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Written by Cari Scribner on August 8, 2021
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When Does M1 Finance Buy Stocks?

M1 Finance is one of the most popular online investing platforms out there today.

M1 stands out in the crowded field for its portfolio options and account types, ease of use, and guidance for new investors.

To start, the app shows you how to build and manage an investment portfolio. You create your portfolio or choose from 80 pre-built options. Then, M1 utilizes its proprietary trading system to automate all of your trading activity. You'll never have to input or execute any trades manually.

Auto-invest is the most frequently used option by M1 users. With auto-invest on, any time your cash balance meets or exceeds $25, M1 will automatically invest into your portfolio. To select this option within the app, turn auto-invest on and set your minimum cash balance to $0.

M1’s target customers have longer-term goals for their investments. They can be saving up for their child’s education, for a down payment on a home, or even to build up a solid emergency fund. They may have had experience with using other traditional online brokerages to invest in stocks and ETFs.

M1 was made for these potential investors as a lower-cost alternative due to its no and low-cost options. They also allow investors to have a large amount of control over the contents of their portfolio.

What Is A Trade Window?

The trade window is the specific time each weekday when M1 makes all trades for user accounts. This is when buying and selling takes place.

M1's trade window helps keep its management fees low since M1 only trades one or two times per day during a morning and afternoon window.

Morning Trade Window

M1's morning trade window begins at 9:30 am EST every day the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) market is open and runs until all orders have been completed.

Every M1 Finance customer has access to the morning trade window.

Changes to your portfolio made before 9:30 am EST on days that the NYSE is open are generally executed that same day during M1's morning trade window. You will see updates in your accounts after the trade window has closed.

Afternoon Trade Window

This trade window, exclusively for M1 customers who are M1 Plus members, begins at 3 pm EST.

Customers with standard M1 Finance accounts will continue to trade only during the morning trade window at 9:30 am EST.

Benefits Of The Afternoon Trade Window

  • A second trade window can help you have more control over your investments by having another opportunity to make changes
  • Provides more time for customers in Western U.S.
  • Users can make a deposit and have it invested before the market closes
  • You can take action that aligns with your investing strategy when there is movement and you want to adjust your investments before the markets close that end of the day

M1 Finance Free Training

We put together a free 30 minute video training that walks you through the entire process, step by step. This training will help you get up and running in no time at all.

GET THE GUIDE

Who Can Use The M1 Afternoon Trade Window?

M1 Plus members with an account equity of $25,000 or more in their accounts can trade during both windows.

M1 Plus members with an account equity of less than $25,000 in their accounts can trade during either trade window.

Clients with standard M1 Finance accounts continue to trade only during the morning trade window at 9:30 am EST.

What Is An M1 Plus Account?

M1 Plus is the app’s premium level of membership. It carries a $125 annual fee, and offers the following:

  • 1% APY checking account: Earn 25x the national average APY for a checking account. That means you’ll earn the same in 2 weeks as you would in an entire year with a traditional bank
  • 1% cash back: Earn 1% cash back on qualifying debit card purchases
  • 2% loans through M1 Borrow: Get a reduction on the base rate of M1 Borrow, which is a line of credit
  • Smart Transfers: Set up a system of automated transfers and optimize your money across what you spend, invest and borrow with M1

How Does The Minimum Requirement of $25,000 Work?

The $25,000 rule is based on a per-account level, not how much you have in total invested on the M1 Platform.

For example:

You have 3 IRA investing accounts with M1. Below is your eligibility to trade in both the morning and afternoon trade windows.

Account Type Equity Trade Two Times Per Day Eligibility
Roth IRA $15,000 No
Individual $30,000 Yes
Traditional IRA $100,000 Yes

Even though two out of the three accounts are above the $25,000 limit, this customer still won’t be able to trade during both the morning and afternoon window with their Roth IRA.

Why Are These Restrictions In Place?

M1 included these restrictions so its customers do not inadvertently break pattern day trading rules.

Pattern day trading is a designation for traders or investors that execute four or more day trades over the span of five business days using a margin account. The number of day trades must be more than 6% of the margin account's total trade activity during that five-day window.

Any accounts engaging in pattern day trading activity must have a minimum equity total of $25,000.

A day trade is opened and closed on the same trading day. This means there is a purchase and sale of the same security on the same day, or sometimes several times on the same day.

While pattern day trading is not illegal, it is extremely risky.

One of the reasons for this is that it’s a margin account. This is basically borrowing money from the platform and adding it to your cash on hand to make trades. In other words, you are putting both your cash and borrowed money on the line. Sure, there’s a chance you will walk away with a tidy profit, but there is also a possibility you will lose it and end up with a loan to pay off.

Conclusion

M1 Finance has set up a smart system for giving all members ample time to make trades in the morning trade window.

If you open an M1 standard account, you will be able to use the morning trade window.

If you upgrade to an M1 Plus account, you have more flexibility with trading windows. However, you need to have a minimum of $25,000 in your portfolio to take advantage of both the morning and the afternoon trading windows.

M1 has taken care to put parameters on buying and selling activity to help investors avoid pattern day trading activity.

Flexibility is one of the key features of M1 that draws investors in!

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Article written by Cari Scribner
Cari Scribner is a career journalist with 20 year’s experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Now a freelance writer, she is also a published fiction writer with more than 15 short stories in literary mags. She recently completed a novel that is on the desk for consideration at two publishing houses. She lives with her two small dogs, Miloh and Lucy, in Upstate NY.

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