Editorial Review

Ally Invest Review 2019

Our choice for best low-cost broker, Ally Invest does it all, but it's especially good for active traders.

Dayana Yochim, Kevin VoigtNovember 26, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Our Take

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

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.

Ally Invest

Ally Invest

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

$50 - $3,500

in cash bonus with qualifying deposit.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • No account minimum.

  • Strong web-based platform.

  • Robust research and tools.

Cons
  • No no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

  • No branches.

Compare to Similar Brokers

Merrill Edge
E*Trade
Fees

$0

per trade

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit

Promotion

$100 to $2,500

cash credit with a qualifying deposit

Full Review

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:

  • Active traders.

  • Options traders.

  • Forex traders.

  • Commission-free trades.

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