Ally brokerage review: rating, pros and cons, fees, minimums, trading platform, research tools, education and customer service.


Ally Invest Rating:  Ally Invest rating

  • Stocks & ETFs: $0
  • Options: $0.50 per contract
  • Mutual Funds: $9.95

Ally Trading Review

Ally Invest offers a lot of brokerage services with good tools at attractive cost. This article will analyze the firm in important investing categories. We’ll also make some comparisons and recommendations for you.


Availability of Investment Vehicles

Ally Investments Rating

Ally Invest customers can buy and sell stocks (including OTC and penny stocks), exchange-traded funds, closed-end funds, options, fixed-income assets, mutual funds, and forex. For equity trading, Ally provides extended-hours sessions.

Some products are missing in this category. For example, Ally no longer provides futures contracts; and the broker has never offered warrants, cryptocurrencies, or contracts for difference. Ally Invest also does not provide access to securities trading on foreign exchanges.


Customer Service

Ally Invest Customer Rating

Ally Invest clients can reach a company associate anytime of the day or night over the phone (855-880-ALLY). An international phone number is also available for customers who travel outside North America. The Ally Invest website offers an online chat service, but it is not staffed around the clock. There is no robo chat service, either.

Because Ally Invest is a low-cost broker, there are no brick-and-mortar locations. On the positive side, we did find a self-service section on its website. During our testing, we found a file upload form, an internal messaging center, a list of pdf forms that can be downloaded, and a helpful FAQ. There is also a dedicated forex desk.


Fees, Minimums, and Commissions

Ally Invest Fees Rating

A brokerage account at Ally Invest comes with no minimum deposit requirement or on-going fees. There is no annual, maintenance, or low-balance charge.

As for commissions, traders at Ally Invest pay $0 per stock or ETF trade.

Option contracts are 50¢. Bonds cost $1 each with a $10 minimum commission. No-load mutual funds are $9.95 per trade. Load funds are always commission-free.


Mutual Funds

Ally Invest v Rating

Using Ally Invest’s mutual fund screener, we found 11,670 products that were open to new investors. Of these, roughly 2,100 had no load, which means they carried the $9.95 commission.

Ally’s screener is able to look for potential investments based on a wide range of criteria, such as fund family, minimum investment, Lipper ranking, return history, manager tenure, and more. A screen can be saved, a helpful feature for future searches.

A mutual fund profile on the Ally Invest website provides rather brief information. We found a chart representing the growth of $10,000, portfolio composition, Lipper (not Morningstar) rankings, and information on fees and expenses.

The order ticket for mutual funds is straightforward and easy to use. Dividends or capital gains or both can be set up to be reinvested or paid in cash. Either a dollar amount or share amount can be used to make a purchase. And a transaction can be specified as a partial exchange or full exchange.


Exchange-Traded Funds

Ally Invest ETF Rating

Moving to ETF’s, we find another screener with a similar lineup of search criteria. Some of the available benchmarks include asset class, Sharpe ratio, and total net assets. Oddly, the software does not provide the ability to look exclusively for commission-free ETF’s. Ally offers trading of all ETF's without paying any commission.

Ally Brokerage review

The Ally Invest site has an ETF Navigator, which is a page that hosts a lot of good information on funds. One tool displays a heat map of value, growth, and index funds by market cap. Clicking on a tile generates a list of funds that match the criteria.

There is also a menu at the top of the Navigator that shows groups of funds by category, such as high-yield bonds or target-date funds. Clicking on one of these produces another list.


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Investment Advice

Ally Invest Investing Rating

Ally Invest clients who would rather skip the hassle of finding investments and paying commissions can sign up for the company’s portfolio management services instead. Free of advisory fees, Ally offers a robo advisory service that trades low-cost ETF’s. There is a $100 minimum to get started. A brief questionnaire assesses issues like risk tolerance and time horizon. Ally’s software program then recommends a diversified portfolio of ETF’s. The target percentages can be adjusted by the customer.

One part of Ally Invest’s portfolio management we didn’t care for is the lack of traditional packages with human advisors. Because there is no old school service, investments besides ETF’s are not possible.


Retirement and Education Accounts

Ally Invest IRA Rating

Retirement savers can open a variety of IRA’s at Ally Invest. The brokerage house offers Traditional, Roth, SEP, SIMPLE, and Rollover accounts. There is no annual fee for one of these nontaxable accounts, although Ally does charge $25 to close an IRA. Transferring an IRA costs $50 on top of the $25 closeout fee.

On the Ally Invest website, we found target-date funds, in both ETF and mutual fund format. Some of the available fund families include Invesco, Fidelity, and T. Rowe Price.

Ally Invest’s affiliate Ally Bank offers FDIC-insured Individual Retirement Accounts that use CD’s and savings accounts as the investment vehicles. A bank IRA can be linked to an Ally Invest brokerage account.

Ally Invest’s site has a link to a retirement education section on Ally Bank’s site. Here, we found articles on how to maximize 401(k) contributions (a retirement plan Ally Invest doesn’t offer), information on estate planning, and retirement planning for Millennials.

For education savings, Ally Invest offers the Coverdell account.


Website

Ally Invest Trading Rating

When we logged into our Ally Invest trial account, the first thing we noticed was a trade bar at the bottom of the screen. It is able to quickly display bid and ask sizes and numbers in real-time along with volume and last trade price. A really nice feature is the ability to display calls and puts on an entered ticker symbol. Clicking on a trade button generates a pop-up window where an order can be submitted. Available order types include market, limit, stop, and on-the-close orders.

Ally Website review

We also found a variety of investment calculators. Alerts can be set up for a security, a watchlist is available, and we liked the ability to use an API. Another highlight is free technical analysis tools from Recognia.

On the downside, some links on the website are out of date, and the overall site has an underdeveloped feel to it.


Platforms

Ally Invest Platform Rating

Traders who don’t like the website have three other avenues they can take. The first is Quotestream, an advanced desktop platform. It provides Level II quotes, superior charting, and security research. Ally requires 30 trades per quarter to use it.

A second platform is a forex trading system that can be used to trade currencies only. It is able to create automated trading strategies. The software is easy to use, and dealing boxes make the supervision of currency rates easy. We counted over 80 technical studies and several drawing tools on the platform’s charting system.

Ally Trader review

The third and final platform is Ally Invest LIVE. This is a browser system launched from the website. Unlike Quotestream, there are no trading requirements. The software provides trading with the same order types the website offers. The home screen is arranged by tiles, and these show a variety of market details, such as news articles, stock quotes, and indexes. Option chains are available, and charting includes technical studies, drawing tools, and several display styles.


Mobile App

Ally Invest App Rating

In this category, Ally offers just one platform. It functions on Android and Apple phones and tablets. It’s actually the same app that Ally Bank uses. Every financial account with Ally is shown after logging in. Tapping on a securities account launches the brokerage side of the app.

Ally Brokerage review

We found bill pay, Zelle transfers, mobile check deposit, and ACH transfers. Stocks, ETF’s, and options can be traded on the platform. Mutual fund trading is not possible, which deducts half a star.

The order ticket offers trailing and stop orders. Extended hours can be selected. For options trading, only calls and puts are available. There are no multi-leg trades; although we did find Greek values.

Charting on the app comes with comparisons, a small number of indicators, horizontal mode, and a timeframe that stretches back at least 30 years.

While the app does include market news, index data, and brief stock information, one glaring omission is video financial news.


Cash Management

Ally Invest Management Rating

Although Ally Invest is affiliated with Ally Bank, we surprisingly didn’t find decent cash management features. A debit card can be added to a trading account, but Ally Invest charges $35 annually for this. Also, and perhaps more shockingly, there is a $100,000 account balance requirement for the card.

Adding checkwriting privileges incurs a $20 annual fee, and the $100,000 requirement applies here, too. Moreover, Ally Invest charges $5 to write a check. Using the debit card at a cash machine incurs a $1 charge per withdrawal. To top off these rather disappointing features, Ally Invest doesn’t refund ATM fees.

Because an account with Ally Bank can easily be linked to an Ally Invest account, we recommend passing on the brokerage arm’s cash management features altogether. Ally Bank offers some of the best rates in the industry for online banking, including 2.20% APY on savings account and 0.60% APY on checking account.


Security Research

Ally Invest Research Rating

Ally Invest’s website has an educational section that hosts articles on a variety of trading topics. For example, there is a write-up that explains the basics of covered calls, another one on the fundamentals of socially-responsible investing, and another tract on volatility.

Ally Trading review

Stock profile pages have plenty of information on trade vitals, such as 52-week range, number of shares outstanding, and bid-ask spread. An options summary displays call and put volume along with open interest. We found 28 analyst ratings for Citigroup, although Ally only provides one pdf stock report (courtesy of CFRA).

An ‘Insiders’ tab displays buying and selling activity of a company’s major executives. These transactions can be sorted by the person selling or buying, the job position, the type of transaction, and the timeframe.

Option tools on both the website and on the LIVE platform permit the search for contracts based on a variety of characteristics. A website tool is able to build some multi-leg strategies.


Comparison

Ally Invest Comparison Rating

Ally Invest’s commission of $0 is cheaper than at Fidelity, Merrill Edge and Wellstrade.

While we did like Ally Invest’s browser platform, we think it underperforms E*Trade’s.

Fidelity’s mobile app offers mutual fund trading and video news, while Webull’s can’t trade options.


Recommendations

The area where Ally shines is in forex trading. Most securities brokers don’t offer currency trading, and the one that does—TD Ameritrade—does not have a forex-only platform. Ally Invest does; and the broker also provides tight spreads, forex education, and more than 80 currency pairs.

Because Ally connects bank and brokerage accounts with a single login, we also recommend Ally Invest to customers wanting the best rates on online banking combined with brokerage account.

Thanks to $0 commissions, we also suggest Ally Invest for stock and ETF traders and investors. $9.95 mutual fund rate makes it a good broker for fund investors.


Ally Invest Review Recap

Ally Invest is a very good overall broker that provides great resources for many trading regimens. It succeeds in being a one-stop broker with services in nearly all investment categories, something that most low-cost brokers fail to do.


Ally Invest Promotion

Up to $3,500 cash bonus + free trades.

Open Ally Invest Account

Ally Brokerage Commissions

InvestmentsPrice
Stocks and ETFs $0
Options $0.50 per contract
Mutual funds $9.95
Bonds $1 per bond with $10 minimum, $250 maximum
Treasuries commission-free
Certificates of Deposit (CDs) $24.95
ForexPay based on buy/sell spread, no commissions.

Ally IRA & Account Fees

FeeAmount
IRA Setup Fee$0
Annual IRA Fee$0
IRA Termination Fee$25
Full Account Transfer Out$50
Outgoing Wire Fees (Domestic)$30
All Ally Invest IRA fees »

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Ally Trading reviewed by TopRatedFirms.com Rating: 4.5