Jean Folger has actually 15+ year of suffer as a financial writer covering actual estate, investing, active trading, the economy, and also retirement planning. She is the co-founder the PowerZone Trading, a company that has provided programming, consulting, and also strategy advancement services to energetic traders and also investors since 2004.

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Vanguard and also TD Ameritrade (TDA) are amongst the largest brokerage firms in the U.S.—but the similarities prevent there. Vanguard supplies an superior lineup the low-cost mutual funds and also exchange-traded funds (ETFs) aimed at buy-and-hold investors and retirement savers. Meanwhile, TD Ameritrade provides three commerce platforms—a web platform, the professional-level thinkorswim, and a cell phone app—designed for active traders. When Vanguard and TD Ameritrade have a couple of similarities, we'll compare the 2 to assist you recognize which broker could be a better fit for your investing needs.



Account Minimum: $0Fees: complimentary stock, ETF, and also per-leg options trading commissions. $0.65 per choices contract.

On Nov. 25, 2019, Charles Schwab announced a buyout that TD Ameritrade's virtual brokerage. The transaction closed top top Oct. 6, 2020, but the 2 firms still run autonomously. Schwab expects the full merger the its platforms and also services to take place within 3 years the the nearby of the deal.


You deserve to open a Vanguard account online, but there is a several-day wait prior to you can log in. We uncovered it's easier to open and fund one account in ~ TDA. You can do therefore either through its website or cell phone app, although it can be daunting to pick the best account type due to the selection of offerings. With either broker, you must sign extr documents—and wait a bit longer—if you desire to trade choices or access margin.

Vanguard and also TDA offer a good variety of educational content, consisting of articles, videos, webinars, and a glossary. Vanguard's website has (finally) to be updated and also is now more user-friendly and also modern-looking. However, there's still job-related to be excellent to do the website much less complicated, and you can't get very far unless you log into your account. TDA's website is fresh, well-organized, and also easy come navigate.

Overall, we discovered Vanguard works well for irreversible investors—especially those that want access to skilled advice and also some that the lowest-cost accumulation in the industry. In ~ the same time, TDA is a much better fit for investors and also traders the all suffer levels who want a more robust and customizable trading experience.

Trade endure

desktop computer Experience

Vanguard and also TDA offer an extremely different trading experiences—but that's to be meant considering the brokers' target customers. Vanguard's platform is geared toward buy-and-hold investors, not energetic traders. When the platform it s okay the task done (i.e., friend can enter orders), there aren't any type of bells and whistles. The bespeak entry process is clunky and not an especially intuitive, and there's no real-time data until you open a profession ticket. Overall, the trading platform is sufficient for passive investors, but it drops predictably brief for traders and investors who desire a responsive and customizable experience.

Casual traders will uncover everything they require on TDA's web-based commerce platform. An ext experienced and tech-savvy investors and also traders will gravitate towards thinkorswim (TOS), TDA's flagship platform. Thinkorswim is a completely customizable, modern-looking communication that uses a complete suite of evaluation tools. There's likewise a trade simulator that lets you create and test researches using the thinkScript programming language. Overall, TDA has actually a solid command in regards to features and also functionality.

mobile Trade suffer

Vanguard's mobile application is a little bit outdated and light in terms of features. There is no charting, and the quotes are again delayed till you open up an bespeak ticket. Still, as a buy-and-hold investor, you deserve to monitor her positions, analyze your portfolio, check out the news, and also place simple orders—albeit for limited asset classes.

TDA supports two mobile apps: the beginner-friendly TD Ameritrade mobile App and also the active trader concentrated thinkorswim Mobile. Both space robust and offer a good deal of functionality, consisting of charting and also watchlists. Streaming real-time data is included, and also you can trade the same asset class on mobile as on the various other platforms.

According to user ratings top top the application Store, both brokers' apps space well-received. Vanguard has 4.7 stars from around 167,000 reviews. TD Ameritrade Mobile has actually 4.5 stars native 91,000+ reviews, and also thinkorswim has actually a 4.7-star rating from some 242,000 reviews. Overall, we uncovered that TDA uses a remarkable mobile trading experience in terms of features and functionality.

range of Offerings

Vanguard and TDA sell equities, bonds, options, OTCBB, robo-advisory services, and thousands the no-load, no-fee shared funds. TDA also supports commerce in futures, futures options, Bitcoin futures, and forex, providing it the wider range of offerings.

Vanguard vs. TD Ameritrade variety of Offerings
AssetVanguardTD Ameritrade
Short Sales YesYes
No-Load, No-Fee mutual Funds 3,100+4,300
Bonds YesYes
Futures/Commodities NoYes (futures only)
Futures Options NoYes
Complex Options 2 legs4+ legs
Robo AdvisoryYesYes
Cryptocurrency NoBitcoin futures only
International ExchangesNo1 (Canada)
Forex NoYes
Fractional Shares Only via dividend reinvestmentNo
OTCBB and also Penny StocksYesYes

Order varieties

Predictably, Vanguard supports only the order species that buy-and-hold investor traditionally use, consisting of market, limit, and also stop-limit orders. You can select particular tax too many (including partial shares within a lot) to sell, yet you can't phase orders for later entry. TDA supplies a larger choice of bespeak types, consisting of all the usual suspects, plus trailing stops, and conditional orders favor OCOs. There room no restrictions on order species on the cell phone platform, and you can stage orders for later on entry throughout all platforms.

Trading an innovation

Vanguard walk not use smart stimulate routing technology, and customers can't path their orders. Still, the broker reports an mean net price advancement of $0.0159 every share for eligible marketable orders. We did not find any type of ready details around Vanguard's execution speed, yet keep in mental its target client is playing the long video game (and won't it is in concerned about nanoseconds). Although its method to routing is basic compared to countless other brokers, it scores clues for not accepting payment because that order flow.

TDA's order routing algorithm watch for rapid execution and price improvement. Third-party execution top quality statistics present an execution speed of 0.05 seconds and an mean net price improvement of $1.75 per 100 shares. Unlike Vanguard, TDA does expropriate payment because that order flow: $0.0012 per equity share and $0.55 per alternatives contract.

While Vanguard comes the end ahead in regards to payment for order circulation (by no accepting it), TDA is the overall winner in trading technology because the its smart order routing technology.


Vanguard and also TDA fee $0 commissions for digital stock, ETF, and choices trades because that U.S.-based customers. TDA has a $0.65 every contract alternative fee; it's $1 in ~ Vanguard. Because that OTCBB/penny stock trades, Vanguard dues $0, and you'll pay a level rate the $6.95 at TDA. Common funds that fall external the no-transaction-fee household cost in between $0 and $20 at Vanguard (depending on your account balance) and also a reasonably steep $49.99 with TDA. Finally, broker-assisted trades price $25 in ~ TDA and also between $0 and $25 in ~ Vanguard, depending on your account balance.

Overall, Vanguard is considerably cheaper if mutual funds or OTCBB/penny stocks are your focus. Alternatively, you could save money at TDA if you trade a lot of options. The costs are the exact same if friend are mainly looking at stocks and ETFs, do this category too close to call.

Account and Research Amenities

Vanguard and TD Ameritrade market screeners because that stocks, ETFs, solved income, and also mutual funds, yet only TDA has one because that options. TDA's screeners are additionally considerably much more robust and customizable. Both brokers additionally offer assorted news sources—but right here again, TDA comes the end ahead in regards to offerings.

Vanguard's charting capabilities space limited, and there's no technical analysis. Vice versa, TDA offers advanced charting devices that should be an ext than adequate for many retail investors and also traders. Overall, TDA offers much more versatile account and also research amenities. Still, Vanguard scores point out for having a committed area ~ above its website because that socially responsible investing investing—something TDA lacks.

Portfolio analysis

Vanguard and TDA both provide accessibility to buying power and also margin information, to add unrealized and also realized gains. You can access tax reports (capital gains), view your interior rate of return (IRR), and also view aggregate holdings from exterior your account. Overall, the portfolio evaluation offerings at the two brokers space too similar to pick a clean winner.

education and learning

The focus of Vanguard's educational contents is to help you set and reach her financial goals. Lot of the contents is in the kind of articles. That said, you'll likewise find commentary and also research papers, videos, and webcasts on investment products, retirement, market news, gaue won planning, and also the economy.

TDA provides articles, videos, and webinars, and it hosts an ext than 1,500 live events each year. A range of immersive courses covers an easy investing and trading ideas, to add a few advanced topics. Overall, TDA comes the end ahead as result of its breadth that topics and beginner-friendly content.

Customer company

At Vanguard, phone support (customer service and also brokers) is available from 8 a.m. Come 8 p.m. (Eastern) Monday v Friday. Live chat isn't supported, but you can send a secure article via the website. Vanguard also maintains a visibility on Twitter and also responds come queries within an hour or so.

TDA supplies 24/7 call support and also chatbots on Twitter, facebook Messenger, Apple company Chat, and WeChat (in Asia). Live chat is supported on that is app, and also a virtual client service agent, ask Ted, gives automated assistance online. Overall, TDA's customer service is more flexible with greater availability. You can count on reliable aid from one of two people broker, but TDA has actually a clean edge once it involves customer service.


Vanguard and also TDA's security is up to market standards. You can log into either broker's app with biometric (face or fingerprint) recognition, and both brokers protect against account losses because of unauthorized or fraudulent activity.

Vanguard's overabundance Securities Investor protection Corporation (SIPC) insurance gives each client with $49.5 million for securities and also a cash border of $1.9 million every customer. TDA's customers are covered through $149.5 million precious of security for securities and $2 million of security for cash.

Through Sept. 2021, no brokerage had actually any far-ranging data breaches report by the identity Theft study Center. Overall, investors have the right to be i was sure in the protection standards of one of two people broker.

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Our verdict

In our 2021 ideal Online Brokers reviews, TD Ameritrade earned greater scores 보다 Vanguard in every category we ranked. To it is in fair, that isn't straightforward to compare 2 brokers that have such distinct business models and also target customers. Vanguard is a niche player constructed exclusively v buy and also hold investors in mind, comparable to how some brokerages have zeroed in on choices traders. TD Ameritrade is a generalist aiming to serve new investors all the method to advanced traders top top its thinkorswim platform. 

Overall, however, buy-and-hold investor who value simplicity and want access to some of the best (and shortest cost) accumulation in the organization may still favor Vanguard as the constraints of the platform won’t take away from their main purpose of developing a low-cost, diversified portfolio. That said, TD Ameritrade deserve to do all points Vanguard have the right to do—and lot more. Overall, TD Ameritrade is the better choice whether you're a beginning of the person who desires a broad selection of educational contents or an active trader or investor looking for a more robust trade experience.