Updated May 26, 2020

Best Free Stock Trading Apps

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Want to trade stocks for free? These stock trading apps can help every type of investor build their nest egg.

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It's never been a better time to invest. In the past year, most major online brokers got rid of standard trading fees.

This is GREAT news for investors. Stock trades that previously cost $4.96 or $6.95 per trade are now free. This can help save a significant amount of money, especially for beginners and active traders.

Read on for the best free trading apps.

What is the best free stock trading app?

Best Free Stock Trading Apps

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Here are the best free investing apps for different types of investors, whether you're a beginner, hands-off investor, or need something more robust.

Robinhood: Best for Beginners

Robinhood was the first app to offer completely commission-free investing. It offers completely free stock, ETF, options, and cryptocurrency trades.

The Robinhood app is pretty bare-bones. It makes a good choice for beginners who don't want to get overwhelmed by a ton of features. There is no minimum.

Here's what you get with Robinhood:

  • Set up customized alerts and news to stay up to date
  • Trade fractional shares
  • Free extended trading hours from 9:00am - 6:00pm ET
  • Perform up to 3 day trades in a five trading day period
  • Educational articles in Robinhood Learn

Is Robinhood good for beginners?
Robinhood is good for beginners in the sense that trades are free and there is no minimum requirement. This allows anyone to invest without worrying about fees. The app is also simple to use. However, it does not provide any guidance, so you still need to do some research to select your own investments.

Free trading apps can save you a lot of money. But they're not all winners. Stick around to the end to find out what to avoid.

TD Ameritrade: Best Overall

TD Ameritrade is known for having the gold standard in trading platforms. More serious investors will appreciate the excellent research and advanced tools on the Thinkorswim mobile app. All users can access this app for free.

App features include:

  • Trade stocks, complex options, futures, and forex
  • 300+ technical charts and indicators
  • See the potential profitability and risk of your investments
  • $100,000 practice Virtual paperMoney account
  • Chat and screen-share with trade specialists within the app

Beginners and occasional investors also have the option of using the more basic TD Ameritrade Mobile app, which doesn't include futures and forex.

All stocks and ETFs traded through the app are commission-free. Option trades charge a $0.65 per contract trade fee and OTC stock trades incur a $6.95 commission fee.

Want to be hands-off but still have a say in your investments? You can customize and automate your portfolio. Here's how it works.

M1 Finance: Best Hybrid DIY & Robo Investing

M1 Finance has a very unique hybrid approach. You select your own investments and M1 Finance will take care of the trading and portfolio management for you. This is great for those who want control over their investments, but don't want the hassle of managing.

You can select your own stocks and ETFs for fully customized portfolios. Alternatively, you can choose one of many pre-made portfolios and make adjustments.

The minimum to start investing is $100.

M1 doesn't charge any commissions, usage fees, or markups. However, it does charge fees for extra services and an inactivity fee for accounts with less than $20 that have had no activity for 90 days.

The M1 app features:

  • Buy fractional shares
  • Set up automated investment schedules
  • Automatic rebalancing
  • Automatically reinvest dividends
  • Tax efficiency to minimize taxes when you withdraw

M1 Finance also offer a M1 Spend cash management account. It comes with a competitive APY and cashback debit card. You can also transfer funds automatically between the M1 Spend and investment accounts, and they'll be automatically invested according to your portfolio.

E*TRADE: Best Investment Selections

E*TRADE was one of the first online trading brokers publicly available. Today, the broker offers 2 mobile apps for Apple and Android devices.

The E*TRADE Mobile App is ideal for beginners and casual traders to trade stocks, ETFs, and options commission-free. The Power E*TRADE app allows for more complex options and futures trading. The minimum to start is $500.

A unique offering is the pre-built portfolios designed by E*TRADE financial advisors. These are made up of leading mutual funds or ETFs, giving you a fast, simple way to diversify.

Watch out for miscellaneous fees
If you trade during E*TRADE's pre- or post-market hours, there is a fee of $0.005 per share. There's also a $6.95 per trade for penny stocks.

Some highlights of the E*TRADE app are:

  • Easy navigation
  • Access to streaming quotes and charts
  • Create watch lists and set up alerts
  • Stream live Bloomberg TV
  • Chat with customer support within the app

Many free trading apps don't offer live customer support. If you want to be able contact a human for questions, check out the next broker.

Fidelity: Best Customer Satisfaction

Fidelity's mobile app makes it easy to access your Fidelity account from anywhere. Fidelity has one of the most highly rated investing apps for both iOS and Android.

Fidelity offers commission-free trading options for stocks, options, and ETFs. The Fidelity app also recently released the ability to trade fractional shares, making it more accessible to beginners.

Fidelity Options Trading Fees
Fidelity does charge $0.65 per options contract.

With the Fidelity app, you can:

  • Access relevant research information
  • Access real-time quotes and account balances
  • Access quotes on your Echo device
  • Receive customized push alerts
  • Stream educational podcasts
  • Use touch and Face ID

If you have no idea how to invest your money, consider robo-advisors. You simply answer a few questions about your goals and risk tolerance. Find out how to save on advisory fees below.

Charles Schwab: Best No Fee Automated Investing

With $0 commission on stocks, options, and ETFs and thousands of no-transaction fee mutual funds, Charles Schwab is another good option for affordable investing.

It claims that it offers more commission-free ETFs than most other brokers. However, it requires a $1,000 minimum for some account types, which may not make it feasible for beginners.

Schwab also offers managed portfolios for no advisory fee - something that other robo-advisors don't. This will save you a lot of money if you choose to go the automated route. The minimum for this option is $5,000.

Charles Schwab Options Fees
Charles Schwab charges $0.65 per contract for options trades done on the Charles Schwab app.

On the Charles Schwab app, you can:

  • Create customized watch lists
  • Access real-time quotes
  • Access financial specialists for free
  • Listen to Schwab's daily podcast
  • Manage Schwab bank and trade accounts with one app

At the end of day, you want to retire stress-free. But hidden fees could eat up your savings. Here's how to avoid this costly mistake.

Vanguard: Best for Retirement

Vanguard is best known for its mutual funds. The mobile app is available on Apple devices, Android devices, and Kindle. You can trade stocks, options, ETFs and thousands of Vanguard and some non-Vanguard mutual funds for free.

The app has mostly basic functionality, which may be more than enough for casual investors. It also requires no minimum to open an account, which makes it accessible to people who don't have a lot of investing money when they are starting out.

Options has an extra $1-per-contract fee (which is a little more than competitors). Also, all accounts charge a $20 annual maintenance fee, which can be waived by choosing electronic statements.

On the Vanguard app, you can:

  • View your balances, holdings performances, and prices
  • Deposit checks right from your mobile device
  • Monitor returns and play with asset mixes in real-time
  • Access the latest financial news
  • Access to viable research

You're almost ready to invest without worrying about fees. But before you jump in, use these six tips to weed out the legit apps from the scams.

What Experts Say

CreditDonkey assembled a panel of industry experts to answer readers' most pressing questions:

  • How should someone choose which stocks to buy?
  • What can someone do to mitigate their financial losses?
  • What is your advice for trading wisely on a free trading app?

Here's what they said:

What to Watch out for with Free Stock Trading Apps

Don't let the term "free stock trading apps" fool you. Always do your due diligence and make sure it makes sense for your situation. While the word "free" is enticing, each app has its own quirks and ways that it may get you to spend more money than you realized, or the app may not offer the services you need.

Watch out for:

  • Nudges to enlist the help of a live broker, as this typically incurs a cost
  • Higher fees or just fees in general on certain investments, including specialized ETFs
  • The need to upgrade to the paid version for certain features
  • Limits on the number of trades
  • High minimum balance requirements
  • High minimum investment requirements

Bottom Line

Think about what you want out of your stock trading app. Are you looking for a company where you can bank and invest, all in one? Are you an active trader who needs advanced tools?

Knowing what you need will save you the headache of switching accounts in the long run. Luckily, many of the apps offer free trial versions to help you get a feel for the app before you commit. Make sure to figure out your individual needs before opening an account, since it is your money on the line in the end.

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

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