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Ally Invest Review

Backed by Ally Financial, Ally Invest is a low-cost broker providing $0 stock and ETF trades. Ally’s complete universal-account management experience and easy to use website makes the brokerage great for current Ally Bank customers and everyday investors alike.

Top Takeaways for 2020

After spending five months testing 15 of the best online brokers for our 10th Annual Review, here are our top findings on Ally Invest:

  • Ally Invest is the discount online brokerage arm of Ally Financial (publicly traded, “ALLY”), which also operates Ally Bank. As far as banking and brokerage combinations go, Ally delivers.
  • Alongside $0 stock and ETF trades, Ally's greatest strengths are customer service and ease of use. Whether banking or trading, Ally understands how to provide a clean user experience, which could make it a good fit for beginner investors.
  • For traders seeking a feature-rich experience, Ally Invest trails industry leaders such as TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE in core areas including trading platforms, tools, and investment research, making it difficult to recommend Ally Invest as a standalone online brokerage.
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Overall Summary

FeatureAlly Invest
Overall 4 Stars
Commissions & Fees 4.5 Stars
Offering of Investments 4 Stars
Platforms & Tools 3 Stars
Research 3.5 Stars
Education 3.5 Stars
Mobile Trading 3.5 Stars
Customer Service 4.5 Stars
Ease of Use 5 Stars

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Commissions & Fees

At Ally Invest, regular stock and ETF trades are $0 and options trades cost $0.50 per contract, which is similar pricing to most commission-free brokers .

Funds pricing: Ally's $9.95 mutual fund trades are much lower in cost than full-service brokerage competitors.

Penny stocks: Ally Invest is not a good deal for penny stock trading. For any stock under $2.00 per share, the charge is $4.95 plus an additional $.01 per share (max commission 5% of trade value).

Ally Invest pricing summary:

FeatureAlly Invest
Minimum Deposit$0.00
Stock Trade Fee (per trade)$0.00
ETF Trade Fee$0.00
Options Base Fee$0.00
Options Per Contract Fee$0.50
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$9.95
Broker Assisted Trades Fee$20.00
Commission-Free ETFsall

Banking

Among the bank and brokerage combinations, Ally shines and competes with the best in the industry.

Universal account access: All your bank and brokerage Ally accounts are managed under one login. Transferring money between accounts is also a breeze.

FDIC insured banking: Ally Bank is a registered member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which insures bank deposits up to $250,000.

High-yield savings: Ally’s high-yield savings account is easy to use and offers competitive annual yields. Also, Ally does not nickel and dime its customers; it embraces no-fee banking.

Branch locations: Being digital only, Ally Bank does not have any physical bank locations. Furthermore, there are no loyalty rewards offered for using multiple products, which is where Bank of America Merrill Edge reigns supreme. See: Best Brokers for Banking Services

Trading Platforms & Tools

When it comes to trading platforms and tools, Ally Invest’s trading tools will satisfy most casual investors, but leave more advanced traders wanting more. That said, the Ally Invest website is easy to use and navigate.

Stock charts: Placing trades is a breeze and viewing stock charts, modifying settings, and performing technical analysis is a pleasant experience. Thirty-six drawing tools are available as well as 117 technical indicators.

Options trading: With options trading, the user flow process is contained on one page. From the options chain, you flow into the strategy workbench, then the probability calculator, and finally into the profit/loss graph. While the experience trails the best options brokers overall, it will satisfy most casual options investors.

Day trading: Ally Invest offers limited capabilities for day trading. For example, direct market routing is not offered, nor is their a downloadable trading platform offered.

Ally Invest trading platform screenshots:

Research

Rank: 8th (of 16)

Ally Invest offers investors the basics of what's required to conduct in depth stock research. Thanks to a clean design, insights are quickly uncovered when researching stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds.

However, after assessing over 50 variables for research, market research leaders Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and TD Ameritrade offer significantly more for the same $0 price per trade. For example, Ally Invest provides no stock, ETF, or mutual fund screeners.

Ally Invest market research screenshots:

Mobile Trading

While lacking in numerous areas of advanced functionality, Ally's mobile experience is bug-free. It includes the core capabilities required to manage a basic portfolio. Both brokerage and bank are managed through the same app.

Mobile app trading tools: Watch lists do sync with the website but are not streaming in real-time; instead, they refresh once every five seconds. Also, no stock alerts functionality is provided, and you cannot view after-hours charts or place after-hours trades in the mobile app. The bottom line, Ally's app is easy to use but trails the best stock trading apps in terms of functionality.

Ally Invest mobile app screenshots:

Offering of Investments

Rank: 7th (of 16)

As a full-service brokerage, Ally Invest provides a diverse offering that meets the industry standard. Stock, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds and options are all offered. Managed investments (robo-advice) is also offered through Ally Invest Managed Portfolios.

Education

Ally provides a comprehensive educational experience for its customers when it comes to everyday finances. As far as online trading specific topics go, most topics are covered, from stock trading to retirement. The exception is Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), which we could not find 10 individual pieces of content. Overall, it's good, but not great. The best educational copy is on options trading; however, the content is not available within the primary learning center.

Ally Invest consistently provides webinars on investing topics for customers (average 15 per month in 2019). Unfortunately, webinars are not archived for viewing on-demand. Furthermore, all educational content is in article form. No videos are provided.

Customer Service

To score Customer Service, StockBrokers.com partners with customer experience research group Confero to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the United States. For our 2020 Broker Review, 280 customer service tests were conducted over ten weeks.

Customer Service testing results:

  • Average Connection Time: <1 minute
  • Average Net Promoter Score: 9.3 / 10
  • Average Professionalism Score: 9.0 / 10
  • Overall Score: 9.26 / 10
  • Ranking: 3 rd (14 brokers)
  • View Infographic

Final Thoughts

Rank: 8th (of 16)

The primary benefit of being an Ally Invest customer is having universal account access, which makes managing all your Ally accounts under one roof a breeze. Furthermore, customer service is excellent, and the Ally Invest website is user-friendly, including everything a casual investor would require to manage a portfolio.

Usability and Ally Bank synergies aside, if you have no ties to Ally, Ally Invest doesn’t provide enough value as a commisison-free broker to warrant a recommendation.

About Ally Invest

Ally Invest is the discount online brokerage arm of Ally Financial (publicly traded, “ALLY”). Ally Financial is best-known for its FDIC-insured banking services through Ally Bank, which includes online banking, auto financing, and home loans. Ranked as the 19th largest bank in the United States by total assets, Ally serves over six million customers, according to Wikipedia.

2020 Review Methodology

For the StockBrokers.com tenth annual best online brokers review published in January 2020, a total of 3,540 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

Participation is required to be included. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and provided executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.


Blain Reinkensmeyer

About the author: As Head of Research at StockBrokers.com, Blain Reinkensmeyer has 18 years of trading experience with over 1,000 trades placed during that time. Referenced as a leading expert on the US online brokerage industry, Blain has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.

All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 01/20/2020 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. For stock trade rates, advertised pricing is for a standard order size of 500 shares of stock priced at $30 per share. For options orders, an options regulatory fee per contract may apply.

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