Getting started investing can be an overwhelming process if you’re new to the game. For that, we’ve compiled a list of the best investing apps from across the industry to help beginner investors get started. Some of these apps cater to both advanced day traders or those who are new to the game, but all of them are worth a look.
Some of the most important things to keep an eye out for when shopping around are: Fees; Account Minimums; Trading types; and customer support features.
Acorns is a fantastic way to put away small (and large) change to have your money work for you. It’s default functionality is to perform “round-ups” to a dollar on each transaction you connect with your account through credit cards, debit accounts, etc. So for instance, if you were to pay $3.45 for something, Acorns would invest the remaining $.55 for you. Additionally, you can super-charge your round ups by including a multiplier on your transactions to as much as 10x the round-up amount, so that $.55 could become $5.50. Acorns does this through using an automated investing system designed to put that small change to work for you over a long period. You can additionally make regular investments to your account as well to help build your account up.
On the cost side, Acorns charges $1/mo for basic accounts and $2/mo for the retirement account feature, and $3/mo to use the bank account. While this sounds like a small amount of money, if your balance is small, say less than $1000, that fee can be significant relative to other types of accounts. To sweeten the deal, however, Acorns is a mobile-first investment platform making checking your balance and making changes to your account simple and easily accessible.
Ally is a digital first banking and investment company, so you won’t find their branch offices on Main Street. They have low-fee and heigh-yield banking accounts as well as offering very $0 commission fees for stock purchases through their trading platform. The nice part about Ally’s digital first approach to banking and investing is that they also streamline a lot of features that can make investing difficult to understand for junior investors.
When you get started, Ally has no minimum balance requirements and is a quick to pick-up platform with online training articles and videos available as well as robust online customer support in case you get stuck.
One note on trading with Ally however is that they offer broker services, which have commission fees of $20 for trades and $9.95 fees on no-load mutual funds.
Betterment is the worlds first publicly available robo-advisor and has continued to be an industry leader in the personal investment community since it’s launch. Betterment’s core features include automatic rebalancing of your portfolio – for instance if you want to have 90% equities and 10% bonds, Betterment will rebalance your portfolio regularly to maintain that asset allocation. Additionally, Betterment performs automated tax-loss harvesting on all accounts which helps reduce your tax liability if your portfolio takes a loss at any time.
Betterments fees are low, at .25%, but not on par with Vanguard funds notoriously low fees (many less than .10%). While this doesn’t seem like much, over the course of your investments lifetime, that small fee can add up to tens of thousands of dollars or more depending on the size of your portfolio. On the bright side, Betterment has no account minimum so starting out is easy. There are also options for their premium portfolio plans which provides access to certified financial planners who can help advise you on outside investments, but for this you’ll have a minimum account requirement of $100,000 and a .4% management fee.
E*TRADE is probably the most advanced investing platform we’ll cover in this article as it provides the most investment types available to end-users such as stocks, options, futures, ETFs, mutual funds, and more. It’s also been one of the most popular online brokers for a long time with a suite of educational resources available for beginners. They have excellent customer support and provide access to in-depth research at the click of a button. Their mobile app is also very advanced compared to those in the rest of this article.
Currently, there is no commission charged for trades on stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds which are by far the most popular investment mechanisms most beginner investors are interested in. There are also no account minimums required to setup an account and there are usually some promotions available for certain types of initial deposits, some of which are at times over $1000.
Robinhood is the only one of the investing apps covered in this article that offers cryptocurrency trading and it does so for free. With Robinhood, you can also take advantage of trading stocks, ETFs and options, although these features are similar to other applications we’ve covered already and it has roughly the same costs as those competitors as well: free.
There are no account minimums to get started, but we must note that only taxable investment accounts are available. Other platforms offer retirement accounts such as IRAs (Traditional and Roth). Additional account types available include high-yield savings and debit accounts. The web and mobile apps are very straight forward and extremely useful for beginner investors.
Stash is a great starter application for investors. Right after downloading the app and launching it you’ll have to answer questions to help Stash understand what type of an investor you are from a risk perspective. The app then helps you choose the right ETF investments and some limited stocks for you to start investing in. Once the suggestion process is over, you can get to work connecting your accounts for deposits into the account to start building wealth.
The minimum deposit is $5 to start and you’re able to perform what is called fractional investing through the app allowing you to allocate that $5 over many stocks which you may otherwise not be able to purchase into. The fees per month are $1 for a taxable account per month and $3 per month for retirement accounts. Accounts for kids start at $9/mo.
TD Ameritrade is probably the best all-around app on our list offering features to beginner and advanced investors. It also provides advanced research and educational tools such as the Stash and E*TRADE platforms. The customer support platform “Ted” is also available, though it’s a chatbot, to help you get answers and tutorials for your specific questions and needs.
One unique feature not ususally offered by investment apps is the ability to setup a virtual trading account, this is something TD does well through its paperMoney product, though this feature is only available to those on the Desktop application, it helps investors practice investing approaches before they move into a more serious trading position.
There are no commission fees on the platform including ETF and stock trades as well as options, but as you’ve seen from our other platform comparisons, this is now a commodity across investment apps. There are $25 fees for broker-assisted trades and fees for mutual funds as well.
They cover standard, education, and retirement accounts which should cover the majority of peoples needs.
As a competitor to Betterment, Wealthfront is another industry-leading robo-advisor. Unlike Betterment’s fee structure, Wealthfront has no fees what-so-ever for those with less than $10k in their accounts, a fantastic thing for beginner investors. There is however a required minimum of $500 for an account deposit and for all accounts over $10k, you can expect a 0.25% fee (on par with Betterment).
Wealthfront supports taxable and joint accounts as well as IRAs (Traditional, Roth, Rollover, SEP), Trusts, and 529 Plans. They also have Tax Loss Harvesting as a key feature as well as portfolio rebalancing features available. One nice aspect is that they provide socially responsible investing options to users as well.
For us we rank Wealthfront over the industry leader Betterment as on the the best investing apps as a robo-adviser driven account.
The best investing apps are out there for you to try out. While we can’t make you download them we hope you’ve been able to understand from this the fee structure for both commissioned trades and those for assets under management, some of which are far more than free over the course of an investor’s lifetime. Go out there and get started.