How to Buy Stocks on TDAmeritrade – Step by Step Guide with Screenshots

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how to buy stocks on tdameritrade - a step by step guide

This article provides a step by step guide on how to buy stocks on TDAmeritrade. We’ll go through the end to end process of buying a stock from account opening to trading your first stock.

TDAmeritrade History and Background

The company was founded as Ameritrade in 1971. In 2006, Ameritrade acquired the US operations of TD Waterhouse from Toronto-Dominion Bank and was renamed TD Ameritrade. In 2020, TD Ameritrade was acquired by Charles Schwab. Over time, TDAmeritrade’s services and accounts will be integrated into Charles Schwab.

TDAmeritrade has:  

  • $0 commission trades
  • An industry leading research platform
  • Tons of educational products including podcasts, videos, webcasts, and articles
  • Sophisticated trading software for beginner and experienced investors

How to Buy Stocks on TDAmeritrade:

Step by Step Guide with Screenshots

Account Opening

Go to tdameritrade.com and click open an account.

tdameritrade open account

You need to select the type of account you would like to open. There are many options. For this walkthrough, we will select individual account which is also known as an individual brokerage account. TDAmeritrade does a great job at providing a description for all the different possible account types.

Common account types include:

Account TypeDescriptionTax Advantaged?Limits and Things You Should Know
IndividualStandard account with only one ownerNo; You are responsible to report earnings for each tax year-No age limits or required distributions

-Deposit to and withdraw from this account whenever you’d like
Traditional IRARetirement Account where you pay no tax on earnings until you make withdrawals in retirementContributions may be tax deductible-Contribute up to $6,000 in total among all your IRAs

-IRS penalties apply for withdrawals before age 59½ (unless it’s a qualified exception)

-After 59½, withdrawals are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate

-Required minimum distributions (RMDs) begin at age 72  
Roth IRARetirement savings account  funded with after-tax contributions; assets grow tax-free-Withdraw earnings tax- and penalty-free starting at age 59½, if the account is opened at least five years -Withdraw contributions tax- and penalty-free any time  -Contribute up to $6,000 in total among all your IRAs

-No required minimum distributions (RMDs)

-Contribute to a Roth IRA if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is below these limits: Tax year 2022: $204,000 if you file jointly, or $129,000 if you file as single. You can make a partial contribution if your AGI is under $214,000 (jointly) or $144,000 (single).      
Rollover IRARetirement Account – traditional IRA that holds assets you transfer from an employer retirement plan, such as a 401(k).Contributions may be tax deductible-Contribute up to $6,000 in total among all your IRAs

-IRS penalties apply for withdrawals before age 59½ (unless it’s a qualified exception)

-After 59½, withdrawals are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate

-Required minimum distributions (RMDs) begin at age 72  
Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)/Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA)Custodial account set up by an adult on behalf of a minor – All assets transfer to the beneficiary at the age of termination (18-25, depending on the state)  Not tax deferred; Taxes are based on the minor’s tax rate-No limits on annual contribution.
-Withdrawals must be for the minor’s benefit

-Custodian can be any adult; Minor must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident

The following is what the screen should look like on TDAmeritrade.

tdameritrade select account type

As you continue the account sign-up process, you’ll need to provide additional details. If you have another TDAmeritrade account, you can log in and TDAmeritrade will use your current information on file to prepopulate the application.

Some items you may need:

  • Your Social Security Number or ITIN
  • If you’re not a US Citizen or permanent resident, you’ll need your Foreign tax ID, passport or visa number
  • Your employer’s name, address, and phone number.
tdameritrade account opening process

You’ll need to provide your contact information, personal information, and some financial information. Review your submission and read the agreements.

If you don’t have an existing TDAmeritrade user ID and password, you’ll be asked to create a new login ID and password for your account.

Account Funding

When you log into TDAmeritrade with your login credentials, you’ll see your accounts. If you don’t have any money transferred to your account, the balance will be zero.

To fund your account, click My Account and then click Deposits and Transfers.

account funding tdameritrade

TDAmeritrade provides a few different ways to deposit money into your account.

The recommended approach is to transfer money from your bank via ACH. You’ll need to link your bank account to your TDAmeritrade account. It’s helpful to link to your bank, especially if you plan to make future deposits or recurring deposits.

Other methods of depositing money into your account include

  • Wire transfer – wire money from your bank or other financial institution into your account
  • Check Deposit – use the TDAmeritrade mobile app or mail a paper check
  • Account transfer – You can transfer an entire account or certain assets from another brokerage account
  • Physical stock certificate deposit – It’s possible to deposit paper stock certificates but this is not common
tdameritrade deposit account funding

If you have multiple TDAmeritrade accounts, you can also complete an internal transfer and move money between accounts.

Confirm Funds are in your Account

You can’t trade securities until your account has been funded. Depending on what method you used to deposit funds into your account, it could take a day or more. Log into your account and check your account value. When your fund transfer completes, proceed to the next step.

Research and Education

TDAmeritrade goes to great efforts to provide research and education resources for its customers. As an account holder, you can take advantage of this knowledge base.

The Research and Ideas tab in the top menu has lots of information to help you choose where to invest.

For individual stock, there’s reports and ratings where you can access recent research from investment professionals.

tdameritrade research example

TDAmeritrade is focused on investor education. Click Education on the top toolbar. You’ll gain access to education about stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, Forex, and other areas. There’s lots of videos, webcasts, and in person events to check out.

Buy and Sell Stocks, Bonds, and Other Securities

Once your funds have transferred and you researched a company or ETF you want to purchase, you are ready to trade.

There are two primary ways to trade:

Method 1: Buy and Sell on TDAmeritrade: Quick Trade

If you are using the TDAmeritrade website, go to the bottom of the screen.

tdameritrade quick trade

Click the carrot icon to expand. This method is a quick and easy way to trade on TDAmeritrade.

tdameritrade quick trade bottom screen

As an example, I entered “AAPL” which is the symbol for Apple.

Apple quote bottom screen tdameritrade menu

At this time, Apple is trading at 173.96, so 1 share will cost around $174 (depending on how the trade is executed).

If I wanted to buy Apple stock, I’d need to specify the following:

Action: Buy

Quantity: Number of Shares of Apple stock

Order Type: Limit or Market

  • Market Order – an order that executes a buy or sell transaction immediately at the next available market price
  • Limit Order – an order that executes a buy or sell transaction at a specific price or better
  • Stop Order – an order to buy or sell a security at the next available price if the price reaches or surpasses a designated level
  • Trailing Stop – an order to buy or sell a security that automatically adjusts the stop price at a fixed percentage or dollar amount below or above the current market price
  • Contingent order – an order that is automatically executed when certain conditions you specify are met

Time-in-force

The time an order can remain active while awaiting execution. If an order does not execute within the specified time frame, it is canceled.

Enter all information and click review order.

Be sure to review all details of the order and make sure they are right. Once you click submit, your order is executed.

Congratulations, you completed your transaction.

Method 2: Buy and Sell on TDAmeritrade: Menu Selection

There is no right or wrong way to make a trade. This is an alternate approach to trading.

Go to Trade at the top of the menu and click Stocks and ETFs.

how to buy stocks on tdameritrade menu

Same information discussed above but in a slightly different format.

how to buy stocks on tdameritrade buy sell screen

Similar to method 1 detailed above, you’ll need to specify the following:

  • Action
  • Quantity
  • Symbol
  • Order Type:
  • Price
  • Time-in-Force

How to Buy Stocks on TDAmeritrade App

Note: TDAmeritrade might update their app and the below instructions might change slightly over time. If there are major discrepancies, please comment below and I’ll do my best to update this post.

Follow the Account Opening and Account Funding Steps above. You should have created a user name and password to log in via the TDAmeritrade App.

Download the TDAmeritrade Mobile App

Go to the App Store or Google Play Store and download the TD Ameritrade mobile app.

tdameritrade mobile app store on google play

Log-in to the TD Ameritrade Mobile App

When you log in you’ll see an account overview. Depending on the number of accounts you have with TDAmeritrade, this could be an aggregate view of all your accounts.

tdameritrade mobile app menu

You can look at an aggregate view of all your accounts or each account individually.

Your account dashboard page includes your balances, positions, news related to your position, market news, and a market update. Note that you can customize the look and feel of your dashboard.

Click Balances to see your total cash, positions, and buying power or cash available for trading.

tdameritrade mobile app account balances screen

Click the back arrow on the top of the screen and go back to the main accounts overview dashboard.

Buy and Sell a Stock on the TDAmeritrade Mobile App.

You can trade Stocks & ETFs, Options, and Mutual funds on the mobile app. We’ll focus on Stocks & ETFs for this walkthrough.

tdameritrade mobile app trade screen

Search for the name or symbol of the company or ETF that you wish to purchase. For this example, we’ll use Microsoft (Symbol MSFT).

You’ll see a screen similar to below:

trade screen on td ameritrade mobile app

As soon as you enter a symbol, you’ll see a preview of the last price, price change, bid and ask prices, and volume.

Similar to the website based trading, you’ll need to fill out the following fields:

  • Action: Buy or Sell
  • Type: Market or Limit
  • Shares: # of shares you wish to purchase
  • Price: If you select Limit as the order type, you can specify the specific price you want to buy or sell at

Click review order and make sure every field is correct. Double check the purchase amount and make sure you have enough cash in your account to trade.

Lastly, submit your order and your purchase should show up in your positions when your trade executes.

Congratulations! You just completed a trade on the TDAmeritrade Mobile app.


Closing Comments

This post showed how to buy stocks on TDAmeritrade with step by step instructions and screenshots.

You should now know how to buy and sell stocks and other securities in your individual brokerage account at TDAmeritrade as well as the TDAmeritrade mobile app. The same process can be followed to buy stocks and other securities in other account types including Traditional IRA, Rollover IRA, and Roth IRA.

Take a look at the primer on investing that I wrote for young adults but the content is applicable to all ages.

Follow Boglehead-style investing in low-expense ratio index funds and/or ETFs, check out this link to better understand how to create a commission free and no transaction fee portfolio at TDAmeritrade.

Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor and this blog is for entertainment purposes only and is not investment advice. Reach out to a tax attorney, Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or professional financial advisor for investment advice.

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Categorized as Invest

By Adam

Hey, I'm Adam. I started Wonder of Compounding in 2021 to help others learn about financial literacy and achieve their financial goals. I’m a lifelong student and eternal optimist with a passion for investing, technology and entrepreneurship. I’ve worked in the financial services industry for more than a decade. In 2008, I earned my Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and in 2015, I received my MBA from New York University.

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