TD Ameritrade 100+ Commission-Free ETF List & Details

Updated. I’m a TD Ameritrade accountholder now, and have updated this post with more details and tips.

Since 2010, large online brokerage firm TD Ameritrade has been offering a list of over 100 ETFs that can be traded with no commission if you hold them for at least 30 days. The list is based on advice from Morningstar as to which 100 ETFs that would be most useful for long-term investors to build a ETF portfolio.

The current 100 ETFs that make the list include 48 from iShares, 32 from Vanguard, 12 from State Street, a few selected ETFs from Barclays, Deutsche Bank, PIMCO, Powershare, Van Eck, and WisdomTree. You can view the entire list here [pdf]. You must enroll and accept a special set of terms to get the free trades, because if you don’t hold the ETF for 30 days, they will charge you a short-term trading fee of $19.99. If you don’t enroll, your commissions will be charged at the standard price of $9.99.

I recently opened a TDA account for my new model portfolio and in my haste to make trades, I forgot to enroll in the commission-free ETF program. I wish it was part of the application process, but you have to open, fund, navigate to “Home” > “My Profile”, and then enroll manually. I contacted TD Ameritrade about my mistake, and they refunded 60% of the charged commissions. I can’t complain as it was my own mistake, but this would have been a glowing review of their customer service if they refunded the whole thing as it was my first day using the account. Not a big deal, just learn from me and please don’t make the same bonehead mistake! After enrolling, you should see this confirmation box:

(Follow-up: After filling out a customer service survey, TD Ameritrade called me up and offered to credit back those last 2 free trades or offer me 5 future free trades. Since I only plan on using the commission-free trades, I took the $20 credit.)

Going over the list, I think overall they did a good job including all the most popular ETFs from a variety of ETF firms. Notably missing for some is a gold ETF like GLD.

Selected Vanguard ETFs

Stocks
Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI)
Vanguard Small Cap ETF (VB)
Vanguard Small Cap Value ETF (VBR)
Vanguard Value ETF (VTV)

Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US ETF (VEU)
Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Small Cap ETF (VSS)
Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (VWO)

Vanguard REIT Index ETF (VNQ)
Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (VIG)
Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index ETF (VYM)

Bonds
Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND)
Vanguard Short-Term Bond ETF (BSV)
Vanguard Intermediate-Term Bond ETF (BIV)
Vanguard Long-Term Bond ETF (BLV)
Vanguard Intermediate-Term Corporate Bond ETF (VCIT)

Other Selected ETFs

iShares Barclays TIPS Bond (TIP)
iShares Barclays 1-3 Year Treasury Bond (SHY)
iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund (TLT)
S&P SmallCap 600 Value Index (IJS)
SPDR Dow Jones REIT ETF (RWR)
SPDR DB International Government Inflation-Protected Bond ETF (WIP)
PowerShares DB Commodity Index Tracking Trust (DBC)

TD Ameritrade does edit the free-commission list occasionally to add new ETFs and/or drop others. So far, the only ETFs dropped are the ones with low assets and/or trading volume or the trendy ones that people get bored with. For example, the ETFs be dropped on November 20, 2012 include PowerShares DB Commodity Long ETN (DPU), iShares Russell Microcap Index (IWC), Barclays GEMS Index (JEM), and iPath Optimized Currency Carry ETN (ICI). Recent additions to the list include the PIMCO 1-5 Year US TIPS Index ETF (STPZ), iShares S&P 100 Index (OEF), Market Vectors EM Local Currency Bond ETF (EMLC), and PowerShares DB G10 Currency Harvest (DBV). I think if you stick with the popular index ETFs listed above, you’ll be fine.

Current New Account Promotions
Right now, TD Ameritrade will also offer you 60 days of free trades if you open a new individual, joint, or IRA account by 3/31/2013 and fund it within 60 days of account opening with $2,000 or more. If you fund it with $25,000+, you’ll get $100 cash as well. $100,000 funding = $300 cash. $250,000 funding = $600 cash. Note that unlike many other similar offers, this one includes IRAs and thus rollover IRAs from 401k plans.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the heads-up, but I was overall disappointed with the list. It has only one (VWO) of the five biggest ETFs (SPY, GLD, VWO, EEM, EFA) and only five of the top 10. Some of the missing ETFs have reasonable equivalents, but others do not. The most significant omissions without replacements are the Qs (QQQQ) and gold (GLD). How exactly did Morningstar plan to build a portfolio without these?

  2. If you can meet the $25k for the waiver, I think that Wells Fargo’s PMA/WellsTrade combination is a better choice for investors.

  3. I’ve been an Ameritrade client since around 1998, and last month I bought a couple of their commission-free ETFs across multiple accounts. However, I missed the fact that you had to enroll in the program ahead of time… I saw that I was charged $9.99 for each trade, but thought maybe it would be credited back to my account after 30 days.

    Well, more than 30 days later I was never refunded the commissions, so I sent a message to Ameritrade client services asking, “What gives?” To their credit, they responded quickly and explained how to enroll: Under the “Home” tab up top, click on “My Profile” and then click on “Enroll” next to “Commission-Free ETFs.” You’ll have to agree to some terms & conditions, but then you’re instantly enrolled.

    They also said they’ll refund me those commissions, which I sort of expected since I’m an Apex client. But I still appreciated the gesture!

  4. @Ken Feyl – Isn’t QQQQ more of a actively-traded ETF rather than a buy-and-hold? I don’t know very many people owning that long-term. There are pretty good equivalents for SPY and EFA on the list, and VWO is probably better than EEM for buy-and-hold. Again, these are not meant for trading, they’re just trying to cover each sector for long-term investors.

    @sechs – Yes, Wellstrade offer is good for balances greater than $25,000, but you must put in the effort to keep an active checking account with them, they’re rather strict on that. If you bank at Wells Fargo it’s a great deal.

    @Scott – Thanks for the info. I can’t believe I did the same thing!

  5. I use the following commission free ETFs:

    VTI
    VGK
    EWJ
    VWO
    VNQ
    RWX
    VGIT
    VGLT
    DBC
    GLD (not free but important enough for me to pay)

    Every six weeks I buy the top half by six month returns. If any of them are below the 200DMA then I hold cash for that portion instead. I have a spreadsheet that allocates automatically and tells me how many shares to buy. Most of these have tight enough spreads that I just hit the ask on the buy and sell on the bid. I never buy/sell in the first or last hour of the day. Pretty simple system really, just takes about 5-10 minutes 8-9 times a year.

  6. Yeah the whole hoop to jump through for the commission free ETFs is absurd. I’m already an Ameritrade customer and my main account already was enrolled. I created a sub account recently to do something similar to what you’re doing with yours and never bothered to check that I was enrolled in that account since they use the same login and everything. Annoyingly I discovered I was charged commissions, despite having a decent amount with them for years they too would only refunded me 60%. In addition I noticed that quite a bit of the access and configuration for account features needed to be reauthorized by them.

    That’s one way to convert a happy complaint free customer to a bit annoyed customer.

  7. MB, could you share that spreadsheet? :) Send it to covax at conax net. Thanks

  8. pardon, that was covax at covax dot net

  9. Covax or MB, could you send me that spreadsheet as well? Send it to rha1@rice.edu

  10. MB
    Could you please share the spread sheet.

    Thanks

  11. Is there commission free efts in canada with TD Waterhouse? And if not why not ?

  12. hawaiimei says:

    Covax or MB, could you please send that spreadsheet to me as well? kiheiinfo at yahoo. Thank you.

  13. MB or Covax could you please send the spreadsheet to me at kimlarson587@gmail.com. Thanks!

Speak Your Mind

*