5 Best Investment Apps: Commission-Free Trading and More

These apps make investing more accessible.
5 Best Investment Apps: Commission-Free Trading and More

The explosion of investment apps has made investing less onerous and opened up the stock markets to investors of all capabilities. But with so many investment apps to choose from, narrowing down your options can be a challenge. As part of its second annual Best Brokers rankings, GOBankingRates identified the Best Investment Apps to help you get started.

Best Investment Apps of 2019-2020 Guide:

Best Investment Apps at a Glance

Even if you’re a first-time investor, this selection of investment apps likely has one you’ll enjoy using. Here’s a look at how the following options compare:

Best Investment Apps of 2019-2020
 AppFeesAccount MinimumPromotion
Robinhood$0$0
  • Free share of stock valued at $2.50-$200 for you and each friend you refer upon approval of friends’ applications, up to a maximum of $500 worth of stock.
Webull$0$0
  • Free share of stock valued at $2.50-$250 upon signing up; additional free share of stock valued at $8-$1,000 after depositing $100
Betterment0.25% per year$0
  • Get 30 days free for each referral to a friend who funds an account; refer three friends and get one extra year free when they fund their accounts
Stockpile99 cents per trade$0, but $5 required to start investing
  • Send $5 of free stock to a new referral
Acorns logo.Acorns$1-$3 per month$0
  • Receive $250 for five Acorns referrals

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In-Depth Look at the Best Investment Apps

Each investment app has its own strengths and weaknesses, so you’ll have to match your own needs with the features and benefits that work best for you. For example, if you plan on actively trading stocks, you might gravitate toward an app with the lowest trading costs. Those without much money to invest will want to find an app that has no minimum required investment. Keep reading to learn about GOBankingRates’ picks for the Best Investment Apps of 2019-2020.

Learn More: What Is a Brokerage Account?

Robinhood: Best for Beginners

Robinhood was a pioneer in the world of investment apps when it introduced commission-free trading in 2015. Whereas online brokerage houses had long been driving down commission rates from the hundreds of dollars often charged by full-service brokers, Robinhood was the first to make commission-free trading possible. Now you can use the platform to buy stocks, exchange-traded funds, options and even cryptocurrency for no commission. There are no account minimums at Robinhood, either.

For no charge whatsoever, app users can keep tabs on their portfolios, set up customized price notifications, and access investment news and research. Those willing to pay $5 per month can step up to Robinhood Gold, which allows access to professional research reports, trading on margin and bigger instant deposits. Although the company fumbled its initial attempt at a rollout, Robinhood still promises that a cash management account is coming soon. Users can earn free stocks by referring friends and family to Robinhood.

Pros:

  • Commission-free trading
  • Promotion for a free share of stock for referring friends and family
  • Commission-free cryptocurrency and options trading

Cons:

  • The only way to contact customer support is via email

Costs and Fees: None

Account Minimum: None

Where To Download the App: Google Play and the App Store

To learn more about Robinhood, visit its website.

Find Out: How Do I Invest Without Much Money?

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Webull: Best for Research Tools

Webull is a contender among the Best Investment Apps because it also has no account minimums or commissions. The app provides real-time quotes, a full financial calendar, analyst ratings and in-depth charts. Although the app advertises 24/7 live customer support, the only way to contact the company for service is to send your question or details on your problem via email. But the app does offer extended-hours trading at zero commission, starting at 4 a.m. EST and ending at 8 p.m. EST.

Currently, Webull will give you a free stock valued between $2.50 and $250 for simply opening an account, and you can get another free stock, valued from $8 to $1,000, once you deposit $100.

Pros:

  • Commission-free trading
  • Free stock upon sign up; another free stock after depositing $100
  • Extended-hours trading

Cons:

  • The only way to contact customer service is via email

Costs and Fees: None

Account Minimum: None

Where To Download the App: Google Play and the App Store

To learn more about Webull, visit its website.

Learn: What Is a Money Market Mutual Fund?

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Betterment: Best for Additional Financial Services

Betterment’s strength as an investment app comes from its variety of features. Unlike some other investment apps, Betterment was created as a robo-advisor, so it doesn’t allow you to trade stocks. After you enter information about your investment experience, objectives and risk tolerance, Betterment will devise a portfolio of exchange-traded funds that diversifies your account across various asset classes. All this can be accomplished for a 0.25% fee annually, with no account minimum. You can get 30 days of free asset management for each referral to a friend who funds an account, plus one free year if you refer three friends and they fund their accounts.

Betterment also has a high-yield savings account and various accounts that you can use to save for different objectives, such as your retirement, education or a safety net. Betterment will soon offer a checking account, complete with a debit card and zero ATM fees. In the meantime, investors can benefit from the educational services that Betterment offers, including a finance and investing blog.

Pros:

  • Complete robo-advisor services for 0.25% annually
  • Full suite of services
  • Takes your risk tolerance into account

Cons:

  • Limited customer service hours; no online chat

Costs and Fees:

  • 0.25% per year

Account Minimum: None

Where To Download the App: Google Play and the App Store

To learn more about Betterment, visit its website.

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Stockpile: Best for Educational Resources

Stockpile stands out from the investment app crowd because it allows the purchase of fractional shares. This can be hugely important for beginning investors or those without a lot of money to invest because it allows for a diversified portfolio even with limited capital. In August 2019, for example, Amazon stock traded for around $1,800 per share. For an investor with only $500 to invest, this means that Amazon stock is unattainable — unless they have the opportunity to buy fractional shares. For that same $500, an investor could own fractional shares of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Netflix or any other stock they desire.

Stockpile charges investors just 99 cents per trade to buy stocks, with no account minimums or additional service fees. The app comes with educational mini-lessons, and the website has an extensive blog providing a wide range of informational articles on everything from how to improve your finances to which ETFs you should buy. Stockpile also allows you to buy gift cards that you can print out at home or send via email or regular mail. In addition, you can send $5 of free stock to any person you refer to Stockpile.

Pros:

  • Fractional share purchases
  • No annual fees
  • Small commission of 99 cents per trade
  • Extensive educational support
  • Offers gift cards

Cons:

  • Users can only buy select stocks, and only once per day

Costs and Fees:

  • 99 cents per trade

Account Minimum:

  • None to open account; $5 to invest

Where To Download the App: Google Play and the App Store

To learn more about Stockpile, visit its website.

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Acorns: Best for Automated Investments

The Acorns app is technically a robo-advisor that charges $1 to $3 per month to allocate your funds among different ETF options. The trick with Acorns is that it automatically invests your spare change. Whenever you make a purchase, the app automatically rounds that purchase up to the nearest dollar, investing the additional funds into your portfolio. This type of automated, barely-visible investing can be a perfect option for those who struggle with setting aside money every month. You can also set up automatic daily, weekly or monthly investments if you choose to be more proactive. Account options include Acorns Core, which is a regular investment account, and Acorns Later, which is an individual retirement account.

Pricing for Acorns depends on the services you select. The basic account, Acorns Core, costs $1 per month. If you want both Acorns Core and Acorns Later, you’ll pay $2 per month. Slap on Acorns Spend, which is a checking account, and your fee is $3 per month. And it’s worth noting that in November, you can receive $250 for five Acorns referrals.

Pros:

  • Investments are funded by purchases that are rounded up to the nearest dollar
  • Flexibility to add retirement or checking accounts

Cons:

  • The monthly fee can eat up a large percentage of small balances

Costs and Fees:

  • $1-$3 per month, depending on account type

Account Minimum: None

Where To Download the App: Google Play and the App Store

To learn more about Acorns, visit its website.

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How We Picked the Best Investment Apps

GOBankingRates determined the Best Investment Apps by analyzing seven major apps, using the following criteria:

  • Service fees
  • Opening minimum investment requirement
  • Educational resources, such as courses that teach investing and trading, webinars, blogs, etc.
  • Research and tools, such as multiple trading platforms, in-depth market analysis, screener tools for stocks, ETFs, bonds, etc.
  • Automated investment capability
  • Real-time streaming data
  • Ability to transfer automatically from bank accounts to investment accounts
  • Availability for Android and/or iOS devices
  • Average user reviews for Android and iOS versions
  • 24/7 customer support

Each investment app was scored based on these individual categories, which were then summed up for a final score. The categories on automated investment capability, account transfer ability and 24/7 customer support were weighted half for the final scoring for each investment app.

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More Best Brokers of 2019-2020

John Csiszar served in the financial services industry for 18 years, earning his certified financial planner and registered investment advisor designations along the way. He now writes extensively about finance for various major online publications.

Andrew DePietro contributed to the reporting for this article. He is the lead researcher for GOBankingRates and a finance writer with years of experience covering investing, taxation, Social Security, entrepreneurship, real estate and housing markets.

    Methodology: To determine the Best Brokers of 2019-2020, GOBankingRates analyzed 47 active U.S. brokerages and investment companies across eight categories: (1) Best Online Brokerages, (2) Best Online Stockbrokers for Beginners, (3) Best Robo-Advisors, (4) Best Investment Apps, (5) Best IRA Providers, (6) Best Roth IRA Providers, (7) Best Brokers for Day Traders, (8) Best 401(k) Companies.

    Data for Best Brokers was compiled from and verified against the individual institutions’ websites between July 1, 2019, and Aug. 2, 2019. That data has been updated as of Nov. 5, 2019, but the rankings are based on the original data. Costs, terms and conditions are subject to change at the discretion of the individual financial institutions. Some information might reflect short-term or promotional offers only, and it is possible additional terms and conditions must be met in order to obtain any benefits mentioned. Availability might vary by region, minimum investment amounts and other factors. Please verify the terms and conditions before opening an account.

    GOBankingRates is a personal finance website owned by ConsumerTrack Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions and other financial services organizations. Some brokerages mentioned in Best Brokers are clients of ConsumerTrack Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement. For more information, see the complete methodology for the rankings

    About the Author

    John Csiszar is a freelance writer and article curator. He served as a registered investment advisor for 18 years before becoming a writing and editing contractor for private clients. In addition to writing thousands of articles for various online publications, he has published two educational books for young adults.