By Eric Rosenberg
ENTREPRENEURNG – Buying and selling stock investments used to require a phone call to a stockbroker who would charge you an arm and a leg to execute your stock trade. These days you can enter your own stock trades through your favorite stock broker’s website or stock trading app. Follow along for reviews of the best stock trading apps and may the market forever be in your favor.
The best overall stock trading app experience comes from TD Ameritrade, one of the largest brokerage firms in the country. TD Ameritrade actually offers multiple mobile apps depending on your needs. First is the basic TD Ameritrade Mobile app, which gives you much of the power you have on your desktop stock trading app in a mobile experience for iOS, Android, and Windows phones. For a more powerful trading experience, there is the TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader app, available for iOS and Android.
For beginning and passive investors, the TD Ameritrade Mobile app offers plenty of power for your needs. You can customize your dashboards and screens, access research and advice, transfer funds, get market alerts, and even watch videos teaching how different types of trades and investments work. TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader is better for advanced and active investors, as it is loaded with charts, technical indicators and analysis to help you make trade decisions and enter on the go.
Robinhood launched its mobile app before its website, making this a best stock trading app in its own right. But adding in its free stock trades, this app is one of the very best stock trading apps available today. While Robinhood does not give you access to a full range of investments like mutual funds, it works great for stocks and ETFs, and recently added support for Bitcoin.
The core features of the app are focused on tracking stocks you own and on your watchlist. To trade, tap on (or search for) any stock. Enter your trade into the app and presto, you own the stock without any commissions or trade fees. Upgrading to a premium Robinhood Gold account gives you access to margin trading and extended hours trading in addition to all other features. It doesn’t do quite as much as some of the other apps on this list, but you can’t beat free trades.
If you want to invest and have no idea what to do, Acorns is the best stock trading app for beginners. Once you link your bank account, Acorns will track your regular spending and “round up” purchases to the nearest dollar, which is then transferred to your Acorns account to invest. You can also transfer funds to your account manually.
Once your dollars land in your account, Acorns will automatically build a portfolio of stock and bond investments based on a brief questionnaire you complete when signing up for a new account. The robo-advisor style app invests exclusively in ETFs to build you a diverse, broad portfolio in line with your investment goals.
If you want to make your own investment decisions but are coming from a beginner knowledge level, Stash is a great choice for your needs. Stash lets you invest starting with as little as $5, and helps you pick your investments while educating you on investments as you go.
Not only is Stash a trading and investment app, it is an app filled with articles and tips to help you level up your investment knowledge each time you access your account. Investments go into ETFs, which are curated into various investment themes, like innovation or environment, with the help of Stash’s built-in investment coach
Stockpile lets you buy and sell stocks like most other stock trading apps, but it also allows you to gift single shares of stock or buy fractional shares with a very low 99-cent trade fee. For your own account, fractional trades lets you buy high-valued stocks such as Google, Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway without paying $1,000 or more per share. You can invest in a portion of a share instead with a much lower minimum investment.
For families, Stockpile is great because it lets you buy and gift shares of stock. This is great for kids, teens and family portfolios where you can make investing a family activity. Turn off the TV and teach your kids about money and the stock market, and let them buy shares or give them a stock gift card to engage them in a portfolio with a growing value.
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E-Trade was once a pioneer in online investing. With roots in Silicon Valley, this brokerage began offering online trades using the Internet via America Online and Compuserve. E-Trade is a longtime leader in online trading and mobile trading and remains at the top of the pack today, thanks to its advanced trading features.
Once logged into the app for iOS or Android, you can view your investments or enter trades for stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and options including, some more complex option trades. E-Trade is also the owner of OptionsHouse, which has its own powerful app for active traders of stock and options
Many stockbrokers expand to open their own bank. This is true of multiple brokers on this list. But the best-integrated banking and stock trading app in one is the Schwab mobile app. Schwab Mobile lets you manage all of your Schwab investment and bank accounts with one mobile app. Deposit checks, transfer funds and manage your investments in one place.
International travelers love that you can use your Schwab Investor Checking ATM card anywhere in the world with no fees. You can also log in to Apple, Android, and Kindle Fire devices to manage your investments, watch a live stream of CNBC, research, enter trades, and follow your portfolio performance. You can even pay bills with Schwab Bank Bill Pay from the same app you buy and sell stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and options
Everyone isn’t ready to log in and put real money in the stock market. After all, while stocks and other investments can go up, they can also go down. TradeHero lets you play a stock market game through the Web or your smartphone trading a $100,000 portfolio tracking real stock market prices with no actual financial risk. This is a great way to learn about stock trading without any risk.
In 2017, the app added TradeHero LIVE, which allows you to trade real money as well as virtual currency. So be careful that you don’t accidentally enter a risky trade with your real dollars when you meant to with your virtual account. TradeHero LIVE does not buy real stocks or bonds, they use a derivative contract that follows real investment prices, so you may be better off sticking with the core virtual trading features.