M1 Finance Review 2021: Free Robo-Advisor With Stocks + Funds

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M1 Finance Review

  • Are you a DIY investor who wants the flexibility to choose your investments (from 1,000’s of ETFs and stocks)?
  • Do you want to buy and sell investments for FREE?
  • Would you like the opportunity to select pre-made investment portfolios?
  • Are you interested in letting someone else rebalance your investments for you?
  • Do you want a company to help you invest for a secure financial future?

If you want to invest to build wealth and financial security, then consider M1 Finance.

Get started with M1 Finance now!

*Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link.


FeaturesM1 Finance
OverviewFree robo-advisor with the opportunity to customize investments.
Minimum Investment Amount$100 for investment account. 
$500 for retirement account.
Top FeaturesChoice to choose pre-made portfolios or to create your own. 
M1 manages and rebalances your investments.
M1 Borrow and M1 Spend offer lending and banking.
Fee Structure per YearZero fees for acount management and trading.
M1 Plus charges $125 per year for extra features.
Accounts Available

Individual and joint taxable accounts.
Traditional, Roth, SEP and Rollover IRAs.
Corporate, Trust, LLC and Partnership business accounts.

All types of IRA accounts.
Investment Funds

6,000 stocks and/or ETFs traded on the NYSE, NASDAQ and BATS exchanges.
Pre-made investment portfolios (or pies) and customized pies that you create.

Contact & Investing AdviceMonday - Friday from 9:30am to 4pm EST. Phone, email, or on-screen chat.
Free account management 

Free trading and account management. Sign up now.

What is M1 Finance?

One of the most comprehensive robo-advisor platforms to hit market, M1 Finance offers a unique twist to the fintech landscape – hundreds of investment options for free.

No trading fees, and free rebalancing of your investments!

In fact, I opened an account with M1 Finance recently!

What makes M1 Finance stand out in the robo-advising arena is its access to thousands of investments from exchange traded funds to individual stocks.

M1 Finance portfolios are easy to visualize as each investment is shown as a slice of pie. The whole M1 Finance pie represents your entire investment portfolio.

You can create your own portfolio, called M1 Finance Pies, selected from roughly 500 investments. Or, you can create several distinct portfolios or pies.

The M1 Finance robo-advisor also offers pre-made expert pies to choose from. I just invested in one of the expert pies! (Find out which one later in this post.)

I’m excited to find out how it performs in comparison with my other investments.

Who Benefits from the M1 Finance Robo-Advisor?

  • The DIY investor who wants to farm out the laborious task of rebalancing his or her portfolio.
  • The new investor seeking a pre-made investment portfolio in line with her risk tolerance.
  • The investor who wants to copy the hedge fund investors, without researching their strategies.
  • The retiree seeking access to target date investment portfolios and the opportunity to invest on their own.
  • The income investor who wants a pre-made portfolio.
  • The cost conscious investor who wants their personal portfolio managed and rebalanced for free.

What Differentiates M1 Finance From Competitors

M1 Finance is the most creative automated financial platform online at present. This robo-advisor is unique and offers:

  • Pre-made investment portfolios based upon risk tolerance, similar to comparable robo-advisors. But, this is just the beginning, there is so much more.
  • Over 6,000 stocks or ETFs traded on the NYSE, NASDAQ and BATS exchanges for DIY investors. 
  • M1 rebalances the assets back to your preferred allocation.
  • M1 Borrow allows anyone with an account balance of at least $10,000 to borrow from their account. 
m1 expert pies

M1 Investing

M1 is in a class of its own, when it comes to investing.

You have the best of both a robo-advisor with managed portfolios and the opportunity to buy and sell individual stocks and funds.

M1 Finance Investment Strategies – Expert Pies

M1 offers many ready-made investment portfolios called Expert Pies:

  • General Investing – Perfect for well-balanced investments that match up with your risk level (like a typical robo-advisor).
  • Plan For Retirement – Similar to a target date fund.
  • Responsible Investing – Socially Conscious Investing.
  • Income Portfolios – Great for cash flow.
  • Hedge Fund Followers – Copy investing strategies of well-known investors, like Warren Buffett.
  • Just Stocks and Bonds – 9 Pre-made investment portfolios of just 2 funds from most conservative to very aggressive.
  • Other Strategies – Includes pot stocks, growth and value pies.

I opened a simple two stock portfolio with 60 percent invested in the Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (VT) and 40% invested in the Vanguard Total Bond ETF (BND). You’ll learn more about this portfolio below.

Barbara A. Friedberg

If you prefer to invest in a ready-made group of investments, then the pre-made portfolios are for you. The General Investing Expert Pies are the most similar to a typical robo-advisry portfolio.

The General Investing M1 expert Pies include 10 stock and bond funds covering diverse corners of the US and global stock and bond markets. You choose the one that best fits your risk tolerance:

  •  Ultra Conservative
  • Conservative
  • Moderately Conservative
  • Moderate
  • Moderately Aggressive
  • Aggressive
  • Ultra Aggressive

The Ultra Conservative portfolio is allocated with these funds in the following percentages (90% bonds vs 10% stocks):

  • Short Term Treasury Bonds – SHY – 82%
  • Municipal Bonds – MUB – 2%
  • Small cap US Stocks – VB – 6%
  • Large cap US Stocks – VOO – 2%
  • Developed Market Stocks – VEA – 6%
  • Emerging Market Stocks – VWO – 2%

On the other end of the spectrum, the Ultra Aggressive portfolio is allocated as follows (99% stock vs 1% bond):

  • Large cap US stocks – VOO – 29%
  • Mid cap US stocks – VO – 9%
  • Small cap US stocks – VB 13%
  • Developed Market Stocks – VEA – 34%
  • Emerging market Stocks – VWO – 7%
  • International Bonds – BNDX – 1%
  • Real Estate REIT –  VWO – 7%

The other general investing portfolios fall in between in their allocation percentages to stocks vs bonds. You can view all of the pre-made portfolios without funding an account, although you will need to go through the sign up process. Each of these “General Investing” robo-advisor replica portfolios contain between six and ten individual funds.

The remaining seven categories of pre-made portfolios are created in line with their designated strategy.

For example, the income portfolio includes only domestic and international bond funds.

The miscellaneous “Other Strategies” pre-made portfolios include Blue Chip, Global Growth and Global Value strategies.

m1 finance dashboard

M1 Finance DIY Investment Strategies and Asset Mix

If you want to create your own combination of investments (or investment pies) you can choose from 4,325 stocks and/or 1999 funds. M1 Finance also offers a stock screener to help you construct your own investment portfolio.

You might wonder why I didn’t just buy these funds on my own in an investment account. The answer is, M1 Finance will rebalance these funds back to my preferred 60% stock – 40% bond portfolio at any time, just like other robo-advisors. And since M1 Finance doesn’t charge fees, it’s an ideal investment management tool.

I’m also doing an experiment to find out how the returns on this simple portfolio compares with other investment strategies.

This is the Expert Pie that I invested in (Just Stocks and Bonds). M1 makes it super easy to invest in a pre made portfolio!

M1 Finance Performance

For all of M1 Finance’s Expert Pie Portfolios M1 provide 1 month, 1 year, 3 year and 5 year performance data.

For example, the M1 Finance Just Stocks and Bonds Pie called, earned 52.45% over the prior 5 years.

It would be difficult to list the performance of the M1 investing pies that you create since there is the possibility of thousands of investment combinations.

In general, the performance of any M1 Pie, either pre-made expert pie, or one you craft on your own, will depend on the investments that are owned within the pie.

M1 Finance Fees

M1 Finance is free for the basic platform, which includes:

  • Commission free stock, bond, ETF trading
  • Investing in all M1 Finance pies and pre-made portfolios
  • Investment rebalancing

The only fees you can expect to pay are the underlying ETF and mutual fund management fees that go directly to the fund provider.

As you’d expect, M1 Finance does charge for services such as overnight mail delivery, paper statements, retirement account termination and a few more.

M1 Plus

M1 Plus is a higher level service for investors that want:

  • A super charged checking account. The m1 Plus account offers a high yield checking account and a debit card with 1% cash back. Finally, M1 plus customers get 4 ATM withdrawal fees reimbursed per month.
  • Lower borrowing costs
  • Two daily trading windows, instead of one

The M1 Plus service offers more services for a low annual fee. 

The fee for M1 Plus is a reasonable $125 per year.

Next, take a look at an actual investor and how he goes through the M1 Finance investment platform.

Minimum Deposit

Unlike many other robo-advisors, M1 only requires $100 to get started! And you can open an account for free.

Types of Accounts 

M1 Finance caters to individuals and business accounts. The company also handles trust accounts.

Available M1 Finance accounts:

  • Individual and joint investment accounts.
  • Roth, traditional and SEP IRA accounts
  • IRA rollover accounts
  • Business accounts for corporations, LLCs, or partnerships
  • Revocable and irrevocable trust accounts

M1 IRAs (traditional and rollover) and M1 Roth IRAs are excellent accounts to supplement your workplace 401(k) and build up extra cash for retirement!

Is M1 Finance Insured and Safe?

Your money is insured by SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) against loss of cash and securities from a brokers failure. It does not protect against normal investment price declines.

M1 Spend and M1 Plus accounts are further insured through Lincoln Savings Bank.

Apex Clearing Corporation is M1’s clearing firm and custodial bank. Apex is a well-known firm and provides similar functions for many of the world’s largest institutional and retail brokers.

M1 employs top level security. Your data isn’t stored on any device and all information is encrypted in transit between your computer and M1 as well as on the M1 servers.

Free Stock App

Invest for free in your favorite stocks and ETFs with the M1 Finance app. No trading fees or commissions. Once you have $10,000 invested the M1 app enables a low-cost portfolio line of credit. While the M1 Visa Debit Card link sends excess cash automatically into your investments. The M1 Finance app is available in iOs or Android.

“Favorite for investing. I like that I can select a balance of stocks (or pre built portfolio) and not have to worry about it, they handle the details. There are no fees which I think is a must anymore. They offer a good range of stocks and ETFs; I don’t need OTC, crypto-currency, or derivitaves, so both criteria are perfect. Trades aren’t real-time and that keeps me thinking longer term (daily window.)” J.N. in M1 Finance App Review

Smarter Investing: M1Finance.com

Features and Drill Down


Whether you design your own or choose a pre-designed M1 Finance pie, the platform makes it visually clear which of your investments are off-target by changing the shape of the slice of pie. When new money is added or withdrawn, it automatically affects the section of your pie that is most off-target in order to rebalance itself.

For example, if you want 50% of your investments to be stock-based, but you are only at 48%, then any new money that you add to your investment portfolio will automatically go to the stock investments until your asset percentages return to a 50% stock mix.

You can also initiate rebalancing without adding funds by pressing the sales icon.

All trades occur during the M1 Finance trading windows:

  • 9:00 AM est when markets open, until all orders are filled
  • 2:00 PM est is a second trading window available to M1 Plus customers

Dividends are reinvested automatically once they total $10.

Tax Efficiency

M1 tax efficient investing uses a strategy when selling securities to help reduce the amount owed on taxes automatically. It’s not tax-loss harvesting, but it does take into account potential tax consequences when selling an investment by choosing the shares with the lowest tax basis.

Free M1 Representative Consult

You can schedule a free consultation with an M1 Finance representative for guidance navigating the platform.

So, if you have any questions about the platform, you can speak directly with an M1 representative to guide you.

M1 finance borrow mobile view


M1 Borrow

If your account is valued at $10,000 or more, you’re eligible to borrow up to 35% of the account value, and pay it back on your terms.

The process is fast and does’t require a credit check. The low interest rate is great if you want to refinance existing high interest rate credit card debt or pay for your wedding.

M1 Spend 

M1 Spend is an FDIC-insured checking account and debit card that is integrated with the M1 platform. It combines digital banking with bill pay and spending with the M1 Visa debit card.

You can even direct deposit your paycheck into your M1 Spend account!

The M1 Spend checking account pays above market interest rates on your accounts cash balance. While the M1 Finance debit card awards 1% cash back on all spending.

M1 Plus customers receive extra benefits, from the M1 Spend feature.

We love that M1 has expanded to include not only investing but also banking and lending services. Of the stand alone robo-advisors, M1 is one of our favorites.

M1 Finance Sign-up Process

The sign up is quick and easy.

  1. Plug in your email address and create a password.
  2. Answer a few questions.
  3. Next you build a sample portfolio.
  4. Choose the account type by selecting from the account list.

At that point, before funding the account you can explore the platform’s features. You can look at the pre-made portfolios and explore the thousands of investment options for your DIY portfolio.

Finally, transfer money in to fund your portfolio.

The process is seamless, although it does take a few days to get the account up and running.

M1 Finance Investor Profile

Getting Started with M1 Finance

Learn how Jason, a young engineer invests with M1 Finance.

Jason – An Aggressive Investor

Jason is a risk taker, with a high paying job. He’s 35 with a well funded 401(k) account at work. He wanted to try one of the riskier portfolios. He decided to try a Hedge Fund Replication portfolio.

The Hedge Fund Replication Portfolios includes the following investment company choices:

  • Berkshire Hathaway
  • Coatue Management
  • Green Light Capital
  • Icahn Capital
  • Paulson & Company
  • Pershing Square Capital Management
  • Tiger Global Management
  • ValueAct Capital

Jason decided to invest a few thousand dollars in the Pershing Square Capital Management fund. The Pershing portfolio seeks to replicate Pershing Square Capital Management by investing in the holdings and allocation in the firm’s most recent SEC 13F filing. The securities in this pie are:

M1 Pre-Made Hedge Fund - Pershing Square Capital Management

Investment HoldingSymbolPercentage Investment
Restaurant Brands International Inc. QSR22%
Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. CMG18%
Mondelez International Inc. MDLZ17%
Air Products and Chemicals Inc.APD09%
Howard Hughes Corporation HHC17%
Platform Specialty Products Corporation PAH07%
Valeant Pharmaceuticals International VRX05%
Nomad Foods LimitedNOMD05%

Next, Jason decided to create another pie (or investment portfolio). This time he’s choosing his own investments.

He appreciates the opportunity to create an several investment of pies.


Is M1 Finance Free?

Yes, M1 Finance is free. There are zero account management fees.
For investors seeking more features, M1 Plus is available for $125 per year.

How does M1 Finance make Money?

“Like a bank that offers free checking, M1 Finance makes money through other services. M1 Finance makes money lending the user-owned securities and cash held intheir accounts,” says founder Barnes.
Loan and M1 Plus also make money for M1.

Can you day trade on M1 Finance?

N0, M1 Finance is an investing, not trading platform. You can’t buy and sell the same securities during one day.
To keep costs low, M1 is only trading once per day during week-days NYSE trading hours or twice with M1 Plus.

Does M1 offer any promos?

Yes. M1 Finance promotions are constantly updating. We dedicate a page to the M1 Finance promo codes and offers.

M1 Finance Pros and Cons

M1 Finance Advantages

M1 Finance account management services are free.

The $100 minimum investment amount makes it easy for the new investor to dip her toe into the markets.

The visual structure of the M1 Finance pies makes it easy to understand what you’re invested in.

Adding money to your account is clear cut. The platform invests new money according to your asset allocation preferences.

The automated portfolio rebalancing makes investment management easy.

The opportunity to choose your own investments and receive portfolio rebalancing for free is a huge draw.

M1 Borrow is a nice option when you need extra cash for a low interest rate.

M1 Spend can even replace your checking account.

M1 Finance Disadvantages

In contrast with other automated or robo-advisors, M1 Finance doesn’t offer a risk quiz. This could be a disadvantage to a newer investor. Thus, if you’re not confident of your personal risk tolerance, you might seek an online risk tolerance quiz for guidance.

Regarding the Hedge Fund Replication choices, M1 invests in the publicly listed securities of the specific fund. Yet, you don’t know the price that the hedge fund manager paid for their holdings. And part of smart investing is buying at the right price. This option is best for more advanced or aggressive investors.

M1 doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting, although they do offer “tax minimization” which allows you to sell investments in the most tax efficient way.

M1 Finance Review – Wrap Up

You choose how involved you want to be with your portfolio management. From pre-made pies to DIY investment portfolio creation, you decide which investment road to take.

M1 Finance is great for on-the-go portfolio management with apps for ios and android devices.

I just invested in the expert pie: “Just Stocks and Bonds”! It’s great for the new investor or someone seeking a simple diversified investment portfolio. 

M1 Finance is user-friendly, so once your initial portfolio is set up it is easy to manage. Just like a bank account, investors only need to worry about depositing or withdrawing money and the new M1 Spend will handle the direct deposit of your paycheck.

The platform itself takes care of the trading and the money gets allotted to your pre-determined specifications.

Even with a fully customizable portfolio, some people worry about the human touch some robo-advisors lack. M1 Finance has a customer support team available during business hours, so if their extensive FAQs can’t answer your questions, a real human can.

M1 Finance offers a promising alternative to other investing options out there. If you’re stuck between a DIY approach and a fully automated robo-advisor, then M1 is a nice in-between solution. In particular, this platform adds depth and customization to the robo-advising market. Engaged investors, who want hands-on and easily accessible investing options, will find that M1 Finance has a lot to offer.

If you’re sophisticated enough to know what you want in your investments, but don’t want to constantly rebalance and maintain your investment portfolio, M1 Finance is a good alternative. (Click on the link to check out the M1 Finance site.)

We’re all so busy today, that you need to pick and choose how you’ll spend your time. If you like to pick your investments, and seek investing inspiration as well, then consider M1. With the low $100 entry fee, and free account management anyone can dip their toes into the investing world.

Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t  believe is valuable.

*Using margin involves risks: you can lose more than you deposit, you are subject to a margin call, and interest rates may change. To learn more about the risks associated with margin loans, please see our Margin Disclosure (https://s3.amazonaws.com/m1production-agreements/documents/Margin_Disclosure.pdf). M1 Borrow available on margin accounts with a balance of at least $10,000. Does not apply to retirement accounts.

14 thoughts on “M1 Finance Review 2021: Free Robo-Advisor With Stocks + Funds”

  1. It seems all of your examples have included only Vanguard ETFs.
    Are other issuers available for purchase? Also, is it possible to see your list of stocks and ETFs prior to filling out my personal info?

  2. Hi Richard, M1 Finance offers literally 1000’s of investments from which to choose from a variety of providers. You can choose individual stocks, ETFs from ishares, SPDR and many others. M1 Finance offers more investments than the majority of robo-advisors.

    In response to your question, ” is it possible to see your list of stocks and ETFs prior to filling out my personal info?” I’m not sure. What I do know is that you can look around the platform without funding an account. With 1000’s of funds and stocks to choose, it’s likely that you’ll find the investments that you are seeking.
    Are there any specific funds you’re looking to invest in?

  3. Yes. I’d be interested in ETFs such as GlobalX, Ishares, ARK, Invesco, ALPS, Schwab, First Trust, VanEck to name a few.
    Also, CEFs from Nuveen, Pimco, Blackrock and Eaton Vance.
    I’d also like to know if stocks can be purchased from the OTCQX.
    Thank You

  4. Hi Richard, I’ve logged in to the M1 Finance site and am checking to find out if they offer the funds that you’re seeking. So far they do offer:

    Global X
    With over 6,000 offerings, I’d assume that they also offer Nuveen, Pimco, Blackrock and Eatn Vance funds.

    For information regarding over the counter, pink sheets or other OTCQX firms, I’d check with [email protected].

    If you’re interested in signing up or checking out the platform, here’s a link: https://www.roboadvisorpros.com/go/m1-finance/

    Please let me know what you decide and learn. Best regards, Barbara

    1. HI Merrill, Yes, you can set up an account for an LLC as well as an individual account.

      Here is the list of available accounts: Individual and joint taxable accounts; traditional, Roth and rollover IRAs; corporate, trust, LLC + partnership business accounts

  5. Hi Barbara, Please comment on M1 vs Personal Capital; Is either platform more secure and convenient for retirees’ asset decumulation?

    1. Hi D.I.,

      If you hire Personal Capital to manage your assets then your financial advisor will help with asset decumulation.
      M1 doesn’t offer financial advisors, so you will be on your own to handle asset decumulation. Or, with M1, you could hire an hourly financial advisor to guide you.

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