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best investing learning apps

Best Overall Investing App for Beginners

1. SoFi Invest

SoFi is a top pick for beginners thanks to an easy-to-use platform paired with rock-bottom pricing. You can get started at SoFi Invest with just $1, and there are no commissions for trades and no recurring account fees. Even the managed portfolio product, SoFi automated investing, where your ETFs are all picked and managed for you, is free to use.

The app includes stocks and ETFs listed by category, making it easy to browse potential investment opportunities. It doesn’t have the most in-depth investment research, but there is enough to get you started and guide your trading decisions. In addition to cryptocurrency trading (for bitcoin, ethereum, dogecoin, and more than 27 other coins), you can also access investment education articles from inside the app. Note, though, that SoFi charges a 1.25% markup on crypto transactions.

As an added bonus outside of the app, SoFi offers complimentary financial planning sessions for all members, among other benefits. You’ll be able to work with certified financial planners (CFPs) who can help you reach your goals. If you are a beginner and want help putting an investment strategy together, SoFi is an ideal place to start.

What to look out for: SoFi doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting.

Best Overall Investing App For Beginners Runner-Up

2. Ally Invest

Beginners often do well with simple and straightforward investment platforms. Ally Invest offers just that through its mobile app. You can trade stocks and ETFs with no commissions; mutual fund trades will incur a $9.95 commission fee. There are no recurring fees or minimum balance requirements to worry about.

Plus, if you prefer the robo-advisor route, Ally Invest Robo Portfolios creates a personalized portfolio of ETFs for you. The account gives you the choice between four portfolios: Core, Income, Tax-optimized, and Socially Responsible. You’ll just need a minimum of $100 to get started, and you won’t have to worry about any advisory fees.

However, Ally Invest also launched a market-focused portfolio. This account only uses 2% of your portfolio as a cash buffer. The former option reserves 30% of your portfolio as a cash buffer.

The Ally app, which is also used by Ally Bank, is straightforward and easy to navigate. It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as some active trading platforms, but it has everything a beginner and most passive investors might need.

What to look out for: Ally Invest offers wealth management services, but you’ll need at least $100,000 to get started.

Best Automated Investing App for Beginners

3. Acorns Invest

Acorns is an investment app for people who know they should be investing but don’t have or want to spend the time to manage it themselves. For $3 per month, Acorns will take care of everything. That includes automatic spare change investing through transaction round-ups, automated transfers, retirement account saving, banking perks, and a fully automated investment plan.

And for both of its pricing plans, Acorns Personal and Acorns Family, the platform invests your money into a diversified portfolio of ETFs.

The big upside of Acorns is that it’s so easy to use. The big downside is that there’s a fee no matter what. This is arguably better than asset-based fee deductions which fluctuate as your balance grows. With the monthly fee, you’ll pay the same amount every year. For additional accounts and features, including investment accounts for children, you’ll have to pay $5 per month.

What to look out for: You won’t be able to choose individual investments with Acorns.

Best Investing App for Beginners for Active Trading

4.TD Ameritrade

If you are new to the markets and plan to get into active trading, TD Ameritrade is a good place to start. It charges no commissions for stock or ETF trades and offers multiple account platforms that align with various investment styles and goals.

When you’re starting out, you’ll probably feel most comfortable in the main TD Ameritrade app. As your investment skills grow, you can upgrade to thinkorswim, the premier active trading platform from TD Ameritrade. It has tons of useful features for active traders. Important for beginners, there’s a feature to chat with an expert trader inside of thinkorswim.

What to look out for: Charles Schwab acquired TD Ameritrade in 2020. However, Schwab has announced it plans to keep TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim in its product lineup going forward. TD Ameritrade’s managed accounts (Essential Portfolios, Selective Portfolios, and Personalized Portfolios) are also no longer available to new clients, but prospective investors can alternatively invest in managed accounts through its partner, Charles Schwab.

Best Investing App for Beginners for Social Investing

5. Public Investing

When you’re a beginner in the stock market, it can feel intimidating to research and choose stocks and other investments on your own. Public combines features from social networks like Facebook and Twitter with traditional brokerage features. That makes for an investment app ideal for beginners learning their way around the markets.

Not only can you learn from the portfolios of other experts by following their posts in the Public feed, you can also create group chats with other users and participate in live investing events and conversations. Plus, you can invest in more than 25 cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, dogecoin, and ethereum. However, you’ll incur a 1% or 2% markup for each crypto transaction (note that crypto trading isn’t available to New York, Guam, or US Virgin Islands residents).

With fractional shares starting at $5, you can also buy into a huge number of supported companies without putting up enough cash for a full share. Public also recently launched alternative assets on its platform, so you can now exchange art, NFTs, collectibles, and more for 2.5% per transaction.

What to look out for: While it doesn’t offer every popular type of investment, Public covers stocks and ETFs in a way that’s great for newer investors or even experienced investors looking to improve their investment strategy.

Best Investing App for Beginners with No Commissions

6. Robinhood Investing

Robinhood is a pioneer in the no-commission brokerage model. It remains a solid choice for beginners, as they can invest in stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies with zero commissions. Typical stock and ETF investors will be able to use Robinhood with no costs at all, though premium accounts are available with more features for a monthly fee starting at $5.

Plus, Robinhood offers commission-free cryptocurrency trading for several digital assets. Among these are bitcoin, ethereum, dogecoin, litecoin, and more. Robinhood also offers traditional and Roth IRAs with $0 trading commissions, a 1% match on every dollar you contribute, recommended portfolios, and more. 

What to look out for: Robinhood has a history of controversies over downtime and how some users have been able to enter extremely risky trades that they didn’t understand. As with any investment app, it’s important for Robinhood traders to understand the risks of what they’re doing so they can invest in line with their goals and avoid unexpected losses.

Best Investing App for Kids

7. Stockpile

Stockpile also offers commission-free stock and ETF trades, and it provides some unique features that complement its $o commission fee structure. The platform also recently launched crypto investing. Plus, Stockpile allows fractional share investing and supports the gift of stock through gift cards, which makes it perfect for the youngest investors.

If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or another relative who wants to help a child in your life learn how the stock market works, Stockpile is perfect for your needs. It makes it easy to gift stock and keep tabs on the account of a minor. It also makes it fun to navigate through supported stocks while educating users through “mini-lessons” that teach how to invest.

What to look out for: Stockpile only offers stocks, ETFs, and crypto, so you’ll need to consider other platforms if you’d like to invest in additional asset types.

Other Apps We Considered

  • Webull: Webull is a newer commission-free investment platform. It may be a little more challenging for some newer investors to navigate but offers excellent pricing and investment tools.
  • Firstrade: Firstrade’s web and desktop investment apps feel a little lower-tech, but its mobile app is simple and easy to navigate. It offers excellent pricing including commission-free mutual fund trades.
  • Stash: Stash is great for newer investors looking to learn how to invest and build the right mindset, but monthly $1 to $9 fees make it less appealing.
  • Investr: This platform offers commission-free stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, and ADRs. It also allows for fractional share trading, but it doesn’t support IRAs.
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