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Ally Invest Futures Trading Account Review: Margin Requirements, Leverage, Platform Pricing for 2020.

Ally Futures Trading is Discontinued

Ally Invest have discontinued its futures trading. As an alternative we recommend Interactive Brokers or TastyWorks Brokerage.

Ally Invest Futures Trading

Although Ally Financial is known for its banking and securities trading (through Ally Bank and Ally Invest), less well-known is the company’s futures trading services. This article will take a look at what Ally offers to futures traders, and see how the futures broker compares to rival firms.  

Safety and Security

Ally Invest is a member of the National Futures Association. This is the self-regulatory body of the futures industry. As a member of this organization, MB is required to follow the NFA’s strict policies, and the NFA monitors MB’s operations to ensure compliance with all applicable rules and laws.

Ally Invest Futures Fees and Commissions

Ally Invest charges 85¢ per contract for up to 250 contracts in a month. Clients who trade more than that but less than 2,000 pay 65¢. The third and final tier is 45¢ for accounts that go above 2,000 in a statement period.

Exchange fees are passed onto the trader. Traders who aren’t members of a futures exchange must pay an extra 1¢ per contract on top of exchange fees. These vary widely. For example, a 5-year Treasury Note carries a 62¢ fee, while live cattle costs $2.05.

There is a $500 minimum opening deposit requirement at Ally Invest. It is applied both to taxable and non-taxable accounts. The latter category is IRA’s. The futures broker only accepts applications from U.S. residents.

Ally Invest Promotion

Up to $3,500 cash bonus + $0 commission trades for new accounts.

Software and Data Charges

All software products and currency quotes at Ally Invest are free. Demo accounts get free quotes on stocks, options, and futures (although they are delayed). Non-professionals get free quotes on stocks and options. In order to maintain data feeds, MB requires a $100 account balance.

Data that Ally Invest charges for include COMEX, which is $3 per month for top of book data; depth data is $15 per month. NYMEX and CBoT quotes are the same price. You can get a total package (four exchanges) for $10 per month or $50 if you need depth data.

Demo Account, NinjaTrader and MBT Desktop Pro

We really like the fact that Ally Invest offers a free demo account. This helps both us and interested traders test out the broker’s software and trading resources. However, we found it strange that the online form requires a complex password and security questions and answers. There’s no money in the account as it’s only a demo.

In any case, we were able to login and download MBT Desktop Pro. This is the primary trading platform for futures trading at MB. The software is capable also of trading options, currencies, and equities.

There are several tools that can be added to the default platform layout. These windows are capable of a variety of tasks, such as charting, order entry, currency quotes, and market depth, which is essentially Level II quotes. We also found a web browser, a note pad, audible alerts, and option chains.

Ally Invest Futures Trading

Charting on MBT Desktop Pro is very sophisticated. We found roughly 50 technical studies, and these can be customized with a variety of colors. Also of value are drawing tools, and there are many of them, including Gann Fan and arrows. Cursor tracking can be turned on or off.

Right-click trading is enabled. Just choose “Show Order Entry” in the menu. Clicking on a plus sign is for buy and a simple minus sign is for sell. The width of candlesticks and bars can be adjusted, an unusual feature.

Besides MBT Desktop Pro, the futures broker also offers NinjaTrader. This platform comes with a pretty hefty fee to use for trading (it’s free for backtesting, simulation, and charting). A yearly lease is a very steep $600. If you plan to use it for longer, it might be best just to buy it outright at $999.

NinjaTrader comes with very advanced charting. We found multiple graph styles including kagi line, candlesticks, and point & figure chart. There is a high degree of customization, and layouts can be saved. Although futures and forex can be traded on Ninja, the software doesn’t have the ability to trade options, and this combined with the high cost will probably cause most traders to opt for MBT Desktop Pro.

We were very impressed with the sheer number of order types that can be used at Ally Invest. These include trailing, pegged, limit+TTO, market+trailing stop, and many others.

Besides the desktop software programs, Ally Invest also offers mobile and browser trading.

Ally Invest Futures

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Ally Invest isn’t the only discount securities broker to offer futures trading. TD Ameritrade does as well, and it offers some very powerful trading tools. Futures can be traded on its flagship desktop program thinkorswim. The financial instruments can also be traded on the thinkorswim mobile app, something that Ally/MB doesn’t offer.

TD Ameritrade charges $2.25 for each futures contract; so it’s quite a bit more expensive than Ally Invest.

E*Trade customers also have access to futures. We didn’t find quite the same level of technology that TD Ameritrade and MB offer, but futures can be traded on the broker’s browser-based platform. Contracts are $1.50 each per side plus exchange fees. Thus, E*Trade is more expensive than Ally Invest but cheaper than TD Ameritrade. Bitcoin futures are available at E*Trade, but they carry a $1 surcharge on top of the $1.50 regular commission.

Ally Invest offers futures education and backtesting through some affiliated websites. There isn’t anything in terms of learning materials on the MB site itself. For education, we liked E*Trade’s future section, which has a heatmap and a quote board. When we clicked on the soybeans tile, for example, we got information on this contract, a chart for it, and tiles for several other ag contracts. We thought this setup was better for futures research than what MB offers.


Ally Invest Futures Trading Judgement

Ally Financial has made significant inroads into securities and futures trading in the past few years. It has done a good job of delivering good services at low cost. Sometimes this emphasis on low-cost causes it to underperform its rivals in important categories, however. Nevertheless, Ally’s futures trading subsidiary would be a good choice for budget-conscious traders.

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