Best Stock Trading Apps for 2021

Like most things in today's high-tech world, trading stocks has become an everyday activity on mobile devices. The best stock trading apps offer $0 stock and ETF trades, are easy to use, and deliver a fully-featured online trading experience for everyone from beginner to seasoned active traders.

For our 2021 Annual Review, we thoroughly tested 11 stock trading apps and reviewed each one across 40 different features. To score high marks, a broker had to provide an excellent stock trading experience across many usability categories. Testing was conducted using an iPhone XS (Apple iOS) and Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Android).

Best Stock Trading Apps 2021

1. Webull: Best Stock Trading App for Beginners

  • Available via desktop, Apple iOS and Android App on Google Play
  • Best For: Self-directed investors and intermediate traders
  • Sign up here

Webull first hit the investing world in 2018 by offering free stock trading in addition to free trades of ETFs, options and cryptocurrencies.

The company provides you the ability to trade on your smartphone, tablet or desktop, track your stocks and charges no commissions for the trades you make in your portfolio.

It also recently began allowing fractional shares for you to buy smaller portions of stocks with higher share prices.

Why Choose Webull to Trade Stocks?

Webull also provides you access to several powerful tools useful for in-depth trading analysis. These easily make the service one of the best stock research and analysis apps for conducting technical analysis.

For traders, in addition to the commission-free trading and analytic tools, the brokerage offers a subscription to Nasdaq TotalView for $1.99/month, allowing you to see Level II quotes.

This can help you to gain a better sense for the full supply and demand for a stock outside of the national best bid offer (NBBO).

These advanced quotes will provide you with a deeper look into the market for understanding market direction and any potential supply and demand imbalances for a stock you pick.

If these account features sound attractive, the best part might also come with knowing setting up a Webull account is free and comes with no account minimums you must meet or maintain.

If all the free listed above isn’t enough, Webull also runs frequent promotions which involve you receiving free stocks.

2. Public.com: Best Free Stock App for Theme-Based Investing

  • Available via desktop, Apple iOS and Android App on Google Play
  • Best For: New investors with limited capital
  • Available via desktop, Apple iOS and Android App on Google Play
  • Best For: New investors with limited capital
  • Sign up here

Public.com is another commission-free investing app that targets Millennials and Gen-Zers who have attuned their senses to social media. These age groups want to align their investing with their social preferences as well as keep good company to socialize and learn from others. 

The stock investing app boasts an increasingly-common feature geared toward younger investors who may not have enough money to buy some higher cost shares at one time: fractional investing.

This product feature plays on the company’s mission of making the stock market an inclusive, educational investment opportunity which can be fun. They accomplish the latter point by allowing people to invest alongside friends and other well-regarded investors.

Much like social media platforms who provide the standard blue check mark logo to verify public figures, Public.com provides visibility into trade activity and other insights these verified investors wish to provide to the Public.com community.

What Makes Public.com Different?

Public.com does not monetize its trading activity through receiving payment for order flow (PFOF) unlike other free stock trading apps found on this list.

In light of the GameStop market mania in early 2021, Public.com announced a change in its revenue model, breaking with how many free stock apps generate income.

They no longer generate revenue from PFOF and has introduced a tipping feature in the app, acting as a de facto (optional) commission.

The company believes they have a responsibility to lead the industry in a different direction and no longer receive compensation for routing orders to market makers for trade execution.

With the Robinhood blow up, we saw how this created a conflict of interest between brokerage and customer.

By doing this, Public.com will better align their financial incentives with the best interests of their customers.

For those interested in starting to trade on Public.com, the online brokerage platform offers a free $10 signup bonus if you make an initial deposit. Further, you can share your special link with others and gift them free stocks (fractional shares) as well. 

If this sounds like an interesting investing app, open an account and make an initial deposit to see if the app meets your social and investing needs.

3. SoFi Wealth: Best for Personal Finance-Focused Investors

  • Available via desktop, Apple iOS and Android App on Google Play
  • Best For: Investors looking for automated investing already using SoFi’s other personal finance products

SoFi Invest is an app that allows you to track and trade your money. The service is the latest from the SoFi financial wellness platform and offers free trades on stocks, ETFs, cryptos and more.

The service allows you to be an active trader by buying and selling offered assets on a daily basis or passive through its automated investing service.

The company wants to serve all customers who have an interest in improving their financial situation alongside participating in their other personal finance products like student loans, money management, credit cards and more.

4. M1 Finance: Best Free Stock App to Start Investing

  • Available via desktop, Apple iOS and Google Android
  • Best for: Passive Investors

M1 Finance works as one of the best stock trading apps because it provides self-directed and automated investing options according to your predetermined investment decisions. This high-level of customization makes this stock trading app this site’s top robo-advisor pick.

Robo-advisors, which are almost exactly what they sound like, are automated investment managers who handle administrative investment actions on your behalf. Things like investing contributions, rebalancing your portfolio or making automated withdrawals.

Once you set up your portfolio, you can edit it as you wish or simply let the app handle all the nitty gritty while you learn how to increase your net worth with a growing account balance.

Specifically, clients can create a portfolio of stocks and ETFs tailored to their exact specifications, down to the last dollar thanks to their ability to trade fractional shares.

One major callout before going any further, however, is that while M1 Finance offers pre-made portfolios aligned to several investing goals—the company is not an advisory service.

That said, the firm has attracted billions of dollars in assets under management and has over one million users on the stock trading platform since its founding in 2015. No small feat in today’s competitive brokerage account market.

Why M1 Finance?

Sophisticated investors and beginners alike can use this stock trading app to build wealth through customizing your portfolio for free, automating additional contributions and dynamically rebalancing it over time to keep your assets allocated to your wishes.

With all these benefits, this best free stock trading app has a primary selling point: an orientation toward medium and long-term investors interested in building wealth through automated, diversified investing.

The robo-advisor provides the ability to buy and sell individual stocks and ETFs. Hence, why M1 Finance is this site’s best stock trading platform.

Additionally, you can opt to choose from 80+ expert portfolios or even purchase fractional shares if your target companies carry too high of a price tag.  

For example, if you wanted to buy an entire share of a major tech company like Google or Amazon, but couldn’t float the entire cost, you could buy a fractional share. 

Finally, investing with M1 Finance can be as simple as depositing money, setting your stock and index selections and having the platform automate your investments on your behalf.

This truly automates your investments if you set up recurring deposits, allowing your wealth to build.

Over time, M1 Finance will also rebalance your portfolio in line with your stated asset allocation targets.  Regular rebalancing has been shown to improve portfolio performance over time, all things equal.

Consider opening an investment account with M1 Finance. If you deposit $1,000, you can even earn a free sign up bonus.

5. TradeStation: Best for Intermediate to Advanced Traders

  • Available via desktop, Apple iOS and Android App on Google Play
  • Best For: Advanced traders, Options and Futures traders, Active stock traders

TradeStation is a powerful stock trading app and platform which comes with analytic tools useful to seasoned professionals and new traders alike. The platform comes equipped with brokerage services and trading education resources recognized by respected industry reviewers.

Much like every other online broker found on this list, the free stock trading app charges no commissions for stock and ETF trades and low fees on options and futures contracts.

TradeStation caters to its target audience: advanced, active and technically-minded traders. Beginning traders likely will be overwhelmed by this service and may even face fees.

The technical tools and screeners provided by TradeStation are all at or near the top of the class.

What Makes TradeStation Different?

TradeStation is one of the most high-powered stock trading platforms on this list.

The stock trading platform helps you analyze stocks, options, ETFs, futures, and crypto markets. If you open a TradeStation brokerage account, you can use the company’s robust TradeStation Analytics platform for free. 

You have access to backtesting, historical intraday data, and extensive charting capabilities.

TradeStation Analytics helps you to find the right opportunities in real-time, when to get into and out of trades and discover hidden opportunities with technical analysis.

You can use the free stock trading app to monitor and rank up to 1,000 ticker symbols in real-time with access to more than 180 technical and fundamental indicators useful for valuing a stock and identifying likely price action.

If you’d like to purchase the analytics software without using the platform for making your trades, you can pay a monthly fee of $99 for non-professionals and $199 for professional subscribers. 

Can I trade stocks for free?

Traders in the 1980s paid an average of about a quarter per share to buy or sell a stock. The brokerage app Robinhood paved the way and offered traders zero commission stocks. To stay competitive, almost every major U.S. brokerage began to provide the same. 

Now, it’s common to pay nothing to trade stocks. While there are still some places charging fees, those are the minority. Investors also don’t need to make phone calls to conduct trades anymore, but can trade with just a few taps on their smartphones.

At this point, you may be wondering if there are hidden fees elsewhere to make up for this change. Brokerages still need to make money. Some of the ways brokerages still charge customers are through interest on margin loans, fees for premium services, and lending user-owned securities. 

These fees typically don’t affect casual or beginner traders. However, frequent traders, or those who make more complex trades, may benefit from premium accounts that cut down on fees.

Can you invest for free?

Usually, stocks are considered riskier investments than exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or long-term investments, such as a retirement fund. Luckily, there are free stock apps that allow you to invest in ETFs and retirement funds for free as well. 

For example, the stock trading app Webull offers commission-free ETFs. You can also open a Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, or Rollover IRA through Webull. There are no opening, closing, or annual fees. 

Don’t feel the need to limit yourself to one type of investment. You can have a variety.

What are free stock trading apps?

Stock trading apps work similarly to traditional brokerage accounts. After you download the mobile app and sign up, you can start buying and selling stocks and other investments. Some people choose to sign up on their computers first. 

Most of these apps have no minimum deposits to get started and others have very low ones. For some stock trading apps, you need enough money to buy at least one full share of the stock you want. Other apps allow fractional trading where you can buy a fraction of a share.

A possible downside of mobile stock trading apps for some users is that the small screens can be challenging to maneuver. For these people, downloading the app on a tablet or using a desktop version may be better. 

Overall, most people find the benefits of stock trading apps to outweigh the disadvantages. Mobile apps allow you to manage your investments from anywhere at any time (as long as you have internet or cellular data).

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