2019: Ally Invest U.S. Treasury t-bonds, t-bills, tips, frn and t-notes trading - 1 year, 5 years, 10 years maturity, minimums and commission rates.

How to Buy Treasury Bonds at Ally Invest

Several brokerage houses provide trading in Treasury debt, but there is a wide variation in the quality and cost of trading. This article will present Ally Invest's services and then make some comparisons against its rivals.

Learn about Fixed-Income Securities

If you're going to sink a good sum of money into an asset, you should first learn about the risk and return characteristics for obvious reasons. The Ally Invest website has a few learning materials on bonds, including one article about Treasury debt. It discusses buying U.S. government bonds on margin and the difference between Treasury bills and notes.

Use Ally Invest's Search Tool

Once you have a good foundation of understanding, it's time to start looking for U.S. sovereign debt. To do this, you'll need to open the Ally's trading platform. Called Ally Invest LIVE, it can be generated by clicking on the link at the top of the screen.

Ally Invest T-Bills

On the platform, you'll need to click on 'Trading' in the top row of choices and then select 'Fixed Income.' The broker's fixed-income tools will now be displayed.

On the front page, you'll see a yield grid with hyperlinks that correspond to maturities and yields. Unfortunately, Treasury rates aren't displayed here. Underneath this grid is another grid for Treasuries. For some strange reason, the yields aren't hyperlinked, so you won't be able to search through a list of these securities (other brokers do offer this function). Nevertheless, the yields are there, so you can get a good idea of what the current return levels are for different Treasury bonds.

Despite the failure of the yield grid, Ally does offer a Treasury search engine. It can be found by clicking on 'Offerings' next to the grid, and then selecting 'Treasury Bonds' from the drop-down menu.

Doing this will produce the screener. There are many criteria to choose from, such as maturity, yield, call status, price, CUSIP, and Treasury type (such as notes or TIPS). When you run a screen, the results can be sorted by maturity, yield, price, and other variables.

A search we ran with just a few criteria produced only twelve Treasury bonds, not a large selection to say the least.

Choose a Government Bond

The results did have several bits of helpful information. The CUSIP is displayed along with the coupon, the maturity date, the price, yield to worst, yield to maturity, and the minimum quantity that must be ordered. Hovering over a bond's title produces a small pop-up window with more information, such as the coupon frequency and the payment months. Results can be exported to an Excel file, a nice feature. It's also possible to submit a bid request on this page.

Placing a Trade

If you have decided on a specific bond, it's time to place an order. Ally Invest charges $1 per Treasury bond with a $10 minimum.

There's a 'Buy' button in the right column in the search results. Clicking on it generates the order ticket. This is a good place to review previous information and look at new information. For example, here you'll find the amount of accrued interest the bond has. There's also a quantity field. It was automatically filled during our test order. It can be altered, but obviously needs to be at least the minimum required. The Treasury offering we chose had a minimum of 500 bonds, which resulted in a required principal of over $500,000.

Don't Forget About Fixed-Income Funds

If you would rather skip the bond commission, Ally offers several Treasury bond funds that carry no transaction fee (although they will have a load). For example, we found LTUSX , the Thornburg Limited Term U.S. Government Fund. It carries a load on the front end, but offers many investments in U.S. government debt, including Treasuries and agency securities.

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