Why use an investment/trading app?Trading and investment apps simplify the entire process of managing personal finance, buying and selling stocks, currencies, or digital assets online. With a couple of taps, you can make a trade or set up your first investment. Mobile apps are also very handy for tracking markets in real-time on the go. You don’t have to sit in front of a computer screen all day long to see what the markets are doing. Trading assets such as cryptocurrencies can be very volatile so having instant access to prices and market information is essential. Life on the go these days is all about convenience and these investment apps all score well in that department.
RobinhoodThe Robinhood app has been targeted at millennials as they are the largest demographic group to use a smartphone to trade or invest. It rapidly became popular for crypto trading due to its zero-fee structure and currently has over ten million users. With no commissions and a very easy interface, the Robinhood app appeals to beginners with small amounts to invest or trade. Its simplicity will be a drawback to more experienced traders that are seeking better research and data. On the plus side, Robinhood has no minimums allowing for very small trades and has very easy deposits and instant access to funds. On the negative side, the commission-free deal is offset by larger spreads, especially on some cryptocurrencies. Prices may also lag somewhat behind other real-time data providers.
eToroUsing a system of ‘social trading’, eToro allows newer traders to learn from more experienced ones, following their trades. Social trading is not necessarily for newer traders. It makes eToro’s platform a place for users to engage, connect, and share knowledge with one another. The app also has a CopyTrader feature that allows users to copy the moves of top traders. This is one of the platform’s best features/makes the platform unique in the world of trading and is worth mentioning. The app is very easy to use and comes loaded with a wealth of educational material. Offering trading and investment to the US and more than 140 countries worldwide, eToro is one of the industry’s more popular platforms.
There are several deposit methods, including credit cards, and there are no KYC requirements which is a big plus for those in restricted countries. Deposit and withdrawal fees are zero and commissions on trading are very low for the industry. Stormgain provides the platform on desktop, Android, and iOS and it also offers a demo account for those that want to practice trading first.
SoFiSoFi, which is short for ‘social finance’, started in the student, home, and personal loan business. It has since evolved into another millennial targeted trading app that offers Automated Investing for beginners. SoFi Automated Investing charges no advisory or admin fees and offers access to low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The app is most suited for investors who need financial planning guidance, cost-conscious traders, and users with low balances. Clients using managed trading options have a choice of 10 portfolios based on risk tolerance and investment objectives. They are comprised of a selection of ETFs that give exposure to U.S. and international stocks, real estate, and high-yield and Treasury bonds.
FidelityFidelity is a full-service top-level brokerage for beginner investors and those with a focus on longer-term and retirement investments. The Fidelity Investments app works on Android, iOS, and Amazon devices. It offers zero commissions on a selection of more than 3,500 no-transaction-fee mutual funds on an easy to use platform that can be tailored for advanced traders. The company has a strong reputation and a reliable customer service centre. However, it particularly shines for stock research with 20 third-party providers. There are few downsides to Fidelity but fees for broker-assisted trades can be on the high side.
AcornsAcorns is one of the more popular new-breed finance apps because of its ease of use. Once installed, the app goes to work using a spare-change savings tool and cash-back rewards programs. It is a largely hands-off experience in which Acorns rounds up the total on credit and debit card purchases to the next dollar and invests that difference into one of a few ETF portfolios. It costs a dollar a month for the Acorns Invest program which manages your spare change for worry-free saving. There are a number of additional packages for more advanced investing such as retirement plans, and FDIC-protected checking accounts.
AbraAbra has been around for six years and provides a platform for both cryptocurrencies and traditional assets such as stocks and ETFs. It originally started out as a provider for international payments. Portfolios are easily managed in the app which is available on both Apple and Android. The platform offers over a hundred cryptocurrencies and new stablecoin deposit and withdrawal options. Additionally, it allows users to exchange any asset with any other in-app asset, anytime, anywhere. Abra works in many countries and has several deposit options including crypto, credit card, and local bank transfers. It serves as an all-in-one exchange and wallet available globally however some banking services will be limited depending on the jurisdiction of the country.
FXCMThis company is specifically tailored to forex traders and they have some very slick charting platforms for desktop. FXCM was established over two decades ago and they have a solid reputation and are regulated by top-tier financial authorities. FXCM does not deal with cryptocurrencies and offers a very narrow selection of tradeable products which include nearly 40 currency pairs and 32 CFDs (contract for differences) options. It does offer a wide range of different apps and trading tools but is not really suitable for beginners or those looking to invest long term.
Coinbase has for a while been the entry-level into crypto trading for beginners. Its app is easy to use and designed for those that lack the knowledge to work with more technical platforms. For that reason, it is ideal for new crypto traders and investors. The app features instant buying and selling and live market prices. There are loyalty bonuses and earning programs through video education. On the downside, Coinbase often experiences outages under heavy load when markets are volatile, and it has some of the highest commissions and fees in the industry.
Square (Cash)Payments provider Square has developed the Cash App which started out as a money transfer platform. It has since grown into a financial services and investment platform which also offers cryptocurrency investing. The app primarily offers sending and receiving via debit or credit cards however, when dealing with banks transfers can take time if you chose the free option. Instant transfers have a 1.5% processing fee. The app also supports Bitcoin which can be bought, sent, and received. Review sites such as Trustpilot give this one bad reports, largely for poor customer service and support, and excessive charges.
TD AmeritradeThe TD Ameritrade Mobile App is geared towards beginner investors with an excellent account summary, asset price alerts, and an extensive news and research section. The American brokerage firm provides commission-free stock and ETF trades, in addition to options trading. The app has multiple platforms that give users the ability to manage many types of accounts such as standard, retirement, and education. It also enables access to the most popular investment assets and trading markets. There is no minimum deposit and no commissions, though broker-assisted trades can be costly. The firm is pending acquisition by Charles Schwab, however, so products may change in the future.
WeBullWeBull is a newer offering that competes with Robinhood. The app offers commission-free stock trading covering full extended hours on markets, real-time quotes (with an additional subscription), customizable charts, and analysis tools. Unlike its competitor, however, there are no cryptocurrency trading options on the platform just yet. There are no minimum deposits and generous free stock promotions for new users and referrals making WeBull popular with new traders and investors. The app also offers margin trading with up to 4x leverage, but commissions are payable on these types of trades.
FinhabitsFinhabits is another new player, launched in 2017 it appears to be more demographically targeted towards customers that do not work for companies offering investment opportunities and retirement plans. The app has a clean appearance and is easy to use and set up, aiming to attract beginners. There are very low initial deposits and the service costs just a dollar a month. Finhabits is more for those with low incomes and little spare cash for investments. It invests in low-cost ETFs at companies such as Vanguard and BlackRock. On the negative side, there are further commissions and fees in addition to the monthly subscription cost.
StashStash is another new investment app that aims to make investing and trading approachable for beginners and those with lower budgets. There is no minimum balance but there are monthly charges for the service, depending on the type of account used. Stash has very good educational materials for new traders and offers fractional shares which are a good way to get exposure to the stock market heavyweights. For an extra monthly fee, the app also provides brokerage and bank accounts, plus a retirement account. Users need to build their own portfolios and it has very little in the way of investment management.
Interactive BrokersThis investment app is more suited to active traders as it offers a large selection of tradable securities, including foreign stocks. The app offers full trading services and tools such as charts, indicators, and extensive research materials. There are no cryptocurrency options but there are over 4,300 zero-transaction-fee mutual funds to choose from. Account fees and minimums are also zero which is a bonus for beginner traders and those with lower trading capital. Low margin rates are also a bonus. IB also offers a Pro version of the app for advanced traders but there are inactivity fees.
E*TRADEThis was one of the first online brokerages in the United States so it stands to reason that it has a solid reputation. The mobile app, which is available on Android and iOS, provides real-time quotes, stock news, and charts. It has a slick design, featuring live Bloomberg TV, customized stock screening, third-party research ratings, and a customizable dashboard. This industry leader also has an expansive set of resources and learning materials for beginner traders and more in-depth information for the more experienced. Due to high competition, E*TRADE also offers zero-commission stock and ETF trading and low fees on options. The fees do climb for mutual funds and broker assisted trades, however.
Ally InvestThis is another popular stock and ETF trading platform that is backed by Ally Financial. Just like the others in this list, Ally offers zero commissions on stocks and a zero minimum balance. There are marginal fees for options, increasing for mutual funds, and assisted trading. Ally currently offers over 8,000 mutual funds, however, they all incur transaction fees. The Ally Mobile app offers self-directed trading accounts for the hands-on investor and managed portfolios. There is also an Ally Forex app dedicated to currency trading.
ConclusionThe choices for mobile trading and investing apps today are overwhelming and we have just taken a brief glance at a handful of them. There is something there for everyone, from beginners and those on low incomes to hardcore forex day traders to long-term retirement planners to cryptocurrency swing traders. Mobile apps offer significant advantages over desktop and they are rapidly becoming the default way to trade and consider your investment options.
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