Ally Invest (formerly TradeKing) has taken the discount brokerage model and made it better. Although low trading fees and commissions are great, Ally Invest isn’t the only discount broker who charges $4.95 per trade since OptionsHouse offers a very similar pricing model. However, Ally Invest brings considerable value with their price, making them a worthy consideration if a low trading price is important to you. This Ally Invest review will help you see that there is much more below the surface of their cheap $4.95 commissions.
Ally Invest Background
Ally Invest has been in the discount brokerage space for roughly 10 years, having started in 2005. Thanks to their low commission structure and award winning customer service, they’ve risen in popularity.
Ally Invest has not been passive in growing the brokerage and offerings. They purchased Zecco in 2012, which allowed them to add forex trading to their offerings.Ally Invest followed that up by launching their Advisors Program in late 2014 as a means to offer virtual financial advising to clients – allowing them to take on robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront. Nevertheless, you’ll want to check out our Betterment vs Wealthfront comparison.
With a bit of background out of the way, it’s time to move on to a more in-depth Ally Invest review.
Ally Invest Fees
Ally Invest has one of the most competitive fee structures within the discount brokerage space.
Stock Trade: $4.95 per stock trade.Ally Invest does add $.01 per share for stocks under $2, which is a fairly common practice in the industry. If you place more than 30 trades per quarter, or have an account balance of over $100,000, the commission is lowered to $3.95 per trade and $.50 per option contract.
Options Trade: $4.95 plus $.65 per contract.
Mutual Fund Trades: $9.95 per trade.
Inactivity Fee:Ally Invest does, unfortunately, charge an inactivity fee of $50 per year, but it can be waived if you have at least $2,500 in your account or make at least one trade per 12 months.
You can see a comparison of their commission structure versus other major discount brokerages below:
Ally Invest Features
With the fee structure out of the way, it’s time to move on to some of the features found at Ally Invest.
- Stellar trading platform. Many discount brokers tout their trading platform, even if they don’t measure up. This is not the case with Ally Invest, who has been regularly recognized by publications like Barron’s as having one of the best platforms available, especially for options trading.
- Free streaming quotes. This is fairly common now and honestly is expected, but Ally Invest offers free streaming quotes after filling out short paperwork.
- Forex trading. Thanks to their acquisition of Zecco in 2012, Ally Invest offers forex trading. While carrying significant risk, this helps set them apart from other online brokers. If you’d like to dabble in forex trading, but don’t have adequate experience, Ally Invest does offer a free $50,000 virtual forex trading account.
- Ally Invest Live. Ally Invest Live is an upgrade to their already stellar platform. Rolled out in late 2014, it allows for full customization of your platform.
- Ally Invest Advisors. As touched on earlier, Ally Invest Advisors is an attempt to offer virtual financial planning to those who are new to investing or want investing guidance. You can start with as low as $500 and will have no fees the first year of service.
- AutoTrade. Like OptionsHouse, Ally Invest offers the AutoTrade feature, which allows you to automate trading, based on different investment newsletters.
- Education. Many discount brokerages offer educational courses and webinars, so this isn’t that unique. Ally Invest takes it to the next level though with offerings like their Options Playbook, YouTube channel and live webinars offering different ways to grow in your investment and trading knowledge.
- Trader Network. Ally Invest is ahead of the pack, integrating a serious social media focus to their platform. This includes the use of social media and blogs with their forum, but more impressively the Trader Network, which boasts over 200,000 active members who share real-time ideas and assistance with those wanting additional trading insight or wisdom.
Ally Invest Advantages
Ally Invest has carved out a niche for itself within the online brokerage space. Beyond the features listed above, following are some of the advantages Ally Invest brings to the table:
- Killer pricing. At $4.95 per stock trade, it’s hard to find someone who beats Ally Invest in the price department.
- No minimum balance requirement. Ally Invest does not require a certain balance at account opening. This is great for someone just starting out with little to invest.
- A lot of mutual funds. If mutual funds are your thing, you won’t be disappointed with Ally Invest as they offer over 12,000 funds. This puts them on the high end in the brokerage space, as does the $9.95 per trade.
- Free real–time support. Whether it be through the Trader Network feature or live instant chat, Ally Invest offers free real-time support.
- Excellent customer service. What online broker is going to claim their customer service is bad? Not many, though TradeKing stands apart from the rest with consistent recognition from SmartMoney rating them as 5 out of 5 stars for customer service.
- Has something for everyone. This is what sets Ally Invest apart from someone like OptionsHouse. With tools for active options traders, forex trading, cheap prices and virtual financial management, Ally Invest has become more of a one-stop shop to help investors with their investing needs.
Ally Invest Disadvantages
No online broker is perfect, and that’s the case with Ally Invest. The following is the main thing Ally Invest could improve:
- Inactivity fee. As we discussed earlier, Ally Invest can charge you an annual inactivity fee of $50. However, you can avoid the inactivity fee if you have an account balance of at least $2,500 or have placed at least one trade in the prior 12 months.
The only other real issue to be aware of is the Ally Invest Live feature. Starting out as an invitation-only platform, it has now been rolled out to all active clients. This leads us to believe many of the known bugs have been rectified.
Ally Invest Review – The Final Analysis
For the right individual, Ally Invest is going to be an excellent fit. Their commission structure is hard to beat and with their addition of their Advisor program, they offer something for those wanting assistance with their investing needs. While their target market is typically more active traders, the pricing, mutual fund offerings, and advisory services make Ally Invest one of the best discount brokers to consider.
There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to online brokerage firms. Each has their own unique features to differentiate from the competition. Ally Invest has a number of things that make them a quality fit for most investors.
If you are thinking of opening a Ally Invest account, make sure to take advantage of the promotions they offer, such as a refund of any fees to rollover an old 401(k) or $1,000 in free commissions for 60 days. Make sure to check out our TradeKing promotional code post for up-to-date promotions!
Ally Invest is one of the cheapest online stock brokers in the industry and offers a robust platform and set of services.