2018 Ally Invest versus Scottrade brokerage firm comparison: fees, commissions, benefits, pros and cons. Which broker to choose?

Scottrade in Now Merged into TD Ameritrade

Scottrade was acquired and merged into TD Ameritrade. Please read TD Ameritrade vs Ally Invest instead.

Scottrade vs Ally Invest Overview

Scottrade and Ally Invest are two low-cost brokerage firms that offer a wide variety of investment services. Scottrade is the more heavily-advertised firm of the two, and is therefore better known. Let's compare these two brokers against each other and see which is better: Scottrade or Ally Invest?

Commissions, Fees, and Account Minimums

Scottrade charges $7 for stock and ETF trades. Ally Invest, on the other hand, charges a much lower $4.95 for stock trades. Derivative traders at Scottrade pay an extra $0.70 for options. Ally Invest charges just $0.65 extra per contract. Option exercises at Ally Invest are $9.95, and assignments cost $4.95. Scottrade charges a much higher $17 for both assignments and exercises.

Both firms have live brokers who can assist client to place a trade. Using this service over the phone at Ally Invest will set customers back $24.95. At Scottrade, the charge is $32.

Scottrade charges no particular fees for a brokerage account. By comparison, Ally Invest has implemented an inactivity account fee. It is $50 annually. Any account that (1) has no trades in the previous 12 months, and (2) has under $2,500 in household assets with the broker will be charged the fee.

Scottrade requires its customers to deposit at least $2,500 when opening an account. Ally Invest has no minimum. Trading on margin is available at both firms. The current rate for a debit under $5,000 at Ally Invest is 9%. Scottrade charges 8.0% for the same loan.

Ally Invest wins this category.

Investing in Mutual Funds

Investors at Scottrade have access to nearly 3,000 mutual funds that have no load and no transaction fee. The firm offers more than 14,000 funds in total. No-load funds with a transaction fee cost $17 to buy, sell, and exchange. Load funds are free to buy, although they are $17 on the sell side.

Ally Invest clients can invest in more than 8,500 mutual funds. The broker charges no transaction fee for load funds. No-load funds carry a $9.95 charge on both the buy and sell sides.

Scottrade is victorious in this category.

Customer Service

Ally Invest has customer services representatives available by phone or on-line chat Monday through Friday from 8 am to 6 pm, EST. The firm can also be contacted by fax, snail mail, and e-mail.

Unlike Ally Invest, Scottrade has a nationwide network of branch locations for personalized service. There are currently more than 500 Scottrade offices across the United States. Customers who prefer to speak to a representative over the phone can do so Monday thru Friday from 5 am to 12 am. Saturday and Sunday phone service is up from 8 am to 6 pm.

Scottrade wins here easily.

Trading Tools

Ally Invest clients have two options for trading on a PC: either the regular website or the broker's desktop platform, Ally Invest LIVE. Both are easy to use and provide a wealth of useful tools, including a watch list, market indices, option chains, and account information. Both the website and Ally Invest LIVE have a user-friendly trade ticket. The advanced platform has a minimum requirement of one trade per year or a balance of $2,500.

Scottrade's website has a less advanced feel to it. Inconveniently, clients can't login to the website with a user ID (an account number is required). The website does have a convenient trade ticket at the bottom of the browser. The broker's advanced platform, ScottradeELITE, has sophisticated charting, streaming news, and security research tools. The platform is only available for customers who have at least $25,000 on deposit with Scottrade or who place 9 or more stock or option trades per quarter.

Scottrade loses this time.

Mobile Platforms

Scottrade offers a mobile app free of charge to its customers, who can trade on Apple, Android, or mobile web. Options research is available along with basic charting and market news. The broker recently added mobile check deposit to its app.

Ally Invest clients can also trade on Apple, Android, and mobile web at no cost. The charting feature is more advanced than Scottrade's mobile charting. The Ally Invest app has more information on a stock's fundamental data, too. However, the Ally Invest app lacks mobile check deposit.

It's a dead heat in this category.

Ally Invest New Account Incentives

The Ally Invest promotion is a limited time offer, which is a bonus of $500 in commissions to all clients who open and fund an account with a $500 minimum deposit. Very few brokerage companies run promotions that require a low initial deposit to qualify for the bonus. If you plan to invest $5,000 or more, use the code FREE1000 to receive $1,000 in free trades.

Education and Research

Ally Invest customers get stock reports from S&P Capital IQ free of charge. The broker has a wide variety of educational materials and screeners covering all available securities. Investors will find a good selection of instructional videos on the Ally Invest website. The firm also maintains an electronic trader network, which is a forum and blog where customers are able to discuss investment topics.

Scottrade customers receive third-party equity reports from Thomson Reuters, S&P Capital IQ, and MarketEdge free of charge. Knowledge Center is an educational page with many valuable instructional materials, including videos. In-person seminars at Scottrade locations are also listed on the Scottrade website, as are on-line events.

Too close to call here.

Scottrade vs Ally Invest: Results

Scottrade triumphed twice, Ally Invest (learn more) was victorious in 2 categories, and there were 2 ties. We have a draw. Scottrade (learn more) is the better option for mutual fund investors, while Ally Invest is ideal for frequent stock and option traders.

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