Commission-free stock trading is a relatively new phenomenon. The commission fees charged per trade by stock brokerages began rapidly declining in the last two decades of the 20th century, but commission-free trading has only become widespread in the past couple of years.
Charles Schwab began the trend among major stockbrokers when it started offering commission-free trading in late 2019. Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, and E*Trade rapidly followed suit.
Brokerage firms have plenty of other sources of revenue besides stock trade commissions. Among the most common are the following:
- Investing and earning a return on money that’s sitting idle in trading accounts
- Providing investment advisory services
- Charging commissions on financial products other than stocks (e.g., futures)
- Various account fees, such as transfer fees or IRA management fees
In any event, commission-free stock trading has pretty much become the industry standard. Rather than commission rates, investors now focus their attention on the services and resources that a broker offers, such as its trading platform, charting tools, and research and educational resources.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the commission-free stock brokerage firms that offer the best trading platforms, trading apps, and overall resources and services on their websites.
Top 12 Commission-Free Stock Trading Apps, Websites, and Platforms for 2022
Of course, the broker or trading app that’s best for you will depend on your personal investing needs and goals, the markets you trade (Just stocks? – Or futures? Forex? Cryptocurrency?), your trading strategy (Are you a day trader or a “buy and hold” investor?), and other factors, such as whether you do most of your trading on a computer or on your cell phone.
Note: There are two winners for best mobile-focused broker and best automatic investing app – just too difficult to choose one over the other in those two categories.
Best Commission-Free Stock Trading Platform – Thinkorswim
Thinkorswim is a stock trading platform offered by TD Ameritrade. It’s easily accessible – either online, with desktop software, or via mobile app – and is favored by many investors.
Thinkorswim’s long list of helpful features includes advanced stock screening, a wide range of up-to-the-minute market news and analysis resources, advanced charting and order customization, and live or demo (“paper”) trading. Users can enter trades across various financial markets, including assets such as stocks, options, futures, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and forex. Market news and analysis sources include Morningstar, the Federal Reserve Economic Database, and the Center for Financial Research and Analysis (CFRA).
The investor education and training resources that come with Thinkorswim are unparalleled. They include extensive tutorials on how to most effectively use the platform, daily live broadcasts and webinars, “social sentiment” data, hundreds of archived articles and videos, and community chat rooms where you can discuss specific trade ideas or trading strategies with other traders from around the world. TD Ameritrade also publishes thinkMoney, a quarterly magazine dedicated to investor education.
The all-in-one research, analysis, and trading capabilities available through Thinkorswim are the main reason that TD Ameritrade got the nod from stockbrokers.com as their #1 trading platform pick.
Thinkorswim is well-known for its outstanding research and analysis capabilities, such as its extremely advanced and customizable charting tools that enable users to:
- Access hundreds of trading strategies
- Get real-time price quotes, including Level II quotes
- Track specified chart patterns, and set price and/or chart pattern trading alerts
- Study and back test trading strategies
- Set up stock screens or automated trading strategies that use a combination of technical analysis and fundamental analysis indicators
- Create your own contingent trade orders – for example, you can enter an order to “buy 100 shares of American Express if it trades below $180 within the next 22 minutes”
Best Commission-Free Stock Trading Website – TradeStation
Two factors combine to put TradeStation virtually in a class by itself:
- TradeStation was designed by actual financial market traders; In contrast, most brokerage trading platforms and facilities are designed by software engineers who may or may not (likely not) be experts on the financial markets
- TradeStation was originally built and marketed as a trading software solution for professional institutional traders – Now, those tools and resources usually only available to such professional traders – like advanced screeners and the ability to easily create custom indicators – are now available to ordinary retail traders with TradeStation
Let’s get about the only negative with TradeStation out of the way right up front. TradeStation does offer commission-free trading of stocks, options, and ETFs – but it charges for trading just about any other financial asset. Mutual fund and bond traders get clipped for $14.95 per trade.
Let’s move ahead to the many TradeStation positives. First, investors can access virtually every financial market. Trading in stocks, options, ETFs, futures, forex, bonds, mutual funds, and cryptocurrencies is all readily available.
TS offers stellar research, news, and market analysis resources. The platform has its own market news network that enables clients to easily browse market news from multiple sources – Morningstar, Benzinga, etc. You can categorize your news feed to look at specific news areas, such as recent FDA decisions or news relevant to specific market sectors.
TradeStation also has its own YouTube channel, where clients can access videos on how to make the best use of every feature on the website. Live webinars, articles, and eBooks are all archived. In short, TS offers a university level education in financial trading.
TradeStation’s stock scanner can go toe-to-toe with high-end scanners that traders pay hundreds of dollars a year to access. You can choose from nearly 200 technical and fundamental analysis indicators to help you screen for the most promising trades throughout the day. Create watchlists, set up price alerts, and just wait for TS to notify you when a security has met your specified conditions for buying or selling.
The charting tools are just as advanced as the scanners. Charts can be customized from the shortest to the longest time frames, and overlaid with any of hundreds of indicators. In addition, the “EasyLanguage” feature enables traders to easily create their own indicators, without having to know any complex programming procedures.
TradeStation’s versatility reflects the fact that it’s a trading platform that was designed by traders, for traders. For instance, clients can place buy and sell orders from virtually anywhere within the website: from the order bar, from charts, from the “Market Depth” window – and by using tools such as customized hot keys or trading strategies with automated order execution.
Last, but certainly not least, TradeStation’s mobile app is one of the best in the business, providing nearly all the same advanced features as the desktop platform.
TradeStation Securities most recently won NerdWallet’s award as the “Best Online Broker for Stock Trading Platform and Research”. Stockbrokers.com recently recognized TS for having the “#1 Platform Technology” – for the 10th year in a row. The platform’s vast capabilities make it suitable for even the most sophisticated traders, while the website’s comprehensive educational resources make TradeStation very friendly to even novice investors.
Best Commission-Free Stock Broker – Charles Schwab
It only makes sense that Charles Schwab makes our list of 12 best commission-free stock trading providers. It was Schwab that, as the first major “discount broker”, began drastically cutting broker commission fees.
In addition to offering commission-free stock and ETF trading, Schwab has a number of advantages that combine to make it an excellent all-round brokerage firm. There are too many Schwab advantage features to discuss them all in detail, so let’s just note them in a brief rundown:
- Tax-advantaged investing. If you’re in a high tax bracket, or otherwise focused on optimizing tax savings, Charles Schwab is looking out for you. It offers automatic tax-loss harvesting and suggests how to best structure your investments so as to minimize your tax liability.
- Excellent news, research, and education. Schwab’s investor education resources are among the best and most extensive offered anywhere. In addition to providing access to top market news sources such as Market Edge, Schwab issues its own stock “report cards”. Archived investor education tools include articles, videos, webinars, and Schwab’s “On Investing” newsletter.
- Broad market exposure. Investors can easily create a highly-diversified investment portfolio, thanks to the wide array of investment assets available to trade, including stocks – domestic and foreign, options, ETFs, mutual funds, fixed-income investments, commodity futures, and cryptocurrencies.
- Sophisticated trading platform. Whether you trade through Schwab’s downloadable “SmartEdge” trading software, the website, or the Schwab mobile trading app, you have access to a trading platform that’s very advanced, while also being intuitive and easy to use. Stock screeners let you choose from multiple filters or metrics to narrow down your search for great trading opportunities.
- Free Trade Advice. Schwab’s Trade & Probability Calculator will quickly calculate risk/reward factors on a trade or trading strategy for you.
- Account Choices. Charles Schwab offers regular individual investor accounts, joint accounts, retirement accounts (e.g., IRA), education/custodial savings accounts, checking/cash management accounts, and credit card accounts through a partnership with American Express.
- Automated Trading or Professional Advice. You can choose to utilize Schwab’s “Intelligent Portfolio” robo-advisor, or work one-on-one with a human financial advisor. In making trading decisions, you can opt in anywhere between totally independent trading and totally automated trading.
Best Mobile-Focused Stock Brokerage App #1 – Webull
Webull was purposely designed to appeal to cell phone traders – investors who prefer to do their trading via a mobile app.
What Webull offers that many mobile app competitors don’t have is a wide array of surprisingly sophisticated trading tools. Investors can access stock screeners, economic calendars, research agency stock ratings, level II market quotes, and choose from dozens of advanced technical indicators to apply to customizable charts.
Webull also stands out by offering investments beyond just stocks, options, and ETFs – such as individual retirement accounts (IRAs). Clients also have access to investing in nine cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin.
Low transaction costs are another plus for Webull. In addition to offering commission-free stock and ETF trading, Webull also offers option trading that is both commission-free and with no per-contract fees – a perk rarely found even among major brokerage firms.
2021 saw Webull garner a couple of notable awards:
- Crowned “Best Investment App” by Benzinga
- Rated “Top Broker for Fractional Shares” by stockbrokers.com
Webull has no minimum deposit requirement to open an account, and frequently offers a few free stock shares as an “open an account” bonus to new clients.
One area where Webull is somewhat lacking is investor education resources. However, that’s true of most mobile-focused stock trading apps.
Best Mobile-Focused Stock Brokerage App #2 – Robinhood
Founded in 2013, Robinhood was one of the first stock trading firms aimed at beginning investors who favor mobile trading. This “stripped down”, very easy-to-use trading platform has gotten hugely positive reviews from clients who just want the ability to trade stock and options quickly and easily. Robinhood’s two primary claims to fame are (1) commission-free trading, and (2) easy mobile application trading.
Robinhood has, from its beginning, placed a major focus on eliminating, or at least drastically reducing, transaction costs. Clients get commission-free trading of stocks, options, and ETFs (mutual fund investments are not offered). Like Webull, Robinhood also doesn’t charge any per-contract fees on option trades.
In keeping with its streamlined, no frills approach to investing, Robinhood only offers regular individual trading accounts. Tax-advantaged retirement accounts are not available.
Robinhood’s cryptocurrency market offerings are limited. However, unlike the majority of existing cryptocurrency exchanges that charge exorbitant trading fees (up to around 5% of trade value), Robinhood offers no-fee trading, just like with its stock and option trading.
Caution Note: Robinhood’s crypto trading is rather restricted in that you can only buy cryptocurrency with US dollars and only sell cryptocurrency for US dollars. That means you can’t send your cryptocurrency to an external account (such as a crypto wallet), nor transfer crypto you own from an outside source into your Robinhood account.
Robinhood has never touted itself as offering outstanding investor education, news, and market analysis resources. It does, however, offer links to daily market news, and has gradually built up a pretty good library of basic investing education articles, with topics such as “What is an Annuity?” or “What is the Dividend Payout Ratio?”.
When you open an account at Robinhood, you automatically get a cash management account that currently pays 0.30% APY and comes with a debit card. The account features no account minimum deposit or balance requirements, no overdraft fees, and no transfer transaction fees.
Robinhood “Gold” is a premium account option that, for a $5 monthly fee, enables investors to access margin trading. The Gold account option also gets investors access to advanced market data (such as Level II price quotes) and research reports on individual stocks.
Robinhood has experienced some significant bumps in the road. The trading platform has had more than its fair share of outages. The company had to pay a $57 million fine to FINRA to settle charges of misleading clients and violating options trading rules. And in November of 2021, Robinhood suffered a data breach that may have revealed clients’ personal information.
On the positive side, Robinhood’s customer service, previously something of a sore spot for the company, has been acknowledged as making major improvements in 2021.
Best for Automatic Investing – Acorns
Automatic investing apps are a recent innovation in the financial services world. They can be particularly helpful for beginning investors, investors with limited investment capital, and people who find it difficult to regularly save money to set aside for investing. Essentially, Acorns makes investing automatic and simple. That makes it an excellent tool for beginning investors.
Apps such as Acorns (and Stash – Acorns’ primary competitor) can be set to automatically draw from your bank account just a small amount of money every month to invest – as little as $3. It doesn’t require a conscious decision and action on your part every month to ensure growing an investment account for you.
Acorns “finds” money for you to invest by having you link one or more of your credit or debit cards to your Acorns account. When you make a purchase with a linked card, Acorns takes the “spare change” (rounding up your purchase amount to the next nearest dollar amount) and deposits it in your Acorns investment account. The program works better, thanks to the fact that you can purchase fractional shares of ETFs through Acorns.
Using an AI (artificial intelligence) driven robo-advisor software program, Acorns uses your investments to gradually put together a portfolio of ETF investments designed to match up with your financial goals and risk tolerance. Creating that investor profile to guide the creation of your investment portfolio is done simply by answering seven basic questions. (And if your financial goals or risk tolerance change – as they likely will over time – you can adjust your portfolio by editing your previous answers.)
Acorns has continually expanded its services since its inception in 2014. It currently offers four different account types:
- Acorns Invest – This is the basic personal investment account as described above
- Acorns Later – This is an individual retirement account (IRA) that Acorns offers. You can choose to set up a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA, or even a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA. You can contribute to a tax-advantaged IRA with recurring scheduled transfers from a bank account. An Acorns Later account uses the same investing methodology as the Acorns Invest account – the Acorns robo-advisor tailors investments, based on your investor profile.
- Acorns Checking – Acorns offers basic banking services, too, with a checking/debit card account.
- Acorns Early – Acorns Early account is an investment account you can set up for your minor children, under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) or the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA). UTMA/UGMA accounts offer an advantage over specialized education savings accounts such as a 529 plan. The funds in a UTMA/UGMA account can be used to benefit your child in any manner. They aren’t restricted to only being used for educational expenses. These accounts offer tax advantages: The first $2,200 of investment gains are only taxed at the minor child’s tax rate, typically much lower than the parents’ rate.
Acorns also offers a rewards program that adds money to your investment account in the form of “cash back” when you make purchases at certain retailers online through the Acorns “Earn” extension.
Best for Automatic Investing #2 – Stash
Stash is another automatic investing app, like Acorns, created with beginning investors in mind, or investors with only a small amount of investment capital. These automatic investing apps are also a good choice for investors who simply prefer a mostly “hands off”, “set it and forget it” approach to investing.
Stash was co-founded in 2015 (just one year behind Acorns) by former Wall Street executive, Brandon Krieg, who was previously a co-founder of Edge Trade, a pioneering trading software company. He and partner Eddie Robinson created Stash with the idea of making investing more readily accessible to the approximately 80% of the U.S. population who basically live paycheck-to-paycheck, have little or no savings, and fall into the category of “small retail investors”.
Stash offers automatic investing plans starting as low as $1 per month. You just set up your Stash account to automatically withdraw a specified amount of money each month from whatever bank account you designate to fund your “Auto-Stash” investing.
Stash will invest your money in individual stocks, ETFs, and/or cryptocurrency, using AI algorithms and your personal investor profile. The ability to get exposure to the cryptocurrency market is available with the Stash “Smart Portfolio” that comes with the $3/month Stash Growth Account or the $9/month Stash+ (“Stash Plus”) account.
Stash also offers clients a checking account (with no overdraft fees), through a partnership with Green Dot Bank (NYSE: GDOT). The checking account comes with Stash’ “Stock Back” debit card. Shop, using your Stash card, at retailers whose stock is listed on Stash – such as Amazon, Apple, or Starbucks.
A small percentage of whatever you spend (up to 5% of total purchase amount) will be used to buy you fractional shares of that company’s stock. (For example, the “cashback” you earn from buying coffee at Starbucks will get you a small piece of Starbucks’ stock. A nice extra is that you also get a percentage of cash back invested even when you shop with your Stock Back card at local or privately-held businesses. In those instances, Stash will use your cash back amount to invest in a stock or ETF that you choose.
Stash also offers retirement accounts in the form of traditional or Roth IRAs, and custodial accounts for children.
Both Stash and Acorns offer an extensive library of investor educational resources that can provide you with a solid basic education in personal finance and investing.
Best Multi-Asset Stock Trading Platform – Interactive Brokers
“Interactive” is a good name for this brokerage firm that offers exposure to the widest selection of investment assets. Traders with an Interactive Brokers account can execute low-cost trades in virtually every type of traded financial asset, including trading assets typically only accessible on foreign exchanges. Trading in stocks on foreign exchanges, such as the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, has become increasingly desirable with the rapid growth of China’s economy and the general increasing globalization of financial markets.
IB clients can trade on more than 130 exchanges, in more than 30 countries, and they can choose to fund their account in more than 20 currencies.
Investors can buy, sell, and manage investments in all of the following financial markets:
- Foreign and Domestic Stocks (including fractional shares)
- Mutual Funds
- Commodity Futures
- Precious Metals
In addition to offering direct trading access to many more financial markets than what’s available through most brokerage firms, IB offers notably low trading costs across the board. Clients can enjoy unlimited free trades on US-listed stocks and ETFs, and a paltry $0.005 per share on foreign stock trades. Maximum transaction costs are set at 1% of total trade value. IB also offers trading volume discounts that can lower your trading costs even more. Margin trading rates are also extremely low.
IB is almost in a class by itself in charging no annual account fees, no transfer fees, no account inactivity fees, and no account closing fees. That’s a rare combination of savings in financial services fees – even more rare among firms offering the broad market access that clients of IB enjoy.
IB’s desktop Trader Workstation is considered, by even the most demanding traders, one of the fastest and most reliable trading platforms. Features include the ability to create multiple screens, alerts, and watchlists, on a dashboard that you can also customize. The platform can handle executing complex, multi-trade option orders. The charting program enables clients to simultaneously compare up to five trading strategies.
Interactive Brokers is an excellent choice for traders that are:
- Searching for the lowest possible trading costs
- Wanting access to the broadest possible range of markets
- Executing complex trading strategies
It can be a bit confusing at first glance to navigate your way around the IB website, various areas of which are dedicated solely to institutional and proprietary trading. The trading platform has a learning curve that may be a bit steep initially, simply because it offers so many features.
Best Social Stock Investing App – Public
As a “social investing” app, Public is well-named. It aims to offer a “community investing” experience, with the stated goal of making it possible for any investor to own any stock, with an investment of any amount of money. Needless to say, Public offers trading in fractional shares. It’s an excellent choice for beginning investors who can only make investments in small increments. As, essentially, a social platform combined with a brokerage, Public – which has only been around since 2019 – is well placed to benefit from the growing trend of novice, small-time investors who believe there’s safety – or profit – in numbers. Investors can connect with other investors who have similar interests in various chat rooms and forums, and see what investments friends or other Public users are buying (or selling).
Since Public is specifically geared toward beginning investors, the app provides plenty of investor education material. Educational videos often feature respected business experts and market analysts. You can tailor your news and research sources to fit the kind of companies that you hold in your portfolio.
Investors can trade stocks or ETFs, commission-free. Through a partnership arrangement with Apex Crypto, clients of Public can also trade more than two dozen of the most widely-held cryptocurrencies.
One way to search for potential equity investments with Public is through checking out its “Themes” page. Public Themes are similar to market sectors, being composed of various companies that share certain characteristics. For example, one available Theme is “Women in Charge” – Click on it to bring up a list of more than 50 publicly-traded companies to choose from that have female CEOs. Other Themes include “Stay at Home” (shows work-at-home related companies), “Sports” companies, “Stocks with Crypto Exposure”, and “Payments” (payment processing companies, such as PayPal Holdings.
Public pays a generous amount of interest on money that’s sitting in your account, not currently invested. At last check, Public was offering a 2.5% yield when most banks were only paying around 0.5%.
Best for Beginners – Fidelity
Fidelity Investments, founded in 1946, is one of the most well-known and well-respected financial services companies in the world. The Johnson family that founded the company still holds a 49% equity interest in the firm, and still has a family member – Abigail Johnson – at the helm as CEO.
With more than $5 trillion in assets under management (AUM), Fidelity has continually been a leader in the world of investing. It manages a large number of mutual funds and ETFs, began offering computerized trading as early as 1984, and was one of the first major financial services companies to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to offer a cryptocurrency ETF.
Fidelity has long had a reputation for being user-friendly for the average individual retail investor. It has always maintained a strong emphasis on providing excellent investor education resources, and it’s unlikely that you’ll find the wealth of educational material that it offers matched anywhere else.
Fidelity’s Learning Center can take you all the way from complete “newbie” to investing to being a legitimate expert investor. The vast library of educational resources it offers includes articles, videos (Fidelity, of course, has its own YouTube channel), podcasts, and complete investing courses. New material is added and archived every week. Fidelity currently produces more than 100 live webinars every month. You can even get AI-driven recommendations on what investor education materials would likely be the most helpful for you, as determined by your investing interests, the amount of capital you have to invest, your level of investing expertise, and your long-term financial goals.
In addition to offering a plethora of educational content, Fidelity goes the extra mile by making it as easy as possible for you to navigate your way through it all. Articles, classes, courses, videos, and webinars are all organized by category, content type, and investor experience level. Much of Fidelity’s existing educational content is already organized into a kind of investor education “roadmap”, complete with tools to track your learning progress.
Fidelity has garnered numerous awards and accolades for its “Youth Account”, an innovative brokerage account designed specifically for teenagers. The Youth Account even has its own learning center, with content tailored to young, novice investors. Fidelity’s Youth Account center is a great online spot to direct your high-school age children to if you want them to develop solid personal finance habits and learn their way around the world of investing.
Fidelity offers ongoing support with Grade A news and research resources, market analysis, and trade recommendations. Its 17 third-party stock research reports (and five more just for ETFs) is more than any other stock brokerage provides. “Fidelity Viewpoints”, the firm’s weekly investor newsletter, offers ongoing sector analysis, technical and fundamental analysis, trading strategies, and specific trade ideas.
You can generate your own trade ideas by using Fidelity’s top-of-the-line screeners for stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. Scan for specified trade conditions throughout the trading day, using any combination you want of the dozens of technical and fundamental indicators provided.
Fidelity’s mobile trading app is noted for being both easy to use and for offering nearly all of the features included with the company’s award-winning desktop trading platform, Active Trader Pro. Fidelity’s name continues to pop up on lists of “Best Trading Platforms for Day Traders”, “Best Stock Trading Platforms for Trading Options”, or just “Best Trading Platforms”. And in case I forgot to mention it, there are no commission fees for trading stocks, options, or ETFs. (Mutual funds, however, carry a $49.95 trade fee.)
Best for Cryptocurrency Investors – eToro
Most of the major, traditional stock brokerage firms offer little, if any, exposure to the rapidly growing cryptocurrency market. eToro offers a solution, as it provides investors with access to approximately 50 of the most widely held cryptocurrencies (the list of available crypto coins is continually expanding – just a few months ago, the list only numbered a little over 20).
Stock trading, ETF trading, and cryptocurrency trading at eToro are all commission-free. eToro offers another bonus savings for stock traders: When you sell a stock, eToro pays the SEC and FINRA regulatory fees for you. eToro also offers the option to purchase fractional shares.
One current drawback with eToro is limited investment selection. You can choose from a little over 1,700 stocks, which ought to be enough to satisfy most investors. (There are about 6,000 stocks listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges combined.) eToro’s selection of equities provides adequate representation of all market sectors. But the selection of ETFs is rather limited at 221. That’s only about 10% of the total number of ETFs currently available on US exchanges. But, again, eToro does attempt to offer a broad enough range of ETFs to cover the market.
Are you anxious to trade cryptocurrencies, but far from being a crypto expert? Then you may want to check out eToro’s proprietary feature, CopyTrader™. CopyTrader enables you to view the cryptocurrency trades of approved traders and copy them in your own trading account in real-time. Best of all, there’s no cost for the CopyTrader service.
Rather than following an individual cryptocurrency trader, investors also have the option to choose from a handful of “Smart Portfolios”. These are ready-made portfolios that hold a bundle of crypto assets and that follow a specific cryptocurrency trading strategy.
What if you’re on the other side of the coin – a red hot, expert crypto trader? eToro will pay you to share your trades with other traders, through its “Popular Investor” Program. The more traders who copy your trades, and the more money they invest doing so, the more eToro pays you. Popular Investor compensation starts at $2 per copier and increases, as you gain more followers, to as high as 2% of AUC (assets under copy).
Your eToro News Feed, which you can customize to your interests, offers a channel for interacting with other members of the eToro community to discuss the financial markets, or share trading ideas and trading strategies. You can post updates, make comments, and share the posts of other eToro traders.
Neither eToro’s web trading platform, nor its mobile app, offer the level of advanced charting and screening features available with some of the other brokerage firms mentioned here. However, traders can set up personal watchlists and get trading alerts. Whatever the eToro trading apps may lack in advanced features, they make up for in ease of use. Both the web platform and the eToro mobile app operate very intuitively. Even novice traders can quickly become adept at navigating their way around the trading platform. eToro’s mobile trading app, in particular, has garnered lots of positive reviews for its simple, straightforward navigation setup.
Best “All-in-One” App – M1
“All-in-One” financial services firms are becoming increasingly popular. In the past, the traditional setup was to have your checking/savings account with a bank, your investment account(s) with a brokerage firm, and your credit card(s) through a credit card company.
However, in recent years, more and more people are drawn to the idea of using an “all-in-one” financial hub – a single financial services company that provides everything: checking and/or savings accounts and debit cards, investment accounts, and credit cards and other loan services.
With nearly all personal financial business being conducted online, an all-in-one financial services website just simplifies your life. You can go to one website to manage all of your personal financial affairs. Transferring money from one type of account to another is much simpler than transferring money between two separate financial institutions – and usually instantaneous, rather than possibly having to wait up to five business days for a transfer to be credited.
M1 is among the most popular all-in-one personal finance companies. Offering commission-free trading in stocks and ETFs (including fractional shares trading), M1 gives investors a unique blend of investing automation and investor customization. With an M1 investment account, you create one or more investment portfolios that M1 refers to as “pies”.
- You can create as many pies as you want
- Each pie can contain up to 100 different stocks and/or ETFs (each investment within a pie is referred to as a pie “slice”)
- You can choose from dozens of pre-built portfolio pies that match up with different financial goals, investing time horizons, interests, and risk tolerance; Create your own individual pie; Or select a pre-built portfolio and then customize it to your liking by adding or deleting specific investments
M1’s selection of more than 80 pre-built investment portfolios will especially appeal to socially conscious investors, as it includes offerings such as “sustainable businesses” and “women-led businesses”.
M1 also offers great flexibility in terms of how much you want to automate or self-direct your investing. You can make all investing decisions and choices as they come – deposits to your account, whether you want to reinvest dividends, etc. – or you can automate everything, setting up regular contributions to your account and automatically reinvesting dividends.
One nice bit of automation that M1 provides is automatically rebalancing your portfolio(s) whenever you add funds to your investment account or make a withdrawal.
M1 – A Unique Rewards Program
M1 offers a unique cash back rewards program with its “Owners Rewards” credit card. When you use the card to purchase goods or services from companies whose stock you hold in an M1 investment portfolio, you’ll get up to 10% cash back (minimum 2.5%). All other purchases with the card earn 1.5% cash back. You can designate your rewards to simply be credited to your card account or checking account, or choose to have rewards automatically invested in one of your M1 portfolios.
The debit card that comes with your M1 checking account earns 1% cash back on all purchases, and the checking account pays a 1% annual percentage yield (APY) interest rate.
M1 Borrow lets you borrow up to 40% of the value of your investment account, at rates as low as 2%.
M1 offers retirement accounts – Roth or traditional IRAs – and custodial accounts used to benefit children.
You can enjoy commission-free trading with any number of stock brokerage firms. So, how do you find the one that’s best for you? – By thinking about what factors, other than trading costs, are most important to you.
- What trading platforms are available? Do they suit your style of trading, and do you find them easy-to-use?
- What financial markets do you have access to? If you’re interested in trading futures, cryptocurrencies, etc., then make sure you have access to those markets.
- Investor education and research. Think about how much expert help you need or want with investing. Are you a novice trader, in need of a complete investor education? Or are you already an expert, with your own news and research resources?
There’s a great quote from famed investment fund manager, Peter Lynch, about picking a brokerage firm. He cautions that if you don’t take the time to compare them, then you’re likely to “have the same success buying stocks as you do in a poker game if you bet without looking at your cards”.
At a bare minimum, you want a trading platform that’s reliable (you don’t ever want to be needing to exit a trade but unable to do so because your broker’s trading platform has crashed) and a broker that offers good customer service. Look at recent online reviews and ratings of brokers that you’re considering. Doing that will also help ensure that you’re aware of any changes, positive or negative, that have recently occurred. A broker may have just added a new service – such as access to trading the crypto market – or may have dispensed with a previously available service.
Commission-Free Stock Trading – FAQ
Below are frequently asked questions that consumers have related to commission-free stock trading apps, websites, platforms and brokerages along with our responses.
What are the best mobile stock trading apps?
Younger investors who tend to do everything on their mobile phone also like to do mobile trading and investing. This has led to the rise of brokers, such as Webull and Robinhood, that put their emphasis on creating the best mobile app experience for stock trading. In technology development, this is called the “mobile first” approach, and it has proven successful in capturing the younger generation(s) of investors.
What is a robo-advisor?
A robo-advisor is a software program designed to suggest or pick investments for you based on your answers to questions about things such as your financial goals and risk tolerance. Since pioneer robo-advisors such as Betterment and Wealthfront first appeared, automated trading has become both more popular and more sophisticated with the development of artificial intelligence programs.
Is it possible to invest for free?
In terms of stock market investing, yes. All of the platforms listed above allow people to buy and sell both individual stocks and ETFs free of charge.
Can you start investing with $100?
Yes. And, in fact, many free stock trading apps and websites let you also buy fractional shares, so although you might not be able to afford to buy a share of amazon or alphabet (google) you can still own pieces of these companies.