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It’s a great time to be a trader and investor. Fintech just keeps getting better, and now it’s never been easier to trade and invest in stocks.
There are tons of different trading platforms available to choose from nowadays.
Robinhood, Webull, and M1 Finance are some of the most popular newcomers. They’ve disrupted the brokerage world by introducing commission-free trading.
Many brokers are now offering commission-free stock trading, including Schwab, Fidelity, and E-Trade. However, not many offer free options trading, but Webull and Robinhood do.
With the stock-trading apps listed in this article, you won’t have to worry about commissions eating up your profits. You’ll also get some excellent features that’ll help you trade and invest with confidence.
Many people without a lot of capital are turned off by trading due to commissions.
Since these brokers have introduced free trading, the folks with low funds have started investing.
Along with beginner investors, seasoned traders have started to take advantage of these brokers as well.
Not having to pay commissions while still getting great tools and support seems too good to be true. But that’s not the case anymore; these brokerages are the real deal. They are all members of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SPIC).
This means your investments have a $500,000 guarantee and cash has a guarantee of up to $250,000.
Worrying about the security and viability of a brokerage will get in the way of your trading. Robinhood, Webull, and M1 Finance are entirely legitimate and commission-free, allowing you to stay focused on your investments.
I’ve been using these brokerages since their inception and have learned what I like about them, and what I don’t. In this article, you’ll find a comprehensive overview of each one.
Founded in 2013, Robinhood has led the way in commission-free stock trading. This brokerage is the most popular one of the three and has been around a few years longer.
The app is simple, straightforward, and very user-friendly. It’s sleek, smart design, and ease of use make it a solid choice.
- Beginner friendly and very easy to use
- Free options trading (best for mobile options trading)
- The design of the platform is smooth and simple
- Cryptocurrency trading (kind of)
- Conveniently displays your profit and losses through different time frames (not always accurate)
- Advanced orders including trailing stop loss
- Fractional Shares
- Inexpensive margin and easy approval
- Dividend Reinvestment (DRIP) automatically reinvests cash dividend payments into additional shares of the underlying stock or fund.
- Customer support is through e-mail only and isn’t the greatest (although it’s starting to improve)
- Only offers individual taxable accounts, no IRA, Mutual funds, etc
- Limited technical analysis features, and very basic charts
- The website interface leaves more to be desired
- Little to no research tools (unless you pay for gold)
- Robinhood funds the free trades by selling its order flow. This can cause you to pay a couple more pennies per trade and not get the greatest order fills
- Limited premarket and after-hours trading
- Mediocre investment options (No LPs, MLPs, CEFs, OTC)
Robinhood is available on mobile devices and through its website. The website is okay, but like most, I prefer the app.
You can use margin for $5 a month plus interest through a service called Robinhood Gold. You get research reports through Morningstar and gain bigger instant deposits as well.
Robinhood includes level II market data with every Gold subscription. This makes the gold subscription worth it depending on your trading style.
Without gold, you still get some basic features like news and stock information. The standard amount for instant deposits is $1,000; this allows you to start trading sooner. Deposits more than $1,000 will take around five business days to fully process. This is pretty common for most brokerages.
Robinhood also offers a mail newsletter called “Robinhood Snacks.” It’s marketed as a “3-minute daily newsletter with fresh takes on the financial news you need to start your day.” They also have a podcast. It’s kind of cringy.
The broker has recently introduced a new cash management feature. It allows users to earn .30% interest on cash that isn’t invested. The interest rate can fluctuate, but there are no transaction fees or account minimums.
The account includes a Mastercard debit card with access to 75,000 ATMS and is FDIC insured. The move should help users gain more trust with Robinhood if they choose to keep their savings with the broker.
Robinhood Final Thoughts
Robinhood has its simplicity going for them. Even for more advanced traders, it’s nice just to pick up your phone and make a trade with ease.
They offer options and crypto trading, which is rare to find with a commission-free broker. But If you’re serious about trading crypto, I wouldn’t suggest Robinhood.
They don’t have a wallet; instead, you are trading crypto contracts and not actual coins. They are working on creating an actual wallet for cryptocurrency. But for now, I suggest using Coinbase or Binance.
Robinhood has a massive following due to its simplicity and gorgeous mobile interface. It’s still one of the best platforms for free options trading, although some have complained about order execution.
The customer service with Robinhood has some room for improvement, but they’re working on it. (Luckily, I haven’t had any issues with them).
If you need precise order fills for day trading, look elsewhere. But for casual investors and traders, Robinhood is a great choice.
Sometimes simple is better.
Webull was introduced in 2018 and has had a very impressive start. It’s packed with a vast assortment of tools and features.
Webull is probably a better choice for more advanced traders and investors.
However, it still has many benefits for beginners as well, like a trading simulator, so you can learn without risking your own capital.
The platform itself takes a bit longer to learn then Robinhood. But it becomes a breeze to use once you get the hang of things. Webull is continuously improving and seem to truly care about their users.
Here is what CEO Anthony Denier stated in a press release about the app.
“Webull believes that everyone should have an equal opportunity to control their own financial future. This is why we have created a professional-level informational and trading platform that previously was only available to professionals or the super-wealthy. Webull strives to keep its vast depth of news, real-time market data, analysis tools, and trading commissions completely free. We pride ourselves on continually improving our platform and bringing exciting and useful tools to help everyone make smarter financial decisions.”
- Investment research and analysis tools
- Technical indicators and alerts
- Ability to short stocks
- Free options trading
- Stock screeners
- IRA accounts available
- Paper trading
- Crypto trading
- Advanced order types
- Comprehensive mobile and desktop platform
- Not as beginner-friendly
- Options trading is not as refined and simple
- No fractional share purchases
- No cash management to earn interest on uninvested funds
- Can feel a bit bloated compared to Robinhood
- Instant deposits are limited
- Your order flow is sold, resulting in subpar executions compared to paid brokers like IB Pro
- Chinese-owned. Their customer service is in the US and they’re still compliant with SPIC and SEC regulations.
Webull has an impressive set of tools and features that you usually wouldn’t find with a commission-free brokerage. They have a full-featured desktop app and mobile app.
You can create multiple watchlists and have the ability to short sell stocks. They offer fully extended after-hours and pre-market trading.
Their margin trading allows up to 4 times buying power. The platform shows the outflow and inflow volume for stocks, which is an underrated feature you won’t find with Robinhood.
Webull has introduced a community chat so you can discuss different stocks and securities with traders on the app.
They have something called “Webull Points” that allow you to earn points for contributing to the “Webull Community.” This can range from commenting, writing posts, making correct stock predictions, and more.
They often have giveaways, competitions, and offer great incentives for referrals. For advanced quotes, you can subscribe to National Best Bid and Offer (NBBO) for $9.99 a month or Nasdaq Basic for $2.99 a month.
Webull Final Thoughts
Webull is nothing short of amazing. It has a much more professional feel than Robinhood. They have decent customer service, along with fantastic research and trading tools.
Webull now has options trading available for eligible accounts. They may introduce crypto trading in the future.
Many traders are excited that they offer free options trading. However, most still prefer Robinhood for casually trading options, but that can change.
Webull has executed the stock trading platform so well that options trading is sure to be a big hit.
Webull is an excellent choice if you are looking for more features and don’t mind taking a little more time to get used to the platform. If you are a more serious trader, it could be a better choice than Robinhood.
Having the ability to short sell stocks and place advanced limit orders is a big deal. You also get easy access to technical and fundamental data points.
Even if you don’t use the app for trading, it can be used for research, making watchlists, and more.
M1 Finance was founded in 2015 and is a different breed compared to Webull and Robinhood. The platform is meant for long-term investing and is not designed for day trading.
They are the preferred investing brokerage by many investors, including myself, and especially dividend investors.
If you love passive investing, creating portfolios, compounding dividends, and automation, you will love M1.
- Automatic investing
- Offers both IRA and individual trading accounts
- Complete customization of portfolios
- You can purchase fractions of shares
- Rebalance with one click
- Best platform for passive investing
- Automatically reinvests dividends
- Great customer service
- Creative and clever design
- All-in-one banking/investing
- No tax-loss harvesting feature
- No Mutual Funds
- Can only trade once per day (unless you sign up for plus)
- May take some time to learn for beginners
- $100 account min
- One trading time per day unless you pay for M1 Plus
- Not for day trading
How M1 Finance works is nothing like your typical trading platform. You create a portfolio called a pie, by selecting the stocks and ETF’s you want and the percentage you want to own.
The possibilities are endless. You get the freedom to choose each and every stock and set the exact percentage you want to own.
It’s a genius design that makes creating a balanced portfolio easy and fun.
Once your cash balance is $25 or more (you can set it at a higher amount if you want), the platform will automatically purchase the stocks in your portfolio.
You can manually purchase stocks if you want as well. Rebalancing your portfolio is as easy as pushing a button. It will automatically buy and sell over/underweight positions to match your defined targets.
M1 now offers a premium version of its platform called M1 plus. For $125 a year, you get access to their high-interest checking account, a 2nd trading window, and a discount on margin fees.
M1 is not just for investing; they also offer advantages with their banking products through M1 Plus.
They have introduced a checking account with 1% APY and a debit card that earns 1% cashback. With M1 Borrow you can borrow up to 35% of your account balance at the fed rate + 2
M1 Finance Final Thoughts
This is an excellent brokerage for long-term investing. I pick my stocks, set up automatic withdrawals from my account, and let M1 do the rest for me.
It’s perfect for anyone that wants complete control over their investments and likes to set it and forget it. If you’re not sure what to invest in, they have expert portfolios, and free guidance to get you started.
You will be hard-pressed to find a commission-free brokerage that offers IRA accounts with the same excellent service and features as M1.
They have a terrific mobile app, but I prefer using their website. My experience with them has been nothing but great, and I strongly suggest you try them out. Read our more in-depth review for more.
M1 Finance is automated investing at its finest.
Which One Is Best Robinhood, Webull, or M1 Finance?
You should now know some of the key differences between these brokerages.
Each platform is great in its own way and some may be better for others depen
- Looking for simplicity and an easy-to-use trading platform? Then go with Robinhood.
- Want more advanced charts, indicators, and a robust desktop interface? Then go with Webull.
- If you’re looking to invest passively and not day trade, then go with M1 Finance.
Now that more of the bigger brokers have gone mostly commission-free, it will be interesting to see how Robinhood, Webull,
They’re still beating most when it comes to mobile trading and free commissions.
People now joke that brokers will start to pay investors for each trade. Wouldn’t that be nice?