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In-Depth Analysis

M1 Finance Review

I. Mitic Image
ByI. Mitic
September 30, 2021

The investment craze is at its peak, and everyone wants to cash in on the chance to create wealth for themselves. Navigating the sea of investment options can be a challenging task to handle: Constantly being ahead of the curve and building a portfolio is a type of work that requires full-time attention. The need for a resource or tool to automate the investment process is evident. And where do you go for that type of service? M1 Finance.

When you come across a typical M1 Finance review, you’re bound to see and hear great things about the services. We’re here to bolster those points.

ACCOUNT MINIMUM
$100

Interest rate on savings: Between 0.06% and 0.20%

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Fortunly Rating

FEES AND CHARGES
No fees or charges
ACCOUNT MINIMUM
$100
INTEREST RATE ON SAVINGS
Between 0.06% and 0.20%
PRICING PLANS
M1 Finance, M1 Finance Plus
BBB RATING
Not BBB-accredited
WITHDRAWAL TIME
1-2 Days
pros thumb up Strengths
  • No commissions or fees
  • Allows you to trade in fractional shares
  • Portfolio building at its best; flexible portfolio options
  • Choose where your funds are invested
  • Investment process is fully automated
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent asset allocation
  • Requires no minimum deposits to open an account
pros thumb up Weaknesses
  • Not friendly for newcomers in the investment scene
  • Only one trading window per day
  • No human influence in advisory services
  • Does not offer trading in cryptocurrency and options

Overview

Our review of M1 Finance begins with founder Brian Barnes, who started out investing from a young age. Over the years, Barnes realized there weren’t many automated resources that could do the tasks of advising, automatic deposits, and portfolio building. He sought to create an investment space where investors could have their investment activities run on an automatic basis.

So, in 2015, he launched M1 Finance, a robo-advisory and money-management resource that lets investors run completely automated processes while exercising complete control over their money.

It may sound unbelievable, considering nothing goes for nothing, but as any M1 Finance customer review will tell you, the service is completely free to use, and there are no hidden charges involved. Of course, there is a premium option for those who seek more access than what the free membership offers.

It should be noted that M1 Finance doesn’t offer advisory services. Rather, it provides the tools necessary for wealth creation through portfolio building. There are many features that come with the M1 Package, so let’s take a look at them.

M1 Features

M1 Borrow Review

Through the M1 Borrow feature, users can borrow against their M1 Invest account securities to access loans with low interest. The purpose for these loans can range from medical expenses to repairs to motor vehicles or homes. Whatever securities lie in the accounts count as the collaterals for the loan.

The interest rates are lower in comparison to the interest rates for traditional loans since your assets are backing it. If you don’t pay off the loan, M1 Finance gets to keep your assets and sell them to repay it. Additionally, the loan application process is much simpler, as is the repayment process.

A further M1 Finance Borrow review shows that investors with more expertise have used the feature to increase their portfolios’ returns when they invest on margin. This process, however, involves a higher level of risk. Investors with a tolerance for risks can adopt this method, but if you generally prefer to stay on the safe side, the regular M1 process is already set up to optimize activities and build portfolios that contribute to the holders’ wealth.

In conclusion, the M1 Borrow feature is unlike any other provided by other robo advisors or platforms. It’s one of the best incentives to open an M1 account.

M1 Spend Review

Every M1 Finance account comes with the M1 Spend. It’s an integrated checking account you can use to reinvest at your own pace. Similar to a bank account, it lets users manage all activities in one central hub. It connects to other M1 features automatically.

Plus, every M1 Spend account comes with its own free debit card, options to pay bills online, reimbursement of one ATM fee each month, and FDIC insured covers of up to $250,000.

A fully operational account requires the holder to have a M1 account minimum balance of $100. Subsequent deposits can be made from $10 and above.

An added advantage is the elimination of wait times when funding accounts. Instead of the maximum three-day wait when funds are moved into brokerage accounts, same-day transactions are now possible with the M1 Spend.

Whether you operate a traditional account or a Roth retirement account, the benefits are immense. No other platform gives as much control over the retirement accounts. Not to mention the fact that it’s absolutely free to have either account.

M1 Finance Pie Review

When you create an account with M1 Finance, you are given a pie with various slices for you to fill up. The pie represents your investment portfolio, and each slice represents an investment option, from stocks to ETFs.

Through the pies, M1 Finance helps you in the management of your portfolios. There are over sixty pie templates to choose from, and users can also create their own pies from options on the stock market. Once all selections have been made, you are ready to start investing: The platform automatically disburses financial resources based on pie proportions. The financial resources available to each account consist of initial deposits and additional cash.

M1 Finance Plus Review

While signing up to M1 Finance gives you access to its tools and services with no commission or fees, the platform does have a paid service listing. It’s called M1 Plus, and it comes with the reimbursement of four monthly ATM fees, 1% cash back, and 1% APY.

In addition, this premium offer gives users an M1 Borrow loan rate lower than the rate for free subscribers, interest on the balance of your M1 Spend account, and access to an extra M1 finance trading window for accounts with $25,000 upwards. Some users prefer to have the basic plan, and that’s understandable. However, the Plus plan is like the VIP treatment to everything you already get with the basic plan.

Others may argue that the pricing is a little over-the-top for yearly access, but in retrospect, the available features make up for the amount paid on the Plus plan. Not to mention that the chances of making a more profitable portfolio pie are inherent when you subscribe to M1 Plus.

M1 Pricing

Where operating a free M1 account comes at no extra cost, members who choose the M1 Finance Plus plan are charged a subscription fee for premium accounts annually.

The charge for this is generally considered high-end. Coming in at $125 on annual fees, it can look pricey compared to other providers or even in comparison to M1’s own basic platform. However, the Plus plan tries to compensate for this high pricing with its incentives.

Plus account holders get more flexibility with their investments, can unlock Smart Transfers, and borrow lower. They also enjoy a special cashback bonus – earning 1% on whatever they spend. Even when they are not spending, they get a 1% Annual Percentage Yield.

M1 Finance Retirement Review

Retirement investment accounts on the M1 platform can either be traditional or Roth individual retirement accounts. Both types of retirement accounts give the account holder complete control over account operations and are free from any management or commission fees. The difference between them lies in tax deductibles, and where one is funded with pretax dollars, the other is funded with after-tax dollars.

  • IRA and Roth IRAs require initial investments totaling $500. Both types of accounts are designed for investors with no active work history or retired from active work. For instance, the Roth IRA doesn’t deduct taxes on any contributions or earnings.

M1 Finance Roth IRA Review

M1 Finance is one of the few platforms that offer Roth IRAs with no fees attached.

Since the funds that go into Roth IRAs are often after-tax dollars, tax can not be deducted on any withdrawals made on the investments. As is the case with every other type of account under the M1 Finance platform, there are no fees involved. Additionally, M1 finance Roth IRAs are simple to run and give the owners complete control over their portfolios. There’s less paperwork involved and very little interference.

How does M1 Finance compare to other similar services?

M1 Finance Logo M1 Finance
Fees and charges:

No charges, no commissions

Advisory services:

Fully automated advisory

Betterment Logo Betterment
Fees and charges:

Annual charges start at 0.25% (digital plans) and 0.40% (premium)

Advisory services:

Human-assisted advisory

Ellevest Logo Ellevest
Fees and charges:

0.25% per digital plan / 0.50% for premium plans

Advisory services:

Fully automated advisory

M1 Finance App

The mobile experience on the app is a 5/5. The app is well designed and easy to navigate. All the website features are available to mobile users, whether it is opening a new account, funding the account, or even selecting the slices for your portfolio pie. The layout is spaced, so users don’t have to worry about an overcrowded screen. Since it’s mostly white, you won’t have to deal with any glare or unattractive colors either.

The M1 app is a step in the right direction in bringing the experience of the desktop version. Users can rest easy knowing they miss nothing whether they opt to do their business on the app or the web.

M1 Website

The website is just as user-friendly as the app. One commendable thing about the M1 site is how it never lags or slows down when pie selections are being made. You can also view how each pie is performing or even the performance of each slice.

Investors familiar with how brokerages work online will find the M1 brokerage an improvement in terms of ease of use.

Customer Service

You can reach M1 Finance’s customer support over the phone and write them an email. Waiting times may be longer than expected.
However, in most cases, there is no need to contact direct customer support, especially regarding information about the account operation. There is a very detailed FAQ section, so many issues can be resolved without contacting a service agent. There are also video sections that walk the user through specific processes.

Overall, the effectiveness of M1’s customer service is above average, earning it a 3.5/5 rating. Note, however, that M1 is not an advisory service and cannot give financial advice.

Customer Service Hours

M1 Finance reviews and answers customer inquiries within one business day. Users can reach the support and success team from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET on each day trading occurs on the US Stock market (Monday to Friday).

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The Investment Process that Runs Itself

Some people like to grab the proverbial bull by the horn and navigate through the investment seas on their own, right down to every single deposit and reinvestment. For others, constantly monitoring these processes and manually building portfolios can be too much to ask for.

M1 Finance exists for that section of investors with the buy-and-hold mindset who don’t have time for hourly or daily tweaking. If this is your investment style, trust this M1 Finance review when it says this platform is just what the doctor ordered. Visit the website, get the app, and bake yourself an investment pie with all of the right slices – free of charge.

FAQ
Is M1 Finance trustworthy? +

M1 is one of the most trustworthy platforms in existence. It is an SIPC member and is also registered as a broker or dealer with FINRA (CRD #281242).

Can you make money with M1 Finance? +

Yes. M1 is specifically designed to help investors grow their wealth. The M1 spend account itself is already set up to help holders make money, seeing as it has an APY 25% higher than that of regular checking accounts. It also automatically reinvests any dividends into more shares.

 

Which is better - Robinhood or M1 Finance? +

In the M1 Finance vs. Robinhood debate, it’s essential to note that, while both platforms charge zero commission, there are important differences between the two services. Both offer users full control over their investments and are committed to getting users acquainted with trading and investments. M1 is perfect for investors looking for investment strategies and then an automated process to keep deploying these strategies. Robinhood, on the other hand, lets the investors learn the ropes on their own.

Where M1 only lets you invest in ETFs and stocks, Robinhood allows trading in cryptocurrency and options as well. Robinhood also offers investments in individual positions, while M1 is built for portfolios. You make your own trades with Robinhood, while with M1, the investment process is automatized, and the service acts as a robo advisor. Overall, if you are looking to create a long-term portfolio investment, M1 is your better pick. Robinhood works better for trading in individual positions, or for those interested in investing in cryptocurrencies or options.

 

Is M1 Finance good for beginners? +

M1 is an excellent resource for automated investing. While the app boasts a straightforward layout that is easy to navigate, beginners might have a harder time understanding how to create pies. In other words, M1 pie investing can be a difficult task to handle, given that there are no tools to guide newcomers on the investment scene. Your best bet would be to have some prior knowledge to make the best decisions on investments.

Does M1 Finance pay dividends? +

Yes, it does. But there's a system when it comes to dividends with M1. All dividends belonging to a particular account are held until they reach the $10 mark. This is then reinvested into that account's investment portfolio. Dividend reinvestment is done to help build the portfolio wealth through compounding. The shares themselves don't have to be sold.

What happens if M1 Finance goes out of business? +

Rest assured that, even if M1 goes out of business, all user accounts and investments will be protected. Each account has an SIPC protection of up to $500,000. Of course, this is only a cover if M1 Finance becomes defunct: It doesn’t apply to losses incurred during investing. M1 Finance also has insurance covers that far exceed those of the SIPC. Individual accounts are protected from any functional problems relating to the platform. The M1 Finance review shows that accounts are not affected by any platform problems.

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