M1 Finance is an all-in-one financial app that allows users to invest, borrow, and spend — all in a single app. Think of it as a central hub for an investment platform, personal lender, and checking account.
M1 Finance is based out of Chicago and was founded in 2015. Since then, it’s grown to more than half a million users and over $2 billion in assets managed.
In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about M1 Finance, including what exactly it is, how to use it, and the financial services that it provides.
Let’s kick it off with a look at the different products that M1 has to offer.
M1 Finance: Meet the Team Behind The FinTech
Our mission at BankBonus is to help you find the best bank for your needs, and we think meeting the people behind the tech can help. Listen to the interview now!
Interview with Bob Armour
In this episode, Grant Sabatier chats with Bob Armour, the Chief Marketing Officer at M1 Finance.
Hear how the platform uses technology and automation to drive costs down across their suite of tools in this ‘finance super app’.
You’ll also hear how M1 Finance lets you borrow like the ultra-rich, invest like an expert whether you prefer a DIY or robo approach, and get insight into the platform’s features, pricing tiers, and future direction – including an upcoming product that rewards you for spending at the companies you’re invested in.
M1 Finance Products
It’s important to note that while M1 Finance offers several different products, each one is intended to work alongside the others.
This will make more sense once we dive into each component, but you should be thinking of M1 as a single platform with different aspects that complement each other to create a multi-layer financial experience.
With M1 Finance, everything starts with investing. The app’s roots are in the investment world, and its brokerage account is designed for self-directed stock market trading. There are no trading fees or account minimums after your initial deposit.
M1 Invest is based on three basic principles — customization, flexibility, and automation.
As an M1 investor, you’re in full control of how much to invest and the timeline for your goals, and you’ll have several investment types to choose from:
- Individual brokerage account
- Joint brokerage account
- Retirement accounts: traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP IRA
- Trust account
- Custodial account, for the benefit of a minor
What’s special about M1 Invest is its flexibility to serve both DIY investors and those who want a more hands-off, roboadvisor approach.
To that end, your portfolio is considered “The Pie” at M1 Invest, and you can choose a custom pie – where you invest in a custom portfolio of individual stocks or ETFs (or fractional shares of either) – or between any of the 80 pre-baked Expert Pies, which are curated mutual funds built by experts.
You can also opt to build your portfolio as a mix of both of these strategies, though there is a maximum of 100 “slices” per portfolio.
Regardless of which way you go, there are tools to help you build a solid, diversified strategy.
M1 Investment Management Options
When it comes to managing your investments, how you want to do it is up to you.
You can let a robo-advisor do the leg work with full automation, including dynamic rebalancing of your portfolio.
If the hands-off approach to an investment account isn’t for you, you can still make manual trades of your own.
M1 Invest Dashboard
As we mentioned earlier, the M1 Invest dashboard is known as The Pie. Through your custom Pie, you can choose from more than 6,000 stocks and funds to create your investment portfolio.
If you need a little help, there plenty of “pre-baked” expert pies to choose from — each expert portfolio will follow a different strategy, factoring in different goals and levels of risk tolerance.
You can easily move money into your M1 Invest account through a fee-free ACH transfer, and there are no monthly service fees or advisory fees.
M1 Borrow is a flexible, low-interest line of credit that allows you to borrow against the funds in your own investment account. Here’s how it works:
How M1 Borrow Works
If you need some extra cash, whether it’s to pay down a loan or cover a big expense, the last thing you want to do is pull funds out of your investment account.
With M1 Borrow, you can borrow up to 35% of the balance of your portfolio, with an interest rate of 2% or 3.5% (with the lower rate reserved for Plus members).
You’ll need a minimum balance of $5,000 to qualify, and no application is necessary — you can access your funds in as little as three clicks in the app.
When it comes to paying it back, there’s no required payment schedule. You can set your own automated payment plan or use M1 Smart Transfers to pay down your principal.
There are no management fees associated with M1 Borrow.
M1 Spend is a digital cash management account that aims to work seamlessly alongside the investing platform.
The account has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, and you can easily move funds between your Invest and Borrow accounts.
M1 Spend comes with a Visa debit card, and you’ll be reimbursed for one ATM fee per month.
The account is FDIC-insured, so you can feel secure that your balance is protected.
M1 Plus is the premium version of M1 Finance. It costs $125 annually, but the good news is that the fee is waived for your first year.
Plus, the added benefits that come along with the upgrade are tough to ignore.
Perks of M1 Plus
- Five different debit card designs
- Four ATM reimbursements per month
- Free international transactions
- 1% cashback on debit card purchases
- 1% annual percentage yield (APY) with no minimum balance to earn interest
- 2% interest rate on Borrow loans
- Automated “Smart” transfers
- Option for custodial accounts
- Two trading windows — one in the morning and one in the afternoon
Is M1 Plus Worth The Cost?
There’s a lot to unpack here, but let’s focus on the main question — is M1 Plus worth the added cost?
Of course, the answer depends on how you plan to use your M1 Finance account, so let’s do some quick math.
Say you spend $1,000 per month and carry an average monthly balance of $5,000. With 1% cash back and a 1% APY, you can expect to earn a net return of $170. When you factor in the 2% rate on a line of credit (rather than the standard 3.5%), the value goes even higher.
Crunching the numbers like this is important in determining the best account type for you. There’s plenty of room for M1 Plus to pay off, but if you end up paying even a portion of the monthly fee, it might be best to stick with an M1 Spend account.
M1 Finance Features
Here are the top features you will see with an M1 Finance account:
M1 Finance is mobile-driven, so you’ll have full access to each aspect of the platform through its mobile app.
You can easily customize your accounts and move money between each one. You’ll also be able to take advantage of plenty of useful financial tools to help you along the way.
The app is available on both iOS and Android and performs extremely well either way. It currently has a rating of 4.6 stars (out of 5) in the App Store and 4.4 stars (out of 5) in the Google Play Store.
M1 Finance doesn’t have any of its own ATMs, so you’ll need to rely on other providers when you need to grab some cash.
Fortunately, both M1 account options come with reimbursements for fees. You’ll get one per month with M1 Spend and four per month with M1 Plus.
Smart Transfers are only available with M1 Plus and allow you to automate the balances between your accounts.
You can dictate the allocation of your total balance by setting up “overbalance” or “underbalance” Smart Transfers.
An overbalance transfer is when you set a maximum cash balance for your Spend account, M1 will transfer the excess funds to your Invest account.
On the other side, an underbalance transfer kicks in and automatically rebalances your Spend account if it gets too low.
You can also use Smart Transfers as part of your investment strategy and pull excess funds automatically once you hit a certain threshold.
Overall, M1 Finance is a low-cost platform considering that it plays the role of both general investing and bank account.
That said, there are still some costs to be aware of. Take a look at some common fees that could show up.
We’ve already run through a brief cost analysis of M1 Plus, which comes with a $125 annual fee. This is the only account fee that M1 charges and all of its other products are available for free.
You’ll get one or four ATM reimbursements depending on your membership level, but after that, you’re on your own.
M1 doesn’t charge any additional fees of its own for ATM use, but you’ll be subject to whatever is charged by the ATM itself.
International Transaction Fees
You won’t have to worry about international fees if you have an M1 Plus account, but if you have M1 Spend, there’s a fee of 0.5% to 1% for each transaction abroad.
IRA Termination Fee
If you have to terminate your M1 IRA prior to maturity, you’ll get hit with a $100 fee.
IRAs should always be thought of as a long-term option, so be sure to stick to responsible investing strategies prior to opening your account.
Wire Transfer Fees
M1 Finance only supports domestic wire transfers, which come with a $25 fee. A better alternative is an ACH transfer, which M! supports fee-free.
M1 Finance accounts are open to US citizens and permanent residents over the age of 18. You’ll need a current US residential address and a phone number to apply.
The first account that you’re required to open with M1 is an Individual Taxable account.
To get started, just submit an application online at M1Finance.com, and you should hear back within one business day on whether or not you were approved.
Unfortunately, there are currently no active M1 Finance promotions. Check out these bonus offers instead:
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|U.S. Bank U.S. Bank Smartly™ Checking||$300||December 19, 2022||
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M1 Finance takes the security of both your data and your money seriously.
To keep your sensitive information safe, M1 never stores data or bank credentials on any device and utilizes military-grade 4096-bit encryption.
On the insurance end, M1 is a member of Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which insures investments up to $500,000.
M1 cash accounts are protected by the FDIC, which insures funds up to $250,000.
M1 Finance Customer Service
When you need a quick answer, M1’s website is full of helpful FAQs and account information to help you find it.
You can also use Instant Help, a virtual assistant that should point you in the right direction.
If you need to speak to someone, you can contact customer support through email or over the phone (312-600-2883).
M1’s customer service team is available by phone Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm Eastern Time.
They also genuinely want to hear feedback, and regularly update their platform to align with concerns raised by their customers.
It’s part of the reason M1 gives the first year of Plus to you for free – so that you can try it risk-free, and if it’s not working out or not valuable enough, you’ll share that feedback (even if it’s just in the form of a non-renewal) and the team can continue trying to better the product.
Pros & Cons
- Free, customizable trading platform
- High APY
- Low-interest loans
- Excellent mobile app
- High annual fee for M1 Plus
- Limited ATM coverage
- High threshold sign up bonuses
- No in-person support
Alternatives to M1 Finance
Since M1 Finance covers a few different areas, there are several different types of alternatives to look into.
If you’re mostly interested on the investing side, you could look into day trader apps like Robinhood or Webull, which both offer commission-free trading without the deposit account.
For other platforms that provide similar diversified services as M1, check out Betterment, Wealthfront, and SoFi.
Finally, if you’re really just looking for a bank account, take a look at digital banking options like Chime or Varo. Both provide high-yield checking and savings accounts along with other financial products.
Is M1 Finance legit?
Yes, M1 Finance is a legitimate financial institution. It’s regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and a member of the SIPC.
It also has FDIC coverage through its partner bank, Lincoln Savings Bank.
Is M1 Finance safe?
Yes, M1 Finance is a secure digital platform with all of the necessary insurance and protections in place. Investing always comes with some level of risk, but rest assured that you’ll be in good hands.
How does M1 Finance make money?
M1 provides the disclaimer that it earns almost all of its revenue on interest. It issues loans with deposited funds and also lends out securities. It also collects interchange fees from debit card use, interest on M1 Borrow loans, and M1 Plus membership fees.
Is M1 Finance Right For You?
As a one-stop-shop for investing, borrowing, and spending, M1 Finance is a modern financial platform that simplifies working toward your long and short-term personal finance goals.
At its best, M1 plays the role of a financial advisor, lender, and banker all at once. The accounts work together seamlessly, and you can watch your money grow with automated asset allocation, low-rate loans, and a high-yield bank account.
On the other hand, it’s unlikely that M1 Finance has quite enough functionality yet to be your only financial service provider, and those who prefer in-person support might feel like they’re missing something.
Even with its recent growth, M1 Finance is still a relatively new platform, but its features are undeniably exciting and well worth your consideration.
Now that you know all of the ins and out of what M1 Finance has to offer, you should be in a better position to make your next move.