Best Investment Apps to Get Started With Any Budget was written by Andrew Herrig and originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks. Andrew Herrig is the founder of Wealthy Nickel, where he writes about personal finance, side hustles, and entrepreneurship. As an avid real estate investor and owner of multiple businesses, he has a passion for helping others pursue financial independence and shares his own family’s journey on his blog. It has been republished with permission. Please note that contributing opinions are that of the author. They are not always in strict alignment with my own opinions.
Are you looking for the newest and best investment apps? There is no shortage of apps to help you run your investment empire from your phone.
Mobile investing has been on the rise for several years, with over 150 million users in 2021, up more than threefold from 2016.
With today's best investment apps, all of your finances are just a few taps away. But the array of options and features can be dizzying. Do you need an individual retirement account or an individual brokerage account? Can you transfer money automatically? What about account service fees?
Set your worries aside, and let this guide help you decide which one is the best fit for you.
Best Investment Apps at a Glance
If you're short on time, here are a few major investment apps available in popular categories.
- M1 Finance – One of the most flexible investing apps that allows you to create unique portfolios and purchase fractional shares.
- Robinhood – Perhaps the most well-known trading app that allows free stock trades.
- Betterment – One of the original robo-advisors for those who like a hands-off approach to investing.
- Fundrise – An app that makes passive real estate investment accessible to the average investor.
1. M1 Finance: Best All-in-One App
M1 Finance is one of the most flexible investing apps out there. It's like a blend of Betterment (Robo-advisor) and Robinhood (free stock trading apps), with its unique spin on asset allocation.
While most Robo-advisors lock you into their pre-selected mix of ETFs, M1 Finance differs. They offer “pies,” which allow you to create your portfolio allocations. For example, if you are a big fan of Tesla, you can make a pie that includes 25% Tesla stock and 75% of whatever else (diversified ETFs, other individual stocks, etc.)
If that amount of control is too much for you, you can also invest in pre-defined expert pies and still benefit from automatic rebalancing and free ETF and stock trades.
Another unique feature of M1 Finance is M1 Borrow, which allows you to borrow up to 35% of your taxable account value at a low-interest rate (3.5-5.0% as of this writing). You can use these funds for anything – buying a car, fixing your house, etc. Since the value of your investment assets secures the loan, there is no set timeline for repayment.
This feature can be helpful as an emergency fund or source of short-term borrowing when you need it.
2. Fundrise – Best Real Estate Investing App
Alternative investments outside the stock market used to be reserved for the ultra-wealthy. But thanks to the JOBS Act, many new investment classes are now open to unaccredited investors – those with a net worth of less than $1 million.
Fundrise offers passive real estate investing to the masses and boasts 300,000 active investors and over $160 million in dividends since the app's inception.
The app offers access to commercial real estate equity and debt deals through managed funds called eREITs. In exchange for performing asset management, Fundrise charges a 1% annual fee.
3. Acorns – Best for Automatic Savings
Acorns was one of the original investing apps, but it's still around and thriving for a reason. The Acorns app makes saving and investing easy and automatic, which is suitable for both beginner and advanced investors.
One of Acorn's main benefits is its “round-up” feature, which links to your bank account and sweeps excess change from each purchase into your Acorns account. So if you spend $3.30 on your morning coffee, it automatically rounds up to $4.00 and deposits $0.70 in your savings account.
While it's not the same as learning how to make extra money, it's close to finding free money in your couch cushions! By working behind the scenes to add to your savings, you don't even have to think about it, which often helps people save more with less effort.
Once the money is in your account, investing with Acorns is pretty simple too. Depending on your age, investing goals, and time horizon, the app recommends one of five different portfolios. While the lack of control over your investments may be a con for some, it adds to the app's hands-off approach to help you save and invest.
4. SoFi Invest – Best App for New Investors
SoFi started in the student loan space and has branched out to offer many other financial planning products. Aimed at younger investors, SoFi Active Investing offers free trades of stocks and ETFs and the ability to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, all with a $0 account minimum. It also provides the ability to trade fractional shares.
More advanced investors will probably want access to more options, such as mutual funds, bonds, and more. However, with low account minimums and even access to free financial counseling, SoFi can be an excellent option for new investors.
5. Finny – Best for Personal Finance Education
Finny is an up-and-coming personal finance education web app. If you need to learn about or get a refresher on topics like budgeting, managing debt, investing, taxes, and more, Finny makes learning simple and fun through its game-based approach. Lessons are bite-sized and quiz-based. You earn gold coins when you answer questions correctly and can redeem them for tangible rewards.
Finny also has an engaging financial education discussion forum. Ask any personal finance question, and you'll be sure to get intelligent and thoughtful responses from their community. What's unique about Finny's discussions is that they also have verified Financial Coaches responding to members' posts on various financial topics, all for free.
6. Robinhood – Best for Free Stock Trading
Robinhood is a free app that lets you trade stocks, mutual funds, options, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and even cryptocurrency. Their claim to fame is no commissions or fees and no account minimum. If you want to start building your portfolio, Robinhood is one of the simplest and cheapest platforms.
The app is streamlined and easy to use for anyone familiar with a smartphone. Robinhood doesn't have many bells and whistles, which can be good or bad depending on your expectations. But it accomplishes its core mission, allowing you to quickly and easily trade stocks and track your portfolio.
7. Betterment – Best Robo-Advisor
Betterment was one of the first and most successful Robo-advisors, providing tools and questionnaires to help you find the right mix of investments for your age and risk tolerance.
Betterment will ask for your income and investing goals when signing up.
From there, it will help you craft a balanced portfolio to achieve your goals. Its management fee of 0.25% is as good or better than most other Robo-advisor platforms. For 0.4%, you can get access to a human, financial advisor.
Another useful feature in the app is automatic tax-loss harvesting, which helps you buy and sell to achieve paper losses you can use to offset gains on your taxes.
8. Ally Invest – Best Full-Featured Broker
If you are an active trader, you may need more features than many simple investing apps can offer. Ally Invest offers $0 commissions on eligible U.S. securities, a $0 minimum balance, a large selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds, and very low fee options trading, making it one of the best investment apps.
For the experienced investor, Ally also offers Forex trading, portfolio rebalancing features, and tons of research and technical indicators not available in some other apps.
One of Ally Invest's standout features compared to traditional brokers is its web-based live trading platform. Instead of downloading software to access the trading platform, you can open it in your web browser from whatever computer you are using.
9. Vanguard – Best for Index Fund Investing
Vanguard is the grandfather of modern investing apps. They introduced low-fee index fund investing way back before it was cool.
While there aren't many bells and whistles (or technically even an app), Vanguard makes it super simple to invest in quality index funds that consistently offer some of the lowest fees.
10. Personal Capital – Best App for Investment Tracking
While Personal Capital's $100,000 minimum investment may be too high for some, everyone can use their free tools to track external investment accounts and net worth.
For those interested in a more human-centric financial management, Personal Capital offers access to a team of financial advisors or even your advisor if you invest $200,000 or more. You pay more for this feature than a Robo-advisor, starting at 0.89% and going down to 0.49% for larger accounts.
11. Stockpile – Best Investment App for Gifting Stock
Are you looking to give your kids more than toys and clothes for Christmas? The Stockpile app was founded by a CEO who wanted to provide stocks for his nieces and nephews.
With the Stockpile app, you can give a gift card redeemable for stock shares. It also allows you to buy fractional shares. So if you wanted to invest in Amazon but didn't have a few thousand dollars, you could buy a partial share for $100 or $200.
12. Stash – Best for Fractional Share Investing
Stash is a personal finance app that is a great place to start investing as a beginner. You can trade stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptos to diversify your portfolio. Stash features offer fractional share options, financial planning tools, banking, and a Stock-Back card. While they charge a monthly fee, Stash also offers all features you need to manage your finances.
When you sign-up for an account, Stash will have you answer a few questions about your financial goals so they can offer helpful financial tips. Next, you'll pick a plan, add money to your account, and get started. You can use their bank account as an automated investing platform to invest in fractional shares, create a budget, and track your spending. You'll even earn stock rewards for your everyday spending.
13. Webull – Best Free App
Webull is another investment app that allows zero commissions and no deposit minimums to access its trading platform. You can invest in ETFs, mutual funds, and stocks.
As you become more familiar with investing, you can take advantage of their full extended trading hours, in-depth analysis tools, and fully customizable desktop platform.
14. Interactive Brokers – Most Versatile
Interactive Brokers is a versatile platform that has dozens of features to meet the needs of a wide range of investors. Whether for first-time investors or seasoned veterans, I found that Interactive Brokers was a great platform to use.
Some of the benefits of IG are low commissions on trading, particularly for high-frequency traders and those with high account balances. Lots of options regarding the type of investment products (stocks, options, bonds, warrants, futures, forex, etc. Accounts can hold most major currencies, allowing for access and exposure to different markets worldwide.
Interactive brokers is also available in other countries like Canada, for example.
Where to begin if you're looking for the best stock trading or trades trading tools? Investment apps allow a wide array of stock trading apps and investment options out there; it can be confusing or overwhelming to find the best apps. Hopefully, I highlighted enough of the differences between each to help you choose what is more appealing.
You'll never find the best online stock trading app for you unless you get started. But, I urge you to take the first step and try one! Whether you're starting small and learning how to invest $1,000 and double it or growing your portfolio to $100,000 or more, investing is one of the best ways to build passive income and net worth.
With enough time, the power of compounding will help you grow your wealth beyond what you thought possible.
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