Robinhood vs. Ally Invest
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Ever since mobile apps became everyone’s de facto way to invest and trade, Robinhood has made a name as the go-to mobile trading app.
With no fees and an easy-to-use platform, Robinhood was ahead of the pack until brokerages followed suit and dropped their fees in October 2019. Now Ally Invest also offers commission-free trades, operating on the same level as Robinhood in terms of fees, but it’s far more advanced in every other category.
How to these two low-cost investing apps stack up? Let’s take a look.
Investor Warning: All securities trading, whether in stocks, exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), options, or other investment vehicles, is speculative in nature and involves substantial risk of loss. Robinhood Financial encourages its Customers to invest carefully and to use the information available at the websites of the SEC at http://www.sec.gov and FINRA at http://FINRA.org.
Robinhood vs. Ally – Quick Comparison
Ally Invest acquired TradeKing and combined their tools with an intuitive mobile app, creating a pretty wicked stock investment platform. And now, Robinhood may be falling behind.
- In our review, we found Robinhood’s mobile app very easy to use on the go.
- The platform has $0 commission fees on stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency
- Designed for beginner investors, but the lack of research tools may lead to bad trading decisions
- Minimal research tools and education offerings, investors will need to know what they want to trade before using the app
- Ally Invest is a full-service brokerage with $0 commission fees on stocks, ETFs, and options
- Over 4,000 NTF mutual funds, and no-load funds cost $9.95 per trade
- Mobile apps for main trading platform Ally Mobile and another for forex under Ally Forex
- Some of the best research and analysis tools available on the web and in mobile
Fees and Commissions
Robinhood has always been a low-cost, no-fee leader of the pack amongst top brokers.
Started in 2013, the $0 commission fee rate was unheard of at the time, and the simple app appealed to new school, millennial investors. Over time, the app has maintained its $0 fee commission structure, adding on cryptocurrencies in an attempt to stand out from other popular mobile trading apps.
Investors do not pay any commissions for stocks, ETFs, options, nor cryptocurrencies. While Robinhood is unique in its foothold in the cryptocurrency market, it’s only available to investors in certain states. There’s no minimum account balance. However, there is a $5/month fee to sign up with Robinhood Gold.
Ally Invest offers commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options. However, there is a $0.50 per contract fee for options. Ally also offers no-transaction-fee mutual funds and $9.95 for no-load funds. There are also other tradable securities including bonds and forex.
With Ally, there are no inactivity fees and a $50 full outgoing transfer fee. Investors do not have to maintain a minimum account balance.
- Commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options with $0 per contract for options
- No minimum account balance and no inactivity fees
- A $5/month charge for Robinhood Gold that opens up margin trading and more tools
- No mutual funds, bonds, or Forex
- $0 commissions on cryptocurrency trading, but it’s only available in certain states
- $0 commission fees on stock, options, and ETF trades
- Price per options contract lowered from $0.65 to $0.50 per contract
- $0 account balance minimum, no inactivity fees
- Invest with over 8,000 mutual funds, and no-load funds have the lowest fee in the industry at $9.95
Winner: Ally Invest offers more commission-free products, including mutual funds. However, options aren’t completely free as they are with Robinhood. If you are looking for low-cost mutual funds, then Ally may be the best choice.
Robinhood offers less to invest in than Ally Invest, but you may not be looking to get into complicated mutual funds or forex trading. With Robinhood, the deal is that you pay nothing in fees for ETFs, stocks, and options. You don’t even pay a per contract fee for complex option four-leg spreads.
However, Robinhood does offer something that many other brokerages currently are avoiding. Cryptocurrency is available with Robinhood, including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Ethereum, and Ethereum Classic. However, investors must live in certain states to access this part of Robinhood.
Ally Invest is a bit more robust with its investments. You can invest in all tradable securities, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options, and forex. There are over 8,000 mutual funds. Penny stocks are also available at $0.01 per share on the entire order as long as the stock is priced less than $2.
- Robinhood doesn’t offer as many investments as many other brokers
- Commission-free stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies are available to trade only
- Only basic order types are available, so no trailing stop orders or other advanced order types
- $0 commissions on stocks, ETFs, options, and some mutual funds
- No-load funds cost $9.95
- Penny stocks available to trade at $0.01 per share
- More investment selections than Robinhood with bonds and forex
Winner: Ally Invest offers more investment selections. You can be a semi-active trader or passive investor saving for retirement with its brokerage platform.
Online Advisors and Educational Offerings
Robinhood offers the basics when it comes to education and research tools. In fact, you probably won’t be satisfied with any of the tools available on the website or app. Instead, you will need to look outside of the app to find customizable charts, screener tools, technical analysis, and education tools.
However, all of those can be found with Ally Invest. There is a suite of tools available for speculative investors, and Ally’s options tools are quite strong.
You can use the options pricing calculator to look at current bid and ask prices. You can forecast future values, but you can also use a strategy scanner to find and launch option strategies based on any criteria you’d like.
Ally also partners with Recognia for other tools, such as a profit-and-loss calculator, probability tools, and the Maxit Tax Manager.
However, Ally does make it difficult to get real-time streaming data. This feature is only available to investors who make at least 10 trades per month.
- No advisors and bare-bones tools make Robinhood lacking in the research and education department
- Most investors will need to look elsewhere to find the latest news, streaming quotes, customizable charts, testing strategies, and so forth
- Synced watchlists, customizable news feed, and basic charting available
- Multiple research tools such as portfolio analysis, strategy scanner, testing strategies, forecasting, profit-and-loss calculators, and so forth
- Education on the website includes videos, articles, tutorials, and screener tools
- Standard accounts do not include real-time streaming data and quotes
Winner: Ally Invest offers more for the beginner and average investor with multiple tools and education options.
Trade Experience and Security
Ally Invest is a good platform for beginner and experienced traders. If you have an Ally Invest LIVE account, then you also gain access to streaming news and stock quotes, as well as more tools. The profit-and-loss graphic and probability calculator generates potential trades and charts for you to customize.
Trade execution quality is pretty high for Ally. They operate on a per-share basis, while Robinhood uses a per-dollar order-routing that is inferior to most other brokerages.
There are over 90 different studies and drawing tools. You can also create your own watchlists, monitor your holdings, and get market news all on the same screen. Ally also has a mobile app and web browser that has the same tools as the desktop platform Ally Invest Live.
Robinhood does not include any of the bells and whistles of Ally Invest. You can create synced watchlists, check out stock charts, and customize your news feeds. However, there are no tools to complete a technical stock analysis or fundamental analysis. However, there are no customizations available for charts.
- No analysis for chart patterns or trades
- Basic trade order types
- No customizable charts or streaming quotes
- Order-routing and flow are less accurate than other brokerages
- Multiple ways to trade on desktop, web, and mobile
- Best for active traders and beginners who need more research tools
- Mobile trading apps included, as well as a separate app for Ally Forex
- Low fees and lots of options, as well as mutual funds, lower than nearly all other discount brokers.
Mobile and New Trade Tech
Robinhood started in 2013 with its stock trading mobile app. At the time, it was the most innovative way to trade on-the-go, and it led the way for decreasing commissions.
The mobile app offers little advanced technology. For instance, there are no streaming quotes. You can customize your news feeds, and you can get a little bit more with Robinhood Gold, which costs $5 per month.
On the other hand, Ally Invest has a revolutionary mobile app that allows you to monitor your accounts, track stocks, watch quotes, and place trades. There are also multiple apps.
One is Ally Mobile, which is perfect for customers who want to trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and whatever else on-the-go. Ally Forex is the other mobile app that allows you to trade on the forex via mobile.
- Easy-to-use mobile tools including basic order types, synced watchlists, and a news feed
- Basic charting is available
- Works with iOS and Android
- Multiple mobile trading apps with lots of features
- Ally Mobile offers most tools, but you can use Ally Forex for forex trading
- Streaming quotes, watchlists, research tools, and customizable screens
Frequently Asked Questions: Robinhood and Ally
Which is Better for Retirement: Robinhood or Ally Invest?
Ally Invest offers an impressive amount of mutual funds, and the no-loads fund fee is only $9.95. You can diversify more of your long-term investment accounts using Ally’s research tools and retirement planning features. It’s easy to manage any traditional, Roth IRA, or other retirement accounts with Ally Invest.
Does Ally Invest Have 24/7 Customer Support?
Yes, Ally is known as one of the better brokerages when it comes to customer support. You can access live chat, email, and phone support 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.
Does Ally Invest Have a Robo-advisor?
When Ally Invest took over TradeKing in 2016, they began offering robo-advisor and managed portfolios. You pay nothing for account management, but you have to keep a minimum investment amount at $100.
There are some other considerations as well,. You need to have 30% cash assets. Otherwise, the management fee is .30 percent for portfolios that have less than 30 percent cash.
You select your goals, and Ally Invest manages the account, optimizing for SRI and tax advantages.
Which One is Right for You?
Both of these brokerages offer commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options. However, Robinhood lacks everything that Ally offers to a savvy investor. Ally Invest is one of the best brokerages around for low-cost investing and investment selections.
You can choose from a variety of different assets to diversify your portfolio, but the true strength comes from the real-time data and research tools available on the web and with the mobile app.
Overall, Ally is headed for the future, while Robinhood hasn’t changed all that much since 2013. They are still offering the essential tools for investing; and consider that the brokerage does allow for buying and selling cryptocurrency, which may excite a new generation of investors – one who believes that holding on to hope will lead to a new, decentralize future.
(No doubt, with Robinhood leading the way…)