Updated January 13, 2020 3:39 PM PT

Best Investment Apps for 2020

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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 Investing Apps

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

  • Fees: Most investing apps are free, but some make you pay per trade. Some charge a yearly or monthly fee.

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

  • Variety of offerings: Not all investing apps offer every type of trade or account type. So make sure the one you choose offers the products you're looking for.

  • Research and tools: For DIY investors, choose an app that meets your needs. Some apps are very barebones.

For passive investors, some apps will select investments and manage your portfolio for you.

Are investing apps safe? Brokerages offer SIPC insurance, which insures your investments up to $500,000 per account type. All apps in our list are covered by SIPC insurance.

Best Investing Apps

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We've compiled a list of the best investment apps for every type of investor. Click the links to learn more in detailed reviews.

Stash: Best Investment App for Beginners

Stash was made for beginners with no investing experience. You can invest, learn, and save all with one app.

After you answer some questions about your goals, risk tolerance, and interests, the app will give you investment recommendations. Stash will help you build a personalized, diversified portfolio based on your financial goals. This provides guidance, while offering more control than straight up robo-advisors.

You only need a $5 minimum investment to get started.

Top Features:

  • Users can invest in individual stocks and ETFs and/or choose from themes based on your interests.

  • 3 ways to auto invest: scheduled transfers, invest spare change from linked bank cards, or Stash will analyze your financial patterns to automatically transfer funds for you.

  • Helpful educational articles and videos for beginners.

Stash has a $1 monthly charge. A retirement account costs $2 per month. There are no trade fees.

A dollar every month (or $12 per year) might seem low but it's high compared to competitors. If the user only have $10 in the account, $1 is 10%. But beginner investors may find the guidance worth it.

Other platforms typically charge a percentage of an account's total balance per year. For example, if a robo-advisor charges 0.25% annual fee, you'll only pay $2.5 per year per $1,000 balance.

Robinhood: Best Investment App for Trading Stocks

Robinhood offers stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies trades for completely 100% commission-free. There is no minimum investment.

The Robinhood mobile app has very high ratings, but it's a totally no-frills app. You won't get stock market research or guidance. It also doesn't offer any retirement account options. It's best for investors who are already comfortable trading on their own.

Top Features:

  • Free extended trading hours from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm ET.

  • Perform up to 3 day trades in a five trading day period.

  • Get real-time news and updates on stocks in your watch list.

The Robinhood app is completely free and requires no minimum balance to get started.

An optional Robinhood Gold account is available for $5 per month for investors with $2,000 account minimum. This premium account gives traders increased buying power when trading on margin, larger instant deposits, and Morningstar research.

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

TradeStation: Best App for Day Trading

Tradestation is best known for their advanced investment tools previously only available to brokers. It's best for investors with more experience.

The platform is primarily desktop-based, but also has a streamlined mobile app. You can trade stocks, ETFs, and options commission free (up to 10,000 shares).

Top Features:

  • Real-time streaming quotes.

  • Customize your own options spread strategy or see popular strategies.

  • Add commonly used technical studies to your charts and customize their parameters.

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

Users can choose between two accounts. TradeStation Go has $0 minimum ($0.50 per contract for options). A more premium account, TradeStation Select, has $2,000 minimum ($0.60 per contract for options). It includes the TradeStation 10 Desktop and additional tools.

More advanced plans include a per share plan or unbundled plan for high-volume traders. These plans have some fees.

Some find their phone screen too small to properly read the charting on the Tradestation app. If you use tablet, you may have an easier time viewing digital charts.

M1 Finance: Best Hybrid Robo and DIY Investment App

A hybrid robo-advisor and DIY-broker, M1 Finance bridges the gap for investors who want to choose their own investments, but don't want to manage their portfolio.

You can select your own investments and M1 Finance will take care of the trading and portfolio management for you. Alternatively, you can choose one of many pre-made portfolios and make adjustments.

The minimum to start investing is $100.

Top Benefits:

  • Allows you to pick individual stocks and ETFs for fully customized portfolios (called "Pies"). Create and modify your Pies as often as you want.

  • Set up one-time or scheduled automated deposits. M1 will purchase stocks for you according to your Pies.

  • Supports fractional shares.

  • Automatic portfolio rebalancing.

Investors with at least $10,000 balance can access a portfolio line of credit. Borrow up to 35% of your portfolio at a low interest rate, with no paperwork or credit check. You can get access to funds fast without selling off your portfolio or taking out other loans.

The standard M1 Finance app is completely free after a $100 account minimum ($500 for a retirement account). There are no trade fees.

M1 Plus - the premium account - costs $125 per year. This includes more investing options plus an interest banking account with a tungsten metal debit card.

    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.

Acorns: Best App for College Students

Acorns is a "spare change" robo-advisor. You link your credit and debit cards and Acorns will automatically round up the change from your purchases and invest them. There is no minimum to start. App automatically invests when balance reaches $5.

The Acorns app is an easy way for young investors to get started. It allows you to save money without thinking, while investing your savings at the same time (instead of them just sitting in a bank).

Top Benefits:

  • Free for college students for the basic Acorns investing account (otherwise, $1/mo).

  • Customize your own round up rules.

  • Save for later in life with an optional IRA account.

The Acorns basic account is completely free for college students. Everyone else will have to pay a flat monthly fee of $1. Acorns retirement account is $2/mo.

Acorns also offers a checking account (which includes an Acorns debit card). A retirement plus checking account brings the fee to $3/mo.

A dollar per month is higher than many other robo investment apps. Acorns fee may be worth it if you like the convenience of automated investing.

Betterment: Best App for Robo Investing

Betterment is one of the first robo-advisors. It automatically invests your money into diversified portfolios of ETFs based on your financial goals and risk tolerance. You cannot choose your own stocks or ETFs.

Betterment has no minimum to start.

Top Benefits:

  • Set up multiple portfolios, such as for emergency fund, large purchases, and IRA accounts.

  • Tax loss harvesting and automatic portfolio rebalancing.

  • "Smart deposit" feature automatically invests extra money from linked bank accounts.

  • Retirement calculators tell you if you're on track to your retirement goals.

Betterment costs 0.25% of your assets under management. For every $100 in your account, the fee is only 25 cents per year. There are no additional trade fees.

For investors with at least $100,000, you have the option to upgrade to the Premium plan at 0.40% annual fee. This includes access to finance professionals for personal advice.

Fidelity: Best Investment App for iPhone and Android

Fidelity is one of the largest, oldest investment companies. It offers a very highly rated iPhone and Android app that allows the user to monitor your portfolio from anywhere.

Fidelity is a full service investment firm, so it's a great choice for investors looking for a long-term brokerage to grow with them. Both beginners and more experienced investors can learn from its excellent educational resources.

Fidelity has an Apple app store rating of 4.7 stars with 1 million reviews, and Google Play store rating of 4.5 stars with over 53,000 reviews.

Top Benefits:

  • Daily customized news feeds, including portfolio, stock market, and company research information.

  • See real-time quotes and charts, live Bloomberg streaming videos, and stock market research reports, such as Zack's Bull & Bear of the Day.

  • View your watch list in grid view or as a heat map.

  • Syncs with your Apple Watch so you can get real-time market quotes, market movers, and alerts on your wrist.

The Fidelity app is free and requires no minimums to open. $0 commissions for U.S. stocks, ETFs, and options (+ $0.65 per contract fee).

Fidelity also offers a free Cash Management banking account with mobile deposit, bill pay, checkwriting, and unlimited domestic ATM reimbursements.

TD Ameritrade: Best Research and Tools

TD Ameritrade is another huge investment company. It's known for its superior platforms and customer service.

The company has 2 mobile apps: TD Ameritrade Mobile and thinkorswim (Mobile Trader) app. If you're looking for a full-service brokerage, it's a close call between this and Fidelity.

Top Thinkorswim Benefits:

  • Trade stocks, complex options, futures, and forex.

  • 300+ technical charts and indicators. Overlay company and economic events to see past, present, and future performance.

  • See the potential profitability and risk of your investments and stress test your entire portfolio.

  • Virtual paperMoney account to practice your strategies before investing real money.

  • Chat and screen-share with a financial specialist within the app.

Both Ameritrade apps are free and require no minimums. Commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options (+ $0.65 per contract fee).

Firstrade: Best App for Free Trades

Firstrade offers completely commission-free trades for stocks, options, ETFs and mutual funds. Users have the option to open traditional investing accounts, IRAs, business accounts and more.

The Firstrade platform is best suited for those who are comfortable managing their own investments without help.

Top Benefits:

  • Create multiple watchlists to track your securities. Easily swipe on symbol to buy and sell or remove from watchlist.

  • Strong options tools: single and advanced options strategies available on app.

  • See charting in landscape mode with technical indicator overlays.

  • Real-time Dow, Nasdaq, and SP 500 indices.

Firstrade is fully translated into Chinese.

User-directed trades are completely free and there is no account minimum. If you want more guidance, the app offers broker-assisted fees for $19.95 per trade.

Best app to save for college: WEALTHFRONT

Wealthfront is another popular robo-advisor for the hands-off investor. It offers traditional investing accounts and options for specific financial goals, like 529 College Savings accounts.

The app will automatically invest and manage your portfolio of stocks and ETFs. Wealthfront does not allow users to choose their own individual investments. You can open multiple portfolios for different goals. The minimum is $500.

Top Benefits:

  • Automatic portfolio rebalancing.

  • More diversified portfolio including real estate and natural resources.

  • Advanced personal finance tools for life events, such as college savings, retirement, homeownership, and travel.

  • Advanced tax strategies for portfolios with $100,000.

A portfolio line of credit available to investors with $25,000 balance. Borrow up to 30% of your portfolio's value at rates lower than typical personal loans.

Wealthfront requires a $500 minimum balance. The app charges an annual fee of 0.25% of your assets under management.

Wealthfront also offers a free high-yield savings account. You don't need to be a Wealthfront robo-advisor user to open the savings account.

Reasons to Use Investment Apps

Here are some benefits to choosing an investment app.

  • Convenience: With an investment app, the user can buy and sell, add more funds, or withdraw funds right from your phone.

  • Saving Money: Many investment apps have no commissions on stock trades. DIY investors can save a lot on fees.

  • Smaller upfront investments: Many investing apps have no account minimum. This makes investing easy for people who don't have a lot of money to start.

Bottom Line

Investment apps are meant to make life easier. Each investor has different needs, so know yours before choosing an investment app. Take the time to research fees and features and read reviews, 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.

TD Ameritrade has not influenced the content of CreditDonkey. CreditDonkey may earn compensation for accounts opened at TD Ameritrade.

More from CreditDonkey:

How to Invest in Stocks

How to Invest in Stocks

How to Invest in Stocks with Little Money

How to Invest $100


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