Ally Invest® Review 2019

James Royal is a reporter covering investing and wealth management. Before joining Bankrate, he worked as a writer for NerdWallet and a stock analyst for The Motley Fool. He holds a doctorate in literature from the University of Florida.

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Ally Invest Logo

Best For

  • Low trading commissions
  • Ally Bank customers
  • Active traders

Ally Invest is the brokerage service of the much larger online-only Ally Bank franchise, and it adds an able broker to the suite of the bank’s products. Ally Invest is especially known for its low trading commissions, and is a solid choice for active traders looking to reduce their costs. The broker is an especially good choice for current customers of Ally who want an all-in-one stop for their financial life. That said, investors in mutual funds won’t find Ally an especially good fit, due to the low number of fee-free funds.

Ally Invest at a glance

Star Rating

4
  • Affordability: 5 of 5
  • Usability: 4 of 5
  • Tools & Research: 4 of 5
  • Mobile: 3 of 5
  • Scalability: 4 of 5
  • Minimum Balance:
    $0
  • Cost per stock trade:
    $0
  • Cost per options trade:
    $0.50 per contract
  • Promotion:
    Up to $3,500 in cash
  • Commission-free mutual funds or ETFs:
    All
  • No-transaction-fee mutual funds:
    None
  • Securities tradable:
    Stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, options, forex
  • Customer service:
    Phone 24/7, chat, email
  • Account fees:
    $50 transfer fee, $50 IRA transfer fee, $25 IRA closing fee
  • Mobile app:
    Ally offers the “Ally Mobile” app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Feature you’ll love

Ally Mobile app: 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, 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 market news and market movers. While it doesn’t have all of the features of Ally’s trading platform, it performs well when you can’t be at your desk.

Where Ally Invest rocks

Low trading costs: Ally’s strongest suit is probably its low trading commissions, which are even with some other top brokers. Ally charges $0 for a stock or ETF trade, putting it in line with major rivals such as Charles Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and E-Trade.

Options traders will benefit even more. The normal commission structure is $0.50 per contract, among the best undiscounted prices for trades in the industry. If you want cheap options trades without having to trade in volume to achieve a discount, Ally is a great choice. 

Integration with Ally: This is a bonus for current Ally customers, and allows them to consolidate their financial accounts within one bank, 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. Ally Invest ends up being simply just another tab on the dashboard of the entire Ally website.

Customer support: 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 shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for investors.

Sign-on promotions: Ally’s promotion for opening and funding an account is a nice incentive. The broker is offering $50 if you bring $10,000 to an account. The cash bonus portion steps up to $200 with a deposit of $25,000. Once the bonus is in the account, 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.

 

Quick comparison of Brokerage options:
Brokerage Overall Rating Avg. Cost Per Trade Usability Rating
Ally Invest logo
$0 4 of 5
TradeStation® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$5* 3 of 5
Interactive Brokers® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$1* 3 of 5
E*Trade® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$6.95* 4 of 5

Where Ally Invest could improve

Cash balances: Unlike some brokers that pay interest on your cash balance, Ally doesn’t offer that feature. However, the broker will sweep your cash into an FDIC-protected account that offers a razor-thin interest rate. That’s in contrast to brokers such as Interactive Brokers, which offer quite attractive rates on idle cash balances. In theory, it should be easy enough to move cash over to your Ally savings account, where rates are substantially higher.

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. TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, Interactive Brokers and Fidelity all offer at least 3,500, so Ally really stands out as lacking here.

That said, Ally’s fee is still reasonable for no-load mutual funds at $9.95, though it still doesn’t beat fee-free.

Trading platform: Ally’s browser-based trading platform is good but not great. It offers some standard functionality and is still two steps above basic platforms. Ally provides streaming charts with more than 100 kinds of technical studies and 36 drawing tools to analyze a stock’s performance.

Also under the hood is some other relatively standard fare: customizable watch lists, a profit-loss calculator, options probability calculator and stock pages with each company’s relevant financial metrics and data. However, the platform just doesn’t stand out against the offerings from the competition, but will suffice for less-demanding traders.

Bottom line

Ally makes a good choice for active investors, particularly for those who already have an account with Ally and are looking to bundle all their accounts:

  • The commission structure, especially for options, makes Ally into one of the cheapest online brokers.
  • Integration with Ally makes it convenient to move money from banking accounts to investing accounts.
  • However, investors in mutual funds are not very well-served.

Investors who already bank with Bank of America may want to check out Merrill Edge if they’re looking to expand their relationship there. Merrill has a great program that rewards customers with ongoing free trades if they maintain certain balances. Investors who need more in the way of free trading for ETFs and mutual funds will definitely want to check out Vanguard, Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab.

 

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