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M1 Finance [Honest] Review 2021: Pros, Cons, Features

*This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure

M1 Finance is a low fee investing app that allows individuals to invest like the pros. You can use their expert portfolio templates called Expert Pies. These Expert Pies are developed based on Modern Portfolio Theory. They might mirror hedge funds or be target date accounts that automatically adjust their risk level as you get closer to retirement.

Additionally, investors can modify Expert Pies or create their own Investing Pie from scratch. You can invest in thousands of exchange-traded fund options or choose individual stocks.

Then, M1 Finance will automatically rebalance your portfolio to adjust for fluctuations in the stock market. Everything is compiled in a sleek app that boasts an intuitive user interface.

Whether you are new to investing or someone with investing experience, M1 Finance might be one of the best investment apps available today, but be sure to check out our full (honest) review to see if it’s a good fit for you.

M1 Finance Review Summary

  • M1 Finance blends traditional investing brokerages with the perks of a roboadvisor to help individuals invest like a professional with their expert investing pies
  • M1 Finance is free and also includes a paid premium version called M1 Plus
  • M1 Finance is commission free and does not require a minimum deposit to open an account
  • M1 Finance offers a variety of investment account options, including taxable accounts and Roth IRAs

M1 Finance Pros & Cons

M1 Finance has quickly been hailed as the best investing app on the scene. How can you know if it’s right for you? Let’s dive into some of the pros and cons of M1 Finance.

Pros

  • Free — Who doesn’t love free? M1 Finance doesn’t charge broker fees or commissions.
  • No trading commissions – Buy and sell securities fee-free!
  • No minimum deposit – Open your M1 Finance account whenever you’re ready and start investing once you have $100 set aside.
  • Fractional shares – Don’t have enough to own a whole share of a stock? No problem. M1 Finance offers fractional shares so you still get a piece of the pie.
  • User-friendly interface – Keep track of your investments with ease.
  • Expert pies – You can choose from a variety of expertly designed portfolios to get started investing without worrying about analysis paralysis.

Cons

  • Not built for active traders – The app doesn’t shine for people who want to actively buy and sell.
  • No tax-loss harvesting – This is one tax optimization strategy that the app doesn’t offer.
  • Growing company – Some users reported issues with customer support early on.
  • No cryptocurrency – If you’re looking to buy and sell digital currency, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
  • Limited account options – Notably missing the option to open a 529 college savings plan.

How Does M1 Finance Work?

M1 Finance is growing its reputation as the best investing app because it blends the advantages of traditional brokerages and roboadvisors. With M1 Finance, you have complete control over your investments. As an M1 Finance investor, you determine your portfolio and can make future modifications. Once you set up your investment choices, M1 Finance gets to work.

How Do I Open an M1 Finance Account?

If you’re ready to get started, follow these simple steps to open an M1 Finance account:

Step 1 – Visit the Get Started section of the M1 Finance website or app.

Step 2 – Create an account with an email address and password. Make sure you check your email to verify your email address!

Step 3 – Now you’re ready to start creating your investing portfolio pie(s). M1 Finance uses a sleek wizard to prompt you through the process. Of course, you can fully customize your pie when you first set it up or later!

Step 4 – After you create your pie(s), you will fill out more information about yourself and verify your identity. Don’t stress. That’s a required part of all investment accounts!

Step 5 – Now you’re ready to fund your account. Click Connect Bank to get started with the funding process.

Step 6 – After M1 Finance verifies your funds, you can open any type of account that you would like. Options include taxable, joint, retirement, trust, or custodial accounts.

Step 7 – Make a one-time transfer and/or set up recurring transfers to start investing!

Step 8 – You are now ready to activate your investing pie, choose an expert pie, or customize your investment account.

M1 Finance App Features and Benefits

M1 Finance goes by the tagline of The Finance Super App. It’s a bold claim but one look at the features and benefits of the M1 Finance app will have you saying, “Super, indeed!”

Here are a few of the standout features and benefits:

Investing Pies

If you’ve ever looked at different charting tools and shook your head in confusion, you’re not alone. The resources offered by traditional brokerages can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’re a beginner investor.


That’s why the M1 Finance interface stands out. The investing pies allow you to quickly and easily set up your portfolio. That means you can intuitively see what you are investing in and how you are allocating your assets.

To set up your investing pie, you decide what you want to invest in. You’ll be able to choose stocks, ETFs, and more. Then, you give each investment a weight and double check that everything adds up to 100%. Once you hit 100%, your pie is complete! Of course, you can modify your investing pie at any time.

In addition to customizing your own portfolio pie, you can use expert pies as well. You also have the option of sharing your investing pie with other people. It’s a powerful way to extend money conversations with other people in your life.

Fractional Shares

Many people who are starting out with investing can’t afford a full share of a particular stock (we’re looking at you, Google and Amazon). Fractional share investing allows people to invest anyway! While you still can’t buy the entire stock, you can purchase part of it.

This is an important way for investors to get some skin in the game while their capital grows. No more letting cash sit idle in your account until you reach a particular amount to buy a whole stock. Instead, you can start putting together your ideal portfolio today.

Dynamic Rebalancing

Dynamic rebalancing sounds complicated, but it’s actually one way that M1 Finance does the heavy lifting for investors. This is your roboadvisor in action. Essentially, the goal of dynamic rebalancing is to preserve your asset allocation.

Your asset allocation is a fancy way to describe what you invest in. Perhaps your portfolio is 80% stocks and 20% bonds. After time, though, the percentages might change due to market performance.

Rather than you having to constantly rebalance your portfolio, M1 Finance does it for you. When you deposit new funds, M1 Finance purchases more of the underweight asset to bring your asset allocation back up to your target.

Auto Invest

You’ve no doubt heard about the power of automating your finances. M1 Finance’s auto invest option is one smart way to do that. Auto invest allows you to set up a certain threshold. Once your cash balance meets whatever threshold that you chose, M1 Finance will automatically invest any excess cash.

Of course, if you want to make the investment moves yourself, you can disable auto invest.

M1 Borrow

M1 Borrow is another feature of M1 Finance that separates them from other brokerages. M1 Borrow is a margin loan. That means that you are borrowing against the investments in your taxable account.

While other brokerages do offer margin loans, they typically only allow you to use them to buy more securities for your portfolio. M1 Finances, however, allows you to use this loan to refinance existing loans, work on a home improvement project, or even cover unexpected expenses.

The rates are extremely competitive, and you automatically qualify as long as your account has at least $5000 in it. As appealing as this feature is, it is important to note the risk that comes with this type of loan.

M1 Spend

Are you looking to streamline your banking? Then you’ll be excited to learn more about M1 Spend. This feature is completely optional, though many users are excitedly taking advantage of all M1 Spend offers.

With M1 Spend, you get:

  • A checking account that is FDIC insured
  • A debit card to access your money quickly
  • The ability to send checks electronically
  • Direct deposit

The best part of M1 Spend is that there is no annual fee unless you use M1 Plus, the premium version.

Research Tools

If you want to stay informed without risking information overload, M1 Finance has the research tools for you. You can use their basic tools to learn about various stocks and funds. Additionally, you can keep current with market news using more of their research tools.

M1 Finance Referrals

M1 Finance offers various incentives. One of the most consistent incentives is their referral bonus. After you create your M1 Finance account, you receive a referral link. When you share that link with family and friends and they sign up, you both receive $10. Easy money!

M1 Finance Investment Options

M1 Finance might not have every investment option in the world, but they do offer a ton of options to help investors continue toward their money goals. Their expert pies can help you invest like a pro. Plus, with their low-fee ETF options and variety of account types, there’s bound to be an M1 Finance investment option for you.

Let’s explore your investment options in more detail:

Expert Pies

Whether you are just getting started as an investor or you’re a seasoned pro, there’s a very real possibility that you don’t want to create your own portfolio pie. With M1 Finance’s expert pies, you don’t have to. Their expert pies are created by investing experts to allow your investing experience to be completely hands-off. If you prefer to mix and match or customize the expert pies, you can do that as well.

Expert pie options include target date pies that adjust as your retirement date draws near. They also include options based on risk tolerance. There are expert pies that mirror top performing hedge funds. You can even access socially responsible investing pies.

M1 Finance ETFs

Exchange-traded funds, also known as ETFs, are popular investment choices because they track various indexes and are known for their low fees. M1 Finance allows investors to choose from over 2,000 ETFs. In addition, you can also add individual stocks to your investment pie.

You can purchase ETFs commission free through M1 Finance. There are also no management fees.

M1 Finance Roth IRA

The Roth IRA is a powerful retirement savings vehicle. That’s why one of the first questions that many investors ask is, Can I open an M1 Finance Roth IRA? The answer is a resounding YES!

In addition to a M1 Finance Roth IRA, you can open a variety of other investment accounts, including:

  • Taxable and joint accounts
  • Traditional IRAs
  • SEP IRAs

You can also create a rollover IRA as well.

Of course, you want to make sure that you meet the income requirements and other parameters surrounding these accounts.

Check out the full details of how to open a Roth IRA with M1 Finance in my video below:

M1 Finance Fees

M1 Finance has exciting news regarding fees. If you’ve read older M1 Finance app reviews, this is going to come as a big and welcome surprise: M1 Finance is now free to use! That means that there are no commission or broker fees.

That means that you can create an expertly-built portfolio or fully customize your own and access it for free as an individual investor. The only fees you will incur are the ones built into your investment’s expense ratios.

M1 Plus Account

If you’d like to upgrade your M1 Finance account, there is a paid premium version. The premium version is called M1 Plus. Currently, M1 Plus costs $125 per year.

That fee unlocks a variety of features. Some of those features include:

  • Accessing M1 Borrow at a lower interest rate
  • Utilizing a second trading window in the afternoons
  • Earning 1% APY on your checking account
  • Receiving 1% cash back on purchases
  • And many more

To determine if the upgraded account is right for you, consider which of these features you intend to use. You can always create an M1 Finance account and then upgrade later as well.

M1 Finance App FAQ

Before you take the plunge with your hard-earned dollars, you likely want all of your questions answered. We get it! That’s why we rounded up the most commonly asked questions about M1 Finance and answered them in as much detail as possible.

Let’s explore the M1 Finance App FAQ:

Is the M1 Finance App Safe?

Yes! The M1 Finance app is safe. It’s true that there are no guarantees when it comes to investing. Investing in stocks carries the risk of loss. Your account is always subject to market declines and loss.

While M1 Finance can’t guarantee that your account balance will always increase, they are incredibly committed to keeping your account safe and secure. M1 Finance uses military-grade encryption with each data transfer. You can also set up two-factor authentication for your account.

In the event that the brokerage (that’s M1 Finance!) goes under or is guilty of misconduct, you also have protection under the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).

Is M1 Finance Good for Beginners?

M1 Finance is great for beginners and more seasoned investors. They offer some financial tools as part of the app.

Plus, M1 Finance really does want to give everyone the opportunity to invest. Investing apps make it easy to get started investing, but oftentimes, the high minimum balance required to get started leaves a lot of investors sidelined. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with M1 Finance.

How Much Do I Need To Invest With M1 Finance?

There’s no minimum initial deposit required to open your account. However, you have to have $100 in your M1 Finance account to start investing. Still, as far as account balance requirements go, M1 Finance has one of the lowest.

Bottom Line: Is M1 Finance Worth It?

Is M1 Finance worth it? Only if you’re looking for a tool to help you invest like a pro for free! In other words, M1 Finance is absolutely worth it.

The one consideration you will want to make is regarding the upgrade to an M1 Plus account. This could be beneficial to some investors, especially if you are looking to utilize M1 Borrow. However, if you aren’t going to take advantage of the added benefits, the free version should do just fine.

M1 Finance Alternatives

Are you on the fence about M1 Finance? That’s OK! There are plenty of other investing apps to explore.

Explore all of our favorite investing apps for 2021 and then check out these M1 Finance alternatives:

Personal Capital

Are you looking to really keep a close eye on your finances? Do you want to maximize your financial knowledge and future planning? Then Personal Capital might be the app for you.

Personal Capital does allow you to invest, though the fees are slightly higher than apps like M1 Finance. Where Personal Capital truly shines, though, is with all of the free resources it offers. If you’ve seen anyone post a picture of their net worth, there’s a good chance that they are sharing a graph from Personal Capital. In addition to tracking net worth, Personal Capital allows you to set financial goals, helps you strategize college savings for your children, and even evaluates your current investments to see if you can reduce your fees.

See our full Personal Capital review here.

Wealthfront

Wealthfront is another leading investing app with low fees. As a roboadvisor, it allows you to create an account and set up transfers, then it gets started on growing your money. Wealthfront adds to your portfolio based on your preferences and risk tolerance. It will even rebalance your portfolio over time.

One way that Wealthfront stands out from other investing apps and roboadvisors is with the financial planning tools it offers. There is a retirement planner and a college savings tracker. Plus, you can test out some of your future finance goals using the time off to travel tool. Wealthfront helps you calculate how long you can step away from work (and what your travel budget might be!) without disrupting your financial goals. Now that’s a smart investing app!

Check out our full Wealthfront review for more details.

Acorns

Acorns is a micro-investing roboadvisor. Like other roboadvisors, Acorns allows you to invest on autopilot. What sets Acorns apart is its ability to microinvest. That means that you can invest with literal pennies.

Thanks to the round up feature, your spare change from purchases made with linked debit or credit cards is collected. Then, when you reach a $5 balance, Acorns invests your money. For new investors who are nervous about investing bigger chunks of change, this round up feature is a fantastic way to get comfortable with investing.

Check out our full Acorns review for more details.

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

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