
Tier-3 Licenses0
Trust Score98

Offering of Investments

Rank: 7th (of 30)

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 2020, TD Ameritrade was Best in Class for its Offering of Investments.

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).

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Offering Comparison

FeatureTD Ameritrade
Forex: Spot Trading Yes
Currency Pairs (Total Forex pairs)73
CFDs - Total Offered0
Social Trading / Copy-Trading Yes
Cryptocurrency traded as actual No
Cryptocurrency traded as CFD No

Commissions & 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.

FeatureTD Ameritrade
Minimum Initial Deposit$0.00
Average Spread EUR/USD - Standard1.065 pips (Sep 2019)
All-in Cost EUR/USD - Active1.065 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, 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 2020, TD Ameritrade won our award for best Desktop Platform, as well as Platform Technology, 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.

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Research

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 2020.

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.

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Education

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.

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Mobile Trading

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 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 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.

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Final Thoughts

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.

TD Ameritrade Trading Features

FeatureTD Ameritrade
Virtual Trading (Demo) Yes
Proprietary Platform Yes
Desktop Platform (Windows) Yes
Web Platform Yes
Social Trading / Copy-Trading Yes
MetaTrader 4 (MT4) No
MetaTrader 5 (MT5) No
cTrader No
Charting - Indicators / Studies (Total)382
Charting - Drawing Tools (Total)20
Charting - Trade From Chart Yes
Watchlists - Total Fields548
Order Type - Trailing Stop Yes

TD Ameritrade Research Features

FeatureTD Ameritrade
Daily Market Commentary Yes
Forex News (Top-Tier Sources) Yes
Weekly Webinars No
AutoChartist No
Trading Central (Recognia) No
Delkos Research No
Social Sentiment - Currency Pairs No
Economic Calendar Yes

TD Ameritrade Mobile App Features

FeatureTD Ameritrade
Android App Yes
Apple iOS App Yes
Trading - Forex Yes
Trading - CFDs No
Alerts - Basic Fields Yes
Watch List Yes
Watch List Syncing Yes
Charting - Indicators / Studies348
Charting - Draw Trend Lines Yes
Charting - Trend Lines Moveable No
Charting - Multiple Time Frames Yes
Charting - Drawings Autosave Yes
Forex Calendar Yes

2020 Review Methodology

For our 2020 Forex Broker Review we assessed, rated, and ranked 30 international forex brokers over a five month time period. Each broker was graded on 105 different variables and, in total, over 50,000 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.


Steven Hatzakis

About the author: 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.

Trading CFDs, FX, and cryptocurrencies involve a high degree of risk. All providers have a percentage of retail investor accounts that lose money when trading CFDs with their company. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money and whether you understand how CFDs, FX, and cryptocurrencies work. All data was obtained from a published web site as of 01/20/2020 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. The ForexBrokers.com staff is constantly working with its online broker representatives to obtain the latest data. If you believe any data listed above is inaccurate, please contact us using the link at the bottom of this page.

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