M1 Finance Review 2020: Pros, Cons, Features, and More

M1 Finance gives you some of the best tools on the market to start investing toward a richer future. And the best part? It's completely free. Get started today and take advantage of M1's automation and state-of-the-art investing tools.

Best for:

  • Beginner investors
  • Experienced investors
  • Retirement accounts

Our rating

4.7
out of 5
Sign Up For M1 Finance

M1 Finance at a glance

Fees and costs

FREE & $125/year

Similar services

Acorns, Qapital

Sign up length

5 minutes or less

User rating

4.6 out of 5

Pros & Cons

Pros

    • Zero fees — M1 Finance charges zero trading fees and zero management fees. Additionally, you can use your M1 Finance account completely free with the M1 Basic account.
    • Flexible portfolio building — M1 Finance has one of the best portfolio builders on the market. Choose from thousands of stocks and ETFs.
    • Pre-built expert portfolios — If you prefer not to build your own portfolio, M1 Finance has over 60 expertly built portfolios you can choose from.

Cons

    • M1 Plus plan can be costly for smaller accounts — If you have a smaller account and aren’t investing as much, the $125 per year cost of the M1 Plus subscription can outweigh any potential benefits.
Review by | Updated on
Editor's note - We may receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. However, this does not influence our honest evaluations and the integrity of our content. Our opinions are our own and are not influenced by anyone else.

SHARE

About M1 Finance

M1 Finance is an online financial services company and brokerage.

Over 150,000 investors are currently taking advantage of M1’s intelligent financial tools and automating their finances.

M1 Finance was founded in 2015 and originally only offered investing services. It has since then released new features, including retirement account services and banking services, complete with a debit card.

M1 Finance has over 14,000 reviews on the App Store with a 4.6 out of 5 stars rating. On Google Play, M1 Finance has over 8,000 reviews with a total rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

Start investing and building wealth

  • Completely free to use
  • Invest with fractional shares
  • Join over 500,000 investors automating their investing with M1
Sign Up For M1 Finance

M1 Finance ratings

Ease of use

5/5

M1 Finance is very easy to use. Build your custom portfolio in minutes.

App design

5/5

The M1 Finance mobile app has an intuitive design and easy to use interface.

Cost and fees

3/5

M1 Finance is free unless you want the Plus membership, which is $125 per year.

Education

5/5

Read M1’s financial education articles and learn about investing, saving, and more.

Portfolio mix

5/5

Build custom portfolios from hundreds of stocks and ETFs.

Customer support

5/5

Although hard to find, M1 Finance does have both email and phone support.

How M1 Finance works

how it works m1 finance

The basics

M1 Finance, at its core, is an investing app. Although other services are available such as M1 Borrow and M1 Spend, you’ll likely be spending most of your time using the investing side of the app.

When you first create your M1 Finance account, you’ll learn that the foundation of the M1 investing service is in the Pies.

Pies in M1 Finance are simply portfolios. Like an investment portfolio is made up of many individual investments, so a pie is made up of many individual slices.

During the signup process, you’ll have the opportunity to build your first custom Pie. You can choose from hundreds of stocks and ETFs and even set the percentage you want to allocate toward your total portfolio—or Pie.

For example, say you invest in a few different ETFs, and perhaps some Apple and Amazon stocks. You can tell M1 Finance the percentage of each of those investments that you want to make up your Pie.

The total percentage will always equal 100%. So maybe you want Apple to make up only 5% of your total Pie, and Amazon to make up 10%.

Every time you deposit money into your account, M1 will automatically invest your money according to your set allocations.

And because M1 uses fractional shares, you can invest in large companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Tesla for as little as $100.

Pie investing

m1 finance pie investing

As you’ve already learned, Pies are the foundation of the M1 investing service.

So far you learned that you can use M1 Finance to easily build your own custom Pies to fit your investing strategy. But did you know that M1 also offers pre-built Expert Pies?

An Expert Pie is essentially a pre-built portfolio that’s based on an underlying objective. What does that mean?

For example, M1 has a category of Expert Pies called Hedge Fund Followers. These Pies are designed to mimic the investment strategies of some of the most successful investors and hedge funds in the world.

To give you a better idea of just what that means, you can invest in a Pie that mimics Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, or Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management.

You’re practically investing with these billion dollar hedge funds, without having to have the fat pockets.

Because money managers are required to report their holdings within 45 days of the quarter’s end, M1 Finance is able to replicate their exact portfolios.

Other than the hedge fund Pies, M1 Finance offers several other categories of Pies including:

  • General investing — Easily create a diversified portfolio and set it to your own personal risk tolerance. 
  • Plan for Retirement — Invest for your target retirement date in a portfolio that adjusts to your goals as you age.
  • Responsible Investing — Sound financial options for the socially responsible investor.
  • Income Earners — Choose a portfolio focused on dividends and income returns.
  • Hedge Fund Followers — Mimic the investment strategies of some of the most successful investors and reputable hedge funds.
  • Just Stocks & Bonds — Build a diversified, low-cost portfolio with a simple balance of two ETFs, focused on stocks and bonds.
  • Other Strategies — Explore these additional investment strategies and find what’s right for you.

M1 Finance fees and pricing

m1 finance pricing

M1 Finance only has two different membership plans—M1 Basic and M1 Plus.

Pick the plan that’s best for your financial goals and current situation. You can switch plans at any time.

M1 Basic

Price: FREE

M1 Basic allows you to take full advantage of M1 Finance’s state-of-the-art investing tools, 100% free of cost. You’ll also get zero-commission trades. And yes, M1 Basic is actually free. There are no hidden costs.

The M1 Basic plan comes with these features:

  • No cost
  • ATM fees covered once per month
  • Daily ACH limit of $10,000
  • M1 Borrow base rate of 3.5%
  • Minimum portfolio balance of $10,000
  • Daily trade windows available: 1

M1 Plus

Price: $125 per year

Although the M1 Plus plan might seem expensive on the surface, it’s actually not bad. The advantages that come with the subscription far outweigh the cost involved. This is especially true if you are investing larger amounts of money.

The M1 Plus plan comes with these features:

  • 1% APY on M1 Spend checking account
  • 1% cash back on qualifying purchases
  • ATM fees covered 4 times per month
  • Daily ACH limit of $50,000
  • M1 Borrow base rate of 2%
  • Minimum portfolio balance of $10,000
  • Daily trade windows available: 2
M1 Finance
Start investing to build wealth for your future completely FREE.
Sign Up For M1 Finance

M1 Finance features

M1 Invest

M1 Invest is the foundation of the M1 Finance service. M1 Invest lets you build your own investment portfolio (also known as a Pie) from thousands of stocks and ETFs.

If you prefer not to build your own Pie, you can select a pre-built Expert Pie from one of the dozens available on M1 Finance.

With M1 Invest, you can start investing with as little as $100. Take advantage of fractional shares, which enables you to own pieces of stocks and ETFs regardless of how expensive the share price is.

M1 Invest also has incredible built-in features that make managing your investments even easier.

For example, M1 will automatically balance your portfolio for you with dynamic rebalancing, so you never run the risk of being overly conservative or aggressive.

You can also automate your investment contributions with investing schedules so that you never forget to invest for your future.

There are four different account types you can open with M1 Invest:

  • Individual
  • Joint
  • IRA
  • Trust

An individual investment account lets you set up an account for your general investing needs. A joint account is the same as an individual account, except shared with a relative, spouse, or partner. 

You can also open a Traditional, Roth, or SEP IRA with M1 Invest. Take advantage of the huge tax benefits that come with an IRA account.

Finally, you can also open a managed trust investment account with M1 Trust Account.

M1 Borrow

m1 finance borrow

M1 Borrow is a unique service that lets you borrow money from M1 Finance. Borrow at one of the lowest rates on the market—as low as 2%.

Borrow for whatever you need. For example, you can borrow to eliminate high-interest loans or credit card debt.

You can borrow to pay for large expenses like your dream wedding, your child’s tuition, or a new business venture.

You can even borrow to invest more in your portfolio and increase your potential for higher returns (this is definitely risky). But, I’m just trying to make a point that you can literally borrow for whatever you need.

M1 Spend

m1 finance spend

M1 Spend is an FDIC insured online checking account that comes with an M1 Spend Visa™ debit card.

Your M1 Spend account will earn 1% APY. That’s 25x higher than the national average, which tends to fall between 0.01% and 0.06%.

You’ll also earn 1% cash back on qualifying purchases with the M1 Plus account.

M1 Spend is just another way M1 Finance is making it easier for you to save and invest.

M1 Plus

m1 plus

M1 Plus is M1 Finance’s one and only subscription plan. It comes packed with excellent features and benefits.

You could continue using M1 Finance for free with the M1 Basic Account. However, if you want to take full advantage of M1 Finance, upgrading to M1 Plus is worth it.

I go into more detail about what you get with an M1 Plus membership in the fees and pricing section of this review. For your convenience, I’ll briefly go over this membership plan and why it’s worth the money.

With an M1 Plus Account, you’ll 1% APY on your M1 Spend checking account and 1% cash back on select purchases. With a free M1 Finance account, you can still open an M1 Spend checking account, but both the accounts APY and cash back are 0%.

Also, ATM fees are covered up to 4 times per month with your M1 Plus Account. On the M1 Basic Account, ATM fees are only covered once per month.

What really makes the M1 Plus subscription worth it is the high checking account interest rate and the cash back on purchases.

These two bonuses alone will earn you far more than the cost of the subscription of $125 per year.

M1 Finance alternatives

You’re considering using M1 Finance, but you’re still on the fence and would like to see some other options. Here’s a list of M1 Finance alternatives that you can look into.

Qapital
See our full Qapital review here.
Sign Up
Acorns
See our full Acorns review here.
Sign Up
Wealthsimple
See our full Wealthsimple review here.
Sign Up
Stash
See our full Stash review here.
Sign Up

How to sign up for M1 Finance

m1 finance

M1 Finance is available on both Apple iOS and Android devices and can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play. You can also use it on your computer’s browser.

Signing up for M1 Finance is easy. Here are the steps you need to take to get started.

Create your M1 Finance account

Creating your M1 Finance account is easy and shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes. 

Whether you are signing up for M1 Finance via a mobile app or on your computer, both processes are the same.

Here are the exact steps.

Step 1: From the M1 Finance sign up page, enter your email and a new password, then hit the Sign Up Now button.

sign up for m1 finance

You should receive an email shortly asking you to verify your email. Follow the link in this email to complete your email verification. 

Step 2: You’ll land on a page that says Welcome to M1! Click on the Continue button. From here, you’ll learn more about the M1 Finance service.

m1 finance pies

For example, you’ll learn that Pies are the building blocks for organizing and managing your investment portfolio on M1 Finance.

Step 3: In this step, you’ll start creating your first Pie. You’ll need to pick at least 3 investments that interest you before continuing.

create your first pie with m1 finance

You can also select from Popular Expert Pies, which are professional curated Pies that are pre-built for you.

Step 4: After you’ve created your first Pie, you can see how the “slices” of your Pie are weighted. You can change this at any time.

m1 finance pie slices

Step 5: After going through a few prompts, you’ll be taken to a screen where you’ll have to verify your identity. Enter your phone number, and you’ll receive a confirmation code in a text. Add this code to the confirmation code field and hit Continue.

Step 6: You’re almost finished! Now you’ll need to enter some basic information to create your profile, including your name, address, date of birth, and employment status.

Be sure to answer truthfully. These questions are required by law for you to invest in the stock market.

That’s it for the first part of the registration process. Next, you’ll answer some questions about your financial situation and investing style, as required by the SEC.

Setting up your M1 Finance Investment Profile

m1 finance investment profile

Now you’ll need to answer a few questions to provide M1 Finance with some insights into your financial situation and investing style.

This is required by the SEC and will also give M1 Finance a better understanding of your style.

Step 1: You’ll now run through a list of questions about your financial situation. These questions will include providing your annual income, net worth, investing experience, risk tolerance, and more.

Step 2: M1 Finance will ask for your social security number. You don’t have to be concerned about this. They are required by law to ask you for this.

They won’t run any credit checks or anything, so don’t worry about it affecting your credit score.

Step 3: In this final step, M1 Finance will ask you to fund your account. You can either do this by logging into your account and verifying it instantly or connecting it manually by entering your account and routing number.

funding your m1 finance account

If you are impatient, I’d recommend going with the first option. Alternatively, you can skip connecting a funding source until later. 

Step 4: That’s it! You are now officially registered with M1 Finance. If you skipped linking your bank account earlier, you’ll have to do that first before you can start investing.

Otherwise, you can at least begin familiarizing yourself with the M1 Finance app.

M1 Finance
Start investing to build wealth for your future completely FREE.
Sign Up For M1 Finance

Who is M1 Finance best for?

Long term investors

As a long term investor, you can take advantage of M1 Finance’s Expert Pies depending on your investing goals.

For example, if you are investing long term for retirement, you can choose from dozens of Pies specifically designed for retirement.

These Pies are highly intelligent and will automatically update to align with your goals as you age.

If you are not necessarily investing for retirement, but still want to invest long term, there are dozens of Pies for that as well.

Beginner investors

M1 Finance makes it easy for beginner investors to create expertly diversified portfolios with ease.

The secret is in the M1 Finance feature called Pies. You can either create your own custom Pie from scratch or choose from professionally designed Pies.

Expert Pies come in all shapes and sizes. For example, a beginner investor can choose to invest in an Expert Pie that mimics reputable hedge funds like Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Or, you can invest in Pies that specifically focus on dividends and income returns. There are dozens of Expert Pies to choose from, and all of them are expertly designed to produce the best results for you.

Experienced investors

As an experienced investor, you will find that although M1 Finance appeals to beginner investors, it’s also a great fit for experienced investors like yourself.

M1 Finance’s flagship feature is called Pies. Although there are dozens of pre-built Pies to choose from, you can also build your own custom Pie from scratch.

M1 Finance has many intuitive features that experienced investors will appreciate, such as being able to trade thousands of stocks and ETFs.

Who should not use M1 Finance?

Active stock traders

If you are an active day trader, you will benefit more from a service like Webull.

Active stock traders are buying and selling shares of stock sometimes multiple times a day. M1 Finance simply isn’t the app for that kind of fast-paced trading.

M1 Finance does not offer advanced trading tools like Level 2 data, time and sales, and charts. It’s specifically designed for long term investors who are building wealth over 5, 10, 20+ years.

Is M1 Finance worth it?

M1 Finance is absolutely worth it. With M1 Finance, you can begin making more, saving more, and investing more for free.

M1 Finance’s Basic account allows you to invest absolutely free. There are zero membership costs, zero trading commissions, and zero fees.

If you want to step it up a notch, you can pay for the M1 Plus Account, which has a handful of amazing features and benefits.

M1 Finance is definitely one of the best online brokers on the market. The state-of-the-art tools that you get with your M1 Finance account make investing incredibly easy. And the best part is it’s completely free.

Sign up for M1 Finance and start investing now to build a richer future for yourself. You have nothing to lose, it’s free!

M1 Finance
Start investing to build wealth for your future completely FREE.
Sign Up For M1 Finance

Get tips on genuine ways you can grow your money this year straight to your inbox.