Update: Ally Invest Eliminated Commissions on Stock and ETF Trades, effective Oct. 9, 2019. Enjoy commission-free trades at Ally Invest!
Ally Invest is currently one of the most popular online stock brokers out there. But is it right for your portfolio? Let’s take a look in this Ally Invest review.
First, some background: Back in 2016, Ally Financial purchased TradeKing and rebranded it as Ally Invest. Ally Invest offers the same great features as TradeKing but without charging commissions on most stock, ETF, and options trades.
Because Ally Financial is also the parent company of Ally Bank, Ally Invest customers have the opportunity to link their account to a high-yield savings account. This gives customers two best-of-class financial services under one roof.
Several years ago, I was searching for a low-cost brokerage so I could invest in some individual stocks. After comparing multiple discount brokers, I opened a TradeKing account. My decision was based on TradeKing’s low prices, services, features, education center, and industry-level awards.
I’ve stuck on as an Ally Invest customer and am glad that I did. In this Ally Invest review, I’ll cover the broker’s major features, along with my personal opinions.
Opening an Ally Invest Account
Opening an Ally Invest account takes about 15 minutes, depending on how quickly you can read the terms and conditions. Like all brokerages and other financial institutions, Ally Invest requires new account holders to enter the standard personal information such as name, address, SSN, employer information, trading experience, financial information, etc.
Ally Invest – Investment Options, Pricing, and Features
Investments offered. Ally Invest offers a variety of investment options to meet most individual investor’s needs, including:
- mutual funds
- exchange-traded funds (EFTs)
- U.S. Treasury and Agency Issues
- FOREX (foreign currencies)
- Ally Invest also features a no-fee IRA
Commissions. Ally Invest is among the industry leaders for the lowest commissions. For stock and ETF trades, Ally Invest charges $0.00 per trade. That’s right — Ally Invest offers commission-free stock trades! Ally Invest also recently decreased the price of its options contracts. The current pricing structure is $0.00 base + $0.50 per options contract.
Fee schedule. Because Ally Invest is an online-only company, it can cut costs by reducing physical paperwork. As such, there’s a $2.50 fee for paper statements. With almost everything being electronic nowadays, I don’t mind passing on the paper statements and relying on email and my printer.
Transferring money. Ally Invest allows investors to link a bank account to their Ally Invest account to transfer money via ACH transactions. It’s important to note that ACH deposits are subject to a trading hold of 5 business days and cannot be withdrawn for 10 business days. This hold policy might make you miss out on a hot idea if you aren’t prepared. You can link only one bank account to your Ally Invest account, so it’s recommended to do some planning before you open your account.
Dividend reinvestments. Ally Invest offers free automatic dividend reinvestments (DRIPs), with the ability to purchase fractional shares. Investors have the ability to apply automatic dividend reinvestments to all — or select — stocks in their portfolio. This is an attractive feature.
Cash sweep. Ally Invest gives its account holders the option of placing their uninvested money into a sweep account where they can earn interest (the rates change based on market conditions). It’s important to note that for this to take effect, you will need to contact customer service after setting up your account. The funds are FDIC insured.
Trading Stocks at Ally Invest
Making trades at Ally Invest. The Ally Invest platform is both intuitive and robust. Ally Invest’s trading interface allows investors to perform multiple transactions from the same page, meaning you can set up covered calls, puts, spreads, straddles, and other trading options from the same screen. This is more advanced than my current needs, but it will come in useful to many traders. Ally Invest also has an extensive selection of tutorials and videos to help you if you ever get stuck (see learning center, below).
Ally Invest iPhone, iPad, and Android Apps
Ally Invest currently offers smartphone apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Android. These apps allow you to check your account activity, trade stocks and options, perform research, track stock news, and more. Ally Invest also features a mobile-optimized site if you prefer using a standard web interface. You can check out the Ally Invest iPhone and Blackberry apps here.
Ally Invest’s Investment Research and Learning Center
Investment Research. The Ally Invest platform features online equity, options, and fixed-income trading tools including real-time portfolio information, advanced order entry, customized charting and alerts, free research and integrated news, stock, option and mutual fund screeners, volatility charts, a pricing probability calculator, enhanced option chains, and interactive educational information.
Learning Center. Ally Invest’s Learning Center offers tutorials on a number of investing topics. The Learning Center utilizes a variety of different media, including articles, blogs, free live webcasts and webinars, podcasts, video tutorials, calculators, tools, e-books, newsletters, and links to external resources. Just about any kind of information an investor could need can be found inside the Learning Center or through one of its external sources. The learning center is accessible to everyone, regardless of whether or not you have an Ally Invest brokerage account.
The Ally Invest Community
The Ally Invest community is well organized and well run. It features a blog and forum section where members can trade notes and ideas and learn from each other. Members can track recent trade activity and trade notes from those who are willing to share some insight as to why they made a trade. They can also join Ally Invest community groups which are organized and run by Ally Invest members. There are quite a few groups, including those for beginning investors, options traders, and those who prefer to specialize in different types of investments including value stocks, penny stocks, ETFs, hedge funds, dividend stocks, and various segments of the market such as automotive, biotech, or individual companies.
Other Features at Ally Invest
Maxit Tax Manager. Ally Invest features the Maxit Tax Manager, a cost basis and tax reporting tool that tracks gains, losses, and other information to help you with your taxes. This tool makes it easy to monitor your realized and unrealized gains, identify wash sales, and calculate other potential tax implications. Maxit Tax Manager is FREE to Ally Invest customers.
Account Records. Ally Invest maintains records for account holders, including trade confirmation reports, monthly or quarterly account statements, and tax documents such as 1099 forms. Account records are stored online and can be downloaded into a .pdf format, Quicken, or Excel.
Ally Invest and CoolTrade Partnership. Ally Invest recently partnered with CoolTrade™ to offer Ally Invest customers access to automated stock trading. This capability is available in the Ally Invest trading platform and gives Ally Invest clients the ability to make fully automated stock trades. There’s a monthly subscription for this service, which is aimed at professional level traders.
How Does Ally Invest Compare to Similar Brokerages?
Ally Invest compares favorably in many areas, including price per trade, investing tools, education center, and excellent customer service.
Ally Invest Customer Service
TradeKing won multiple awards based on its customer service support, including #1 rankings for customer service in 2008, 2010, and 2011 from Smart Money Magazine. Luckily, this level of support has continued with the transition to Ally Invest. Customers can contact the customer service department via Online Chat, Email ([email protected]), or telephone 24/7 at 855-880-2559. My experience with Ally Invest’s customer service has been excellent.
Ally Invest Promo Codes
Currently, there are no Ally Invest promotions. However, you can monitor our Ally Invest promotions page to see if that changes.
Ally Invest Review – Conclusion
Overall, I think Ally Invest offers great value and capability in a low-cost, easy-to-use package. Based on my personal experiences and its award-winning ways, I don’t hesitate to recommend Ally Invest if you’re searching for a new brokerage firm.