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10 best investment apps for beginners

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Investing is a critical component of building wealth. After all, putting your money to work for you and leveraging compound interest is much better than hiding your cash under a mattress.

But learning to invest can be intimidating. This is especially true during periods of market volatility and when you're still learning all of the investing terms that are often thrown around.

However, there are plenty of investment apps available that anyone can use that take much of the guesswork and jargon out of the equation. And the best part is many of these apps don't have minimum balance requirements, so they're ideal for beginners.

Best investment apps for beginners

Our list of the best investment apps beginners can use focuses on apps with low funding requirements that are easy to use. We've also chosen apps and platforms with commission-free trades to help limit fees. Finally, many of these apps support numerous asset classes, like stocks and cryptocurrencies, to give you choices when it comes to building your portfolio.

Best overall: TD Ameritrade

Fast facts
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Investing options: Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, bonds and futures
  • Trading fees: Commission-free stock and ETF trades and $0.65 for options

Why we chose TD Ameritrade: TD Ameritrade is one of the most comprehensive commission-free online brokers out there. And the depth of features it has makes it our favorite investing app for beginners because as you become a more experienced investor, it has the tools to keep supporting you.

With TD Ameritrade, you get a variety of account types, including retirement accounts. It also has over 3,700 no-transaction-fee (NTF) mutual funds, which is helpful if you prefer mutual funds to ETFs.

You can even paper trade if you want to practice investing without putting any money on the line. And the fact you get customer support online, via the phone, or at thousands of physical branches makes the customer service excellent for beginner investors.

Pros

Pros

  • Supports a variety of account types

  • Beginner and advanced market research (Thinkorswim) is available

  • Excellent customer service

  • No account opening or inactivity fees

Cons

Cons

Runner-up: SoFi Active Investing

Fast facts
  • Account minimum: $0-$5
  • Investing options: Stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrency
  • Trading fees: Commission-free stock and ETF trades and 1.25% markup for crypto trades

Why we chose SoFi Active Investing: With SoFi Active Investing, you can trade thousands of different stocks and ETFs without paying any fees. SoFi also supports fractional shares starting at $5, making it an excellent way to invest a small amount of money.

We also like SoFi Active Investing for beginners because it lets you invest in crypto. The trading fees are a bit higher than some exchanges, but you can trade over 30 popular cryptos like Bitcoin, Cardano and Ethereum.

Finally, when you open a SoFi Active Investing account, you become part of its massive ecosystem. This means you can try its automated investing service, the rewards credit card or checking account, and even access SoFi financial advisors for free.

Pros

Pros

  • Supports fractional shares

  • Variety of other SoFi financial products including human advisors

  • Easy-to-use mobile app

Cons

Cons

  • Crypto trading fees are a bit high

  • Some SoFi-owned ETFs have high fees

Best for automatic investing: Acorns

Fast facts
  • Account minimum: $5
  • Investing options: Round-up spare change into Acorns portfolios
  • Trading fees: $3 or $5 depending on the plan

Why we chose Acorns: We don't recommend Acorns for active, experienced investors. But when it comes to investing apps for beginners, Acorns is one of the best options for building good habits and regularly putting your money to work.

This microsavings app rounds up your spare change and invests in various portfolios that match your goals and risk tolerance. As for what you're investing in, it's a variety of ETFs that are made up of stocks and bonds. More conservative portfolios are available, as well as growth-focused ones.

Acorns also lets you earn rewards with Acorns Earn, and its debit card helps you automatically invest even more money whenever you spend. The starter plan is $3 per month and there's also a family plan for $5 per month that lets you create investment accounts for your kids.

Pros

Pros

  • Helps beginner investors build good habits

  • Earn cash-back rewards with Acorns Earn

  • Get paid two days early with Acorns' checking account if you set up direct deposit

  • Sustainable investment portfolio is available

Cons

Cons

  • Paying $3 or $5 per month is a high fee for very small account balances

  • You can't pick individual stocks or ETFs to invest in, only portfolios

Best for low fees: Robinhood

Fast facts
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Investing options: Stocks, ETFs, options, cryptocurrency
  • Trading fees: Commission-free trading for stocks and ETFs, variable spread fees for crypto

Why we chose Robinhood: If you want to trade from your smartphone and avoid fees, Robinhood is one of the best investment apps for beginners out there. You don't pay commission on stock or ETF trades like most leading brokers. But Robinhood doesn't charge fees for options contracts either, whereas most brokers charge $0.65 per contract. It also has competitive margin rates for Robinhood Gold customers.

Robinhood is also expanding its cryptocurrency offerings and supports 18 popular coins. This is less selection than crypto exchanges like Coinbase offer, but it's enough to add leading digital assets to your portfolio.

The company even gives new users free stock when they open and fund an account. The value of this sign-up bonus ranges from $5 to $200, so it's a nice way to hit the ground running with your investments.

Pros

Pros

  • No minimum account requirement

  • Incredibly easy-to-use mobile app

  • Earn free stock for signing up

  • Retirement accounts now available

Cons

Cons

  • No mutual funds or bonds

  • Limited number of available cryptocurrencies

Best for social investing: Public

Fast facts
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Investing options: Stocks, ETFs and cryptocurrency
  • Trading fees: Commission-free stock and ETF trading and 1% to 2% for crypto trades

Why we chose Public: As the name suggests, Public is a stock trading investment app that focuses on social sharing and networking with other investors to discover new investing opportunities. The app offers commission-free stock and ETF trading as well as 25+ cryptocurrencies. You can also explore different investing themes to help find companies to invest in if you need a starting point.

Furthermore, Public lets users create public investor profiles where they can share what they're investing in. This lets you explore other profiles to get more ideas. And Public even hosts occasional town hall meetings where founders and CEOs have open Q&A sessions.

Throw in fractional share support and a free stock sign-up bonus and it's no surprise that this is an excellent investment app for beginners.

Pros

Pros

  • No minimum account required

  • Supports fractional shares

  • Makes investing more social and helps you find new ideas

  • Free stock bonus ranging from $3 to $300

Cons

Cons

  • No mutual funds or bonds

  • No mutual funds or bonds

Best for banking features: Ally

Fast facts
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Investing options: Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures
  • Trading fees: Commission-free stock and ETF trading, $9.95 for mutual funds, $0.50 for options

Why we chose Ally Invest: Like TD Ameritrade, Ally Invest is another excellent investing option for beginners if you want to start out with a platform that has a range of features and account types. It offers commission-free trading on stocks and ETFs like other brokers plus competitive options trading. And mutual funds are much cheaper than many online brokers that charge $29.95 to $50 or more for non-NTF mutual funds.

We also like Ally Invest for beginner investors because it offers automated investing portfolios, one of which has no annual fees. This robo-advisor service also provides automatic portfolio rebalancing and helps you create a portfolio that matches your goals. And the minimum investment amount for its robo-advisor is only $100.

You also get plenty of banking options with Ally, which is useful if you want to house your investing and banking services under one roof. Ally's online savings account is one of our favorite high-yield savings accounts on the market right now.

Pros

Pros

  • No minimum account requirement

  • Supports retirement accounts and numerous other account types

  • Low fees for trading options

  • Automated investing portfolios are available

Cons

Cons

  • No fractional shares

  • No cryptocurrency support except for several trusts

Best for real estate investing: Fundrise

Fast facts
  • Account minimum: $10
  • Investing options: Various REITs
  • Trading fees: 1% in annual management fees

Why we chose Fundrise: When it comes to investing in real estate without much money, it's hard to top Fundrise. This popular real estate crowdfunding platform lets you invest in income-generating real estate portfolios with as little as $10. You don't need to be an accredited investor either, which is a common requirement for many crowdfunding platforms.

We also like Fundrise since it charges a low 1% annual management fee. Historical returns have been around 8-9% annually, and there's also a secondary marketplace to sell your shares to help with liquidity.

Pros

Pros

  • No accreditation requirement

  • Low $10 investment minimum

  • Low annual fees

  • Helps diversify your portfolio with real estate

Cons

Cons

  • Early sale penalty if you sell shares before five years

Best for family investing: UNest

Fast facts
  • Account minimum: $25 a month
  • Investing options: Custodial accounts for minors
  • Trading fees: Commission-free ETF trades, $4.99 monthly fee for membership

Why we chose UNest: If you want to invest in your child's future through a UTMA account, UNest is one of the best investing apps for beginners. The platform helps you invest in various portfolios of Vanguard ETFs in a UTMA account that your child gets control of when they reach the age of majority in your state. And unlike 529 plans, they don't have to use the funds in their account just for education.

This type of custodial account is more flexible and gives your child more options when they come of age. Membership costs $4.99 a month and allows for an unlimited number of child accounts.

This isn't the right investing app if you want to trade options and bonds or research stock and ETF picks more closely. But it's an excellent app to try out if you have kids.

Pros

Pros

  • UTMA accounts are a flexible way to invest for your children's future

  • Can get a lower marginal tax rate thanks to the kiddie tax

  • Very easy for friends and family to contribute

Cons

Cons

  • Fees are high for very small portfolios

  • UTMA accounts generally have fewer tax advantages than 529 plans

Best for self-directed brokerage services: M1

Fast facts
  • Account minimum: $100
  • Investing options: Stocks and ETFs
  • Trading fees: Commission-free stock and ETF trading

Why we chose M1: We had to include M1 on our list of the best investment apps for beginners because it has something for more active and passive investors alike. Once you fund your account with $100, you can invest in thousands of individual stocks and ETFs without paying trading fees. But M1 also lets you use its prebuilt portfolios, known as Pies, if you need a starting point for how to invest.

You can also customize Pies with different stocks and ETFs, giving you more control than most robo-advisors offer. And the best part is M1 doesn't charge fees for this service.

Plus, there's a host of other features including a rewards credit card that pays you cash back for shopping at companies you own shares in.

Pros

Pros

  • Supports fractional shares

  • Flexible, with prebuilt portfolios that you can also edit

  • Completely free unless you upgrade to M1 Plus

  • Supports retirement accounts

Cons

Cons

  • No cryptocurrency trading

  • There's a $20 inactivity fee for accounts with up to $20 and no activity for 90 days

  • No tax-loss harvesting as many robo-advisors offer

Best for practicing trading: Invstr

Fast facts
  • Account minimum: $0-$100
  • Investing options: Stocks, ETFs and cryptocurrency
  • Trading fees: Commission-free stock and ETF trading, 1.5% for crypto trades

Why we chose Invstr: Like many other beginner-friendly investment apps, Invstr also offers commission-free stock and ETF trading and also supports several popular cryptos. But this isn't why Invstr made our list.

If you want to learn more about investing and practice without risking real money, Invstr is one of the most user-friendly apps out there. Its Fantasy Finance feature lets you paper trade with a virtual portfolio of up to $1 million. You can also invite your friends and have competitions to see who's the best investor, just like fantasy sports. And to help you learn, there's the Invstr Academy which has over 85 short lessons.

The main downside of Invstr is that you have to pay for Invstr Pro to unlock completely free Fantasy Finance trading and all the Academy lessons. This plan costs $3.99 per month. However, if you're serious about Fantasy Finance and completing Invstr Academy courses, the price could be worth it. And Pro users also get a portfolio builder tool that recommends investments depending on their goals and risk tolerance.

Pros

Pros

  • Supports fractional shares

  • A fun Fantasy Finance game where you can compete with friends

  • Dozens of educational modules

  • Supports popular cryptocurrencies

Cons

Cons

  • You have to pay for a paid plan to get all the features

  • Crypto trading fees are a bit high

  • Limited number of cryptocurrencies to invest in

How we chose the best investment apps for beginners

At Moneywise, our team thoroughly reviews dozens of financial services and options when creating our “best of” lists. When picking the top investing apps for beginners, we considered a range of factors, including fees, investment options, account types, and ease of use. The companies included in this list haven't influenced their inclusion or ranking in our article. All opinions expressed here are the opinions of our author and team, not those of particular advertisers.

That said, there are plenty of other investing apps that are great options for beginners that didn't make the list. Always be sure to do your own research, and if you need professional help, consider working with a financial advisor to create an investment plan that's right for you.

Factors to consider with investment apps

Trading fees

Trading fees are one of the most important factors to think about when picking an investing app. After all, high fees can add up quickly, turning an otherwise strong year of returns into a more lackluster picture.

Thankfully, many of the best investment apps for beginners don't charge commissions on stock and ETF trades. But you need to read the fine print to see if there are other potential account fees like:

  • Inactivity fees
  • Debit or credit card deposits and purchases
  • Wire transfer fees
  • Monthly or annual membership costs

And some brokers are better for trading certain types of assets than others. For example, J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing is one of the best brokers for mutual funds because it offers completely free mutual fund trading. But we don't recommend this broker for stock and ETF investing.

Disclosure: INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE

Research and tools

When you're new to investing, you don't need to worry about technical analysis and reading charts all day to make decisions. Instead, focusing on the fundamentals is more important. This means considering things like a business's earnings, debt, and certain ratios to help with evaluation.

That said, you still want your investing app of choice to have some research functionality or market news at the very least. These resources help you become a more informed investor. And it's better to have various research tools and not use them than to want them when they're not there.

Customer service

As a new investor, you might have questions about how to start trading or what your different account options are. This means picking a broker with excellent customer service is even more important.

The need for reliable customer service is why we like companies like TD Ameritrade so much. You have online, phone, and in-person support when you need it most. In comparison, many brokers are online only these days and have more limited customer service options.

We also like options like SoFi because you can get a no-cost financial planning session with SoFi financial planners.

Other investment app features

Apps like Ally Invest and SoFi Active Investing are examples of investing apps that also open up numerous other features. For example, the Ally ecosystem has excellent banking options and a robo-advisor service you can explore. SoFi also has SoFi Automated Investing, a rewards credit card and checking account, and access to financial advisors.

You should still focus on what investment options you have and ease of use when choosing the right investment app for beginners. But having additional features might help you pick a winner if it's a close call between two companies.

Sign-up bonuses

Trading apps and brokerages often give sign-up bonuses to entice new customers. And while you shouldn't use a lackluster app just to snag some free cash, it can help push one platform over the edge if it's in close competition with another.

For example, TD Ameritrade often has sign-up bonuses if you open an account and deposit a certain amount. And at the time of writing, SoFi Invest is giving customers $5 to $1,000 for opening and funding an account. If you're brand new to investing, these sorts of bonuses can help you grow your portfolio a little bit faster.

Bottom line for beginner investors

The world of online brokers and trading apps is immensely competitive. But the great news is that it's never been easier for new investors to get in on the action.

These days, you can start investing with just $1 through fractional shares with many platforms. And you don't need a degree in economics or finance to build a portfolio of valuable companies that helps you increase your net worth over time.

Hopefully, one of the investing apps for beginners in our list helps you take the plunge. And if there's an app we missed that you love using, let us know.

Tom Blake Staff Writer

Tom Blake is a staff writer who specializes in cryptocurrency, investing, and passive income.

Disclaimer

The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.