You’ve probably heard about TD Ameritrade, and maybe you’ve even considered opening an account. But you might be surprised to learn that there are restrictions in place for who can actually open an account.
I’ll take you through some of TD Ameritrade’s account basics and provide you with other options that might fit your needs.
Can a TD Ameritrade Account Get Opened in Canada?
A Canadian can’t open a TD Ameritrade account. While TD Ameritrade has some very enticing options for American investors, it is a platform for Americans.
But Canadians aren’t totally left out, they can sign up with TD Direct Investing, one of Canada’s first online brokerages.
The original Ameritrade company was founded in 1971. In 2006, it acquired TD Waterhouse’s U.S. operations from Toronto-Dominion (TD) Bank. The whole thing was renamed TD Ameritrade.
A great alternative for Canadians that want to open a TD Ameritrade account is TD Direct Investing. TD Direct Investing is a popular trading platform used to trade stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. The company is a division of TD Waterhouse Canada, a subsidiary of TD Bank, Canada’s largest bank-based on assets managed.
Because the company is Canada’s first online broker and has a big bank attached to its name (TD Bank), it’s an attractive option for many investors. However, with the advent of other non-bank brokerages, the fees and overall platform aren’t always as advantageous as some of the more modern companies.
TD Direct Investing Features
Investors will find plenty of account options available for trading and investing, including:
- Cash accounts
- Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP)
- Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP)
- Life Income Funds (LIF)
- Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA)
In addition to its accounts, TD Direct Investing offers an online trading platform, mobile app, and its popular thinkorswim platform. However, Reddit users claim the thinkorswim platform available to Canadians lacks many features of their American counterpart.
While the American-Canadian platform differences give some customers a headache, many are happy to invest with TD Direct Investing because they can invest in U.S. stocks. For some, this means diversifying their portfolio while investing in some of the most successful companies in the world.
If you already have a registered account and want to invest in U.S. stock, TD Direct can automatically convert currencies for you. There are other ways, like using U.S. dollars or trading stock on margin, but all have the same end result – investing in U.S. stocks.
TD Direct Investing is pricier than other low-cost platforms due to its flat rates. The fees get broken down into two categories – either standard or active trader. An active trader is considered one who performs 150 or more trades per quarter.
The TD website lists the prices as follows:
In addition to trading fees, TD Direct Investing charges a monthly maintenance fee of $25 per quarter if your account balance is less than $15,000. There are ways to waive the fee, like maintaining a higher balance or incurring three or more commission-driven trades in the past quarter.
You can apply for an account online, either through a mobile device or on your desktop computer.
- If you already have an account with TD, enter your information to save time and prepopulate the application. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to enter some personal information and pick the account you want to get started.
- After you select the account, you’ll see which information you need to keep handy (i.e. bank account number and social insurance number).
- Once you enter all your information, you’ll need to confirm your identity based on your credit bureau profile. You may also need to upload a copy of your government-issued ID.
- Next up is a series of questions, including employment history and financial information. Other simple questions follow, like billing setup, as well as reviewing account information.
- Finally, you can set up WebBroker online access to use as soon as your account is approved.
If you need additional help, you can always access their customer service hotline or watch this video for tips on applying.
TD Direct Investing isn’t the only brokerage where Canadians can invest in the U.S. stock market. These days, there are many options to choose from, and most of those options are cheaper than TD. Here’s a look at some other companies that are great investing options that have a U.S dollar account:
Questrade offers a standard Self Directed Investing platform, one of the company’s most popular accounts. Taking control and building your own portfolio is simple and affordable. Here’s a look at the fees you’ll pay with this account.
- Stocks are as low as $.01 a share with a minimum charge of $4.95 and a max of $9.95.
- You can purchase ETFs for free, and charges only incur when you sell them. The selling cost is $.01 per share with a minimum charge of $4.95 and a max of $9.95.
- Options trading comes with a flat rate charge of $9.95 plus $1 per contract.
One of the most attractive options with Questrade is that Canadian investors can invest in U.S. stocks for a fair price. Both the NYSE and NASDAQ markets are available to investors.
Questrade was the first to offer a U.S. denominated RRSP. This allows investors to fund their accounts in U.S. dollars and even buy stocks and ETFs without additional currency conversion costs.
Qtrade is an online trading platform similar to Questrade. They offer services like stock trading, ETFs, options, and mutual funds. In addition, Qtrade offers a U.S. dollar account, but there is a $15 quarterly fee to maintain it.
Qtrade fees get broken down between their Investor and Investor Plus platform. The Investor platform includes all users, and fees are as follows:
- Mutual funds are free.
- Stocks cost $8.75.
- Options are $8.75 plus $1.25 per contract.
- Qtrade includes a selection of 100 ETFs you can trade for free. Anything not on the list costs $8.75.
You’re upgraded to the Investor Plus platform when you reach 150 trades per quarter or have $500,000. At this status, the fees are cheaper – including $6.95 for stocks and mutual funds not on the free 100 lists.
While Canadians can’t open a TD Ameritrade account, they can still enjoy the benefits of TD Direct Investing – the Canadian platform. Opening an account can provide you with access to U.S. markets, a great way to diversify your portfolio.
If you’re looking for more options to enter the U.S. markets, including platforms that include U.S. dollar accounts, Questrade and Qtrade are other choices to consider. If you’re having a hard time deciding, check out this comparison between the two.