Robinhood vs. 4 Alternatives

Here's how Robinhood compares to other online brokerages and investment apps.
Chris Davis
By Chris Davis 
Edited by Arielle O'Shea

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For some, Robinhood is synonymous with “investment app.” When the company started offering free trades in 2015, it had an enormous advantage over most major brokerages that were charging customers for every trade. However, Robinhood’s competitors quickly followed suit, and today commission-free trading is standard, not special.

And while Robinhood remains the face of the individual investor movement — and it continues to score well on user experience and low costs in our analysis of online brokerages — other brokers and investment apps like Robinhood surpass the first-mover in other areas, and may fit as an alternative or supplemental investment account.

» Open a second brokerage account? Learn when it makes sense and how to do it

When it comes to finding a broker that’s right for you, the key is identifying what your investment goals are and finding a broker that will help you meet them.


Robinhood overview

Robinhood
NerdWallet rating 

on Robinhood's website

Robinhood has been credited for bringing about an enormous change in the brokerage industry: doing away with trade commissions. The app offers a sleek, easy way to trade stocks, options, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and cryptocurrency, and has been regularly unveiling new products. Most recently, Robinhood added IRAs with a 1% match on contributions.

However, Robinhood has also been the focus of complaints from the Securities and Exchange Commission, lawsuits and public outrage over some of its practices. In June 2021, the company paid nearly $70 million in fines and restitution — the largest financial penalty ever levied by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Robinhood is best for:

  • Mobile users.

  • Individual taxable accounts and IRAs.

  • Margin accounts.

Robinhood at a glance

Account minimum

$0 for brokerage accounts, Robinhood Gold accounts and IRAs.

Stock trading costs

$0.

Options trades

$0. Options not currently available in IRAs.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

No annual, inactivity or ACH transfer fees. $100 ACAT outgoing transfer fee. (Robinhood Gold costs $5 a month.). Matching funds in IRAs may be taken back if money is withdrawn after less than five years.

Tradable securities

• Stocks. • ETFs. • Options. (Not available in IRAs.) • Cryptocurrency. (Not available in IRAs.) • American Depositary Receipts for over 650 global companies. • Fractional shares.

Crypto availability

15 coins in 48 states. (Not available in IRAs.)

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

Not rated.

Trading platform

Web platform is simple but meets basic investor needs.

Mobile app

Mobile trading platform includes customizable alerts, news feed, candlestick charts and ability to listen live to earnings calls.

Research and data

News available from Benzinga, Reuters, Bloomberg and WSJ. Gold members have access to research from Morningstar, Nasdaq, Nasdaq Totalview level II Market Data for an additional $5 per month. Portfolio recommendations available for IRAs for no additional charge.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)

Email, social media, in-app request-to-call service 24/7.

Below are five comparisons discussing how Robinhood’s competitors stack up in various categories.

Alternatives to Robinhood

For beginners: Fidelity

Fidelity
NerdWallet rating 

on Fidelity's website

Fidelity may be one of the largest brokerages in the country — it manages trillions of dollars in assets — but that doesn't mean it’s too big for beginner investors. The brokerage tops our list of the best brokerages for beginners because it offers a comprehensive brokerage service that grows with you as your investment needs evolve.

However, you won’t find cryptocurrencies at Fidelity, nor the trimmed-down, sleek user experience Robinhood users have come to love.

Fidelity is best for:

  • Frequent traders.

  • Beginner investors.

  • Research and data.

  • Retirement planning assistance.

Fidelity at a glance

Account minimum

$0.

Stock trading costs

$0.

Options trades

No base commission; $0.65 per contract.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

None.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

More than 3,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

Tradable securities

• Stocks. • Bonds. • Mutual funds. • ETFs. • Fractional shares. • Options. • FOREX. • Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Trading platform

Fidelity.com and Active Trader Pro. Both free for all customers.

Mobile app

Available for iOS and Android; advanced features.

Research and data

Free and extensive.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)

Phone, email and live chat 24/7; more than 200 local branches.

Account minimum

$0.

Stock trading costs

$0.

Options trades

No base commission; $0.65 per contract.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

None.

Number of commission-free ETFs

All ETFs trade commission-free.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

More than 3,700 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

Tradeable securities

• Stocks.

• Fractional shares.

• Bonds.

• Mutual funds.

• ETFs.

• Options.

Trading platform

Fidelity.com and Active Trader Pro. Both free for all customers.

Mobile app

Available for iOS and Android; advanced features.

Research and data

Free and extensive.

Customer support options (includes website transparency)

Phone, email and live chat 24/7; 203 local branches.

» Curious about other options? View the best stock apps

Among investment apps: Acorns

Acorns
NerdWallet rating 

on Acorns' website

If you’re committed to using a mobile-first investment app like Robinhood but are wondering what else is out there, Acorns also ranks on our list of the best investment apps. However, Acorns is a very different product from Robinhood; it’s mostly geared toward long-term savers. It’s part robo-advisor, part savings account, part full-service brokerage, and offers three tiers of service for three different flat monthly fees.

One of its signature offerings is its round-ups: Use an Acorns debit card (or another linked card) for everyday purchases, and Acorns will “round up” the change and automatically invest it for you.

If you’re looking to invest in individual stocks, though, Robinhood may be the better choice. With Acorns, your only option is to invest in preset portfolios, which the app will help you choose based on your risk tolerance. To be sure, these diversified portfolios are a responsible way to invest long-term, but you won’t have the same investing experience and freedom as you have with Robinhood.

Acorns is best for:

  • Hands-off investors.

  • People who struggle to save.

  • Earning cash-back rewards.

Acorns at a glance

Reviewed: Oct. 2022

Period considered: Aug. - Oct. 2022

Account minimum

$0 to open account; $5 required to start investing.

Account management fee

Personal: $3 a month for an investment account plus an IRA and a checking account.

Family: $5 a month for all of the above plus investment accounts for kids.

Investment expense ratios

0.05% to 0.18%.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing)

$35 per ETF to have them transferred to another broker when you close your taxable Acorns account; no charge to sell your investments and have the resulting cash transferred.

Portfolio mix

Well-diversified portfolio with exposure to domestic and international stocks, bonds, REITs and a Bitcoin-linked ETF.

Socially responsible portfolio options

Sustainable portfolio built with ESG ETFs available for no extra cost.

Accounts supported

Individual non-retirement accounts. Roth, traditional and SEP IRAs. UTMA/UGMA accounts available at the $5-per-month tier.

Tax strategy

Not available.

Automatic rebalancing

Free on all accounts.

Human advisor option

Not available.

Bank account/cash management account

Acorns Checking provides a checking account with no minimum balance or overdraft fees and access to 55,000+ fee-free ATMs. This checking account does not offer an interest rate.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)

Customer support is available 7 days/week from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. PT via live chat, phone and email.

Account minimum

$0 to open account; $5 required to start investing.

Account management fee

  • Personal: $3 a month for an investment account plus an IRA and a checking account.

  • Family: $5 a month for all of the above plus investment accounts for kids.

Investment expense ratios

0.03% to 0.18%.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing)

$50 per ETF to have them transferred to another broker when you close your taxable Acorns account; no charge to sell your investments and have the resulting cash transferred.

Portfolio mix

Portfolio mix is generally well-diversified but lacks significant exposure to international bonds.

Sustainable portfolio available for free.

Socially responsible portfolio options

Sustainable portfolio built with ESG ETFs available for no extra cost.

Accounts supported

  • Individual non-retirement accounts.

  • Roth, traditional and SEP IRAs.

  • UTMA/UGMA accounts for kids.

Tax strategy

Not available.

Automatic rebalancing

Free on all accounts.

Human advisor option

Not available.

Bank account/cash management account

Personal and Family members get access to Acorns Spend, a checking account with a debit card, mobile check deposit and reimbursed ATM fees.

Customer support options (includes website transparency)

Customer service is available every day from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 pm PST through phone and email support.

For crypto: Gemini

Gemini
NerdWallet rating 

on Gemini's website

If you’re using Robinhood to trade cryptocurrencies, it’s important to understand that at this time, the app has very limited functionality and supports a limited number of coins. Cryptocurrency trading on Robinhood is not available in IRAs, and even in taxable accounts it still feels like an afterthought. The app’s primary focus is still easy, free stock trading, not cryptocurrencies.

Gemini, on the other hand, is all about cryptocurrencies, and you’ll find you have much more control over the coins you buy. For example, you can send and receive coins directly from your Gemini wallet, join liquidity pools that offer a fixed interest rate and explore other decentralized finance applications.

However, if it’s only price appreciation you’re looking for in crypto — and you’re OK choosing from a limited selection — Robinhood still may be the better choice. Crypto trading through Robinhood is completely free, whereas Gemini’s fees are relatively high.

Minimum trade

0.00001 bitcoin / 0.001 ether.

Trading and transaction fees

Up to 1.49% depending on trading platform; 3.49% for debit card purchases. Other fees may apply.

Number of cryptocurrencies

52.

Crypto-to-crypto trading pairs

21 trading pairs.

Website transparency

Important information easily found on the website.

Can use your own digital wallet?

Yes.

Mobile app

Two highly rated apps for iOS and Android.

Customer service

Email and chat support.

Minimum trade

0.00001 bitcoin/ 0.001 ether.

Trading and transaction fees

Up to 1.49% depending on trading platform; 3.49% for debit card purchases. Other fees may apply.

Number of cryptocurrencies

40.

Crypto-to-crypto trading pairs

19 trading pairs.

Website transparency

Most information easily found on the website.

Can use your own digital wallet?

Yes.

Mobile app

Two highly rated apps for iOS and Android.

Customer service

Email and chat support.

Promotion

None.

For overall similarity: Webull

Webull
NerdWallet rating 

on Webull's website

Webull is a relative newcomer, but has quickly earned a spot as an alternative to Robinhood because of how similar the two are. Webull is easy to use, sleek on mobile and offers free trades on stocks, options, ETFs and cryptocurrency, much like Robinhood. In fact, it’s hard to find a brokerage that beats either Robinhood or Webull on cost. However, Webull offers tools intermediate and advanced traders may appreciate, but won’t find on Robinhood.

That said, Robinhood’s simplicity is a large part of its appeal. If you’re considering using Webull as an alternative, you may have a bit of a learning curve as you make your way around the new tools, charts and overall experience. What’s more, Robinhood gains an edge over Webull when it comes to IPOs. With its new IPO Access feature, retail investors have the chance to buy into IPOs before they start trading on the market.

Webull is best for

  • Intermediate investors.

  • Active traders.

  • Options traders.

  • Cryptocurrency traders.

Webull at a glance

Account minimum

$0.

Stock trading costs

$0.

Options trades

$0.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

No annual or inactivity fees; $75 full/partial transfer fee.

Tradable securities

  • Stocks.

  • ETFs.

  • Options.

  • ADRs.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

Not rated.

Trading platform

Browser-based and downloadable desktop platforms available with advanced charts, indicators, screeners and customization.

Mobile app

Mobile app offers advanced features including charts and indicators, paper trading, price alerts and voice command.

Research and data

News, research and analysis available from several sources including Nasdaq Totalview, Morningstar and Dow Jones.

Customer support options (includes how easy it is to find key details on the website)

24/7 phone, email and chat.

Account minimum

$0.

Stock trading costs

$0.

Options trades

$0.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

No annual or inactivity fees; $75 full/partial transfer fee.

Tradable securities

  • Stocks.

  • ETFs.

  • Options.

  • Cryptocurrency.

  • ADRs.

Number of commission-free ETFs

Hundreds of ETFs trade commission-free.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

None.

Trading platform

Browser-based and downloadable desktop platforms available with advanced charts, indicators, screeners and customization.

Mobile app

Mobile app offers advanced features including charts and indicators, paper trading, price alerts and voice command.

Research and data

News, research and analysis available from Nasdaq Totalview, Thomson Reuters, Refinitiv, Lipper, OPRA (real-time quotes available free with one or more options trades per month), OTC Bulletin Board

Customer support options (includes website transparency)

24/7 phone and email, chat available in mobile app.

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NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5

Fees 

$0

per trade for online U.S. stocks and ETFs

Fees 

$0.005

per share; as low as $0.0005 with volume discounts

Fees 

$0

per trade

Account minimum 

$0

Account minimum 

$0

Account minimum 

$0

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