While trading from an app has become easy, choosing the right stock broker hasn’t. Whether your priority is free trades, micro-savings, investor education, or advanced tools, we’ve got you covered.
Robinhood – Best Free Stock Trading App
Robinhood Mobile Trading App
Robinhood’s platform provides free stock trading and access to cryptocurrencies.
Robinhood launched in 2013, as a true pioneer of commission-free trading. That’s right — you can trade stocks on Robinhood without paying any fees at all.
The platform boasts over 10 million users and is valued at $7.6 billion. It’s known for a very simplified trading experience, without the hassle or the fees. Here are some Robinhood pros and cons:
Commission-free trades on stocks, options, and ETFs
No account minimum
Easy to use interface
Access to popular cryptocurrencies
Lack of investment types — no retirement accounts, mutual funds, or bonds
Limited customer support
on Robinhood’s website
To demonstrate how committed Robinhood is to its app, the company actually launched its stock trading app prior to its own website. In becoming one of the first platforms to offer commission-free trading, Robinhood has disrupted the trading industry since it entered the market.
Our hands-on review of Robinhood’s app shows how the platform offers more than just free stock trading, however. The app — available on both mobile and desktop — offers free ETF trades as well as options trading.
Robinhood received a lot of negative publicity given the stock market’s recent events involving GameStop stock. However, many other brokers also had to halt trading on select securities. In this sense, Robinhood wasn’t alone. Yet they immediately took action, by raising $3.4 billion to rectify the situation.
The scenario that we all experienced certainly wasn’t good. But we at least saw Robinhood taking the necessary steps to prevent such an occurrence from happening again in the future.
While Robinhood doesn’t offer as many investment types as some of the other apps on our list, it does offer cryptocurrencies. Investors can buy and sell seven major cryptocurrencies — including Bitcoin and Ethereum — and can track price movements of ten others.
Robinhood also facilitates fractional investing, meaning users can purchase a fraction of a share. This means that expensive stocks, such as amazon or apple, can be purchased proportionately.
In the case of a single stock trading at $325 for example, Robinhood investors can get a piece of the action with as little as $1. Yet beyond stock trading, we say Robinhood is the best investment app available.
The only other downfall with Robinhood is its limited customer support. There are no physical locations, and the primary form of ‘help’ is an automated chat bot. This became a big problem in March of 2020, when Robinhood suffered serious outages and is now facing a class-action lawsuit.
Still, Robinhood makes trading very easy. Its seamless sign-up process is loved by new investors who are eager to start trading on their own, without any hassle — or fees.
Investor Warning: Carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of any investment company before investing. All securities trading, whether in stocks, exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), options, or other investment vehicles, is speculative in nature and involves substantial risk of loss. Robinhood Financial encourages its customers to invest carefully and to use the information available at the websites of the SEC at http://www.sec.gov and FINRA at http://FINRA.org.
Acorns (“Invest Spare Change”): Best for Hands-Off Beginner Investors
Acorns is the right choice for rookie investors who want low stock trading fees.
Acorns is built for investors who don’t want to get too active and haven’t ever invested before. Together with round-up savings and robo-advisors, Acorns presents a very mobile-friendly option for investing your money into a nest egg that grows gradually.
Easy-to-use app with very little investment costs
$0 account minimum
Robo-advisor model made for beginners with no investment experience
Automatically invests spare change to grow your savings
Free management available for college students
Account fees ranging from $1 to $3 monthly
Small investment portfolio based on automated mutual funds
on Acorns’ website
If you want hassle-free savings that simply invests your change, then Acorns is the right tool for you. You can easily open an account using your bank account, and Acorns tracks your purchases, investing your spare change every day into a low-risk portfolio.
Acorns charges $1 month for taxable investment accounts and $2 a month to add an IRA. If you get an Acorns checking account or Acorns Spend account, you’ll be charged $3 a month, which also includes an investment and IRA account.
Acorns is a great tool for college students and those who don’t want to actively look at their portfolio and make trades. It’s also a good idea for those who like to save.
One thing to understand is that your accounts are taxable, so if you receive dividends from your portfolio, you could have to pay taxes on your earnings, which isn’t the case if you get a tax exempt investment account. However, the automated approach is quite easy for those who simply want to grow their spare change.
The app – called “Invest Spare Change” – is available on both Android and iOS.
Stash – Best for Learning How to Invest
Stash Invest application design and features
Stash facilitates value-based investing, where your investments and your beliefs join forces.
Stash is a great investing app for beginners. There is no account minimum, though monthly fees will range from $1 – $9 depending on the package you select. Here are the primary Stash pros and cons:
No account minimum
Fantastic automated guidance and educational offerings
Fractional shares, round-up investing, automated investing
Valued-based offerings for socially conscious investors
Lack of investment management and human guidance
No tax-loss harvesting
Fee ratio is relatively high when investing small amounts
on Stash’s website
The mission of Stash CEO Brandon Krieg was to build an educational investment app which made financial services accessible to all. No financial background or expertise was to be required.
We say they’ve done a pretty good job. Stash helps you understand what you’re investing in and how to implement various investing strategies.
The platform offers 60 different exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The service will prompt you to complete a questionnaire to get an idea of your “investment personality type”.
Based on your answers, it will then categorize you as a conservative, moderate, or aggressive investor. You’ll then be able to choose from a number of investments which correspond to your investment personality type.
Through Stash, you can also build a custom portfolio with value-based investment options. For example, if you value renewable energy, you can invest in companies that are leading the developments in that sector. For socially conscious investors, it’s a win-win. Learn more about this in our comprehensive Stash review.
Webull – Best Alternative to Robinhood
Webull offers an intuitive platform full of powerful research tools and easy-to-use, commission-free trading.
Webull’s many different research tools accessible through its stock trading app.
Webull’s stock app has powerful research tools—and zero commission fees.
Founded in 2016, Webull launched its app two years later—and it has since managed to acquire a 2-million-strong user base. With a focus on commission-free trading catered toward retail investors, Webull has seen a meteoric rise in popularity—and with good reason.
This SEC and FINRA registered brokerage is quickly making a name for itself in the commission-free trading arena, despite the fact that the competition had a huge head start.
Commission-free trades on stocks, options, and ETFs
No account minimum
Powerful charting tools
Average offering of investment options
Customer support could stand to improve
on Webull’s website
Webull’s app is available for both IOS and Android and it offers a great combination of intuitive design, strong research and analysis tools, and a wide range of order types. With a focus on commission-free trading and powerful charting tools, Webull has quite a lot to offer—no matter what type of investor you might be.
The brokerage offers investors the opportunity to trade stocks, options, and ETFs commission-free. While the lack of bonds, mutual funds, and cryptocurrency might be a dealbreaker for some, the tools that are at your disposal to trade the securities that you can are quite powerful.
Webull’s app is intuitive, well-designed, and easy to get used to. In no time, you’ll be able to make full use of the app’s powerful charting, sleek graphs, impressive technical and fundamental analysis tools, and wide variety of order types. The built-in stock screener is a very handy tool, and it’s quite easy to set up price and news alerts.
The app also features a wide range of real-time market data – though the news feed leaves something to be desired. On the other hand, the social newsfeed tool is a great way to keep up with current trends and what other traders are doing.
Webull also offers a paper trading account for those that want to try the app out before committing. Although the platform is lacking in educational resources, the fact that it is commission-free and offers competitive margin rates makes it an enticing choice for beginners as well as seasoned investors.
Webull’s customer support is quick to respond and is even available on weekends. However, the lack of a live chat option is a flaw that must be noted.
Customer support can be reached via the platform itself using the message center or through email and phone—although the customer service via email leaves something to be desired. Be that as it may, the answers that the customer support teams give are relevant and easy to understand—and we’re looking forward to seeing more improvements in this area.
Webull is a promising challenger in a space that is dominated by well-established names. We can’t go over everything that makes this brokerage interesting here – but if you’d like to learn more, we’ve prepared an in-depth overview in our review of Webull.
TD Ameritrade Mobile App (Thinkorswim) – Great Overall Stock Trading App
TD Ameritrade thinkorswim platform
TD Ameritrade aims to provide users with top-notch research tools and easy-to-use online trading platform.
Since eliminating commission fees on trades, the TD Ameritrade mobile app is hard to beat when it comes to stock trading apps and general stock brokerage features. With a variety of free education tools, options for active and passive traders, and a $0 account minimum, TD Ameritrade is winning over investors one free trade at a time.
Commission-free stock, ETFs, and options trades
Free research and analytics tools
High-quality trading platform for mobile
Great customer support
Access to most investment products
Pushes you to get a live stock broker for an additional cost
High short-term fees for ETF trades
High margin interest rates
on TD Ameritrade’s website
While TD Ameritrade mobile does not require a minimum investment to get started, it’s best known for being the first stock brokerage to eliminate all commission fees on stocks and ETF trades in October 2019.
After doing so, most of the other stock brokerages had to do the same, including E*Trade and Fidelity. TD Ameritrade has built its name on providing market research and analysis tools with lots of advanced investment options for active traders.
With so many mobile apps, you will have to download multiple apps to get the full benefits of being a TD client.
A full review of this stock broker reveals how there are several mobile apps to choose from, but the standard TD Ameritrade app offers you the ability to conduct research and set up alerts. The TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader app, on the other hand, is for those who want to leverage the powerful ‘thinkorswim’ platform. You can track and plan complex trades, and there’s a ton of functionality for iOS and Android users.
ETrade – Easiest Stock Broker App to Use for Trading ETrade app’s user interface design and options.
ETrade makes online investing super easy with an accessible and user-friendly trading platform ETrade was the first in the online investing platform market. With their roots in Silicon Valley and online exchange technology, the firm made a name for itself by offering online trading when there weren’t any other options.
Now, ETrade has a mobile trading app and leads the pack in terms of advanced features. Since removing commission fees for stock trades and ETF trades, ETrade is the easiest app to view your investments and seamlessly trade stocks on your phone.
Commission-free ETF and stock trades
Streaming strategy options chains is a great tool to make smart trades
For futures traders, ETrade provides a mobile futures ladder tool Assess your risk with performance tools that let you test your portfolio or just a single asset Cons Some features are not available in the regular mobile app, such as Power ETrade app which provides more research tools
Fees slightly higher with certain investment products, and you have to have a higher trading frequency to qualify for lower commissions
Higher margin rates
Does not integrate with your bank
on ETrade’s website ETrade has led the charge for faster, online trading tools with a host of educational features, too. The whole point is that it’s easier to use than traditional investment methods.
The truth is that E*Trade does have a pretty streamlined mobile app with most features available. Once logged in on your phone, you can access all of your investments or trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options. There are some more complex trade options if you are familiar with placing buy and sell orders yourself.
Most of E*Trade’s tools are easy to use, and you get high execution speeds for greater accuracy. However, price improvement statistics put them below the industry average.
In addition, there are some research tools not available on the regular ETrade mobile app, so you may have to download their “Power ETrade” app or the OptionsHouse app. ETrade has many pros and cons, though most agree that Power ETrade is one of the former. When it comes to cons, there is a lack of customization options on the mobile app, though you can set up your own dashboard on desktop.
You cannot access the forex or international exchanges either, but you can build bond ladders and look for debt issued by a different firm. Options trading is better on Power ETrade and ETrade Pro, and there are 4,500 no-fee mutual funds available and 12 ETFs you can trade through the app. Charts and educational tools can be analyzed using TradeLab, which is a visual tool that helps you analyze different stocks.