The Best Investing Apps That Let You Invest for Free
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Investing is an important part of building wealth. The best free investing apps let you grow your wealth without paying trade commissions or account fees.
While many people believe investing in the stock market is difficult, it really isn’t. Some apps offer automated portfolios if you don’t want to self-manage your investments.
When comparing investing apps, you should consider these factors:
- Minimum initial deposit
- Trading fees
- Account fees
- Investment options (i.e., stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), index funds)
- Fractional share investing
- Automated portfolios
There are numerous trading platforms that provide these features at a minimal cost.
Top Free Stock Trading Apps
Many investing apps let you invest with little money and don’t charge fees. Each app offers different features. Here are the best investment apps to help you invest in stocks and ETFs.
1. SoFi invest
SoFi Invest is great for beginning investors or experienced investors alike. You can invest with no minimums and no fees. There are two investing options you can utilize.
SoFi Automated Investing is a robo-advisor that offers some advantages for investors, such as:
- No minimum investment
- No fees
- Goal planning
- Help managing your investments
- Automatic deposits
The automated platform manages your investments to ensure they’re aligned with your current and future goals.
SoFi Active Investing lets you choose how you want to invest. If you want to pick your own investments, there are plenty of reasons to choose SoFi Active Investing, including:
- No minimum investment
- No fees
- Ability to invest in fractional shares
- Connecting with other SoFi members to learn more about investing
- Discounts on other SoFi products
With SoFi Active Investing, you can learn about investing as you go and invest in brands you support. You can invest in stocks and ETFs.
The investment minimum for either SoFi option is $1. Other apps may require a $5 minimum trade per stock or ETF.
Best for: investors wanting a free robo-advisor and $1 investment minimums.
2. M1 Finance
M1 Finance is one of our favorite micro-investing apps since there are many investment options. It’s possible to buy your favorite stocks and ETFs while also getting access to premade portfolios with no account service fees.
Here are a few other reasons why M1 Finance is among the best investing apps:
- It’s free
- Start investing with as little as $100
- Invest in fractional shares
- Automate deposits
- They help you manage your investments
- Free consultation to help you walk through the app and how to use it
M1 Finance is a quasi-robo-advisor. They help manage your investments for you (like Betterment), but they give you the power to customize your investment plan.
When you open an account with M1 Finance, they help you determine your goal. Once you have your goal established, they have you create a “pie.”
A pie holds each of your stock or ETF investments. It can be as few or as many as you want. You can also have multiple pies within your account.
The broker then automatically rebalances your portfolio when you make new investments to maintain your target asset allocation. Subsequent minimum investments are $25 for taxable and retirement accounts.
If you don’t want to create your own pie, M1 Finance has over 100 “expert pies” you can use.
There are no charges or fees to do this. The only cost you may incur is if you choose an ETF. Most ETFs have very minimal management fees.
Read our M1 Finance app review to learn more about the broker.
Best for: buying automatic portfolio rebalancing.
Webull is a surprisingly powerful stock market app with commission-free investing. It has impressive charting tools that most free trading apps don’t offer.
Users can access Nasdaq TotalView Level II data free for the first three months.
Pre-market and after-hours trading sessions can be useful for short-term traders that trade stocks, ETFs, and options. Webull also allows you to simulate trades with a paper money trading account.
Investors can place market, limit, and stop trades. Many free stock market apps only have one or two daily trading windows and execute trades at the current market price.
One downside of Webull is that fractional share investing isn’t available. Webull is one of the few apps that requires you to buy whole shares of stocks and ETFs.
New investors can get up to four free stocks when joining Webull. Read the current promotion details for more information.
Best for: advanced stock research tools.
Robinhood is one of the first apps to offer free stock trading. With Robinhood, you can place market trades as well as limit or stop trades at no cost.
It’s possible to buy and sell stocks and ETFs for free. Fractional shares are available for as little as $1.
However, if you like to trade actively, you may want to look at other stock investment apps.
Robinhood is 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 allows instant trading, up to $1,000, when you deposit funds. It also offers the ability not to have to wait on trades to settle to get access to your cash.
A paid service, known as Robinhood Gold, is also available. This gives you access to things like after-hours trading, margin capability, and Morningstar research reports.
Best for: fractional investing as low as $1.
Fidelity is a legacy online broker that offers a great investment app for beginners. They have a lot of great tools and resources. Like most other brokers on our list, online stock and ETF trades are free.
There is no minimum account balance to open a taxable or retirement account. Also, the Fidelity Go robo-advisor platform doesn’t require a minimum balance and there is no advisory fee with an account balance below $10,000.
Here are several other reasons to consider Fidelity:
- Fidelity Zero index funds have no expense ratio
- Fractional investing for over 7,000 stocks and ETFs starts at $1
- Fidelity Go robo-advisor
- In-depth research reports
To trade fractional shares, investors need to use the Fidelity mobile app. This nifty investing feature isn’t available using the Fidelity web browser platform.
Best for: fee-free index funds.
Charles Schwab is one of the leaders in the online brokerage space. Like other investment apps, Schwab offers commission-free stock trades, commission-free ETFs, and numerous other investment options.
Investors can buy fractional stock slices of companies in the S&P 500 for as little as $5. Other stocks and ETFs require you buy an entire share. Fractional investing is available using the Schwab app and web browser platform.
In addition to making it easy to buy and sell stocks for free, Schwab offers in-depth research reports and charting tools. Other free investing apps may charge a fee to obtain the same information.
Schwab recently purchased TD Ameritrade to help enhance their investment offerings. The TD thinkorswim platform is free to use and is one of the best stock research tools available.
The one drawback to Schwab is that you can only buy fractional shares of S&P 500 stocks.
Aside from that, the broker is one of the top stock buying apps you can use.
Best for: commission-free trading and free research reports.
I love Vanguard. My wife and I do all of our investing with Vanguard because of their low-cost, simple approach. Vanguard has no minimums and allows you to trade their ETFs for free. All you need is the ability to buy at least one share.
What holds Vanguard back is their app. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to use as others. The good news is that Vanguard is launching a new app called Beacon that may be more user-friendly. Also, Vanguard doesn’t offer fractional share investing.
We’re willing to overlook that thanks to their philosophy. Vanguard doesn’t encourage short-term trading like some investing apps. Frequent trading can result in poor investment performance and frustration.
Instead, Vanguard encourages long-term investing using low-cost index funds. Buy and hold investors might benefit from using Vanguard due to the platform’s short-term trading restrictions on certain products.
*Related: Starting with little money? Check out our guide of free passive income apps that let you start investing with little money.*
It’s free to buy and sell stocks and ETFs, including non-Vanguard ETFs. Vanguard also offers socially responsible funds to avoid controversial investing sectors.
While you need a $3,000 initial investment for most funds, the Vanguard mutual funds are highly-respected. Unlike the similar Vanguard ETFs, the mutual funds only require a $1 follow-up investment.
If you’d like to learn more about Vanguard, here’s our Vanguard review.
Best for: index fund investors and “buy and hold” investors.
Other Investing Apps
There are several other stock investing apps that can help you earn passive income. It’s important to note that these apps charge more fees. This can mean less cash to invest.
Fundrise is a unique alternative to stock investing apps or buying rental properties. Instead of investing in stocks and ETFs, you invest in commercial and multifamily real estate across the United States.
Investing in crowdfunded real estate can be less volatile than the stock market and allow you to earn competitive annual returns. It’s possible to get dividends without worrying about the daily share price volatility of real estate stocks.
The minimum initial investment is $500 for a starter portfolio. Choosing a $1,000 account balance unlocks a core investing strategy that can focus on either dividend income, balanced dividends and growth, or a growth-focused portfolio.
Each portfolio is an eREIT (real estate investment trust) that invests in properties across the United States. Unlike stock investing, real estate crowdfunding is illiquid and requires a five-year investment commitment to avoid redemption fees.
Most portfolios charge up to one percent in annual advisory fees. The early redemption fee is as high as three percent when selling shares before five years.
Investing in stocks is a terrific way to save for the future. However, real estate is a legitimate way to build wealth outside the stock market.
If you’re looking for a long-term investing idea and can’t afford to invest in physical real estate, Fundrise is one of the best options.
Read our Fundrise review to learn more about real estate crowdfunding.
Best for: real estate investments.
Stash Invest is a stock-buying app that lets you start investing with as little as $5. It’s possible to invest in individual stocks and ETFs with taxable and retirement accounts.
There are also a handful of resources to help you understand the basics of investing. With the exception of the legacy online brokers, many free investing apps don’t offer educational tools for new investors.
Be aware that Stash is only free for the first month. A monthly plan costs either $1, $3, or $9 after the free trial. More expensive plans include additional features like retirement plans, child investment accounts, and research reports.
Stash offers fractional shares for stocks and ETFs. Each member also gets a “Stock-Back Card” debit card. This allows them to buys shares of stock of the retailer where they shop. For instance, shopping at Amazon means you can buy a partial share of Amazon stock instead of cash back rewards.
The Stock-Back Card links to a free online checking account. This Stash checking account and rewards debit card are optional but can offset the monthly fee.
You can read our review of Stash Invest to learn more about how the platform operates.
Best for: new investors and earning stock rewards when shopping.
Investing in the stock market with limited money can be a challenge for most people. 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 $0.98 for you.
Acorns is best for beginning investors who struggle to save or have minimal funds to start investing. Similar to a robo-advisor, Acorns allows you to invest in a selection of six different low-cost index ETF portfolios. However, it’s not possible to invest in individual stocks or ETFs.
There is access to a variety of educational resources to help with your investing. These learning tools and the premade ETF portfolios can make it easy for new investors to build a diversified portfolio.
Acorns offers taxable and retirement accounts for adults plus child investment accounts. In addition to the spending roundups, Acorns partners with online shopping partners to provide cash back. The app invests your shopping rewards once you reach a $5 minimum balance.
Its micro-investing features make Acorns a terrific option to consider.
Like Stash, Acorns has three different monthly plan options. Each plan costs either $1, $3, or $5. However, if you’re 24 years old or under and attend college, you can invest for free with Acorns.
Read our review of Acorns here to learn more.
Best for: investing purchase roundups.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about investing apps.
Are investing apps safe?
Yes, free investing apps are safe to use. They offer the same SIPC coverage you receive at online brokerages as well as other protections.
Can I invest in anything on stock trading apps?
It depends on the app. Some investing apps offer a full range of investment options, including stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds.
Others may only provide premade ETF baskets. It’s best to find one that meets your needs and use that to invest.
Do investing apps really work?
Yes, stock investing apps really work and often charge fewer fees than online brokers.
Depending on your needs, investment apps can be a solution for two groups of people. These include those new to investing and those wanting to supplement their other investments.
While you may not be able to grow a six-figure portfolio on an app, they all offer legitimate ways to grow your wealth.
What app gives you free stock?
In the past, platforms would temporarily waive monthly account fees or trading fees. Today, some stock trading apps offer free stock shares to new members who make a qualifying minimum initial deposit.
Webull has one of the best free stock promotions. Investors can earn at least two free stock shares worth up to $250.
What is the best investment app for beginners?
SoFi Invest can be the best option for new investors. Each trade has a $1 minimum for select stocks and ETFs with SoFi Active Investing. Other investing apps don’t offer fractional investing or community member benefits.
Not all beginner investors want to self-manage their portfolio and need help building their portfolio. The SoFi Automated Investing robo-advisor can remove investing challenges and let you get started with as little as $1.
Investing in the stock market and other investment options is relatively simple. You don’t need a lot of money and can succeed with a little education.
Take advantage of one of the free investing apps above and start growing your money today.
What are some of your favorite money management apps? When choosing a stock investing app, what characteristics are important? What have you done to start investing for free or cheap?
You are being referred to SoFi Wealth, LLC’s website (“SoFi Invest”) by Frugal Rules and Ink Harmony, LLC, a solicitor of SoFi Invest (“Solicitor”). The Solicitor that is directing you to this webpage will receive compensation from SoFi Invest if you enter into an advisory relationship or into a paying subscription for advisory services. Compensation to the Solicitor may be up to $1,500. You will not be charged any fee or incur any additional costs for being referred to SoFi Invest by the Solicitor. The Solicitor may promote and/or may advertise SoFi Invest’s investment adviser services and may offer independent analysis and reviews of SoFi Invest’s services. SoFi Invest and the Solicitor are not under common ownership or otherwise related entities. Additional information about SoFi Invest is contained in its Form ADV Part 2A available here.
Other Investment Options to Consider
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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