Ally Invest versus Firstrade

Ally Invest vs Firstrade

Compare Firstrade versus Ally Invest - which stock broker is better in 2021? IRA/Roth accounts, online investing fees, broker mutual fund rates, and differences.


Firstrade and Ally Invest both cater to budget-conscious investors. While financial services may be limited in some areas at both firms, they provide good value for each investment dollar. This article will compare and contrast the two and see if one can be called the better brokerage house.


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
Firstrade $0 $0 $0 per contract $0 $0
Ally Invest $0 $9.95 $0.50 per contract $0 $0


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

Promotion Links

Firstrade: Get 2 FREE stocks and $0 commission in ALL trades!

Ally Invest: Up to $3,500 cash bonus + $0 commission trades.

Fees and Commissions

Stock and ETF trades at Ally Invest cost $0. Option contracts are 50¢ extra for all customers.

An investment account at Ally comes with no fees of any kind. There are no inactivity, maintenance, annual, or low-balance fees. There is also no minimum deposit requirement to open an account.

Firstrade customers also can open a brokerage account with zero deposit. The broker-dealer charges no fees for its accounts. Stocks and ETFs trades are ultra-low $0 for a long time now. Derivatives cost $0 too.

First category goes to Firstrade.

Customer Support

Traders at Ally Invest have access to customer service associates 7am-10pm ET, 7 days a week. Besides the phone, the broker also operates a convenient on-line chat function on its website. Ally has a global phone number for customers who travel internationally. On the downside, the broker does not have any physical branches.

Firstrade also doesn’t have any brick-and-mortar locations. It doesn’t provide 24/7 customer service. A company associate can be reached anytime from 8 o’clock in the morning until 6 o’clock in the evening, EST. Unfortunately, these hours are only valid during the week. During its customer service hours, the Firstrade website hosts on-line chat. The broker caters to the Chinese language community, and it has web pages and phone numbers for Chinese speakers. It has one branch location in Flushing, New York; and this office does host Saturday hours.

Ally Invest wins the second category.

Mutual Funds and ETF’s

Ally Invest’s mutual fund search tool generates roughly 12,000 securities that are available for purchase. Approximately 1,700 come with no load, and the broker charges a $9.95 transaction fee for each one of them. Unfortunately, Ally Invest does not offer any funds that have neither load nor transaction fee. Load funds never have a transaction fee at Ally, and the broker does not have a short-term redemption fee for any security.

Firstrade’s mutual fund screener displays approximately 10,000 products. Over 3,000 of these come with no load.

Firstrade charges $0 for funds. There is a $19.95 short-term redemption fee for funds that are sold in less than 90 days after purchase. Any redemption under $500 is also assessed a $19.95 fee, unless the entire fund has a balance of less than $500.

Exchange-traded funds are available at either broker and they charge $0 for these products.

Firstrade is clearly the better choice here.

Firstrade vs Ally

Investment Advice and Managed Accounts

Ally Invest has a Cash-Enhanced Managed Portfolio. It costs nothing annually and requires only $100 to start. It buys and sells low-cost ETF’s. Human advisors are not available even for clients who are willing to pay extra.

Firstrade does not offer any type of financial advice or managed account service, so obviously it loses this category.

Trading Tools hosts both the company’s banking login and its brokerage division. The investment interface is slightly different than the banking side. There is an elementary trading platform called Ally LIVE, which sits inside the browsing window. There is no desktop platform available, but there is a trade bar on the website, and orders can be submitted on it.

Ally Invest Live

Firstrade also has a trade bar, and it is more advanced than Ally’s. For example, it can display a small graph along with more detailed information. Both trade bars can place option trades. Firstrade does not have any type of trading platform, including a browser-based one.

Charting on Firstrade’s website comes with several technical indicators and graph styles. It is actually Morningstar’s software, and unfortunately, a chart cannot be shown full screen. With Ally Invest LIVE, a chart can be shown the width of the monitor. Ally’s software also has more technical and drawing tools than Firstrade provides.

Ally wins this category.

Mobile Apps

Firstrade customers have access to a mobile app, which is compatible with devices running Apple or Android. Unfortunately, the app cannot place trades for mutual funds. It can, however, be used to buy and sell ETF’s, stocks, and options. There is not any significant security research capability, and there isn’t a funds transfer feature, nor is there a mobile check deposit.

Firstrade Mobile

Ally Invest’s mobile app is the same app banking customers use. One login is able to access both deposit and brokerage accounts. Charting is available, and a graph can be rotated horizontally. Strangely, Firstrade’s software can’t rotate a graph, although its charting tools are more sophisticated than Ally’s. Ally’s app also cannot be used to buy and sell mutual funds. What Ally has that Firstrade doesn’t is mobile check deposit.

Ally Mobile

Overall, it’s pretty close here.

Promotion Links

Firstrade: Get 2 FREE stocks and $0 commission in ALL trades!

Ally Invest: Up to $3,500 cash bonus + $0 commission trades.

Ally Invest vs Firstrade - Outcome

Ally Invest won three categories, Firstrade came home with two victories, and there was one tie. Ally wins by a nose. Despite Firstrade’s loss in this survey, it is a good choice for stock, ETF and mutual fund investors who want the best value in brokerage services.