Updated August 23, 2022

Best Investment Apps for Beginners

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Looking to start investing? You can begin with as little as $5. Check out these cheap (or free) apps for new investors.

Top investment apps for 2022:

  1. Stash to learn about investing
  2. Betterment for hands-off approach
  3. Acorns for automatic savings
  4. M1 Finance for customized portfolios
  5. Robinhood for free trading
  6. Ally Invest for customer support
  7. Webull for great tools
  8. Public for social investing
  9. Fundrise for real estate investing

Choosing the right investment app can be overwhelming. You can scroll through countless apps on your phone and quickly get stuck.

  • Are there hidden fees?
  • Is the minimum investment too high?
  • Do they have the investments you need?

Fortunately, many apps have no commission fees, no account minimums, and lots of investment options.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about the best investment apps for beginners. Whether you're brand-new to investing or just want to diversify your portfolio, you'll find their fees and noteworthy features.

When you finish, you can choose the right app, and rest easy knowing you've started to grow your money.

Shortcut: If you are really eager to start investing, one of our recommended choices is Robinhood. They have no minimum balance and no fees. It's a great choice for beginners and the app is very easy to use.

🏆 Brand New Investors: Stash

Noteworthy Features

  • Quickly set up automated investments with as little as $5
  • Easy way to invest small amounts

Pros

  • Minimum investments starts at $5
  • "Round up" option invests users' spare change
  • Educational videos and tips to help users learn how to invest
  • Users can choose individual stocks

Cons

  • Fees are high compared to other apps
  • No robo-advisor to auto-invest and manage money once it is invested
  • Very basic, users can outgrow limited functionality

Stash is ideal for those learning how to invest independently. The app uses "micro-investments," like automatically rounding up transactions and depositing the spare change (users can also make larger deposits).

That money is then invested in individual stocks or in themes, which are pre-made bundles of stocks and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Stash does not use a "robo-advisor" to automatically invest - users make their own choices.

Choosing individual stocks and ETFs can be overwhelming for new investors. Experienced investors may want to customize their portfolio. Beginners may be better served following suggested allocations.

Fees[1]

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

Anyone under 25 years old can invest in an IRA account for free.

Works on: iPhone, Android

How to Get Started

  1. Sign up for a Stash account online or through the app.

  2. Follow instructions to link and verify your bank account.

  3. Make an initial deposit and start investing in a themed portfolio or individual stocks.

  • No require minimum investment or balance
  • Charges $3 per month

App Store Rating: (4.7/5 stars out of 94.8K ratings)

Hands-off Approach: Betterment

Noteworthy Features

  • Robo portfolios let you invest without advanced knowledge
  • Easy way to passively invest

Pros

  • No minimum required balance or transaction fees
  • "RetireGuide" helps calculate how much you should be saving
  • Automatic deposits
  • Easy to "set and forget" and invest without having to think about it
  • Automatically rebalances users' portfolio

Cons

  • 0.25% fee every year, which is more costly than similar app M1 Finance
  • Cannot pick and choose individual stocks or ETFs

Betterment is a great choice for new investors who want to put money away and not worry about it.

The platform is a robo-advisor that invests according to users' long-term goals. It sets the risk level based on factors like the user's current age, income and planned age of retirement.

Robo-advisors are algorithms that create and manage portfolios automatically. They invest primarily in shares of Exchange Traded Funds, or ETFs.

Robo-advisors tend to have low fees, which benefits beginning investors who don't have much money to spend.

Betterment also offers a "RetireGuide" function that helps users determine the amount of money they should be depositing each week to meet their retirement goal.

Fees[2]
Betterment charges 0.25% of a user's balance per year as a service fee. The app does not charge fees to make trades.

Works on: iPhone, Android

How to Get Started

  1. Sign up online or download the free app.

  2. Complete a short survey to determine a pre-made portfolio tailored to your goals and risk level.

  3. The app suggests a deposit amount, both the first time and on a recurring basis.

  • No minimum balance
  • Annual 0.25% fee under $100,000

App Store Rating: (4.7/5 stars out of 6.9K ratings)

Invest Spare Change with Acorns

Noteworthy Features

  • Round up your purchases to invest small amounts
  • Easy way to passively invest

Pros

  • No transaction fees
  • Allows users to invest without having to think about it
  • Users can customize which transactions get rounded up
  • Offers debit card and IRA account options
  • Automatically rebalances users' portfolio

Cons

  • Difficult to make substantial investments with only spare change
  • Cannot pick and choose individual stocks or ETFs

Acorns allows you to start saving with spare change. It may take longer to build substantial savings. But the platform is a good place to start.

Like Stash, the platform rounds up users' transactions to the nearest dollar amount, then deposits the spare change into an account. Once the account accumulates at least $5, it invests in a pre-selected portfolio.

Users can choose from a regular investment account, an account that features specific retirement options, or an account that features both retirement options and a debit card.

Fees[3]

  • $3/mo for Acorns Personal (includes personal taxable account, IRA, and checking account)
  • $5/mo for Acorns Family (includes everything in Personal plus investment accounts for kids)

There's no minimum deposit to get started with Acorns, and the app charges no trading fees.

Works on: iPhone, Android

How to Get Started

  1. Download the free app.

  2. Take the quiz to determine your goals and risk level.

  3. Make an initial investment after reviewing your portfolio. Or wait until your rounded-up transactions equal $5, and the app will automatically invest for you.

  • No minimum balance
  • $3-5 per month

App Store Rating: (4.7/5 stars out of 371.4K ratings)

Minimal Control: M1 Finance

Noteworthy Features

  • Expert-selected portfolios you can invest in with just a few clicks
  • No fees on robo portfolios

Pros

  • Free to use - no annual or per-trade fee
  • Invests in both stocks and ETFs
  • Users can choose individual stocks and ETFs
  • Can set up automatic withdrawals
  • Automatically rebalances users' portfolio

Cons

  • $100 minimum deposit
  • High monthly cost for premium service

M1 Finance is a robo-investor app that allows users more choice in their investments.

The platform creates a portfolio based on individual goals and circumstances. Users can choose and tweak from pre-made portfolios focused on retirement savings, investing in socially responsible companies, and more.

Fees[4]
The platform's basic service is free to use and charges no per trade fees. There is a $100 minimum to start investing.

M1 Plus costs $125 a year and features extra perks like:

  • A second trading window
  • 3.5% discount on borrow rates
  • 1.30% APY
  • 1% cash back on debit card purchases

Works on: iPhone, Android

How to Get Started

  1. Register to start an account.

  2. Take a short quiz to get a recommended portfolio based on your risk level and goals.

  3. Edit the portfolio to your liking; unlike with Betterment and Acorns, you can add individual stocks and ETFs.

  • $100 minimum deposit
  • No annual fee

App Store Rating: (4.7/5 stars out of 6.2K ratings)

Free Stock Trading: Robinhood

Noteworthy Features

  • Easy to use
  • No fees

Pros

  • No trade fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Allows total control of investments
  • Offers ETFs, stocks, options, and some cryptocurrency
  • Simple app lets users get started quickly

Cons

  • Choosing each individual trade can feel overwhelming for new investors
  • No pre-made portfolios
  • Does not offer goals like retirement saving

Unlike other apps on this list, Robinhood allows users to have full control over how and where to invest their money.

The platform has no pre-made portfolios. Instead, users invest in individual stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies, entirely for free.

Robinhood allows you to start investing even before your banking information is verified. After a deposit, you will receive a credit in the same amount to begin buying.

Fees[5]
With the basic app, everything from opening an account to making trades is free.

Robinhood primarily makes its money from users who pay an extra fee for the premium Robinhood Gold service. This allows trades on margin, which is essentially a loan. The service also makes money by lending out investors' idle money.

Works on: iPhone, Android

How to Get Started

You can open a high-yield savings account for near-future investments and set up a Roth IRA account for retirement. Here's how:

  1. Set up your account.

  2. Link and verify your bank account.

  3. Begin investing in available stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrency with your first deposit.

  • Completely free - no minimum investment
  • No per-trade fees

App Store Rating: (4.8/5 stars out of 620K ratings)

Best Customer Support: Ally Invest

Noteworthy Features

  • Investing, checking, savings, and retirement accounts all in one place
  • Customer support is available 24/7 over the phone or live chat

Pros

  • No commissions on stocks and ETFs
  • No account minimums
  • No advisory fees on Robo Portfolios
  • Many investment options and financial services

Cons

  • Fractional shares are not supported (higher trade requirements)
  • No virtual trading
  • Mutual fund trading fees
  • IRA transferring and closing fees

Ally Invest is one branch of services from Ally Financial, one of the world's largest banks and finance companies. You'll find plenty of financial services you can grow with for decades.

Ally is known for top-notch customer service, which is one area many investment apps struggle with. If you want a more personal touch and a one-stop shop for your financials, then Ally could be a great option.

Fees[6]
There are no commissions on stocks and ETFs. Options are $0 per trade but $0.50 per contract.

There are no account minimums.

Works on: iPhone, Android

How to Get Started

  1. Sign up for an account and input your personal info to verify your identity.

  2. Select a Self-Directed Trading Account or a Managed Portfolio.

  3. Fund your account.

  • No commissions
  • No account minimums

App Store Rating: (4.7/5 stars out of 43.9K ratings)

Best Tools: Webull

Noteworthy Features

  • Start investing with virtual money (a free paper trading account)
  • Active traders will love the many charts and tools

Pros

  • No commissions on stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency
  • No account minimums
  • Fractional shares starting at $5
  • Free extended trading hours
  • Free margin trading (minimum $2,000)
  • Advanced charts and research tools

Cons

  • Advanced tools can be overwhelming to beginners
  • No dividend reinvestment
  • No mutual funds
  • Cryptocurrency markup is a 100-basis point spread (1%)

Webull is a discount brokerage app with free trades and is best for more active traders who want plenty of advanced tools.

You have the option to invest in stocks and ETFs like most of the other apps. But you can also invest in options and cryptocurrencies. And you can do margin trading.

For beginners, their free paper trading account lets you start with virtual money. This is a great way to get a feel for trading without risking your hard-earned money.

Fees[7]
There are no commissions, inactivity fees, or maintenance fees. There is also no account minimum to start investing.

But you will pay the 100-basis point spread to trade cryptocurrencies (1% of your trade).

The margin trading account also requires a $2,000 minimum.

Should you try margin trading? Margin trading is for advanced investors. You're essentially taking out a loan to invest more in the hopes of making more profits. But you could also lose more money. Before trying this advanced trading strategy, look into the high risks of buying on margin.

Works on: iPhone, Android

How to Get Started

  1. Register to start an account and enter personal information to verify your identity.

  2. Input your Investment Information such as your experience, objectives, net worth, and more.

  3. Choose your account type: Margin or Cash Account. Most beginners will choose Cash Accounts. You can apply for Crypto Trading.

  • $0 minimum deposit
  • No annual fees

App Store Rating: (4.7/5 stars out of 272.1K ratings)

Invest With Friends: Public

Noteworthy Features

  • Learn investing from your friends and investors you respect
  • Themes make it easy to invest in your passions

Pros

  • No commissions
  • Fractional shares are available
  • Cryptocurrency is available
  • Fund your account with a debit card
  • Transparent fee schedule
  • See upcoming events with your favorite companies

Cons

  • Fewer stocks and ETFs than competitors
  • No portfolio building tools
  • No option to speak to a financial advisor
  • Cryptocurrency markup is 1% - 2%

Public is a good option for investors who want to collaborate on their investments with a community of like-minded friends - new and old.

The platform combines a modern investment app with social media. You can learn from experienced investors who publish their trades. Or connect with friends who are interested in similar investment "Themes," such as Combat Carbon (companies with a low carbon footprint).

It's also one of the few investment apps that let you invest in stocks and cryptocurrency.

With the rise of social media, investment apps realize that most young investors learn about investments from their friends. And their friends are hanging out on social media apps like Twitter. Companies like Public and eToro put these features together in user-friendly ways.

Fees[8]
Public has no commissions on stocks and ETFs. You will pay 1% to 2% markup on cryptocurrency trades.

Works on: iPhone, Android

How to Get Started

  1. Sign up online or download the free app.

  2. Complete your Investor Profile and link your bank account or debit card.

  3. Choose your investments.

  • No minimum balance
  • No commissions on stock and ETF trades

App Store Rating: (4.7/5 stars out of 56.3K ratings)

New Real Estate Investors: Fundrise

Noteworthy Features

  • Can invest in real estate for as little as $10
  • Low-cost way to diversify your portfolio

Pros

  • Low fees
  • No income or accreditation requirements
  • 90-day-money-back promise
  • Set and forget investing

Cons

  • Can't withdraw your investment for 5 years
  • Some hidden fees
  • Increased tax liability (must pay income tax on earnings)
  • Relatively new company

Fundrise is ideal for those wanting to invest in real estate with as little as $10. Real estate crowdfunding apps are a new way to invest your money in the real estate market without having to buy property.

Your money will be invested in buying new properties, renting properties, lending money, flipping properties, and more.

Why invest in real estate?Investing in real estate can be intimidating for new investors and it usually requires a higher initial investment as well. But real estate could appreciate between 12% - 15% annually, which is higher than average stock market returns.

Fees[9]

There is an all-in 1% management fee that's broken down as follows:

  • 0.85% annual asset management fee (covers operating costs of properties)
  • 0.15% annual advisory fee (covers Fundrise's services)

But a few other fees come with your investment in Fundrise.

  • 0 - 2% Origination Fee (covers acquisition costs when Fundrise purchases a new property)
  • 1% - 3% Early Redemption Fee (the charge if you withdraw your investments within 5 years)
  • $125 per year Self-Directed IRA Fee (covers management fees from Millenium Trust Company)

Investing with Fundrise saves you money on broker commissions, though, as there are no middlemen when investing in eREITs and eFunds

See Fundrise's Current Offer >>

Works on: iPhone, Android

How to Get Started

  1. Sign up for a Fundrise account online or through the app.

  2. Follow instructions to link and verify your bank account.

  3. Select your plan from Starter, Core, and Basic

  • Starter Portfolio has a $10 minimum investment
  • Dividends paid quarterly (you have the option to reinvest, but you must hold those reinvestments for a minimum of 5 years)

App Store Rating: (4.8/5 stars out of 21.7K ratings)

Bonus: Apps for Experienced Investors

Here are more solid choices for traders who want to become more involved with their investing. These apps charge an industry standard per-trade fee.

This typically allows for extra features like market insights, research, and predicted future analytics, which knowledgeable traders will likely appreciate.

Fidelity

  • Offers 350+ commission free Fidelity-affiliated ETFs, $0 per-trade fee for stocks and ETFs
  • No account fees
  • Dashboard includes news, research, insights
  • Integrates with Fidelity banking services

Read our full review of Fidelity here.

TD Ameritrade

  • Charges $0 per trade fee for ETFs and stocks
  • No minimum opening balance
  • Gives users access to thinkorswim trading platform, which offers advanced tools and research with no minimum investment required
  • Gives users access to 24/7 customer support

Read our full review of TD Ameritrade here.

Methodology: How We Chose the Best Investing Apps for Beginners

To come up with this list of the best investing apps for beginners, we compared different apps and especially paid attention to:

  • User friendliness: It's super important that the app is easy to use and intuitive for beginners. Because if you don't know how to use it, you won't. All these apps are designed with newbies in mind.

  • Minimums: Beginners may not be comfortable with investing large amounts, or may not have a lot of funds. These apps all let you get started with just a few bucks (except for M1 Finance, which has a $100 minimum).

  • Fees: You don't want too many fees eating in your profits. These apps all have no trading fees. Robo-advisory apps like Acorns and Betterment have a management fee, but it's not too much for beginners.

  • Investing guidance: We picked apps that ease beginners into investing. For example, Stash helps you build a personalized portfolio, while M1 Finance offers professional pre-set portfolios if you're not sure what to invest in.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I invest $5?
If you only have $5 to invest, the best option is to invest it into an ETF (exchange traded fund). An ETF is a collection of hundreds, or even thousands, of stocks. So with just 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.

Can you invest for free?
Most brokerages now have eliminated trading fees for stocks and ETFs. And a lot of platforms (like Robinhood and Stash) also support fractional shares, which lets you buy stocks starting with just $1. This is as close to starting for free as you can get.

How do I start investing with little money?
Look for a brokerage that supports fractional shares. This means that instead of needing enough money to buy one full share of a stock, you can just buy a tiny piece (as little as just $1 worth of a stock). All investing apps on our list lets you buy fractional shares.

Are investing apps safe?
If the investing app is registered with the SEC and FINRA, you can trust that it's a legit broker. Also, 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.

Bottom Line

If you have as little as an extra $5, there are plenty of low-risk ways to begin investing. These apps are all free to download and have low (or no) fees to use.

But which app should you use? Depends on how much you have to invest. Here are our top picks for your minimum balance.

How much do I have to invest?Where should I invest?
$5Acorns
$50Robinhood
$100M1 Finance

References

  1. ^ Stash Pricing, Retrieved 1/3/2022
  2. ^ Betterment Pricing, Retrieved 1/3/2022
  3. ^ Acorns Pricing, Retrieved 1/3/2022
  4. ^ M1 Finance Miscellaneous Fees, Retrieved 1/3/2022
  5. ^ Robinhood Fees, Retrieved 1/3/2022
  6. ^ Ally Invest Pricing, Retrieved 7/18/2022
  7. ^ Webull Fees, Retrieved 7/18/2022
  8. ^ Public Pricing, Retrieved 7/18/2022
  9. ^ Fundrise Fees, Retrieved 7/18/2022

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

Note: This website 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. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

eToro USA LLC; Virtual currencies are highly volatile. Your capital is at risk.

Paid non-client endorsement. See Apple App Store and Google Play reviews. View important disclosures. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

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Ally Invest Coupon Codes

Get Up to $3,000

Expires in 17 hours

The minimum qualifying deposit to receive a cash bonus is $10,000. Accounts will be reviewed 60 days after account opening to determine the total qualifying deposit. Corresponding cash bonus will be credited to the account within 10 business days. Once the bonus is credited to the account, the bonus and qualifying deposit (minus any trading losses) is not available for withdrawal for 300 days. If the qualifying deposit is withdrawn, the bonus may be revoked.

Deposit or TransferCash Bonus
$10,000 - $24,999$100
$25,000 - $99,999$250
$100,000 - $249,999$300
$250,000 - $499,999$600
$500,000 - $999,999$1,200
$1,000,000 - $1,999,999$2,000
$2,000,000+$3,000


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