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2. Broker for Beginner

Ally Invest Review Pros, Cons and How It Compares

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Commission-free trades on eligible U.S. stocks, options and ETFs.
  • No account minimum.
  • Strong web-based platform.
  • Robust research and tools.

Cons

  • No no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
  • No branches.

Compare to Other Advisors

NerdWallet rating NerdWallet rating NerdWallet rating 
OPEN ACCOUNTOPEN ACCOUNTOPEN ACCOUNT
FEES$0per tradeFEES$0per tradeFEES$0.01per share
ACCOUNT MINIMUM$0ACCOUNT MINIMUM$0ACCOUNT MINIMUM$2,500
PROMOTIONNoneno promotion available at this timePROMOTIONFreecareer counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying depositPROMOTIONNoneno promotion available at this time

Full Review

Ally Invest appeals to both the beginning investor and the experienced stock trader with $0 trading costs on eligible U.S. securities and a $0 account minimum, earning its reputation as one of the best low-cost brokers.

But Ally doesn’t merely compete with the major online brokers on costs: It also offers bells and whistles like forex trading, an automated portfolio management option and a suite of free tools for technical investors.

Ally Invest is best for:

  • Active traders.
  • Options traders.
  • Forex traders.
  • Commission-free trades on eligible U.S. securities.

Ally Invest at a glance

Account minimum$0.
Stock trading costs$0 (on eligible US securities).
Options tradesNo base commission; $0.50 per contract.
Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)No inactivity fees; $50 full outgoing transfer fee.
Commission-free ETFsAll eligible U.S. ETFs are commission-free.
No-transaction-fee mutual fundsNo transaction-fee-free mutual funds; $9.95 per trade for no-load funds. Fees vary for funds with a sales load.
Tradable securities• Stocks. • Bonds. • Mutual funds. • ETFs. • Options. • Forex.
Trading platformBrowser-based platform with free screening tools, customizable charting, research and real-time data.
Mobile appAccess to core account functions including tracking, quotes and trading. Available on iOS and Android.
Research and dataFree.
Customer support options (includes website transparency)Chat, email and phone support 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET, 7 days a week. No branches.
Promotions$100 to $2,500 cash credit with a qualifying deposit.

Where Ally Invest shines

Free trading: Ally Invest has dropped its commissions to $0 for eligible U.S. stock, options and ETF trades. The price for options trades also has dropped from $0.65 to $0.50 per contract, a price previously available only to investors who made 30 or more trades per quarter or had a balance of $100,000 or more. These moves, made last fall, are a boon to active stock and options traders.

Account minimum: Ally Invest’s $0 account balance minimum means there’s no roadblock to start trading, especially for investors at the beginning of their retirement savings journey.

Trading platform: Ally Invest’s browser-based platform offers quick trading capabilities, real-time streaming quotes and data, a customizable dashboard, and access to all of the broker’s tools. Customers who frequently trade from various computers — home and work, for example — will appreciate this web-based platform, which doesn’t require any downloads. Ally has also advanced the ability for customers to trade via mobile devices with Ally Mobile or Ally Forex, the brokerage’s app dedicated to forex trading.

Investing research and tools: Ally Invest offers a suite of investing tools that exceed expectations for a deep-discount broker. Its options trading tools are particularly strong and include an options pricing calculator to compare current bid/ask prices to forecast theoretical values, as well as a strategy scanner that identifies and executes option strategies based on criteria you choose. (Just getting into options trading? Here’s our 101 guide.)

Technical traders can dive into a suite of free tools powered by Recognia. Other free tools include a profit-and-loss calculator, a probability calculator (that uses implied volatility to determine your likelihood of hitting your targets) and the Maxit Tax Manager, which identifies tax implications of trading decisions (e.g., short- and long-term gains and losses or wash sales) and generates on-demand 1099 forms.

Side note about data: Standard quotes are free to all customers but free, real-time streaming data is available only to investors who trade more than 10 times per month.

Where Ally Invest falls short

Mutual funds: The company offers more than 8,000 mutual funds, but unfortunately they all incur transaction fees. Ally Invest’s commission for no-load funds is $9.95 (one of the lowest among brokerage firms), but investors would be better off using one of the other deep-discount online brokers — such as E-Trade, Merrill Edge or Interactive Brokers — which offer thousands of funds with no transaction fees. (Mutual fund-focused retirement savers: Check out our roundup of best IRA account providers for other no-minimum account options.)

The bottom line

Ally Invest has competitive pricing, helpful trading tools and an easy-to-use trading platform. With no account minimum, it’s easy for beginners to get started, while active investors will appreciate Ally’s commission-free trades on eligible U.S. securities. Those looking to buy no-transaction-fee mutual funds, however, may find a better home at another broker.

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