TastyWorks versus Ally Invest - compare IRA, commissions, investing fees, trading tools, account pros and cons. Which online broker is better?


Overview of Ally Invest and TastyWorks

Ally Invest and tastyworks both emphasize low-cost trading. Somehow, they still manage to provide a lot of investment services. We’re going to compare these two in major categories and then see if we can pick the better firm.


Broker Fees

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Tastyworks $5 ($0 to sell) na $1.00 per contract ($10 max, $0 to sell) $0 $0
Ally Invest $4.95 $9.95 $4.95 + $0.65 per contract $0 $0


Services

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


Trading Software

The Ally Invest website is rather basic. It does offer trading capability, however. There’s a trade bar at the bottom of the screen, and it’s able to submit orders for stocks, ETF’s, and options. The bar provides real-time information on volume, most recent trade price, and bid-ask spread.

The website offers order forms in case you don’t care for the trade bar. Besides market and limit, there are stop orders and a market-on-close option. Day and GTC are the duration choices. The order form also offers several advanced choices, such as OCO, contingent, and trailing.

Ally Invest LIVE is the broker’s browser platform. It is launched from the top of the website. It creates a new tab in the browser (not a separate window) and is composed of many tiles. Some examples include a market clock, account value, pending orders, top stories, and market indexes.


Ally Live


LIVE’s trade ticket doesn’t offer the complex order types that the website offers (orders like OCO and contingent). It does have the trailing and stop orders, however. Multiple legs can be added to an order.

Charting on LIVE offers about a hundred technical studies, eight graph styles, and about thirty drawing tools. An asset’s price history can be compared to another stock or index, and a chart can also be saved.

Ally offers a desktop platform called Quotestream to active traders (ten trades a month minimum). It offers very advanced tools for charting and research.

tastyworks has a desktop platform that comes with more than a hundred technical studies, four graph styles, and multiple drawing tools. A graph can be displayed almost the width of the monitor, which is not possible on Ally Invest LIVE.

The trading ticket on tastyworks’ desktop platform includes limit, market, and stop orders. Duration choices are day and good-till orders.

A really nice feature we liked on the desktop system is graphical trading. After entering a ticker symbol, we got a bell-shaped curve that shows the probability of reaching a certain price. Also shown were maximum gain and loss figures.


tastyworks Traders


tastyworks has a similar browser platform. Because they are so similar, it seems a little redundant to have both programs. The browser has less advanced charting, though, with no technical studies. There are links to educational videos on the browser system, a watchlist of equities, and information on recent trades by other investors at tastyworks. The order ticket is very similar to the desktop version.

As for the broker’s website, it does have a login, but there is no trading function. The site is used for account management and launching the browser platform.

Neither Ally Invest nor tastyworks offers direct-access routing.

Overall, it’s a dead heat in this category.


Mobile Platforms

Both companies in our investigation know that their customers need mobile trading capability. Ally Invest integrated its app with Ally Bank. This means that the bank’s functions are available to brokerage customers. These include a mobile check deposit, ACH transfer, Zelle Transfer, and bill pay.


Ally vs Tasty Eorks


Charting on Ally’s app offers a few technical indicators, horizontal view, several chart display styles, and comparisons. The order ticket integrates limit, market, stop, and trailing types. There’s a watch list, but no alerts.

tastyworks’ app does offer alerts. There’s also a watchlist and the list of up-to-date trades by the broker’s customers makes another appearance. The app’s order ticket is user-friendly. It shows large buttons with easy-to-read fonts. The same bell curve on the other two platforms reappears. On the downside, charting is less advanced than Ally’s; and there are no news articles (Ally’s app has them).


tastyworks Mobile App


Ally Invest wins here.


Options Trading

Derivatives are available at both brokerage firms. Ally Invest customers can buy and sell contracts on the broker’s website or browser platform. On the website, there are option chains for calls and puts plus multi-leg strategies. Hovering over a bid or ask price generates a pop-up trade button.

On the LIVE platform, multiple legs can be manually added to an order ticket. There is a profit/loss graph, a probability calculator, and an option strategy workbench.

tastyworks customers have access to complex strategies on all three platforms. Once again, the broker offers graphical trading with the bell curve. Traditional option chains with a user-friendly order ticket are also on tap.

This category is too close to call.


Other Investment Products

tastyworks doesn’t offer mutual funds, bonds, or forex. However, it does provide trading in futures contracts (including options on futures). The broker’s desktop platform can be used to trade them, but not the browser system.

Ally Invest customers have access to mutual funds, bonds, and forex. The broker provides a very good desktop platform for currency trading. There is also an Ally Invest forex app that mobile investors can use.

Overall, we have to give Ally the nod here for its fixed-income and mutual fund offerings.


Extended Hours

tastyworks offers a pre-market session that begins at 8:00 am, EST, and closes at the opening bell. Its after-hours period lasts from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

Ally Invest customers can trade in the early morning for the same length of time as tastyworks customers. However, Ally’s after-hours session closes at 5 o’clock, an hour before tastyworks’ period ends.

Looks like tastyworks is the better choice here.


Promotions

TastyWorks: Open account and pay no commission when selling stocks/ETFs/options.

Ally Invest: Up to $3,500 cash bonus + commission free trades for new accounts.



Level II Quotes

Level II data is not available at tastyworks. Ally Invest offers the info to clients who place at least ten trades per month. The data is provided only on Quotestream.

Obviously, Ally is the better choice here.


Margin

At Ally Invest, long stocks priced above $6 carry a 50% initial margin requirement and a 30% maintenance requirement. At tastyworks, maintenance is a lower 25%, and initial is the same 50%. And the minimum stock price is $5.

Looks like tasty is the better flavor here.


Ally Invest vs TastyWorks Summary

tastyworks won two categories, Ally Invest garnered three victories, and there were two ties. Ally Invest wins this survey by a small margin.


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