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Ally Invest Review

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The StockBrokers.com annual review (9 years running) takes six months to complete and produces over 30,000 words of research each year. Here's how we test.

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.

Review Summary

Rank: 9th (of 16)

Backed by Ally Financial, Ally Invest is a low-cost broker providing $4.95 stock trades. Ally’s complete universal-account management experience makes the brokerage ideal for current Ally Bank customers; however, convenience aside, Ally Invest struggles to stand out against industry leaders.

Benefits

  • Seamless universal-account management for Ally Bank and Ally Invest customers.
  • Ally Bank online high-yield savings accounts offer an annual percentage yield above 2%.

Considerations

  • For customers that want to have banking and brokerage combined, Ally does not offer a rewards program. For rewards like free stock trades, Merrill Edge is king.
  • With pricing of $4.95 for regular stock trades, Ally Invest trails Fidelity and Charles Schwab in most areas of its investment offering, from tools to research to education and even customer service, making it difficult to recommend as a standalone online brokerage, including for beginners.
  • For active traders, Ally’s promoted $3.95 discounted rate doesn’t come close to competing with the best day trading platforms.

Ally Invest Gallery

Special Offer:

  • up to $3,500 cash bonus + 90 Days Commission-Free Trades Open Account

In today's low cost trading world, $4.95 stock trades are just average pricing.


At Ally Invest, regular stock trades are $4.95, with options trades costing $4.95 plus $.65 per contract, which is the same pricing as Fidelity and Charles Schwab.

Looking at active trader discounts, trade at least 30 times per quarter with Ally Invest or maintain a $100,000 balance, and the rate reduces to $3.95 for stocks and $3.95 + $.50 per contract for options. While a decent savings, Ally Invest unfortunately does not measure up to the best day trading brokers.

$9.95 mutual fund trades are much lower in cost than full-service brokerage competitors. However, mutual funds are falling out of popularity compared to ETFs. For trading ETFs, Ally Invest only offers 116 commission-free ETFs, where as TD Ameritrade offers 313 and Fidelity offers 500.

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

Ally Invest Pricing Comparison - View full pricing breakdown

FeatureAlly InvestMerrill EdgeFidelity TD AmeritradeCharles Schwab
Minimum Deposit$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00
Stock Trade Fee (per trade)$4.95$6.95$4.95$6.95$4.95
ETF Trade Fee$4.95$6.95$4.95$6.95$4.95
Options Base Fee$4.95$6.95$4.95$6.95$4.95
Options Per Contract Fee$0.65$0.75$0.65$0.75$0.65
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$9.95$19.95$49.95$49.99$49.95
Broker Assisted Trades Fee$20.00$29.95$32.95$44.99$25.00
Commission-Free ETFs1160500571503
Commissions & Fees 3.5 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.5 Stars

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


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

Ally’s high-yield savings account is easy to use and offers competitive annual yields above 2%. Also, Ally does not nickel and dime its customers; it embraces no-fee banking.

However, 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

Ally Invest Banking Features Comparison - View all banking features

FeatureAlly InvestMerrill EdgeFidelity TD AmeritradeCharles Schwab
Retail Locations04400197364357
Member FDIC Yes Yes No No Yes
Checking Accounts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Savings Accounts Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Credit Cards Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Debit Cards Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mortgage Loans Yes Yes No No Yes
No Fee Banking Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Banking 4 Stars 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 4.5 Stars

When it comes to trading platforms and tools, Ally Invest’s trading tools are lackluster. That said, the broker is easy to use.


The Ally Invest website is easy to use and navigate. 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.

With options trading, the user flow process is all contained on one page, taking you from the options chains into the strategy workbench, then the probability calculator, and finally into the profit/loss graph. The profit & loss (P&L) charts are clean, customizable, and flow well with the rest of the options research process.

Unfortunately, there is no way to log in directly to Ally Invest. Instead, you have to log in to Ally’s universal account dashboard, and then click on Investments or your Ally Invest account. This can become tedious if you are logging in multiple times per day or week.

Ally Invest offers limited capabilities for day trading. For example, direct market routing is not offered, nor are certain advance order types, such as multi-contingent orders.

All in all, Ally Invest’s trading tools are lackluster. While the website will satisfy most casual stock and options investors, active traders would be better advised to look at industry leaders TradeStation or TD Ameritrade.

Ally Invest Trading Tools Comparison - View all features

FeatureAlly InvestTD AmeritradeFidelity Charles SchwabE*TRADE
Web Platform Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Desktop Platform (Windows) No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Watch Lists - Total Fields2151491108125
Charting - Drawing Tools3622221533
Charting - Indicators / Studies11741116641118
Option Chains - Total Columns833264130
Streaming TV No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Paper Trading No Yes No No Yes
Platforms & Tools 2.5 Stars 5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars


Ally Invest offers investors the basics of what's required to conduct stock research.


The Ally Invest research area is easy to navigate and use, less the default Home dashboard, which is outdated and needs to be redesigned. And, thanks to a clean design, insights are quickly uncovered when researching stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds.

However, after assessing 60 variables, given the cost per trade, Fidelity and Charles Schwab offer significantly more for the same $4.95 per trade price. No screeners are available and fundamental research is limited.

Ally Invest Research Tools Comparison - View all features

FeatureAlly InvestMerrill EdgeFidelity TD AmeritradeCharles Schwab
Research - Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stock Research - Reports231278
Research - ETFs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Research - Mutual Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Research - Fixed Income No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Research - Futures No No Yes Yes Yes
Research - Forex No No No Yes No
Research 2 Stars 4.5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars

While lacking in numerous areas of advanced functionality, Ally’s mobile experience is bug-free and includes the core capabilities required to manage an investment portfolio.


To access Ally Invest, you use the Ally Mobile app. Universal access is a nice perk if you are a current Ally Bank customer, as jumping between bank and brokerage areas is quick and easy.

Watch lists are not streaming real time; instead, they refresh once every five seconds. That said, they do sync with the website.

No stock alerts functionality is provided and you cannot view after-hours charts or place after-hours trades in the mobile app, which are standard features offered by the best stock trading apps.

Ally Invest Mobile App Features Comparison - View all mobile features

FeatureAlly InvestMerrill EdgeFidelity TD AmeritradeCharles Schwab
iPhone App Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Android App Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Apple Watch App No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Watch List Syncing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stock Alerts - Basic Fields No Yes Yes Yes No
Charting - After Hours No Yes Yes Yes No
Mobile Trading 3 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4 Stars

As a full-service brokerage, Ally Invest provides a diverse offering that meets the industry standard.


Ally Invest Offering Comparison - View all investments offered

FeatureAlly InvestMerrill EdgeFidelity TD AmeritradeCharles Schwab
Stock Trading Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
OTCBB / Pink Sheets Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Options Trading Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Complex Options Max Legs42444
Options Exercising (Web) No No No Yes No
Options Exercising (Phone) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds (US Treasury) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds (Corporate) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bonds (Municipal) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Futures Trading No No No Yes Yes
Forex Trading Yes No No Yes No
Mutual Funds (No Load)72002471403151855846
Mutual Funds (Total)14000370911782124185846
DRIPs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Advisor Services Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Offering of Investments 4 Stars 3 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 4.5 Stars

Ally Invest provides a mediocre educational experience for its customers.


Educational content covers nearly the full investment spectrum, from stock trading to retirement. That said, all educational content is in article form, no search feature is offered, no videos are provided, and organization is limited to just topic.

Ally Invest consistently provides webinars on investing topics for customers (average 17 per month in 2018). Unfortunately, webinars are not archived for viewing on demand.

Ally Invest Education Features Comparison - View all education features offered

FeatureAlly InvestMerrill EdgeFidelity TD AmeritradeCharles Schwab
Has Education - Stocks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - ETFs No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - Options Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - Mutual Funds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - Fixed Income Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Has Education - Retirement Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Paper Trading No No No Yes No
Videos No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Webinars (Monthly Avg)170850050
Webinars (Archived) No No Yes Yes Yes
Live Seminars Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Progress Tracking No No Yes Yes No
Interactive Learning - Quizzes No Yes Yes Yes No
Investor Magazine No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Education 3.5 Stars 4.5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 4.5 Stars

Ally Invest finished 7th for customer service in our national testing.


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 2019 Broker Review, 300 customer service tests were conducted over ten weeks.

Customer Service testing results:

  • Average Connection Time: <1 minute
  • Average Net Promoter Score: 8.3 / 10
  • Average Professionalism Score: 7.5 / 10
  • Overall Score: 8.19 / 10
  • Ranking: 7 th (16 brokers)
  • View Infographic

Final Thoughts

Rank: 9th (of 16)

The major benefit of being an Ally Invest customer is having universal account access, which makes managing all your accounts under one roof a breeze. Furthermore, the Ally Invest website is user-friendly for casual investors.

Ease of use and Ally Bank synergies aside, if you have no ties to Ally and are looking for a discount broker to open an account with, Ally Invest doesn’t provide enough value to warrant a recommendation. See: Best Stock Brokers for Beginners.

Methodology

For the StockBrokers.com ninth annual review published in February 2019, a total of 4,544 data points were collected over six months and used to score brokers. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and provided executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. 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. We take pride in StockBrokers.com data quality because it is 100% verified by the industry itself. As part of our process, we hand check and validate each data point to ensure its accuracy.

This 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: Blain Reinkensmeyer 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 New York Times, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among others.

All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 02/18/2019 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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