Looking for the best investing apps to get your financial life back on track? A solid finance app can handle routine financial tasks, shuffle money into investing accounts, and track spending. But the best investment apps can also let you quickly trade stocks, follow your account in real time and help you learn about the markets and more. Because they can do so much, investment apps have become increasingly popular.
Here are some of the top apps for getting your finances organized and invested. All of these apps are great for beginners, and they make it easy for those just starting to invest or looking to play a stock-picking game for fun.
Here are the best investment apps in September 2021:
Overview: Top investment apps in 2021
Invstr – Best investment app for learning about investing
Invstr is what you get when you mix learning, real-life investing and community into an app that’s designed to give beginning investors a way to get into stocks, especially if you like games. The app combines a fantasy stock game, where you can assist in managing a $200 billion virtual portfolio, with access to investors’ thoughts on stocks and other investments.
The fantasy game gives you $1 million in virtual money, and you can use the app’s social network and news feed to source ideas. The month’s top performers win real cash, too. And if you want to turn some of those fantasy picks into real-life stakes, you can buy fractional shares and whole shares commission-free in the app. The app will even give new users $5 when they open and fund an account.
Reasons to get this app: You want to learn from an investing community, hear why they like certain stocks and play a fun fantasy game.
Wealthbase – Best investment app for beginners
Wealthbase is a newer entrant into the world of stock market games, and it may be the most user-friendly investing app out there for having fun and picking stocks. You can set up games with friends to last however long you want — a few weeks, days, even just until the end of the day.
Two things set Wealthbase apart in the stock simulator world: first, the app marries social media with stock picking. You’ll see a feed of stocks your friends are picking, with daily updates of who’s winning, and you can engage in a little friendly “trash talk.” Second, the app runs very smoothly — no delays to load, no hiccups. Even if you’re not a huge stock-picker, you’ll have fun here. And you can trade crypto in the simulation as well.
You can access Wealthbase on the web or via mobile app.
Reasons to get this app: You like picking stocks and playing games in a social environment with friends and colleagues.
Wealthfront – Best investment app for sophisticated portfolio management
Wealthfront is one of the largest independent robo-advisors, and for a small fee it can manage your money, whether that’s in a taxable account or an IRA. Wealthfront uses low-cost ETFs to construct your portfolio and takes into account how much risk you want to take as well as when you’ll need the money. As you deposit money, Wealthfront will add it to your portfolio and keep your account balanced and on target toward your goal.
Wealthfront’s management fee runs 0.25 percent annually, which is the industry standard. It’s an eminently reasonable price for the features on offer, including automated tax-loss harvesting, which effectively covers the annual fee for many clients, says the company. Wealthfront also brings an attractive cash management account (even if you don’t sign up for the investment account), and you’ll receive a competitive interest rate, early access to direct-deposited paychecks and a debit card – all without a monthly fee.
Reasons to get this app: All you’ll need to do is add money to the account and Wealthfront manages your portfolio to reach your goal. The cash management account is cool, too. As a Bankrate user, get $5,000 managed for free when you open a Wealthfront investment account.
Minimum balance required: $500
Fees: Management fee of 0.25 percent of assets annually
Acorns – Best investment app for savers
Acorns is one of the older of the new breed of finance apps, but it remains one of the most popular, because of how easy it is to use. You really don’t have to pay much attention once you’ve set up the app. Link a debit or credit card to your account, and Acorns will round up the total on purchases to the next dollar and invest that difference into one of a few ETF portfolios.
The cost is a modest $1 per month for Acorns Lite, though the company offers other features. If you want to take a step up, you can move to Acorns Personal, which is bundled with Lite, for $3 per month. This tier offers an individual retirement account (IRA), and you’ll be able to open one of three versions: the traditional, Roth or an SEP. You can even roll over an existing 401(k) or IRA.
Acorns chooses your portfolio based on the targeted time until your retirement (calculated as age 59 ½), becoming more conservative as you near that age, a timing that may not be appropriate for all investors. This tier offers an FDIC-protected checking account, too, with no additional fees and fee-free access to thousands of ATMs.
And for a total of $5 per month, you can add Acorns Family, which includes the features of the first two tiers as well as investment accounts for children.
Reasons to get this app: You like getting automatic investments while you’re spending without worrying about it. You like retirement investing without the hassle.
Minimum balance required: $0 for savings account
Fees: $1, $3, or $5 per month depending on the service tier
Betterment – Best investment app for socially responsible investing
Betterment is one of the (relatively) new wave of robo-advisors, and it’s one of the largest and most popular. The app provides professionally managed portfolios using a selection of ETFs and is calibrated against your own risk tolerance. Betterment can create socially responsible portfolios, including those that focus on climate change or social impact. If you’re willing to stomach a little more risk, the app can find you investments with a potentially higher return over the long run. If you need a safer portfolio, Betterment can do that, too. You can set up Betterment and then kick back while the pros do the rest of the work.
Betterment charges a much smaller price than you’d pay for a traditional financial advisor. The management fee for the basic account amounts to 0.25 percent — a competitive rate in the robo-advisor world, or $25 annually for every $10,000 you have invested. But you’ll have to pay extra for the ETFs that Betterment invests in, as you would at any robo-advisor. The app lets you set goals to invest for, such as a safety net or retirement, and there’s no account minimum.
Reasons to get this app: You like having a professionally managed portfolio for a low cost.
Minimum balance required: $0 for digital service
Fees: Management fee of 0.25 percent of assets annually for digital service
Robinhood – Best investment app for smooth trading
Robinhood is the app to have if you like a smooth interface and avoiding trading commissions.
The app allows you to trade stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrency all for free, and you’ll be able to do it in a slick mobile interface that makes smooth work of it all. The stripped-down app is simple to navigate, and after a while you’ll move from screen to screen intuitively as you trade the market. But you’ll have to know what you want to invest in, since there’s no advising here.
You can access a stock’s page from a search bar at the top of the screen, and pull up charts and vital statistics. Also useful is a feed that aggregates stories from news and investing sites, so that you keep on top of what’s going on. After you’ve decided what you want to trade and enter the number of shares to buy or sell, swipe up and the order is on its way.
Another great feature of the app is instant delivery of the first $1,000 of any funds you deposit to the account, so you can start trading immediately. If you’re a member of Robinhood Gold, a premium tier, you’ll have instant deposits on higher amounts, up to $50,000. (Here’s Bankrate’s full review.)
Reasons to get this app: You like trading stocks (and options and cryptocurrency) for free and having a simple way to follow the market.
Minimum balance required: $0
Fees: No commissions for stock, ETF, options or crypto trades
Webull – Best investment app for low-cost trading
Webull was letting investors trade stocks for free before it suddenly became the cool thing to do, but also offers commission-free trades on options and ETFs. Plus, this broker offers no-fee trades on cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, at all hours of the day and night. On top of that, investors can enjoy full extended-hours trading — both morning and evening. Webull still passes on regulatory and exchange fees, which are small (think a dime or two for many trades).
Unlike some other investment apps, you’ll be able to set up a taxable account as well as an IRA account (traditional, Roth or rollover), giving you the flexibility to have more of your financial life at this broker. If you prefer trading from your desktop, you can download the Webull platform and customize watchlists, check out stock charts and manage your investments.
Reasons to get this app: You like no-commission trading across multiple asset classes any time the market is open and the ability to set up an IRA with your investing app.
Minimum balance required: $0
Fees: No commissions for stock, ETF, options or crypto trades
Stockpile – Best investment app for gifting stock
Stockpile is a neat app because it allows you to buy fractional shares of companies. So if you don’t have $300 to buy that one expensive tech stock, you can buy a half or a third of it, instead. Stockpile does not charge any trading fees.
The other neat thing about Stockpile is that it allows you to give a gift card that’s redeemable for stock, so it may be a way to get a younger relative into investing in a fun way. You don’t even need an account to send a gift. Stockpile allows kids to track their investments at any time, and you can set a list of approved stocks for them to trade. The app lets kids share a wish list of stocks with family and friends.
Reasons to get this app: You like investing but don’t have enough to buy high-priced stock and you like the idea of gifting stock to younger relatives.
How much money should I plan to invest?
The good news for investors starting out today is that it requires very little money to get started. Fees are so low or even non-existent that you can start with virtually any amount of money. In fact, what you start with matters much less than your saving and investing discipline over time.
The key to achieving ongoing investing success is to add money regularly over time. So you’ll want to add cash to the account and keep investing in your positions regularly over time in order to build wealth.
How much you actually invest depends on your own financial situation and needs. And today’s low-fee brokerages and apps leave more money in your pocket to actually invest.
Are some apps better for investing than others?
Some apps provide special features or focus more on education, while others focus largely on executing trades. For example, Wealthbase is a great app for playing stock market games, but it won’t execute trades for you. In contrast, Wealthfront and Betterment will both invest your money for you, so you don’t have to do much but deposit money in your account.
And those apps differ from brokerage apps such as Robinhood and Webull, where you need to know what you want to buy. These brokers also allow you to buy cryptocurrencies, which are not typically offered at major online brokerages.
So the investment apps can provide a variety of different features and benefits, and you’ll need to select which ones meet your needs.
Can you use investment apps to trade stocks?
Some investment apps allow you to trade stocks and other securities, but that depends specifically on the kind of app and what it’s designed to do:
- For example, brokerage apps such as Robinhood and Webull allow you to buy stocks and ETFs.
- Other apps such as those from robo-advisors Wealthfront and Betterment will buy stock funds and create a portfolio on your behalf.
- Still other apps such as Wealthbase and Invstr allow you to learn about investing or play investing games.
So the ability to buy stocks with an app depends on the app itself.
Is the money I use to trade on investment apps insured?
If you’re investing money in the market, then it’s not insured and you could lose some or all of your investment. Market-based assets include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options and more. These kinds of assets fluctuate over time, meaning you could make a lot of money or lose a lot, depending on how the market swings.
If you need a highly safe asset, you’ll need to turn to guaranteed accounts such as a savings account or CD at an FDIC-insured bank. These accounts insure your money up to $250,000 per account type per bank.
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Editorial Disclaimer: All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into investment strategies before making an investment decision. In addition, investors are advised that past investment product performance is no guarantee of future price appreciation.