Fidelity: Introduction and Pros & Cons
Pro and Con
- No minimum deposit
- Help choosing assets
- Great telephone support
- FCA licensed
- Only offers stocks, ETFs and funds
Fidelity is a long standing broker founded all the way back in 1946 that is one of the best known trading and investment platforms in the US, although it’s also available in the UK and other countries around the world. UK users are served by Fidelity International, which was formed in 1980 and is headquartered in the UK.
Although it’s best known as a brokerage firm, Fidelity also offers investment management, financial planning, life insurance, retirement services and wealth management services. It also manages a large collection of mutual funds and index funds that you can invest in on the Fidelity platform.
As an investment and trading platform, Fidelity UK offers several options. There’s a huge range of shares and ETFs that you can trade with a share dealing account, and you can also invest in a variety of investment trusts. The platform also offers investment ISAs which allow you to invest tax-free up to £20,000.
Fidelity is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts and employs more than 50,000 people around the world. As of 2017, it had a revenue of $18.2 billion, an operating income of $6.9 billion, and $3.3 trillion assets under management, making it one of the largest asset managers in the world.
TD Ameritrade: Introduction and Pros & Cons
Pro and Con
- Secure, trusted broker
- Help choosing assets
- Zero commission stocks and ETFs
- Multiple trading platforms
Like Fidelity, TD Ameritrade is one of the oldest and most popular US brokers. It was founded in 1971, initially as a central counterparty clearing broker, and has risen to become highly popular around the world, with over 12 million client accounts as of 2020.
TD Ameritrade offers a wide range of assets, including common stocks, preferred stocks, futures, ETFs, forex, options, cryptocurrency and mutual funds, so you can trade and invest in just about anything on the platform! It also offers fixed income investments, margin lending, and cash management services.
TD Ameritrade is part of the Charles Schwab Corporation, which owns Charles Scwab, another long-standing, widely used US broker. The Charles Schwab Corporation acquired TD Ameritrade in 2020 in a $22 billion deal. Charles Schwab has stated that it intends to merge TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab into a single broker over the next few years.
The company is headquartered in Westlake, Texas and employs over 9,000 people across the world. As of 2018, TD Ameritrade had a revenue of $5.45 billion, an operating income of $1,998 billion, and a net income of $1,473 billion.
TD Ameritrade currently doesn’t offer services to UK users, so you’d need to be located in a different country or use a VPN to access its services.
Usability, Look and Feel – Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade Site Design
Fidelity and TD Ameritrade may be two of the oldest brokers around, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at their websites. Both have very modern, intuitive platforms that make trading and investing on them a very pleasant experience.
Fidelity goes for a clean, professional blue and white colour scheme. The platform is excellently well laid out, making it easy to use for both beginners and more experienced traders and investors. All the main menu links are easily navigable and you can search for assets in seconds using the search function.
If we had one criticism of the Fidelity platform in terms of usability, it’s that it’s not very customisable and you can’t set price alert notifications. Fidelity also has a mobile app trading platform for iOS and Android, which is very well designed and user-friendly like the web platform.
TD Ameritrade is similarly well designed, using a nice green and white colour scheme. Both the mobile app and web platform are professionally laid out so they’re easy to use, allowing you to navigate to wherever you need in just a few simple clicks.
As well as the standard TD Ameritrade web platform and app, which is designed for stock and ETF investing, the broker also offers the thinkorswim platform. This is a more advanced platform, developed in-house by TD Ameritrade, that’s available for web, desktop and mobile. This offers more products than the standard platform, such as forex and futures.
TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim platform goes for a black colour scheme and has a range of advanced technical research tools, including charting, research and third-party analysis. This is a very professional, customisable software that may seem more intimidating to beginners and casual traders but will be loved by more experienced users. Check out our eToro vs Plus500 review to find out about the usability of two other major brokers.
Payments – Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade Payment Options
Fidelity offers a pretty decent range of payments. These include electronic funds transfer (EFT), wire transfer, Venmo, PayPal, and you can also pay by check, either by mailing a paper check or by mobile upload. TD Ameritrade offers a similar but more limited range of payment methods: electronic bank deposit (ACH), wire transfer, and by mailing or uploading a check.
Our Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade broker comparison guide found that one main difference between the two is that Fidelity accepts electronic wallets like Venmo and PayPal. PayPal particularly is a big draw for traders and investors as it’s an incredibly quick, easy, cheap and secure way to deposit and withdraw funds.
As you can see, these older brokers don’t offer a wider range of payment methods as more modern online CFD brokers. Not many millennials will deposit by check, although the mobile upload option is a faster, cheaper alternative for investors that do. However, even mobile upload checks can still take a few working days for the funds to actually hit your account.
Neither Fidelity nor TD Ameritrade charge any fees for making deposits. Fidelity doesn’t charge for withdrawals, either, and TD Ameritrade only charges for wire transfer withdrawals, the fee being $25.
Our TD Ameritrade vs Fidelity comparison found that at both brokers, the deposit and withdrawal limits depend on your chosen banking method. Processing times also vary, with both brokers generally taking one to three working days to process withdrawals.
You should also bear in mind that while Fidelity accepts accounts in GBP, TD Ameritrade only accepts USD, meaning your deposits and withdrawals may be subject to currency conversion fees. For more comparisons of brokers, you can head to our Webull vs Robinhood comparison page – see how two other brokers fair against one another.
Customer Service – Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade Customer Support
Fidelity offers two customer service contact options: message and phone. In contrast, TD Ameritrade only seems to offer support via phone. Fidelity’s UK call centre is open 9am – 4.30pm Monday to Friday, and 9am – 2pm on Saturdays. TD Ameritrade doesn’t make clear the call centre opening times.
It’s great that both brokers offer telephone support, as this is something many “new age” online brokers don’t. Though it’s worth bearing in mind that this is part of the reason why the likes of Fidelity and TD Ameritrade are more expensive than some other new online brokers.
Both Fidelity and TD Ameritrade also have online ‘help centres’ where you can find answers to many common issues and frequently asked questions.
Fidelity has UK and Ireland based support teams, and it also offers support in a number of different languages. TD Ameritrade has a dedicated support number for international clients and it also has support lines in Spanish and Chinese.
Fidelity International has mostly positive reviews on the UK branch of Trustpilot. Overall, it has a four-star ‘Great’ rating from over 1,600 reviews. There are numerous reviews praising the customer service – for example, one user describes the support team as ‘unfailingly clear and efficient’, while another praises the ‘professional service’ that’s ‘always helpful and prepared to spend time to sort out queries’.
TD Ameritrade has considerably worse reviews on Trustpilot UK, although it also has a lot less reviews, probably due to the fact that it’s not easily accessible in the UK. It has a ‘Bad’ rating with one-and-a-half stars, with one user claiming they had to wait over 50 minutes to speak to a customer service representative on the phone.
Neither broker charges fees for accessing customer support, though bear in mind that your phone network provider may charge you for calls.
License & Security – Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade, Who Is More Secure?
Fidelity and TD Ameritrade are both very long-standing, well known broker platforms that are safe and secure to use.
Fidelity International, the branch that provides trading and investing services in the UK, is licensed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA is the UK’s top-tier regulatory authority, which shows that Fidelity is a very secure platform.
As it’s regulated by the FCA, Fidelity users are protected up to £85,000 in case the company ever became insolvent. It also means client funds are held in secure, segregated accounts. Fidelity is also licensed by numerous other regulatory bodies around the world, including in the US.
In contrast, TD Ameritrade isn’t licensed by a UK regulator. Instead, it’s licensed by several top-tier US regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
All TD Ameritrade customers are protected by the Securities Investor Protection Commission (SIPC). This means that, if the broker were to ever go bust, you’d be protected up to $500,00 and $250,000 in cash. This is actually a higher amount than most national investor protection schemes provide.
Our TD Ameritrade vs Fidelity comparison found that the US branch of Fidelity is also licensed by SEC and FINRA and is a member of SIPC, providing US clients the same protection as Fidelity does.
Fidelity isn’t listed on any stock exchange and the company discloses only limited financial information. In contrast, TD Ameritrade is publicly traded and listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange, meaning it releases regular, transparent financial statements. TD Ameritrade also has a banking license, another sign that it’s a highly secure, trustable platform.
Spread – Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade
The trading fees charged by Fidelity and Ameritrade vary a lot depending on the asset you’re trading. Both are both known for their stock trading services, so let’s start with that.
Fidelity charges a flat £10 fee for every deal you trade online. If you’re making deals as part of a regular savings or withdrawal plan, or for a reinvestment of income or dividend, the fee is £1.50.
There is also an annual service fee of 0.35% for accounts less than £7,500 and between $7,500 and £250,000, 0.20% for accounts between £250,000 and £1 million, with no fee for accounts over £1 million.
In contrast, TD Ameritrade offers zero commission stock and ETF trading. It also offers zero commission on online options trades, with a contract fee of just $0.65. Bear in mind that the zero commission only applies to US-listed stocks – the TD Ameritrade website does not make it clear what fees apply to international stocks.
The fees for funds on Fidelity are charged by the companies that manage them and start from 0.05%. Some funds may also have a bid/ask spread, a performance fee and a fund manager buy or sell charge. TD Ameritrade offers mutual funds with zero commission for load funds and a $49.99 fee for no-load funds.
In addition to stocks and ETFs, TD Ameritrade offers futures and forex. For futures, there is a $2.25 fee per contract plus exchange and regulatory fees. For forex, there’s no commission, but you do pay a bid/ask spread. This varies depending on the currency pair you’re trading.
Our TD Ameritrade vs Fidelity comparison found that unlike Fidelity, TD Ameritrade doesn’t charge any account management fees. To see how TD Ameritrade and Fidelity compare to two other popular brokers in terms of fees, take a look at our Plus500 vs Trading 212 comparison.
Conclusion – The Verdict on Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade
Although Fidelity and TD Ameritrade are two of America’s longest standing brokers, they’re actually very different in a lot of ways, so you need to consider what exactly you’re looking in for a broker when deciding which is best suited to you.
For starters, while both are best known for their stock and ETF investing options, their other trading and investment products are very different. Fidelity offers stocks and shares ISAs whereas TD Ameritrade doesn’t, so if you’re a UK user looking to invest in stocks via an ISA, Fidelity is the one you want.
On the other hand, the likes of forex, options and futures are only available on TD Ameritrade, so that’s the go-to platform if you’re looking to trade those assets. TD Ameritrade also offers the thinkorswim trading platform, which is packed with advanced analysis tools centred on these assets.
In terms of fees, TD Ameritrade is on the whole cheaper, as Fidelity charges £10 per trade whereas TD Ameritrade offers zero commission on US-listed stocks and ETFs. Fidelity also charges an annual account fee whereas TD Ameritrade does not.
Both of these sites are secure and licensed brokers, so you needn’t worry about your safety on either platform. Although it is worth noting that Fidelity is licensed by the FCA, the UK’s primarily regulatory, whereas TD Ameritrade is mainly licensed by US bodies.
The two platforms both rank very highly in terms of look and usability, so there’s not much to separate them here. Fidelity has the edge in payments due to it offering e-wallet options like PayPal, whereas TD Ameritrade is more limited. Both offer telephone customer service, although Fidelity’s service has considerably better reviews on Trustpilot.
Ultimately, whether Fidelity or TD Ameritrade is best for you depends on what exactly you’re looking for in a broker. We recommend carefully weighing up the pros and cons of each to help make the right decision for you.
Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade FAQ
Is Fidelity or TD Ameritrade better for stocks?
There are loads of online stock brokers around these days, so finding the best one isn’t always easy. Fidelity and TD Ameritrade are decent options, but to find which is best for you, we recommend reading our review to learn more about each broker. You can also read our eToro vs Trading 212 comparison to learn more about two other popular stock brokers.
Is Fidelity cheaper than TD Ameritrade?
Finding a broker with low fees is always important, but as there are so many different fees to consider, it’s not always easy. In our Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade comparison, we analyse all the fees at each broker so you can choose the cheapest option.
What are the Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade trading hours?
Many traders like to check the trading hours a broker offers before signing up as some offer extended trading hours. In our Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade comparison guide, we cover both brokers’ trading hours to help you make your decision.
Is Fidelity or TD Ameritrade better for day trading?
Day trading is one of the most popular strategies among online traders, and there are many day trading brokers to choose from. If you’re stuck between Fidelity and TD Ameritrade, you should check out our latest review, where we explore the Fidelity vs TD Ameritrade day trading experience.