Mobile apps are leveling the playing field for investors. Millennials can build impressive stock portfolios with as little as $1 using investing apps.
If you’re not sure which investing app is right for you, take a look at this guide to the top 8 apps that will save you time and money.
Why Trust Investing Apps?
Investing in the stock market is a mysterious process most people would rather not understand. Those who do don’t mind spending hours each year on the phone with their financial advisor to create a great investment portfolio.
Millennials aren’t built for this kind of inefficiency. Younger investors expect automation and the option to text their way into wealth.
Investing apps allow you to do just that. You can buy and trade stocks during a morning subway commute after connecting to your bank using Face ID.
Mobile investing apps do most of the work for you relieving you of the need to learn how to research companies or what it means to have the right fund mix. This might sound lazy, but it’s not.
Most people are so inundated with information, work and family obligations that they couldn’t realistically learn how to become expert investors in their spare time.
This doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to retire with a healthy nest egg. Enter investing apps.
These apps offer busy people the option to participate in the game of long term portfolio building through automation. Here are 8 great investing apps to choose from.
Unfortunately for beginners, the Robinhood app has nothing to do with giving poor people free money. But it does stand out from other investment apps in that you start out with a share of free stock.
The more friends you invite to the app, the more free stock you receive. The free investing app launched in 2014 as a commission-free investing tool.
The decision to offer trades without a commission was the app’s response to traditional brokers who charge between $1 and $7 per transaction. Robinhood offers a range of research tools to help you find news about the stock you want to buy.
The mobile app is a great starting tool for young investors without much capital to begin buying stocks. Once you get the hang of it, you can upgrade to Robinhood Gold gain access to extended trading hours.
The company promises to run on low overhead to keep its services at a reasonable cost to users. It makes money from upgrades to Robinhood Gold and interest earned from uninvested cash.
The user interface is easy to navigate catering to Millenials with a swipe right or left between stocks on your Watchlist. Think Tinder for stock trading.
Robinhood is available for download in the Apple and Google Play app stores.
Acorns is one of the original micro-investing mobile apps in the game. The mobile app works by investing your ‘spare change’ into the stock market.
If you’re not looking to become an active investor, the Acorns app is a great option for you. Link your credit cards and bank accounts to get started investing.
When you make a purchase, the app rounds each transaction up to an even number and invests the difference automatically. The app works using robo-advisors or algorithm-driven financial planning software.
Other apps ask that you research stocks and market conditions in order to make money. You need zero knowledge about the stock market to earn money on Acorns.
There is a flat fee charged to users per month. In order to make your profits worth the effort, you need to invest enough to cover this monthly transaction.
The app targets younger investors with almost 4 million Millenials using the platform so far. If you’re a student, you can apply for a free four-year account with Acorns with a ‘.edu’ email account.
Anyone between the ages of 18 and 23 automatically gets fees waived.
If you aren’t satisfied with the amount you invest through spare change, the app lets you boost your roundups. This means you round up to a higher increment.
For example, if you spend $1.50 at a grocery store the app might default to investing the 50 cents difference back into the stock market. But by boosting the ‘spare change’ by ten times, you could choose to reinvest 5 dollars instead.
The E-Trade mobile app is where the pros go to invest. It’s one of the most well-known services and consistently ranks in the top ten trading platforms on the market.
The mobile app is an extension of the online trading platform with most of the same perks. E-trade is known for its commission-free trades and extensive stock selection.
The research tools are great for investors who know how to use them. The mobile app is a great option for frequent traders looking for a pocket companion to the web site.
There are three levels available for investors: E-Trade Web, Power E-Trade and E-Trade Pro. All versions are free but be sure to choose the one that best matches your skill level.
The E-Trade interface can quickly get complicated as you advance services. E-Trade Web is for beginners and E-Trade Pro is for experienced users.
No matter which you choose, each version has no minimum balance or trade activity minimums. The free streaming market data and real-time quotes help set E-Trade apart from the newbies.
Another new investing app on the market is Wealthfront. Wealthfront wants to be a comprehensive wealth-building tool for new investors.
It helps by analyzing your transaction history to learn about your financial history. It uses this information to make trades on your behalf.
To use the service, connect your main accounts and deposit a minimum of $500. Accounts are free for the first $10,000 you invest.
Once you pass this threshold, there is a 0.25 percent fee charged to your account balance each year. The app supports daily tax-loss harvesting to offset capital gains.
This is important for new investors who aren’t sure how to manage their tax liability using robo-advisor apps. Unlike similar apps, Wealthfront doesn’t allow fractional investing or access to a human being for transaction-related questions.
Another vet in the investing game is Vanguard. Vanguard is a tried and true investing platform with a mobile app to help traders on the go.
It’s founder, Jack Bogle, actually invented the index fund so the company’s credibility is high in the investment world. They were the first to offer low-cost funds to attract cost-conscious investors.
Vanguard’s options for buying mutual funds and ETFs are unmatched. Be warned that the app design isn’t the hottest on the market.
Their focus is definitely on the quality of the content and not the app design. Once you get the hang of the interface though you’ll have the chance to build up your portfolio with low-cost funds.
The app is better for long term investors than active traders. If you’re saving for retirement, the Vanguard app is a must-have.
The Betterment app launched in 2008 to give investors an automated option for building a portfolio. The app has improved significantly since it launched now offering options to personalize your investment priorities based on retirement goals.
Betterment currently manages more than $15 billion in assets. Over the years, Betterment earned a reputation for having the best and most socially responsible companies in its portfolio.
Anyone interested in socially conscious investing should aim to choose from large-cap companies with a 42 percent or higher on the social responsibility index.
Users can opt for the digital or premium versions depending on financial goals. The digital version has no account minimum and a 0.25 percent management fee.
To invest using Betterment Premium, you need a minimum of $100,000 in your account. The management fee is 0.4 percent.
The main advantage of Betterment Premium is having phone access to certified financial planners. Start free on the mobile app by answering a questionnaire about your investment goals.
You need only $1 to begin investing and the robo-advisor platform finds the cheapest fund mix for you. It even factors in taxes which is great for novice investors.
Fractional shares are all the rage. The Stockpile app is one of many that make it easy to buy a piece of a full share of stock through fractional investing.
Fractional shares are possible because of stock splits, dividend reinvestment plans (DRIP) and other types of corporate actions. Be forewarned that fractional shares aren’t available for purchase on the market.
They can be difficult to sell outside these platforms. If you do sell, the fractional amounts won’t always equal an even number of shares.
The great part about fractional investing though is that it allows you to get into investing for dirt cheap. The Stockpile investing app aims to stand out from the pack with stock gift cards.
The Founder is said to have launched the platform to create a better Christmas gift option for his nieces and nephews. If you’re looking to give the gift of stocks this app is a great choice for you.
There is a fee per trade and for the cost of the gift card. Gift cards purchased with a credit or debit card get hit with an additional 3 percent fee.
For the parent wanting to introduce children to the art of investing, these are small sacrifices to make. Stockpile users can’t see the company balance sheets or portfolio projects but this won’t matter much to kids.
8. TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade is a leader in the industry because its customer support and asset options are superior to all. The company recently did away with its commission fees in 2019 to compete with the newcomers on the market.
You used to pay a hefty fee of $6.95 per trade though for the company’s many amenities. There are around 13,000 different asset options available from TD Ameritrade.
TD Ameritrade offers investors the option to buy stocks and bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, futures, foreign currencies, ADRs, and more. Many newer investing platforms don’t have a diverse mix for experienced investors to choose from.
If you don’t know what most of these assets are, TD Ameritrade might be too robust for you. It’s ok to crawl before you walk to avoid spending all of your investment dollars in fees.
Parents can use fund offerings to start a 529 plan to save for a child’s college education. Switch between the website and mobile app versions to get access to TD Ameritrade’s complete investment offerings.
TD Ameritrade’s reps are available by phone, email or instant messenger 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With this access to support, you can have a rep hold your hand while you learn to use the service.
Making Money Through Investing Apps
Investing apps are plentiful. From beginner to expert levels, there are low to no-cost options to help you build a retirement portfolio at any age.
Many apps target Millenials and college students with free account options that allow you to accumulate investment returns while you get started in your career. If you’re cost-conscious, shy away from investing apps with high fees.
Fees can easily eat away at your investing profits. As the saying goes, what goes up will come down and this couldn’t be truer of the stock market.
Think not of the success of the moment but plan for downturns in the market when you might lose money. Accounts that don’t charge a management fee help you weather these times without taking your balance into the negative.
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