The Complete Guide To Investing Apps: How To Start Growing Your Money

Updated: September 23, 2021
Learn how to start growing your money with The Money Manual's complete guide to investing apps. A woman's hand is holding a cellphone with popup dollar signs and bar graphs representing an investing app.
Illustration: The Money Manual
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When you park your money in a savings or checking account, more than likely you are not getting much of a return on that cash and instead, due to inflation (the general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money) it’s actually losing value over time. We’re here to help you save that value and actually boost it with our comprehensive guide to investing apps. 

Source: Macrotrends.net U.S. Inflation 2011-2020

“The national average interest rate for savings accounts is 0.06 percent,” according to Bankrate’s July 28, 2021 weekly survey of banking institutions.

The Federal Reserve, whose job it is to keep price growth stable, has been telling anyone who’ll listen to expect higher inflation in the near term as the economy gets back to normal after the Covid-19 pandemic. The Fed is also saying that near-term inflation increases should give way to more healthy price growth over the longer haul.

So what’s the answer to the current inflation issue when it comes to your personal finances? Invest your money and watch it grow over time, rather than having it lose value in a standard checking or savings account. 

Our guide will walk you through several categories of investing apps and what and who they’re best for.

Best Investing Apps For Beginners

Best Investing Apps For Young Adults

Best Investing Apps For Students

Best Investing Apps For Women

Best Crypto Exchanges For Cryptocurrencies

Best Investing Apps For Fractional Shares

Best Free Investing Apps

Best Investing Apps For Day Traders

Best Investing Apps For ETFs & Mutual funds

Best Apps For Investing In Real Estate

Best Automatic Investment Apps

Summary

Best Investing Apps For Beginners

First time investors may find it a bit overwhelming with where to start. Technology has made it easier than ever to start investing, and it often doesn’t take much to get going. If you want to start investing, you need to think about your goals, short and long term. Ask yourself, what companies or areas of interest you feel some affinity for? 

For example, are you a nerdy man or woman who is interested in all things tech? Or are you involved in the healthcare industry? Entertainment, energy and business are also areas you may find an interest in. 

There’s a ton of areas that have investing opportunities and you should think about where you feel comfortable setting up an investment.

You also need to think about diversifying your portfolio. It’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket so to speak, so that if one area has a downward trend it won’t tank all your money with it. Don’t keep all money in one type of investment!

Remember to put in only what you can afford to lose. Pretend as if you don’t even have this money so you won’t be tempted in the short term to yank it out at the drop of a hat. 

You can start with something as low as $1 to invest as a fractional share. That’s the beauty of using most of the investing apps for beginners. Check them out!

How To Invest In Stocks — A Step By Step Beginners Guide 

Stash

You can use this app to start investing in fractional shares of stocks and funds with as little as $5. The app provides tons of stocks and funds to build your first financial portfolio. Access their educational resources to help you learn how to manage investments on your own. 

If you open up a checking account with Stash, you’ll also get a debit card that earns you stock-back (stocks and funds) in companies like CVS, Starbucks, Amazon, Costco, Apple and more every time you use it to buy something at those locations. Check out our in depth Stash review.

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


Pros

Free investing report every month

Eligible for $10,000 of free life insurance through Avibra

Free retirement advice

Cons

Limited selection of stocks and ETFs

No mutual funds or bonds

Must call in and speak to the customer service department to withdraw

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade offers extensive educational features which are a great resource for new investors looking to become more confident and to encourage them to explore additional asset classes as they build their skills in trading. All available asset classes can be traded on the mobile app. 

The thinkorswim mobile platform has extensive features and is intuitive and powerful. The app includes streaming real-time data and the ability to trade from charts. 


Pros

$0 commissions on online stock, options and ETF trades

$0 account minimum.

Extensive — and free — research and data and numerous news feeds

Cons

No fractional shares

Clients may have to use more than one trading system to find all the tools they want to use

The website is so packed with content and tools that finding a particular item is difficult

Robinhood

Robinhood’s goal is to make investing in financial markets more affordable, more intuitive, and more fun, no matter how much experience you have (or don’t have). It offers commission-free investing, plus the tools you need to put your money in motion. 

Robinhood lets you buy fractional shares of stocks. Here’s how it works: One share of Amazon currently costs $3,187.75 (as of the date of writing) which is unaffordable for most people. But apps like Robinhood let you purchase $50 of Amazon stock. Pretty neat, right?


Pros

No account minimum

Streamlined interface

Cryptocurrency trading

Cons

No retirement accounts

No mutual funds or bonds

Limited customer support

Acorns

Acorns is one of our favorite investing apps for beginners because of the easy way they round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invest the difference. A little bit over time can go a long way! They let you invest in fractional shares and you can do it by putting as little or as much money down as you like, the app doesn’t have an investment account balance minimum. Check out our more in depth Acorns review.


Pros

Automatically invests spare change

Cash back at select retailer

Educational content available

Cons

Small investment portfolio

High fees on small account balances

Does not offer tax loss harvesting or any type of tax assistance

SoFi Invest

SoFi Invest offers $5 to $1,000 in free stock just for signing up. SoFi is great for beginner investors looking for simplicity. SoFi is also a great option for those with other SoFi accounts. 

They have no minimum amount required to open an account, so get started, even if it’s only with $1! You might even be the lucky winner of $1,000 just for downloading the app (and we hope you invest that if you do!)


Pros

Commission-free stock and ETF trades

No account minimum

Free financial counseling

Cons

Small selection of tradable securities

Limited track record in the investing space

Lack of investment options — such as mutual funds and index funds

Public

Public is a commission-free stock trading app whose mission is to make investing accessible to everyone. The Public app offers fractional shares so everyone can afford to own even just a tiny piece of any public company. The Public app provides several themes of stocks that makes it easy for inexperienced investors to explore and figure out what they want to invest in. 

Public’s social aspect allows investors to learn from other investors, exchange strategy tactics and discover stocks by following experienced investors, industry experts, and even their friends. So get your buddies on board (and earn one bonus stock as a new user and up to 25 bonuses each year when you refer friends) and learn how to invest together!


Pros

No minimum investment

2.5% interest rate on your uninvested cash

Zero fees or commissions to buy or sell stocks

Cons

Does not currently support mutual funds or bonds

Only offers stocks and ETFs from major exchanges

No web-based account management

Ally Invest

Ally offers a wide selection of resources to help investors of all experience levels make the most of their investments. They offer self-directed trading with no commission fees on U.S. listed stocks and ETFs and in-depth research and market analysis tools to support all types of investment strategies. 

They also offer managed portfolios with a $100 minimum investment to start with and can offer options based on what matters to you, for example you can choose to invest in companies with ethical track records. This is great for anyone who may want to be a more hands off investor. Ally Invest also gives you access to informational articles to help you improve your understanding of investment strategies and market trends.


Pros

$0 stock and options commissions

Automated portfolios free of advisory or management fees

No account minimums

Cons

Limited trading tools

No no-transaction-fee mutual funds

No cryptocurrencies

E*Trade

E*Trade offers value to both beginner investors and frequent traders with a library of educational resources, professional-level trading platforms, and tools to help assemble a risk-appropriate, balanced portfolio.

Active traders will appreciate the firm’s $0 commission for all stock, ETF and options trades.They have personalized service with 24/7 support and live chat. E*Trade was named “Best Brokerage for Beginners” in Benzinga’s 2020 Global Fintech Award


Pros

Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades

Large investment selection

Access to extensive research

Cons

Only offers bank transfers

Robo-advisory services aren’t free

$500 minimum investment to open an account

Invstr 

Invstr is a trading platform that has some very interesting features that many beginners will want to check out. They provide educational resources with the Invstr Academy option that allows users access to an 85-lesson course. 

They also provide a Fantasy Finance game that allows investors to manage a virtual $1 million portfolio and compete with other investors. This allows users to play and learn without risk (or reward), making it a fantastic option for new investors. Now that’s pretty awesome if you ask us!


Pros

Commission-free trading on stocks, ETFs, ADRs

You only need $5 to start investing

Fractional shares available

Cons

Limited customer service support (can only contact via email or in-app message)

Limited investment selection

Mobile app currently only available for US investors with iOS devices

Merrill Edge 

Merril Edge is great for beginners because it has resources that help beginner investors learn the basics of investing, including the different investment types and how they work. They were formed after Bank of America acquired the wealth management firm Merrill Lynch in 2009.

Merrill Edge is a good choice for new investors who already have a Bank of America account and who want great education and research tools.


Pros

Offers high-quality research

Unlimited free stock and ETF trades

Clients have access to in-person customer support at about 4,300 Bank of America locations

Cons

Fewer types of securities

No specialty investments like cryptocurrency, futures, or precious metals

Automated account has high advisory fee

Schwab Mobile

Beginner investors will appreciate the company’s $0 account minimum, and the $0 commission for stock. Then there’s the convenient and handy intelligent assistant that recognizes voice commands so you can get your financial business sorted more quickly and efficiently. Beginner investors also benefit from the wide selection of inexpensive and low-minimum mutual funds and index funds.


Pros

Extensive research

Large fund selection

Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades

Cons

Low default cash sweep rate

High fees for some mutual funds

$1,000 minimum investment to open an account

Best Investing Apps For Young Adults

A young girl places a coin in her piggy bank with her mother next to her representing parents helping their children to start investing early.
Illustration: The Money Manual

A custodial account is opened and controlled by adults for the benefit of a minor. With a custodial account, (aka a UGMA/UTMA account), the money belongs to the minor investor but you the adult is investing it for them. 

Here are a few apps that can help you give your child the financial gift of time to create a successful investing plan. If they learn early on to let their money remain invested for the long haul, they’re likely to see a fantastic return on the initial investment that they could then use when they’re an adult as a nest egg or a college fund, or keep it for their eventual retirement. 

Fidelity Youth Account

Fidelity Youth is for kids ages 13 to 17 to learn to invest, save and spend whose parents or guardians have Fidelity accounts. Fidelity allows young people to not only save up, they can buy and sell U.S.-listed stocks, most ETFs and Fidelity mutual funds with parental oversight.

Teens can use a debit card and can trade with no account fees or commissions. This can provide a great way to start a conversation about money between parents or guardians and teen investors and even creates an opportunity to learn about finances together.


Pros

$0 trading fees/commissions

$0 minimum account balance

No taxes on the first $1,100

Cons

$30,000 account cap (this can be a pro and a con)

Kiddie Tax is applied on the second $1,100 at a special children’s rate

Potential issue may include any extra investment income affecting families applying for college money through FAFSA

Greenlight+ Invest

Investing with Greenlight opens up the world of investing to children with parental control for any trades. Basically, the kids use brokerage accounts in the parent’s name and it requires parental approval on every trade. Kids can gain real hands-on investing experience and have access to educational content to learn. It’s great for teaching kids the value of money and investing.


Pros

Includes Morningstar research for kids to learn the basics

Very large selection of stocks and ETFs

One month free trial

Cons

Not EVERY stock and ETF is available

May be some fees if you get into fund management

Customer support is available only in the Greenlight Max Plan

Loved Investing

With Loved, you can start building a nest egg for any minor investor under 18. They offer commission-free custodial accounts that can be set up in minutes starting with just $1. Adults on the account remain in control until the kids hit 18. Kids can be given access to their account to login on their own and monitor it. 

Loved also allows you to set up Smart Goals in order to use the invested money to save up to invest and manage major costs like college, a first car or home, or retirement.


Pros

Good educational resources

Commission-free investing

Fractional shares

Cons

Not a long history or track record

Goal setting feature is weak

Limited stock options

Stockpile

Stockpile offers a way for kids of any age group to get a handle on learning to invest. The platform is extremely user friendly and offers investing gift cards that can be used to purchase fractional shares of a stock. What’s amazing about this unique concept is that you can gift a young person so much more than a toy or another physical present that may quickly become boring or obsolete. It’s the gift that keeps on giving so to speak.

Imagine setting this up for your child or grandchild when they’re still very young, and then seeing what comes out of it in the years ahead? Depending on how much you gift them over time (think yearly birthdays and holidays) this could easily accumulate to a substantial graduation gift after high school. Just an idea!


Pros

Low commissions on trading -$0.99 per trade

$0 account balance minimum and no annual fees

Gift card options offering fractional shares

Cons

Minimal research and analysis tools

Very limited account selection

No real-time trading

Best Investing Apps For Students

College students have a lot going on, between studying, working part time (or full time!) late night cram sessions, extracurriculars and squeezing in some time for socializing. It’s a major transition time in your life! It’s easy to not think too much about your future financial endeavors particularly if you’re just starting out as a freshmen. 

But we want to encourage you to at least consider putting a little bit of spare cash away (doesn’t have to be much!) when you can so that when you graduate and are off in the real world, you might have a little something of a nest egg.

The following suggested investing app for college students can help you invest in a hands off fashion (so you can keep your nose to the grindstone and study!) and will also not require a lot of money to get started and maintain. If you’re a college student or a recent graduate, investing in the stock market is one of the greatest ways you can build your wealth over time. Maybe you can start it with any graduation cash you received as a gift at the end of your high school career.

Just remember: Investing is not a “get-rich-quick” scheme. Investing is a long-term process. The sooner you can start the better, but always remember to live within your means. If you’re struggling and constantly feeling broke, you may need to hold off for now. 

But if you have a bit of wiggle room, even just a few bucks a week, you can make it work with investing because some investing apps offer fractional shares, where you can buy a part of a stock without having to buy the whole thing. Think about it, if you have a part-time job while you’re studying, can you afford to put away $1 a day? You could easily set up an automatic investment for exactly that!

M1 Finance

M1 Special promotion for Fall 2021: Deposit $1,000 get $30 free! See more details.

M1’s low cost investing platform lets you set up your ideal portfolio. They then automate contributions to the portfolio (recurring investments). Once your default is set, you don’t have to think about it again, it can be completely hands off! 

Stocks and ETFs trade commission-free, and you’ll pay nothing for AUM (assets under management is the total market value of the investments that a person or entity handles on behalf of investors.) with a standard account.

M1 Finance does more than automate investing, it also automates efficient rebalancing which is basically the “buy low, sell high” concept performed in an automatic fashion. We think this fits well for college students because we know how busy you’ll be studying and working and just keeping busy. But your college years shouldn’t go to waste in your investing journey, so help your future you out by starting your investing journey.


Pros

No trading fees or asset management fees

Flexible portfolio building in addition to Expert Portfolios

Fractional shares

Cons

Small, inactive accounts charged fees

No financial advisors

Minimum investment of $100 required

Best Investing Apps For Women

The investing gap is real and we couldn’t complete this article about the best investing apps without a section for investing apps for women. While none of these apps already listed are “not for women” per se, they are not designed specifically for women. 

There are in fact very few apps out there that cater to women and their unique financial needs (the longer life span, the abhorrent and still present wage gap, the single parenting statistics to name a few). So while that remains the case, this section is short but sweet and is dedicated to the only successful app that has been designed with women’s unique needs in mind. So far. 

Ellevest

Ellevest is the first robo-advisor to focus on female investors and their needs. For a small monthly fee (starting at $1), users get access to an Ellevest investment account and free investment education. Members get discounted access to professional help, free educational resources and the only investing algorithm that factors in women’s pay gaps, career breaks and longer lifespans for their unique investing needs.

If you’re not an Ellevest member, you can still take advantage of their affordable webinars. They offer both an introductory and an intermediate investing webinar, both priced at $10 for non-members.


Pros

No account minimum

Goal-focused investing approach

Portfolio mix that factors women’s specific needs in such as lifespan & wage gap

Cons

IRA access for Plus and Executive members only

No tax-loss harvesting

Ellevest’s Save accounts currently earn 0% interest

Should Women Invest In Bitcoin?

Should Women Invest In Bitcoin?

Best Crypto Exchanges For Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrency investing is a tricky business but if done right, it can be a solid part of a well diversified investing portfolio (though we don’t recommend putting in more than about 5% of your investing money into it). Always make sure you aren’t carrying all of your investments in one basket, and remember to keep your head if the value of a coin drops (or skyrockets!).

It’s the dawn of a new era in terms of blockchain technology and the currencies that utilize it. Make sure you are informed and understand the risks you may be opening yourself up to, and take care to ensure you educate yourself about Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other altcoins. The following crypto exchanges may be worth checking out to manage your crypto investments. 

Coinbase

Coinbase offers an extremely easy-to-use crypto exchange, and greatly lowers the barrier to entry for cryptocurrency investment, which can be seen as confusing and convoluted. 

Coinbase also offers insured custodial wallets for investors and traders to store their investments. They carry insurance against data breaches and hacking, and your cash is stored in FDIC-insured bank accounts.


Pros

Solid variety of altcoin choices

Extremely simple user interface

Very high liquidity

Cons

High fees when not using Coinbase Pro

Smaller range of currencies to purchase than some competitors

User does not control wallet keys

Cash App

You can use the Cash App to easily buy and sell Bitcoin straight from your Cash App balance. Your buy and sell transactions will happen almost immediately. The Cash App also has a great deal where you can get 5% of a dining purchase invested in Bitcoin by using your Cash App card and activating the boost if it is available to you. If you like going out to eat, that’s a really easy way to build up your investment with some free coin.


Pros

Make Bitcoin deposits of up to $10,000 during a seven-day period

Easy 5% deposit to Bitcoin using the dining boost

Invest in stocks with no commission fees

Cons

Cash App Investing doesn’t offer any investment advice or recommendations

You may incur fees for selling transactions

User fees amounting to as much as 1.76 percent on crypto purchases.

Bisq

True to the spirit of how blockchain technology was intended to be a decentralized network, Bisq is one of the very few decentralized exchanges out there. It’s an open source platform that offers a decentralized exchange, built on top of Bitcoin, and created by a small but passionate community. It’s not a company. 

The fees associated with trades go to the contributors (the folks who work on this project, they’re not employees). Traders who add new orders (offer makers) pay 0.1% commission. Those who take orders (offer takers) have to pay 0.3%. There’s a minimum fee set as low as 0.00005 BTC.

Bisq’s servers are scattered all around the globe rather than headquartered in a specific place.Trading takes place on a global P2P network of users running Bisq on their own machines and the traditional third party middleman in monetary transactions (aka banks) are left out of the picture. Your identity data is secure and private because it is not collected by the platform. You are in control. Check out this video to learn more.

You’ll note that below we put “Decentralized” as both a pro and a con. It’s tricky because there’s two sides to the issue. A decentralized platform can be very hard to crack in terms of hacking and stealing your coins. 

However, when it does happen (and it has with Bisq) there are no funds or entities to quickly compensate for the stolen money. The lack of central authority is both a benefit and an additional risk, so use this platform with caution.


Pros

Service doesn’t require registration or approval of any authority

Low fee with a high level of service

Completely decentralized

Cons

Decentralized

Difficult to get money back if lost or stolen

Not simple for novice traders

Best Investing Apps For Fractional Shares

Four hands taking slices of a "money pie" representing fractional shares of a company.
Illustration: The Money Manual

Fractional shares are the golden ticket to investing for most folks. The vast majority of Americans cannot afford to buy a full share of an expensive company (when’s the last time you had $431,530 lying around to buy a whole share of Berkshire Hathaway?) So instead, why not just put a few bucks in? Fractional shares allow you to own even just a small piece of a share of a company and these investing apps will help you get the piece of the money pie.

Webull

As recently as July 2021 Webull offers fractional shares. You can now invest in your favorite companies and ETFs with as little as $5!  Webull offers a commission-free trading platform. They offer intuitive stock charts with plenty of technical indicators and tools to create customized charts. 

Webull started out as a research firm and have only recently branched out into the brokerage industry. This puts them way ahead in terms of research and analytics. Webull is great for younger, frugal traders who may feel that other apps lack features.


Pros

Free commissions

No account or software fees

Commission-free brokerage

Cons

Doesn’t offer options trading (but will soon)

Requires membership for some advanced features

No mutual funds

Best Free Investing Apps

There’s never been a better time to be a small investor than living in the 21st century. The brokerage fees are mostly long gone with many investing apps.

Investing is becoming simpler, and cheaper than ever. Here are some of the best investing apps that allow you to invest for free. 

Aspiration

Aspiration is a unique, boutique financial company. They offer a sustainably focused mutual fund. What does that mean? It means they chose ethics over anything else. The fund is focused on ESG investing. 

What’s ESG? E stands for environmental, S stands for social, and G stands for governance, which is to say companies that have a focus on being environmentally friendly, socially conscious and ethically governed. They even commit to donating 10% of profits to charity. 

These investments are available through either a taxable investment account or an IRA. So it is a bit limited as compared to many of the other investing apps we’ve covered. 

But do you want to know what’s really neat? You get to choose your monthly account fee. You can therefore decide to pay nothing if you want! That’s right. It’s basically free unless you don’t want it to be.

Now they’ll make up for it with some of their other fees, and their offerings are not very extensive, but with their ethical standards, you can feel pretty good about using them to invest.  And right now, you can earn an extra $200 welcome bonus with Aspiration Plus.


Pros

Choose your account fee and pay as low as 0% 

Sustainable mutual funds

Competitive high interest rate on savings account

Cons

Mutual fund fees 0.5%. 

No Roth IRA: You can open a taxable account or traditional IRA

Limited investment choices

Chase Self Directed Investing

If you are one of the many folks who call Chase your home for all your banking needs, you’ll likely appreciate Chase self directed investing for its convenience. You can connect the app with Chase’s mobile app making it easier to connect all of your various Chase accounts in one easy to access, secure app. 

Chase lets you make unlimited commission-free trades on stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds. You can also invest in treasury bills, bonds, notes, and CDs. It’s been ranked number one among wealth management apps by JD Power.


Pros

$0 commissions

$0 minimum investment

Well-established parent company

Cons

Basic research tools

Portfolio Builder tool requires $2,500 balance

Transfer fees

Vanguard Investments

Vanguard was the first to offer low-cost funds to help you make the most of your money. You’ll pay $0 in commissions to buy or sell Vanguard’s 3,100 plus mutual funds or ETFs. Vanguard also offers an expanded lineup of low-cost, socially responsible mutual funds and ETFs for those trying to be ethical investors.

They are known for their well-below-average expense ratios on its index funds and exchange-traded funds. For long-term investors thinking about their retirement and just want to employ the standard buy-and-hold strategy with the lowest-cost offerings, Vanguard is unbeatable. New investors can learn the basics of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs with a host of step-by-step guides to inform and educate users about proper investment practices.  


Pros

3,100-plus no-transaction-fee mutual funds 

$0 Minimum Deposit 

Wealth of education and research materials

Cons

Trading platform is basic, and is lacking in analytical tools

$20 annual account fee (waived if you opt into email delivery of account statements and fund prospectuses.)

High margin rates

Best Investing Apps For Day Traders

We highly recommend you do your due diligence and research this method of trading thoroughly before diving in. It’s important to remember that you should not rely on day trading to make consistent returns and we recommend you keep the long term game in mind. Day trading can be risky business but if you’re eager to dive in and try it out, check out our list of best investing apps for day traders.

Moomoo

Moomoo’s mission is to provide any level of investor with an intuitive and powerful investing platform by using technology. Their app is jam packed with features. They offer a solid overview of the market with a news feed feature so you’re aware of current events and what is happening in the world that can affect your trading outlook, which is a great quality. This allows you to find opportunities in real-time. 

There’s also a social network feature, akin to if Twitter and Redditt had a child social network platform. It’s a great place to learn the markets and grow your skills. 

On the more technical side of things, Moomoo allows you to compare stocks on the same chart, and add several technical indicators including trend lines and Fibonacci retracements, which makes it good for those who are more advanced. The utterly astonishing amount of functionality Moomoo packs in can make it a bit difficult to navigate so we recommend this for more advanced traders. 


Pros

$0 commission 

Very comprehensive technical charts and quality analytical tools

News feed with audio squawk and social network with public portfolios and discussions

Cons

Mobile app isn’t that easy to navigate

Product portfolio is limited, covering only stocks, ETFs and options

Customer support is available via email only

TSGo

Tradestation sets a high bar for investing apps that are best for day trading. Their combination of tools, speed, and affordability makes for a great overall investing app. Their mobile app has no account minimum to trade and is the total package for day traders. Users have their choice of a standard brokerage account or retirement accounts including traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP IRA.

Once you’ve opened an account, you’ll be able to sync it to the mobile app and begin trading stocks, ETFs, options, futures, and crypto. Regular investors are now able to take advantage of what used to be solely for the professionals. 


Pros

Comprehensive research

Advanced tools

$0 commission-free stock, ETF and options trades

Cons

No transaction-fee-free mutual funds

Inactivity fee: $50 fee for accounts that don’t maintain an average balance of $2,000

Any trades placed with TradeStation desktop incur a $10 fee

Best Investing Apps For ETFs & Mutual Funds

Exchange-traded funds and mutual funds are similar in that they both pool investor money into a collection of securities, allowing investors to diversify without having to purchase and manage individual assets.  ETFs offer the same diversification benefits as mutual funds, but often at a much lower cost to the investor. Mutual funds are run by a professional manager who attempts to beat the market using their investing expertise, which is also known as active management, and it often means you as an investor are paying fees for that expertise. 

ETFs, on the other hand, are usually passively managed funds. These funds automatically track a pre-selected index, (think S&P 500). There are a few actively managed ETFs, which function more like mutual funds and also have higher fees.

While actively managed funds may outperform ETFs in the short term, long-term results tell a different story. Between the higher expense ratios and the unlikelihood of beating the market over and over again, actively managed mutual funds often realize lower returns compared to ETFs over the long term.

In general, ETFs are an affordable option that gives investors broad market exposure, and they can still provide you with diversification. Some folks prefer mutual funds as a part of their retirement plan, or an individual retirement account (IRA).

Capital.com

Capital.com is a low-cost option for investing in ETFs with $0 commissions. If you’re a newbie investor you’ll appreciate that once you have registered your personal details, you can then start trading ETFs risk-free using the demo account. Use “Learning Mode” to attend free webinars, take educational courses, read comprehensive guides, and go through detailed tutorials. Capital’s education app called “Investmate” offers mini-courses and simple guides that teaches you to become a better investor.


Pros

Demo account

$0 commission

Great education/learning material

Cons

Minimum deposit is $20

Does not accept clients from the US (but you can still use the learning materials!) 

Charges an overnight fee to its investors

eToro

The eToro investment app gives you access to hundreds of popular ETFs and mutual funds and is one of the best overall Mutual Fund apps. This includes ETFs that track index funds, dividend stocks, growth stocks, corporate bonds, government securities, gold, silver, and more. Best of all, when using eToro to invest in your chosen ETF – you won’t pay any commission. And that’s not even the best part!

Get this, you can literally go find someone out there who has experience and copy them with the  Copy Trading feature. Basically this means you can reflect any position the other investor takes in your own account*.  Well-known ETF providers offered on the platform include Vanguard, iShares, SPDR, and Invesco. You can invest in tons of ETFs at a minimum of just $50 – and you won’t pay a single cent in commission.  

* It must be noted that copy trading in and of itself holds no guarantee of either gains or losses.


Pros

Trusted brand with over 20 million investment accounts worldwide

$0 commission or share dealing charges

Social and copy trading

Cons

Minimum deposit is $50

$5 withdrawal fees (for non US residents)

$10 USD per year for accounts with no activity for 12 months

IBKR Lite

IBKR Lite allows users to choose any available US stock and decide how much to invest. If the dollar amount doesn’t result in a whole number of shares, they’ll buy or sell fractional shares. A great educational feature in IBKR Lite allows users to practice their trading strategies in a risk-free simulated environment using virtual funds.

The IB Refer a Friend program allows eligible IBKR traders to earn $200 for every referral while also allowing their friends to potentially earn up to $1,000 of IBKR stock. There’s a free trial that gives you 30 days to try the platform and they offer competitive interest on your idle cash balances. They offer competitive flat rates for margin loans of 2.59% and have support 24 hours a day by phone, chat, or a secure message through its account center.


Pros

Over 4,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds

$0 account minimum

Strong research and tools

Cons

Some of Interactive Brokers research tools are only available for a fee

Complicated process to open

Trading fees on several investment vehicles

Best Apps For Investing In Real Estate

A woman holding a cellphone with a popup picture of a money house representing an investment app for real estate investing.
Illustration: The Money Manual


When diversifying your portfolio it can be hard for new investors to decide where to divide up their funds. One option to keep in mind is investing in real estate.

Property investing is usually a long term game and can provide a great return. These real estate investing apps can help you get started. 

DiversyFund

DiversyFund owns and manages its own properties and as a result, the DiversyFund charges no management fees on its investments.The minimum investment is $500 and it’s open to non-accredited investors (folks making under $200,000 with net worths under $100,000). 

Investors will be able to realize income from the investment after the properties are sold which could take a couple years so it’s a long term investment for sure. Expect to leave your investment alone for 3-5 years. If you’re looking for a low-cost entry into real estate investing, this is a good option. 


Pros

$0 management fee

Open to all investors

$500 minimum investment

Cons

Unable to choose among commercial projects

Limited investment choices

Developer fees of between 2% and 8%

Fundrise

If you’ve been wanting to invest in real estate but couldn’t afford to, you’ll appreciate Fundrise. It’s the app that’s helping people investing in million-dollar real estate projects with as little as $10 deposit at minimum, and the app’s in-house team of real estate investment experts will create a diversified portfolio with dozens of private real estate projects, hand-picked based on your investing goals and risk comfort. 

Investments with Fundrise typically get an annual return ranging between 8.7 to 12.4%. And for a fee of 0.15% (a lot lower than most traditional investment advisors), you’ll get portfolio management from Fundrise’s team of experts, with regular updates on the progress of your individual investments. As a safety net, if you’re not satisfied with Fundrise’s performance within your first 90 days of using the service, your original investment amount will be returned to you, guaranteed.  


Pros

$10 minimum investment

Open to all investors

90 day money back guarantee

Cons

Highly illiquid investment

Fees can be difficult to understand

Complex investments that require investor due diligence

Best Automatic Investment Apps

Automatic investing apps, aka “robo advisors” are apps that use algorithms to automatically guide your money into investments that will likely give you a return. Think of it as if you have a smart human take your money and invest it for you, but with a lower fee. And the returns tend to be similar to what a human advisor would be able to get for you. Robo-advisors manage your investments with time-saving automation and portfolio guidance. It’s a great middle-ground alternative to the DIY investing strategy without the excessive fees required to pay a human advisor. This is for you if you aren’t too interested in automated time-intensive financial tasks or trying to constantly beat the market.

Betterment

Betterment does all the work for you and there’s no account minimum, making it great for new investors. It uses tax loss harvesting to help maximize your returns and reduce your taxable income. They combine easy-to-use, automated investing technology with great advice so you can make “better” what you want it to be. 

It’s a great option for those who want more hands off investing, and with goal-based planning, automated investing tools, and expert advice. Betterment can help you invest for what matters most in a way that aligns with your values and goals.

They charge a low annual fee of only .25% (that’s only $25 for every $10,000 you invest in a year!). They have a team of investing experts who make decisions about their portfolio strategies and fund selection with the help of an external committee of economists, PhDs, and industry experts. 


Pros

No account minimum

Tax loss harvesting to help maximize returns and reduce taxable income

Goal-based tools

Cons

No direct indexing

Only invests in ETFs

Higher fees and balances required to access expert help and management

Wealthfront

One of the best things about Wealthfront is you don’t need a giant chunk of cash (although you do need at least $500) or a ton of experience to get started. The app focuses on passive investing and will diversify your portfolio for you which makes it super easy to be hands off if you’re just getting started with investing. 

The app gives investors a streamlined questionnaire to identify risk tolerance, then employs exchange-traded funds in up to 12 asset classes. The process is automated from there, with software that may rebalance your account for various situations, such as when dividends are reinvested, money is deposited, a distribution is taken or market fluctuations make it necessary.


Pros

Daily tax-loss harvesting

Automatic rebalancing

Free financial advice

Cons

No large-balance discounts

$500 account minimum for investment accounts

Inability to customize portfolios

Blooom

Most financial advisors only support the people who are already well off. Social security is not enough for most retired folks to live off of, and pensions are practically an idea of the past, and many Americans are left behind scrambling to figure out their retirement plans on their own (when is the last time you received a personal finance education?). Blooom makes retirement savings simple to understand and easier for everyone, no matter the size of their accounts, to make the most of your retirement. 

Now, Blooom doesn’t have an app (yet) but we thought it worth mentioning because it’s an excellent platform. Blooom’s mission is to make retirement savings simple to understand, affordable to access, and available to everyone. Blooom is a robo-advisor that stays on top of your 401(k) plan and optimizes your retirement investments regularly. 

You pull together and manage all of your employer contribution plans including  401(k)s, 403(b)s, 457s, TSPs and 401(a)s, and Roth IRAs. For only $10 per month after that Blooom will optimize your investments and minimize what fees you pay. 

Blooom’s average client saves a whopping $106 in fees just in one year which translates into roughly a $24,257 savings on investment fees by the age you retire at. They offer an education-first approach in order to empower their users to control their retirement finances.

You don’t need an account minimum to take advantage, and their fee structure is flat, without coming out of your profits. Just pay the $45-$250 out of pocket, depending on what level of service you choose (ranging from more or less hands off). You can take their advice and do the work on your own or you can hire them as your professional retirement account optimizers.


Pros

Automated and personalized management for 401(k)s and other employer-sponsored plans

Free 401(k) or IRA analysis

No account minimum

Cons

Investments limited to mutual funds and ETFs

No phone support

Fees can be difficult to understand

SigFig

SigFig’s advisory fees are among the lowest starting at only 0.25% after your first $10,000 invested. The first $10,000 invested is managed for free. This is competitive with top robo-advisors. The unique offering here is you plug your existing, third-party brokerage account into SigFig’s Asset Manager service. 

A really nice perk is they  make financial advisors available for free consultations by appointment. This is practically unheard of in the industry. You can set up goals for your retirement funds and feel confident that this robo-advisor has your back. 

SigFig lets you build an intelligent, tax-efficient, diversified portfolio for a fraction of the cost of traditional advisors. The only downside seems to be the minimum account balance that currently is set to $2,000. 


Pros

0.25% monthly advisory fee only for assets $10,000+

Robust goal-based tools

Unlimited access to human financial advisors (by appointment)

Cons

$2,000 minimum investment

Goal planning limited to retirement

Limited education offerings

Summary

We hope this comprehensive guide to investing apps will help you on your way to starting your investing journey. Keep in mind these apps are just the tip of the iceberg and there’s still much to learn about how to invest money.

Always invest within your means and make sure you have enough money readily available in a checking or savings account that can be accessed in case of emergency. You should try and make it so that the money that goes into these investing apps is the last thing you tap into if you need fast money.

Also keep in mind your taxes and how they should play into your investing strategy. We highly recommend you aim for long term investing rather than short term trading.

Happy investing!