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M1 Finance Review 2024: Is it the Right Investing Platform for You?

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updated: May 27, 2024

There’s no shortage of investing apps available today, which can make choosing one difficult. M1 Finance is one example, and it’s a solid contender among the competition. Our review covers the ins and outs of this investing platform so you can decide whether or not it’s the right one for you.

M1 Finance

M1 Finance

M1 Finance

Fees
$0
Min. deposit
$100

What is M1 Finance?

M1 Finance is a self-directed automated investing platform that allows you to trade more than 6,000 stocks and ETFs and build customized Model Portfolios. You can also manage your spending with its Owner’s Reward Card, save in a high-yield savings account, and borrow through M1’s Margin and Personal Loan products.

While M1 Finance offers a fully-automated investing experience, it’s not a robo-advisor. Robo-advisors offer an advice component by using their algorithms to make investment decisions, help with financial planning, and portfolio allocation. M1 automates your investments, but they leave the decision-making to you.

When you set up an M1 Finance portfolio, you’ll be directed to create “pies”—groups of investments created for specific goals, such as retirement or socially responsible investing. Each pie has “slices,” which can be individual investments, other pies, or groups of pies. There can be up to 100 slices per pie.

Who is M1 finance best for?

M1 Finance is best for medium- to long-term investors who want to choose their own investments while benefiting from its fully automated platform. M1 is not ideally designed for day traders or anyone looking for financial planning or advisor services.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Mobile app is intuitive and easy to use
  • Uninvested cash is directed to a high-yield savings account
  • Dynamic rebalancing keeps your investments balanced
  • No trading or management fees for stocks and ETFs
  • More than 80 pre-selected portfolios available
  • Over 6,000 choices for stocks and ETFs

Cons:

  • You must choose a premium subscription to access all the available benefits
  • Limited educational content
  • Can’t buy mutual funds
  • Features are relatively limited compared to full-service online brokerages
  • No financial planning services or human advisors
  • Customer service options are limited

Benefits of investing with M1 Finance

M1 Finance has several benefits to offer investors of all experience levels.

Intuitive mobile app

The M1 Finance app is easy to use. It will help you set goals and choose your investments, whether you prefer to select your investments or choose a pre-selected portfolio. The app will also guide you through opening a high-yield savings account, applying for a credit card, or taking out a loan. You can also rebalance your investments with a single click from the app to ensure they match your goals.

High interest rates on uninvested cash

Any cash you add to your M1 Finance account that isn’t invested will be redirected to a high-yield savings account, which, as of March 2024, offers a high 5% annual percentage yield (APY). This allows you to earn a return on all the money in your portfolio, even if you’re not actively investing it.

Dynamic rebalancing

M1 Finance’s rebalancing function uses an algorithm to maintain the percentages you set for your investments. This helps to ensure that your portfolio maintains your desired asset allocation.

No trading fees

M1 Finance is one of many investing apps that does not charge trading fees, which can help you maximize your returns. Other commission-free brokers include Public, Stash, and Plynk. M1 does charge other types of fees, which are detailed later in this review.

Wide range of stocks and ETFs

When you build your portfolio with M1 Finance, you can choose from more than 6,000 stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), allowing you to create a customized, diversified portfolio.

Wide range of pre-selected portfolios

M1 Finance offers more than 80 portfolio types, called “expert pies.” These pies are organized into categories, so you can choose the one that best fits your investment goals. They are explained in more detail further down.

What can be improved in M1 Finance?

There are a few areas where M1 Finance falls short and could stand to improve.

Not all features are offered with a basic subscription

Although the M1 Basic subscription is free, you must upgrade to a Plus subscription to enjoy all of the benefits M1 offers. An M1 Plus subscription includes higher cash-back rewards on purchases made from an M1 Owner’s Rewards Card, additional investing tools such as Crypto trading, and lower rates on margin loans.

No educational resources

M1 Finance doesn’t offer many educational resources, so it may be a better fit for those already familiar with the process. You can always find these resources outside the app to help improve your investing knowledge, but it’s an extra step you have to take, which could be seen as a downside by some.

No mutual funds

M1 Finance doesn’t offer mutual funds. While ETFs are a favorable alternative for many, if you’re a dedicated mutual fund investor, then M1 Finance likely isn’t the right platform for you.

No access to live advisors

As mentioned, M1 Finance is not a robo-advisor, but it also doesn’t offer live assistance for those who need extra help. It only offers self-directed brokerage services. This may not be a concern if you’re fairly comfortable with the investing process.

If you’re a beginner investor, you might prefer a platform with access to live advisors who can help you build your portfolio. Higher net worth investors looking for advisor access might want to consider Empower, which offers advisor access to anyone who invests $100,000 or more.

Empower

Empower Financial Advisor

Empower Financial Advisor

Fees
0.89% or less
Account minimum
$100,000
Assets under management
$1.3 trillion

Limited customer service options

With M1 Finance, there is no customer service number you can call for assistance. However, if you need help with your account, you can schedule a call with a representative or submit an online help request and get a response within one business day. If you have an immediate question, though, you may need to wait longer than you’d prefer for an answer.

How does M1 Finance compare?

Overall assessment of how the investing platform compares to the others in the table.

FeatureM1 FinanceRobinhoodAlly InvestSoFi Invest
Account minimum
$100 ($500 for retirement accounts)
$0
$0
$0
Accounts offered
Self-directed brokerage, retirement, crypto
Brokerage, retirement, crypto
Brokerage, robo-advisor, retirement
Brokerage, robo-advisor, retirement
Account & trading fees
No trading fees; $100 outgoing transfer fee; $100 retirement account termination fee; $50 per month if the balance falls below $50
No trading or account fees; Robinhood Gold is $5/month
No trading fees on stocks or ETFs priced $2.00 or higher, no account fees
No trading or account fees
Customer service
Phone or email
Phone or chat
Phone, chat, email
Phone, chat

M1 Finance: In-depth review

Let’s look deeper at what M1 offers and how it works.

Usability

M1 Finance is easy to set up and use. Upon downloading the app, you’ll set up a username and password, enter your personal information, and be signed up with a basic (free) account. From there, you can create financial goals, including investing money, maximizing earnings, and borrowing.

The app lets you easily see how your investments are doing and make changes to your portfolio as you see fit. You can also open a high-yield savings account and apply for a loan or credit card, all through the M1 app.

Investment options

M1 Finance shines with its wide range of stocks, ETFs, and customizable portfolio options. You can choose from more than 80 portfolios that fall into several categories, from general or responsible investing to planning for retirement. Alternatively, you can choose your investments and build your portfolio from scratch.

As mentioned earlier, M1 Finance offers more than 6,000 stocks and ETFs. However, compared to competitors, some might consider investment options limited.

Costs

M1 Finance doesn’t charge trading, commission, or portfolio management fees. However, you can upgrade from the free Basic to the Plus plan, which costs $3 monthly. This plan increases the trading windows from one to two per day. It also gives you four ATM fee reimbursements per month rather than the one per month you get with the Basic plan.

Besides the subscription fee for a Plus plan, there are very few costs associated with using M1 Finance. There’s a $100 outgoing transfer fee and a $100 retirement account termination fee. Finally, while there are no monthly maintenance fees, you will be charged $50 per month if your balance falls below $50.

Education

There are no educational resources in the M1 Finance app or website for novice investors who want to learn more about the process. However, if you’re a more experienced investor, you can take advantage of the research section. This section provides the latest investment news, lists information about the available stocks and funds, and lets you add securities to your watchlist. This can help you make more informed decisions about where to invest your money.

Customer service

The M1 Finance Client Success Team can help you set up your account. Once you’ve created a login, you can schedule a 15-minute call with a team member to walk you through the process. The app uses Calendly to set up calls, so you can choose a time and date that works best for you. This prevents you from waiting on hold for an agent to answer the call.

The M1 Finance website also has a Help Center that covers various topics, including getting started, accounts and settings, transfers, investing, borrowing, earning, and spending. If you can’t find the answer to your question in the Help Center, you can submit a request and receive a response within one business day.

However, there is no option to call customer service, so if you need to talk to someone immediately, you may be out of luck.

Security and reliability

The M1 Finance app offers two-factor authentication for security and peace of mind. If you prefer to log in using biometrics, you can also set up Face ID.

Company reputation

The M1 Finance app has a rating of 4.5 or above on the App Store and Google Play. It does have a low Trustpilot score of 2.2 stars (out of 5), from 156 total reviews.

How M1 Finance invests your money

Unlike a robo-advisor, you choose how M1 Finance invests your money based on your comfort level and experience. If you’re a new investor, you can opt for a pre-selected portfolio, which M1 calls its “expert pies.” But if you are familiar with investing, you can select your investments to create a customized portfolio.

Expert pies

If you go with a pre-selected portfolio, you can choose your goal. M1 Finance will invest your money and maintain the preferred mix of investments based on your risk tolerance.

These expert pies fall into several different categories:

  • General investing: Create a portfolio tailored to your risk tolerance.
  • Plan for retirement: Set a target retirement date, and your portfolio will adjust to your goals as you age.
  • Responsible investing: Create a socially responsible portfolio for those who want to feel good about where they’re investing their money.
  • Income earners: Create a portfolio to generate dividends and income.
  • Just stocks & bonds: A portfolio of two ETFs focused on stocks and bonds.
  • Other strategies: Includes all other portfolio options, including Cannabis Pie, Domestic Growth, Domestic Value, Global Growth, and Global Value.

Custom portfolios

If you prefer to create a custom portfolio, you can choose from the more than 6,000 stocks and ETFs available to trade at M1 Finance. This is a good option for more experienced investors who prefer to pick their own investments. New investors will likely not choose this option, though they can work on their investment knowledge and eventually have the confidence and experience to craft a portfolio.

How does M1 Finance make money?

Since M1 Finance doesn’t charge fees for portfolio management or trading, you may wonder how the platform makes money. There are several ways M1 Finance makes money.

  • Membership fees: The Plus membership costs $3 monthly and gives M1 Finance a consistent revenue stream.
  • Interest: M1 Finance makes money via interest from its loan and credit card programs.
  • Additional fees: M1 charges miscellaneous fees, such as $100 for IRA closures and outgoing transfers.

TIME Stamp: A good option for investors with some prior experience

M1 Finance is a unique app that combines self-directed investing with a fully automated platform. Its user-friendly platform makes it easy for investors to choose from individual investments and model portfolios.

Because M1 Finance is a self-directed brokerage, it’s best suited for those with some prior investing experience. However, novice investors who are looking for a passive investing solution and who have a long-term mindset may be perfectly happy with how easy it is to invest with M1.

M1 Finance

M1 Finance

M1 Finance

Fees
$0
Min. deposit
$100

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Is M1 Finance a good choice for consolidating investments?

Yes. M1 Finance allows you to consolidate investments by transferring external accounts into your M1 portfolio. This allows you to track your investments in one place.

Is M1 Finance good for beginners?

M1 Finance is only suitable for those who are comfortable making their own investment decisions. While M1 takes the work out of managing your portfolio, it’s not a robo-advisor, so there is no advice component.

Does M1 Finance affect your credit score?

Investing with M1 Finance will not impact your credit score. However, if you apply for a credit card or personal loan through M1, the platform will perform a hard credit check, temporarily impacting your score.

Is M1 Finance safe long term?

M1 Finance is a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member firm and a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). This investing platform is designed for long-term investors versus those who trade frequently.

Does M1 Finance offer alternative investments?

Aside from crypto, M1 Finance doesn’t support alternative investments. If you want to add real estate, private equity, artwork, or other alternative assets to your portfolio, you might want to consider Yieldstreet or a similar platform.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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