Ally Invest vs TD Ameritrade vs Etrade


Compare Etrade vs TD Ameritrade and Ally Invest: fees, IRA (ROTH), investment products, account pros and cons. Which broker is the best?


Overview of Etrade vs TD Ameritrade vs Ally


Three brokerage firms that are in direct competition with each other are Ally Invest, TD Ameritrade, and E*Trade. While they have a lot in common, there are important differences among them. Let’s check them out.


Cost


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Margin
Rate
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Ally Invest $0 $9.95 11.5% $0 $0
TD Ameritrade $0 $49.99 ($0 to sell) 13.25% $0 $0
Etrade $0 $19.95 12.7% $0 $0


Services


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


Mutual and Exchange-Traded Funds


The E*Trade mutual fund screener shows 10,000+ funds that are available for purchase by new investors. Of these, 4,200 carry no load and no transaction fee.

Clients of Ally Invest can buy and sell 12,000+ mutual funds. The broker does not offer any securities that are both no load and no transaction fee. A no-load fund has a $9.95 fee on both the buy and sell side.

TD Ameritrade’s fund screener displays 13,000+ products that are open to new investors. Of these, 4,400 are available with no loads and no transaction fees.

All ETFs are available and are now free in all three brokers.

It’s a tie.


The Cost of Trading


Traders at Ally Invest pay a very low $0 for equity transactions. Derivatives cost 50¢ per contract. E*Trade charges $0 for equities. Options are at 65¢, with a 15¢ discount for active traders.

TD Ameritrade has a great commission schedule, with stock and ETF trades costing $0.

Ally Invest and TD Ameritrade require zero money down to open an account. E*Trade has a $500 opening deposit requirement. There are no annual fees at any of the firms, nor are there any low-balance or inactivity charges.

Ally Invest is the best choice here.


Customer Service


E*Trade and TD Ameritrade have 24/7, and Ally Invest has 7am-10pm ET, 7 days a week customer service over the phone. While Ally Invest and E*Trade have on-line chat as well, TD Ameritrade does not. TDA does have a robo-chat function on its website. It does a decent job of answering most questions. Ally has no branch locations. E*Trade has 30, while TD Ameritrade has the most at 550+. Ally Invest used to have a trader forum, but it’s been taken down.

Overall, TD Ameritrade offers the better package here.





Trading Tools


E*Trade has an easy-to-navigate website that offers order placement via web pages. There is no trade bar on the site. A dashboard called E*Trade 360 displays a lot of helpful information along with a simple order ticket. Charting on the website has some advanced features, including comparisons, indicators, and different graph styles. A desktop platform is available for active traders.

Unlike E*Trade, TD Ameritrade has a desktop platform that is free for all clients. The broker also provides a simpler browser-based trading system called Trade Architect, which is great for beginners or even seasoned traders who don’t need the sophistication of thinkorswim. The TD Ameritrade website boasts a really handy trade bar called SnapTicket. Orders can be directly submitted from it. While the two trading platforms have good charting tools, the website itself also does.





The Ally Invest website has a nice trade bar, but it doesn’t measure up to SnapTicket. Ally also doesn’t provide desktop software; but it does have a browser-based platform called Ally Invest LIVE. It’s comparable to Trade Architect. A convenient order ticket sits on the right-hand side of the screen.

TD Ameritrade easily wins here.


Promotions

Ally Invest: $0 commissions + $75 transfer fee credit at Ally Invest.

TD Ameritrade: $0 commissions + transfer fee reimbursement.

Etrade: Get zero commission on stock and ETF trades.



Mobile Apps


Ally Financial incorporated its brokerage accounts into its regular Ally app, meaning that both investment and bank accounts are accessed through it. Market news, option chains, charting, account data, and watchlists are all available. Unfortunately, there is no streaming of financial news. A platform is available for Android and Apple watches.

The E*Trade mobile app has some nice features, many of which are similar to Ally’s. These include charting, account information, option chains, and funds transfer. E*Trade has a smartwatch app for Apple, but not Android. Active traders who pay $99.95 per month have access to live streaming of CNBC.





TD Ameritrade actually has three mobile apps, one of which is simply the desktop platform condensed into a mobile app. It has very advanced charting. It and another app both provide live streaming of CNBC at no cost. There is also a platform for Apple Watch. Useful features are found on all four platforms.

The victory here goes to TD Ameritrade.


Managed Accounts and Investment Advice


All three brokers offer self-directed and managed accounts. TD Ameritrade offers both robo-managed and human-managed advisory packages. The broker’s robot costs just 30 basis points per year and requires a $5,000 minimum. It trades low-cost ETF’s. Human advisors can trade more than just exchange-traded funds. They cost up to 1.25% and require a $25,000 deposit. They are available at the broker’s many branch locations.

Ally Invest offers a robo-advisory service for just 0.0% per year and a $100 minimum. It trades ETF’s only. The broker does not offer any human advisors at any price.

E*Trade offers both human and robo-advisory packages. The company’s robot, called Adaptive Portfolio, charges just 30 basis points per year. It does require a $10,000 deposit of funds, although IRA’s need just $5,000. The broker has had a special in the past offering the first six months at no cost. E*Trade’s human advisors cost less than 90 basis points, and mutual funds are available in some of these packages. There is a $25,000 minimum.

The final category goes to Ally.


Results


TD Ameritrade (read review) won two categories, Ally Invest (read review) was successful twice, E*Trade (read review) failed to pick up a single category, and there was one tie between TD Ameritrade and Ally Invest and one tie between all three brokers. Overall, TD Ameritrade is the victor. Despite the result, Ally Invest is the better choice for anyone looking for a bargain.


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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.