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Best Investment Apps of 2018

February 8, 2018
Advisors, Brokers, Investing, Investing Strategy

NerdWallet offers financial tools and advice to help people understand their options and make the best possible decisions. The guidance we offer and info we provide are deeply researched, objective and independent.

We spent over 300 hours reviewing the top online brokers before selecting the best for our readers. And to help you find the one that’s best for you, we’ve highlighted their pros, cons and current offers.

These days, you can do just about anything on your phone — including invest, thanks to a variety of investment and stock trading apps. And there’s no more convenient way to invest than having the keys to the market in your pocket (or purse).

All of the brokers on our list of best brokers for stock trading have high-quality apps. But if mobile trading is most important to you, these five investing apps — all available for both Apple iOS and Android users — are NerdWallet’s picks for the best apps of 2018. (Need more info to get started? Read our primer about how to buy stocks.)

NerdWallet rating

Fees

$6.95

per trade

Account minimum

$500

Promotion

60

days of commission-free trades with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

E-Trade has long been one of the most popular online brokers, largely because of its easy-to-use tools. They offer a tiered commission structure that favors frequent traders but can add up to high costs for casual investors.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Easy-to-use tools.

  • Large investment selection.

  • Excellent customer support.

  • Access to extensive research.

  • Advanced mobile app.

  • Reduced commissions for frequent traders.

Cons

  • Higher commissions for low-volume traders.

  • Minimum balance requirement for active trading platform.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$6.95

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

500

commission-free trades + up to $600 with qualifying deposit

The bottom line

TD Ameritrade makes up for higher-than-average trading commissions with better-than-average service, research and trading tools that will make everyone from beginner investors to active traders happy.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Large investment selection.

  • Free research.

  • High-quality trading platforms.

  • No account minimum.

  • Good customer support.

Cons

  • Higher trade commission.

  • Costly broker-assisted trades.

  • High short-term ETF trading fee.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$0

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

The bottom line

Robinhood is truly free: There are no hidden costs here. You’ll give up a few things in exchange for free trades — trading tools, research, education, investment options beyond stocks and ETFs — but if limiting costs is your No. 1 concern, Robinhood is a solid choice.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • No commissions on stock trades

  • No account minimum

  • Streamlined interface

Cons

  • No retirement accounts

  • No web trading platform

Read full review

Want to compare more options? Here are our other category winners for best investing apps:


Best investment apps of 2018: Summary

App
Best
for
Platforms
Commiss-
ion or management fee
Promotion
Account minimum
Start investing

E*Trade

E*Trade
Stock trading
Available for iOS (including Apple Watch), Android, Amazon and Windows Phone
$6.95
per trade; volume discounts
60 days of commission-free trades ($10,000+ deposit)
$500

TD Ameritrade

Stock trading
Available for iOS (including Apple Watch), Android and BlackBerry
$6.95
per trade
$100 bonus ($25,000+ deposit)
up to $600 ($250,000+ deposit)
$0

Robinhood

Robinhood
Free trading
Available for iOS and Android
$0
per trade
Free share of stock if referred by existing customer (for select users).
$0

Acorns

Acorns
Beginners
Available for iOS and Android
$1/month
Free for college students with a valid .edu address
$0; must have $5 to begin investing

Stash

Stash

Beginners
Available for iOS and Android
$1/month for balances under $5,000; 0.25% annual fee for balances of $5,000 or more
Get the first month free
$5

Pros and cons of app-based investing

Here are few things to consider before downloading an app:

Pros. Mobile trading offers some appealing benefits. Beyond being able to trade on the go and stay engaged with your portfolio from virtually any place with an internet connection, all the real-time trading information you seek is but a few taps away if you choose the right app. What’s more, the five brokers we’ve selected all offer some enticing promotions for new users (see the table or cards above).

Cons. With all that information readily available at your fingertips, it’s important to make sure you’re not tempted to make rash decisions you’ll later regret. In addition, what you get with convenience may come at the expense of more robust features offered by Web-based applications.

Still have questions? See the FAQs below.

Brokerage app FAQs

To use these apps, you’ll need to open a brokerage account. Four of NerdWallet’s picks for best apps have account minimums of $5 or less, so you can open an account right away. The amount of money you’ll need to begin investing depends on the assets you intend to buy — individual stocks may cost as little as a few dollars a share, whereas mutual funds often have minimums of $1,000 or more — and their related commissions, which generally start at about $5 per trade. Here’s more on what a brokerage account is and how to open one.

The mobile trading experience varies by broker, ranging from an app that mimics the desktop experience to purposefully simple — and so do the range of available assets. Among the picks for best apps, Stash offers only exchange-traded funds (ETFs) while TD Ameritrade’s offerings range from individual stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, bonds, options and currency (or Forex). You may be required to answer questions about your investing experience, income and net worth to qualify to trade some assets.

Historically speaking, investing in the stock market offers a much higher rate of return over the long term than most other investment options. Compounded over time, this can have a profound effect on your savings — particularly since more conservative vehicles such as savings accounts have failed to crack 1% on average for more than a decade now. Also, some types of accounts — like IRAs — offer significant tax advantages that can grow your nest egg more efficiently and also save you money each year on your tax bill.

The holdings in your account are insured up to $500,000 in the event the brokerage goes out of the business, provided it’s a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. All of NerdWallet’s picks for best apps are members of the SIPC. However, it’s important to note that investments you make in your account can potentially fall in value or even decrease to zero.

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