The 11 Best Investment Apps for Beginners in 2020

July 12, 2020

The 11 Best Investment Apps for Beginners in 2020

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Investing is one of the major steps you can take in order to achieve financial freedom, or simply retire with a health amount of money. Thank fully investment apps have made this easier for the average person.

In the past investment always appeared far out of reach for those who were not already in the financial world or could not afford the fees associated with a financial advisor. But, no more and investment apps are to cheer for that.

This investment apps are easy to use and readily accessible on your smart devices. They are easy to sign onto. They create tailored portfolio based on questionnaires that establish your risk tolerance.

This investment apps are no being offered by innovative fintech companies, as well as traditional brokerage firms.

This investment apps come with their own pros and cons, different fees structures, features etc. However, I have assembled some of the best investment apps that are currently on the market and most of them are perfect for beginners.

Robinhood

robinhood investment apps
Source: Robinhood

Robinhood is one of the most popular and low fee investment apps that are available out there. It is especially popular amongst young adults; however, its reach goes far beyond millennials. The company was started in 2015 in order to democratize investment and make it accessible to everyone.

Robinhood is shaking things up by offering its clients fee-free stock trading options and a cash management account. This allows them to cut out the costs that are usually associated with other investing apps.  It has expanded to include a variety of features such as options trading and cryptocurrency trading.

The platform is meant to be a smartphone first brokerage which is available on most major app stores. They also have a web version that is available for those that prefer that option. However, there is a heavier emphasis placed on the app.

I personally use the app to invest in some individual stocks and I find it to be simple and convenient. The free version does not come with different bells and whistles like trading tools, educational resources, managed accounts, retirement accounts, etc. However, it is a great option for those that are starting to invest and want to get their feet wet.

For those looking for more jam-packed features or those who are active traders, you can upgrade to the Robinhood Gold for $5. These features allow for margin trading, Morningstar market research, extended hours trading, etc.

Pros:

  • Free trades
  • Cryptocurrency options
  • No minimum deposits

Cons:

  • They only offer taxable accounts
  • There have recently been some app failures
  • You can not invest in bonds or mutual funds

Minimum investment: 0

Betterment

betterment investment apps
Source: Betterment

Betterment has branded itself as one of the best and biggest investment apps in the Robo-advisor world. With interest rates at record lows, (as of July 2020 when I am writing this) people are fleeing away from high yields saving accounts (which are no longer even high yield) and CDs because those avenues can potentially cause them to lose money to inflation.

Instead, they are turning towards investing. However, investing can seem very daunting especially for a beginner. It requires a certain level of financial knowledge that most people simply do not have.

And when they turn to financial advisors, they are often charged steep fees that can eat into their returns and can be discouraging.  These financial advisors can also seem inaccessible to those that are not in the upper echelon of American society.

This is where Robo advisor investment apps like Betterment comes in. This Robo advisor investment apps use algorithms in order to create personalized investment portfolios. This allows you to take a hands-off approach to invest without the high fees of a typical financial advisor.

Betterment stands out because it is a fiduciary (this means that they are legally bound to act in your best interest). It also offers some great human-assisted advice (not all investment apps have these features). Their offerings are lean heavily on exchange-traded funds (ETF). They also offer tax-loss harvesting which is supposed to improve your after-tax returns by taking advantage of investment losses.

Pros:

  •  Low maintenance fees at a flat rate of 0.25% annual fee for the automated service. 0.40% a year for advisor services.
  • Goal-based investing
  • Personalized investment packages
  • Simplified asset allocation

Cons:

  • No commodities, no REITs

Minimum investment: 0

Public.com

public.com investment apps
Source: Crunchbase

Public.com is an app that is fairly new to me. However, it joins the long and ever-growing list of commission-free investment and trading apps that are catered for beginners. The app was founded in 2017 and used to be known as Matador.

It offers many similar features to apps like Robinhood. However, the stand out feature is that the app makes your portfolio public to other users on the app and it also allows them to browse your portfolio.

The app also allows you to purchase fractional shares. This option allows you to purchase a piece of a stock at a much lower price. Currently, Tesla is almost $1000 if not more by the time this article is published. This amount can be a hard pill to sell for most people.  However, with fractional shares, you can buy a piece of that Tesla stock for like $20 (hence a fraction of the share).

They make buying and selling stocks, ETFs simple and free. Its free natures mean that there are also limited features such as research tools, trading tools, etc. like other more complex online brokers.

Pros:

  • Investing is free
  • No account minimums
  • Fractional shares options

Cons:

  • Limited investment options
  • No retirement or joint accounts

Minimum investment: 0

Acorns

acorns investment apps
Source: Business Insider

Acorn is a combined saving and investing app that allows you to round up the money you spend and then they invest the difference. The only thing that you have to do is link your credit cards, checking, and savings accounts to the app.

They have some really interesting options that help to sweeten up the deal. One of these features is found money which gives you extra money when you use Acorn’s partner brands.

They have some learning features which teach you about investing, savings, and investments and how to start investing.

You also have the option of purchasing gift cards that you can use at many stores.

There is account minimum, no commissions fees, and no penalties when your withdrawal your funds.

Pricing: They will charge you $1 per month for under $1 million, 0.25% per year for anything over $1 million.

Pros:

  • You can start investing with very little money
  • If you are a college student it is free to use
  • It makes investing easier by reducing the complexities

Cons:

  • This app can actually cost you money if you only invest a really small amount of money
  • The savings amounts are really low

Minimum investment: 0

Webull

webull investment apps
Source: meduim

“Another one,” in the word of DJ Khaled.

Webull is another brokerage investment app that offers free trading. So, if you are someone who is looking for an active trading option that has a low cost then this might be the best option for you.

The platform is meant for those that have some technological expertise or those that are at least capable of handling trades on their own without much hand-holding.

This platform is definitely meant for mobile devices. There is a platform version that is available on the web. However, it is certainly meant to be more optimized for those that use the app version.

The main differentiation and stand out features of the app is that they are really quick to add new features. They recently added some options trading and cryptocurrency trading.

At the end of the day, Webull is an online brokerage firm. It allows you to sell and buy stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and options commission-free.

The closest similarity to Webull is Robinhood. Robinhood I believe is best for beginners looking to deep their toes into the pool. However, Webull is the overall best option for those who want more features and those that are looking to actively trade.

The app works as a paid subscription the price ranges from $2.99 per month to almost $60.

Pros:

  • No minimum investments
  • Commission-free stocks, ETF, and option trades

Cons:

  • The investment options are limited
  • It can be overwhelming and is not necessarily intuitive

Minimum investment: 0

Stash

stash investment apps
Source: Stash

Stash is a Robo-advisor investment app that is very similar to acorns. It helps to lower the burden of investing my ensuring that you do not need a lot of money to get started. There are no minimums balance needed to get started and no minimum amount of money to start investing.

Stash gives you investment options that are much more geared towards exchange-traded funds (ETFs). However, they also give you the option of investing in some individual stocks.

The app gives you options that are aligned with your investment risk levels.

They also offer fractional shares. Marijuana investing (you read that right), and Stash DRIP. Stash DRIP is an acronym for a dividend reinvestment plan that automatically reinvests your dividends in order to help you maximize long term compounding interests.

Bonus! They have this new feature called Partitions (not the Beyonce kind) that acts as a budgeting tool. It allows you to organize their savings to meet different goals and expenses. This is very similar to the envelop budgeting method for saving.

Pros:

  • A variety of investment options that rivals other micro-investing apps.
  • There is a great education component that allows you to learn and invest as you go
  • You can earn fractional shares when you use it at different retailers

Cons:

  • If you are only investing a small amount then you might actually end up losing money. Betterment is a cheaper option for those investing less than $5,000.

Minimum investment: 0

Ally Invest

ally invest investment apps
Source: Ally

Ally is one of my favorite online bank accounts. I use their platform as a high yield savings account and I love it. Their customer service is one of the bests, their services are truly fantastic and this applies to their investment app as well.

Their investment app has zero commissions and also no minimum requirement. As compared to its parent company Ally invest is a fairly newcomer to the investment app world. However, it packs the same punch as their parent company.

The platform was developed from TradeKing a high rated brokerage app.

The app has a ton of different features. It gives you almost every account type with the exception of 401(k), 529, annuities, and non-profits.

Their investment types have everything you can imagine, stocks, options, futures, bonds, forex, mutual funds, ETFs. The only exception is crypto.

If you like other people to manage your portfolio they also have a Robo-advisor option that helps build and maintain your portfolio. These options do not have a fee and it is called Cash-Enhanced Managed Portfolio.

Pros:

  • Elite customer service that is available every day
  • No commission fees on ETF, options and exchange-listed stocks
  • The bank. Ally Invest gives you access to Ally bank a suburb online-only bank that has some of the best interest rates available on the market.

Cons:

  • They do not have fee-free mutual funds
  • Funding the account can and often times does take some time.

Wealthfront

wealthfront investment apps
Source: wealthfront

I use wealthfront to keep track of all my investments, savings, credit, and checking accounts all in one place. It also provides a nifty net worth calculator that estimates the amount of money you might have at retirement based on your current savings and investment allocations.

The focus on goal setting and painting a great financial picture is one of the things that sets it apart from its competitors and makes it one of the best Robo advisor investment apps currently out there.

Their main demographic is millennials. As a matter of fact, they have a whole blog post titled investing for millennials. It is easy to see why that is, their focus on long term investing favors the young. Nevertheless, they pack in some great features that are beneficial for anyone that is interested in automating their investment and building wealth that way.

They use modern portfolio theory to create different asset allocation, they use automatic rebalancing to ensure that asset allocations are always accurate.

They provide some fairy unique tax minimization features such as:

  • Tax Loss Harvesting
  • Risk Parity
  • Index Funds
  • Intelligent Dividend Reinvesting
  • Tax Location

Pros:

  • They manage your account for free up to $5,000
  • Tax-Loss harvesting
  • 529 Plan
  • Risk Parity
  • Free financial planning

Cons:

  • There are no fractional shares available

M1 finance

M1 finance investment apps
Source: Listen Money Matters

M1 Finance is an interesting combination between a Robo advisor and a traditional brokerage firm. They offer different investment portfolio templates which they call “pies”. These pies are based on modern portfolio theory (which most Robo advisor use).

However, unlike other Robo advisors, they do not make you feel out questions in order to determine your investment tolerance.

They just give you those prebuilt templates and then allow you to change and customize it in the ways that you want.

You have a lot more freedom to modify your portfolio in the ways that you want. Because the platform allows you to purchase individual stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in the prebuilt templates.

Pros:

  • Like other similar platforms, there are no brokerage or commissions fees
  • You have freedom and flexibility to choose your own investments and automate your portfolio management
  • There is no fee when you buy and sell stocks inside the pies

Cons:

  • There are no tax harvesting options available on this platform like there are on other Robo advisor investment app
  • The investment app does not allow you to purchase mutual funds
  • The investment app also does not recognize your other outside accounts that are not part of M1 finance such as 401k

No minimum investment

Round

Round investment apps
Source: appadvice

Round is different from other investment apps on this list because it really focuses on managed portfolio providers that are actively trying to beat the market. This emphasis on active trading sets its apart from other investment apps.

It may look like a Robo-advisor but it is far from that, it uses a pre-built portfolio in order to take an active approach to invest, it is very similar in nature to the type of investing that happens at hedge funds.

It takes this exclusive service usually available to ultra-high net people (think millionaires) and gives it to you at a starting investment of $500.

The portfolio is actively managed by external fund companies. These funds include Guggenheim, highland, Brookfield, Aberdeen, PIMCOF, Gabelli, DoubleLine.

The digital experience is very similar to Betterment and Wealthfront. You will be given a questionnaire and those results will be used to establish your risk tolerance and investment goals. And even though it is actively managed you do not have to monitor it due to the nature of this investment apps.

There is of course a fee of 0.5%, which is payable monthly. However, if the value of your portfolio goes down you do not need to pay for anything.

Pros:

  • A unique actively managed portfolio platform: this mimics the options available to those high net worth portfolio
  • You only pay when you earn a profit. If you lose profit than your fees are waived for that month
  • There are a variety of unique and diverse portfolio options that are available on the app

Cons:

  • Like other active investment platforms, the 0.5% fee can be quite high and can eat into your profits
  • This investment app is not available on android (a big major thumbs down as an android user)

The minimum investment is $500

Personal Capital

Personal capital investment apps
Source: personal capital

Personal Capital is one of the more dynamic out there. It combined both financial tracking, budgeting, and investment services all in one.

The first tool is a financial tracker that is very similar to wealthfronts. It shows and monitors all your spending, savings, checking, credit cards, and investment accounts all in one place. This also comes with a really comprehensive and (free!) retirement calculator.

Now, the investing portion of this app comes with its financial advisor service. This service combines both human advisory service and computer algorithms to ensure that they provide you with the best decision.

They have a new and really interesting feature referred to as Socially Responsible Personal Strategy: the strategy looks at the values of the company, the way in which they conduct their business as well as the “footprint” they leave on the world.

Pros:

  • A comprehensive look at all your finances on one single app
  • There are no hidden fees on the app. Everything is laid out in front of you
  • Super easy to set up and monitor your finances

Cons:

  • This service is cheaper than traditional financial advisors, however, it is much more expensive than Robo advisors
  • There is a high minimum amount in order to invest. You need at least $100,000.  This means that the app is not available for those that are starting out.

Summary

There you go. I have assembled some of the best investment apps that are available on the market. The one you choose will depend on your priorities, wants and needs.

The main thing to look out for is whether the apps are low fees. Fees will eat into your profit if you are not careful. If you are beginner than you should pick the app that offers you a hand off feature so that you can simply watch your investments without having to pick and choose which one is better.

If you need some more passive income ideas here go with 65 options.

Want to save money instead, well I go that to with the best apps to save money


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2 thoughts on “The 11 Best Investment Apps for Beginners in 2020”

  • Very informative and easy to read/understand. Investing can be so daunting to folks and having some places to start without it being overwhelming is awesome. Thank you for sharing!

  • Fiscal responsibility is something I am trying to improve and I’ve been itching to dive into investments. Thank you for assembling this list. It can help me move forward.

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