Updated January 31, 2024

Best Investment Apps for Beginners

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Looking to start investing but are overwhelmed with the process? These low-cost, beginner-friendly apps can help you get started.

What is the best investment app for beginners?
Here are the top investment apps for beginners in 2024:

  1. Acorns for micro-investing
  2. SoFi Invest for financial advisors
  3. Robinhood for retirement accounts
  4. Public for social investing
  5. Betterment for automated investing
  6. Ally Invest for investing and banking
  7. Fundrise for real estate investing
  8. M1 Finance for customized portfolios
  9. Stockpile for young investors
  10. Stash for stock rewards

Investing can be scary, especially for those just starting out. It can be a lot to deal with at the start. Luckily, beginner-friendly investment apps can help simplify the process.

These apps offer an accessible gateway which can help anyone start growing their money.

In this guide, you'll learn about some of the best beginner-friendly investment apps on the market. You'll also see what features make them unique and how they can benefit you and your trading style.

Are investing apps safe?
Yes. If the investing app is registered with the SEC and FINRA, you can trust that it's a legitimate broker. Additionally, all registered brokers must be a member of the SIPC. This insures your investments up to $500,000 per account type, should the brokerage go out of business.

Acorns: Micro-Investing

FeesCommission-free trading; Monthly subscription fees
Minimum investment$5
App Store4.7/5 stars (884,000+ reviews)
Google Play Store4.6/5 stars (298,000+ reviews)

Acorns lets you start investing with spare change with their Round Ups feature. You link your credit and debit cards and Acorns will automatically round up the change from your purchases and invest them into pre-built ETFs.

This allows you to passively invest and accumulate earnings over time. All you need to do is link your cards, choose how aggressive you want to be, and Acorns will do all the heavy lifting for you.

Fees:
All of Acorns' fees are baked into their monthly subscription fee. These are the plans they have available:

  • Acorns Personal ($3/mo) - includes personal taxable account, IRA, and checking account
  • Acorns Personal Plus ($5/mo) - includes everything in Personal, emergency fund, and 25% match on rewards
  • Acorns Premium ($9/mo) - includes everything in Personal Plus, investment accounts for kids, 50% match on rewards, custom portfolio, Trust & Will, $10K Life Insurance, and free GoHenry account

Pros + Cons:

  • Invest with spare change
  • Hands-off investing
  • Just $5 to start
  • Monthly fee
  • Limited tradable assets
  • Trading strategies aren't aggressive enough

How do I start investing with little money?
Start by looking for a brokerage that supports fractional shares. This means that instead of pooling enough money to buy one full share, you can buy a tiny piece of a share. Some apps will offer these for as low as $1.

SoFi Invest: Financial Advisors

FeesCommission-free trading; No advisory fees
Minimum investment$5
App Store3.7/5 stars (2,300+ reviews)
Google Play Store4.0/5 stars (32,500+ reviews)

If you think you need someone to guide you with your first few trades, SoFi Invest offers free consultations with financial advisors. These advisors can help you:

  • Reach your financial goals with recommended strategies
  • Build your budget by providing good spending habits
  • Leverage debt positively by balancing repayment
  • Save for the future as well as for emergency funds
  • Create investment strategies based on your risk tolerance

SoFi Invest also offers options for both types of investing: Active Investing and Automated Investing. These allow you to invest in ETFs, stocks, and crypto however you want.

Active Investing lets you pick which stocks and ETFs to add into your portfolio. Automated Investing, on the other hand, creates a diversified portfolio for you. All you need to do is deposit money and SoFi will invest it for you.

Fees:
SoFi doesn't have any advisory fees and offers commission-free trades.[1]

Pros + Cons:

  • Active and automated investing
  • No management/account fees
  • Fractional shares
  • Basic research tools
  • Limited product portfolio

Robinhood: Retirement Accounts

FeesCommission-free trading; Paid Premium account available
Minimum investment$1
App Store4.2/5 stars (4.2 million+ reviews)
Google Play Store4.1/5 stars (480,000+ reviews)

Robinhood is one of the most popular investment apps on the market. It offers stocks, ETFs, opions, and cryptocurrencies for as low as $1. This makes it perfect for those who want to start investing with small amounts.

The most unique feature that Robinhood offers is their match on IRAs. This means they'll match your contributions to your IRAs. It's the only one of its kind, so it's a great option if you're looking for a nice little boost to your retirement savings.

Fees:
Robinhood is free to use and requires no minimum investment. You also have commission-free trades, no trade minimums, and little to no account fees.

If you subscribe to Robinhood Gold, you'll have to pay a monthly fee. However, that'll come with extra perks like zero interest rate on the first $1,000 of margin borrowed, professional research from Morningstar, and a higher match on your IRA contributions.

Pros + Cons:

  • Beginner DIY investing
  • Invest from $1
  • IRA match
  • Past controversial issues
  • Limited research tools

One thing to note is that Robinhood has a history of controversy, such as freezing the purchasing of certain stocks during the GameStop fiasco. For that, they were fined $70 million.[2]

Public: Social Investing

FeesCommission-free trading; Paid Premium account available
Minimum investment$5
App Store4.7/5 stars (67,000+ reviews)
Google Play Store4.2/5 stars (46,800+ reviews)

Public lets you trade ETFs, treasuries, crypto, and even alternative investments like shares of art or collectibles.

It takes a social approach to investing by integrating a community aspect. This means you have a community of investors that you can follow, chat with, or even collaborate with.

You can even invest thematically. Each theme contains ETFs that reflect the topic, so you can easily invest in companies that align with your values.

Let's say that you're looking to invest in environment-friendly ETFs. Public has a theme called Combat Carbon, which consist of companies that actively work toward reducing their carbon footprint. Other unique themes include Artificial Intelligence, American Made, and Self-Driving Cars.

Fees:[3]
Public is free to use, offers commission-free trades, and has 0 transaction fees. It also offers fractional shares for as low as $5.

The biggest fees to take note of are the $2.99 trade fee on extended hours fees and OTC trading fees. However, these fees can be waived if you subscribe to their Premium account ($10/month).

Another fee to take note of is Public's inactivity fee of $5 every 6 months (accounts with less than $20 in total value and no activity in the last 90+ days). So if you plan to create account, make sure you plan on staying active.

Pros + Cons:

  • Great sense of community
  • Thematic investing
  • Fractional shares
  • Limited account types
  • Limited investment selections
  • Limited analysis and evaluation tools

Betterment: Automated Investing

FeesAnnual fees (varies per plan)
Minimum investment$10 (ACH minimum deposit to start trading)
App Store4.7/5 stars (46,000+ reviews)
Google Play Store4.6/5 stars (13,000+ reviews)

Betterment is a robo advisor that simplifies the entire investing process by automating it. All you need to do is let them know what your goals are and how you want to invest. From there, your money is put to work and managed by Betterment.

This allows you to sit back, relax, and invest completely hands-off. You won't need to pick assets to invest in because Betterment provides expert-built, diversified portfolios of ETFs.

Fees:[4]
The cost of using Betterment will depend on the plan you get:

  • Digital: 0.25% annual fee for accounts with $20,000 or more or with monthly recurring deposits of $250 or more, $4/month for accounts with less than $20,000
  • Premium: 0.40% for accounts $100,000 or more

Pros + Cons:

  • Hands-off investing
  • Automated portfolio management
  • Strategies to maximize returns
  • Limited to ETFs
  • Premium plan with human advisors requires $100,000

Are you more of a hands-on or hands-off investor?

Ally Invest: Investing and Banking

FeesCommission-free trading
Minimum investment$0; $100 for their robo-advisor
App Store4.7/5 stars (72,500+ reviews)
Google Play Store3.0/5 stars (26,700+ reviews)

Ally Invest offers US-listed equities, ETFs, options, and mutual funds. They also have fixed-income products like US Treasuries, CDs, and corporate, municipal, and agency bonds.

If you're already an Ally Bank account holder, it'll be easy to get started with Ally Invest. This is because financial consolidation is available, allowing it to integrate with other Ally products such as online banking, credit cards, CDs, and more.

Financial consolidation refers to the act of combining all your assets or financial items from two or more entities into one. That way, you get the whole picture in regard to all your finances.

This means you'll be able to see an all-in-one snapshot of your overall financial condition. Additionally, you'll also be able to earn a competitive interest rate on your cash since balances can be easily transferred between investment and bank accounts.

If you're just starting out, Ally Invest Robo Portfolios could be a great place to start. It offers fee-free rebalancing, a low minimum of $100, and 24/7 customer support.

Fees:
Ally Invest is completely free to use. They also offer commission-free trades on US stocks and ETFs.

However, they have a $0 base + $0.50 per contract fee on options (lower than most brokers), a $1 fee on bonds, and $24.95 on CD transactions.[5]

Pros + Cons:

  • Financial consolidation
  • Relatively low costs
  • Great 24/7 customer support
  • No fractional shares
  • Limited tradable assets

Fundrise: Real Estate Investing

Fees0.15%/yr advisory fee; 0.85%/yr flat management fee (real estate funds); 1.85%/yr flat management fee (Fundrise Innovation Fund); $10/mo (Fundrise Pro)
Minimum investment$10
App Store4.8/5 stars (29,700+ reviews)
Google Play Store4.4/5 stars (3,800+ reviews)

Fundrise offers real estate investments for as low as $10. This includes many real estate debt and equity investments. This means your money will be invested in buying/renting/flipping properties, lending money, and more.

Real estate investing provides a lot of diversification opportunities for investors. You can invest in the real estate market without having to buy property. With Fundrise, you can do that for as little as $10.

Fees:
Fundrise has a 1% management fee which includes both the advisory and real estate funds fees.

Additionally, Fundrise also offers a premium account called Fundrise Pro at $10/month or $99/year. This account lets you manage your own portfolio, build your own custom investment plan, and directly invest in specific funds.

Pros + Cons:

  • Low investment minimum for real estate
  • Quarterly redemption opportunities
  • Low-cost diversification opportunities
  • Investments are highly illiquid
  • Investments may be complex

Can you invest for free?
Yes. Most brokerages have eliminated trading fees for stocks and ETFs. Many platforms will also support fractional shares, which let you buy pieces of stock for as low as $1. This is as close as you can get to starting for free.

M1 Finance: Customized Portfolios

FeesCommission-free trading; Possible account fees
Minimum investment$100
App Store4.7/5 stars (58,400+ reviews)
Google Play Store4.5/5 stars (24,300+ reviews)

M1 Finance is a great in-between when it comes to DIY investing and using a managed service. It offers 6,000+ stocks and ETFs listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges. It also offers a select number of OTC securities.

M1 lets their users build what they call "Pies." These are visual representations of your portfolio. They can go up to 100 slices, with each slice representing a stock, ETF, or another Pie. You can even create and customize the portfolio yourself.

Fees:
M1 Finance offers commission-free trading. However, they may charge for additional services like account services and maintenance. A $3 monthly platform fee will apply to clients with less than $10,000 in M1 assets or without an active M1 Personal Loan.

They also have an inactivity fee of $50 (for accounts with less than $50 and no activity for 90+ days).

Other M1 Finance account maintenance fees include escheatment processing and TOD account transfer fees. For a detailed breakdown of all of M1 Finance's fees, check out their miscellaneous fee page.

Pros + Cons:

  • Portfolio customization
  • Fractional shares
  • Commission-free trades
  • No human financial advisors
  • Creating Pies have a learning curve

Stockpile: Young Investors

FeesCommission-free trades; Monthly fees
Minimum investment$5
App Store4.7/5 stars (56,200+ reviews)
Google Play Store3.2/5 stars (9,000+ reviews)

Stockpile is an app-based brokerage that's targeted towards younger investors. The app has a simple interface that makes buying, selling, and trading stocks quick and easy. They also have low commissions on trading and offer custodial accounts to help kids and teens learn about investing.

One of their more unique features is gifting stock or crypto through gift cards. These allow you to send your favorite stocks or cryptocurrencies to your loved ones in the form of a Stockpile gift card.

Once they receive it, all they need to do is redeem it and they'll be a stock or crypto owner.

Fees:[6]
Stockpile has no trading fees. The only fees you need note are the monthly subscription fee ($4.95/month) and inactivity fee ($5/quarter for accounts with less than $20 that have no activity for 90 days).

Pros + Cons:

  • Gift card options
  • Beginner-friendly user interface
  • Custodial account available
  • Limited tradable assets
  • Minimal research and analysis tools

How can I invest $5?
The best option to invest $5 is through exchange traded funds (ETFs). These are collections of hundreds, if not thousands, of stocks. So with one single investment, you're automatically diversified across many companies. For example, a S&P 500 ETF consists of the 500 largest companies in the US.

Stash: Stock Rewards

Fees
  • STASH Growth ($3/mo)
  • STASH+ ($9/mo)
Minimum investment$0; $5 for robo-advisor services
App Store4.7/5 stars (300,000+ reviews)
Google Play Store3.7/5 stars (103,000+ reviews)

Stash is an app designed for beginners and for those learning how to invest independently. As soon as you fill out a questionnaire about your goals, risk tolerance, and interests, the app gives you investment recommendations.

Stash also offers a Stock-Back Card that allows you to gradually invest with purchases you make with their debit card. By making qualifying purchases, you can earn up to 1% stock back every time you spend.

The best part is that the cost of the card is already included in what you pay for the monthly subscription. It's also available for both plans.

Fees:
Stash offers stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies—all commission-free. The only fee to look out for are the subscription fees:

  • STASH Growth ($3/mo)
  • STASH+ ($9/mo)

The Growth Plan includes basic advice for beginner investors, a managed account, retirement account, and banking access. While the Stash+ Plan also includes advice for family finances and kids' portfolios.

Pros + Cons:

  • Stock-Back Card
  • Robo-investor available
  • No human financial advisors
  • No tax-loss harvesting

Types of Investment Apps for Beginners

Each type of investment app will cater to a different type of investor. Whether you're hands-on, prefer a managed service, or a combination of both, it's important to know which style you prefer before you settle on an app.

Here are the most common types of investment apps for beginners:

  • DIY trading apps
    These are apps that let you do the trading yourself. You can buy and sell individual stocks, ETFs, and even options and cryptocurrencies (depending on the platform). Most will even let you set what type of order you want to place.

    The most common order types are market and limit orders. Market orders execute right away, no matter what the price is. Limit orders will let you set the price and the trade will execute once the share hits that price. This means limit orders aren't guaranteed to be executed, but may get you a better price.

  • Robo-advisors
    These apps are designed for investors that don't want to choose their own investments. Basically, robo advisors will take your age, investment goals, and risk tolerance and then create a portfolio based on those factors. Some may even manage your investments for you.

  • All-in-one apps
    Some apps offer a combination of both DIY investing and robo advisor services. This lets you mix and match your trading style, depending on what you'll need at that specific time.

How to Choose the Best Investment App as a Beginner

Before you start investing, here are a couple of factors you should consider before picking an investment app:

  • Style of trading
    Do you prefer a more hands-on or hands-off approach? Are you a long-term holder or are you looking to make quick, profitable investments? The answers to these question will play heavily into what investment app you should choose.

  • Assets to trade
    Do you want to pick specific securities to invest in or are you content with letting a robo advisor pick your investments for you? Some robo advisors will only invest in ETFs, while other apps will let you pick stocks listed on the biggest exchanges.

    If you want to trade cryptocurrencies and options, not all apps may have them available. Make sure to pick an app that offers a service for what you want to trade.

  • Fees
    Despite most apps offering commission-free trades, some will have monthly fees you'll have to pay. Others may also have fees for the security you want to trade. Make sure to consider all the charges before you settle with an investment app.

  • Educational tools
    Since you're just starting out, it's important to pick an app that can help you learn the ropes. Some apps have extensive educational libraries while others will have basic how-to articles. Make sure to pick one that can guide you from the beginning.

  • User interface
    Beginners should generally gravitate towards beginner-friendly platforms. However, some may be more complex than others. Make sure to pick one that makes it easy for you to get started.

Methodology

To come up with the list of best investing apps for beginners, we compared different options and paid attention each app's user-friendliness, investing guidance, fees, and minimums.

For user-friendliness, we made sure that the app is easy to use and intuitive for beginners. Apps with complicated interfaces may intimidate newer users, so we stuck with ones that are designed with beginners in mind.

When it came to investing guidance, we picked apps that ease beginners into investing. Getting started can sometimes be intimidating, so we picked apps that simplifies the process and guides you as you invest your first few dollars.

As a new investor, the last thing you want are fees eating into your profits. The apps we picked had little to no fees, including trading and account management fees.

Lastly, we know that not everyone has thousands of dollars to invest at the start. Even if they did, not everyone would be comfortable putting in a ton of money on their first trade. So, we picked apps that let you start with just a few dollars.

What the Experts Say

CreditDonkey asked a panel of industry experts to answer readers' most pressing questions. Here's what they said:

Bottom Line

Starting your investing journey doesn't have to be so difficult and intimidating. There are a ton of apps that help you get started and guide you through your first few trades.

Even if you have just a few dollars to spare, you can get started with any of these apps. Most of them offer fractional shares and low minimum investments.

References

  1. ^ SoFi. Fee Schedule, Retrieved 01/09/24
  2. ^ The New York Times. Robinhood is fined $70 million over misleading customers and system outrages, Retrieved 10/16/2023
  3. ^ Public. Fee Schedule, Retrieved 01/26/24
  4. ^ Betterment. What are Betterment's fees?, Retrieved 01/26/24
  5. ^ Ally. Commissions and Fees, Retrieved 01/26/24
  6. ^ Stockpile. Fees, Retrieved 01/26/24

Write to Anna Johnson at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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