Ally Invest® review 2022
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Ally Invest: Best for
- Low trading commissions
- Ally Bank customers
- Sign-on promotions
Ally Invest is a solid brokerage offering that’s likely to meet the needs of customers, but it’s a particularly good option for existing customers of the online-only Ally Bank. Trading commissions are low for stocks, bonds and ETFs — and its options commissions are among the lowest in the industry.
Mutual fund investors will be disappointed, however, due to the broker not offering any no-transaction-fee (NTF) funds. But strong customer service and an easy-to-use mobile app make Ally Invest a good choice for those looking to have their financial life in one place.
Investors particularly interested in mutual funds may be better off with brokers that offer a number of funds without transaction fees. Fidelity, Schwab and Vanguard each offer clients at least 3,000 NTF funds.
Ally Invest: In the details
Top feature you’ll love
Unlike many brokers, Ally Invest doesn’t have a dedicated app for its brokerage activities. Instead, the Ally Mobile app provides functionality for all of the company’s accounts and activities. For example, you can see all your accounts in one spot – checking, savings, CDs, credit cards and brokerage accounts. That’s a great feature for customers who already have an Ally account and want to keep their financial life consolidated within there.
This all-in-one app fits that bill well and is simple to navigate and use. You’ll be able to deposit checks, transfer money between accounts, pay bills, check tax forms, access savings tools, find ATMs and perform a number of other banking activities.
On the app’s investing side, you’ll be able to do even more. You can check your portfolio with streaming quotes and trade stocks as well as multi-leg options. Customers can perform technical analysis with charting tools and access the latest market news. While it doesn’t have all the features of Ally’s trading platform, it performs well when you can’t be at your desk.
If you want to trade currency, Ally also provides a dedicated app for that called Ally Forex. This app allows you to enter multiple order types, access streaming headlines from Reuters and weekly reports, chart market trends, get alerts and generally manage your account.
Pros: Where Ally Invest stands out
Low trading costs
Options traders will be pleased with Ally’s offering. Its normal commission structure is $0.50 per contract, among the best undiscounted prices for trades in the industry, where the standard is usually $0.65 per contract. If you want cheap options trades without having to trade in volume to achieve a discount, Ally is a great choice. Today, the only places cheaper are Robinhood and Webull, which offer a no-commission structure for all products.
Ally charges $0 for stock and ETF trades, putting it inline with other major online brokers. Meanwhile, commissions on bond trades are $1 per bond, with a $10 minimum per trade.
Integration with Ally
Ally Invest’s integration is a bonus for current Ally customers, and allows them to consolidate their financial accounts within one institution, as you can see with the mobile app. That can be great for transfers between accounts, reducing delays on cash moves between a bank and broker, for example. It can be convenient to simply have your accounts in one place when tax time arrives. Often, Ally Invest ends up feeling like just another tab on the dashboard of the entire Ally website.
Ally Invest Robo Portfolios is another option for those looking to take an automated approach to investing. For just a $100 minimum investment, Robo Portfolios will invest based on your goals and automatically rebalance your portfolio daily.
Ally really steps up in this category. The broker offers 24/7 phone support and an online chat function to quickly route you to a representative. There’s also more conventional means, such as email, though customers don’t have the option of going to a physical branch for assistance. But this latter point probably shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for most investors.
Ally’s promotion for opening and funding an account is a nice incentive. The broker often offers some of the highest promotional bonuses when you bring money to a new account. Once you’ve received the bonus, you’ll have to hold it and the qualifying deposit (minus any trading losses) in the account for at least 300 days.
Ally also offers another less obvious bonus, too. The broker will pay for your transfer out of another brokerage account up to $150, as long as you bring at least $2,500 to your Ally Invest account. That’s real cash that doesn’t come out of your pocket if you decide to move to Ally.
Cons: Where Ally Invest could improve
Lack of no-transaction-fee mutual funds
This is a real weak point for Ally, since it doesn’t offer any no-transaction-fee mutual funds, while many other rivals allow you to skip the fee across thousands of mutual funds. Charles Schwab, Interactive Brokers and Fidelity all offer thousands of fee-free funds, so Ally really stands out as lacking here.
That said, Ally’s fee at $9.95 is still reasonable for no-load mutual funds, though it still doesn’t beat fee-free. And it does offer more than 12,000 mutual funds to choose from, so you’ll have a good chance to find what you’re looking for there.
The account fees are somewhat surprising here, since they’re atypical at most brokers today. Ally still charges a $25 fee for terminating an IRA. If you transfer the account, that’s an additional $50. A partial account transfer also runs you $50.
On any standard account you’ll also run up a $50 fee for a full or partial transfer.
No fractional shares
Ally does a lot of things well from a customer-management standpoint, so it’s too bad that it doesn’t offer clients the ability to trade fractional shares. You won’t be able to buy them directly, but you will be able to reinvest your dividends into fractional shares.
If fractional shares are critical to you, Robinhood and Fidelity Investments allow you to purchase and reinvest in fractional shares in many thousands of stocks.