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It’s a great time to be a trader and investor. Fintech has been getting better and better making it easier than ever to trade and invest in stocks. There are tons of different trading platforms available to choose from nowadays. However, the majority of brokers still charge commissions and may not be as mobile-friendly. That’s all starting to change. With the stock-trading apps listed in this article, you won’t have to worry about commissions eating up your profits.
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 the savings as well. Gone are the days of paying $5, $10 or more for every single trade!
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. These brokers are completely legitimate and commission-free, allowing you to stay focused on your investments.
I’ve been using these brokerages since their inception and have learned all I can about them. In this review, you’ll find my choices for the best free trading and investing apps. I go over the pros and cons and include an in-depth review for each platform. There are also referral links for you to sign up and start investing.
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
- Options trading
- The design of the platform is smooth and simple
- Cryptocurrency trading
- Conveniently displays your profit and losses through different time frames
- Customer support is through e-mail only and isn’t very good (although it’s starting to improve)
- Only offers individual taxable accounts, no IRA, Mutual funds, etc
- Limited features, and basic charts
- 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
Robinhood is available on mobile devices and through its website. The website is okay, but like most, I prefer the app. You are able to 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 recently introduced level II market data with Gold. 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.”
Robinhood has its simplicity going for them. Even for more advanced traders, it’s nice to just 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. If you plan on trading crypto I wouldn’t suggest Robinhood, since you are trading crypto contracts and not actual coins.
However, when their competitors adopt options trading, I could see quite a few people leaving the platform. The customer service with Robinhood has serious room for improvement (luckily, I usually don’t need to contact 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 huge assortment of tools and features. Webull is 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 constantly improving and truly cares about its 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 sell short
- Stock screeners, watchlists
- Great customer service
- Paper trading
- Take-profit and stop-loss orders
- Comprehensive mobile and desktop platform
- Not as beginner-friendly
- No options trading (yet)
- Only offers individual taxable accounts, no IRA, Mutual funds, etc
- Can feel a bit bloated compared to Robinhood
Webull has a very impressive set of tools and features that you normally 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
Webull is nothing short of amazing. It has a much more professional feel than Robinhood. They have fantastic customer service along with amazing research and trading tools.
Webull is estimated to have options and possibly crypto trading by the end of 2019. I and many other traders are looking forward to the introduction of options trading. Webull has executed the stock trading platform so well, it’s going to be interesting to see how they implement options trading.
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. 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
- Automatically reinvests dividends
- Great customer service
- Creative and clever design
- No tax-loss harvesting feature
- No Mutual Funds
- Can only trade once per day
- May take some time to learn for beginners
- $100 account min
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 $10 or higher (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 is not just for investing, they also offer advantages with their banking products. They have introduced a checking account with 1.5% APY and a debit card that earns 1% cash back. With M1 Borrow you can borrow up to 35% of your account balance at the fed rate + 2%. (This equals 4.25% as of 2019)
This is a great 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. If you’re not sure what to invest in, they have expert portfolios and free guidance to get you started. Using M1 is a great way to let your dividends and investments compound and grow. 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. M1 Finance is automated investing at its finest.
So, that’s my review of the best free trading and investing apps. I will continue to keep this post up to date with any changes in the future.