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10 Best Free Investing Apps in 2021

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Do you currently pay high fees to invest? Do you only invest small amounts of money and can’t afford the fees most online brokers charge? It’s time to consider these investing apps instead. You won’t pay any annual account fees that eat into your investment returns.

For “hands-off” investors that don’t want to handle the daily investing decisions and portfolio rebalancing, some of these apps can manage your entire account.

Regardless of your investment background and strategy, these apps can help you maximize your returns at the lowest possible cost.

What to Expect from Free Investing Apps

Since you invest to boost your income, the notion of free investing apps boils down to more money in your wallet every month!

These free investing apps let you trade almost anything. Some apps specialize in ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds), others might only trade stocks, and some are a full-service brokerage offering stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds and forex.

In addition to the different investment options, you will need to pay attention to the research and charting capabilities. Some are very primitive while others will let you run more than 100 different charts on your phone or tablet.

Whether you are a novice investor or have been investing for 30 years, you can choose a fully automated app and others are entirely self-directed.

When choosing an investing app keep these three criteria in mind:

  • Investment options
  • Research capabilities
  • Is the app self-directed (DIY) or automated?

Knowing how each of these free investment apps works will help you better choose the app that’s right for you. Now, on to our favorite free investment apps.

1. Betterment

Betterment is one of the most popular “robo-advisors” because of their low fees, ease-of-use and automatic portfolio rebalancing.

They also include tax-loss harvesting for free. That means Betterment will try to make tax-friendly investments whenever possible to keep your year-end capital gains as low as possible.

To start investing with Betterment, you only need $1. After filling out the initial questionnaire where Betterment determines your investment goals and risk tolerance, they will invest in an ETF portfolio of stocks and bonds.

As you grow older, Betterment will automatically shift your portfolio allocation from stock-centric ETFs to more bonds that are less volatile as you age and near retirement.

Socially responsible investing portfolios are available too. But these funds have higher fund fees than a standard index fund strategy.

The basic management fee is 0.25% on your total portfolio value. It’s possible to waive the management fees for one year depending on your initial deposit amount.

Read our full Betterment review here.

2. Acorns

Acorns a micro-investing app you link to your credit card or debit card. The app rounds up each purchase and invests the difference in an ETF portfolio.

You can also earn cash rewards by shopping online that Acorns invests. Some online stores award up to 10% back. In essence, you can invest free money.

While this shouldn’t be your primary investing platform, it can be an excellent side hustle that helps you build a small nest egg without realizing money is being taken out of your checking account.

It does cost $1 a month to use Acorns so this app isn’t free to use. But if Acorns can turn your spare change into profit, the dividends can offset the monthly fee. The investable shopping rewards can be worth more than the fee too.

Read our Acorns review to learn more about round-up investing.

3. WeBull

An up-and-coming free investing app is Webull. All stock and ETF trades are free. You can even trade foreign-listed ADR companies other free investing apps don’t offer.

Webull also lets you trade options and cryptocurrency. But you must buy whole shares of stocks and ETFs.

You can access Webull from their Android or iOS app plus any computer.

Webull offers some of the best stock research tools for a free investing app. These tools can be good for short-term traders that rely on technical analysis.

One cool tool you may like is paper trading. This tool lets you simulate trading stock to see what your potential profit or loss can be.

Webull doesn’t require a minimum balance to join. Although a $100+ opening deposit lets you get one free stock. Your free stock will be worth between $8 and $1000. Which stock you get is a mystery.

Read our full Webull review to learn more.

4. Robinhood

Do you want an app that lets you trade stocks and options for free?

Robinhood has an investing app and a laptop-accessible platform. This app doesn’t steal from the rich to give to the poor like its namesake. However, you will pay $0 per trade making this the cheapest way to buy and sell stock shares and ETFs.

It’s possible to buy fractional shares of stocks and ETFs with a $5 minimum investment. Not all investing apps offer fractional share investing.

If you still rely on research reports and advanced charting before you trade as Robinhood only has very basic charting capabilities. But the fractional investing feature is a good tradeoff.

Robinhood and Webull operate very similar. Read more about the two here. Both investing apps are good choices but each fits different investing needs.

Read our Robinhood review to learn more.

5. Ally Invest

If you use Ally for your online banking, Ally Invest can be a convenient investment option. The minimum initial deposit is $0 to open a Self-Directed Account.

The Ally Invest features are robust and easy to use too. There are several stock screener tools for trading stocks and options, including a trading simulator and probability calculator.

Stock and ETF trades are free. Options trades are commission-free but cost $0.50 per contract.

Another reason to consider Ally Invest is access to the Managed Portfolios feature. Investors can divide their portfolio between a Managed Portfolio and buy handpicked stocks and ETFs in a Self-Directed Account.

Also, the Ally Invest Managed Portfolios don’t have an advisory fee like most robo-advisors. But these portfolios maintain a higher cash balance than other automated investing apps.

Read our full Ally Invest review.

6. M1 Finance

M1 Finance is another free investing app that can be good for those wanting a free robo-advisor. Investors can invest in premade portfolios that don’t charge an annual advisory fee.

DIY investors can also build a self-managed portfolio of stocks and ETFs. M1 Finance offers fractional shares for all stocks, ETFs and premade portfolios.

M1 Finance touts itself as a hybrid of a robo-advisor and traditional investment broker. This is because it offers automated investments but also includes customization options.

Unlike full-service robs-advisors, M1 Finance doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting.

Note that M1 Finance doesn’t offer 529 plans or 401k plans. However, it does offer IRAs include Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs and SEP IRAs.

The initial account minimum is $100 for brokerage accounts and $500 for retirement accounts before you can make your first trade. Subsequent trades have a $25 minimum.

Read our full M1 Finance review.

7. Personal Capital

Personal Capital is a two-fold financial platform. Many people use Personal Capital’s free budgeting app to track their spending and create financial goals.

They even have a free investment fee analyzer that looks at your current investments and makes recommendations to find similar low-fee funds.

Many people also like to use Personal Capital as a net worth tracker.

If you have at least $100,000 to invest, you can invest with Personal Capital and have free access to a financial advisor. Even if you don’t have this much capital to invest (yet), you can track your current investments for free regardless of which brokerage you use.

If you use more than one broker, Personal Capital can be the easiest way to see all your money in one place.

Read our full Personal Capital review.

8. Vanguard

Vanguard is one of the oldest and largest online brokers and offers free stock and ETF trades. This broker manages several stock and bond index ETFs that most robo-advisors invest in.

By investing directly with Vanguard, you can avoid the robo-advisor annual advisory fees. You will need to be comfortable managing your own portfolio though.

As Vanguard has a loyal group of investors known as Bogleheads, finding investment ideas can be easy. You may decide to build a “three-fund portfolio.”

Stocks and ETFs can have the lowest investment minimums but investors must purchase whole shares.

Many Vanguard mutual funds have a $3,000 minimum initial investment. Their Target Retirement funds require a $1,000 initial investment. Despite this high initial investment, subsequent investments are only $1.

9. Fidelity

There is a lot to like about Fidelity which is one of the largest online brokers.

First, there is no account minimums for taxable and retirement investing accounts. Investing accounts for children are available too.

Like the other free investing apps, it’s free to trade stocks and ETFs. There is also a lineup of Fidelity ZERO index mutual funds with no fund fees, trade fees and a $1 investment minimum.

With the Fidelity mobile app, fractional investing is available for over 7,000 US stocks and ETFs. Investors must buy whole shares when using the Fidelity website on their laptop.

One other reason to consider Fidelity is for its analyst reports and research tools. Many barebones investing apps only stream the news headlines and have some charting tools.

When performing investment research with Fidelity, investors can read free third-party reports from well-known research firms.

Those wanting an automated investment portfolio can consider Fidelity Go. This robo-advisor doesn’t charge an advisory fee for account balances below $10,000.

Read our Vanguard vs. Fidelity comparison to choose the better online broker.

10. TD Ameritrade

Consider TD Ameritrade if you want impressive research tools. TD Ameritrade offers impressive charting tools and third-part analyst reports with its web browser and mobile app.

Its thinkorswim platform for advanced traders is free to use. Other brokers charge a hefty fee to provide similar features.

Stock and ETF trades are free. There are no account minimum for taxable and retirement accounts.

New and experienced investors can also benefit from the TD Ameritrade education tools. There are short online videos and live webinars covering popular investing topics.

Read our TD Ameritrade review to learn more.

Summary

Not having to pay trade commissions or account fees makes it easier for any person to invest and begin earning compound interest.

And using popular investment apps like the ones mentioned above can help make investing easier and more convenient than ever. Whether you’re investing in stocks, ETFs or real estate, there’s a free investing app that can help you.

Which investment do you prefer? Stocks, ETFs, Real Estate, Both? And which free investment app have you tried?

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