TD Ameritrade and Scottrade are two of the better-known discount stockbrokers. They offer a wide range of services and low commissions. Both companies were early innovators in both discount stock trading and Internet trading. It is important to compare costs and services before making a choice between the two.
An advantage that both TD Ameritrade and Scottrade have over stockbrokers with only Internet services is branch offices. Often it is easier and quicker to go to a branch and sign papers, deposit money or drop off stock certificates than to do so online. TD Ameritrade has offices in more than 40 major U.S. cities, and Scottrade has more than 300 local offices.
Before comparing commission rates, make sure the discount brokers have the services you need for your financial situation. Scottrade is primarily a brokerage company for regular and IRA accounts. It does offer free checking. In addition to trading tools, TD Ameritrade offers portfolio, tax and retirement planning tools.
These stockbrokers charge a single flat fee for any size of stock trade, buy or sell. The interactive phone trading is automated and does not include talking to a live person. Here are the stock trading commissions for the two companies:
TD Ameritrade Internet trade: £6.40 Interactive phone: £22.70 Broker assisted: £29.20
Scottrade Internet trade: £4 Interactive phone: £11 Broker-assisted: £17
Options trading is popular in discount stockbroker accounts. The commission for an options trade is the standard commission plus a per option contract fee. The option contract fee for TD Ameritrade is 75 cents and for Scottrade is 80p. Placing a five-contract Internet trade with TD Ameritrade would cost $.9.99 plus five times 75 cents, for a total of £8.90. The same trade with Scottrade would be £4 plus five times 80p, or a total of £8.60.
Options contract assignment or exercise costs £12.90 with TD Ameritrade and £11 with Scottrade.
Both brokers offer certain mutual funds with no transaction fees. For other no-load funds, TD Ameritrade charges a £32.40 commission, while Scottrade charges £11. Both companies offer certificates of deposit and bonds on a net yield basis. Margin account interest rates are very similar between the two brokers.
Both brokers charge similar fees for paper statements and confirmations, money wiring and account transfers. Check the costs before you request any of these services.