The Bottom Line: Ally Invest’s $0 account minimum and $0 trading commissions help make the firm our choice for best low-cost broker. Ally also charges a low $9.95 per mutual fund transaction.
$50 - $3,500
in cash bonus with qualifying deposit.
Pros & Cons
Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.
No account minimum.
Strong web-based platform.
Robust research and tools.
No no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
Compare to Similar Brokers
Ally Invest — now with $0 trading costs as well as a $0 account minimum to begin investing — appeals to both the beginning investor and experienced stock trader, and continues its reputation as one of the best low-cost brokers.
But Ally doesn’t merely compete with the major online brokers on costs: It also offers bells and whistles like forex trading, an automated portfolio management option, and a suite of free tools for technical investors.
Ally Invest is best for:
Ally Invest at a glance
Where Ally Invest shines
Free trading: As of October, Ally Invest dropped its trading commissions to $0 for online stock, options and ETF trades. The price for options trades also dropped from $0.65 to $0.50 per contract, a price previously available only to investors who make 30 or more trades per quarter or have a balance of $100,000 or more. These moves are a boon to active investors, and a reason Ally Invest is one of NerdWallet's picks for best brokers for day trading.
Account minimum: Ally Invest’s $0 account balance minimum means there’s no roadblock to getting started. That's a bonus for stock-focused investors funding an IRA. (Mutual fund-focused retirement savers: Check out our roundup of best IRA account providers for other no-minimum account options.)
Trading platform: Ally Invest’s browser-based platform offers quick trading capabilities, real-time streaming quotes and data, a customizable dashboard, and access to all of the broker's tools. Customers who frequently trade from various computers — home and work, for example — will appreciate this web-based platform, which doesn’t require any downloads. Ally has also advanced the ability for customers to trade via mobile devices with the company’s apps, or to use a smartphone to access the web-based platform.
Investing research and tools: Ally Invest offers a suite of investing tools that exceed expectations for a deep-discount broker. Its options trading tools are particularly strong and include an options pricing calculator to compare current bid/ask prices to forecast theoretical values, and a strategy scanner that identifies and executes option strategies based on criteria you choose. (Just getting into options trading? Here's our 101 guide.)
Technical traders can dive into a suite of free tools powered by Recognia. Other free tools include a profit-and-loss calculator, a probability calculator (that uses implied volatility to determine your likelihood of hitting your targets) and the Maxit Tax Manager, which identifies tax implications of trading decisions (e.g., as short- and long-term gains and losses, wash sales) for planning purposes and generates on-demand 1099 forms.
Side note about data: Standard quotes are free to all customers, but free, real-time streaming data is available only to investors who trade more than 10 times per month.
Where Ally Invest falls short
Mutual funds: The company offers more than 8,000 mutual funds, but unfortunately none of them are free of transaction fees. Ally Invest’s commission for no-load funds is $9.95 (one of the lowest among brokerage firms), but investors would be better off using one of the other deep-discount online brokers — such as E-Trade, Merrill Edge or Interactive Brokers — which offer thousands of funds with no transaction fees.
No physical branches: Plenty of brokers have an online-only presence, but it's worth pointing this out here for beginner investors who may feel more comfortable knowing they could visit a branch office for hands-on help. That said, Ally offers online and phone customer support 24-7.
The bottom line
Ally Invest has competitive pricing, helpful trading tools and an easy-to-use trading platform. With no account minimum, it's easy for beginners to get started, while active investors will appreciate Ally's commission-free trades. Those looking to buy no-transaction-fee mutual funds, however, may find a better home at another broker.
» Want more options? See our best online brokers for stock trading