Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone and is not intended to be a source of investment advice. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.
Updated on Friday, October 18, 2019
Not having enough cash to open an online brokerage account can be seen as a barrier to starting your investing journey. If that’s a concern check out Ally Invest, which doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement.
Ally Invest is a good choice even if you don’t already have another account with Ally Bank. This online broker offers a wide range of account features, as well as a robo-advisor option. Take advantage of Ally Invest’s online platform and mobile app to track your investments whenever and wherever you wish.
Who should consider Ally Invest
If you’re new to investing, Ally Invest is a great option. It doesn’t have an account minimum to start, which lets you start investing even if you only have a few extra dollars. The managed portfolio — Ally’s take on a robo-advisor — requires $100 minimum to get started. The managed portfolio include a variety of individual retirement accounts (IRAs):
Ally Invest is also a solid choice if you’re trying to minimize the impact fees have on your overall investments. Ally doesn’t charge trading commissions on exchange traded funds (ETFs), options or U.S. exchange-traded stocks.
Once you’ve opened your account, Ally Invest’s online trading platform and research tools are easy to use. While you won’t find earnings transcripts, SEC filings, earnings press releases or audio calls, you can still dig into technical data using free screeners and other tools powered by Recognia.
Ally Invest fees and features
|Stock trading fees|
|Amount minimum to open account|
|Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)|
|Mobile app||iOS, Android , Windows phone|
|Customer support||Phone, 24/7 live support, Chat, Email|
Commissions and fees
Online brokers, including Ally Invest, have reduced trading commissions to zero on a wide range of assets. As mentioned above, Ally Invest offers commission-free trading of ETFs, U.S. exchange-traded stock and options. However, the online broker still charges some fees:
- Bonds: $1.00 per trade
- Mutual funds: $9.95 per trade
- Margin accounts: Varies
- IRA transfer fee: $50
- IRA closure fee: $25
- Returned checks, ACH or wires: $30
- Paper statements: $4
- Restricted accounts and broker-assisted trades: $20 plus commission
- Short stock: daily charge at cost
- ATM withdrawals: $1
Additionally, Ally Invest will reimburse you up to $150 in transfer fees you might accrue from your current brokerage firm.
Fees mentioned in the article are accurate as of the date of publishing.
Tradable asset categories
Ally Invest allows you to trade a variety of asset classes, including:
- Options (equity and index)
- Mutual funds
- Margin account
If you’d rather take a hands-off approach, you can look into managed portfolios, which is Ally’s version of a robo-advisor. There are four different portfolio types:
- Core: A variety of diversified choices, including international, domestic and fixed-income assets. You can choose your risk tolerance, from conservative to aggressive.
- Income: If you’re in retirement or close to it, this option allows you to take a conservative risk tolerance with higher dividend returns.
- Tax optimized: If you earn a lot of money, you can make after-tax contributions to your investment account, which can lower your tax bill and maximize investments.
- Socially responsible: This account is filled with ethical companies that practice sustainability, energy efficiency or other initiatives that are good for the environment.
While these portfolios are managed and rebalanced algorithmically by computers like other robo-advisors, Ally Invest says that live financial analysts design its portfolios.
Trading technology and experience
Ally Invest allows you to set up an investing platform with customizable features that work best for you. You can create custom watchlists to observe market data that’s relevant to your investments. This also helps you monitor particular stocks or other investments — if they drop to a favorable amount, you can jump in to buy. Other technology highlights include:
- Profit/loss graph: If you’re interested in a particular investment, the profit/loss graph gives you the chance to see the potential of it before buying. This is helpful if you’re considering an investment but want to determine whether it’ll earn you money without actually putting money towards it.
- Market data: When you’re looking to learn more about a company, your investment platform lets you check company quotes, charts, high and low prices, dividend dates, peer performance comparisons and other news about the company.
- Probability calculator: Unsure about an investment’s potential performance? This lets you check the volatility of it and see if it will help you hit your investment goals.
Ally Invest has mobile apps for iOS and Android users, or you can log in to your account through your mobile browser to use the Ally Invest LIVE platform. From there, you can check your watchlist and stream quotes.
You can also check quotes, charts, earnings, company news and more when you log in to your account and click “Research.”
Strengths of Ally Invest
Ally Invest has plenty of strengths to help it stand out from the competition, including the following:
- No minimum deposit required: Ally Invest doesn’t have a minimum initial deposit requirement, which makes it simple to get started with only a little cash. You can also earn a cash bonus for opening an Ally Invest account if you deposit or transfer just $10,000, compared with a $25,000 minimum to earn a cash bonus with E*Trade or $20,000 with Merrill Edge.
- Powerful tools and intuitive trading platform: Ally Invest’s online site offers you powerful tools to screen investments. Its trading platform is intuitive and provides the features necessary to be an informed investor. This includes a dashboard you can customize to your preferred view, as well as real-time streaming quotes and up-to-date data.
- Responsive online and phone customer service: Ally Invest can be contacted via phone 24/7. There’s also an online chat feature, where you can get answers within seconds from helpful customer service agents. Email support is available, as well.
- Hundreds of ETFs. Ally Invest offers 500+ ETFs from Vanguard, GlobalX, iShares and others.
Drawbacks of Ally Invest
Ally Invest also has some downsides to consider:
- Mutual fund transaction fees: Ally Invest charges a $9.95 transaction fee per trade for no-load mutual funds. But many competitors offer options without any transaction fees, including E*Trade, which offers more than 4,400 fee-free funds.
- A mobile app with minimal features: While you can do the basics with Ally Invest’s mobile app, it offers far fewer features and investment tools than competitor apps such as TD Ameritrade Mobile.
- No physical branches: Ally Invest is an online-only company. There are no physical branches, unlike competitors such as Merrill Edge or E-Trade, which has more than 30 branches spread across the country.
Is Ally Invest safe?
Ally Invest is a trusted online brokerage with more than $4.7 billion in assets under management. It’s a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), so you can rest assured that the cash in your accounts is safe. And since the company has passed its Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker check, you can count on the fact that it’s in full compliance with regulations.
Of course, once you invest your money, there’s always a risk of losses. Investing means you can potentially lose money. Research what you’re investing in carefully, and diversify your portfolio to minimize the risks you’re taking.
Thanks to the fact it has no minimum deposit requirement for its self-directed brokerage accounts, Ally Invest is a great choice if you’re looking to get started investing and you don’t have a ton of money. Commission-free investments give you a diverse offering of low-cost or no-cost options.
But the high mutual fund transaction fees are a turnoff. Along with that, not being able to meet with an advisor face-to-face could deter you from signing up. Since Ally doesn’t have physical branches, you may feel like you’re missing out without the in-person interaction.
Overall, it’s a great option for beginning and intermediate investors. The offerings might not be as detailed for expert investors, but if you’re looking to get started or enhance your experience, Ally Invest might work for you.