Investment apps offer easy access to the financial markets and an array of investments options – such as stocks, ETFs, treasuries and crypto.
Some beginners prefer an automated investing account with automatic placement of money into a few index funds; others wish for access to all types of investments with learning tools and hands-on practice opportunities.
Acorns is a set-it-and-forget-it investment app designed to make saving and investing easy. Unlike Betterment and Wealthfront which provide multiple portfolio options, Acorns features five smart portfolios designed by Harry Markowitz (father of Modern Portfolio Theory). Each smart portfolio corresponds with savings goals and risk tolerance preferences, making Acorns ideal for beginners looking for simplified investing solutions.
Launch an investment recurringly from $5 with no account minimum and save automatically with Round Up feature that rounds purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the spare change in an ETF portfolio.
Acorns is an excellent option for young investors and those who prefer an easy and hands-off investing experience, though its fees can be expensive when dealing with smaller balances compared to other investment apps like Robinhood. Furthermore, its mobile-only nature limits access to trading stocks or using other features such as its checking account or education center on desktop devices.
Wealthfront is an automated robo-advisor that uses algorithms to tailor an investment portfolio based on your risk tolerance and financial goals. Following the Modern Portfolio Theory investing philosophy, Wealthfront selects low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) from different asset classes – stocks, bonds, real estate REITs etc – in order to diversify your investments across asset classes.
Tax-loss harvesting is another feature available through this service, which helps minimize taxes by selling stocks at a loss to offset capital gains and reduce taxes owed. You also gain access to free financial planning tools as well as a portfolio line of credit.
Wealthfront stands apart from its counterparts by asking several detailed questions about your life and preferences before creating a portfolio for you. These inquiries help determine your risk tolerance – such as whether or not you wish to maximize returns or avoid losses – while taking family income and tax status into consideration. It also features a free tool called Path which offers a 30,000-foot view of finances such as debt repayment and savings progress, automatically tracking their goals through financial accounts connected directly with Path.
Robinhood was one of the pioneering apps to popularize commission-free trading, and continues to offer excellent services today. Through their mobile app you can trade stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrency without incurring fees; additionally they have an IRA option as well as instant verification with many major banks so your funds can be invested swiftly.
Robinhood’s founders set out to democratize investing, and they have done an admirable job making the market more accessible. Unlike traditional brokerages, Robinhood does not charge trading or account setup fees and its low minimum investment requirement allows investors to capitalize on opportunities even without thousands in spare capital.
Robinhood’s easy investing interface has drawn criticism for gamifying trading and tempting users without much market knowledge to take more risky trades and believe they can beat the market. Furthermore, its portfolio analysis capabilities compared with those offered by its larger rivals (Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab) remain limited.
4. TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade has long been recognized in the investment world as a provider of low commissions and extensive offerings that cater to investors of all experience levels. Beginners may particularly appreciate its lack of minimum balance requirements and straightforward pricing structure; advanced options like futures trading, complex option orders and chat support on desktop thinkorswim platform make TD Ameritrade an appealing choice.
Users have given both the TD Ameritrade Mobile and thinkorswim apps high marks for their practical functionality, which allows traders to make trades or access research from 15 providers such as Argus, CFRA, Reuters and Vickers from their phones or tablets.
TD Ameritrade’s user-friendly platform makes entering ticker symbols and placing market (buy or sell at the best available price) or limit orders simple, while providing investors with access to over 250 branches across North America for personal assistance. TD Ameritrade provides individual taxable and retirement accounts as well as 529 plans and Coverdell ESAs that help students save for college savings.