Robinhood Review 2023: Pros, Cons and How It Compares
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The bottom line:
Pros & Cons
No account minimum.
No mutual funds or bonds.
Limited customer support.
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Where Robinhood shines
IRAs with 1% match: Robinhood launched individual retirement accounts (IRAs) in December of 2022. One thing that sets Robinhood IRAs apart from others is the 1% match on contributions. That feature is a first among non-employer-sponsored retirement accounts.
Costs: Robinhood is a true discount broker — although its offerings may not be as robust as some other brokerages, Robinhood has some of the lowest costs in the industry. This includes options trades, which don't carry a contract fee (although options are not currently available in Robinhood's IRAs).
Streamlined interface: Robinhood is extremely easy to use. So easy, in fact, some have argued that it’s made complex trading strategies, such as options trading, too accessible to inexperienced users. However, if your only goal is to dabble in stocks or save for retirement, the trimmed-down interface is highly convenient.
Free cryptocurrency trading: Robinhood is still one of the few brokers that lets you trade cryptocurrencies for free, so among stock brokerages, it’s a standout feature. However, if you compare Robinhood’s crypto offerings with pure-play crypto brokerages, that shine starts to fade. Cryptocurrency is also not available in Robinhood's IRAs.
IPO access: Robinhood lets users take part in a company’s initial public offering, or IPO. This has typically been reserved for financial institutions.
Where Robinhood falls short
No mutual funds or bonds: The lack of mutual funds and bonds may make it difficult to build a truly diversified portfolio. Customers can only access bonds via bond ETFs.
Limited customer support: Robinhood has made noticeable improvements to its customer service, but it’s still not on par with other brokerages.
Reliability: Robinhood has received criticism for untimely outages and trade restrictions amid market volatility, and has been charged by regulators for misleading customers, resulting in significant fines. We discuss these charges and other customer service issues in detail below.
Robinhood is best for:
Individual taxable accounts and IRAs.
Robinhood at a glance
$0 for brokerage accounts, Robinhood Gold accounts and IRAs.
Stock trading costs
$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.
• Stocks. • ETFs. • Options. (Not available in IRAs.) • Cryptocurrency. (Not available in IRAs.) • American Depositary Receipts for over 650 global companies. • Fractional shares.
18 coins in 48 states. (Not available in IRAs.)
Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds
Web platform is simple but meets basic investor needs.
Mobile trading platform includes customizable alerts, news feed, advanced charting 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, chat, in-app request-to-call service 24/7.
More details about Robinhood's ratings
Account minimum: 5 out of 5 stars
Robinhood doesn’t have an account minimum, which means investors can get started right away. Of course, in order to invest, you’ll need enough to purchase the investment you have your eye on.
Stock trading costs: 5 out of 5 stars
Robinhood provides 100% commission-free stock, options, ETF and cryptocurrency trades, making it attractive to investors who trade frequently. Still, these days many big-name brokers also offer free trades, so it makes sense to compare other features when picking a broker.
Options trades: 5 out of 5 stars
Robinhood’s commitment to low-cost trading is especially apparent in its options trading offering — Robinhood is among the handful of brokers that don’t charge a per-contract fee.
Account fees: 1.5 out of 5 stars
One of the biggest fees Robinhood charges is the $100 outgoing ACAT transfer fee — that cost is on the high end. (An ACAT transfer is when you want to transfer your investments to another broker; there's no fee for selling your investments and having the money transferred via ACH to your bank.)
Robinhood also puts a sort of penalty on IRA withdrawals, beyond the IRS's penalties: if you take money out of a Robinhood IRA after less than five years, Robinhood will take back the corresponding amount of the 1% match that you withdrew.
Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds: Not rated.
Robinhood does not offer any mutual funds.
Tradable securities: 3 out of 5 stars
The securities available to trade at Robinhood are limited. Mutual funds and bonds aren’t supported, which can help build a diversified, long-term portfolio. Robinhood does, however, offer access to more than 650 foreign companies via American Depository Receipts. It also offers exchange-traded funds, including index and bond ETFs.
Like some other brokers, including Interactive Brokers, Fidelity and Charles Schwab, Robinhood has introduced fractional shares. That means you can pay as little as $1 for a portion of a share, even if that share's full price is in the hundreds of dollars. This feature makes it much easier to build a diversified portfolio — you're able to buy many more companies, even if you don't have a lot of money to invest.
Crypto offering: Unlike many traditional brokerages, Robinhood users can buy certain cryptocurrencies right in their taxable brokerage account. What's more, it's completely free. Pure-play crypto brokerages generally charge comparatively high fees for a similar service. And Robinhood’s recurring stock investments feature extends to its crypto offering as well.
It is currently rolling out a noncustodial crypto wallet which lets customers access the decentralized web.
Robinhood’s cryptocurrency trading is available in almost every U.S. state (Nevada and Hawaii are the exceptions), and you can begin trading with as little as $1. Crypto-to-crypto transfers are also available in every state except Hawaii, Nevada and New York.
The list of available cryptocurrencies is much smaller than you'll find at a true crypto brokerage. That gave Robinhood's crypto offering a relatively low overall score in our analysis of the best crypto exchanges and platforms, which includes pure-play crypto brokerages such as Coinbase and Gemini. Robinhood only offers crypto trading in taxable brokerage accounts — not in IRAs.
But compared with other stock brokers, Robinhood's crypto offering stands out.
Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds: Not rated.
Robinhood does not offer any mutual funds.
Trading platform: 5 out of 5 stars
If you’re accustomed to using a smartphone — and Robinhood's target user base obviously is — you’ll find the sign-up and account funding process quick and painless. It all happens within the app in a matter of minutes, with just a few quick questions that gather your personal information, contact details, Social Security number and means of funding your account. The company says approved customers are notified in less than an hour, at which point they can initiate bank transfers.
Robinhood uses instant verification with many major banks, sparing users the hassle of reporting micro-deposits to an account to verify information. This means bank transfers of up to $1,000 are available instantly for investing. Deposits larger than $1,000 will take four to five business days to process. We should note, however, that Robinhood has been the subject of complaints suggesting that signing up may be too easy. So while it’s true you can start investing with Robinhood in no time, users should be certain they understand the risks of investing before diving in.
Robinhood's trading platform gets high marks for its advanced charting features, which allow customers to view technical indicators like moving averages and Bollinger Bands.
Mobile app: 4 out of 5 stars
The app’s streamlined interface could be a negative, as the service doesn’t offer all the bells and whistles of a typical online stock broker. But for investors who know what they want, the Robinhood platform is more than enough to quickly place trades. It supports market orders, limit orders, stop limit orders and stop orders.
Research and data: 3 out of 5 stars
Though Robinhood's research offerings still pale in comparison to other brokers, the company has made strides to increase the tools and research available for customers, offering analyst ratings, lists of top movers, earnings calendars and links to earnings calls. Robinhood also resurfaces information from other Robinhood customers to create its own universe of data. For example, investors can view the 100 most popular stocks on the platform and sort them by various criteria. They’ll also have access to a few reputable news sources, including Wall Street Journal Markets, Reuters, Barron’s and CNBC Business.
Gold members have access to a slightly wider range of research offerings, including reports from Morningstar and Level II market data from Nasdaq TotalView.
Customer support options: 4 out of 5 stars
Last year, Robinhood rolled out new customer support features that include 24/7 in-app chat, and the ability for users to request that a customer support representative call them back 24/7 for anything they need — a first for Robinhood, which has lagged behind more mainstream brokers when it comes to phone support. The in-app feature tells users they can expect a call back within 30 minutes of requesting it.
Other Robinhood details you should know
Robinhood also offers a cash management account that currently pays 1.50%. The account comes with a debit card and free ATM withdrawals from more than 75,000 ATMs, and offers up to $1.25 million of FDIC insurance thanks to Robinhood's agreements with several banks.
Robinhood Gold offers investors the ability to trade on margin. The opt-in service carries a flat monthly fee of $5.
New investors should be aware that margin trading is risky. You’re trading on money borrowed from the broker, which means you can lose more than you invest. (Here's more on how margin trading works.)
Robinhood Gold members also get 4.15% interest on their uninvested brokerage cash — one of the highest interest rates among similar brokers — and that money is swept into an affiliated bank account.
The brokerage also offers Gold customers up to $1.5 million in deposit insurance through a network of partner banks. That's significantly more than the $250,000 FDIC limit on most accounts.
Robinhood opened its waitlist and early access program for IRAs on Dec. 6, 2022, and made IRAs available to all customers in January 2023.
The IRAs come with several features that are unusual for non-employer-sponsored retirement accounts, including a 1% match on contributions (subject to a take-back provision if funds are withdrawn after less than five years), instant deposits up to $1,000, and recommended portfolios of ETFs. (Here's more on how Robinhood IRAs work.)
Reliability and trustworthiness
Robinhood has been the subject of serious complaints and lawsuits over the years, which potential users shouldn’t ignore:
On Nov. 8, 2021, Robinhood announced a data security incident that revealed personal information for a portion of account holders, including email addresses, full names and, in limited cases, dates of births and ZIP codes. The company said it doesn't believe bank account, debit card or Social Security information was affected, and no customers experienced a financial loss.
On June 30, 2021, FINRA announced that it had fined Robinhood $57 million, and ordered it to pay approximately $12.6 million to thousands of customers who suffered “significant harm” at the hands of the brokerage. FINRA said millions of customers had received false or misleading information from Robinhood, and millions were affected by system outages during the March 2020 market volatility. What’s more, FINRA found that algorithmic bots had approved thousands of customers for options trading, even if those users weren’t eligible or had red flags in their account that would have prevented them from taking part in the advanced trading strategy. The $70 million total marked the largest financial penalty ever levied by FINRA.
In Jan. 2021, the app came under fire for its decision to restrict trading during the extreme market volatility surrounding GameStop and other heavily shorted stocks. And while the market conditions led other brokerages to take precautions, Robinhood’s restrictions were more expansive. The brokerage has since beefed up its capital holdings, compliance and risk management procedures and customer support team in an effort to make sure these extraordinary restrictions aren't necessary in the future.
In December 2020, Robinhood was charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission for misleading customers. The SEC found that “Robinhood customers’ orders were executed at prices that were inferior to other brokers’ prices,” and that in aggregate, those inferior prices deprived customers of $34.1 million, even after accounting for savings from Robinhood’s commission-free trade offering. Robinhood agreed to pay $65 million to settle the charges.
Also in December 2020, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts accused Robinhood of aggressively attracting inexperienced investors to its platform and using gamification techniques to manipulate customers. The complaint also states that many Robinhood users were given access to advanced — and risky — options trading products, even when they identified as having no or limited investment experience. In August 2020, Robinhood announced plans to hire hundreds of new customer support representatives.
Throughout the surge of new investors during 2020 and into 2021, Robinhood — along with other brokers — experienced outages and other technical issues that disrupted service. Both the outages and the January 2021 restrictions led to class-action lawsuits.
» Learn more about alternatives to Robinhood
Is Robinhood right for you?
If a streamlined trading platform and mobile experience, an IRA with a contribution match or the ability to trade cryptocurrency are important to you, Robinhood is a solid choice. But now that plenty of online brokers have joined Robinhood in eliminating commissions, casual investors can afford to shop for the broker that suits them best. Interested in other brokers that work well for new investors? See NerdWallet’s rankings of the best brokers for beginners.
How do we review brokers?
NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers by assets under management, along with emerging industry players. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.
We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The questionnaire answers, combined with demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars).
For more details about the categories considered when rating brokers and our process, read our full methodology.
Frequently asked questions
Robinhood is a good fit for beginner investors, and the company made our list of the best brokers for beginners. The app offers a streamlined, approachable and easy-to-navigate trading platform, plus extremely low costs, which beginner investors tend to prioritize. Robinhood is designed to provide easy access to the stock and crypto markets.
The main downside of Robinhood is that the investment selection is limited for hands-off, passive investors: The broker offers no mutual funds or index funds, which financial advisors typically suggest using as the basis of a diversified portfolio. Customer service availability and support also aren't as robust at Robinhood as they are at other, more mainstream brokers.
However, Robinhood does offer exchange-traded funds, which function similarly to mutual funds in that they allow you to gain exposure to a number of different companies by making a single investment. (Learn more about the difference between ETFs and mutual funds.)
Things like fees and expenses can quickly eat into your investment returns, and those are low at Robinhood, which is a benefit of using the service. But whether your investment grows or incurs losses depends heavily on the investment itself — and economic factors, like the stock market's overall performance — rather than the brokerage firm where you choose to hold those investments.