Ally Invest Review 2022: Pros, Cons and How It Compares

Our choice for one of the best low-cost brokers, Ally Invest does it all — but it's especially good for active traders.

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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

Ally Invest’s $0 account minimum and $0 trading commissions on eligible U.S. securities make it a strong option for all traders. A low $0.50 options-contract fee will attract options traders.

Ally Invest

Ally Invest

Fees

$0

per trade (on eligible US securities)

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

$100 - $3,000

in cash bonus with qualifying deposit.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Commission-free trades on eligible U.S. stocks, options and ETFs.

  • 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
SoFi Active Investing
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Fees

$0

per trade

Fees

$0

per trade

Fees

$0

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Account minimum

$0

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $600

when you invest in a new Merrill Edge® Self-Directed account.

Promotion

Get up to $3,500

when you open and fund an E*TRADE account with code: REWARD22

Promotion

$5 to $1,000

in free stock for users who sign up via mobile app

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Full Review

Where Ally Invest shines

Costs: Ally Invest appeals to both the beginning investor and the experienced stock trader with $0 trading costs on eligible U.S. securities, no account minimum and low-cost options trading.

Advanced features: 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.

Cash management: Uninvested cash in an Ally Invest brokerage account earns no interest, but Ally invest offers instant money movement between Ally savings and brokerage accounts, letting investors take advantage of interest rates several times higher than the typical default sweep interest rates of most brokerages. This does, however, require opening an Ally savings account separately.

Where Ally Invest falls short

No no-transaction-fee mutual funds: Mutual funds provide an easy way to build a diversified portfolio, but Ally Invest offers zero no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

No branches: If you'd like the ability to schedule an in-person meeting, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Ally Invest is best for:

  • Active traders.

  • Options traders.

  • Forex traders.

Ally Invest at a glance

Account minimum

$0

Stock trading costs

$0 (on eligible U.S. securities)

Options trades

No base commission; $0.50 per contract

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

No inactivity or annual fees; $50 full outgoing transfer fee

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

None.

Tradable securities

  • Stocks.

  • Bonds.

  • Mutual funds.

  • ETFs.

  • Options.

  • Forex.

Crypto availability

Ally Invest does not offer access to cryptocurrencies, but clients can trade crypto-based OTC products, such Bitcoin trusts.

Trading platform

Browser-based platform with free screening tools, customizable charting, research and real-time data.

Mobile app

Access to holdings, trading, order status, research, an ETF screener, watchlist, transfers and activity.

Research and data

Research from 11 providers, including Morningstar, CFRA, Lipper and Zacks Investment Research, all free.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)

24/7 by phone, email and chat.

More details about Ally Invest's ratings

Account minimum: 5 out of 5 stars

Like many online brokerages these days, Ally Invest has no account minimum, which is a great perk for someone who doesn’t have much to invest in the beginning. Some brokerages have account minimums between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.

Stock trading costs: 5 out of 5 stars

Ally Invest has commission-free trades for eligible U.S. stocks, options and exchange-traded funds. This is typical of brokers these days — charging a commission for stock and ETF trades is relatively rare.

Options trades: 5 out of 5 stars

In addition to not charging a base commission for options trades, Ally Invest's per-contract fee comes in lower than many other brokers at $0.50 per contract.

Account fees: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Ally Invest charges $50 for a full or partial transfer of your securities out of your account (called an ACAT transfer). Often brokers charge a reduced fee for a partial transfer, but in general, $50 isn’t as high as some other brokerages.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds: 1 out of 5 stars

While Ally Invest has thousands of mutual funds on offer, there are no no-transaction-fee mutual funds to choose from. However, the transaction fee on no-load funds is only $9.95, which is pretty low compared to competitors.

Tradable securities: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Though there is a strong selection of tradable securities on offer, two fairly common securities are missing from that list: futures and fractional shares. Expert traders can still enjoy advanced trading in options, forex and penny stocks, but for futures, they’ll have to turn elsewhere, such as TradeStation or Interactive Brokers. And for investors wanting to get started with small amounts (or dollar-cost average into investing), Robinhood, Schwab and Fidelity all offer fractional shares.

Crypto availability: 2 out of 5 stars

Ally Invest does not offer access to cryptocurrencies, but clients can trade crypto-based OTC products, such Bitcoin trusts.

Trading platform: 4 out of 5 stars

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 also allows its customers to trade via mobile devices with Ally Mobile or Ally Forex, the brokerage's app dedicated to forex trading.

Mobile app: 5 out of 5 stars

Ally Invest’s mobile app is a part of the larger Ally Bank app, and lets users access holdings, the trading platform, research, screeners, a stocks watchlist and more.

Research and data: 4 out of 5 stars

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, as well as a strategy builder that identifies and executes option strategies based on criteria you choose. (Just getting into options trading? Here's our guide.) Ally Invest has also introduced a new ETF screener that makes it easier for users to find an ETF that meets their investing goals.

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, 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., short- and long-term gains and losses or wash sales) and generates on-demand 1099 forms.

Side note about data: Standard real-time streaming quotes are free to all “non-professional” customers via Ally Invest LIVE, while Level II advanced quotes from Quotestream are available upon request for investors who trade more than 10 times per month.

Customer support options: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Ally Invest has strong customer support, offering access 24/7 via phone, email and chat.

Is Ally Invest right for you?

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 on eligible U.S. securities and low options contract fee. Advanced investors looking to trade futures, however, may find a better home at another broker.

How do we review brokers?

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers by assets under management, along with emerging industry players. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.

We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The questionnaire answers, combined with demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

For more details about the categories considered when rating brokers and our process, read our full methodology.

Disclosure: The author held no positions in the aforementioned securities at the original time of publication.