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Investing is a key part of anyone’s path to financial freedom. But how do you get started? Whether you are kicking off your investment journey or looking to level up, the best investing apps can help.
With so many apps to choose from, we rounded up the top investing apps so you can find one that fits your financial goals. We reviewed them based on ease-of-use, fees, investing options, features, and more. Here our our top picks for 2021:
- M1 Finance: Best overall (with signup bonus)
- Betterment: Best for socially responsible investing
- Wealthfront: Best for automated investing and financial planning
- Personal Capital: Best for retirement planning
- Acorns: Best for beginner investors
- Ally Invest: Best sign-up bonus
- TD Ameritrade: Best trading platform (thinkorswim)
- Robinhood: Best for low fee stock trading
- Fidelity: Best customer service and low fees
- Vanguard: Best for low cost index funds
10 Best Investing Apps for 2021
Whether you are new to investing or wanting to upgrade to a better investing app, we’ve reviewed the top options available today. Some of these apps are perfect for beginners, while some give you advanced trading options in the palm of your hand.
And don’t worry, we’ve found the best features available to give you the low-down on each app.
Check out our favorite investing apps of 2021 below:
M1 Finance: Best overall (with signup bonus)
This commission-free app is quickly becoming an investing fan favorite for good reason. The low minimum balance to get started ($100) means virtually anyone can open an account. Plus, there are no monthly fees.
You can use the app to set up your own fully customized portfolio or you can follow one of their pre-set portfolios created by investing experts (called “Expert Pies”). M1 Finance also allows automatic deposits at no charge. That way, you can put your investment strategy on autopilot.
Plus, there’s a bonus! If you download the M1 Finance app and fund your account with a qualifying balance, you snag a bonus after 30 days.
M1 Finance Best Feature: Investing Pies
One of the standout aspects of the M1 Finance app is its use of investing pies. It’s not quite as delicious as dessert, but these pies are a powerful way to set up and monitor the building blocks of your portfolio.
If you want to create a Custom Pie, you have the option of completely customizing your portfolio. That means that you can include individual stocks, ETFs, and even picks from experts.
You can also use Expert Pies. These Pies are portfolios that investment experts put together. With Expert Pies, you can make selections based on your goals or how much risk you want to take on.
To try out investing pies and claim your sign-up bonus, simply open a free M1 Finance account here.
Personal Capital: Best for Retirement Planning
Investing with Personal Capital combines the power of a robo-advisor with the personal touch of human advisors. Personal Capital’s fees are lower than the industry average, with management fees ranging from 0.49%-0.89%, while most advisors charge 1.0% (or more). There is a $100,000 account minimum for advisory accounts.
While this minimum certainly rules out a lot of beginner investors, anyone can take advantage of the retirement planning tools on the FREE Personal Capital app.
That’s right. Even if you don’t use Personal Capital’s wealth management for investing, you can still access a plethora of financial planning tools for free.
Personal Capital Best Feature: Retirement Fee Analyzer
The more money you keep, the more money you have. It’s really common sense, but it’s also a huge stumbling block for many investors. No matter how high your savings rate, if you allow your investments to be eaten up by high fees, you aren’t saving and investing as effectively as you think.
The Retirement Fee Analyzer tool is free within the Personal Capital app. It can help you assess your current investments and determine if there is a way to reduce your fees. The tool looks at expense ratios, administrative fees, and unpublished fund fee data. It can even show you how much of your retirement will be depleted by fees over time (scary!).
Acorns: Best for Beginner Investors
Acorns is definitely the best investing app for beginners. This app allows investors to get started in a variety of ways. You can set up recurring transfers, and you can also round up after making purchases on connected spending cards.
To reduce some of the analysis paralysis beginner investors face, Acorns also makes specific recommendations based on a sign-up survey. That way, you can be sure that the ETFs you are investing in match your goals and risk tolerance.
A word of caution with Acorns: Since there is no balance to sign up and the app is helpful for beginner investors, you want to weigh the fees against what you have invested. Depending on how you use the app, you will be charged $1, $3, or $5 per month. With only $100 invested, a $5 charge is the same as a 5% fee!
Acorns Best Feature: Round Up to Invest
Acorns stands out from the other best investing apps because of its round-up feature. These round-ups make it easy for everyone to invest, even if you feel like you don’t have large amounts of money to set aside each month.
As an Acorns investor, you can link specific accounts to your Acorns account. Then, when you make a purchase, the spare change is rounded up and invested. You can link your checking account, debit card, credit card, or any combination of the three.
Betterment: Best for Socially Responsible Investing
Are you interested in socially responsible investing? Betterment is the perfect tool for you. While it’s not an individual stock trading app, Betterment excels for investors who want hands-off investing.
As a robo-advisor, Betterment allows you to put your money into a socially responsible portfolio vetted by Betterment. You can also personalize your portfolio based on your future goals.
Betterment ETFs are all low cost, and there is no account minimum to get started. Fees for the digital account clock in at 0.25% of assets.
Betterment Best Feature: Socially Conscious Investments
Are you looking to help your money go green(er)? Want to make sure the companies you back with your investments are doing some good in the world?
Betterment’s socially responsible portfolio is made up of companies that fit a particular criteria. To meet that criteria, companies are evaluated on things like diversity, eco-impact, and structure. If you want to make more socially conscious investments while still automating your money, Betterment is the app for you.
Wealthfront: Best for Automated Investing and Financial Planning
Wealthfront is a robo-advisor rolled into an app. It shines in terms of encouraging automated investing, and it also has different features to help with financial planning.
When you set up your account and schedule automatic transfers, Wealthfront gets to work. As your money grows, Wealthfront keeps adding to your portfolio. It also balances your portfolio, which means your money keeps working toward your goals.
There is a $500 minimum to open an account and a fairly typical management fee of 0.25% of assets.
Wealthfront Best Feature: Time Off to Travel
Are you itching to take a sabbatical? Going to try out nomadic living for a while? Maybe you want more time at home with your kids. Wealthfront includes a Time Off to Travel feature that analyzes all of your financial data to show you what’s possible.
Taking time off feels like an impossibility for most people. However, by drilling into your numbers, you can get an honest assessment of how much time away you can take without sacrificing your other goals.
After reviewing all of your financial accounts, Wealthfront can help show you exactly how much time off you can take, how much it will cost, and the total impact on your goals.
This is pretty powerful for a free tool!
Ally Invest: Best Sign-up Bonus
Ally built a reputation on competitive account bonuses. Ally Invest is no different. Investors can earn big by opening an Ally Invest Self-Directed account.
To qualify for the top tier of the Ally Invest bonus, you need millions of dollars. That might be out of reach for most people. But if you’ve been investing for a while and you deposit or transfer at least $10,000 into an Ally Invest account, you can score a $100 bonus.
Ally Invest also boasts $0 commissions and a wide selection of ETFs.
Ally Invest Best Feature: Banking Capabilities
Ally is beloved in the world of savings and checking accounts. It makes sense, then, that one of the standout features of Ally Invest is how well it integrates with banking capabilities.
Investors can move cash in and out of Ally Invest seamlessly. When you move money between accounts using the mobile apps, you can see updated account information in seconds.
TD Ameritrade: Best Trading Platform (thinkorswim)
If you are looking for a sleek, functional, and customized investing experience, TD Ameritrade offers it. Their app has the best trading platform in thinkorswim, which puts all the investing tools you want and need at your fingertips.
From customization features to charting tools, this robust trading platform stands out from other stock trading apps.
TD Ameritrade Best Feature: paperMoney
Active traders who are looking to practice their trading skills without risking loss can use the paperMoney simulator on the thinkorswim platform.
See if your trading strategies are up to the challenge without risking any money on the actual stock market. paperMoney is a powerful way to grow as an investor.
Robinhood: Best for Low-Fee Stock Trading
There’s a good chance you’ve heard of Robinhood. While not all the press has been favorable, Robinhood truly is a solid app. In fact, it remains one of the best low-fee stock trading apps around.
The basic research tools in the app keep you informed, and you have the ability to buy and sell stocks for free at market prices. Plus you can now trade cryptocurrency within the app without paying any trading fees!
Robinhood Best Feature: Free Stock Bonus
When you open a Robinhood account, you can qualify for a free stock bonus. The free stock is chosen at random, with values ranging from $3 to $225.
To snag this bonus, make sure to link your bank account and meet the conditions of the promotion. After the bonus is in your account for two trading days, you can keep the stock or sell it.
Fidelity: Best Customer Service and Low Fees
Fidelity has a reputation for customer service, and now it’s becoming known for its low fees as well.
The Fidelity app allows you to invest for free several ways. Pay no commission on stock, option, or ETF trades. Plus, you can also access commission-free ETFs. Combined, these features make Fidelity a great pick for anyone looking for full service investing options.
Fidelity Best Feature: Fraction Share Investing
Interested in investing in fractional shares? Fidelity Mobile offers Stocks by the Slice investing.
This investing means that you can do dollar-based investing through the app. That way, if you can’t afford to buy a whole share of a stock, you can still own a portion of an ETF or your favorite company.
Vanguard: Best for Low Cost Index Funds
If you’ve spent any amount of time in the personal finance world, you have already heard plenty about Vanguard. Vanguard is a money nerd favorite because it pioneered low-cost index fund investing.
Rather than trying to pick the best-performing companies, index funds allow you to invest across an entire index (such as the S&P 500). That means that your investments should keep pace with the stock market.
As an added bonus, Vanguard is uniquely structured compared to other brokerages. When you invest in Vanguard, you are both an investor and an owner.
Vanguard Best Feature: Low Fees
Any successful investor knows that fees can take a huge bite out of the profitability of your investments. That’s why Vanguard is a cult favorite.
Most Vanguard funds and ETFs boast fees of under 0.10%!
They pride themselves on putting their investors first. Because of their famous low fees, they have also inspired other brokerages to offer low fee and no fee investment options.
Other Investing Apps to Consider
If that list of best investing apps wasn’t enough to hook you, there are several other runner-up apps to consider.
Schwab: Great for Beginners
Schwab isn’t just for long-time investors. It’s a great platform for people who are just getting started as well. That’s because in addition to offering commission-free trades, you can also take a more passive approach to investing with Schwab.
If trading feels intimidating, never fear. Investing in ETFs (or even mutual funds if the fees are low) is an excellent way to hit your financial goals. With Schwab, you can access some of the lowest-cost ETFs around.
Schwab is certainly building a legion of fans, partly because it boasts some of the lowest operating costs in the industry. However, it’s worth noting that some accounts require a $1,000 minimum.
Schwab Best Feature: ETF Screener
When you start investing, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with choices. Going from hundreds and hundreds of options to one or two might feel like finding a needle in a haystack. But Schwab’s ETF screener makes it happen!
Schwab helps investors dodge decision fatigue. The ETF Screener tool allows you to narrow down all of the ETF options to find the ones that best meet your needs.
Webull: Best Free Investing App
It’s true that Webull may not be the only free stock trading app, but it was one of the first. Webull still allows investors to trade stocks for free. Additionally, you can also snag commission-free trades on ETFs and options.
To help you make more informed trades, Webull actually houses investment research tools within the app. There’s also a $0 minimum balance.
Webull Best Feature: Flexibility
Webull allows investors to trade cryptocurrency around the clock.
If crypto isn’t your thing, Webull still stands out among stock trading apps. With extended-hours trading, you can trade across multiple asset classes morning to evening.
Investing App FAQ
Maybe you are looking to finally start investing or maybe you are testing out a new-to-you investment app. Either way, there’s a good chance you’ve got questions. Let’s explore the most commonly asked questions about the best investing apps.
Are Investment Apps Safe?
All of the best investing apps prioritize your account security. You can explore the account safety and security strategies of each app. In general, note that these apps use bank-grade security to protect your investments.
It is worth nothing that investing in stocks carries the risk of loss. That doesn’t mean that your account will be vulnerable to hacks or fraudulent activity. It simply means that there is no guarantee that your investments will perform well.
How Much Money Do I Need To Start Investing?
To get started with investing, you need to have some money set aside. How much money is determined by the investing app you use and the type of investment account you set up.
Many apps, such as Acorns and Betterment, do not have any minimum balance requirements. As always, make sure you read the fine print when signing up to ensure that you meet the criteria of the account. It’s also good practice to look at the fees you may be charged.
What’s The Best Investing App For Beginners?
While many of these investing apps are suitable for new investors, Acorns stands out as the best investing app for beginners. Acorns allows users to micro-invest through their round-up option.
That means that you can use the spare change from your morning coffee or Target run to invest. Acorns also doesn’t require a minimum balance to start, though investors do want to be mindful of the monthly fees.
Which App Is Best For Trading Stocks?
One of the best stock trading apps is Robinhood. Though the app is not without its share of controversy, Robinhood was designed with stock trading in mind. It requires a $0 balance to start and allows investors to trade stocks, options, and cryptocurrency.
What Can I Trade On Investment Apps?
If you want a more hands-on approach to investing, the best stock apps can help. Many stock trading apps allow you to trade in a frequency that meets your needs–from occasional trades to daily. You can use apps like TD Ameritrade to trade stocks or ETFs. Other stock trading apps also allow you to trade mutual funds, bonds, stock options, and even cryptocurrency.
Are Investment Apps Insured?
It’s also important to remember that your investments are not FDIC insured, like a savings account is. But many online brokers that own these investing apps offer SIPC insurance to protect your investment funds from fraud, or in case the company itself goes out of business. This insurance functions similar to FDIC insurance and can cover up to $500,000 (or more) of your investing account.
All that being said, while your account security is definitely prioritized by all of the best investing apps, no one can guarantee the future performance of an investment, and investing always carries the risk of loss.