Ally Invest versus Charles Schwab

Ally Invest vs Charles Schwab


Compare Charles Schwab versus Ally Invest—which is better in 2022? IRA/Roth accounts, online investing fees, stock broker mutual fund rates, and differences.


Overview of Schwab and Ally Invest


Charles Schwab is better known, but Ally Invest has many products and services that rival Schwab’s. And with banking tools, both firms are more than just brokers. For a more detailed look, keep reading.


Pricing


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Ally Invest $0 $9.95 $0.50 per contract $0 $0
Charles Schwab $0 $49.95 $0.65 per contract $0 $0


Services


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


Promotion Links


Ally Invest: Up to $3,000 cash bonus + $0 commission trades.

Charles Schwab: Get commission-free online stock trades.



Schwab Pros and Cons


With a Schwab brokerage account, you’ll capture these benefits:

- Futures trading
- Multiple software platforms
- Excellent research tools

But the company has these drawbacks:

- Small selection of mutual funds
- The future of its desktop platform is uncertain with the broker’s acquisition of TD Ameritrade


Ally Invest Pros and Cons


With an Ally Invest account, you’ll get these great services:

- Forex trading with a discrete platform
- Large list of mutual funds
- Excellent commission schedule

But with its strengths, the broker also has these weaknesses:

- Rudimentary website
- No cryptocurrencies
- Learning materials are elementary


Education and Research


On Schwab’s website, we found a great deal of educational resources. Its materials come in many formats, including videos, podcasts, articles, infographics, and slideshows. They cover a wide variety of topics. Here are a few examples:

- How to Save Money with Tax-Gain Harvesting
- Today's Options Market Update
- Helping Elderly Parents With Their Finances

Schwab also publishes a newsletter (available in pdf and hard-copy formats) called On Investing. It comes out every three months.

Stocks profiles at Schwab offer a great deal of information. In particular, we really like free third-party reports (with trade recommendations) from no less than 8 analysts.

Ally Invest’s stock profiles offer a moderate amount of information with third-party reports from CFRA and Morningstar. No other analysts are used.

For general investing education, Ally Invest has an Education tab at the top of its site. Going down this rabbit hole results in many articles. Here are some examples:

- 4 Smart Ways to Earn Money from Real Estate
- The Amount You Actually Need in Your Emergency Fund
- What You Need to Know About Fixed-Income Securities

There are only a few videos on Ally’s site, and we didn’t find any other formats. On the plus side, there are many articles on personal finance thanks to Ally Invest’s relationship with Ally Bank.

One more issue to note in this category: Schwab provides free viewing of CNBC business news. Ally Invest does not offer streaming of any video financial news outlet.

Winner: Schwab


Available Assets


After you’ve completed your investment education, it’s time to get down to business. Inside your Ally Invest account, you’ll be able to trade these products:

- Fixed income
- Equities (but not equities on foreign exchanges)
- Mutual and closed-end funds
- ETFs
- Option contracts
- Forex
- Precious metals

Schwab removes currencies and precious metals from the list but adds futures contracts, including bitcoin and precious metals contracts. Moreover, Schwab has a global account that provides access to several foreign stock exchanges.

Winner: Schwab


Website Trading


When you decide on the asset you want to trade, both brokerage firms have websites (and browser platforms) that will accomplish the task.

Ally Invest’s website is rather simple and hasn’t been revamped since its acquisition of TradeKing. Nevertheless, the order ticket does provide discrete buttons for sell short and buy to cover. Market-on-close orders are another highlight. The site also has a trade bar that is able to quickly send orders to the exchanges.


Ally Invest vs Schwab


For the best trading experience, we recommend switching to the company’s browser platform. Called LIVE, it delivers full-screen charting with 8 graph styles and lots of technical indicators. Although there’s no right-click trading, we did like tick-by-tick price action.

Over at Schwab, we found a better-designed website; although its trade bar can’t send orders directly to the exchanges. If you click on the Trade link, you’ll be taken to Schwab’s order ticket that provides trailing orders and optional features such as all or none and do not reduce.


Charles Schwab or Ally


StreetSmart Central is Schwab’s browser platform. Launched from the website, Central delivers very good charting with 12 graph styles and integrated trade buttons.

Winner: Schwab


Desktop Software


In case the browser platforms aren’t quite enough for you, both broker-dealers in this rivalry have desktop programs. Ally Invest customers can use Quotestream (review). The software has a stock screener, watchlists, and advanced charting with technical studies.

Forex traders get to choose from among 2 platforms: MetaTrader 4 and Ally’s in-house currency platform. With the former program it’s possible to view trades on a chart, and with the latter, it’s possible to set up automated trading strategies.


Ally or Schwab


Schwab has one desktop platform, StreetSmart Edge. The software delivers many great features, including live streaming of video news, excellent charting, and direct-access routing. A demo login makes practicing the software risk-free.


Schwab versus Ally


Winner: Draw


Mobile Apps


The software story isn’t over yet, as both firms also have mobile apps. Schwab, but not Ally, has a platform for Apple Watch.

Opening either broker’s app on an iPhone is a snap thanks to Touch ID. Both apps integrate with other branches of the companies; so if you have bank accounts, they will show up.


Schwab vs Ally Invest


Highlights on Schwab’s app include:

- Bill pay
- Mobile check deposit
- Artificial intelligence named Schwab Assistant
- Mutual fund trading
- CNBC

Ally’s app doesn’t offer video news or the ability to trade mutual funds. But it does have many useful features, including mobile check deposit and Zelle transfers.


Ally vs Schwab


Winner: Schwab


Options Trading


Options can be traded on every platform we’ve looked at (except of course for Ally’s forex platforms). On StreetSmart Central, we counted 14 spreads plus calls and puts. It’s possible to create your own 4-legged order if you’re so inclined. And we really liked the broker’s strategy finder and option screener (available on the website).

Over at Ally Invest, we counted 9 pre-installed strategies on the company’s website. There are no spreads on LIVE, but it’s possible to create your own order (up to 4 legs) on either platform. LIVE has several option tools, including details on historical volatility of an entered ticker symbol.

Winner: Schwab


Margin Borrowing


Both brokerage firms offer margin accounts, but neither one provides margin details on specific stocks, such as information on leverage or hard-to-borrow rates. The cost of margin varies at both firms.

Ally Invest’s margin schedule is:

Debit Balance Margin Interest Rates
$0.01 - $4,999 9.25%
$5,000 - $9,999 9.25%
$10,000 - $24,999 9.25%
$25,000 - $49,999 9.00%
$50,000 - $99,999 8.25%
$100,000 - $249,999 7.00%
$250,000 - $499,999 6.00%
$500,000 - $999,999 5.50%
$1,000,000 + 4.75%


Schwab customers have to pay a little more:

Debit Balance Margin Rate
$0 - $24,999.99 9.825%
$25,000 - $49,999.99 9.325%
$50,000 - $99,999.99 8.375%
$100,000 - $249,999.99 8.325%
$250,000 - $499,999.99 8.075% 7.325%
$1,000,000+ call 877-752-9749


Winner: Ally Invest


Miscellaneous Services


Dividend reinvestment program: Both brokerage houses have free DRIP services.

IRAs: You can open an Individual Retirement Account at either firm. Ally Invest, but not Schwab, charges a closeout fee.

Automatic mutual fund investing: Available only at Schwab.

Fractional-share trading: Schwab customers can invest a whole-dollar amount into any stock in the S&P 500. There is a $5 minimum. Ally Invest does not offer partial-share trading.

IPO availability: Neither broker offers direct participation in Initial Public Offerings. Schwab accepts IPO orders the day before an IPO begins trading. Ally Invest only accepts orders on the day an IPO starts trading.

Extended hours: Ally Invest has lengthier sessions.

Winner: Schwab


Our Recommendations


Stock/ETF trading: With StreetSmart Central, StreetSmart Edge, and fractional-share trading, Schwab loks good. Ally has lower margin rates, though.

Mutual funds: Schwab has 5,883 funds, while Ally Invest has 10,572. Ally is also 5 times cheaper for most popular mutual funds.

Beginners: We like Schwab’s educational materials much better. Plus, StreetSmart Edge’s simulated-trading mode would be great for newbies.

Small accounts: Ally is our pick.

Retirement savers and long-term investors: Schwab offers more IRA types. Plus, it has a self-employed 401k, which Ally doesn’t have.


Promotion Links


Ally Invest: Up to $3,000 cash bonus + $0 commission trades.

Charles Schwab: Get commission-free online stock trades.



Ally Invest vs Charles Schwab - Outcome


Schwab is clearly the overall better choice, but forex traders and mutual fund investors should stay with Ally.




About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for Brokerage-Review.com, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.