• Discounts and special offers
  • Subscriber-only articles and interviews
  • Breaking news and trending topics

Already a subscriber?

By signing up, you accept Moneywise's Terms of Use, Subscription Agreement, and Privacy Policy.

Not interested ?

Public.com review

Public.com review

Moneywise.com / Moneywise.com

🗓️

Updated: April 29, 2024

Partners on this page provide us earnings.

Public.com is an online investment platform offering stocks, ETFs, crypto, and alternative assets like fine art and collectibles—all in one place and with very low fees. The company continues to innovate and add new investment features, making it a one-stop-shop for many investors. Follow along with our Public.com review to learn more about Public’s pricing, supported investments and much more.

Public

3.7

Commissions & fees5

Customer service4.3

Ease of use4.8

Tools & resources2.5

Investment options4

Account options1.5

Pros and cons of Public.com

Pros

Pros

  • Commission-free stock and ETF trading

  • Supports diverse cryptocurrencies and alternative investments

  • Fractional share investing available

  • Public Premium unlocks advanced data, tools, and insights

  • Regularly added new investment opportunities

Cons

Cons

  • You can't transfer crypto to another wallet

  • No mutual funds or precious metals

  • Only offers individual brokerage accounts and not IRAs

What is Public.com?

Public.com is a free trading app that launched in 2017. Public uses a third party, Apex Clearing, to handle the background administrative needs of running Public user accounts. But you don’t need to interact with Apex directly and can manage your Public account via the Public website or mobile apps.

Like many online brokers, Public is commission-free* for many asset types, such as stocks and ETFs, and doesn't require a minimum investment. It also doesn't use Payment For Order Flow for stock or ETF trades, which is when brokers receive compensation to route orders to third parties for trade execution, potentially costing the end customer through less favorable trade prices.

Instead, Public has a tipping feature for trades. You can optionally tip the brokerage for executing the trade. This helps eliminate conflicts of interest between brokers and customers.

Public also has a social element: The app makes your portfolio public to other users (hence the name) and allows you to browse others' portfolios. Public portfolios can help you find and mimic successful investing strategies.

Another big draw for Public is that the app lets you buy fractional shares This means you can purchase less than one entire share of a stock. Fractional shares come in handy for investing in companies with high share prices. You can invest as little as $5 at a time.

Public makes buying and selling stocks, ETFs, crypto, and alternative assets free and easy, but it does not offer some features that you may get with a larger brokerage. For example, Public doesn't support mutual funds or precious metals, and has somewhat limited stock research capabilities.

Public features

Feature
Details
Minimum investment
$0
Stock/ETF trades
$0
Options trades
$0
Mutual funds
N/A
Investment types
Stocks, ETFs, Cryptocurrencies, Alternatives
Account types
Taxable, Savings
Broker assisted trade
$30
Virtual trades
Customer service
Phone and Live Chat: M-F 9A-5P ET; Email

How does Public work?

Public accounts are easy and quick to open. I was able to complete the new account signup process in less than five minutes.

Once you log in and fund your account, it's easy to navigate, search for stocks, ETFs, crypto, and alternative assets, view other users' portfolios and start trading. Plus, you don't need to link to your bank account to fund your Public account. You can use a debit card, which is great for people who are hesitant about linking third-party websites to their banks.

As of now, Public only offers individual, taxable brokerage accounts. It does not offer IRAs or joint accounts.

You can view basic details about each supported security, including price history, analyst ratings and price targets, upcoming earnings events, recent news, and basic fundamentals.

There's enough information to get you started, but doing more outside research may be a good idea before buying or selling. There is still a lot of information for a beginner to digest, but it is very light for an expert or advanced investor.

What does Public offer?

Over the years, Public has grown from a commission-free investing app into a much more robust ecosystem. You can still trade stocks and ETFs, but also cryptocurrency and alternatives. This investment app offers a range of other features.

Fractional share investing

Instead of entering orders for a fixed number of shares, Public lets you buy fractional shares of stocks, ETFs, crypto, and alternative assets, all in one place.

For example, if a stock costs $1,000 per share and you want to invest $100, you can buy 0.1 shares. Or if a stock costs $300 per share and you want to invest $500, you could buy 1.6 shares. That makes any stock or ETF affordable to virtually any active trader or long-term investor.

Keep in mind that Public isn't the only investing platform that lets you trade fractional shares. You'll find this feature with a few stock brokers and robo advisors we've reviewed, including Betterment, M1, Stockpile and Stash, to name a few.

However, Public acquired Otis, an alternative asset fractional share investing platform. This means that Public users can now invest in fractional shares of assets like artwork, comic books, sports cards, and other collectibles.

Bonds

Bonds are an investment where you can loan money to companies and governments. With most bonds, you’ll earn regular interest payments and get your initial investment amount back when the bond matures.

Public offers corporate, Treasury, and municipal bonds (muni bonds) on its platform. Bond trades incur modest fees.

Treasuries

Another way to invest with Public is with Treasury bills or T-bills. These are ultra-low-risk, short-term government securities but typically offer higher yields than savings accounts.

Like high-yield savings accounts, T-bills earn reliable returns without any effort or intervention on your part. But unlike HYSAs, you’ll earn the same fixed rate on your Treasury Account as long as you hold it until maturity. The current rate is 5.38% as of April 2024. And as a nice bonus, you don’t have to pay taxes on your earnings.

T-bills shouldn’t replace your other investments because they won’t give you the returns of things like stocks and other assets, but they could make sense as another safe place for saving. All accounts are SIPC-insured up to $500,000.

You only need $100 to invest in Treasuries with Public. Every month, a management fee equal to .05% (calculated as a percentage of your average daily balance) will be deducted from your account and disbursed to Jiko Bank, which provides banking services for Treasury accounts in partnership with Public.

Public Disclosure: All U.S. treasury investments and investment advisory services provided by Jiko Securities, Inc., a registered broker-dealer, member FINRA and SIPC. Securities in your account are protected up to $500,000. For details, please see www.sipc.org.Investments in T-bills: Not FDIC Insured - No Bank Guarantee - May Lose Value. Banking services provided by Jiko Bank, a division of Mid-Central National Bank.Jiko Group, Inc. and its affiliates do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions. This material is not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or investment strategy. See FINRA BrokerCheck, Jiko U.S. Treasuries Risk Disclosures and Jiko Securities Inc. Form CRS.

High-Yield Cash Account

If you want to park your funds in an account that works much like a high-yield savings account, you can earn a highly competitive interest rate. As of this writing, the account offers 5.1% APY.

There are no fees, minimum balance requirements or limits on how much interest you can earn.

Cryptocurrencies

Public features cryptocurrency investing. The app supports seven popular cryptos, including:

  • Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Dogecoin
  • Ethereum/Ether
  • Ethereum Classic
  • Litecoin
  • Shiba Inu

There isn't a minimum investing requirement, so you can trade crypto with just a few dollars if you're testing the waters.

Public.com works with Bakkt Crypto Solution to support crypto trading. Public doesn't have its own crypto wallet and Bakkt provides custody services for your coins. You can sell crypto for cash, but you can't transfer crypto you buy through Public.com to another wallet.

The lack of a native wallet is a downside for Public's crypto investing. It also supports far fewer coins than specialized crypto exchanges like Coinbase or Gemini.

Public gets the job done if you just want to dabble in crypto investing and eventually sell your holdings. Just remember you're limiting your options, and other exchanges like Coinbase even let you stake different coins to earn passive income.

Music royalties

Musicians, recording companies, and investors maintain ownership of music and earn a small payment when the song is streamed or even more when it’s used in movies or TV shows.

Public launched music royalty investments with the soundtrack of the movie Shrek. The investment is actually in an LLC that owns the original music of the Shrek franchise. Take note of the high fees, 5% of cash flow and 10% of profits when selling. But otherwise, it’s an interesting place to park your cash.

Investment Plans

Investment Plans are pre-built portfolios containing multiple investments. Each plan focuses on a specific industry or theme. For example, you can buy into an Investment Plan for high-dividend stocks, aggressive growth, popular stocks, real estate companies, tax-exempt bonds, and other categories.

You can also build your own Investment Plan with up to 20 assets made up of stocks, ETFs, and crypto. Investment Plans are free for premium members or cost $0.49 to $1.99 for recurring purchases, depending on the number of assets in your plan. Crypto fees are 1.25% per order for Investment Plan purchases.

Public premium

If you want more investment data and enhanced VIP customer service, you can sign up for Public Premium. The subscription provides advanced data, portfolio management tools, and analyst insights to help investors make more informed decisions.

Public Premium costs $8 per month, or is free if you have a balance of $20,000 or more, and provides the following perks:

  • Unique data on all the companies you know. Think of things like how many Teslas of a specific model have been delivered this quarter or Apple’s sales per continent, etc.
  • Institutional-grade research from Morningstar, providing the bull and bear cases for all popular stocks, along with downloadable reporting on competitive pressures, business strategy, and more
  • Access to extended-hours trading — it adds an additional 5 hours of trading time to your day
  • Ability to organize the assets in your portfolio into custom groups. Then, compare each group's performance side by side
  • VIP customer support for faster response times. Public calls this its “white-glove” level of customer service

Finally, Public Premium members get access to exclusive audio programming. So when there’s a breaking story making the rounds, Public Premium’s expert analysts promise to give you all the context you need.

Alpha AI

Alpha is an AI for investors powered by ChatGPT. You can set up Alpha to send you alerts, answer questions about investments, screen for investments meeting your criteria, and more.

The Alpha AI tool is free for anyone with a Public account. If you’ve been wondering how AI can help with your investment strategy, Alpha is a great tool to get you started.

No commissions

Public doesn't charge commissions for US stock, ETF, or options trades. As with every brokerage, there may be some SEC and TAF fees. There's also a markup on crypto transactions (more on that later).

Public investor profiles

When you sign up for a Public account, you create an investor profile with a public username. Anyone in the Public community can view your profile. You can also look at other investors' profiles for ideas and inspiration.

Some “celebrity” profiles are also easy to find and view. In addition, you can check your phone's address book to see if anyone you know is already on the platform.

Ultimately, this system helps you find more investing ideas and connect with other investors. You should still do your own research, but it's nice to see what successful investors are trading.

Town halls

Do you have a question for the CEO of a company you've invested in or are thinking about investing in? Public's Town Halls allow you to connect with founders and CEOs. These meetings are live, written Q&As that take place within the app.

You can also submit questions in advance and tune in live to see them answered. The sessions are usually scheduled about one to two months in advance, so check on the app to see who is joining Public's upcoming Town Halls.

Safety labels

When you go to buy a stock or ETF, Public.com will have a label on the product if it's considered risky by the Securities and Exchange Commission. While all stocks have a bit of risk, some are riskier than others and Public.com identifies those that are considered very risky.

For example, a company that filed for bankruptcy has a higher level of risk than a company that is making a profit. Knowing if a stock is riskier or not allows you to make an informed decision about whether or not to invest in that stock or ETF.

Public.com pricing and fees

As mentioned, Public.com doesn't charge commissions for trading stocks and ETFs. And instead of using Payment for Order Flow to generate revenue, it uses an optional tipping system to generate revenue from trades.

As previously mentioned, Public Premium come with a monthly subscription fee of $8 unless you have at least $20,000 in your account. You may encounter a few other Public fees, especially if you trade crypto or alternatives:

  • Crypto Trades: Crypto fees are charged for all cryptocurrency trades, ranging from $0.49 to $6.29 for trades up to $500 or 1.25% on larger trades.
  • Alternative Asset Commissions: You’ll pay 2.5% per transaction when buying or selling alternatives through Public’s partner Dalmore
  • Treasuries: Public’s partner Jiko charges 0.05% per month of your average daily balance
  • Outgoing Domestic Wire Transfers: $25.
  • Returned Check, ACH, & Wires: $30.
  • Instant Withdrawals: Up to 3.5% of the amount ($1 minimum)
  • Inactivity Fees: $3.99 per month for accounts with less than $70 in value and no activity for the last six months.

Crypto fees seem like a downside, but you pay a similar spread fee with exchanges like Crypto.com or Gemini. If you want a more cost-effective way to invest in crypto, exchanges like Binance.US are better choices.

If you decide to test out Public with under $100, be cautious of the inactivity fees. You can reference Public's full fee schedule here.

Is the Public app safe?

Public is a safe investing app, and your account is SIPC-insured. This means that each customer's securities investment is protected up to $500,000. Cash amounts up to $250,000 are also covered.

On the tech side of things, Public accounts are protected by bank-grade 128-bit encryption, and all data is secured with Transport Layer Security.

And, as mentioned, Public uses safety labels to inform its users about potential investments that are deemed risky and quite risky. You still have to do your own due diligence and research, but it's another layer Public adds to its app to help protect investors.

How to contact Public.com

You can contact Public customer support by emailing support@public.com. Alternatively, use the live chat feature within the app. Chat support is available from 9:00am to 5:00pm ET, Monday through Friday.

Best Public.com alternatives

Public is an easy-to-use investing app that's great for beginners because of its fractional share investing. Its themes and public profiles can also help point you in the right direction if you need investing ideas. And the fact it acquired Otis also means you can invest in alternative assets, which is a very unique selling point for Public.

That said, there are other commission-free investing apps you can use to trade stocks, ETFs and crypto. And some Public.com alternatives like Robinhood and Webull might be better depending on the types of investments you want to make.

Highlights Robinhood Public.com Webull
Rating 4.3/5 3.5/5 4.3/5
Min. investment $0 $0 $0
Stock trades $0/trade $0/trade $0/trade
Options trades $0 $0 $0
Crypto trades
Mutual funds
Virtual trading
Review Robinhood review Public review Webull review
- Open account Open account Open account

Like Public, both Robinhood and Webull offer fractional shares. These investing apps also let you trade options, unlike Public. Currently, Webull supports both IRA and individual brokerage accounts, so it has more account options than Public. Robinhood just started offering IRA accounts.

For simple crypto trading, Robinhood is the best option due to low fees and supported currencies. It also lets you transfer crypto in and out of your wallet. Public and Webull don't let you transfer crypto assets.

The bottom line is that Public's selling point is that it's public; you can learn from other investors and use its themes to find baskets of stocks you're interested in. In this sense, it's an excellent investing app for beginners. And if you want to dabble in alternatives, Public is definitely better than both Robinhood and Webull.

Just note that Robinhood gives eligible new accounts a free stock worth anywhere from $3 to $225. Webull gives you up to five free stocks for opening and funding an account, with stocks being worth up to $3,000.

Public also gives you a free stock ranging from $3 to $300, so you can try each app to find you favorite and leverage sign-up bonuses.

The bottom line

In our view, Public.com is a great place for investors looking to invest in any fractional asset. The platform removes much of the confusion that holds people back from opening a stock trading account and gives you context around your portfolio through data, insights, and analytics to help you be a more informed investor. And if you're attracted to the community aspect, that could be another positive feature that draws you in.

Intermediate to advanced investors will likely find the offerings from Public to meet their needs if they are not looking to invest in mutual funds or precious metals, as Public is helping everyone be a better investor and building a platform to do just that. And if you're serious about crypto trading, exchanges like Coinbase or Gemini might be better alternatives.

Overall, it might not be for everyone, but Public could be a great choice for investors looking for a wide range of asset offerings. Whether it’s thousands of stocks and ETFs, a collection of 25+ cryptos, or a broad selection of alternatives, it’s all on Public.

Open an account at Public.com

Disclaimer - Paid non-client endorsement. See Apple App Store and Google Play reviews. View important disclosures.

Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

¹For securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares start at $0.05.

²Debit Account Services provided by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC and Stash Visa Debit Card issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC. pursuant to a license from VISA U.S.A. Inc. Investment products and services provided by Stash Investments LLC, not Green Dot Bank, and are Not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value.” because the article mentions the debit card.

³You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.

⁴Other fees apply to the debit account. Please see Deposit Account Agreement for details.

⁵Stock-Back® is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot Corporation, Visa U.S.A, or any of their respective affiliates, and none of the foregoing has any responsibility to fulfill any stock rewards earned through this program. Advertiser Disclosure – This advertisement contains information and materials provided by Robinhood Financial LLC and its affiliates (“Robinhood”) and Moneywise, a third party not affiliated with Robinhood. All investments involve risk and the past performance of a security, or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns. Securities offered through Robinhood Financial LLC and Robinhood Securities LLC, which are members of FINRA and SIPC. Moneywise is not a member of FINRA or SIPC.”

Eric Rosenberg Freelance Contributor

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager and corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to take his online side hustle full time.

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.