Ally Invest® review 2021

Bankrate senior reporter James F. Royal, Ph.D., covers investing and wealth management. His work has been cited by CNBC, the Washington Post, The New York Times and more.

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Ally Invest Logo

Best For

  • Low trading commissions
  • Ally Bank customers
  • Sign-on promotions

Ally Invest is the brokerage arm of the online-only Ally Bank, and it allows the bank to offer a full house of financial services to its clients. It’s generally a not-too-many-frills broker that keeps your trading commissions low. It’s mainly investor-friendly, especially if you’re doing basic trading, even with some regularity. But individual investors looking for no-transaction-fee mutual funds will be disappointed, even if Ally’s commissions on funds are among the lowest in the industry. Due to its integration with the banking operations and highly available customer support, Ally Invest is a particularly good fit for investors looking to consolidate their finances in one place. 

Ally Invest at a glance

Star Rating

  • Cost: 3.5 of 5
  • Accounts and trading: 3.5 of 5
  • Research and Education: 3.5 of 5
  • Mobile: 3.5 of 5
  • Customer Experience: 5 of 5
  • Minimum Balance:
  • Cost per stock trade:
  • Cost per options trade:
    $0.50 per contract
  • Promotion:
    Up to $3,500 in cash
  • Commission-free mutual funds or ETFs:
  • No-transaction-fee mutual funds:
  • 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.

Top feature you’ll love

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, 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 also access the latest market news. 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.

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

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

Options traders will find Ally even more competitive. 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 place cheaper is Robinhood and its no-commission structure for all products. 

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.

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 probably 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 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.

Quick comparison of Brokerage options:
Brokerage Overall Rating Avg. Cost Per Trade Accounts and Trading
Ally Invest logo
$0 3.5 of 5
Fidelity® review 2021 logo Read Our Review
$0 5 of 5
TD Ameritrade® review 2021 logo Read Our Review
$0 5 of 5
WellsTrade® review 2021 logo Read Our Review
$0 3 of 5

Cons: Where Ally Invest could improve

Account fees

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. 

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. TD Ameritrade, 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. 

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 watchlists, a profit-loss calculator, an 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.

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 or reinvest your dividends into fractional shares. Even quite a few brokers that don’t offer fractional purchases allow you to roll over your whole dividend payout into partial 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. 

Bottom line

Ally is a solid choice for your next broker, especially if you already have an account with its parent bank or are looking into moving all your business to the same institution. 

  • The integration with Ally Bank makes it easy to move money from one account to the other, particularly useful when you need to make a trade quickly or pay a bill. 
  • Commissions are particularly attractive on most products, including stocks, ETFs, options and bonds.
  • However, Ally could be more investor-friendly on some account fees, the number of  no-transaction-fee mutual funds and the ability to buy fractional shares. 

If you’re looking to consolidate financial accounts or already have an account with Bank of America, you may want to check out Merrill Edge, which may get you extra credit card rewards, too. If you’re looking for mutual funds without a transaction fee, you can turn to Interactive Brokers, Fidelity and Vanguard for excellent options. 

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