Discount stock broker comparison: Fidelity vs Ally Invest and Vanguard. Brokerage, IRA account fees, commissions, ratings and rankings. Which online brokerage firm to choose?

Ally Invest vs Fidelity: Intro

One of the least publicized low-cost brokers is Ally Invest. In addition to low fees, the company also provides investors with a range of investment services. Let's take a look at how Ally Invest compares to some other major brokers, specifically Vanguard and Fidelity.

Broker Commissions and Fees

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Ally Invest $0 $9.95 $0.50 per contract $0 $0
Fidelity $0 $49.95 $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Vanguard $0 $20 $1.00 per contract $20* $20*


Services

Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
Ally Invest
Fidelity
Vanguard


Promotions

Ally Invest: Up to $3,500 cash bonus + $0 trades + transfer fee rebate.

Fidelity: Get 500 free trades with $100,000+ deposit.

Vanguard: no promotion.


Pricing

Ally Invest is easily the best priced broker in this comparison. The broker's clients get $0 equity trades and 50ยข option contracts. Mutual funds are only $9.95 per transaction for all customers!


Customer Service

Of the three brokers, Fidelity and Ally Invest maintain phone service around the clock. Vanguard maintains service hours only during the weekday. All brokers except Vanguard offer on-line chat service.

Only Fidelity has a nationwide network of offices that can service client accounts.

Fidelity easily wins the second category.


Investing in Funds

Ally Invest customers can buy and sell over 13,000 mutual funds. Load funds are always free to trade, while no-load funds are $9.95 on both the sell and buy sides. Vanguard provides nearly 16,000 funds. Of these, roughly 2,400 carry no load and no transaction fee. At Fidelity, investors will find over 11,500 mutual funds on the broker's website. Roughly 1,800 are no-load, no-transaction-fee products.

Mutual funds are priced $9.95 at Ally Invest, $49.95 to buy and $0 to sell at Fidelity, and $35 for most clients at Vanguard.

ETF traders can buy and sell exchange-traded funds at all three brokers. Vanguard clients can trade 1,800 ETF's commission-free. Ally and Fidelity offer all ETFs commission-free.

Overall, Ally takes the category.


Trading Tools

Fidelity's website is simple to navigate. It contains a lot of helpful educational and research information. These resources are in article, video, inforgraphic, and course format. The website has a simple trade ticket that appears in the left-hand side of the browser. It can be used for trading, but not charting. An advanced desktop platform is available for Fidelity customers who execute a minimum number of trades every quarter. The firm is one of the few brokerages to have an app for Apple TV.


Active Trader Pro


Compared to Fidelity, Vanguard's website is much harder to navigate. It takes several minutes of searching just to find the broker's ETF screener. The website's drop-down menus produce pages that require more searching and navigation. A search field in the top right of the website makes finding your way around the site a little easier. There is no advanced platform or trade bar from this broker.





Despite Ally Invest's low fees, the broker's website is well laid out. Helpful menus at the top of the site make navigation fairly straightforward. However, there is less information on the Ally Invest site compared to Fidelity. There is a trade bar at the bottom of Ally Invest's site. Trades can be placed from it, but it's not able to produce a chart. The broker provides a simple browser-based platform called Ally Invest LIVE free for all clients. A more advanced desktop system is available for active traders.


Ally vs Fidelity


The victory here goes to Fidelity.


Mobile Apps

Trading on mobile devices is available at all three brokers. Fidelity is the only firm to provide live streaming of financial news and a platform for Apple Watch. The Fidelity app also has a library of on-demand videos. On the Vanguard app, account documents are accessible in pdf format, although it lacks many other features, such as streaming business news. The Ally Invest platform has alerts and charting, but trading mutual funds is not possible.

The category is awarded to Fidelity.


Alternative Investments

In addition to the normal range of securities, Ally Invest also offers forex trading. None of the other three brokers provide forex. Ally Invest customers can also use a dedicated forex platform at no cost.

Ally Invest wins here.


Banking Features

Fidelity is the only firm to offer a cash management account that is free. Ally Invest charges $20 for check writing and $35 for a debit card but there are free alternative services available at the parent company, Ally Bank, that has some of the best rates in the industry. Vanguard requires an account balance of half a million dollars to apply for cash management services.

Fidelity easily wins here.


Promotions

Ally Invest: Up to $3,500 cash bonus + $0 trades + transfer fee rebate.

Fidelity: Get 500 free trades with $100,000+ deposit.

Vanguard: no promotion.


Outcome

Vanguard didn't place, Fidelity succeeded in 4 categories, and Ally Invest managed to take three victories including the most important, Pricing category. Fidelity is the winner by a small margin. Despite Fidelity's good performance, Ally Invest is an excellent choice for investors seeking the best value in investment services, while Vanguard is a good selection for mutual fund and ETF traders.


Broker Reviews

Ally Invest Review

Fidelity Review

Vanguard Review


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