Ally Invest Review
By Blain Reinkensmeyer
February 18th, 2019
Last Updated: March 15th, 2019
The StockBrokers.com Annual Review (9 years running) sets the official industry benchmarks. Our Head of Research, Blain Reinkensmeyer, is respected by executives as the leading analyst covering online brokers. Learn more.
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.
Ally Invest offers a clean online trading experience best suited to current Ally Bank customers.
- 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%.
- Given a base commission of $4.95 for regular stock trades, Ally Invest trails its closest competitors in most areas of its investment offering, from tools to research to education, making it difficult to recommend as a standalone online brokerage.
- Up to $3,500 bonus + 1.5% Interest Cash Back – 5x the National Average Learn More
Commissions & Fees
At Ally Invest, pricing is in line with its full-service broker competition. Regular stock trades are $4.95, with options trades costing $4.95 plus $.65 per contract. Trade at least 30 times per quarter or maintain a $100,000 balance, and the rate reduces to $3.95 for stocks and $3.95 + $.50 per contract for options.
- $9.95 mutual fund trades are much lower in cost than full-service brokerage competitors.
- No commission charged for buying back short options valued at 5 cents or less.
- Ally Invest charges a $50.00 per year inactivity fee to any account that has a balance of less than $2,500 or does not place at least one trade for the year.
- For any stock under $2.00 per share, an additional $.01 per share is charged (max commission 5% of trade value).
|Stock Trade Fee (flat)||$4.95|
|Options Base Fee||$4.95|
|Options Per Contract Fee||$0.65|
|Mutual Fund Trade Fee||$9.95|
Platforms & Tools
Ally Invest offers its website as a web-based platform where all trading is conducted. Using the website, customers can conduct basic stock and options trading. Highlights include ease of use, stock charting, and options analysis. Beyond this, Ally Invest’s trading tools are lackluster.
- The Ally Invest website is easy to use and navigate. Placing trades is a breeze.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
|Desktop Platform (Windows)||No|
|Watch Lists - Total Fields||21|
|Charting - Drawing Tools||36|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies||117|
|Option Chains - Total Columns||8|
Ally Invest offers the bare bones basics to conduct research. Unfortunately, given the cost per trade, Fidelity and Charles Schwab offer significantly more for the same price. That said, Ally Invest keeps the research experience approachable and simple, and continues to strategically add functionality each year.
- Apart from the default Home dashboard, which is outdated and needs to be redesigned, the Ally Invest research area is easy to navigate and use.
- Thanks to a clean design, insights are quickly uncovered when researching stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds.
- No screeners are available.
- New customers can contact customer service and request access to the old legacy TradeKing website, which does include more research tools, albeit in a completely outdated website. Ally Invest is in the middle of a multi-year effort to update its research offering.
|Research - Stocks||Yes|
|Stock Research - Reports||2|
|Research - ETFs||Yes|
|Research - Mutual Funds||Yes|
|Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB||Yes|
|Research - Fixed Income||No|
|Research - Futures||No|
|Research - Forex||No|
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.
- 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
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. 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.
- Universal access (bank, brokerage) is a convenient feature if you are an Ally Bank customer.
- Watch lists sync with the website.
- Watch lists are not streaming real time; instead, they refresh once every five seconds.
- No stock alerts functionality.
- Cannot view after-hours charts or place after-hours trades.
|Apple Watch App||No|
|Watch List Syncing||Yes|
|Stock Alerts - Basic Fields||No|
|Charting - After Hours||No|
Offering of Investments
As a full-service brokerage, Ally Invest provides a diverse offering that meets the industry standard.
- Full FDIC-backed online banking services through Ally Bank.
- 116 commission-free ETFs offered.
- Limited capabilities for active trading. For example, direct market routing is not offered, nor are certain advance order types, such as multi-contingent orders.
|OTCBB / Pink Sheets||Yes|
|Complex Options Max Legs||4|
|Mutual Funds (No Load)||7200|
Ally Invest provides a mediocre educational experience for its customers.
- Educational content covers nearly the full investment spectrum, from stock trading to retirement.
- 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.
- All educational content is in article form. No videos are provided.
- No search is provided to find specific articles of interest.
- Content organization is limited to topic. Content cannot be filtered by skill level.
|Has Education - Stocks||Yes|
|Has Education - ETFs||No|
|Has Education - Options||Yes|
|Has Education - Mutual Funds||Yes|
|Has Education - Fixed Income||Yes|
|Has Education - Retirement||Yes|
Among the bank and brokerage combinations in our annual review, Ally shines and competes with the best in the industry. Ally Bank’s greatest drawback is a lack of physical retail locations and loyalty rewards, which is where Bank of America Merrill Edge reigns supreme.
- 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%.
- Ally does not nickel and dime its customers; it embraces no-fee banking.
- No physical bank locations.
- No loyalty rewards offered for using multiple products.
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.