Ally Invest is a relative newcomer to the market. Its parent company, Ally Financial, created the platform from its purchase of TradeKing. We'll talk about that in more detail in just a minute. But first, let's check out some of the features that make Ally Invest unique.
What Is Ally Invest?
As we mentioned above, the Ally Invest name is relatively new in the stockbroker space. However, the brokerage has its roots in a highly rated service called TradeKing.
Publicly traded firm Ally Financial Inc. purchased TradeKing in 2016 and rebranded it as Ally Invest. TradeKing was well known as one of the very lowest-cost investment platforms. It focused on self-directed investing and options trading. Since taking over the highly successful investment platform, Ally has added its own features and benefits and nixed commissions on most trades. This has turned it into one of the very top investment services available.
Ally Invest's sister company, Ally Bank, is one of the leading banks on the web. It offers some of the best interest and loan rates anywhere. The bank is online only, with no local brick-and-mortar branches. All told, Ally has more than 7,000 employees and more than $70 billion in customer deposits. In 2019, Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine listed Ally Bank as the Best Internet Bank. If you combine an Ally Bank account with an Ally Invest account, you could have a one-stop-shop for all of your money needs.
Ally Invest now serves more than 250,000 customer accounts. It holds more than $4.7 billion in assets.
Ally Invest Features
|Investment Types||Stocks, OTC/Penny Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Options, Forex, Cryptocurrencies, Futures|
|Accounts Types|| |
|Access||Web Based, iPhone App, Apple Watch, Android App, BlackBerry App|
|Broker Assisted Trade||$20|
|No Fee ETFs||115|
|Customer Service||7am-10pm ET, 7 days a week|
- Commission-Free Trading — Like many online brokers, Ally Invest eliminated commissions on most U.S. exchange-listed stock, options, and ETF trades in October 2019.
- No Account Minimums — Ally Invest requires no account minimum to begin trading.
- Account Protection — Accounts are SIPC protected for up to $500,000, with $250,000 for cash claims. Further coverage is available for up to $37.5 million, with up to $900,000 in cash with an aggregate cap of $150 million (Forex & Futures accounts are not covered).
- Clearing Agency — Ally Invest Securities LLC services brokerage accounts, and advisory client account assets are kept in custody with Apex Clearing Corp.
- Robo Portfolio Options — If you'd rather have some assistance in building and maintaining your portfolio, Ally Invest also offers a fee-free robo portfolio akin to a robo-advisory service. It's called the Cash-Enhanced Robo Portfolio, and you can find our review of it here.
- Trading Tools — Ally Invest offers a full suite of trading tools to help you become a more successful investor, including:
- Streaming Charts — Six charts with more than 90 chart studies and drawing tools to analyze the performance of securities, fully customizable.
- Market & Company Snapshots — Insights on individual companies, including Market statistics, news, detailed metrics, and more.
- Watchlists — A customizable list to track and view market data on groups of securities.
- Profit/Loss Calculator — Enables you to understand the profit and loss potential of an options trade before you make it. You can also see how outcomes change based on fluctuations in volatility and time.
- Probability Calculator — You can use implied volatility to help you determine the probability of hitting your targets before placing trades.
- Market Data — Provides quotes, charts, high/low prices, dividend dates, overall options summary, news, historical quotes, and peer performance comparisons.
- Options Chains — Enables you to place options trades, and even complex multi-leg spreads with ease.
How Does Ally Invest Work?
Signing up for a new Ally Invest account is easy. All you need to do is navigate to the Ally Invest page and click “Open Account.” Ally Invest will then walk you through the steps needed to open an account.
Part of the signup process involves deciding what type of account to open with Ally Invest. Unlike some of the more bare-bones free online brokers such as Robinhood, Ally Invest offers 13 types of accounts, from individual taxable accounts to tax-advantaged IRAs, to custodial accounts.
How to Fund Your Ally Invest Account
The easiest way to fund your account is with a debit card. That's because the funds will post to your Ally Invest account immediately. Wire transfers take one to two business days. These can be done with U.S. dollars, euros, Canadian dollars, Japanese yen, Swiss francs, Australian dollars, or British pounds.
Other funding methods take more time. If you fund your account using an ACH from your checking account, the transfer process will take two to five business days. That means up to one week. If you pay by check, it's even slower. It will take five to 10 business days to process. The check must be drawn on a U.S. bank.
Right now, Ally Invest is offering a signup bonus for new customers who invest at least $10,000. To qualify, you must fund your new account within 60 days of opening, and the $10,000 minimum must remain in your account (minus any trading losses) for at least 90 days.
Good news: This promotion applies to IRAs as well as to taxable accounts.
Here's a breakdown of what you can get:
Opening Balance Cash Bonus $2M+ $3,000 $1,000,000 – $1.99M $2,000 $500,000 – $999,999 $1,200 $250,000 – $499,999 $600 $100,000 – $249,999 $300 $25,000 – $99,999 $250 $10,000 – $24,999 $100
Ally Invest Investment Options
Ally Invest offers a huge range of trading opportunities. You can trade stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and fixed-income securities. That can include corporate, agency and municipal bonds. You can trade Treasurys, strips and zeros, certificates of deposit (CDs) and new issues. You can also trade from more than 12,000 load and no-load mutual funds. Ally Invest also has a robust options suite. It includes equity, index and ETF options, as well as Binary Return Derivatives.
As well as allowing investors to trade securities, Ally Invest offers its Forex & Futures platform. This features a broad range of tools and resources. It also boasts some of the lowest fees available for forex trading.
Ally Invest Fees
In October 2019, Ally Invest announced that it would eliminate commissions on most U.S. exchange-listed stocks, options, and ETF trades. The broker was one of several that decided to offer fee-free trades after an escalating pricing war. (You can read more about the fee-free trend here.)
However, there are still some fees associated with Ally Invest trades.
Although there are no commissions charged on options, you'll still need to pay 50 cents per contract. This charge is among the lowest in the industry (65 cents per contract is the norm). However, if you're an options trader looking for totally free options trades, be advised that Robinhood doesn't charge a contract fee.
One of the few downsides to Ally Invest is its lack of fee-free mutual funds. The platform does offer more than 8,000 mutual funds. But you'll have to pay a commission of $9.95 on no-load funds. Now, keep in mind that this commission is very low compared to the rest of the brokerage firms. However, some of the other big online brokers (including E*TRADE offer thousands of funds with no fees.
You'll also have to pay commissions on “Low Priced Securities” (stocks trading for less than $2 per share). This commission is $4.95 per trade, plus 1 cent per share. There's also a $1 fee per bond, with a minimum of $10.
And as usual, you'll find fees for wire transfers, phone-assisted orders, paper copies, etc.
Ally Invest Screenshots
Ally Invest Robo Portfolios
We don't all want self-directed investing, so Ally Invest offers the Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolio. This service provides professionally designed and personalized portfolios made to fit your goals. It boasts automatic rebalancing to keep the target portfolio allocation. That means you never need to worry about maintaining your portfolio. And perhaps the best part — the Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolio requires only a $100 deposit to get started.
Each Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolio is made based on the client's risk tolerance, financial goals, and investment horizon for each of those goals. Low-cost index funds (ETFs) are used to make up the portfolio. This will maximize your return. You can even adjust your risk tolerance and, therefore, your portfolio allocations.
Ally's Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolio is unique among robo advisors in that is has a permanent built-in 30% cash buffer. That means, without fail, 30% of your portfolio will remain in cash rather than stocks, bonds, funds, etc. This is designed to keep your portfolio somewhat insulated against downturns in the stock market.
The Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolio can be made for individual and joint taxable accounts; traditional, Roth and rollover IRAs; and custodial accounts. And as with Ally Invest in general, customer service is available 7 days a week from 7 am-10 pm (Eastern Time) with your Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolio.
The Ally Invest Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolio is now free of advisory fees.
Ally Invest Forex & Futures
Ally Invest offers Forex & Futures trading for more skilled investors. You can trade more than 50 currency pairs. These include gold and silver. All trades can be done in real-time. The service comes with strong research and analysis tools. There is also a wide range of educational materials. You will also enjoy market access 24 hours a day, Sunday through Friday (beginning Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and ending Fridays at 5:00 p.m., all times Eastern).
The Forex & Futures service offers a customizable trading platform that includes:
- Metals, agricultural, indices, and bonds from various exchanges
- Tiered commission plans that offer reduced fees for high-volume trading
- Charting capabilities based on more than 100 technical indicators
- Indicators, real-time alerts, and a tradable Market Depth Ladder — all customizable
When you apply for an account, you can open either a ForexTrader or a MetalTrader account. You can open a Forex & Futures account with as little as $250. $2,500 is recommended so that you will be able to take full advantage of the account. This will allow for more flexibility and diversification.
Ally Invest Forex & Futures offers some of the tightest trading spreads in the industry. This is done to reduce your trading costs and increase your profit potential. Ally Invest even publishes its live spreads.
As noted above, Ally Invest is compensated based on the buy/sell spread. It does not charge commission fees on forex trades.
ForexTrader Web. This feature is designed to run on both Windows and Mac and with many web browsers. It has a real-time position and accounts information, a fully integrated charting tool, and a variety of single and contingent order types, including If/Then, If/Then OCO and Trailing Stops.
Forex Premium Charting. This offers professional-grade tools to identify and decode forex patterns and trends.
The tool allows you to:
- Overlay multiple indicators for advanced technical analysis
- View an auto-trendline indicator continuation on charts
- Easily save, export, print or email charts
- Customize charts to your personal preferences
Educational Resources. Ally Invest offers premium education, from the basics of forex and futures trading to technical and fundamental analysis. There is also a helpful glossary if you just need to look up a term quickly.
Forex & Futures Practice Account. Ally Invest offers a free $50,000 practice account that gives you full access to the trading platforms and tools for up to 30 days. This lets you hone your skills before putting your own real money to work. This is a big plus for anyone who either is new to forex and futures trading or wants to improve their skills before going live.
It's important to understand that forex accounts are not protected by SIPC or FDIC insurance. Ally Invest does not guarantee them.
Highlights Rating 9/10 9.5/10 9/10 Min. Investment $0 $0 $0 Stock Trades $0/trade $0/trade $0/trade Options Trades $0.65/contract $0.50/contract $0.65/contract Mutual Funds Virtual Trading
Ally Banking & Lending
When you invest your money with Ally Invest, you will also have an option to bank through Ally Bank. This is one of the most innovative online banks out there, offering some of the best interest rates available on any banking platform.
Ally Bank offers online savings, money market accounts, high-yield certificates of deposit, and interest checking.
Ally Bank also offers mortgage loans and a cash-back credit card. The real strength on the lending side is auto financing and leasing. Ally Bank is the successor of GMAC, the former auto financing arm of General Motors. GMAC works directly with more than 17,000 car dealers across the country, and It provides loans and leases for millions of drivers. It offers the Ally SmartLease program that enables you to lease new and even pre-owned cars.
The banking and lending side of Ally Financial can make investing with Ally Invest a true one-stop-shop for all your financial needs.
Ally Invest Pros & Cons
No Commission Fees—Ally Invest no longer charges commission fees on exchange-listed stock, ETF and options trades.
Comprehensive Platform—This platform can accommodate virtually any type of investor, from self-directed active trader to the passive investor.
Banking Options—When you invest with Ally Invest, you also have access to Ally Bank, which has some of the best interest rates available on various savings vehicles, and among the most competitive auto loans and leasing arrangements on the market. You can bank where you invest.
Managed Portfolio Option—Ally Invest has an option for those who are not interested in DIY investing and for those who want to have some or most of their money professionally managed while doing self-directed investing through the same broker.
Customer Service—Ally Invest representatives are available everyday
Fund Transfers Can Be Slow—It can take up to five business days (one week) to transfer funds into your account by ACH. Funding your account by check can take up to 10 business days (two weeks).
No Local Branches—Some of the larger investment brokerages, such as Fidelity and Charles Schwab, have local branches available. If you prefer that kind of face-to-face contact with your investing activities, then Ally Invest probably won’t work for you.
Ally Invest offers a complete investment platform. You can do self-directed investing or rely on Ally Invest Cash Enhanced Robo Portfolios to do it for you.
Customer service is available 7 days a week from 7 am-10 pm (Eastern Time) which is perfect for those who do their best investment thinking at night or on weekends.
Meanwhile, you also have access to Ally Bank with its very attractive offerings of high-interest rate checking, savings, and CDs. The bank also offers some of the best auto loans for both new and used cars.
Its strong services and zero fees make Ally Invest one of the very best trading and investment platforms to use. You really can't lose with this one.