Updated November 6, 2019

Best Investment Apps for 2019

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Investment apps let beginners (even college students) manage stocks and ETFs from your phone. Find out how Acorns, Stash, Robinhood and more compare.

What to Look for in Investment Apps

Consider these important points BEFORE choosing the best app for your needs.

  • Price per commission/trading fees: Most apps are free, but some make you pay per each trade.

  • Your platform: Not all apps work on both iOS and Android devices, and some are best-suited for computers.

  • Automatic investing: Best for passive investors, some apps will invest your money from your automated, recurring deposits.

  • Variety of offerings: Not all apps offer every type of trade, so make sure the one you choose can access the type you're looking for.

    You Should Know: Many platforms now have Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) options. But do your research, some apps focus strictly on socially responsible investments while others treat them as an "add-on."

  • Portfolio rebalancing
    Allocations tend to shift naturally over time. If you are the "set it and forget it" type investor, some apps automatically rebalance your portfolio to correct that drift.

Best Investing Apps

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We've compiled a list of great choices for every type of investor.

Best Investment App for Beginners: STASH

Stash was made for people with little to no prior investing experience. The app offers two main perks: a low minimum requirement and educational videos that teach new investors how the market works.

Users can invest in both ETFs and stocks. The app will suggest an individualized bundle of investments based on a user's risk tolerance level and investment goals.

It has options for both automatic withdrawals and "rounding up" by investing the change of user transactions into a linked account.

COST:
You'll need a $5 minimum investment. Stash charges $1 per month for balances under $5,000 and 0.25% of your account's balance per year over $5,000. There are no trade fees.

NOTE: $1 per month might seem low but it's a high rate compared to the competition.

Other platforms typically charge a percentage of an account's total balance per year. This percentage fee can equal out to just cents every month depending on how much money is in the account.

For a Stash retirement account, it'll cost you $2 per month under $5,000 and 0.25% of your total account balance once it exceeds that amount.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • $5 minimum to get started
  • "Round up" feature invests spare change
  • Helpful educational tools for beginners
  • Users can invest in ETFs and stocks and/or choose from suggested investments
  • No trade fees, but $1 charge per month that turns into 0.25% of balance over $5,000

Best Investment App for Trading Stocks: ROBINHOOD

Robinhood is a straightforward app for investors who are already comfortable trading and managing their own investments without help.

It offers a platform to trade both stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies for free without a minimum investment.

The app's no-frills approach means you won't get market research or guidance. It also doesn't offer any retirement account options.

Looking to invest in a retirement account? Learn more about our top choice, Betterment, below.

COST:
The service is completely free and requires no minimum balance to get started.

After account's balance reaches $2,000, users can upgrade to Robinhood Gold. This monthly fee service allows trading on borrowed funds, extended trading hours, plus larger and faster deposits.

With Robinhood Gold, users choose from fee tiers ranging from $6 per month to $200 per month. These prices are based on the user's chosen buying power and account balance - they're significantly lower than other discount brokerages.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Free to use and trade in many types of investments
  • No minimum investment
  • No extra perks or retirement accounts
  • Option to upgrade to paid service to buy on margin

By far the best investment app is Robinhood. First, the UI is beautiful and intuitive. You might not think this matters with investing, but it absolutely does when you're trading at scale. Second, it's cheap. The whole point is to be able to make commission free trades on a free app. Finally, it has the requisite legal backing. Robinhood is a member of the SDIC and so your money is safe up to $500,000.
Dary Merckens, CTO, Gunner Technology

Best App for Day Trading: TradeStation

Not for the casual investor, Tradestation charges a monthly fee and varying per-trade fees for stock, ETF, options, futures, mutual funds, and bond trading.

The service is primarily desktop-based, but also offers a streamlined mobile app. The app allows users to pull up a curated watch list and make trades with the press of just one button.

You can also access charts and market data on your phone to aid in making quick decisions.

You don't need a fat bank account to start investing in stocks. Check out How to Invest in Stocks with Little Money to get started.

COST:
The $500 minimum investment is $500 to open an account. Users can choose one of three pricing plans:

  • A flat-fee trading plan that charges $5 per trade.
  • A per-share trading plan that charges per each share bought, which is good for investors who trade frequently in small chunks.
  • An unbundled plan that allows high-volume traders to potentially cut their per-share costs low with liquidity rebates.

NOTE: For both the per-share and unbundled plans, Tradestation charges a $99.95 per month inactivity fee.

This is imposed unless the account meets 5,000 shares, 50 options contracts, 10 futures contracts traded per month or contains at least $100,000.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • $500 minimum investment
  • Per-trade fees and possible monthly fee
  • Multiple investment tools available on mobile
  • Options for different types of trading, including high-volume
  • Streamlined access for traders who need split-second results

You Should Know: Some find their screen is too small for Tradestation app's charting. If you have a larger smartphone or tablet, you may have an easier time viewing charts.

Best Free Investment App: M1 FINANCE

M1 Finance offers a solid option with no per-trade commission fees to trade stocks and ETFs. Users can invest not only in full shares of stocks or ETFs but also in fractional shares.

The app suggests a portfolio based on personal goals, which users can then tweak to their liking by investing in additional stocks or ETFs. Alternatively, you can choose one of many premade portfolios and make adjustments.

M1's systems have automatic portfolio rebalancing and deposits/withdrawals. Users can set up the app to pull money from an external account at regular intervals.

For an additional yearly fee, users can also buy M1 Plus, which includes all the app's base services and a checking account.

COST:
The base app is completely free after a $100 minimum deposit ($500 for a retirement account).
M1 Plus, which includes a checking account, is $125 per year.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • $100 minimum deposit
  • Free base investment app
  • Users can choose and adjust premade portfolios
  • Automated withdrawals and portfolio rebalancing

    M1 Finance

    M1 Finance: Commission Free Stock Trading

    M1 Finance allows investors the choice of ETFs and stocks. M1 charges no management fees or commission.

Best for Automated Investing: ACORNS

Acorns uses a "spare change" approach by rounding up users' everyday transactions to invest in ETFs.

Users can customize settings to adjust what types of transactions get rounded up, as well as doubling or tripling the amount invested with each transaction.

COST:
The basic level of Acorns is completely free for college students. It costs a flat monthly fee ranging from $1 to $3 for everyone else.

Adding a retirement account increases the monthly charge to $2. A retirement account and a checking account brings the cost to $3 a month.

Acorns' fees are higher than many other investment accounts, which charge only percentages of the account's total balance. That fee may be worth it if you like the convenience of automated investing.

No minimum investment is required. Once the app has accumulated $5 through spare change "round ups," it automatically invests in a pre-chosen portfolio.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • No minimum deposit. App automatically invests when balance reaches $5
  • Monthly fees ranging between $1 and $3, free for college students
  • Invests users' change from rounded up transactions
  • All investing is automated, letting users "set it and forget it" if they choose

Best app for retirement: Betterment

Investors can save for both long and short-term goals with Betterment. The app offers plans for retirement, safety net funds and more through its automated investing platform.

Deposits are invested automatically into a pre-determined portfolio of ETFs based on each user's needs and risk tolerance. Users cannot choose individual stocks or ETFs in which to invest, which makes it better suited for hands-off investors.

The app's "smart deposit" feature automatically invests extra money from linked accounts.

COST:
The app costs 0.25% of an account's total balance under $100,000 and 0.40% percent above $100,000. Betterment does not require a minimum balance.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • No minimum deposit or trading fees
  • Suited well for retirement savings
  • Offers ability to set up automated deposits
  • Recommends portfolios based on users' goals
  • Offers ability to set up automated deposits

Best app for low-cost trades: FIRSTRADE

Firstrade:
Firstrade's primary appeal is its completely free trades and platform. The service charges no per-trade fees for stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, and ETFs.

Users have the option to open traditional investing accounts, retirement accounts, business accounts and more.

Firstrade is best suited for those who are comfortable managing their own investments without help. Experienced users will like the app's tools, such as market data and real-time streaming quotes.

You Should Know: Firstrade offers a multi-lingual experience. Chinese-speaking users have access to a fully-translated platform.

COST:
User-directed trades are completely free on Firstrade. The app has no minimum deposit and offers some of the lowest commission fees available.

If you want more guidance, the service offers broker-assisted fees for $19.95 per trade.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Free to trade and use
  • No minimum deposit
  • Offers no automated guidance for investments, trades are self-directed
  • Offers market data tools
  • Fully translated into Chinese

Best app to save for college: WEALTHFRONT

Wealthfront offers traditional investing accounts and options for specific goals like saving for a child's education.

The app will automatically invest and manage a user's portfolio of stocks and ETFs based on chosen goals. It tracks the user's savings for retirement, homeownership, college funds or future travel.

Wealthfront does not allow users to make individual trades. The service does offer a high-yield savings account for free.

COST:
Wealthfront requires a $500 minimum deposit to begin investing. The app charges an annual fee of 0.25% of an account's total balance.

Opening and maintaining a savings account with Wealthfront is completely free.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • $500 minimum deposit
  • 0.25% of account balance charge annually
  • Automatic rebalancing
  • Options for college saving, retirement, homeownership, travel
  • Offers a free high-yield savings account

Other great apps

Best Investment App for iPhone and Android Users: Fidelity
Fidelity offers great features for both iOS and Android users. You can monitor your portfolio, make trades on the spot, receive alerts, and even do research, all on the mobile app.

Best Investment App for College Students: WiseBanyan
WiseBanyan is a great option for college students. This robo-advisor app has no minimum investment requirements and doesn't charge an account management fee.

You invest in ETFs in various asset classes based on your ability to handle risk, which WiseBanyan determines for you after you answer a few questions.

Reasons to Use Investment Apps

Here are some benefits to choosing an investment app.

Convenience
With an investment app, you can make trades, add more funds, or withdraw funds right from your phone.

Saving Money
With investment apps, you'll likely save money on commissions compared to a full-service broker. Of course, that means you'll be handling the work yourself. This is only a good option if you know what you're doing.

Smaller upfront investments
Investing apps cost as little as $5 to start. That opens the world of investing to people who don't have a lot of extra capital.

Bottom Line

Each investor has different needs. It's important to know yours before choosing an investment app. Take the time research fees and features, then begin investing responsibly.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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