Updated March 29, 2020

Ally Invest Review: Pros and Cons

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Ally Invest offers free trades for stocks and ETFs. But is it good? Find out how it compares to other online brokers.

Ally Invest Promotion
Get Up to $3,000

Overall Score

4.4

Stock Trading

5.0

Options Trading

5.0

Banking

4.5

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 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 in most Ally Invest reviews.

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

But there are some drawbacks you'll want to know before opening an account. 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.

Commission and Fees: Ally Invest regular stock and ETF trades are $0. Options cost $0.50 per contract. There is no minimum to open. Fees for options, mutual funds, and bonds are lower than the most discount brokers.

  • Self-directed or managed 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

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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 who can take advantage of the $0 commissions.

  • Advanced traders who wish to invest in Forex and/or options.

  • Ally banking customers who want investing and banking under one account and app.

  • Beginner investors who want completely hands-off easy investing with Ally Invest Robo Portfolios.

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

However, Ally Invest doesn't offer fractional shares. So it's not good for small investors who just want to invest a few bucks at a time. Check out one of these micro investment apps (like Robinhood or Stash) instead.

Is Ally Invest good for beginners? With low fees, no account minimum and a user-friendly platform, Ally Invest is ideal for beginners. But it does not have a practice trading platform or extensive educational material so it may not be good for true novice investors. To help you decide, read about the pros and cons below.

Pros & Cons

PROS:

  • $0 online stock and ETF trades
  • No account minimum to open
  • Wide variety of investment options
  • Strong Forex platform
  • Robo Portfolios option for no advisory fees
  • Customer support 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
  • Check out Ally Invest here >>

CONS:

  • No fractional shares
  • No physical locations
  • No practice trading platform
  • No transaction-fee-free mutual funds
  • Research and tools not as extensive as other brokerages
  • Fee for transferring or closing IRAs

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

Ally Invest Promotional Codes

OPENING AN ACCOUNT

To open an Ally Invest account, you must be a US citizen or legal permanent resident, and have a US address. You can get started two ways:

  1. A self-directed account.
    If you're comfortable investing on your own, you can manage your own investment portfolio.

    There is no no account minimum to open a self-directed account. And there are no annual fee, no maintenance, and no inactivity fee.

    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.

  2. A managed account.
    If you're a beginner or don't have the time to self manage, the automated robo portfolio offers an easy solution. This is a robo-advisor that will automatically invest and manage your portfolio for you based on your goals.

    You need an account minimum of $100 to open. There are no advisory fees for Robo Portfolio.

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

Robo Portfolios support:

  • Individual and joint taxable
  • IRAs (Traditional, Roth, Rollover)
  • Custodial

Ally Invest Fees & Commissions

Ally Invest always had one of the lowest fees on the market. And in October 2019, it announced that there will no longer be any commission fees on U.S. listed stocks, ETFs, and options trades.

  • Stock and ETFs: $0 per trade
  • Options: $0 per trade plus $0.50 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
  • IRA transfer fee: $50
  • IRA closure fee: $50

All new accounts (no matter your opening amount) will get commission-free stock trading. But note that option trades still cost 50 cents per contract. This is lower than the standard 65 cents that most other online brokers charge.

Ally Invest also offers a bonus up to $3,000 to new users.

INVESTMENT OFFERINGS

Ally Invest offers a wide assortment of investment options:

  • Stocks

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

  • ETFs: Ally offers 500+ commission-free exchange traded funds from Vanguard, GlobalX, WisdomTree, iShares and more.

  • 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.

  • Forex (Foreign Exchange): Ally offers a robust Forex trading platform for investors, plus a free practice account. You need a minimum deposit of $50. Read more about it in detail below.

  • Margin trading: This means trading with borrowed money. Ally's margin interest rate is 7.75% for up to $9,999, with lowered rates for higher margins. This is lower than competitors like TD Ameritrade. But higher than Robinhood and Webull.

Ally Invest does not offer futures or cryptocurrency. It also doesn't offer fractional shares. You must purchase a full share of a stock.

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.

PLATFORM AND TOOLS

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

It offers trading tools such as:

  • Customizable dashboard. You can drag/remove modules however you want.
  • Streaming charts. 8 chart types (such as candlestick, bar, mountain, and line) with 117 chart studies and 36 drawing tools.
  • Alerts. Add alerts to your charts
  • Watchlists. Create customized watchlists.
  • Research data. See market stats, charts, company quotes, high/low prices, and peer performance comparisons.
  • Free tools by Recognia.

Ally Invest offers robust tools for options. Options traders will especially find that the platform is well-developed to help you make informed decisions for these risky trades. Options tools include:

  • Profit/loss graph: Understand a trade's potential before placing it.
  • Probability calculator: Uses implied volatility to help you estimate the likelihood of hitting your targets.
  • Options chains: Easily see what's available and place trades.

If you're an active options trader and want truly free options trades, look into Robinhood. This trading app allows you to invest in stocks, options and cryptocurrency completely commission-free. However, it lacks research, tools, and account options.

Here are some screenshots:

Markets Overview

Options Chains and Probability Calculator

Ally's platform is obviously looking to bat with the big brokers. But it's still lacking in some trading 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 Windows platform.

Managing Tax Strategies

Ally offers a Tax Lot Allocation tool and Maxit Tax Manager to manage the sale of your positions. These tools allow you to pick different tax lot methods to help minimize your tax bill.

Say you bought the same stock at different prices on different dates. Being able to select which lots to sell will affect your gains and losses, which affects how much tax you pay.

When selling securities, the account default is FIFO (first-in, first-out). But you can select a different tax lot method like LIFO (last-in, first-out) or choose specific shares. You must submit the change within 2 business days after execution of the trade.

Robo Portfolio

If you're a beginner or just wants to be hands-off, Ally Invest offers a robo-advisor called Robo 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
  • Automatic rebalancing
  • 4 portfolio options: core, income, tax-optimized, and socially responsible

You just need to invest a minimum of $100 to start. Robo Portfolios is free of advisory fees.This is lower than other robo-advisors like Betterment. However, the catch is that 30% of your portfolio will be held in cash. Read more about it in our detailed review.

Robo Portfolios lacks tax loss harvesting, which is a feature offered by many other robo-advisors.

Robo-advisors are ideal for investors who:

  • Are new to investing and don't feel confident to make choices
  • Want completely easy hands-off investing
  • Don't have time to invest and manage their own portfolios

ALLY INVEST FOREX

For Forex traders, you must sign up for an entirely separate platform and mobile app. Ally Invest 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 offers two forex platforms: their own Ally Invest Forex and MetaTrader 4. Both allow you to trade over 80 currency pairs and offer fractional pricing.

Ally's Forex platform 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. You get a free $50,000 virtual practice account with full access to the platforms and tools for 30 days.

You need at least $50 to open an Ally Forex account, and $500 for MetaTrader 4. 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 app as the Ally online banking. So if you use the banking services as well, you can bank and invest under one roof. Ally Mobile app has a average 4.8 star rating on the App Store. It provides investors with single access to your banking and investing life. The reviews tend to highlight the ease of use.

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

  • Buy and sell stocks and options from your phone
  • Get real time streaming quotes, chart positions, and current news
  • Use charting tools
  • View your watch lists
  • Monitor your investments and check balances

Is Ally Safe?

Ally Invest is a member of SIPC and FINRA (CRD #136131). SIPC, created under federal law, protects your securities (up to $500,000) and cash (up to $250,000) if your brokerage firm fails. FINRA ensures compliance with industry regulations. Additionally, Ally has a track-record going back to 1919.

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.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Besides low fees, Ally Invest has high user satisfaction ratings. It offers good customer support with a human. You can reach Ally Invest by:

  • Phone: 1-855-880-2559
  • Live chat online
  • Email: support@invest.ally.com

How It Compares to Other Online Brokers

No review of Ally Invest is complete without a look at how Ally Invest compares with industry heavyweights Fidelity, E*TRADE, and TD Ameritrade. Here are the side-by-side comparisons to see how the brokers compare.

Ally Invest vs E*TRADE

E*TRADE also made the move to commission-free trades. But it offers a large selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds, which Ally Invest does not have. The better one for you depends on what you want to invest in.

E*TRADE's investment platform is top notch when it comes to research and trading tools. Investors with more experience may find more value in E*TRADE.

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

Ally Invest vs Fidelity

Fidelity also offers commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options trades. However, Fidelity's mutual funds trading price is significantly higher. But it does offer a huge selection of no-fee funds such as zero minimum investment Fidelity Mutual Funds.

A downside is that Fidelity's trading platforms require users to make a certain amount of trades before they're granted access. The lowest is 36 trades per 12 months, but more advanced tools require 120 trades per 12 months.

Fidelity has than 180 branch locations, so it's also good if you want in-person advice.

Ally Invest vs TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade now also offers $0 commissions on online stock, ETF, and options trades. Its trading platforms are among the most advanced out of all online brokers. You get free access to all elite tools. Plus, there a virtual platform where you can make practice trades before committing real money.

It also offers a cash management account, which includes a debit card, free ATM withdrawals, free check writing, and free bill pay.

TD Ameritrade investors have access to 100 locations in 34 states. Charles Schwab recently announced their plans to acquire TD Ameritrade.

OTHER SERVICES

Ally Invest is part of Ally Financial, which also includes a full-service online bank. Ally Bank gets very high satisfaction ratings for its competitive savings rates, user-friendly website, and good customer support.

Services include:

  • Online savings account with % APY
  • Interest checking with no monthly fees
  • A variety of CDs with no minimum deposits
  • Home loans
  • Car loans

If you like having all your personal finance in one place, Ally is definitely worth looking into. You use one single log-in for both Ally Invest and Ally Bank, so it's convenient to manage everything under one roof.

BOTTOM LINE: IS ALLY INVEST GOOD?

Even though Ally is an budget broker with no physical locations, it's worth considering.

It's hard to beat Ally Invest's low cost of $0 per stock trade. But website is more basic, so true beginners may feel lost. It also doesn't have as extensive research and trading tools as other brokers, but it can definitely hold its own.

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

Ally Invest Coupon Codes

Get Up to $3,000

Expires 6/30/2022

The minimum qualifying deposit to receive a cash bonus is $10,000. Accounts will be reviewed 60 days after account opening to determine the total qualifying deposit. Corresponding cash bonus will be credited to the account within 10 business days. Once the bonus is credited to the account, the bonus and qualifying deposit (minus any trading losses) is not available for withdrawal for 300 days. If the qualifying deposit is withdrawn, the bonus may be revoked.

Deposit or TransferCash Bonus
$10,000 - $24,999$100
$25,000 - $99,999$250
$100,000 - $249,999$300
$250,000 - $499,999$600
$500,000 - $999,999$1,200
$1,000,000 - $1,999,999$2,000
$2,000,000+$3,000

Betterment

Get up to 1 Year Managed Free

New Betterment customers only. Accounts must be funded within 45 days of signup. Terms apply.

BlockFi

Get Up to $250 in Bonus BTC

DepositCrypto Bonus
$100 - $1,499$15
$1,500 - $19,999$20
$20,000 - $39,999$40
$40,000 - $74,999$75
$75,000 - $99,999$100
$100,000+$250

Cynthia Cohen is a retail analyst at CreditDonkey, a personal finance comparison and reviews website. Write to Cynthia Cohen at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website 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. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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Top Ally Invest Special Offers

Ally Invest (formerly TradeKing) is one of the most trusted online brokers. Its offers $0 commission on online stock, ETF and option trades, superior customer service, and a full range financial services. Read our in-depth review to see why ...

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