The bottom line: SoFi Active Investing's $0 trading commission and $0 account minimum is attractive to new investors, but a lack of investment choices such as mutual funds and bonds is a drawback for those saving for retirement.
Pros & Cons
- Commission-free stock and ETF trades.
- Cryptocurrency trading.
- Fractional shares available.
- No account minimum.
- Free financial counseling.
- Small selection of tradable securities.
- Limited track record.
Compare to Similar Brokers
$5 to $1,000
in free stock for users who sign up via mobile app
no promotion available at this time
Get $600 or more
when you open and fund an E*TRADE account with code: BONUS21
Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox
Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.
SoFi Active Investing, a new offering from SoFi Invest, is squarely aimed at young investors with free trades of stocks and exchange-traded funds, the ability to buy and sell 20 cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, and fractional shares of blue-chip companies such as Amazon and Netflix.
The self-directed brokerage is part of the San Francisco company's growing line of financial products — which includes robo-advisor and online cash management account — and gives members benefits such as free educational seminars and meetings with financial advisors.
Commission-free trades: SoFi Active Investing came out of the gate as a competitor to , offering free stock and ETF trades (unlike many other brokers, SoFi doesn’t offer options trading). However, toward the end of 2019, free trades became the industry standard at online brokers, causing the offerings from SoFi and Robinhood to lose their edge.
No account minimum: While, of course, you’ll need cash to trade, SoFi has no account minimum to open your account and begin buying and selling stocks and ETFs.
Fractional shares: SoFi Active Investing was among the first brokerages to offer fractional shares — buying a piece of a share rather than shelling out the full share price. That’s an increasingly attractive option as the market has led to sky-high stock prices, and it offers new investors a cost-effective way to build a diversified portfolio. SoFi investors can buy commission-free fractional shares across a broad range of stocks and ETFs.
SoFi may have been an early leader here, but competitors are fast on its trail: Robinhood, Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments and also offer fractional shares.
Cryptocurrency: The brokerage launched SoFi Crypto in 2019, which allowed users to buy and trade three cryptocurrencies — Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. In May 2021, the brokerage expanded their coin offerings to 20. But there aren't any free trades here: SoFi adds a 1.25% charge based on the amount of each cryptocurrency trade. Competitor Robinhood offers commission-free crypto trades.
» Want to compare?
Free financial counseling: All SoFi clients have unlimited access to the company's financial advisors at no extra charge to help with long-term financial strategy. Advisors are certified financial planners with the Series 65 designation (or similar), which requires them to operate in your best interest. An important note: While SoFi Automated Investing customers are given direct investment advice, the advisors won't give SoFi Invest brokerage customers specific suggestions on stock trades.
SoFi also offers free career counseling and access to educational events for brokerage users.
Tradable securities: SoFi Active Investing may be leading the way with fractional shares and cryptocurrency offerings, but the brokerage is behind the curve on other investment options. Want to buy mutual funds, index funds and bonds — bedrock investments in most retirement accounts — or more advanced strategies such as options, forex and futures? Look elsewhere.
Limited track record: While SoFi, which made its name with student loans, has been around since 2011, SoFi Active Investing is a relative newcomer with its February 2019 launch. Some investors may prefer a more seasoned brokerage.
SoFi Active Investing has attractive features for new investors: commission-free stock and ETF trades, no account minimum, free financial counseling and cutting-edge offerings including fractional shares and cryptocurrency. However, the lack of investment options — such as mutual funds and index funds — will be a turnoff for long-term investors, and advanced investors will need to go elsewhere for options, forex and futures trading.
How do we review brokers? Here’s our methodology.
NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers by assets under management, along with emerging industry players, using a multifaceted and iterative approach. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgments on which ones will best meet your needs.
DATA COLLECTION AND REVIEW PROCESS
We collect data directly from providers, and conduct firsthand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. Our process starts by sending detailed questionnaires to providers to complete. The questionnaires are structured to equally elicit both favorable and unfavorable responses from providers. They are not designed or prepared to produce any predetermined results. The questionnaire answers, combined with product 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). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.
Evaluations vary by provider type, but in each case are based upon the weighted averages of factors that include but are not limited to: advisory and account fees, account minimums and types, investment selection, investment expense ratios, trading costs, access to human financial advisors, educational resources and tools, rebalancing and tax minimization options, and customer support including branch access, user-facing technology and mobile platforms.
Each factor can involve evaluating various sub-factors. For instance, when gauging the investment selections offered by robo-advisors, 80% of the score is based on the potential for diversification (how well-diversified a resulting portfolio of investments could be) combined with the availability of specialty portfolios and level of customization for investors. Expense ratios form an additional 10% of the score, and low or no management fee the remaining 10%.
The weighting of each factor is based on our team’s assessment of which features are the most important to consumers and which ones impact the consumer experience in the most meaningful way. The factors considered, and how those factors are weighted, change depending upon the category of providers reviewed.
Writers and editors conduct our broker reviews on an annual basis but continually make updates throughout the year. We maintain frequent contact with providers and highlight any changes in offerings.
THE REVIEW TEAM
The review team comprises seasoned writers, researchers and editors who cover stocks, bonds, mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds, alternative investments, socially responsible investing, financial advisors, retirement and investment strategy on a daily basis. In addition to NerdWallet, the work of our team members has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, USA Today, Bloomberg News, Nasdaq, MSN, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance and other national and regional media outlets.
The combined expertise of our Investing team is infused into our review process to ensure thoughtful evaluations of provider products and services from the customer perspective. Our writers and editors combine to have more than 70 years of deep experience in finance, ranging from a former Wall Street Journal reporter to a former senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
While NerdWallet does have partnerships with many of the reviewed providers, we manage potential conflicts of interest by maintaining a wall between our content and business operations. This wall is designed to prevent our writers and the review process from being influenced or impacted by our business partnerships. This way, all reviews can provide an unbiased review that serves the interests of our users. For more information, see NerdWallet’s editorial guidelines.