M1 Finance is one of the best investment platforms out there. With M1 Finance, you can trade stocks, bonds, and ETFs commission-free. Plus, you can access lines of credit, and even open an M1 Spend checking account. Looking at the breakdown of fees and services, if you don’t already have an M1 Finance account, you should strongly consider getting one.But if M1 Finance is so great, why should you pay for its premium service, M1 Plus?
In short, for a lot of investors, M1 Plus allows you to access more features at a cheaper cost. To determine whether you are one of these investors who can benefit from M1 Plus, let’s compare its cost to how much extra you are likely to gain from the upgraded subscription.
What is the Cost of M1 Plus?
M1 Plus costs less than you think. Priced at only $125 annually, that works out to $10.41 monthly, about the same price as a couple cups of coffee.
Right now, M1 Plus is free for the first year, so initially you will pay nothing to access the upgraded services. You can sign up for the M1 Finance basic or M1 Plus premium accounts here.
Upgraded Services Offered by M1 Plus
The perks of M1 Plus give investors significantly more control over their trading experience. These are the services you will get with M1 Finance Plus:
Extended Trading Window
As an M1 Plus member, you will get exclusive access to M1 Finance’s afternoon trading window, which begins at 3pm ET. Having access to the afternoon trading window is advantageous for two reasons. First it allows you to make last minute moves before the market closes.
Second, if you live in the western time zones, it gives you more time in your usable day to make trades. Unless, that is, you like getting up at 6:30 in the morning to start trading.
Smart Transfers are an exclusive feature of the M1 Plus service with an M1 Spend account. Smart Transfers helps you transfer money between accounts automatically, according to the rules you set.
You can set a rule, for example, to automatically refill your M1 Spend checking account if it falls below a pre-determined balance. Or you can set a maximum amount in your Spend account that automatically transfers the excess to your investment account. Or you can set a maximum for your investment account, so that any excess will be transferred to any other account you designate.
This is a nice feature because it allows you to maintain the desired balances in your accounts without watching them all the time.
Get a free year of M1 Plus!
Both new and existing members can get their first year of M1 Plus free. Most services offer 30-day free trials, but you can try M1 Plus for an entire year!
Lower Interest Rates with M1 Borrow
M1 Borrow is the platform’s margin loan program. You can access this with either a regular M1 Finance or M1 Plus account, but the difference is, with M1 Finance, you will pay a 3.5% interest rate. M1 Plus shaves 1.5% off that for an interest rate of only 2%. That’s competitive for a service that only costs $125 per year.
Margin loans aren’t for everyone, but they are important for advanced options traders. After your account reaches $5000, you can borrow up to 35% of your portfolio value.
You don’t have to use this loan for margin trading, either. You can use the proceeds for anything you want, including having them deposited directly into your checking account. This allows you to borrow against your portfolio without loan application fees and credit checks.
Interest rates are linked to the Federal Funds Rate. The basic rates offered by M1 Plus may change according to the FFR, but with M1 Plus, you will always have an advantage of 1.5% over a regular M1 Finance account.
M1 Spend Checking Account
As with Smart Transfers, you will have access to an M1 Spend checking account whether you stick with the basic M1 Finance account or subscribe to M1 Plus. The difference is in the fees you will get back.
M1 Spend is a good deal for a checking account. The current APY you will earn is 1% annually, which is competitive. You’ll also get 1% back on purchases. This account can easily be linked to your M1 Finance investment accounts for M1 Smart Transfers.
With an M1 Plus account, you will pay 0% in international fees, a big advantage over a basic M1 Finance account, where you will pay 0.8-1% for international transactions. You will also get four monthly ATM fee reimbursements, as opposed to one with M1 Finance. This can easily save you an additional $10 monthly.
The Bottom Line of M1 Finance Vs M1 Plus
Ordinarily, I would recommend that beginning investors stick with a basic M1 Finance account using into one of M1’s pre-built pies. This would give you a great investment experience without paying the $125 yearly for the premium M1 Plus.
With the free first year currently being offered by M1 Plus, I would say it is worth it to anyone to go ahead and opt for the upgrade right away.
Make a note on your calendar for eleven months from now. Then calculate the savings you have achieved by using M1 Plus for free. Compare that against the $125 annual cost you will soon have to pay after your free service expires. If the former exceeds the latter, you should keep the service. If not, consider canceling.
If it turns out not to be for you, canceling M1 Plus is easy. You can disable it any time during the yearlong trial period in your account settings.
You sign up here to set up your M1 Finance account, as well as take advantage of the free one-year upgrade to M1 Finance Plus.