10 best investment apps in January 2022
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 January 2022:
- Betterment – Best app overall
- Invstr – Best app for education
- Acorns – Best app for saving
- Wealthbase – Best app for trading games and contests
- Wealthfront – Best app for portfolio management
- Stockpile – Best app for gifting stocks
- Fidelity Investments – Best app for managing money all-in-one
- Robinhood – Best app for active trading
- Charles Schwab – Best app for beginners
- Ellevest – Best app for socially responsible investing
Overview: Top investment apps in 2022
Betterment – Best investment app overall
Betterment is one of the largest and most popular robo-advisors, and for good reason. The app provides professionally managed portfolios using a selection of ETFs that’s calibrated against your own risk tolerance and when you need the money. Betterment can create socially responsible portfolios focusing on climate change or social impact. If you’re willing to stomach a bit more risk, the app can find you investments with a potentially higher return. If you need a safer portfolio, Betterment can do that, too. Then add in a robust (and free) cash management account. 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, along with a cash management account.
Minimum balance required: $0 for digital service; $100,000 for premium service
Fees: Management fee of 0.25 – 0.40 percent of assets annually
Invstr – Best app for education
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 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 $30 worth of Bitcoin when they open and fund an account with $100. Invstr has also started offering commission-free trading in cryptocurrencies.
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.
Acorns – Best app for saving
Acorns remains one of the most popular of the new breed of savings apps, because of how easy it is to use. You really don’t have to pay much attention once you’ve set it up. 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 $3 per month for Acorns Personal, which includes the investment account, an individual retirement account (IRA), a metal debit card and more. You’ll be able to open one of three IRA versions: the traditional, Roth or a SEP, and can 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, fee-free access to thousands of ATMs and early access to direct deposits.
And for a total of $5 per month, you can add Acorns Family, which includes the features of the first tier 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: $3 or $5 per month depending on the service tier
Wealthbase – Best app for trading games and contests
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.
Reasons to get this app: You like picking stocks and playing games in a social environment with friends and colleagues.
Wealthfront – Best app for 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 hundreds of 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 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 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 help you 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
Stockpile – Best app for gifting stocks
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.
Fidelity Investments – Best app for managing money all-in-one
If you wanted to live your whole financial life on Fidelity Investments, you could do it with little issue – and have the top integrated experience. At Fidelity, you can get an investment account, a checking account, an IRA, a business retirement account such as a SEP IRA, bill paying, a savings account, a robo-advisor account and even credit card accounts, to cover the big ones.
You can get all your finances in order with one company on one dashboard, and never feel like you’re missing a thing. You’ll get solid research on ETFs and mutual funds, tons of articles on budgeting, investing and personal finance and webinars, too. Plus, if you never need help, you’ll be connected with a courteous and helpful Fidelity rep in short order.
Reasons to get this app: You want all your financial accounts under one roof, and you enjoy being treated like a valuable customer.
Minimum balance required: $0
Robinhood – Best app for active trading
Robinhood is the app to have if you like a smooth interface and avoiding trading commissions, whether you’re trading stocks, ETFs, options or cryptocurrency. You’ll get to do it all with no commission and using 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 intuitively from screen to screen as you trade the market.
You can access a stock’s page from a search bar at the top of the screen and then 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. (Here’s Bankrate’s full review.)
Reasons to get this app: You like trading stocks (as well as ETFs, options and cryptocurrency) for free and having a simple way to quickly do so.
Minimum balance required: $0
Fees: No commissions for stock, ETF, options or crypto trades
Charles Schwab – Best app for beginners
Charles Schwab does well for experts, but it’s also a great app for beginners, because of all the resources it provides. Schwab provides tons of research and education, helping newer investors get up to speed on topics such as investing and personal finance. It also offers fractional shares, meaning you can invest all your money into your stocks, rather than have idle investment money sitting around. And of course, you’ll get commission-free stock and ETF trades.
Schwab is also great for mutual fund investors, with more than 4,000 no-transaction fee funds, one of the largest selections in the industry. You’ll also get highly responsive customer service that gets your questions answered quickly. As if that weren’t enough, you’ll get one of the best sign-on promotions around, with a cash bonus that starts with just a $25,000 deposit.
Reasons to get this app: You like investing with a friendly company that starts off in the right direction and then helps you along the way.
Minimum balance required: $0
Ellevest – Best app for socially responsible investing
Ellevest is one of the top-ranked robo-advisors, but it’s also the top app for socially responsible investing. Ellevest’s mission is to help women investors make smart investing decisions (though, of course, anyone can become a client). It does so by creating investment portfolios and plans that take into account the differing circumstances of women, such as lower lifetime earnings.
Ellevest allows clients to build portfolios that incorporate up to 53 percent of their portfolio in ESG or social impact funds – what it calls its Impact portfolio. These funds invest in companies that have more women leaders, that support affordable housing and community services, and that have higher standards for sustainability. The Impact portfolio costs only modestly more than Ellevest’s low-cost core portfolio, just $13-$19 per year on average for every $10,000 invested.
Reasons to get this app: You want a socially responsible portfolio that can offer attractive returns and also makes it easy for you to invest.
Minimum balance required: $0
Fees: $1, $5, or $9 a month (or discounted annually)
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, Charles Schwab and Fidelity Investments, where you need to know what you want to buy. These brokers also allow you to buy different securities, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds and more. Robinhood and Invstr allow you to buy cryptocurrency commission-free, too.
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 Fidelity Investments 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 cryptocurrency. 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 traditional savings account, high-yield savings account or CD at an FDIC-insured bank. These accounts insure your money up to $250,000 per account type per bank.
What to consider when choosing an investment app
When it comes to investment apps, think about how you’ll plan to use them. Do you need an educational tool or are you looking to actually trade and invest? Some apps charge fees that can eat into your investment returns, while others have very low costs and offer commission-free trading. If you’re interested in trading things like cryptocurrencies, you’ll want to make sure that’s a feature offered by the app or broker – not all brokers offer crypto trading.
What assets can you trade on investing apps?
If the app is an online broker such as Robinhood, Fidelity Investments or Charles Schwab, you’ll be able to trade securities such as stocks, bonds, ETFs and options. Other apps that are more educational in nature, don’t typically offer the ability to trade (with real money) at all, such as Wealthbase.
Are investing apps good for active trading?
Some investing apps are popular with active traders, but you’ll want to pick one that offers trading in the type of assets you’re interested in. Active traders might want to turn to Robinhood, Fidelity or Charles Schwab for their low-cost trading in everything from stocks and ETFs to cryptocurrencies (at Robinhood) and options.
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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.