TD Ameritrade Futures

TD Ameritrade Futures

TD Ameritrade Futures offers a comprehensive platform for futures trading, bringing professional-grade tools and resources to individual investors. With TD Ameritrade’s robust trading technology and 24/7 support, you can access a wide range of futures markets, including commodities, currencies, interest rates, and equity indexes. Whether you are a seasoned trader or just starting out, TD Ameritrade Futures provides the tools and support you need to navigate the complex world of futures trading and make informed investment decisions.


What are futures?

Futures are financial contracts that allow individuals and institutions to buy or sell specific assets at predetermined prices and dates in the future. These assets could include commodities like oil or gold, financial instruments such as stock indexes or currencies, or even interest rates. Futures trading involves speculating on the price movements of these assets and providing potential opportunities for profit or hedging against potential losses.

Benefits of trading futures

Trading futures offers a range of benefits for investors and traders. One of the key advantages is the ability to leverage capital. With futures contracts, traders are only required to deposit a fraction of the total contract value as margin, allowing them to control a larger position with a smaller amount of capital. This leverage amplifies potential gains and losses.

Another benefit is the ability to access a wide range of markets. Futures contracts are available for various asset classes, including commodities, currencies, stock indexes, and interest rates. This diversification can help spread risk and provide opportunities for profit in different market conditions.

Furthermore, futures trading offers transparency and liquidity. The futures market is highly regulated, and the trading process is standardized, making it a transparent and efficient marketplace. Additionally, futures contracts are traded on organized exchanges, ensuring a deep pool of buyers and sellers and high trading volumes.

TD Ameritrade’s futures offering

TD Ameritrade is a well-established brokerage firm that offers a comprehensive futures trading platform. The platform provides access to a wide range of futures markets, including commodities, currencies, stock indexes, and interest rates. TD Ameritrade’s futures offering includes advanced trading tools, educational resources, and dedicated customer support to help traders navigate the complexities of futures trading.

Futures Trading Basics

Understanding contracts

A futures contract represents a legally binding agreement to buy or sell an asset at a specified price and date in the future. The contract specifies the quantity and quality of the underlying asset, as well as the delivery or settlement terms. For example, a crude oil futures contract may require the delivery of 1,000 barrels of oil at a specific price and date.

It’s important to note that most futures contracts are not physically delivered. Instead, traders typically close out their positions before the contract expires by entering into an offsetting trade. This allows them to profit from price movements without actually taking physical delivery of the asset.

Leverage and margin

Leverage is a key feature of futures trading. It allows traders to control a large position with a relatively small amount of capital. This is because futures contracts require only a fraction of the total contract value as an initial margin deposit. The leverage ratio determines the amount of exposure a trader has to the underlying asset.

For example, if the leverage ratio is 10:1, a trader only needs to deposit 10% of the total contract value as margin. This means that for a $10,000 contract, the trader would only need to deposit $1,000. However, it’s important to note that leverage can work both ways, amplifying both gains and losses.

Order types

Futures trading platforms typically offer various order types to help traders execute their strategies effectively. Some commonly used order types include:

  • Market order: This is an order to buy or sell a futures contract at the current market price. It provides the fastest execution but offers no control over the execution price.
  • Limit order: This is an order to buy or sell a futures contract at a specific price or better. It ensures that the trade will only be executed at the specified price or a better price.
  • Stop order: This is an order to buy or sell a futures contract once the market price reaches a specified level. It is often used to limit losses or initiate trades at favorable price levels.

TD Ameritrade’s Futures Platform

Features and tools

TD Ameritrade’s futures platform provides a wide range of features and tools to support traders in their futures trading activities. The platform offers real-time streaming quotes, advanced charting capabilities, and customizable technical indicators. Traders can also set up alerts and notifications to stay informed about market developments.

In addition, TD Ameritrade offers a variety of order types, including market orders, limit orders, stop orders, and more. These order types can be used to implement various trading strategies such as day trading, swing trading, and position trading.

User experience

TD Ameritrade aims to provide a user-friendly experience for futures traders. The platform is designed to be intuitive and easy to navigate, making it accessible to both beginner and experienced traders. The user interface is customizable, allowing traders to personalize their workspace based on their preferences and trading style.

Furthermore, TD Ameritrade’s futures platform is supported by robust technology infrastructure, ensuring reliability and stability. The platform offers fast execution and real-time market data to help traders stay ahead of market movements.

Fees and commissions

When trading futures with TD Ameritrade, traders are subject to certain fees and commissions. These fees may include trade commissions, exchange fees, and regulatory fees. The specific fees vary depending on the type of futures contract traded and the exchange it is listed on. It’s important for traders to review and understand the fee structure before engaging in futures trading.

TD Ameritrade may also offer commission-free trading promotions or discounts for active traders. Traders should check with TD Ameritrade for the most up-to-date information on fees and commissions.

Account Opening and Requirements

Eligibility criteria

To open a futures trading account with TD Ameritrade, traders must meet certain eligibility criteria. This typically includes being at least 18 years old, having a valid Social Security number or Taxpayer Identification Number, and meeting the firm’s suitability requirements.

Suitability requirements often involve assessing a trader’s financial situation, investment objectives, and risk tolerance. TD Ameritrade may evaluate a trader’s experience and knowledge of futures trading before approving the account.

Documentation needed

When opening a futures trading account with TD Ameritrade, traders will need to provide certain documentation as part of the account opening process. This may include:

  • Proof of identification: Traders will need to submit a valid government-issued identification document, such as a passport or driver’s license.
  • Proof of address: Traders will need to provide a recent utility bill or bank statement that shows their name and residential address.
  • Tax information: Traders may need to provide their Social Security number or Taxpayer Identification Number for tax reporting purposes.

Additional documentation may be required based on the individual’s circumstances and regulatory requirements.

Minimum deposit

TD Ameritrade may have a minimum deposit requirement for opening a futures trading account. The specific minimum deposit varies and traders should consult TD Ameritrade’s website or contact customer support for the current requirements.

It’s important for traders to consider their available capital and risk tolerance when determining the appropriate amount to deposit into the account. Traders should also keep in mind that the initial deposit is used as margin and may be subject to variation margin requirements as positions are held.

Trading Education and Support

Educational resources

TD Ameritrade provides a range of educational resources to help traders enhance their futures trading knowledge and skills. The education center offers articles, videos, webinars, and tutorials covering various topics, including futures trading basics, technical analysis, risk management, and trading strategies.

Traders can also access market commentary and analysis from TD Ameritrade’s team of experts. This allows them to stay informed about market trends and make well-informed trading decisions.

Support channels

TD Ameritrade offers multiple support channels for traders who need assistance. Traders can reach out to the customer support team via phone, email, or live chat. The support team is available during market hours to address any questions or concerns related to futures trading.

In addition to customer support, TD Ameritrade provides a comprehensive help center on its website. The help center includes frequently asked questions, step-by-step guides, and troubleshooting resources to assist traders in navigating the platform and resolving issues.

Demo account

For traders who want to practice their futures trading strategies without risking real money, TD Ameritrade offers a demo account. The demo account provides a simulated trading environment where traders can place trades and test various strategies using virtual funds.

The demo account allows traders to familiarize themselves with the TD Ameritrade futures platform, test different order types and indicators, and gain confidence before trading with real money. This can be particularly beneficial for beginner traders who are new to futures trading.

Market Access and Product Range

Available markets and exchanges

TD Ameritrade provides access to a wide range of markets and exchanges for futures trading. Traders can trade futures contracts on major exchanges, such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).

The available markets include commodities, currencies, stock indexes, and interest rates. This allows traders to diversify their portfolios and take advantage of opportunities in different asset classes.

Types of futures contracts

TD Ameritrade offers a broad range of futures contracts across various asset classes. Some popular types of futures contracts include:

  • Commodities: This includes contracts for agricultural products (e.g., corn, wheat), energy products (e.g., crude oil, natural gas), and precious metals (e.g., gold, silver).
  • Currencies: This includes contracts for major currency pairs (e.g., EUR/USD, GBP/USD) and currency indexes.
  • Stock indexes: This includes contracts based on major stock indexes like the S&P 500, NASDAQ-100, and Dow Jones Industrial Average.
  • Interest rates: This includes contracts based on interest rate benchmarks such as the U.S. Treasury Bond and Eurodollar.

Traders can choose from a wide range of contracts based on their trading strategies, risk appetite, and market outlook.

Level II quotes

TD Ameritrade’s futures platform provides access to Level II quotes, which display real-time bid and ask prices, as well as the depth of market for a particular futures contract. Level II quotes allow traders to see the current market liquidity and identify potential trading opportunities.

These quotes provide valuable information about the supply and demand dynamics in the market, allowing traders to gauge the market sentiment and make more informed trading decisions.

Risk Management and Protection

Stop-loss orders

One important risk management tool available to futures traders is the stop-loss order. A stop-loss order is an instruction to automatically sell a futures contract if the market price reaches a specified level. It is used to limit potential losses and protect against adverse market movements.

By setting a stop-loss order, traders can define their maximum acceptable loss for a trade. If the market price reaches or surpasses the specified level, the stop-loss order is triggered, and the position is closed, helping to mitigate potential losses.

Margin calls

Margin calls are another risk factor to consider when trading futures. Margin is the amount of money required to maintain open positions in a futures trading account. If the account value falls below the required margin level, the trader may receive a margin call from the broker.

A margin call requires the trader to deposit additional funds or sell existing positions to bring the account back above the required margin level. Failure to meet the margin call can result in the broker liquidating the trader’s positions to cover the margin shortfall. Traders should carefully monitor their account balances and margin requirements to avoid margin calls and potential losses.


Despite risk management efforts, trading futures involves inherent risks, and unforeseen events or market developments can result in losses. To provide additional protection, TD Ameritrade and other brokerage firms typically carry certain levels of insurance.

This insurance coverage may include protection against broker insolvency or certain unauthorized activities. However, it’s important for traders to understand the limits and exclusions of the insurance coverage provided and consider their own risk tolerance when engaging in futures trading.

Alternative Investments

Options on futures

In addition to trading futures contracts, TD Ameritrade offers the ability to trade options on futures. Options give traders the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a futures contract at a specified price and date. Options on futures provide additional flexibility and strategies for traders looking to manage risk or speculate on price movements.

Traders can use options on futures to implement various strategies, including hedging against potential losses, generating income from options premiums, or positioning for expected price movements. Options on futures require a slightly different approach than trading futures contracts, and traders should ensure they have a solid understanding of options before engaging in this type of trading.

Futures mutual funds

For investors who prefer a more diversified approach to futures trading, TD Ameritrade offers futures mutual funds. These funds pool investors’ capital and are managed by professional portfolio managers who allocate the fund’s assets to futures contracts. By investing in a futures mutual fund, investors gain exposure to a diversified portfolio of futures contracts without needing to trade individual contracts themselves.

Futures mutual funds may appeal to investors with less experience in futures trading or those who prefer a more hands-off approach. These funds allow investors to tap into the potential benefits of futures trading while benefiting from professional management and diversification.

Commodity ETFs

Another alternative for gaining exposure to futures markets is through commodity exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Commodity ETFs track the performance of a specific commodity or a basket of commodities. They provide investors with exposure to commodity price movements without directly trading futures contracts.

Commodity ETFs may be a suitable option for investors who want to participate in commodity markets without the complexities and commitments associated with trading futures contracts. These ETFs can be bought and sold like stocks on stock exchanges, providing liquidity and ease of access for investors.

Comparison with Competitors

Interactive Brokers

When comparing TD Ameritrade’s futures offering with that of Interactive Brokers, several factors come into play. Both brokerage firms offer access to a wide range of futures markets and provide advanced trading platforms. However, there are some differences in the fee structure and trading tools offered.

Interactive Brokers is known for its low trading fees and extensive range of account types, including specialized accounts for professional traders. Additionally, Interactive Brokers offers a more comprehensive selection of order types, catering to the needs of advanced and high-volume traders.

On the other hand, TD Ameritrade may be more suitable for traders who value user-friendly interfaces and comprehensive educational resources. TD Ameritrade’s futures platform is designed to be accessible to traders of all skill levels, and its educational resources can help beginners learn the basics of futures trading.


ETRADE is another brokerage firm that offers futures trading services, and it is often compared to TD Ameritrade in terms of its offerings. ETRADE provides access to a diverse range of futures markets and offers advanced trading tools and research resources.

One key difference between TD Ameritrade and ETRADE is the fee structure. ETRADE’s futures commission rates may be more competitive for high-volume traders, while TD Ameritrade may be more appealing to traders who prioritize access to comprehensive educational resources and support.

Traders should carefully consider their trading strategies, platform preferences, and fee structures when comparing TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE for futures trading.

Charles Schwab

With the acquisition of TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab is now another brokerage firm that offers futures trading services. Charles Schwab provides a variety of futures contracts across different asset classes and offers a robust trading platform to support futures traders.

One notable aspect of Charles Schwab’s futures offering is its integration with other investment products and services. Traders who have existing relationships with Charles Schwab may find convenience in accessing futures trading alongside their other investment accounts.

When comparing Charles Schwab to TD Ameritrade, traders should consider factors such as trading fees, platform features, and customer support to determine which brokerage firm aligns better with their trading goals and preferences.


Summary of TD Ameritrade futures

TD Ameritrade’s futures offering provides traders with access to a wide range of futures markets, advanced trading tools, educational resources, and dedicated customer support. The platform is designed to be user-friendly, and the fees and commissions are competitive within the industry. With TD Ameritrade’s robust futures platform, traders can execute their trading strategies confidently and take advantage of various market opportunities.

Considerations for potential traders

Before engaging in futures trading with TD Ameritrade or any other brokerage firm, potential traders should carefully consider their risk tolerance, investment objectives, and level of experience. Futures trading involves substantial risks, and individuals should only invest capital they can afford to lose. It is important to thoroughly research and understand the complexities of futures trading before opening a trading account.

Final thoughts

TD Ameritrade’s futures offering provides traders with a comprehensive platform to access a wide range of markets and diversify their portfolios. With a user-friendly interface, advanced trading tools, and educational resources, TD Ameritrade aims to support traders at all skill levels. However, trading futures requires careful consideration of risks and potential rewards, and individuals should conduct thorough research and seek professional advice before engaging in futures trading.