Updated April 16, 2019

Ally Invest Review: Pros and Cons

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Ally Invest (formerly TradeKing) offers one of the lowest trade fees, but is it good? Learn the pros and cons and see comparisons with other online brokers in this in-depth review.

Ally Invest Promotion
Get Up to $3,500 Cash Bonus and Commission Free Trades for 90 Days

Overall Score

4.4

Stock Trading

5.0

Options Trading

5.0

Banking

5.0

Mobile App

3.5

Commissions and Fees

5.0

Ease of Use

4.0

Online Community

5.0

Research

3.5

Trading Platform

4.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Low commission for stock trades
  • No account minimums
  • Ally LIVE platform
  • No physical locations

Bottom Line

Good low-price discount stock broker for savvy investors

Though not as well-known as competitors (such as E*TRADE and TD Ameritrade), Ally Invest can certainly hold its own against the big boys. It consistently ranks near the top of customer satisfaction ratings.

And best of all, it's trade fees are among the lowest of any online brokerage around.

So how does this budget broker stand up against its more expensive counterparts? Read on to find out.

About Ally Invest

Ally's long history goes back to 1919, when it was founded as GMAC (the financial sector of General Motors). It slowly expanded its financial services and was rebranded as Ally Bank in 2009, offering online banking with high interest rates and minimal fees.

In 2016, Ally Financial acquired TradeKing, which became Ally Invest. New name, new site, and new mobile app. But the same low prices and same trading features.

Ally Invest at-a-Glance:

Ally Invest charges $4.95 per trade for stocks and ETFs, which is lower than the competition. There is no minimum to open.

  • Self-directed or managed portfolio options
  • Investments offered: Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, fixed income securities, penny stocks, Forex.
  • Account types: Individual taxable, joint, custodial, IRAs, Coverdell, and entity accounts.

Who Ally Invest Works Best For

Ally Invest is a good choice for:

  • Casual traders who want a simple online brokerage account and have a basic understanding of markets and security types.

  • Active traders or high-volume traders who can take advantage of the lower commission fees.

  • Advanced traders who wish to trade Forex.

  • Beginners who want completely hands-off investing with Ally Invest's Managed Portfolios.

If any of the above sound like you, this platform is a great, low-cost alternative to some of the more popular and widely advertised brokerages like E-Trade and TD Ameritrade.

Is Alley Invest good for beginners? Ally Invest has a user-friendly platform, low fees, and no minimums, so anyone can easily get started on it. However, it does not offer extensive education material or a practice trading platform, so it may not be the best for true novices.

Ally Invest Pros & Cons

PROS:

  • $4.95 basic stock and ETF trades
  • Discount for active traders
  • No minimum to open
  • Wide variety of products
  • Strong Forex platform (including a practice account)
  • Managed Portfolios option for a low annual fee
  • 24/7 customer service by phone and live chat
  • Thorough FAQ and education section
  • Also has full online banking services, so you can invest and bank at the same place

CONS:

  • No physical locations
  • No practice trading platform (not good for beginners)
  • No transaction-fee-free mutual funds
  • Research and tools not as extensive as other online brokerages
  • $50 fee for transferring or closing IRA accounts

We'll explain more below. But first, let's highlight the current Ally Invest promotions.

Ally Invest Promotional Codes 2019

OPENING AN ACCOUNT

© CreditDonkey

You must be a US citizen or legal permanent resident, and have a US address. You can get started two ways:

  • A self-directed account. If you're comfortable trading, you can handle your own investments.

    There are no account minimums to open a self-directed account. And there are no maintenance or inactivity fees.

    If you have a margin account (which is governed by federal regulation), you must maintain a minimum of $2,000, regardless of the brokerage you choose.

  • A managed account. If you're a beginner or prefer to be hands-off, you can get an automated managed portfolio. This is a robo-advisor that automatically picks investments for you based on your goals.

    You need a minimum investment of $2,500 to open. The annual fee is 0.30% of your balance.

You can fund your account via electronic transfer from your bank, wire transfer, or by mailing in a check.

Wire transfer will be the fastest method, while an electronic bank transfer can take 3 business days.

How to login: Sign in to your Ally Invest account on ally.com.

Once you're into your account, the platform is pretty simple to use. You'll see menu options across the top of the page. The Dashboard is an overview of your activities and links to other parts of the platform.

You'll do all your buying and selling in the Trading tab. The Research tab is where you'll find Ally's news and research for markets, stocks, and options.

TYPES OF ACCOUNTS

Ally Invest supports the following accounts for self-directed trading:

  • Individual taxable
  • Joint
  • Custodial
  • IRAs (Traditional, Roth, Rollover, SEP, SIMPLE)
  • Coverdell

Ally Invest Managed Portfolios support:

  • Individual and joint taxable
  • IRAs (Traditional, Roth, Rollover, SEP, SIMPLE)
  • Entity accounts (LLCs, Partnerships, Sole Proprietorships and Trusts)

Fees & Commissions

Ally Invest has straightforward pricing and boasts one of the lowest fees on the market.

  • Stock and ETFs: $4.95 per trade
  • Options: $4.95 plus $0.65 per contract
  • Mutual funds: $9.95 to buy or sell no-load mutual funds
  • Penny stocks: Additional $0.01 per share for stocks under $2
  • Bonds: $1 per bond (minimum $10)
  • Forex: No commission
  • Broker assisted trades: $20 + regular commission

High balance and/or volume traders get a price discount. This is defined by having at least a $100,000 average daily balance and/or making more than 30 trades per quarter. Stock and ETF trades are $3.95 per trade, and options are $3.95 + $0.50 per contract.

INVESTMENT OFFERINGS

Ally Invest offers a wide assortment of investment possibilities, including:

  • Stocks

  • Mutual Funds: Ally offers thousands of mutual funds, but it doesn't have any no-transaction-fee funds.

  • ETFs: Ally offers 100+ commission-free ETFs including WisdomTree ETFs and iShares ETFs from BlackRock.

  • Fixed Income Securities: Corporate, agency, treasuries, municipals, strips & zeros, CDs, and new issues.

  • Options (equity & index): Ally's platform offers very strong tools for options traders, such as options chains and profit/loss calculator.

  • Penny Stocks: Also known as pink sheets or over-the-counter bulletin board. These are very high-risk if you don't know what you're doing.

  • Binary Return Derivatives

  • Forex (Foreign Exchange): Ally offers a robust Forex trading platform for the advanced trader, including a practice account. You need a minimum deposit of $250. Read more about it in detail below.

PLATFORM AND TOOLS

Ally Invest's platform - called Ally LIVE - is available for free for anyone who opens an account.

It offers tools such as:

  • Customizable dashboard. You can drag/remove modules however you want.
  • Streaming charts. 8 chart types (including candlestick, bar, mountain, and line) with 117 chart studies and 36 drawing tools.
  • Alerts. Add alerts to your charts
  • Watchlists. Create customized watchlists.
  • Options tools. This includes robust tools like option chains and profit/loss graph.
  • Probability calculator. Estimate the likelihood of hitting your targets.
  • Research data. See market stats, charts, company quotes, high/low prices, and peer performance comparisons.
  • Free tools by Recognia.

Does Ally Invest have virtual trading? No, Ally Invest does not offer a trading simulator. If you're a beginner and want some trading practice before committing your own money, ZacksTrade offers a demo account pre-loaded with $1 million in paper trading funds for 90 days.

Here are some screenshots:

Markets Overview

Options Chains and Probability Calculator

Ally's platform is obviously looking to bat with the big boys. But it's still lacking in some tools, such as heatmaps.

It's constantly listening to feedback and making improvements based on customer needs, so hopefully even more tools will come in the future.

Note: The Ally LIVE Platform works only for Windows. Mac users will have to use the web platform, which is not as advanced as the LIVE platform.

ALLY INVEST MANAGED PORTFOLIOS

© CreditDonkey

If you're a beginner or just wants to be hands-off, Ally Invest offers a robo-advisor called Managed Portfolios.

Ally will automatically build a portfolio for you based on your goals and risk tolerance. Your portfolio will be professionally managed so you don't have to worry about maintaining it.

Some features include:

  • Diversified portfolio of ETFs
  • 5 portfolio options, from Conservative to Aggressive Growth
  • Automatic rebalancing

The minimum amount to start is $2,500. The annual fee is 0.30% of your assets under management. This is a little bit higher than other robo-advisors like Betterment, but still a lot lower than hiring a traditional financial advisor.

Ally's Managed Portfolios is not the strongest robo-advisor in our opinion. It lacks tax loss harvesting, which is a feature offered by many other robo-advisors.

ALLY FOREX

Forex trading is done on an entirely separate platform and mobile app. Ally Forex is a separate, but affiliated, company from Ally Invest.

Forex is the most popular traded market in the world. In a nutshell, Forex is traded in pairs: you're buying one currency while selling another. There's a fair amount of risk involved.

Ally Forex features include:

  • Customized layout. You can choose from pre-set layouts or create your own to your preferences.

  • Advanced charting. Includes more than 80 technical indicators, drawing tools, and integrated order management features. You can overlay technical studies and flip between charts and trade setups. You can even track, trade and modify orders directly on the charts.

  • Automation. You can create a custom trading strategy and automate it for real-time buy and sell signals.

  • Research. Stay on top of the market with streaming updates, forecasted results, and potential impacts.

  • Practice platform. Ally Forex offers a $50,000 virtual practice account with full access to the platforms and tools for 30 days. This practice account is free, and you'll have over 50 pairs of currency to choose from.

You need $250 deposit to open an Ally Forex account. But it's recommended to start with at least $2,500 so you have more flexibility and better risk management.

MOBILE APP

Ally Invest offers trading on-the-go with its iPhone and Android apps - Ally Mobile. It's the same mobile app as the Ally online banking. So if you use the banking services as well, you can bank and invest on the same app.

The app offers a simplified version of the desktop platform. The functions are limited, but they have most of the core abilities, such as:

  • Trade stocks and options from your phone
  • Get live streaming quotes, chart positions, and current news
  • Use advanced charting tools
  • View your watch lists
  • Monitor your investments and check balances

Is Ally Safe?

Ally Invest is a member of FINRA and SIPC. SIPC covers customer claims up to $500,000, including a $250,000 limit for cash claims.

While SIPC protects against the loss of cash and securities (such as stocks and bonds) in the case that Ally Invest fails, it does not protect against investment losses from the market.

Forex accounts are not protected by the SIPC.

Ally Invest's clearing firm, Apex Clearing, also has an additional insurance policy through London Underwriters to supplement SIPC protection. This additional insurance policy covers you if the SIPC limits are exhausted, for up to $150 million.

How It Compares

© CreditDonkey

No review of Ally Invest is complete without a look at how Ally Invest compares with E-Trade, Fidelity and TD Ameritrade. Here are the side-by-side comparisons to see how the brokers stack up.

Ally Invest vs E*TRADE

While E*TRADE has higher commission fees, E*TRADE does offer the opportunity to invest in a select list of commission-free ETFs from WisdomTree, Global X Funds, and db-X.

Plus E*TRADE offers checking account benefits and 30 physical locations across the country.

 

Ally Invest

E*TRADE

 

Benefits and Features

Stock Trading$4.95 per trade ($3.95 per equity trade special pricing for high-volume/high-balance traders)$6.95 per trade
$4.95 per trade if you make 30+ trades a quarter
Options Trading$4.95 base + $0.65 per contract ($0.50 per options contract special pricing for high-volume/high-balance traders)$6.95 + $0.75 per contract
$4.95 + $0.50 per contract if you make 30+ trades a quarter
Minimum Deposit
$0
$500 for brokerage accounts
No account minimum for retirement accounts
Mutual Fund Trading$0 to buy/sell load mutual funds
$9.95 to buy/sell no load mutual funds
$0 for no-load, no-transaction-fee funds
$19.99 for transaction-fee funds
Commission Free ETFs100+ including ETFs from WisdomTree250+ including ETFs from WisdomTree, Global X Funds, and db-X Deutsche Bank
Penny Stocks$0.01 per share on the entire order for stocks priced less than $2.00. Maximum commission per order not to exceed 5% of the trade value, with minimum commission of $4.95.
Broker Assisted Trades
$20 + Regular Commission
$25 + Regular Commission
Customer Service
(855) 880-2559 (Open 24/7)
(650) 599-0125
Inactivity Fee 
$0
Maintenance Fee 
$0
BankingIntegrated with banking on ally.com. Manage your Ally banking and investment accounts in one place.Checking account offers no minimum balance requirements, free online bill pay, and unlimited debit card and check transactions.
Mobile App
Desktop App E*TRADE Pro (requires you execute at least 30 trades during a calendar quarter or maintain brokerage account balance of at least $250,000)
Forex Trading
 
Futures Trading
Locations 
30
Online CommunityTrader Network to connect with other investorsETrade Community lets you exchange trading and investing ideas with other ETrade customers.
Seminars Live events and educational seminars at local branches.
Stock Trading
Options Trading
Banking
Mobile App
Commissions and Fees
Ease of Use
Online Community
Research
Trading Platform

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

Ally Invest: Pricing information from published website as of 5/10/2019.

E*TRADE: Pricing information from published website as of 5/10/2019.

Ally Invest vs Fidelity

Fidelity has 265 commission-free ETFs and more than 180 branch locations.

 

Ally Invest

Fidelity

 

Benefits and Features

Stock Trading$4.95 per trade ($3.95 per equity trade special pricing for high-volume/high-balance traders)
$4.95 per trade
Options Trading$4.95 base + $0.65 per contract ($0.50 per options contract special pricing for high-volume/high-balance traders)$4.95 per online trade, plus $0.65 per contract
Minimum Deposit
$0
$0
Mutual Fund Trading$0 to buy/sell load mutual funds
$9.95 to buy/sell no load mutual funds
$0 transaction fee for Fidelity funds
$0 on purchase for NTF (no transaction fee) non-Fidelity funds. ($49.95 on redemption if held less than 60 days)
$49.95 on purchase for non-Fidelity funds; $0 on redemption. (Certain funds may have a $75 transaction fee).
Commission Free ETFs100+ including ETFs from WisdomTree357 including 28 Fidelity factor, sector, stock, and bond ETFs and 329 iShares® ETFs
Penny Stocks$0.01 per share on the entire order for stocks priced less than $2.00. Maximum commission per order not to exceed 5% of the trade value, with minimum commission of $4.95. 
Broker Assisted Trades
$20 + Regular Commission
$32.95 per trade for representative-assisted trades.
Customer Service
(855) 880-2559 (Open 24/7)
(800) 343-3548
Inactivity Fee 
$0
Maintenance Fee 
$0 account service fee
BankingIntegrated with banking on ally.com. Manage your Ally banking and investment accounts in one place.Fidelity Cash Management Account includes reimbursed ATM fees, no monthly fee, no minimum balance requirement, FDIC insurance, mobile check deposit, free billpay and free checkwriting.
Mobile App
Desktop App Active Trader Pro (requires you trade 36 times or more in a rolling 12 month period)
Forex Trading
 
Futures Trading
 
Locations 
More than 180
Online CommunityTrader Network to connect with other investors 
Virtual Trading 
Stock Trading
Options Trading
Banking
Mobile App
Commissions and Fees
Ease of Use
Online Community
Research
Trading Platform
Mutual Fund Trading

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

Ally Invest: Pricing information from published website as of 5/10/2019.

Fidelity: Pricing information from published website as of 5/10/2019.

Ally Invest vs TD Ameritrade

Ally Invest's commission for stock trades is less than TD Ameritrade, but TD Ameritrade investors have access to 100 locations in 34 states.

Their cash management account features will appeal to buy-and-hold investors who value service over commission and do not plan to trade frequently.

 

Ally Invest

TD Ameritrade

 

Benefits and Features

Stock Trading$4.95 per trade ($3.95 per equity trade special pricing for high-volume/high-balance traders)
$6.95 per trade
Options Trading$4.95 base + $0.65 per contract ($0.50 per options contract special pricing for high-volume/high-balance traders)
$6.95 + $0.75 per contract
Minimum Deposit
$0
$0
Mutual Fund Trading$0 to buy/sell load mutual funds
$9.95 to buy/sell no load mutual funds
$0 for no-transaction-fee mutual funds
$49.99 for no-load mutual funds
$0 for load mutual funds
Commission Free ETFs100+ including ETFs from WisdomTree
300+ Commission-Free ETFs
Penny Stocks$0.01 per share on the entire order for stocks priced less than $2.00. Maximum commission per order not to exceed 5% of the trade value, with minimum commission of $4.95.
Broker Assisted Trades
$20 + Regular Commission
$44.99
Customer Service
(855) 880-2559 (Open 24/7)
(800) 669-3900
Inactivity Fee 
$0
Maintenance Fee 
$0
BankingIntegrated with banking on ally.com. Manage your Ally banking and investment accounts in one place.Cash Management account offers free ATM withdrawals, no monthly maintenance fees, free online bill pay, and free check writing.
Mobile App
Desktop App 
Thinkorswim
Forex Trading
Futures Trading
$2.25 per contract (plus exchange & regulatory fees)
Locations More than 100 locations in 34 states
Online CommunityTrader Network to connect with other investors 
Seminars 
Online webcast
Virtual Trading Paper Trading to practice/test strategies and ideas.
Stock Trading
Options Trading
Banking
Mobile App
Commissions and Fees
Ease of Use
Online Community
Research
Trading Platform

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

Ally Invest: Pricing information from published website as of 5/10/2019.

TD Ameritrade: Pricing information from published website as of 5/10/2019.

BOTTOM LINE: IS ALLY INVEST GOOD?

It's hard to beat Ally Invest's low cost of $4.95 per trade. The website may be more basic and doesn't have as extensive research and tools, but it can definitely hold its own.

Ally is worth considering for the budget investor or active traders. It's also good if you want to trade options or Forex, as those have strong platforms.

Cynthia Cohen is a retail analyst at CreditDonkey, a stock broker comparison and reviews website. Write to Cynthia Cohen at cynthia@creditdonkey.com

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

TD Ameritrade has not influenced the content of CreditDonkey. CreditDonkey may earn compensation for accounts opened at TD Ameritrade.

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