M1 Finance Rating:   4.5-star brokerage firm rating

M1 Finance is a modern brokerage firm with some really unique ideas on investing. Before opening your next securities account, be sure to check out this review.

M1 Finance Pros

Pre-built portfolios. Easy to browse through M1’s investment ideas and pick one or several.

Easy trading methods. M1 Finance has built its software with novices in mind.

The best cash management tools. Some using M1’s fintech solutions.

M1 Finance Cons

Many asset classes are missing. No options trading here, and some stocks won’t be found, either.

Best services have an annual fee. An M1 Plus membership is required for the best experience at M1.

Software lacks many tools. Want to do some charting here? Forget about it.

Investment Lineup

M1 Investments Rating

At M1 Finance, customers buy and sell Pies. These are baskets of securities. Currently, M1 clients can add stocks, closed-end funds, and ETFs to Pies. There are no other investment vehicles available.

Furthermore, a lot of stocks we would like to see, like foreign stocks and over-the-counter instruments, are missing in action as well.

Technically, Pies are not funds because investors own the underlying assets in Pies (with funds, you own the fund itself, which in turn owns the underlying investments). A single security can be placed in one Pie, which makes it possible to trade individual stocks. A Pie can have up to 100 assets. At M1 Finance, these are called slices.

Customers who don’t want to build their own Pies can instead opt for M1’s Pies. These are called Expert Pies on the M1 platform. They are investments that M1 has built. They have various themes like hedge fund replicators and stock-bond mixes.


M1 Review: Expert Pie


Although M1 has created these Pies, they are not a legitimate form of investment advice because customers are responsible for choosing what to buy and what to sell. M1 Finance does not offer robo accounts or any other form of investment advice, either.


M1 Investing Review


Because M1 Finance is designed for long-term investing and not short-term trading, the brokerage firm only sends orders to the exchanges at predefined windows during the market day. Currently, there is one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

M1 Finance Promotion

Get up to $500 for making a deposit or up to $4,000 when you transfer account with $10K+.

Open M1 Finance Account


M1 Plus

M1 Plus Rating

Those two trading windows are actually just one for regular customers. The best trading experience at M1 Finance will be accessed through M1 Plus. This is M1 Finance on steroids. An annual subscription is $125, and M1 is currently waiving the fee for the first year for all new Plus subscribers.


M1 Checking accounts


In addition to two trading windows per day, Plus subscribers get a lot of other benefits. These include:

  • Checking account with a high 1.00 APY and 1.00% on qualifying purchases
  • Reduced margin rates at the lowest rate in the industry: 2%
  • Custodial accounts

Margin Borrowing

M1 Margin Rating

Although M1 Finance doesn’t specialize in short-term trading (let alone day trading), it does offer margin trading. As we mentioned at the outset of this review, the company has a modern take on investing, and this financial philosophy shows in its margin service, which it calls M1 Borrow.

M1 Borrow is not a traditional margin service with a tiered pricing schedule. Instead, the company charges a flat 3.5% across all debit levels (Plus members pay just 2%). All brokerage accounts are automatically signed up for M1 Borrow.

There is an account minimum of $5,000 to actually use the borrowing service. Borrowed funds can of course be used to buy more securities, but funds can also be withdrawn to fund any purchase under the sun. Need a down payment on a car? Here you go. Want to buy a new home theater system? M1 may be your ticket.

Security profiles show margin status (whether a security is eligible for borrowing or not) and what the maintenance requirement is.

The downside of M1 Borrow is that leverage is capped at 35% of an account’s value (usually, this number is higher at other firms).

Cash Management

M1 Management Rating

In addition to its margin borrowing service, we do like M1 Finance’s banking tools. These are accessed through M1 Spend. An M1 Spend account can easily be linked to a brokerage account, making money transfers very easy. A single login accesses both account types. The M1 Spend account is a checking account with FDIC insurance through Lincoln Savings Bank.


M1 Checking accounts


The downside of M1 Spend is that the account doesn’t offer much without a Plus subscription. With one, there are some really nice perks, including:

  • 1% interest rate on cash balances
  • Ability to send paper checks
  • No forex fees when traveling internationally
  • 1% cash back when using the attached debit card
  • Smart transfers among M1 accounts

M1 Finance also offers the Owner Rewards Visa Signature Card. It has a really lucrative cash back program with up to 10% back.

Fees, Commissions, and Account Minimums

M1 Customer Rating

M1 Finance charges no commissions on trades of Pies. This is pretty generous considering a single Pie can have up to 100 slices (a buy order must result in at least a $1 purchase per security in order for the order to go through).

The brokerage house also has no minimum deposit amount to open an account, although there are minimums to start investing ($100 for taxable accounts and $500 for retirement accounts).

M1 Finance does have an inactivity fee for brokerage accounts. It is $20 for accounts with less than $20 and no activity for 90 days or more. Accounts with a $0.00 balance are exempt.

Closing an IRA carries a $100 fee. An outgoing ACATS transfer costs the same amount.

M1 Finance Promotion

Get up to $500 for making a deposit or up to $4,000 when you transfer account with $10K+.

Open M1 Finance Account


Website

M1 Website Rating

M1 Finance’s website is very basic. It doesn’t have a lot of tools on it—banking, brokerage, or otherwise.


M1 Finance Review


Trading resources will be found under the Invest tab. Here, we were able to create our own Pies, adjust their target percentages, and request a rebalance of them.

There is no order ticket on the M1 Finance website, per se. Instead, users add cash or securities to their Pies, and this alerts M1’s software program that a trade (or multiple trades) needs to take place.


M1 Stocks Investing Review


Charts on M1’s website are rudimentary. A graph cannot be displayed the width of the computer screen, there are no tools of any kind, and only 5 years of price history can be shown. There is just one plot style, which is line.

Mobile App

M1 App Rating

M1 Finance’s emphasis on simple trading continues over on its mobile app. Available for both Apple and Android phones (the software isn’t designed for tablets), many of the broker’s website tools will be found on the mobile platform.


M1 App Review


During our testing of the app, we were able to perform most of the same functions we could do on the M1 website. These include building Pies and adjusting them, transferring funds externally and internally, opening a new account, and managing a Plus membership.

Hard-core traders and investors will miss advanced charting, streaming financial news, an actual order ticket, and much more (same problems on the website). At a bare minimum, M1 Finance needs to add mobile check deposit to its app.

Customer Support

M1 Customer Rating

Customer service options are rather limited at M1 Finance. The company has no branch locations, and phone support is very spotty (the hours are basically market hours).

There is a robo chat on the website. During our testing of it, it didn’t do a stellar job of answering questions. Over the years, we’ve had the best experience using the company’s e-mail form, which is available through the Help Center.

The Help Center is the company’s online treasure trove of articles that attempt to answer questions that most clients will eventually have. Thankfully, they are arranged by general category, like investing and transfers.

Research and Education

M1 Research Rating

Although M1 Finance offers trading in stocks, the brokerage firm doesn’t have an advanced stock screener. The search tool it does have offers just 4 search variables.


M1 Review: Investments Research


Once on a stock’s profile, you won’t find much more. Profiles have links to news articles, basic trade data like 52-week low, and a watchlist button. ETFs have a similar sad situation, and don’t even ask about options or cryptocurrencies.


M1 Review: Market News


The company’s Expert Pies have very little information on them other than simple overviews.

For general investment education there is M1 Learn. During our investigation, we found a few articles covering basic financial topics. There is also a blog with a few posts.

Miscellaneous Services

M1 Service Rating

Fractional Shares: All Pie trades are placed in whole dollars, and this results in fractional shares of the funds and stocks that compose them. Whole share trading is not available.

DRIP Availability: M1 Finance’s software will reinvest cash dividends into underperforming assets inside a Pie. This service can easily be turned on and off with a toggle switch on the website. There is a $25 reinvestment minimum.

Extended Hours Trading: Not available. In fact, as already mentioned, the normal day session is not available, either.

Individual Retirement Accounts: M1 Finance offers Roth, traditional, and SEP retirement accounts.

Recommendations

Beginning Investors: Given M1’s emphasis on simple investing, it is one of the best brokers for beginner investors.

Retirement Savers and Long-Term Investors: There are target-date Pies on the M1 platform, which is a great way to invest for retirement with $0 cost.

Small Accounts: Because of M1 Finance’s low investment starting minimums, we endorse it for small accounts, too.

Mutual Funds: Although M1 Finance customers won’t find any mutual funds at all, they will find over 12,000 of them at TD Ameritrade along with a large selection of fund tools.

ETF and Stock Trading: As already mentioned, M1 Finance does not offer whole share trading, the entire market day, decent software, or extended hours. Webull offers all of these and much more.

M1 Investing Review Judgement

M1 Finance has developed a unique style of investing which appeals the most to buy-and-hold investors. The company’s greatest strength, M1 Spend, delivers the best cash management experience among online brokers.

Open M1 Finance Account

Get up to $500 for making a deposit or up to $4,000 when you transfer account with $10K+.

Open M1 Finance Account


Updated on 1/26/2022.