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Written by Matthew Cerminaro on February 18, 2021
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TD Ameritrade vs Public 2021: Best Trading App?

Online brokers are flooding the financial services industry, offering up their services to eager investors looking to get their money put to work through the stock market.

As a beginner, it can be intimidating to choose which to use. There are a multitude of options to choose from and this is an important decision.

Today we are going to break down TD Ameritrade vs Public, two of the hottest brokers in the industry today. By reviewing the features, fees, pros, and cons of each online broker, we hope that this article helps you in determining whether TD or Public is a better fit for you.

TD Ameritrade vs Public: The Basics

TD Ameritrade is a stock trading platform tailored towards shorter-term buying and selling. TD has been around for decades and is one of the most well-known apps out there when it comes to trading. In addition to stocks, they also offer a number of other assets and account types.

Public is a newer investing app that takes a simpler approach. Instead of tailoring their platform towards short-term traders, Public aims to provide long-term investors with the tools they need. They also bring a unique mix of social media features to the investing space.

Both apps allow investors to invest in the stock market. However, they both take a very different approach and focus on a different audience. This review will break down the core features of Public vs TD Ameritrade to help you decide which is best.

Product Features Overall Price Buy Now
td ameritrade review

TD Ameritrade Review 2021: Best Brokerage Platform?

  • ThinkorSwim
  • Stock Research
  • Customer Support
  • Low Fees & Commissions
  • Assets
Download TD Ameritrade
Public Brokerage Review

Public App Review 2021: Best Investing App?

  • Pricing
  • Beginner Friendly
  • Account Types
  • Sign Up Incentive
  • Social Investing
  • Research/Data Tools
Invest With Public

Public vs TD Ameritrade: Summary

  • Both brokers offer $0 commissions on stocks and ETFs
  • Public does not offer options trading
  • TD offers options, mutual funds, bonds, and a host of other asset classes you won't find on Public
  • TD has a highly technical trading platform called ThinkorSwim
  • Public's group messaging lets users collaborate on investment ideas
  • Public has fractional shares so you do not have to commit to full stocks/ETFs
  • TD offers a multitude of different account types including retirement and custodial accounts
  • Both brokers have well-regarded customer service lines
  • Both Public and TD let you reinvest dividends through their DRIP program 
FeaturePublicTD Ameritrade
Commissions$0 for stocks & ETFs$0 for stocks, ETFs, and options (plus 4,100 mutual funds without transaction fees)
Fractional SharesYesNo
Physical BranchesNoYes
Educational Resources LowHigh
Tradable SecuritiesStocks & ETFsStocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, ETFs, Options, Futures, Forex, Foreign ADRs, and IPOs for Qualified Accounts
Account Minimums$0$0
Social InvestingYesNo
Free Stock PromotionsYes (free $10)No
Best ForLong-Term InvestorsAdvanced Traders

Offer valid for U.S. residents 18+ and subject to account approval. See Public.com/disclosures/.

What Is TD Ameritrade?

TD Ameritrade Logo

TD Ameritrade is an online broker that offers stock trading services to its users. As you take a closer look at TD, however, you discover many features that differentiated it from its peers. Before we get into some of these unique features, let's take look at the company's mission statement to find out what TD is all about!

TD Ameritrade Mission

TD Ameritrade's mission is for all of its users to become financially free. Its high-quality features and trading services serve to make this mission a reality for its users. Here are some of TD's most notable features so you can get a better handle on just how the company is enhancing the financial freedom of its users.

TD Ameritrade Features

TD Ameritrade's features are what make the online broker such a popular choice. And it is not one specific feature that sets TD apart! It is a culmination of them all. From competitive pricing to investing programs to a tactical trading platform, TD truly has it all!

Educational Resources

TD Ameritrade's educational resources can be found on the company website and accessed free of charge! Simply open up a brokerage account and you can take advantage of the informational videos and courses that TD offers. From personal experience, I have taken TD's courses on technical and fundamental analysis and can attest to the broker's expertise. Much of my foundational learning about the stock market came from TD's courses, and you can participate as well!

$0 Account Minimum

Speaking of opening a brokerage account with TD Ameritrade, you can do it too with no account minimum! That's right, whether you are a very large investor or simply want to open an account with no money, TD is accommodative of both! There will also be no commissions on any stock or ETF trades.

td ameritrade UI

Tactical Trading Platform

ThinkorSwim is TD Ameritrade's tactical trading platform and can be downloaded by TD users. Once downloaded, you can analyze stock charts, conduct technical analysis, and get an upper hand on the market! Get real-time stock quotes for free simply by calling TD's customer service number and asking for real-time quotes. Without contacting TD, your platform will be delayed 15 minutes to real-time market prices.

Mobile App

TD Ameritrade's mobile app simplifies all of TD's features and can conveniently be downloaded from the Apple or Google Play stores. Access real-time quotes, trading capabilities, account history information, and so much more on TD's mobile app!

Stock Research

TD Ameritrade offers stock research from highly regarded companies. From Morningstar to Credit Suisse, TD offers top research firms' reports and once again, free of charge! Analyze price targets, credit ratings, and more all on TD!

TD Ameritrade Fees

TD Ameritrade does its best to keep fees low, but nevertheless, there are still some that you should be aware of. Here are some of the most important fees to keep an eye on when opening a brokerage account!

Options Contract Fees

You can buy and sell options contracts on TD Ameritrade, but it will come at a $0.65 extra cost per contract. While this is different than its no-commission stock/ETF trading policy, you can find comfort in the fact that not many other brokers offer no commissions on options! If you are looking for a broker with no extra fees for options contracts, however, TD may not be the best choice for you.

Over The Phone Trades

If you are looking to do an over-the-phone stock, option, or ETF trade, this service will cost you an extra $25 per transaction. This goes for both buys and sells. While this may be steep for some, if you are making a big trade, the extra assistance from a broker may be well worth the extra fee.

TD Ameritrade Pros

  • Purchase individual stocks and ETFs commission-free
  • Stock reports from well-regarded research firms
  • $0 commissions on stocks and ETFs
  • Tactical trading platform in ThinkorSwim
  • Dividend Reinvestment Program (DRIP)
  • Voted #1 broker by Investopedia
  • A vast array of educational resources
  • $0 account minimum
  • Mobile app simplifies the TD experience

TD Ameritrade Cons

  • No fractional shares offered
  • Pricy over the phone trades
  • Not an automated investing service (good or bad depending on what you are looking for)
  • Intimidating interface for beginners

What Is Public?

Public is an online broker that is mainly focused on investor collaboration. Public is unique as it is not just an online broker, but also a social network of like-minded individuals seeking to increase their financial well-being.

The app has stock-specific channels and a main feed where investors can view the investments that their friends are making as well as follow top investors they look up to.

Let's take a look at Public's mission for its users!

Public's Mission

Public's main mission is to make the stock market social. Public aims to make its platform as collaborative as possible so investors can share their wisdom with one another to be mutually beneficial. By building a community of investors, Public hopes that all of its users will eventually attain their financial goals and well-being.

Public Features

Public's features make it operate like a traditional broker with a few twists. The difference with Public, as opposed to TD Ameritrade, is that it doubles as a social outlet for investors to speak their opinions and share ideas. Let's take a look at some of Public's features!

Fractional Investing

Public gives its users the ability to buy "slices" of stock instead of committing to full shares. This is different than TD which requires its users to buy complete shares of stock. With as little as $5, you can buy a "slice" of any stock or ETF that Public offers. You may find this feature particularly attractive if you are a smaller investor looking to diversify amongst many securities that may be pricy.

By taking advantage of this feature, the stock price is no longer a factor keeping stocks like Google and Amazon out of reach.

Group Messaging

You can join groups on Public to explain your own strategies and learn from others. By allowing users to network with others, ideas can flourish, and much can be learned from other's experiences!

Public Brokerage top movers and losers

Public Investment Themes

Within the Public app, you have access to buy and sell thousands of different stocks and ETFs. Also included in their investment selection are investing themes.

These allow investors to participate in larger trends that they believe in for the long-term. In essence, these are collections of stocks that all share a similar underlying theme.

For example, the "Women in Charge" is a collection of companies where women serve as the CEO. "Future Ed" on the other hand focuses on companies that are reimagining the education system.

There are dozens of these themes to choose from which can make the investing process simpler for beginners.

Public Fees

While yes Public has a low fee structure, there are still some fees that you should be aware of if you decide to open up a brokerage account with the company.

Over The Phone Trades

Similar to TD, Public offers over-the-phone trades for its users. The only difference lies within the Public's commission structure, charging $30 as opposed to TD's $25. This number may be steep for some, so make sure you understand this before making any over-the-phone trades through the broker!

Paper Statements

While Public does offer online paperwork, if you prefer paper statements you'll have to pay up. If you do decide to elect for paper statements, this will cost you $35. This number includes the shipping of the paperwork and the actual cost of the materials to your door. Instead, you can elect for online forms to save both your wallet and the environment!

Public Pros

  • No commissions on stocks and ETFs
  • Group chats allow users to collaborate on stock ideas and share wisdom
  • Fractional stock trading
  • Investment themes make it easier to find investments
  • No account minimums
  • Limited fee structure
  • Well-regarded customer support

Public Cons

  • No options offered
  • Not a tactical trading platform
  • Low automation (may be pro or con depending on your interests)

The Final Verdict: TD Ameritrade vs Public

To wrap up, it is no doubt that TD Ameritrade and Public deserve the attention they are getting from investors. With both brokers offering world-renowned services at cheap prices, investors using both platforms can experience quality without having to pay up.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to your personal interests in an online broker. If you are interested in a highly tactical trading platform to execute your investment ideas and are not seeking the help of others, TD may be a great option. If instead you are new to the industry and would love some extra ideas and guidance from others in your position, Public is a great choice.

Both platforms are free though so you are free to try out both for yourself to determine which you prefer.

No matter what you decide, we at Investing Simple hope the information here will help you make the right decision in your determination of an online broker.

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td ameritrade vs public
Article written by Matthew Cerminaro
Matt is currently attending Union College pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He participates in the student investment fund and is a member of the Union College football team. Matt runs his own personal finance Instagram page and market-related blog where he writes about economics and general wealth accumulation tips.

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