The Motley Fool vs Morningstar: Which Investment Advice Site Is Best For Your Goals?

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Two computer screens side by side with investing websites on screens (caption: The Motley Fool vs Morningstar)The Motley Fool and Morningstar are both widely respected online resources for all sorts of investment research and advice. While they both offer some free content, you’ll likely want to sign up for a subscription to get the most out of what each has to offer — especially if you’re a serious investor.

But which service is the best for your specific investment goals? And in the battle between The Motley Fool and Morningstar, which comes out on top?

Reliability & Reputation

Both The Motley Fool and Morningstar have built solid reputations over the last few decades. Morningstar, founded in 1984, started by analyzing mutual funds but now offers a wide variety of investment research and advice. The Motley Fool launched a decade later and quickly became a major player in the investment analysis industry.

While The Motley Fool tips the scale on individual stock analysis and advice, Morningstar’s mutual fund and exchange-traded fund (ETF) data is arguably stronger than its competitors. But both offer a sound analysis of stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, etc., and both have good track records of outperforming the markets. So, based on their long-standing reputations and reliability, this category is a draw.

The Motley Fool and Morningstar logos

Reliability & Reputation Winner:
Tie (The Motley Fool & Morningstar)

Features

Both companies offer a wide variety of features, including the latest investing news, analyst reports, real-time market data, top investment picks and a portfolio manager. It isn’t easy to choose a winner in this category because each has definite strengths, depending on what you’re looking for. Here are some of each company’s standout features.

Morningstar

You’ll have to sign up for Morningstar’s premium service to get all of its robust features. Here are some of their most popular features.

Morningstar Screenshot

  • Mutual and exchange-traded fund (ETF) reports that are widely used by investors to determine the investment quality of 2,000+ funds.
  • Rating method – Morningstar has a proprietary grading system (rated from 1 to 5 stars) for mutual funds and stocks that are based on their performance over time.
  • Stock and mutual fund screeners – tools that allow investors to select stocks and mutual funds based on different criteria, e.g., performance, star ratings, etc.
  • Portfolio X-Ray – looks at your investments to show you how your asset allocation is performing to make sure you’re properly diversified.
  • Valuation – Morningstar uses a propriety model to value companies using a discounted cash flow (DCF) model that’s not publicly disclosed. DCF models estimate the value of an investment today based on projections of how much money it will generate in the future.

The Motley Fool

The Motley Fool offers 20+ different subscription services that involve everything from retirement guidance to investing in high-growth stocks or international markets. Each service is tailored to specific goals you want to achieve through investing. Their most popular service, by far, is The Stock Advisor.

The Motley Fool Homepage

Here are some of its features:

  • Two new stock picks per month.
  • Weekly advice about the best 10 timely buys for hot-stock commodities.
  • Starter stock recommendations for newbies.
  • 4-8 email newsletters per month with new recommendations, the latest stock news and their expert analysis.
  • Favorites and Scorecard features, so you can keep track of stocks you’re keeping an eye on.
  • Detailed tables, charts and reports on the latest stock trends, specific industries to focus on, company information and more.
  • Highly active discussion boards, which include novice and seasoned investors who share a wide variety of advice.

Features Winner:
Tie (The Motley Fool & Morningstar)

Ease Of Use

If you’re new to investing, The Motley Fool is more straightforward to use than Morningstar. And many of The Fool’s articles infuse a bit of humor into an otherwise dry subject. Morningstar is data-heavy, and much of its information is geared toward experienced investors. Still, their website is clean and polished, with information presented in easy-to-digest graphics.

The difference between the two comes down to the reliable performance of their sites and the various tools they offer. We found a few complaints that Morningstar’s interface is prone to glitches and/or missing data, while The Motley Fool’s site and tools appear to be more reliable.The Motley Fool logo

Ease Of Use Winner: The Motley Fool

Customer Service

You can contact both companies’ member services departments during normal work hours, Monday through Friday. They offer phone and email support. But the quality of service differs significantly if you run into technical problems with their sites.

The Motley Fool generally gets good reviews for helpful and knowledgeable support representatives. Not so with Morningstar. We found several user complaints that Morningstar’s customer reps are slow to respond and have trouble resolving technical problems. The biggest complaint? It’s challenging to contact anyone at Morningstar to cancel once your free trial ends.The Motley Fool logo

Customer Service Winner: The Motley Fool

Value

While both sites offer some free content, The Motley Fool gives you much more for free — trending news, investing articles, a stock tracker, online communities, assistance finding a broker, retirement resources, podcasts and more.

The Fool’s most popular subscription, Stock Advisor, is $99 per year (there’s no month-to-month option). Rule Your Retirement is $149 per year, and Rule Breakers is $299 per year. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee with all of their subscription options.

Morningstar’s premium subscription will run you $29.95 per month or $199 per year, and you can save if you sign up for 2 or 3 years at a time. They don’t have a money-back guarantee, but they do offer a 14-day free trial. However, you have to cancel your trial before they start charging you. And many users say it’s nearly impossible to reach anyone to cancel.The Motley Fool logo

Value Winner: The Motley Fool

What’s The Verdict?

If you have to choose just one, we think The Motley Fool is a better overall value for the wealth of advice, analysis, investment tools and the many other features they offer. Learn more in our in-depth Motley Fool review. However, if you’re mainly interested in mutual funds and ETFs, then Morningstar is probably the way to go. But heck, if you can afford both, go for it. They’re both worth it and complement each other well in our opinion.The Motley Fool logo

Overall Winner: The Motley Fool

While The Motley Fool and Morningstar are certainly worth the investment, you may want to see some of your other options. Check out our reviews of the best investment advice websites, which compare the top players and also give you some recommendations on where to get the best investment news online.

Do you think online investing advice is worth paying for?

About The Author:

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance.

Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions.

Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.

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