This guide will explore our pick for the three best investing apps for beginners. It will delve into the platforms’ features, fees, investment options, and safety, as well as the pros and cons of each and any controversies they might have suffered.
What are investing apps and why do people use them?
Investing app definition
The best investment apps for beginners offer low fees, no account minimums, easily navigatable interfaces, and various financial instruments. Ultimately, the platform you decide on should suit your investment style and provide the tools you need (e.g., educational resources, analysis instruments, and solid customer support) to reach your financial goals.
There are investing apps directed to almost every investment method and skill level, from beginners ready to start their investing journey to seasoned traders looking to access the market on the go. The right app will have your finances organized and invested, so don’t immediately go after the one making headlines, but explore your options and figure out what kind of investor you are.
Here are our top three picks for the best investing apps for beginners. Let’s get started.
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Revolut is a globally recognized fintech company with over 15 million users worldwide, which is well-known for its innovative approach to digital finance and mobile banking. However, in recent years, the platform has expanded to offer stock, commodity, and cryptocurrency trading.
Facilitated by Revolut Trading Ltd, the company launched its first commission-free stock trading service in 2019. Initially available only to premium clients, it is now open to all account holders.
Revolut’s trading platform and app
The Revolut trading platform is part of its existing mobile banking app, though a web version is also available. The platform is relatively basic but easy to navigate and provides valuable analytical information covering news, companies’ financials, and the analysts’ average target price for a particular stock. The following are the main features Revolut offers to its users:
- Easy sign-up process: You can start trading directly from the Revolut app through your smartphone;
- News: Revolut delivers real-time updates on market news and stock performance;
- Dividends: Revolut credits dividends (if you own stock that pays out dividends) directly to your Revolut Account;
- Watchlist and price alerts: Revolut allows you to keep track of your chosen assets;
- Order types: Revolut supports market orders, out-of-hours orders, limit orders, and stop-loss orders.
Revolut supports a limited range of financial products:
- 50+ cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), plus emerging tokens;
- Access to 800+ US stocks, including Apple, Amazon, and Netflix;
- Commodities: Gold (XAU) and Silver (XAG);
- Fractional shares (you can acquire a tiny fraction of any listed stock).
Revolut offers commission-free stock trading on an allowance basis based on your account type:
- Standard Plan (Free): 1 free trade;
- Plus Plan (€2.99/month): 3 free trades;
- Premium Plan ( €7.99/month): 5 free trades;
- Metal Plan (€13.99/month): unlimited.
Cryptocurrency trading commission rate:
- Standard Plan: 2.5% commission;
- Premium & Metal Plan: 1.5% commission.
Commodity trading commission charge:
- Standard Plan: 1.5% on weekdays, 2.25% on weekends;
- Premium & Metal Plan: 0.25% on weekdays, 1.5% on weekends.
There are no charges for depositing or withdrawing funds. In addition, there is also no requirement to trade regularly as the platform does not charge inactivity fees. However, all clients must pay an annual custody fee of 0.12%, i.e., if your portfolio holds $1,000 worth of securities, the yearly custody fee will be $0.12.
To start trading, you must be at least 18 years old and already have a Revolut account. Opening an account is positively straightforward and only requires you to have a smartphone, a few personal details at hand, and a selfie. Again, this is thoroughly detailed in our Revolut card and app review.
Revolut offers 24/7 customer service via in-app live chat. To contact support, go to the ‘Dashboard’ and click on ‘Chat’ at the top right of the screen, and you will be automatically connected to the interactive system. Waiting times are generally short; you can expect to get an answer within 2 minutes.
For learning resources, you can discover the Revolut Bolg, an informative portal where you can find informational articles about the world of finance. In addition, check out Revolut Academy, a section entirely dedicated to economic education, including various topics such as finance, IT security, and cryptocurrencies.
How does Revolut keep your funds safe?
Revolut is regulated and licensed by several top-tier bodies, including the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), plus the UK Financial Authority (FCA).
The company isn’t considered a bank in the traditional sense and doesn’t currently hold a UK banking license. As a result, any funds held by Revolut are not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). However, funds are held in segregated accounts, meaning traders get their money back even if the company were to go bust.
How does Revolut keep your account safe?
Revolut employs several security measures to counteract fraud and online crime, such as:
- 2-factor authentication via SMS;
- 3D secure (3DS) payments;
- KYC protocols;
- Fingerprint identification (if applicable) to access the account and confirm operations;
- Localization systems to send real-time alerts on fraudulent activities.
Pros and cons of Revolut trading
- Beginner-friendly app with more than 15 million users;
- Simple account opening process;
- Convenient foreign currency exchange within app (EUR/GBP/USD, and more);
- Commission-free monthly trades (amount depending on Revolut Plan);
- Solid range of companies and cryptocurrencies to invest in;
- No inactivity fees;
- No minimum deposit;
- Secure online banking;
- No hidden fees;
- Access to fractional shares.
- No margin trading;
- US stocks only;
- Limited financial product offering (e.g., no ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, options trading);
- No cash deposits;
- Relatively basic platform and analysis tools;
- Annual custody fee of $0.12;
- No ISA or pension options are available.
To sum up, the Revolut trading platform, an addition to the company’s personal and business banking solutions, offers a convenient one-stop-shop for all your unique finance needs. As well as commission-free stock trading, investors can speculate on precious metals and popular cryptocurrencies.
The trading experience on the Revolut app is intuitive and beginner-friendly, offering flexible trading plans and a straightforward mobile interface. And while its basic nature is appealing to some, the limited range of financial assets might turn other investors away.
Robinhood was established by Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt in 2013 and is currently headquartered in Menlo Park, California.
The platform is a true pioneer in the no-commission brokerage model and is a solid choice for beginner investors. The app offers a stripped-down mobile interface while providing commission-free stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), options, and cryptocurrency trading. Unfortunately, however, Robinhood has had its reputation smeared by controversies over service downtime and restrictions.
As with any investment app, Robinhood traders need to understand the risks of what they’re doing to invest in line with their goals and avoid unexpected losses.
Robinhood’s trading platform and app
Robinhood is optimized for beginner investors and is straightforward to set up and use. Though investors can also operate on the web-based interface, Robinhood is a mobile-first company, so its most recognizable investing platform is the mobile app.
The app is streamlined, without the bells and whistles of a typical online stock broker, making it easy to navigate, particularly once you understand how the app’s icons function.
Robinhood’s user experience is enjoyable, and the app functions seamlessly. However, there is little you can do to customize the app to your preferred trading experience. Some of the tools Robinhood offers to simplify your trading experience:
- Instant verification: Robinhood offers verification with many major banks, sparing users the hassle of reporting micro-deposits to your bank account to verify the information. The app can move up to $1,000 of a deposit into your account immediately;
- Order types: Robinhood supports market orders, limit orders, stop limit orders and stop orders;
- Watchlists: You can create a customized stock and cryptocurrency watchlist to track the assets that mean the most to you;
- Stock price alerts: Robinhood enables users to set custom price alerts for individual stocks. The price threshold options are 5% (default) and 10%;
- Recurring investments: Robinhood lets you automatically invest in stocks and ETFs with Robinhood Financial and cryptocurrencies with Robinhood Crypto on a schedule you choose;
- News: The app offers WSJ Markets coverage, news from Reuters and Barron’s, and video from CNBC Business, Reuters, and Cheddar;
- Charting: Line, candlestick, and volume charts are available on the mobile app, on top of some other charts that are available on the web. As with all of Robinhood’s functionality, charts cannot be personalized;
- Cash sweeps: Robinhood doesn’t support money market funds. However, its cash management brokerage feature offers 1.00% on uninvested cash balances to customers enrolled in the deposit sweep program.
Robinhood does not support mutual funds or fixed income securities such as bonds, and you can’t trade forex, commodities, or futures. However, if you choose Robinhood, you can invest commission-free in:
- Stocks (long position only, no short selling);
- Options trading;
- Fractional shares (stocks worth over $1.00 per share with a market cap over $25,000,000 are eligible);
- IPOs (initial public offering);
- Access to over 650 global companies via American Depository Receipts (ADRs). Note: Some banks require investors who hold ADRs to pay periodic services fees;
- Cryptocurrencies through Robinhood Crypto (in 48 states). They offer Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin SV (BSV), Dogecoin (DOGE), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Litecoin (LTC).
There is no account minimum for your brokerage account at Robinhood (also gold subscription), no account opening, maintenance, inactivity fees, or ACH fees. In addition, all equity trades (stocks and ETFs) and options trading are commission-free. However, some other costs unrelated to trading are as follows:
- Robinhood Gold subscription is $5 per month;
- Margin trading requires a Gold subscription, which includes $1,000 of margin. Margin usage above $1,000 is charged at 6.5% yearly interest;
- $75 ACAT outgoing transfer fee;
- $20 to send a domestic check overnight.
Premium account: Robinhood Gold
Robinhood Gold is the premium subscription offered by Robinhood for a $5 monthly fee. However, you can try Robinhood Gold for free for your first 30 days. The premium subscription comes with:
- Margin investing: This feature allows you to borrow money from Robinhood to purchase assets, giving you access to additional funds based on the value of particular securities in your brokerage account. $1,000 of margin is included with your $5 monthly fee. Once you decide to borrow more, you’ll pay 6.5% annual interest on any margin used over $1,000;
- Research and data: Gold members have unlimited access to Morningstar’s premium in-depth stock research reports, as well as access to Nasdaq Level II Market Data powered by NASDAQ TotalView;
- Bigger instant deposits: immediate access to up to $50,000 depending on your brokerage account balance and status. As a result, if you see an opportunity in the market, you can use your money immediately instead of waiting for your funds to settle.
Robinhood will reward you with one share of stock to your brokerage account when you link your bank account and fulfill the conditions in your promotion.
The Fractional Stock Reward Offer is only valid for new customers of Robinhood and existing qualifying brokerage clients who successfully refer eligible new customers.
Once you are signed up, approved, and link your bank account, you’ll earn a specified dollar amount and be able to choose your gift stock from a list of 18 of America’s leading companies. The cash value is then used toward fractional shares of the offered companies (the list is selected by market cap for their respective sectors).
To sign up for a Robinhood account, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Have a valid Social Security number;
- Have a legal U.S. residential address;
- Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or have a valid U.S. visa.
Robinhood is available on iOS, Android, and most web browsers.
Robinhood has made noticeable improvements to clean up its reputation for poor customer service. While they say they can serve customers best via email, they have now added live phone support available to answer your questions 24/7.
The 24/7 phone support works by requesting a call in the Robinhood app. You will then be sent a notification when you’re next in line for a call. If you miss the call or get disconnected, the support team will call you back and leave a message and notification for an easy way to get back in line.
Robinhood offers Robinhood Learn for easily-understandable concise information on the basics of investing, market trends, and financial concepts. The content is prepared by experienced writers and editors who formerly reported at publications such as Forbes and Quartz and boasts over 650 articles to help you make sense of investing lingo and trends.
In addition, the platform also has Robinhood Snacks, a daily podcast, newsletter, and video series which delivers the day’s top financial news stories.
Moreover, all Robinhood customers can access trusted news sources through the newsfeed with in-app WSJ Markets coverage, news from Reuters and Barron’s, and video from CNBC Business, Reuters, and Cheddar.
How does Robinhood keep your funds safe?
Robinhood is a member of SIPC, which protects up to $500,000 (including $250,000 of cash) of securities of its members’ clients. However, cryptocurrency investments through Robinhood Crypto are not protected by SIPC, and Robinhood Crypto is not a member of FINRA or SIPC.
How does Robinhood keep your account safe?
Robinhood uses several industry-standard measures to protect your account and ensure your secure experience with them. Some of the security measures they take to help keep your information safe:
- Password safety: Stored account passwords are never stored in plaintext. Instead, they are hashed using the industry-standard BCrypt hashing algorithm, i.e., stored in a scrambled format that makes them complex and time-intensive for attackers to crack;
- Encryption: Sensitive information (e.g., social security number) is encrypted before being stored. The mobile and web apps securely communicate with servers utilizing the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol with up-to-date configurations and ciphers, ensuring that anything you send to their servers remains private. Moreover, once your banking credentials are verified, they’re never reaccessed. Instead, Robinhood uses trusted third-party integrations to access information about your bank accounts;
- Two-Factor Authentication: Robinhood requires two sources of verification to sign in (or make changes) to your account: something you know (password) and something you have (a one-time verification code or device approval request).
Reported issues and controversies
Unfortunately, Robinhood has been the subject of severe complaints and lawsuits:
- December 2020: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Robinhood for “misleading customers about revenue sources and failing to satisfy the duty of best execution.” The SEC found that “Robinhood customers’ orders were executed at prices that were inferior to other brokers’ prices,” ultimately depriving those clients of $34.1 million. Robinhood accepted to pay $65 million to settle the charges;
- December 2020: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts accused Robinhood of predatory practices on inexperienced investors. The complaint cites the platform’s “aggressive tactics to attract inexperienced investors, its use of gamification strategies to manipulate customers, and its failure to prevent frequent outages and disruptions on its trading platform;”
- January 2021: Robinhood restricted trading during the extreme market frenzy surrounding GameStop (NYSE: GME) and other heavily shorted stocks;
- Throughout the onslaught of new investors during 2020 and 2021, Robinhood experienced system outages and technical issues, leading to class-action lawsuits (also for the January 2021 restrictions concerning GameStop rally);
- June 30, 2021: FINRA fined Robinhood $57 million and ordered it to pay approximately $12.6 million in restitution to thousands of customers who suffered “widespread and significant harm” at the hands of the brokerage. FINRA stated millions of clients had received false or misleading information from Robinhood, and millions were affected by service outages during the March 2020 market volatility. In addition, FINRA found that algorithmic bots had approved thousands of users for options trading, even if those users weren’t eligible or had red flags in their accounts that would have prevented them from taking part in the advanced and risky trading strategy. The $70 million total marked the most significant financial penalty ever levied by FINRA;
- November 8, 2021: Robinhood reported a data security breach that disclosed the personal information of some account holders, including email addresses, full names, and, in limited cases, dates of birth and zip codes. However, they insisted that no bank account, debit card, or Social Security information was impacted, and no customers experienced a financial loss.
Pros and cons of Robinhood
- No-frills trading app;
- Free stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency trading;
- No account minimum or monthly charge;
- Instant access to deposited money;
- Margin investing (with Robinhood Gold);
- Nasdaq Level II quotes and Morningstar’s stock research reports (with Gold);
- Access to fractional share trading;
- Recurring investment features;
- Resources for investing basics;
- Access to news sources;
- 24/7 customer support.
- No mutual funds or bonds;
- Limited account types: no IRAs, no joint accounts, no 529 savings accounts;
- The app encourages active trading, which might not be appropriate (i.e. is risky) for beginner investors;
- Legal infractions in the recent past;
- No clear disclosure on cryptocurrency markups.
To sum up, the trading experience on Robinhood’s web and mobile app is fast, straightforward, and streamlined. However, while Robinhood has the functionality necessary to trade for new investors, more seasoned investors will find familiar tools missing and no option for customization.
In addition, beginner investors should apply caution and thoroughly research their trading strategies, especially because Robinhood encourages active trading and has been accused of gamifying investing and enabling risky trading behavior.
#3 Wealthsimple (Canadian citizens only)
Wealthsimple is a Toronto-based online investment management service launched in September 2014 and provides algorithmic investment and savings programs for clients in Canada, the U.K., and the United States.
The platform uses a small pool of low-cost ETFs (Canadian and U.S. citizens) or mutual funds (U.K. citizens) to populate relatively generic portfolios that are fully customized by the information you provide. In addition, Wealthsimple offers a simple trading platform.
Investment platform and app
Wealthsimple offers two mobile trading apps: Wealthsimple Invest, its robo-advisor solution for ultra-passive investors, and Wealthsimple Trade, for more hands-on investors (not available in the U.K.).
Wealthsimple Invest is an automated investing service that allows you to set up automatic deposits and recurring investments, round up change to the closest dollar amount on credit card purchases, and invest that difference on your behalf.
Your investment portfolio is managed based on predefined investment preferences tailored to your risk tolerance and goals and through market strategies that include diversification, passive buy-and-hold investing, and dividend reinvestment. However, the trading costs, i.e., management fees, range from 0.40% to 0.50% per year (according to the amount you deposit).
Wealthsimple Trade is a self-directed investment platform with two kinds of accounts:
- Trade accounts: You can buy and sell thousands of stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on major Canadian and U.S. exchanges. You will be subject to a 1.5% currency conversion fee when converting CAD to USD and vice versa (not with Plus Plan);
- Crypto accounts: Wealthsimple offers over 50 popular cryptocurrencies and was recently expanded to provide full crypto wallet functionality.
You can find the following features on the app:
- Predefined watchlist: Wealtsimple offers nearly 50 curated watchlists for various sectors and theme-specific industries. However, there are no customizable stock screeners;
- Real-time snap quotes: By default, market data is delayed on Wealthsimple Trade. However, real-time information is available if you upgrade to the Plus account;
- Charting: Wealthsimple doesn’t provide customization options and has just five timeframes to choose from;
- Order Types: Wealthimple supports market, limit, and stop orders, as well as fractional orders (fractional shares).
Ultimately, because the platform wants you to focus on your long-term goals, it has excluded many of the traditional market-timing tools offered by other brokerages. For example, Wealthsimple doesn’t provide time frames lower than one day (e.g., hourly, 10-minute charts).
Five possible portfolios can be generated after you’ve gone through the Wealthsimple questionnaire:
- Conservative, balanced, and growth: ETFs (U.S.), ETFs and mutual funds (Canada), or mutual funds (U.K.);
- Socially responsible portfolios: Select ETFs;
- Halal portfolios: Comply with Islamic law using pre-screened stocks; no ETFs or fixed income.
Note: Wealthsimple’s portfolio contents and construction are selected according to Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) principles, as with most robo-advisories.
Wealthsimple offers commission-free trading, and there is no account minimum. There are two types of trade accounts: Basic and Plus.
The only trading fee Wealthsimple charges in crypto trading accounts is a 1.5-2% Operations Fee per transaction, charged by applying a spread on the bid and ask prices at which buy orders and sell orders execute.
Wealthsimple Invest management fees range between 0.40% and 0.50%, depending on your portfolio size. There are three types of portfolios: Basic, Black, and Generation.
To open an account (Wealthsimple Cash/Trade/Crypto/Tax/Invest), you must meet the following criteria:
- Be a Canadian citizen, Canadian resident, or have a valid Canadian visa;
- Meet the minimum age requirement set by your province;
- Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN);
- Have a Canadian residential address;
- Pass identity verification requirements.
To get started with Wealthsimple Invest, you’ll need to:
- Download the Wealthsimple Invest mobile app on the App Store or Google Play store;
- Sign up with an email address and password;
- Set up your profile;
- Choose an account to open;
- Make a deposit.
Wealthsimple offers 24/7 customer support from their Virtual Assistant. You can connect with a team member via call during their business hours: Monday-Friday: 8am – 8pm (EST), and Saturday & Sunday: 9am – 6pm (EST).
Wealthsimple’s website features a comprehensive Investing Master Class, a broad-brush investment FAQ, and a monthly magazine/blog with dozens of “how-to” articles, as well as a YouTube channel with organized playlists.
How dies Revolut keep your funds safe?
Wealthsimple is insured by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CPIF), so your investments are protected in the unlikely event of insolvency. Wealthsimple is also affiliated with Canadian ShareOwner Investments and is a member of Canada’s Investment Industry Regulatory Organization.
How does Revolut keep your account safe?
Wealthsimple uses these measures to keep your account safe:
- Two-step authentication: To access your account, you need a unique code sent via SMS, email, or app;
- Encryption: Wealthsimple’s 256-bit SSL/TLS certificate encrypts all information transmitted between your device and its web servers;
- Backups: The platform uses a backup strategy based on modern cloud technology so that no matter what, your data is not at risk of being lost.
Pros and cons of Revolut trading
- Straightforward sign-up process;
- Beginner-friendly user interface.
- Commission-free trading;
- Access to fractional shares;
- Free account option and no account minimum;
- Thousands of stocks and ETFs from Canadian and U.S. exchanges;
- Ultra-passive investing with Wealthsimple Investing, including three plans depending on your capital;
- A variety of account and portfolio types;
- Variety of educational resources.
- Lacking finance news and market-timing resources in the trading app;
- Limited offerings on financial products;
- No margin investing;
- No control over what ETFs go into your portfolio with Wealthsimple Investing;
- No expert advice from a financial advisor.
To sum up, Wealthsimple is a great option for anyone wanting to start long-term investing. If stock picking and market timing are not your forte, opening a Wealthsimple Invest account may be the way to go. With its commitment to tried and true market strategies, you’ll be able to use dollar-cost averaging to your advantage and master your passive investment goals.
Conversely, if you want a self-directed account, you will find Wealthsimple Trade’s curated lists helpful. On the other hand, the lack of analysis tools in-app makes the Wealthsimple trading experience pale compared to its rivals.
Ultimately, Wealthsimple Trade and Wealthsimple Invest are both appealing options for beginner investors. However, picking the right approach will boil down to your knowledge and knack for investing, schedule, and risk tolerance.
FAQs about online investing
What is online trading?
Online trading refers to buying and selling assets via the Internet, typically through an online broker, eliminating cumbersome paperwork and allowing you to start investing with a click of a button. As with a traditional broker, you can trade various financial instruments, including stocks, cryptocurrencies, ETFs, bonds, and options.
How do I decide on an investing app?
There are hundreds of investing apps to pick from, so the choice will often boil down to what you need. When choosing, consider your level of experience and knowledge, the financial tools you wish to trade, customer service provision, fees, how much time you can dedicate to trading, and your goals.
How can I make money?
The rules for successful investing online are the same as for any stock trading method. You must know how to evaluate market trends, analyze valuable financial charts and statements, assess taxes and expenses, diversify your portfolio, and take appropriate risks. Of course, online trading is convenient but requires research and reasonable comprehension of the financial landscape.
How safe is online investing?
Remember, there is always an element of risk associated with online trading apps. That said, be sure to choose an app with encrypted firewalls and two-factor verification to protect you from online fraud best. In addition, ensure you have antivirus and malware protection on all the devices you will use for trading, and, naturally, never share your login information with anyone. Importantly too, be wary of companies with a history of scandals and consider what they’ve done to combat the issues.