Investing is one of the best financial choices to support your family you can make. It's the key to being able to help your child pay for college and to support yourself in retirement. In the past, you had to be rich enough to pay a stockbroker if you wanted to be an investor, but times have changed.
Anyone who has created a budget to invest can get in on the fun, even right from the phone we know you have on you at all times. Investing apps is a crowded field, but these are the year's best stock trading apps.
Best for Beginners
Acorns will invest your pocket change, so even if you've struggled through financial hardship, you can start growing your wealth now.
Just link your checking account, and when you make a purchase, Acorns will round up the amount to the nearest dollar and transfer it to your Acorns account. Once the account has $5, Acorns invests that money. You can also manually transfer money into this account or set up regular automatic transfers.
When you create your account, you'll answer a few questions to help determine your risk tolerance. Based on that, Acorns will create a portfolio of stocks and bonds through an ETF, which means your investments will be diversified to insulate your investment from risk.
Investing with Acorns is painless. You won't even miss the money that's being invested for you. And because Acorns invests in ETFs, you don't have to do any research to choose individual investments. Once you've created your account, linked your bank account, and answered a few questions, your work is done. Acorns does the rest.
Best Free Trades
There's no such thing as a free lunch, but Robinhood lets you trade stocks for free! Most stock trading apps charge $4.95-$9.95 per trade, so if you're a frequent trader, when you trade through Robinhood you're in for some big rewards.
Robinhood allows you to trade stocks, ETFs, and recently Bitcoin if you're into cryptos. The app is easy to use. A few taps are all it takes to track, watch, and trade stocks. There is no minimum to open an account, but of course, you'll need enough in your account to make the buys you want.
Robinhood's site and service are pretty bare bones. This is an advantage for new investors, as it makes the process less confusing and great for savvy investors who know what they want before even logging in. For those in the middle, the lack of fancy research, charts, and graphs might be frustrating.
Best Full Service
One of the best ways to keep your finances simple is to keep as many accounts as you can in the same place. Fidelity allows you to do that. Not only is Fidelity a name in banking you can trust, but they're always improving their offerings to attract young investors.
Fidelity has recently decided to do away with fees, minimums, and has a low per trade fee of $4.95 which makes it very attractive for your one-stop-shopping, offering banking, credit cards, and investing options.
The Fidelity investing app offers one of the best suites of tools in the industry. The site offers stock research from 19 providers and ETF research from six providers. You can also see up-to-the-minute market quotes and breaking news stories right from your phone.
Because Fidelity has brick and mortar locations, investors can attend free seminars at branch locations across the country, a real benefit for new investors. If you can't make it to the in-person seminars, you can access a range of webinars on the site.
Best of the Old Timers
E*Trade was a trailblazer in the field of online investing, but unlike a lot of first wave companies, E*Trade hasn't tried to coast by on reputation alone. The mobile app is among the best in an industry filled with up-and-comers. It includes features like stock and ETF screeners, quotes in real time, and analyst reports.
There is no account minimum, and there's this tiered pricing system depending on the number of trades investors make each quarter:
- $9.99 for fewer than 150 trades per quarter
- $7.99 for 150 to 1,499 trades per quarter
- $6.99 for 1,500 and more trades per quarter
The app has a super cool feature that allows users to scan barcodes of products from publicly traded companies. The scan gives you information about the company that makes the products. The app also has voice recognition software that allows users to speak instead of type to get stock quotes, company data, and to start an order ticket.
Best for Infrequent Traders
TD Ameritrade is best for infrequent traders, not because it isn't a great app with advanced features but because the cost per trade is on the higher end for online traders, at $6.95 per trade. What balances that out and the reason we included it on our list of the year's best stock trading apps is that TD Ameritrade offers portfolio-building guidance and a ton of educational materials, a real benefit to newer investors.
The portfolio planner tool helps investors build a balanced portfolio of stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds. It also has a tool to help rebalance over time so your allocation remains the same. No matter how you like to learn, watching videos, attending seminars, taking quizzes Buzzfeed style, TD Ameritrade has you covered. Not only is the education comprehensive, but so are the methods.
Unless you're a day trader, don't be put off by the $6.95 per trade fee. TD Ameritrade's other offerings are more than worth it.
Best for Ethical Investors
Investing in ETFs is one of the best ways to invest because you don't have to do the research required to buy individual stocks, and they give you a balanced portfolio. You don't have to pick and choose each stock to make sure your investments are insulated from risk.
But what's in an ETF? You can find out, but it takes some digging, kind of defeating the purpose of what makes ETFs attractive (the ease of investing). And what if you don't want to invest in things like fossil fuels or in companies whose values don't align with your own?
Stash has you covered. Each ETF is named to reflect the individual securities that make it up. Clean and Green invests clean energy companies. Do the Right Thing invests in Spike Lee movies. Joking! The investments are in companies that make a positive impact on society and the environment.
Stash has a $5 minimum to open your account and a lot of educational materials available to customers.
Best for Parents
If you're a parent, one of the most important things you can do for your children is to teach them financial literacy. And what better way to teach than by doing? Stockpile isn't a stock buying simulation site, you can actually buy and sell stocks there, but parents can buy and give single shares of stock or fractional shares for a trading fee of just $0.99 per trade.
Buying fractional shares allows you to buy stocks you can't afford to buy an entire share of, so it gives you access to the Wall Street heavy hitters like Apple and Amazon. You can gift these shares to your children and make learning about investing hands on because you're dealing with actual money.
While we love this aspect of Stockpile, the ability to teach your kids about investing, long-time investors will find it rather bare bones for their needs. It doesn't have the research and educational bells and whistles some of the other contenders for the year's best stock trading apps offer.
Best for the Nervous
We know investing can seem intimidating, but really, anyone can do it. It's not as hard as financial advisors, who have a stake in keeping you in the dark, make it out to be, but if you're not convinced, you'll love TradeHero.
You get a $100,000 portfolio of pretend money that you can use to buy and sell stocks in the real market at their real prices. The results are real, but the gains or losses are not! TradeHero is a good place for beginners to gain some confidence, but it's also a great place for experienced investors to test out investment strategies with no actual risk.
If you start to get the hang of using TradeHero and hate to move to a new, unfamiliar online stock trading app to do the real thing, not to worry. TradeHero allows you to trade in real money, too, via derivative contracts though so we recommend switching to one of the other apps on this list when you're ready to start investing for real.
When You're Ready
Investing is easier and more accessible than ever. If you've been hesitant to start investing in the past, don't wait any longer. Whatever your hesitation, whether it be cost, inexperience, or plain old fear, one of the year's best stock trading apps has features that address those concerns. Now, investing is as easy as ordering an Uber.