Are you looking for a an app with low trading fees and a user-friendly interface? Do you want the option to trade assets beyond stocks and ETFs such as cryptocurrencies, commodities, and indices?
In this guide, we break down the best trading apps for IOS and Android.
But what makes today the best time to start trading stocks and cryptos?
Well, both stocks and cryptocurrencies started the year with a bull run, plus the Coronavirus pandemic has shaken the markets and economies, effectively driving both the stock and cryptocurrency prices to their lowest.
To help you get started, online brokerages like eToro, Robinhood, and eTrade have developed beginner-friendly trading platforms
Read on to learn about these easy-to-use, commission-free sites, that require zero to minimal trading skills.
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Best Trading Apps 2020
1. Trade with eToro - Best Overall
Fees: 0% on transactions - Pay only the spread on leveraged trades
Min Deposit: $50
eToro, founded in 2006, is the leading social trading app with 5 million customers spread across 60 countries. The platform offers CFDs on commodities, cryptocurrencies, stocks, indices, and ETFs, as well as direct stock and ETF trades. eToro was the first online broker to offer social trading platform and allow traders to do copy-trading – one click copying of the portfolios and trading strategies of leading traders on the platform.
If you are in the US, you can only use eToro for trading cryptocurrencies, due to the existing restrictions on CFD trading. European users, however, can also trade stocks, ETFs, and indices. The trading interface is easy and intuitive to use, but if you need assistance, 24/5 customer support is available in several languages.
eToro does not charge fees to buy (long) stocks or ETFs. For leveraged positions – for instance, CFDs, stocks, ETFs, and forex traded using a margin account – eToro charges traders the ‘spread: the difference between the bid (sell) and ask (buy) prices quoted for a security.
Leveraged positions also are charged a rollover fee – a small daily fee on open buy and sell positions. eToro charges a $5 withdrawal fee with a minimum withdrawal of $50. The app is available on IOS and Android.
In the U.S., eToro offers social trading and real trading of cryptocurrencies. In other markets, eToro offers real trading and cryptocurrency trades using leverage, short positions, and CopyPortfolios using CFDs. CFDs are traded in European markets, but trading these over-the-counter instruments in the U.S. is illegal.
Take note that when trading CFDs, high losses cannot be ruled out. And since cryptocurrencies are unregulated and their prices can vary widely, crypto trading is not suitable for all traders. Unlike in regulated stock, bonds, and fiat currency markets, if your broker goes bankrupt, your losses will not be covered by government-backed deposit insurance.
- Track the trades of other experienced traders
- Comprehensive range of financial products
- Doesn’t charge a commission
- Traders in the U.S. can only trade in cryptocurrencies
- Educational material is sparse
- Minimum deposit is higher than competitors
2. Invest with Stash App - Best for U.S. residents - $5 for New Users
Fees: $1 or 0.25% per month
Min Deposit: $5
The Stash Invest app, launched in 2015, is pitched at beginner and intermediate investors. By offering investing and banking services in one app, Stash helps you allocate idle funds, spare change, and windfalls to investing and savings accounts.
According to Stash co-founder Brandon Kreig, the company is on a mission to simplify investing and open up opportunities that have historically been inaccessible to all but institutional investors. The Stash App can be downloaded by IOS and Android device users. The app offers news as well as investing and savings tips/guides through Stash Learn.
Stash offers three low fee monthly subscription services: Beginner ($1), Growth ($3) and Stash+ ($9). All three offer investing and banking services, with a cashback debit card. The latter two subscriptions provide retirement accounts.
Additionally, Stash+ allows you to add two investing accounts for kids and earn 2x cashback rewards. ETF expense ratios averaging 0.24 percent apply. Since the platform’s main target is new investors, most users are likely to start in the $1 per month range.
- Educational and news platform to help new and experienced investors gain an investment edge.
- Fractional shares are available
- Low minimum starting at $5
- The platform fee is high on small accounts
- As your portfolio grows, you may choose to move to a robo-advisor
3. Plus 500 App - Highly advanced and feature-rich trading platform
Fees: Variable but highly competitive
Min Deposit: £100
Founded in 2008, this broker is now one of the largest forex and CFD brokers in the UK. Plus500UK Ltd is authorized & regulated by the FCA in the UK, ASIC in Australia, and CySEC in Cyprus. The online broker is also listed and publicly traded on the London Stock Exchange.
We like Plus 500 for a number of reasons. Firstly, the platform hosts a huge selection of CFD forex pairs, all of which can be bought and sold online 24/7. Their proprietary trading platform is also highly advanced and specially designed to suit the expert trader needs. The trading interface is super user-friendly and also hosts multiple advanced technical analysis and market research tools.
Plus 500 does not charge any commissions to trade stocks and their spreads, though variable, are also highly competitive.
Additionally, Plus 500 offers a mobile app for both both Android and iOS operating systems that let you trade while on the go.
- Holds multiple licenses and is listed on the London Stock Exchange
- Huge list of CFD forex trading pairs
- No commissions
- Some spreads are priced quite highly
- Charges overnight trading fees
4. Invest with DEGIRO – Low Fees European Broker
Fees: 0% pa
Min Deposit: $0.01
DEGIRO is not a no-fee broker that maintains some of the most competitive trading fees. The broker charges a low $2 fee per trade for market access to CFDs and direct stock trading that are typically reserved for large institutions. Retail investors in 18 European counties can access direct securities trading on 50 international exchanges. When you trade on your domestic stock market the price is discounted further.
You also get one free ETF trade a month. The broker is regulated by the Dutch AFM and DNB, and in many other jurisdictions around the world. If you are looking for low fee investing in stocks, DEGIRO is a popular option. DEGIRO offers five account levels – Custody, Basic, Active, Trader, Day Trader.
Compared to competitors, trades priced on a flat fee plus a percentage of the volume are relatively low especially for US traders. US share trades are priced at €0.50 + USD 0.004 per share while the UK shares trade at £1.75 + 0.022% add up as follows: €2,000 of Apple shares at $190/share costs €0.54 (US exchange) €2,000 of Nestle costs €5.16 (UK exchange). Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore trades are more expensive at €10 + 0.68 percent, but still below many domestic trading fees.
ETFs start from €2 + 0.038% while bonds are priced at €2 + 0.068%. Options and futures trades, on the other hand, start from 0.65 per contract. Real-time price feeds are available ranging from free for the Frankfurt Stock Exchange to €10.50 per month for the Germany Eurex. Margin accounts, called Debit Money, are offered to Active, Trader, and Day Trader account holders.
- Low trading fees
- Access to direct share trading on global exchanges
- Non-invested money swept into money market funds
- Limited research and educational tools
- No tax-advantaged account options
5. Invest with Robinhood - US Free Stock Trading with 0% fees
Fees: 0.00% pa
Min Deposit: Robinhood $0, Robinhood Gold $2,000
Robinhood is a popular app among investors looking for commission-free stock trading. The broker pioneered the commission-free trades onslaught for online trading. On their platform, you will be able to trade stocks with no commission charges, as well as ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies.
Broker-assisted trades by phone are also free. One of the most popular apps for buy-and-hold investors has added trading features. Basic candlestick charts and indicators (moving average and relative strength) are now offered on this app appreciated for its simplicity.
The no-frills US broker has added premium features. A Robinhood Gold Account provides margin accounts, Nasdaq Level II market data, and MorningStar research for a thrifty $5 a month. Leverage on margin accounts is up to 2:1. And interest on margin loans ranges from 7.2 percent on a $1,000 ($6/month) loan to 4.8 percent on $50,000 ($200/month) and a competitive 5 percent over $50,000.
Fees are charged for international stock trades and wire transfers ($25–$50). Robinhood is also preparing to lure customers from the banks by providing them with a cash management account with a generous 3 percent interest rate. The average checking account, in comparison, earns 0.09 percent.
- Instant deposits from $1,000 on Standard accounts
- No commission, deposit/withdrawal or inactivity fees
- Tax-advantaged and IRA accounts
- No real-time pricing on Standard accounts
- Limited price charting, indicator tools and order types
- International stock trades cost $35-50 per transaction
6. Invest with M1 Finance - Automated Portfolios on this US Roboadvisor
Fees: 0.00% commission - 4% on borrowing credit facility
Min Deposit: $10 on Fractional Trading
M1 Finance makes investing easy by automating trading based on your chosen portfolio allocation when your balance is above $10 (adjustable). This robo-advisor works hard to ensure your money is always working for you. Designed to create cost savings for the long-term investor, M1 Invest offers no fee automated investing in custom portfolios with a choice of over 6,000 stocks and ETFs. M1 Borrow is a low-cost line of credit for margin and other loans.
M1 Spend is an FDIC-insured checking account that sweeps idle cash into your higher earning investment portfolio. Portfolios, represented as pies, can be created with stocks, ETFs and Expert Pies (portfolios designed by professional investors for different investment styles and sectors). Automatic portfolio rebalancing ensures your optimal portfolio allocations are maintained. A checking account with a debit card is a new option that can pay bills and sweep the excess cash into investments.
M1 Finance charges no fees to investors. Fractional shares investing also allows you to start trading with as little as $10. One way this broker makes money is through M1 Borrow – a low-cost line of credit for not only margin borrowing but also other uses such as a second mortgage or business loan with the borrowing fee set at 4%.
- No fees or commissions
- Free automated portfolio rebalancing
- Sweeping of cash into higher earning investment accounts
- No market timing; trade window opens once a day
- Inactivity fee of $20 after 180 days
How to Choose a Trading App
‘No fee’ online stock trading accounts can be deceptively expensive if the following account features are not priced competitively:
The spread is the difference between the bid and ask price of a stock or other security expressed in pips. The bid is the highest price buyers will pay for the stock. The ask is the lowest price sellers will accept. Brokers with tight spreads have less price slippage, and therefore traders have a higher potential to profit placing a trade with a broker with a, say, 2 pip spread on the EUR/USD pair than a 4 pip spread.
Margin lending rates
Margin lending enables you to borrow money to invest. The money and securities in your brokerage account serve as collateral for a loan. For instance, with a margin loan of 1:50 – the leverage – lets you borrow up to 50 percent of your account assets. The interest rate charged on the loan is part of your trading costs. Shop around. Compare the lending rates and leverage offered by brokers.
Slippage is the change in price from the time a trade is entered to the time it is executed. If you enter an order to buy Apple at $190, a thousand other trades processed on faster systems (up to a millionth of a second) may be filled before your order. Let’s suppose these faster orders are mostly buy orders bidding up the price. By the time your order is executed, the price has increased to $191. However if more sell orders were processed, the price could decline in your favor.
Futures and options fees
Futures and options are low cost risk management tools. These derivatives instruments enable investors to hedge or speculate on future price movements for a fraction of the fee of directly trading the underlying asset. Compare the options futures and fees across brokers to ensure competitive pricing.
What else to look for
Are they licensed?
Unlicensed brokers pose a higher risk of failure, in which case you will not be able to recover your money. Choose a licensed broker with anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) verification processes. For example, licenses are granted by CySEC (Europe), FCA (UK), ASIC (Australia), BaFin (Germany) and the CFTC (US).
Is your brokerage account insured?
SIPC insures money in an account to be used for investment purposes. Funds in checking and savings accounts are FDIC-insured.
Are there hidden trading costs?
If a broker does not charge fees, always ask how it makes its money. Are there hidden charges? Some brokers are paid for order flow to market makers and dealers. Others are paid to offer the ETFs or other investment products of a supplier, whether or not they are the best choice for the customer portfolio. Margin loan rates, international stock trades and ETF referral fees are some of the revenue generators for no fee brokers.
Is the app highly rated?
Reviews of the mobile app are a reliable source of information on the pros and cons of a trading platform. Also check out independent brokerage reviews.
Is a diversified universe of instruments offered?
A broker with a limited number of securities to trade will provide you with limited portfolio risk diversification opportunities.
Can you use a demo account?
A demo account is an opportunity to try out the trading interface and gauge the spreads, slippage, liquidity, and order execution speed.
The key to improving your returns using the freemium trading model is to sniff out all the hidden costs, starting with the bid-ask spread. Currency conversion fees and account transfer charges are other common hidden fees. Equally important, ask how the broker is earning money for you. Services like tax harvesting, dynamic rebalancing, and cash sweeping can improve your returns. If you cannot easily and cheaply transfer excess cash in your account into higher returning investments, the broker will be earning the interest on your account balance, not you.
💸 How much do I need to start trading?
Online broker minimum deposits vary. No fee broker models have significantly lowered the minimum. Some allow you to start trading with $5–10. Premium brokers may require that you have not only a high minimum account balance but also meet an asset test (e.g., minimum assets of $25,000).
💸 What is payment for order flow?
Payment for order flow is the practice of brokers routing their orders to preferred market makers and dealers in securities in exchange for commissions. These third parties do not always provide the best pricing and trade execution speed for clients. Some brokers use these commissions to subsidize low or no fee brokerage services.
💸 Why have I been charged a fee on a “no fee” stock trade?
In some countries a tax or duty, often called a stamp duty, is charged when shares are bought. In the UK, the stamp duty on electronic purchases of stock is 0.05 percent. In the US and many European markets, no stamp duty is charged.
💸 What is the spread?
The spread is the difference between the bid and ask price expressed as a percentage. For a bid price of $70 and ask price of $100, the spread would be 30 percent.
💸 What are Level II market prices?
Level 2 data shows the current bid and ask prices and related volume for a security trade. This information allows a trader to evaluate the current supply and demand for the security.
💸 What is a loan to value ratio (LTV)?
The LTV ratio determines how much you can borrow on margin and when a margin call is made. It is calculated by dividing the amount borrowed to buy securities divided by the amount you have in your broker account (securities + cash).
💸 What is a margin call?
If as a result of a losing position your balance falls below your account asset value and a pre-established loan to value ratio (LVR), you will receive a margin call. A margin call requires you to restore the original value by depositing more money and/or securities into your account. The lender could also sell your shares to repay the loan.
💸 What is leverage?
Leverage refers to the amount of debt-to-capital a trader assumes by borrowing on margin. It is represented by a ratio of, for example, 1:30. If you deposit $1,000 in your brokerage account, you will be able to invest up to $3,000. If you invest $3,000 in Facebook stock and the stock gains 20 percent, your gain will be $600 versus $200 without leverage. Conversely, if the price declines 20 percent, your loss is $400 greater. Given the potential to multiply not only your gains but also your losses, the amount of leverage you choose to use should reflect the amount you can afford to lose.