Etrade vs M1 Finance in 2021



E*Trade vs. M1 Finance Introduction


Which brokerage house is able to come to the plate and give you what you need, E*Trade or M1 Finance? E*Trade has a long list of securities, while M1 Finance has a unique trading product that no one else in the industry has.

If you require more info, continue reading.


E*Trade Pros and Cons


At E*Trade, you’ll find numerous strengths, including:

- Excellent software
- A low-cost robo account option
- 24/7 customer service with branch locations

Despite these advantages, the broker-dealer does have these shortcomings:

- Multiple $25 fees for IRA activities
- Software can be difficult to learn for beginning self-directed traders


M1 Finance Pros and Cons


At M1 Finance, you’ll find these highlights:

- User-friendly software
- Pre-built investment portfolios
- Free cash management

Notwithstanding these strengths, M1 does have these bearish indicators:

- Short list of tradable assets
- Limited portfolio management
- Elementary software


Promotions


M1 Finance: $30 bonus for funding account with $1,000. Transfer account to get up to $3,500 bonus.

E*Trade: Get zero commission on stock and ETF trades.



Assets and Investment Services


If you go with M1 Finance, you’ll get to trade these financial vehicles:

- Stocks
- Closed-end funds
- ETF

The brokerage firm does not offer any other assets for trading. The three products it does offer are placed inside of baskets called Pies. They’re called Pies because you can adjust the percentages for all the securities inside a single Pie. You can put multiple stocks and funds inside one Pie.

If you don’t want to create your own Pie you can always invest in pre-built Pies from M1. These are automatically rebalanced every three months. Other than these professionally-created Pies, M1 Finance does not offer any type of portfolio management.

E*Trade does offer managed accounts; in fact, it offers them in both formats—traditional and robo. Called Core Portfolios, the latter costs just 30 basis points per year. By comparison, M1’s Pies have no fees other than expense ratios of underlying funds.

E*Trade’s old-school managed accounts have steep minimums, starting at $25,000, but more asset classes are available, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.

Self-directed accounts at E*Trade have access to even more assets. The total list looks like this:

- Options
- Futures
- Options on futures
- Equities (including OTC offerings)
- Mutual funds (several thousand)
- Closed-end and exchange-traded funds
- Bonds and bond equivalents

Winner: E*Trade


Banking Tools


Both broker-dealers in this examination offer cash management tools. We do like M1’s free account that has no minimum balance requirement. But it offers only 1 ATM fee rebate per month. For a $125 annual fee, M1 clients can get 4 rebates per month, 1% APY on uninvested cash, and 1% cash back on purchases. The second plan also has multiple card designs.

E*Trade has two free checking accounts. Both of them have a debit card, but only one of them has unlimited ATM fee rebates (this account requires $5,000 to circumvent its $15 monthly fee). Both accounts also have free bill pay, a service that M1 Finance doesn’t offer.

E*Trade’s savings account has an FDIC-sweep program that offers 5 times the normal level of insurance.

Winner: E*Trade


Website Trading


When you get ready to place a trade, M1 and E*Trade both have websites with trading tools. There’s a pretty significant difference between the two, though.

M1’s site is pretty basic. Charts are displayed in a small rectangle with no tools of any kind. There is only one display style (line), although company events are displayed. There is no trade ticket to speak of. The way trading works is that you put money into a Pie, and M1 Finance submits the necessary trades at specific times during the day.


M1 Finance


E*Trade customers can place trades anytime they wish. The broker’s website can accomplish the task, or for a more advanced experience, you can trade on the browser platform. Called Power E*Trade, this very nice piece of software has sophisticated charting and a complex order ticket. The latter offers:

- 3-leg bracket stop
- Trailing stop
- Hidden
- Reserve
- Day plus extended hours
- Immediate or cancel
- Fill or kill
- OCO (one cancels the other)

Winner: E*Trade


Desktop Software


E*Trade clients who don’t find what they’re looking for on the company’s website will find a completely different experience on E*Trade Pro, a professional-level desktop system. It offers a lot of fantastic features, including:


Etrade vs M1 Finance


- Bloomberg Business News
- Full-screen charting with many tools, including over 100 technical studies
- Level II quotes
- Margin calculator
- Several really good option tools, including profit-loss diagrams
- Direct-access routing with 3 venues
- Sophisticated order ticket with several order types

E*Trade Pro does come with a $1,000 minimum balance requirement.

M1 Finance has no desktop platform because it does not emphasize actual trading, only long-term investing.

Winner: E*Trade


Etrade versus M1


Miscellaneous Services


Dividend Reinvestment Program: M1 Finance has a free DRIP plan, although it does have a $25 cash minimum. Self-directed traders at E*Trade have no such minimum.

IRAs: If you want to open a retirement account, both firms in this bout have IRAs. E*Trade has more IRA types, but M1 Finance has no fees. E*Trade has a couple of bothersome $25 fees.

Fractional-share Trading: It’s possible to trade partial shares inside a Pie by investing a whole-dollar amount. E*Trade has no such program for self-directed traders.

Winner: M1 Finance


m1 Mobile App


Promotions


M1 Finance: $30 bonus for funding account with $1,000. Transfer account to get up to $3,500 bonus.

E*Trade: Get zero commission on stock and ETF trades.



And Now, Our Recommendations


Beginners: M1 Finance does a decent job of simplifying the investing process. But Pie creation is a little complicated on the M1 site. Moreover, M1 doesn’t offer several services new traders may need, such as branch locations and online chat. E*Trade does, and it gets our endorsement.

Stock/ETF Trading: For its excellent software and unbeatable commission schedule (not to mention overnight ETF trading), we have to pick E*Trade.

Small Accounts: Small IRAs should go with M1 Finance due to E*Trade’s fees on retirement accounts. For self-directed traders, either will do.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: E*Trade is definitely the better choice due to its financial-planning services, target-date mutual funds, and profit-sharing plans.


M1 Finance vs Etrade Assessment


Although M1 Finance does seem tempting due to the ability to trade partial shares, E*Trade clearly outperforms this small broker by a large margin.


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