Our Ally Invest review will show why Ally exemplifies what it means to be a discount brokerage. The company offers one of the most competitive pricing structures at $0 per trade, plus a mutual fund transaction fee that is one of the lowest. These perks are must-haves when picking the best stock broker. Active traders and investors with large account sizes score even lower commissions on stock, option, and ETF trades, making it a compelling bargain for investors who consider price a particularly important factor in picking a brokerage firm.
Ally Invest impresses with $0 commissions and no account minimums. It's a great choice for those looking for an intuitive platform from which to make cheap trades.
$0 per stock trade
This stock broker is a good fit for: Investors seeking a versatile investing platform that cuts cstock-trading commissions. Those seeking no-transaction-fee mutual funds or an active trading platform may want to look elsewhere.
Ally Invest is in line with much of the industry in offering $0 trades for stocks, options, and ETFs. However, stocks priced less than $2 per share are charged a commission of as much as $4.95 plus $0.01 per share.
Ally offers cash bonuses that range from $50 - $3,500 depending on amount deposited, and with a competitively low minimum qualifying deposit starting at $10,000.
Though it doesn't have any truly free funds to choose from, Ally Invest still ranks well for fund investors because of its low $9.95 commission to buy a mutual fund through its service.
Ally Invest is in the middle of the pack for margin rates, offering rates lower than the larger players, but it charges more than the low-cost leader, Interactive Brokers. It is most competitive for investors who use large amounts of margin as it is significantly less expensive than peers for those who have a margin balance of $500,000 or more.
Ally Invest is a true no-minimum discount broker, as you can open an account with as little as $1 to start. We think that makes it a good online stock broker for beginners who plan to add to their account balance over time.
While Ally has joined most of the industry in dropping commissions for online stock trades to $0, it still charges a commission on lower-priced stocks. For customers buying large blocks of sub-$2 stocks, this can get very expensive.
To be fair, Ally Invest has one of the lowest mutual fund commissions in the industry. However, most of its rivals offer thousands of no-transaction-fee (NTF) funds that avoid commissions entirely. Ally notably doesn't offer any NTF mutual funds.
Ally Invest charges a $35 annual fee if customers want debit card access to their money, plus a $1 fee per transaction. Several competitors offer the same service for free.
Ally Invest doesn't offer a sophisticated platform for active investors like many of its competitors. This means that, while Ally is well-suited for most long-term investors, those who like to do lots of research and make frequent trades could be better off with a more tech-heavy competitor.
There's a lot to like with Ally Invest, from the lack of a required minimum deposit to commission-free trading. However, this broker might not be the best choice for you.
If you want access to no-transaction-fee mutual funds: Merrill Edge® offers many of the same features as Ally Invest, but amps up the value for mutual fund investors with fee-free access to over 1,000 mutual funds. The stock broker also shines with high ratings for customer support and its customer loyalty program for existing Bank of America clients that is the gold standard for banking relationship benefits.
If you want a high-quality active trading platform: TD Ameritrade packs in some of the most robust trading tools available in the market, along with $0 commissions for stocks and options. Combine that with its many research tools and high ratings for customer service, and it's one of the best stock brokers to consider for nearly every investor.
While the cost of making a trade isn't everything, it is an important consideration when deciding which broker to use. Ally Invest has some of the lowest commissions on stocks and mutual funds of any discount broker on the market today.
|Stocks and ETFs||Stock options||Mutual funds|
|$0||$0 per trade, $0.50 per contract||$9.95|
Although Ally Invest offers more than 8,000 different mutual funds, all of them either come with a load to buy them (a fee as a percentage of what you invest) or carry a transaction fee of $9.95 to invest in them.
|Total mutual funds||More than 12,000|
|No-load, no-transaction-fee mutual funds||None|
It's good practice to fully read any broker's fee disclosures before opening a brokerage account, but we did some of the homework for you. After reading through Ally Invest's list of fees, there were a few fees that stuck out as necessitating further discussion.
This brokerage doesn't have a complicated trading platform, which can be both a pro and a con, depending on how you use your brokerage account. The company's web-based trading platform is built using HTML 5, so it works well on large and small screens.
Mobile traders may prefer to download its mobile app (available on iPhone and Android) for an experience that is tailored for smaller devices. As long-term investors ourselves, we don't put much emphasis on trading platforms, given that virtually any broker makes placing a trade as easy as entering a ticker symbol and making a few clicks.
|Margin balance||Interest rate|
|Up to $24,999||7.75%|
|$25,000 to $49,999||7.50%|
|$50,000 to $99,999||6.75%|
|$100,000 to $249,999||5.50%|
|$250,000 to $499,999||4.50%|
|$500,000 to $999,999||4.00%|
|More than $1,000,000||3.25%|
Brokerage firms allow you to borrow against the value of your investments. Some people use margin loans to leverage their portfolio (invest with borrowed money), which can increase the profits if your investments rise in value at a rate higher than the cost of borrowing money. Of course, using margin also adds more risk to your portfolio, as it multiplies losses if your investments fall in value.
Other investors use margin differently, using it instead as a way to be able to immediately reinvest the proceeds from selling stock. Stock sales are "settled" in two days, which means that if you sell a stock in a cash account on Tuesday, you won't be able to use the money until Thursday. Investors who have a margin account can borrow the money for two days, so as to be able to immediately reinvest the proceeds from the sale of an investment.
Ally Invest charges interest based on a sliding scale, where the interest rate decreases as you borrow more. You can see Ally Invest margin rates in the above table.
Discount brokers may not offer the same assistance of full-service brokerage firms, but that doesn't mean they leave clients in the dark. Many offer research and screening tools that can help investors find suitable investments.
There are two notable research and news solutions available to Ally Invest customers:
If the following statements apply to you, you're likely a good fit for Ally Invest:
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