Best IRA Accounts Pricing


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Ally Invest $4.95 $9.95 $4.95 + $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Charles Schwab $4.95 $76 ($0 to sell) $4.95 + $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Fidelity $4.95 $49.95 $4.95 + $0.65 per contract $0 $0
TD Ameritrade $6.95 $49.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0
Etrade $6.95 $19.95 $6.95 + $0.75 per contract $0 $0


Best IRA Firms Services


Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
Ally Invest
Charles Schwab
Fidelity
TD Ameritrade
Etrade


Overview of Ally Invest, TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, E*Trade, and Schwab


Ally Invest offers brokerage services at a low cost. But the company has a lot of competition. In particular, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and E*Trade also provide good deals on securities trading. Let’s see how Ally performs against these brokerage firms.


Portfolio Management and Investment Advice


Ally Invest has a computerized account management program that costs a very low 0.30% per annum for automated trading of exchange-traded funds. There is a $2,500 minimum to start. The broker-dealer does not offer any human advisors at any price.

E*Trade clients have access to both human and robo advisors. The broker’s robo-advisory service is the same price as Ally’s and trades the same type of investments. E*Trade requires a higher minimum ($10,000 for taxable accounts and $5,000 for retirement accounts). The broker’s traditional portfolio management costs less than 1.0% and requires a deposit of $25,000.

Fidelity traders pay 0.35% for the broker’s computerized account management, which requires a $5,000 balance. The brokerage house offers traditional management with varying minimums and costs, depending on factors such as account balance and securities desired.

TD Ameritrade provides a robot trader for just 30 basis points. This service comes with a $5,000 minimum deposit requirement. Unlike Ally, TD Ameritrade also provides traditional management, although it costs more than 0.30%.

Last, but certainly not least, is Schwab, who manages to offer a robo-advisory service for free. The broker makes money from free cash balances and relationships with the ETF’s that are traded. Human advisors are available for as little as 0.50% with a $25,000 minimum.


Mutual Funds


Ally Invest traders can buy and sell nearly 8,000 mutual funds. On this list, there are more than 1,600 products that carry zero load. The broker-dealer does not offer any funds that are both no-load and no-transaction-fee products. If a fund has no load, there is a $9.95 charge to buy or sell it.

Schwab offers fewer mutual funds—just over 5,000; but there are more than 3,000 that have neither load nor transaction fee. A fund that isn’t on the NTF list costs $76 to buy and $0 to sell.

E*Trade customers have access to nearly 8,500 mutual funds that are open to new investors. Over 4,200 are no-load, no-transaction-fee funds. Transaction-fee funds cost $19.99 on both sides.

Traders at Fidelity can buy and sell more than 11,000 mutual funds, and nearly 3,800 have no transaction fee. Approximately half of this group also comes with no load. Funds with a transaction fee cost $49.95 to purchase, but there’s no charge on the sell side.

Mutual fund investors at TD Ameritrade will find nearly 11,800 securities. Almost 3,800 come with no load and no transaction fee. The broker’s transaction fee is $49.99, and it’s applied to both purchases and sales.


Exchange-traded Funds


E*Trade investors can buy and sell nearly 160 ETF’s without paying a dime in commissions. The broker’s website has an effective screener and a large ETF center.

Ally Invest’s ETF section has less material on it. The brokerage house also fails to offer any exchange-traded funds without trading fees.

TD Ameritrade tops both E*Trade and Ally Invest by offering more than 550+ ETF’s that can be bought and sold commission-free. The broker does impose a 30-day hold requirement on these securities, the same period that E*Trade requires.

Schwab underperforms TD Ameritrade here, but still manages to come up with over 200 ETF’s that have no commissions. Like TD Ameritrade, Schwab has a very thorough ETF center on its website. Schwab also doesn’t maintain a minimum hold period for its commission-free ETF’s.

Fidelity manages to offer 93 commission-free ETF’s. Like E*Trade and TD Ameritrade, it has a one-month hold requirement. Fidelity’s ETF center is very thorough and would be especially good for beginners.


Pricing and Account Minimums


TD Ameritrade is the most expensive broker in our survey, charging $6.95 for stock and ETF transactions with no discounts for active traders. Option contracts are an extra 75 cents.

E*Trade has the same commission schedule but offers $2 off equity trades for active traders and an additional 25 cents off for derivative trades.

Fidelity and Schwab are both at $4.95 with no discounts. They also both charge 65 cents for options.

Ally Invest rounds out the bottom by charging $4.95 for stock and ETF trades with a $1 discount for frequent traders. Options cost 65 cents each with a 15-cent discount.

An investment account at any of the brokerage firms comes with no annual, low-balance, inactivity, or maintenance fee. Schwab and E*Trade are the two brokers in the survey to require a minimum deposit to open an account. Schwab is at $1,000, and E*Trade requires $500.


Customer Support


All five broker-dealers offer customer service day and night. TD Ameritrade is the lone exception to not have on-line chat. The broker’s website does have an AI named Ted that is able to answer some questions.

For branch locations, Ally Invest is the only company not to have any brick-and-mortar offices. Schwab has the most at more than 300.

Schwab seems to have the greatest emphasis on foreign language service. It has representatives who speak Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. The broker also has offices in Britain and Puerto Rico. Ally Invest and E*Trade have the least global service, offering only English-language service with no international footprint.


Trading Technology


Ally Invest’s website is accessed through Ally.com, which also hosts the company’s bank accounts. The brokerage side has a different layout than the banking side. It’s not quite as user-friendly as the banking layout, but it’s easy to navigate nonetheless.

There’s a simple trade bar that sits at the bottom of the browsing window on Ally’s site. There is also an easy-to-use trading platform called Ally LIVE that is browser-based. Option chains, an order ticket, and charting are all available. There is no desktop platform available.

TD Ameritrade customers have access to much more than Ally offers. Trade Architect is a browser-based platform with better features than Ally’s version offers, such as live streaming of CNBC free of charge. SnapTicket is a trading ticket that appears at the bottom of the broker’s website. It is able to place trades for stocks, options, and ETF’s. TD Ameritrade also has a desktop platform called Thinkorswim, and it too has no trading requirements.

E*Trade investors have access to a desktop platform, too; but it comes with frequent trader requirements. A simple dashboard, dubbed E*Trade 360, is the broker’s version of a simple browser-based trading environment. E*Trade also lacks the trade bar that Ally and TD Ameritrade have but it does offer sophistacated trading platform, Etrade Pro, which comes with access requirements.

Schwab traders can use a simple trade bar. It’s not as powerful as SnapTicket, however. In fact, trades cannot be placed from it. The broker does offer a simple trading platform at StreetSmart.com. Its flagship trading system is StreetSmart Edge, a robust desktop platform.

Fidelity’s clients get to use a sophisticated website, which has a pop-up trading window. SnapTicket seems more convenient because it sits at the bottom of the browser permanently. Like TD Ameritrade and Schwab, Fidelity offers its desktop platform called Active Trader Pro free of charge.


Promotions


Ally Invest: Up to $3,500 cash bonus + commission free trades for new accounts.

TD Ameritrade: Trade free for 60 days + get up to $600.

Etrade: At E*TRADE, get $6.95 trades + 65₵ per options contract.

Charles Schwab: Make $100,000 deposit and get 500 commission-free online equity and options trades.

Fidelity Investments: Get 500 free trades with $100,000+ deposit.



Mobile Trading


The normal Ally mobile app incorporates both bank and investment accounts. The brokerage side provides market news, charting, account positions, watchlists, and more. Besides phones and tablets, Ally Invest offers an app for both Apple and Android watches.

E*Trade also offers a mobile app. Its smartwatch platform only works on Apple, though. The broker recently replaced subscription CNBC with free streaming of Bloomberg. (Ally doesn’t offer any streaming financial news service.) The E*Trade app incorporates the ability to trade options and mutual funds.

Fidelity’s app is very sophisticated and obviously took a lot of effort to design. The front page displays information about global markets. The app streams Bloomberg and presents articles from Dow Jones and other sources.

TD Ameritrade customers have access to three mobile platforms. One of them is a version of thinkorswim. It streams CNBC, but only in standard definition. Like the other brokers, TD Ameritrade provides a mobile check deposit feature.

Schwab traders can use a phone, tablet, or watch app. CNBC streams free of charge, and paper checks can be deposited with the phone or tablet app. The software can buy and sell options and mutual funds, in addition to stocks and ETF’s. Market news and indices are also available.


Recap


Ally Invest and its rivals all offer competitive brokerage services, with each company excelling in a particular area. If you know beforehand how you plan to use an investment account, you’ll be able to choose the right broker for your trading needs.


IRA Firms reviewed by IRA-Reviews.com. Rating: 5