The 5 Best Free Investing Apps to Grow Your Money
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You can do almost anything on your smartphone. I’d be lost without mine as I use it for so many things in my life. One of the ways I use my phone is to handle my investing needs. With the best free investing apps you can manage much of your investing needs at your fingertips, at any point of the day from wherever you might be at the time.
Many like to make investing in the stock market difficult. It really isn’t, if you handle it the right way. If you use your smartphone to manage different facets of your life, here are some of the best investing apps to manage your money.
Wealthsimple – start investing for Free
Wealthsimple is one of our best free investing apps as they make investing in the market incredibly simple. Wealthsimple is Canadian based and just branched out to serve clients here in the U.S. this year. Wealthsimple is a growing player in the robo-advisor space. Robo-advisors manage your investments for you without the crazy high fees you would typically pay a human advisor.
Wealthsimple allows you to do a number of things directly from their app, such as access basic investing training resources, view account records, review your portfolio and more. What sets Wealthsimple apart is their focus on Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), something not found at most other brokers.
If you start investing with less than $5,000, Wealthsimple offers free management for a year, when you sign up through our link, and charges a .50% annual fee after that for balances under $100,000 and .40% for those over $100,000.
You can also qualify for a bonus of up to $100 when opening a Wealthsimple account. If you’d like to read more about Wealthsimple, here’s our Wealthsimple review.
Acorns – Invest for Free While in College
Investing in the stock market with little money is a challenge for many. Acorns gets rid of that problem by allowing you to invest with as little as $5. With Acorns, you invest your spare change. For example, if you spend $4.02 on a gallon of milk, it invests the remaining $.98 for you.
Like Stash Invest, Acorns is best for beginning investors who struggle to save or have minimal funds to start investing. Acorns allows you to invest in a selection of six different low-cost ETFs and provides access to a variety of educational resources to help with your investing. The one drawback is that Acorns currently does not offer IRAs.
Acorns typically charges $1 per month for accounts under $5,000, and a .25% annual charge after that. However, if you’re 24 or under and attend college, you can invest for free with Acorns.
Robinhood – Trade Stocks for Free
Robinhood is the only true stock trading app in our list. With Robinhood, you can place market trades, as well as limit or stop trades for nothing. Yes, you read that right, it’s free to use. If you simply want to buy and sell stocks, then Robinhood may be for you. However, if you like to trade actively, you may want to look at other stock trading apps.
Robinhood is admittedly light when it comes to research tools. If you choose to use Robinhood to trade, you may want to pair it with other free investing tools to get the kind of research you want.
Despite that drawback, Robinhood does allow for instant trading, up to $1,000, when you deposit funds – as well as the ability not to have to wait on trades to settle to get access to your cash.
Robinhood does offer a paid service, known as Robinhood Gold, that gives you access to things like after-hours trading or margin capability.
TD Ameritrade – Get ETFs for Free
TD Ameritrade is one of the older online brokerages in this review. TD offers a wide array of investment options from stocks and bonds to managed accounts. TD Ameritrade was also a forerunner in the free ETF space. TD Ameritrade offers a list of just over 100 commission-free ETFs you can buy and sell for free.
Not all of the ETFs are equal, but TD does offer a wide variety of options, including some lower cost index funds. Beyond the commission-free ETFs, you can trade for $6.95 per trade, as well as enjoy a no minimum balance requirement to open an account.
The TD Ameritrade app itself is one of the best investment apps as it offers numerous robust tools – from trading tools to research and education. It’s above average in terms of usability and is fairly user-friendly.
Click here to open a TD Ameritrade account and start investing for free.
What places E*Trade on our list of free investing apps is the same as TD Ameritrade; they offer just over 100 commission-free ETFs you can buy or sell. Their list of ETFs is a bit more diverse than the one at TD, making them a bit better in my opinion.
However, I find the E*Trade app to be more cumbersome and less easy to use than the one at TD. It offers many of the same tools as the TD Ameritrade app, but is not as user-friendly.
Outside of the commission-free ETFs, E*Trade charges $6.95 per trade and allows you to open IRAs with no minimum balance.
Runner-Ups for the Best Free Investing Apps
WiseBanyan is a new player in the robo-advisor space and, like Robinhood, is completely free to use. Thanks to its youth, the customization and tools are lacking with the WiseBanyan app, but for someone wanting a simple, goals-based approach they might make a good fit.
If you’d like to learn more about WiseBanyan, here’s our WiseBanyan review.
I love me some Vanguard. We do all of our investing with Vanguard as we love their low-cost, simple approach to investing. Vanguard allows you to trade their ETFs for free, with no minimums; all you need is the ability to buy at least one share.
What holds Vanguard back is their app. It looks its age and doesn’t provide the amount of tools I’d like to see. That being said, I’m willing to overlook it thanks to their philosophy.
If you’d like to learn more about Vanguard, here’s our Vanguard review.
Stash Invest is very similar to Acorns. You can invest with as little as $5, but they also give you access to a number of individual stocks, and not just ETFs. Stash Invest is app-based only, and they provide a handful of resources to help you understand the basics of investing.
What puts them as a runner-up is they’re only free for the first month; after that they charge $1 per month for accounts under $5,000 and .25% annually for accounts under $5,000.
Fidelity is a legacy online broker, and they have a lot of great tools and resources, not to mention their offering of 85 commission-free ETFs. You can also place other stock trades at $4.95 per order, which is a great value.
However, I’d like to see a lower entry price for non-IRA accounts (theirs is $2,500) and would like to see a bit more functionality to put them among the best free investing apps.
You won’t be at a loss with many of these top stock trading apps. Find one that meets your needs, and you can start investing rather simply.
**Bonus option: If you’d rather not invest in the stock market, you can also invest in real estate through crowdsourcing. Fundrise lets you invest in commercial real estate and you can open an account with as little as $500. You typically need tens of thousands of dollars to invest in real estate. With Fundrise you can start small and invest in real estate from your phone!
What are some of your favorite money management apps? What do you look for when choosing an online broker? What ways do you try to save money when investing?
John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.
Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.
Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.
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