Ally Invest Review (2020): Innovative Banking With a Handy Platform

Ally Invest Review

Their trading platform is integrated with the Ally Bank which has some fantastic offers. Online stock, options, and ETF trades are commission-free as of October 2019.

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Ally Invest - Reviews & Ratings

Ally Invest is a good brokerage for most investors, whether they are new or experienced. The platform is integrated with Ally Bank and the prices for most securities are very alluring.
9/10

FAST FACTS:
• Account Minimum: $0
• Fees: $0
• Best for: Linking investment to banking accounts
• Highlight: Commission-free stock, options, and ETF trades. Ally Bank is accessible through the trading platform

Usability: 8.5/10
Research and Education: 8/10
Customer Service & Help: 9/10
Commissions & Fees: 10/10
Tools & Resources: 8.5/10

Investor Warning: Options involve risk and are not suitable for all investors. Options investors may lose the entire amount of their investment in a relatively short period of time.

Ally Invest, formerly known as TradeKing, is one of the biggest full-service automotive finance operations in the U.S. that offers a wide spectrum of financial services and insurance products to automotive dealerships and consumers.

They currently work with about 8.000.000 clients, helping them with all their financial needs. Ally’s universal-account management system makes the company perfect for current Ally Bank clients.

Overview and Summary

  1. The trading platform’s comprehensive and smart design appeals to different kinds of traders, although it has limited functionality.
  2. Ally Invest’s users get direct access to Ally Bank which has numerous great offers and some of the best rates. The $0 trading commissions for online stock, options, and ETF trades are a very attractive feature this year.
  3. No zero-fee mutual funds are available.
  4. Good education content for beginners and experienced traders alike, but only in written form with no video content.
  5. Investors looking to conduct deep research on stocks, mutual funds, ETFs and bonds will see that Ally Invest falls short compared to other big names.

Is Ally Invest For You?

If you are a day trader looking for a place to trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, and options commission-free, then you might find Ally Invest appealing. Other interesting characteristics are the comprehensive trading platform and the Ally Bank which can be accessed directly through the trading platform.

Ally Invest Trading Platforms

Many traders may find Ally Invest’s tools and platforms to be lacking, but the UI is intuitive and easy to navigate. The browser-based platform offers quick trading capabilities, real-time streaming quotes and data, access to numerous tools, and a fully customizable dashboard.

Basic Tools and Platforms

As the platform is browser-based, it doesn’t require any downloads, so it can be accessed from any device. This is certainly a plus for a trader who switches devices often or does a little bit of trading while at work.

Ally Invest has also made a mobile version of the software, and users can access the platform via the browser on their smartphone. You can say that Ally Invest is an ally of people who don’t like to download stuff, which is very considerate.

Positives

Operating the platform is an effortless experience, especially when you are looking at stocks. Looking at stock charts, doing technical analyses and making modifications, in general, is quite simple and pleasant. The platform also offers 36 drawing tools in addition to the hundreds of technical indicators.

The whole options trading process is organized on a single page, so you can easily look at the options chains, the probability calculator, and the profit and loss graph all at once. Charts are uncomplicated, customizable, and are integrated with the other options.

Ally Invest Online Platform

Limitations

Certain order types, like multi-contingent orders, are not available. That is where the platform is limited. Also, day traders might not be delighted by the fact that direct market routing is not available. Anyway, Ally Invest’s platform is good if you are interested in most casual stock and options trades, but there are many better alternatives for other order types.

You can’t directly log in through the platform, but have to do it via Ally Invest’s universal account dashboard. Inputting your account data multiple times a day can be bothersome, so despite all the simplifying factors, the login process can be a hassle.

Mobile Platform

The mobile platform gives users the ability to manage an investment portfolio through a  bug-free and pleasant interface. If you are a client of the Ally Bank, you can easily jump from the bank and the brokerage, since you can gain access to both through the mobile software.

Watch lists do not change in real-time, rather they are refreshed every five seconds. You can not view after-hours charts or place after-hours orders in the mobile version. Also, there are no stock alerts.

Ally Invest Mobile App

All in all, the mobile app is intuitive and pleasant to use (and good looking too) but has many drawbacks in terms of functionality. In many respects, it falls short compared to the best mobile trading apps available today.

Investment Types on Ally Invest

In short, there’s just about everything. Stock, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, and options are all on display here. Through Ally Invest, traders can gain access to 500 commission-free ETFs, as well as a substantial selection of mutual funds. You won’t find any international equity or options on Ally Invest, but you can trade forex using a separate Ally platform. Fixed income products are also in abundance at Ally.

The offer of mutual funds is also large as there are over 8.000 to choose from, but all of them have transaction fees. Ally Invest’s has some of the lowest commissions for no-load funds at $9.95, but other popular discount brokerage services might be a better choice as they offer thousands of mutual funds with $0 transaction fees.

Interested in seeing how Ally Invest fares against competitors? Take a look at our our Ally Invest vs TD Ameritrade review.

Pricing

Ally Invest offers very low commissions to its users for most investment types. Let’s see the pricing system in more detail.

Low Commissions

The most noteworthy move that Ally Invest made in the pricing area is probably the $0 trading commissions for online stock, options, and ETF trades, which give Ally Invest a competitive edge in the current market.

Options trade prices have also been lowered from $0.65 to $0.50 per contract. Previously, this price was exclusive to active clients with balances of $100.000 or more. This factor has made the platform even better for active investors, who often find Ally Invest to be one of the best brokerages for active traders. Although, there are still better alternatives for day trading.

Bonds

You can also buy bonds for $1 per bond with a minimum fee of $10, and margin interest rates are above average. Even though there are no commissions on options, users still have to pay $0.50 per contract, which is more alluring than the industry’s average price of $0.65. This charge is among the lowest you can find.

Mutual Funds

Mutual fund trades are $9.95, which is a lower price than most full-service brokerage competitors. Penny stocks are not Ally Invests strong suite as they are $4.95 plus an additional $0.1 per share for any stock under $2 per share. The account minimum is a pleasant $0, so there are fewer obstacles for new investors.

Stocks

Stocks trading for less than $2 per share has a commission of $4.95 per trade, plus 1 cent per share. Bonds also have a $1 fee per bond, and the minimum is $10. As is common practice, you will also find fees for paper copies, wire transfers, etc. All in all, Ally Invest certainly gives traders good prices for most investment types.

Unique Banking Model

This is one more of Ally Transfer’s notable perks. If you invest with Ally, you will have access to Ally Bank. The bank offers some of the best rates out of any banking platform and is very handy since it can be accessed directly through Ally Invest’s digital trading platforms. Ally Bank provides users with money market accounts, online savings, interest checking and high-yield certificates of deposit.

To see how Ally Invest compares to other brokers, take a look at our Ally Invest vs. E*Trade comparison.

Other Services

Ally Bank also offers its clients mortgage loans and a cash-back credit card. Auto financing and leasing are where the bank shines. Ally Bank can insure deposits up to $250.000 since it is registered as a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Drawbacks

Unfortunately, the bank has no physical locations, and it offers no loyalty rewards, which is where it falls short in comparison to the likes of  Bank of America Merrill Edge. In conclusion, Ally Bank can provide Ally Invest’s clients with a well-rounded service for most, if not all of their banking and lending needs.

Ally Invest - Investor Education

Ally covers just about everything you can think of in its educational content, from stock trading to retirement. The training can show new arrivals how it all works, and introduce them to the investing world even if they have no prior knowledge.

That being said, all content is in written article form. There are no videos and there is no search feature. You can watch Ally Invest’s live webinars multiple times a week, but they are not archived so they can not be viewed at one’s convenience.

You can also hear from Ally’s senior options analyst, Brian Overby at their live events which are held about 15 times a year. The education content itself is very well made, but you can probably find education in a more interesting format in other places.

Ally Invest Research

Research capabilities are not where Ally Invest especially shines, but they do provide you with the main tools for market research. The research area is tidy and easy to maneuver. When researching stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds, you can get insights quickly and easily thanks to the smartly-designed UI.

Tools and Calculators

Strategy Workbench is a handy tool for options traders, as it shows your current holdings as well as any potential trade. That way you are able to detect changes in risk you may incur. The Probability Calculator offers some more research capabilities for options. The ability to adjust at-the-money implied volatility is a unique feature here.

Screeners

Ally has two stock screeners. One has a bundle of technical data points, and the other enables you to perform technical backtesting on your investing strategies. There are also fixed income and mutual fund screeners. Charts can be customized to a great extent.

Ally Invest doesn’t provide ETF or mutual fund screeners. There are also no fixed income research tools. The research system gives users access to the fundamentals, but can not compete with the research capabilities of other big names like Fidelity or Charles Schwab.

What Ally Invest is Great At

Ally’s free trade is one of its greatest perks. They started offering $0 commissions for online stock, options, and ETF trades in October this year. This addition is a godsend for many day traders. The $0 account minimum is one more feature that may interest you, as it removes one of the roadblocks that new investors often struggle with.

The Trading Platform

The trading platform is very accessible and intuitive. It makes trading easy with its clean, comprehensive design. You can also access the Ally Bank via the platform which is a very pleasant feature.

Banking

The Ally Bank also offers great rates and covers most of the bases when it comes to your banking and lending needs. Research tools may get the attention of many investors since they are also designed very well and provide users with fundamental resources as well as an understandable and simple UI.

Where Ally Invest Falls Short

The platform has over 8.000 mutual funds to choose from, but all of them are burdened with transaction fees. Ally Invest does not compete well in that regard since many top-tier companies have numerous mutual funds with a $0 transaction fee in their selection. Ally will not be your first pick if you are looking for zero-fee mutual funds.

No Local Branches

Ally Invest has no physical branches. New investors often like to have access to hands-on help at a nearby location if they need it, so this is a drawback for Ally. On the other hand, the customer service is good and always available, so the lack of physical locations shouldn’t pose a problem for most clients. Some may find the education program a bit lackluster as all content is in written article form, aside from the webinars that aren’t archived, and can’t be watched at one’s own convenience at a later date.

Something You Should Know

Ally Invest is focused on beginner to intermediate level investors who appreciate having their investments close to their bank account. Stock and ETF trades have no commission. Education resources can be helpful for new investors, as well as experienced traders, although, you can find more engaging content in other places.

Are You Ready to Invest with Ally?

Ally Invest can boast about their great offer of commission-free stock, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, and options, as well as their comprehensive, orderly trading platform.Ally Bank is surely one of the most innovative online banking systems out there, which also gives its clients a plentitude of different services.

Although this platform has some great qualities it has a hard time standing out among top-tier brokerages who often have a more well-rounded package to offer.

About Author

Tim Fries Tim Fries is the cofounder of The Tokenist. He has a B. Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Tim is also the co-founder of Protective Technologies Capital (protechcap.com).