Sir Robin of Locksley, better known as Robin Hood, became a famous character for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. If you like the idea of empowering everyone to get into the stock market, Robinhood is a favorite option.
Robinhood offers free stock trades. And “free” doesn’t mean “free, but with fees and other costs.” Trades have zero commission. Just download the app, connect to your bank, fund your account, and you can trade fee-free. For extended trading hours and margin accounts, you can upgrade to Robinhood Gold for a fee.
Robinhood is essentially a no-frills online stock brokerage. Because they don’t have fancy offices around the country, they can run a lower cost operation and pass on the savings to investors like you. The company makes money from Robinhood Gold users and earning interest on account cash balances.
If you don’t want to think much about your investments but want to contribute regularly, Acorns is a top option. Link a debit or credit card to the app and Acorns will “round up” your transactions to the next dollar and invest the “spare change” you would have received had you paid in cash. Acorns invests your funds automatically in one of five professionally managed ETF portfolios.
Accounts with a balance up to $5,000 pay just $1 per month and accounts with a balance over $5,000 pay a competitive 0.25% fee. For college students with a .edu email, you can use Acorns for free for up to four years from the date of registration.
The existing portfolios focus on low-cost exchange-traded funds that offer you diverse investments without a giant starting investment. A few dollars here and there adds up, and Acorns makes it easy to invest at small dollar levels.
With identical pricing to Acorns, Stash offers a low-cost method to build a diverse portfolio. But where Acorns invests for you automatically, Stash helps you learn how to make the best investment decisions yourself.
The Stash app includes educational content customized to your investment preferences. You can choose between values-driven portfolios focused on different investing themes, or build your own custom portfolio. Then you can set up an “auto-Stash” plan for recurring investments or add funds when you choose.
For any beginning investor, all of the terms, acronyms, and phrases of the investment world can be overwhelming. Stash does not give the depth of research on companies that many stock brokerages do, but if you don’t yet speak the language of investing, you have to start somewhere. Stash is an excellent choice for a starting point.
If you’re a self-employed freelancer, you won’t have access to an employer 401(k) plan and will have to put together your own retirement plan. There are many options for the self-employed to invest, but one of the coolest around is Vault.
Vault allows anyone to open an IRA, Roth IRA, or SEP IRA account for their investments. A SEP is a type of IRA specific type of retirement account for self-employed workers. But whatever form of IRA you want, Vault gives you the ability to invest based on a specific percentage of your income.
When money is deposited into your account through a freelance job, the Vault app gives me a notification to approve depositing the percentage you picked in your IRA account at Vault. You can also choose to invest your percentage automatically without requiring manual approval. Vault uses the same pricing model as Acorns and Stash.
Stockpile offers a unique approach to buying and selling stocks. You can buy fractional shares of nearly any company through Stockpile. Alternatively, you can fund an account with a stock gift card that gives the lucky recipient shares of stock starting at $5.
There are no monthly fees and all trades are 99 cents. This app is especially exciting for parents or grandparents looking to get kids or young adults interested in investing and the stock market. Instead of giving a gift card that they will blow shopping, you can give them $20 of your favorite stock.
Stockpile offers over 1,000 investments include single stocks and ETFs. For example, you can gift shares of a stock like Disney or Apple, or give a basket of stocks in a Vanguard, iShares, or other ETF. You can give e-gift card or physical gift cards or fund an account through a bank transfer. This is a gift that literally pays dividends.
The 5 Best Investment Apps to Download in 2018
Make and save money with these must-have apps
Investment apps are growing to become one of the top options for new investors to get involved in the stock market. And even experienced investors may find opportunities to save money and improve their portfolios with one of the available investing apps.
While you used to have to pick up a phone and call a stockbroker to make a trade, which came with a steep commission, now you can pick up your phone and tap your screen a few times to trade instantly—either for free or at a relatively low cost.
Whether you want to buy your first stock or you’ve been doing it for years, consider these top investment apps that are poised to be top performers in 2018 and beyond.