Stock trading has never been as accessible as it is today, where most individuals with little money can easily buy and sale even single shares at the time. The business model of brokerage houses changed too much that it even free trading companies have emerged, offering fully free trading with zero fees or commissions.
The overall trading market is currently offering hundreds of different brokers and providers to choose from, it is important for individuals to take their time and analyze deeply the implications of choosing one broker over another one. It is important to keep in mind that costs of operating with a broker, even if low, can easily add up over time and especially if you are a very active trader.
Best Stock Trading Apps 2019:
There is a very broad offering when it comes to Stock Trading Apps in the US. It is super important for individuals to take their time and analyze completely any option before making a final decision. Just like with a bank account, one can decide to take out the funds whenever they decide and look for another platform. But just like with a financial institution, changing brokers and providers can result in a costly and time-consuming process.
Passive Stock Trading Applications
1. Robinhood – Free Trading App
Even if you are not interested in stock trading or the financial markets, chances are you have heard about Robinhood and how this California based broker changed the investing world forever. Instead of following a traditional brokerage house model the firm decided to go all in an offer a completely new experience to its customers, “Free Trading“.
The disruptive model of the company has been copied by many other brokers, effectively changing the way individuals buy and sell securities forever. While free trading sounds like a great deal, it is important to be aware that while free trading is a benefit, it also brings to the table other problems associated with a cheap product.
If you are an active trader/ investor, then you know that access to information and execution are two principal pillars needed to successfully navigate the financial markets without losing the head on the way. If any of these pillars is lagging, then the overall platform will create problems for the users.
Keep in mind that even though Robinhood does not offer access to technical analysis, certain individuals and especially millennials are using the platform in order to blindly trade and invest. We do not encourage this practice in any way and we advise for any individual interested in trading to review all the options from this list before making a decision.
Like any new technology or approach, Robinhood represents trouble for the overall brokerage sector but it is important to see behind this trouble and to understand that this new strategy will dramatically affect the way financial markets are perceived and reached by regular individuals for generations to come.
If you are interested in a strategy that requires access to charts or simply technical indicators, you will be better off aiming for a dedicated broker (even if it means paying more for the service). Otherwise, you will end up frustrating yourself and will risk losing money in the process.
- Minimum Requirements:$200
- Best Feature: Not to take down the merits deserved for their platform but as a broker, the best feature offered by Robinhood is their Free Trading approach. Harsh critics may even say they are simply a one trick pony!
- Recommended for: The platform is pretty easy to use and it allows individuals with zero knowledge of the market to develop their own portfolios within it. You should be honest with yourself in terms of the trading strategy and approach you to want to take, if you are interested in actively managing a portfolio then Robinhood is definitely Not! a viable option, otherwise if your plans are to buy and sell discretionally but with the intention of long term passive investing, then you might want to consider Robinhood as part of your top5 roster
- Application: Robinhood is only offered as a mobile platform with coverage of most devices. The overall environment of the platform is beautiful looking and elegant but their execution and performance are not even close to the level of other tiers 3 brokerage houses.
If you were to analyze Robinhood as a fully commercial platform that was designed with the intention of promoting securities trading, then it surely is the best in its class. The problems become more notable as you understand that their business model aims to make them a fully operational discount broker, they are on a good track but still far away from their destination.
2. Acorns – Automatic Stock Portfolio Investing App
Continuing with the world of FinTech, Acorns is a modern respond to savings and investing. The company focuses on delivering a simple but efficient approach to the financial markets, allowing individuals to invest based on their financials and situation without any minimum restriction.
Instead of allowing individuals to choose single stocks or ETFs to invest, Acorns offer different types of portfolios based on risk profile and risk appetite. This allows individuals to invest in the portfolio that matches their goals and personalities the most. Just keep in mind that just like with every other aspect of life, at a higher return requires a higher beta of risk.
The entire business model of the company is based on automatic investing which consists of rounds up to the next dollar for every payment made with a plastic card. After the funds are received into the app they will be invested into the desired portfolio.
Keep in mind that lump-sum deposits are allowed and can be as small as $5.
When you analyze how the app works you realize that it is a wonderful idea, many individuals have always had the keen interested in learning about the markets and to also invest their money in securities. The reality is that many of these individuals never even try as in most cases they don’t know where to start. Acorns offer an app that will make an individual feel comfortable with buying securities, while it might not be the end broker utilized for larger portfolios, it is a wonderful option for any beginner trader to have in their repertoire.
- Minimum Requirements: One of the fundamentals of acorns is that big things can grow out of small packages, like an Oak and an Acorn. For this reason, the company welcomes deposits and roundups with no actual limit or minimum
- Best Feature: Even if you are into trading and investing, chances are that you won’t be as active as your credit card is. Being able to invest a little every time to buy or pay for something is a great way to save and make sure that you will comply with your investing goals
- Recommended for: Acorn has target young individuals and especially college student. The main reason behind this is the great synergy between millennials and these types of venturing tech. On the other hand, investing such small amounts of money will take time to build up and become something else, starting as young as possible is your best chance to take the best out of this investment method
- Application: If there’s anything this silicon valley companies can do in any industry is to make an app look like a fresh and crisp $100 bill. Acorns have achieved a beautiful suite that will allow individuals to get closer to trading and investing in the markets in the most simple and easy way. It is worth mentioning that the company has invested large sums of money in making its platform available in almost every mobile device.
3. M1 Finance – Stock Portfolio + Passive Investment App
M1 Finance offers a similar product to acorns but in this case, individuals are allowed to create and design their own portfolios based on their risk appetite and also their interests.
Over the past couple of years, it has been clear to see that some of these FinTechs have been working towards creating a platform that could fit investors of all sizes and with different experience levels. While this is not something that many successfully reached, it is clear that M1 Finance has been able to master it beautifully.
Please keep in mind that this product/platform is intended for passive investment and it will not work for active investing or single stock picking.
If you are interested in finding a broker/platform that will let you invest and create a portfolio, then you should take a closer look at M1 Finance as it also allows individuals to invest their 401Ks and IRAs plans into these portfolios as well.
In order to complement its investment business, the firm currently offers access to certain other services like traditional banking and high yield accounts. M1 Finance has become a growing force in the US market, attracting many individuals to join as clients and to start investing.
- Minimum Requirements: $100
- Best Feature: Tailor Made Portfolios, the firm offers its own approach of the pie charts on which you can invest. It is very straightforward and easy to use and understand the product
- Recommended for: Passive investors looking to design their own portfolios, its fairly common to hear individuals complaining about wanting to passively invest in securities and not being able to find the right mutual fund or ETF to trade, with this platform you would be able to create your own portfolios based on your desire
- Application: It has become the new norm to see this type of applications to be as minimalistic as possible. Please note that M1 Finances offers its mobile and web platform for most devices
4. Stash – Stock Portfolio + Passive Investment App
Stash is intended to be the broker of choice for individuals with zero experience or knowledge about the markets. The platform was designed to be as simple as possible in order to simplify the whole investing process and making individuals feeling more comfortable with the experience.
If you were to compare stash with any other name from this list, the overall business model is pretty similar to what you would find with companies like Acorn and M1 Finance. Overall it is not a bad service but it is important to keep in mind how simple and basic their platform truly is (by choice).
It is worth mentioning that even though the firm is solely focused on passive investment, they fall short when compared to other names in the sector, mainly due to the fact that they don’t offer access to robo advisors or portfolio management services. With their current model, any individual will be guided through the process of building their own portfolio but managing it will be their own responsibility.
If you don’t feel comfortable with managing a portfolio on your own then Acorns might be a better option to start.
- Minimum Requirements: As an incentive for small account owners the firm offers deposits to be made in multiples of 5 and starting at $5.
- Best Feature: Accounts with a balance of under $5,000 will only have to pay $1 a month for their services
- Recommended for: Beginner Traders (The platform is easy to use and understand)
- Application: The Stash app is a great option for anyone that is interested in knowing where their portfolio is standing at all moments, the strong interaction of reporting between bank accounts will also allow for reportings overpayments and balance. Keep in mind that even though the app is great, it does fell short when compared to other robo-advisor models.
Self-Active Stock Broker Apps 2019:
1. Thinkorswim (TD Ameritrade)
One of the parents of modern retail trading is Tom Sosnoff, a professional options trader who believed that trading and investing could become popular with retail investors if they had the right tools and platform. The result of the hard work of this trader was Thinkorswim, a platform developed by a trader and for traders.
The idea behind the app was to provide the most powerful platform as possible in an intuitive and easy to use package, allowing beginner investors to feel more comfortable with the financial markets and with trading overall.
Nowadays after more than a decade, Thinkorswim is the spearhead over which TD Ameritrade operates. With over $1 trillion in assets under management in more than 11 million client accounts, it is easy to see how many individuals find this platform to be the best available in the market.
Besides offering brokerage services, TD Ameritrade is well known as a multinational group due to all the other services offered by the firm. Some of the most important are:
- Commercial Banking
- Life Insurance
- Retirement and Wealth Management
- Retail Banking
- Active Portfolio Management
- Direct Investing
- Auto Financing
It is important to mention that even though Thinkorswim could easily be used by any individual aiming to invest and hold positions long term, it is best known for their fundamental and technical analysis capabilities. Keep in mind that both fundamental and technical analysis are the two core competencies over which most individuals base their strategies and structure their portfolios. Think or swim is seen by many as an all-terrain platform, suitable for most individual and even institutional players
- Minimum Requirements: TD Ameritrade does not have a minimum deposit to open an account for stock trading, but you should be aware that certain assets like options and futures require a minimum deposit of $2,000
- Best Feature: Its platform has to be their best feature!
- Recommended for: Even though it can be used for almost every type of trading methodology, the individuals that take the most advantage out of the platform are the ones with more complex trading ideas and very active environments
- Application: Think or swim is without the doubt the most powerful and to some degree the best overall platform from this list. Keep in mind that even though TOS is a little bit complicated to understand at first, not many traders can go back to other brokers after using it. One of the most noticeable elements about Thinkorswim is how well connected and balanced everything is, for example, mobile, desktop and web trading are synced live.
With over thirty years of operations, Firstrade was one of the first brokers in the US that become interested in offering their services to retail individuals and investors. Ever since the company was founded they always were driven by a low-cost strategy, focusing on delivering the best possible service at the cheapest cost.
With the appearance of names like Robinhood, Firstrade had to change their business model and adapt to the new market trends of completely free of commission brokers.
Even though it is a relatively old firm, it can not be compared to titans like TD Ameritrade or Fidelity and the company is ok with that. Over the years they have targeted niche markets and specific sectors like for example the Chinese expat community in the US (Only retail broker in the US that offer their platforms in traditional and simplified Chinese as well as English).
- Minimum Initial Deposit: There is no minimum (this is becoming a more common practice in the US)
- Best Feature: Free Stock Trading
- Recommended for: Firstrade is an excellent platform but not a special one. It does not provide any other benefit befits its great service, there are no additional services or similar additions. If all you want is a reliable and cheap broker with a clean track record, then look no more
- Application: Firstrade is actually one of the first electronic trading brokers in the US, they’ve survived and grown for many decades which proves that there is high demand over their services. It is important to mention that even though Firstrade is an overall great service, it still lags against their major competitors.
TradeStation is one of the best apps and brokers for power users, individuals who truly need to get the most out of their analysis and execution. Even though the firm only offered their services to institutional players at the beginning, they have commenced accepting small accounts and it is now one of the most recognized prime-discount brokers available in the market.
An important aspect about TradeStation that it is worth mentioning is they offer brokerage service for almost every type of publicly traded asset and its major financial markets (Asia, Europe, most Emerging Markets).
Please be aware that TS does not offer portfolio management services and traders will have to rely on their own management and trading. If you don’t feel comfortable trading/investing your own account, you might be better off with a different option from this list (Fidelity).
Solely from an App perspective, TS falls low compared to TOS but it is a great overall platform. Note that the mobile platform is definitely not as good as the desktop version, if you are planning on operating on the go often, you might want to look for another broker.
- Minimum Requirements: A $500 minimum deposit does not do justice for such a great platform
- Best Feature: Access to multiple asset classes and Charting tools
- Recommended for: Active traders and passive investors looking for more analysis on their holdings and their portfolio
- Application: The TradeStation platform is the rough tool of stock trading, it might not be fancy or good looking but it is a super powerful application. If you employ technical analysis strategies then you should consider an account with TS.
When many individuals hear the name of Fidelity, the first thing that comes to their mind is usually related to retirement plans (IRAs and 401Ks). In Reality, the firm is a multinational company that offers financial and investment services around the world, and with $2.46 Trillion in assets under management, it is easy to see how big the company really is. With more than 75 years of track record, Fidelity has become a synonym of the Financial Market in America.
Just like most brokers from this list, Fidelity delivers access to the major financial markets and asset classes around the world, making a go-to option for investors looking for overseas investing.
- Minimum Requirements: Unlike other brokers that are trying to get as much market share as possible, fidelity is completely the opposite where they are aiming to offer a more complete package for individuals with bigger accounts
- Best Feature: Proprietary Funds & ETFs, Active Portfolio Management
- Recommended for: Passive investors looking to consolidate their accounts under one financial institution
- Application: Fidelity’s platform is more of a portfolio management app than a broker. It is important to understand where is it that a broker can truly shine, in the case of fidelity are there portfolios and their centralized banking functions
Investing in the financial markets and especially in stocks has never been easier than it is today. For this reason, it is crucial for investors to take their time to understand the differences between all these providers/brokers before choosing to invest with one over the other.
As mentioned before, one of the most important trends seen in the past few years has been about free trading and truly discount brokers. While fees and commissions can harm a portfolio over time, investors should be aware that execution and platform reliability can result in even more harmful situations depending on the brokers. Choosing a broker just like choosing a life partner is not a situation where you want to be cheap in any way, think about the benefits long term and also the risks associated with each app.
Keep in mind that a cheap execution will ultimately result in the investor deciding to choose towards a new broker. If possible try to avoid future headaches and do your research beforehand.
In the past owning a big account was the only way to successfully buy stocks and profit from the market, this has become history in the past years as most brokers lower their minimum investments as a method to incentivize trading and investing. It is incredible to see how much the demand for stocks and other publicly traded assets has risen because of this.
Please that in this list there are brokers with minimums ranging anywhere from zero to $10,000. Without a doubt, you will be able to find a broker that will suit your expectations and necessities as an investor.
The sooner you start the better the returns you will have as time plays an important role.
This is a pretty common question, but also a pretty broad one. The best app for an active trader might not be the one for someone looking to simply buy and hold stocks for the long term and vice versa.
From an overall perspective, our favorite is TD Ameritrade with Thinkorswim. This platform covers the demands and necessities of most investors disregarding the size of their account or their strategy.
If you have no knowledge about the financial markets but you still want to start your way into investing and Trading I would recommend going for Robinhood or M1 Finance (While Acorns is another viable Option, we believe it might be just to simple even for beginners).
Both platforms will help you familiarize with the world of investing and trading. Please note that these should be considered as transitory platforms since most investors will ditch them after they have gained more experience.
If you are looking to start your own portfolio and hold stocks long term, then Fidelity is definitely the right broker for you. Not only they offer an easy to use the platform but also one specially designed for this purpose.
If you are an active trader then most like you practice some type of technical analysis in order to determine your trades, if that’s the case then TradeStation is your best option. The platform of TS is simply heaven for anyone looking to actively trade global markets.
If you don’t like TS then Thinkorswim can be another great option.