Up until recently investing used to be a bit of a hassle, especially if you were just doing some small-time personal investing.
Even as companies started making it easier to trade using a web-based platform, it was still a headache to use because you had to know a lot about what you were doing, lest you waste a lot of time (and a lot of money!)
These days investing is a lot easier. Like really, A LOT easier than it used to be. Some of the best investing platforms today come in the form of smartphone apps. All it takes is a few taps and you can have a custom portfolio tailored perfectly to fit your financial needs.
The Covid-19 pandemic has got more and more people looking for ways to make extra money and/or looking for a more efficient way to save and invest their money. This has caused a huge uptick in the use of investing apps.
We figured now would be a good time to put out a definitive guide about the ins and outs of them and just what exactly the best investing apps are.
For starters, because it’s easy and convenient. On top of that, a lot of apps are now offering free trades.
You don’t have to pay commission or fees to a broker. You just link your payment details and get started right away.
The best investing apps make it easy for both new and experienced investors to find their place in today’s financial markets.
Absolutely! As long as you go with a trusted name by a company with a proven track record, you should be A-OK.
Because of the sensitive financial nature of investing using an app, there will be at least the same amount of security afforded with your online banking, but it will probably be much more beefed up.
Many of the apps that offer free trades will find some other way to make a generous profit.
Robinhood, for example, offers a $5 per month plan. They also lets you borrow money from them to invest (margin account) and you pay interest on the money you borrow from them.
It’s very common for other apps to follow similar practices.
The best investing apps for beginners
We have personally tested each of the apps below. At the time of writing this, all of the information about these apps is correct and all apps have been deemed safe. The list below is in an unbiased, non-specific order.
Acorns is one of the more unique investing apps on the market, so we want to get our review of them out of the way first.
Their app ties in to your bank or debit card and, as you make purchases throughout the day, rounds up your charge to the nearest dollar and deposits the spare change into your Acorns account.
They also have a feature where if you save yourself money throughout the day (ex: buying a medium coffee instead of a large) you can load that money into your Acorns account as well.
With this “found” and “spare” money loaded into your account, you are able to use it to start investing. You can link as many checking accounts, debit cards, and credit cards as you want.
Or, you can get your own Acorns checking account with a debit card and use their investing system that way. You can even get an IRA through them.
It’s free to sign up, there’s no minimum deposit amount required to get started. They do charge a monthly fee based on a percentage of your investments, it usually works out to be around $1-$3 per month. College students do not get charged the monthly fees.
If you want to start investing but the idea of having to do research on which stocks to buy makes you nervous, then M1 Finance may be the app for you. They have a robo advisor that, based on your personal preferences and goals, will do all of the heavy lifting for you.
For those that want a more hands-on approach, M1 is still a great choice for you. They offer fee-free and commission-free trading for anyone looking to start investing.
They even offer investment portfolio templates which makes achieving your financial goals available without the headache.
Now, they only let you invest in Stocks and ETFs with their app. So if you’re looking to invest in something like a mutual fund then you may want to look elsewhere.
Another wonderful option for both those who want a hands-off approach and beginners alike comes in the form of the Stash app.
Rather than buying individual stocks, Stash lets you choose from over 150+ themes or templates that let you invest in groups of companies to ensure a more balanced portfolio.
You may wish to invest in companies that take advantage of sustainable energy. You may wish to invest in companies that offer high short-term growth potential. Their portfolio themes will let you invest in just under 2,000 stocks and ETFs
Your stash account will cost either $1, $3, or $9 per month and you will need to configure some regular deposit schedule, even if it’s only $5 per week. You can even open up an IRA, or a custodial account for a minor.
SoFi Invest (formerly SoFi Wealth) is a commission-free app that lets you handle your own investments manually or take an automated approach.
In addition to fee-free trades, you also won’t have to worry about fees to withdraw your money, or inactivity fees. This makes them stand out to us because even though some of the other best investing apps are fee free, they still charge to withdraw your money.
SoFi is only open to U.S residents to trade in U.S. currency and to help ensure users follow this practice, you can’t simply link a credit or debit card and get going.
You will need to directly link your bank account to get started. It’s a safe process and it’s not that much of a hassle when you consider that you’re truly getting a fee-free investing experience.
Oh yeah, did we mention that you can also invest in cryptocurrency with this app?
Formerly known as Matador, Public.com is now offering commission-free trades in order to keep up with the rest of the bunch.
One of our favorite features about the app is their take on social media. As you connect to the app, you can mingle with other like-minded investors while you decide which of their 5,000+ securities to invest in.
And, like some of the other apps on our list, they also offer portfolio themes or templates. So if you decide you want to invest only in women-owned companies, they’ve got a theme for that.
Want to invest in companies that are environmentally friendly? They’ve got a theme for that too!
Experienced investors may not consider Public.com their first choice, but the lack of international stocks or cryptocurrency trading probably won’t matter much to most investors out there, especially those that are new to the scene.
You will get much more than just an app used to invest when you download and set up Personal Capital. Their platform acts as your own financial planner, accountant, and investment advisor all in one tightly wrapped package.
Personal Capital will link to all of your financial accounts -- checking and savings accounts, credit cards, etc… -- and helps you to better organize, track, budget, and invest. They have pretty helpful notifications for things like overspending and upcoming bills.
The investing side of them is fairly automated. Their network of expert investors have put together various portfolios of pre-selected stocks so you can safely invest your money without obsessing over whether or not you’ve picked the right companies to invest in.
The only catch is that you need $100,000 or more to use their service. You don’t need to actually deposit that much into your investment account with them, that’s just how much you need in the accounts that you link to their asset management app to get started.
So, the point of our guide here is to teach you about the best investing apps, not just the best stock-trading apps. Fundrise is one of our favorite alternative investing apps.
For those that are looking to get started investing in real estate but don’t have the startup funds or credit history needed to go out and buy property, Fundrise will be a good choice for you.
Open to anyone with as little as $500 bucks to get started, Fundrise is open to the general public (as opposed to other real estate investing programs that are private).
Users’ money is pooled together to form a crowdfunded real-estate investment platform. Since its inception, many users have reported annual growth of anywhere from 8%-12% or more.
This is a great choice for those that are looking to diversify their portfolio with something that’s not available on the stock market.
It’s also a great choice for those that don’t need the liquidity available from traditional stock-market investing as you can expect your funds to be tied up for at least five years.
They do have an early-exit fee should something come up and you need quick access to your original investment capital.
For those of you reading this that are accredited investors and are looking for something like Fundrise, but with a little more of a punch, EquityMultiple is probably right up your alley.
It follows the same idea as other crowdfunded real-estate investment platforms, but their high minimums and selective client base gives them the ability to potentially offer much higher returns.
If you’ve got at least $5,000 (although a minimum of $10,000 is recommended) ready to invest and you want to stake your piece of the commercial real estate market, then their doors are wide open to you.
Social media is abuzz with reports of users earning at least 10%-12% throughout the entirety of their investment terms with EquityMultiple.
While you can’t use Atom Finance directly to purchase stocks or invest, we wanted to include them in our list because of just how helpful they are.
Similar to how asset management apps link up to your spending accounts to track your incomes and expenditures, Atom Finance will link up with all of your investment and brokerage accounts to solidify everything in one easy-to-use application.
In addition to consolidating your investment accounts into one place, Atom Finance also has some state-of-the-art investing tools and research models available that many brokerage firms pay millions of dollars to have access to.
You can download their app and have this same access for free. They're a great choice for beginners and novice investors that are looking to take things to the next level.
Even though your 401K and IRA accounts are solely for retirement, they are fantastic vehicles for investments.
The Blooom app is great for those that are worried that they’re not properly managing their 401K or IRA retirement accounts, but also don’t want to pay exorbitant fees to financial firms to manage their accounts for them.
Blooom acts as a robo advisor to your retirement accounts, and a pretty good one at that. You can enjoy the same level of management as you would with a face-to-face advisor, all for a much lower cost.
We're talking $95 per year here.
If you’ve searched around for help managing your retirement accounts, then you know just how good of a deal it is to have fees that low from a service that has a proven track record of success.
This is probably one of the most popular investing apps on the market. In fact, over the years Robinhood has single-handedly changed the way the brokerage firms and investment services operate.
When they first hit the scene, they were the only service offering truly commission-free trades.
This not only helped them to stand out from the crowd, but it made other investing services fall in line and also offer fee-free trading.
These days Robinhood is not as unique as it once was, but it is still an amazing service and is especially forgiving to beginners looking to get started.
They also offer their own version of a checking/savings account hybrid (with a debit card) for anyone that wants to start investing and isn’t happy with their current bank account provider.
Robinhood is an industry pioneer and will always hold a special place in the hearts of early app-based investors.
Another option for those looking to diversify their investments outside of the stock market is to go with a peer-to-peer lending service like LendingClub.
Whenever someone needs a personal loan but is having trouble getting one from a bank, they can turn to a service like LendingClub.
Where does this money come from? Investors like you and I. By loaning out money on LendingClub you are able to profit from the interest rates from borrowers’ repayments.
Because these borrowers may not have the best credit, the interest rates are higher than a traditional personal loan.
These higher interest rates can make a great investment for those looking to try something different. Because these are at-risk borrowers, there is always a chance they may default on the loan.
However, there is no such thing as a high-reward zero-risk investment.
This app allows users to save and invest their money in smaller increments, and makes it extremely simple to get started on your financial goals.
Users link their debit cards within the app, and Vimvest will automatically round up your purchases to the next dollar, and automatically transfer the remaining amount into your account for you.
Vimvest is a micro investing app that is perfect for investing extra cash into stocks, making the process of investing simple and quick. If you are only looking to save money, this app is great and displays your savings through a goal-based marketplace, so you can save for anything you need.
For those who are looking into starting investing, Vimvest is also perfect for this, allowing users to seamlessly invest in longer-term goals like retirement or your child’s education.
There is also an option to donate those extra cents to your favorite charities as well!
With Vimvest there are no management fees if your account is under $100K, and only rise to 0.25% when you bypass that amount.
There is also no minimum account balance required, making it a great option for those looking to start the process of saving, investing, or donating.
One of the best apps on our list for gifting stocks is Stockpile. Their basic trading fese are only $0.99, making it one of the cheapest, if not the cheapest, in the brokerage industry (aside from the fee-free trading options out there).
It's a great way to get younger people interested in investing in stock, with the ability to purchase fractional shares of stocks through gift cards. You simply purchase a Stockpile gift card that can be used to buy either stocks or exchanged traded funds, or both!
Stockpile strategy is very similar to purchasing a savings bond, except with this app you have the ability to purchase stock in specific companies that you are interested in.
To set out and purchase a single stock today is very difficult, which is where users love the simplicity and ease of using Stockpile.
Accounts can be opened for anyone over the age of 18 that is a US citizen, and it will only cost you $2.99 for your first stock, and from then on $0.99 for each additional stock.
If you are not looking to purchase an entire share of a stock, then Stockpile’s system of purchasing a fractional share may be the route you have been waiting for.
Investr is great for those that aren’t quite sure how to go about getting started, or for those who aren’t quite ready to start investing with real, tangible currency.
For investing with real-world money, you can get started for as little as $1. How can you get started with such a small amount even though many stocks out there cost much more?
Well, Investr utilizes fractional investing which lets you buy pieces of stock, rather than the whole entire share.
For users looking to test the waters, you can get a fantasy investing account that gives you $1 Million in fake capital to play with and test out on various investing strategies before you dive in and use your real money.
Pros and cons of investing apps
When it comes to the world of investing, there are always risks, limitations, and restrictions. Despite all of this, investing properly is one of the best things you can do for yourself in order to secure a better future financially.
Investing apps are great because many of them offer fee-free trading. Rather than going with a brokerage that charges you every single time you buy and sell a stock, you can do it for free.
Investing apps also usually have low minimums, sometimes as low as $1. And finally, they’re usually super easy to use.
Downsides to investing apps can include the fact that you don’t have access to invest in as many assets as going with a brokerage and the fact that the apps aren’t exactly great for large-scale 6+ figure growth.
Finally, some investments require a lot of capital to truly realize their potential. Investing apps make it easy to “invest too little.”
Having said all of that, our final verdict on investing apps is that everyone should be using at least one of them.
Whether you do it for fun with some spare change, or you use one to manage your own retirement account and plan for the future.
There’s an investment app out there for everyone, regardless of your short-term and long-term goals.