Best Investing Apps for Beginner Investors

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Nowadays, investing in the stock market can be done at your fingertips with a few swipes. Investing apps are becoming the new norm for investors of all levels.

With dozens of stock trading apps currently on the market, it can be hard to separate the good from the bad.

To help you find the right one for you, we put together this list of the best investment apps for beginners in 2021.

Our Editorial Team has researched all of the best investing apps available and evaluated each one in several different areas in order to narrow this list down to the few that we think will help you the most.

Everyone’s financial situation is different. We all have different goals, amounts to invest, tolerance for risk and knowledge about investing.

Whether you have lots of extra money to invest or just want to get started with a small amount of money, you should be able to find something for you on this list.

Best Investment App for Free Trades: Robinhood

$0 Account minimum
$0 Cost per trade
DollarSprout Rating Free stock with new account

Robinhood is a commission-free mobile trading app that lets investors trade stocks, cryptocurrency, options, and ETFs with a $0 opening balance. Its streamlined design makes it easy to use, and no annual fees make it a good choice for new investors.

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Pros

  • Trade with no fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Easy, mobile-friendly interface
  • Trade a variety of securities
  • Margin trading available

Cons

  • No retirement or other account types
  • Can’t trade certain popular securities, including bonds and mutual funds
  • Difficult to receive customer support

Robinhood is truly a commission fee-free investing app. That means you won’t be charged for trading (stocks, ETFs, options, cryptocurrency, etc.) through the platform.

Robinhood also allows you to buy fractional shares, which means you can invest in thousands of stocks with as little as $1. Users love the simple and intuitive interface. One recent Trustpilot review says “easy to use, and love that they release new features regularly.”

Read: DollarSprout’s Robinhood review

Honorable Mention: M1 Finance
A closer runner up, M1 Finance offers free trading, investment portfolio templates, and fractional investing. It automatically rebalances your portfolio over time. This app is a solid option for hands-off investors. Learn more in our M1 Finance review.

Best Investment App for Automation: Acorns

$0 Account minimum Need $5 to start investing your funds.
$1 to $5 Monthly Fees Depends on plan you choose.
DollarSprout Rating

The Acorns app is easy to use and perfect for new investors who are learning the ropes. Investors make purchases using a linked card. Acorns rounds up to the nearest dollar and invests the extra change. Users can also set automatic recurring investments on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

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Pros:

  • Free investing for college students
  • Completely automated
  • No account minimum
  • Higher-tiered plans offer cash back at specific retailers

Cons:

  • They charge an account fee and other fees for IRAs
  • Limited portfolio options
  • Monthly fee can be a high percentage for those with smaller account balances

Acorns offers: 

  • Taxable investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Checking account with debit card

Regardless of your investing experience, Acorns makes it easy with features like automatic roundups. When you spend from a linked account, Acorns will round the transaction to the nearest dollar and invest the difference in your portfolio. Portfolios range from conservative to aggressive.

Users can also make lump-sum deposits or invest for the long term using Acorns Later, where the platform recommends an individual retirement account and updates it based on your goals.

Read: DollarSprout’s Acorns review

Honorable Mention: Stash
Stash offers many of the same features as Acorns, as well as a $5 sign-up bonus for new users, which makes it a great investing app for beginners. Users pay a flat monthly fee starting at $1 per month. This plan suits beginner savers and investors and comes with a personal investment account, budgeting and saving tools, and the option to invest in fractional shares. Read our Stash review for a complete look at the benefits and drawbacks of this investing app.

Best Investing App for Access to Human Advice: Betterment

$0 Account Minimum $100k minimum for Betterment Premium
0.25% Annual Fee 0.40% for balances of $100k or more
DollarSprout Rating

Betterment is one of the most popular robo advisors and investment apps in the industry. The sign-up process is very easy, they offer tax-loss harvesting, simple asset management, good retirement calculators, low management fees, and the option to speak with a human advisor.

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Pros:

  • No account minimum
  • Low, fixed management fees
  • No transaction fees
  • Access to Certified Financial Planners™
  • Quality, hands-off investing

Cons:

  • Not designed for DIY stock traders
  • Tax-loss harvesting isn’t as robust as some competitors
  • Can’t balance asset allocation with external accounts

Betterment has real financial advisors who can answer questions or provide specific advice. All their advisors are Certified Financial Planners™, which means they’re required to act as a fiduciary and only provide advice that’s in your best interest.

The cost depends on your Betterment package. If you have the basic Betterment account, the cost will range from $199 to $299 per call. With a Betterment premium account with at least $100,000 invested, you’ll have unlimited access to a CFP®. If you want more customized, hands-on support, you can ask to be matched with a Betterment partner advisor firm.

Read: DollarSprout’s Betterment review

Honorable Mentions: Personal Capital and Vanguard
Personal Capital’s investment platform comes with a minimum balance of $100k and offers access to a team of advisors for clients with a portfolio of $200k or less. Those with over $200k invested will receive support from two dedicated financial advisors. Vanguard offers a similar feature with it’s personal advisor services. You need a minimum balance of $50k to qualify for this offering, and they charge based on a percentage of the assets Vanguard manages for you.

Best Investment App for Short-Term Trading: TD Ameritrade

$0 Cost per trade
$0 Account minimum
DollarSprout Rating

TD Ameritrade is a large brokerage firm that offers many different types of accounts, stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and more. They have brick-and-mortar offices and many different online tools and educational resources. They're a well-known brokerage firm with a wide array of offerings and a positive reputation.

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Pros:

  • Wide range of options
  • Diverse trading platforms
  • Lots of trading tools, education, and access to research
  • No maintenance fees
  • Good customer support

Cons:

  • Trades are more expensive than some other competitors
  • Some short-term trading fees (pay attention to the fine print when selling)

TD Ameritrade comes with a variety of investing tools and resources, including their desktop trading platform, thinkorswim. Active traders will enjoy the market heat maps, real-time news, backtesting capabilities, technical analysis tools and studies, and all the other capabilities the platform has to offer.

The companion app, TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader, also offers tools for advanced traders such as complex option ordering capabilities as well as forex and futures trading.

Related: DollarSpout’s TD Ameritrade review

Honorable Mentions: E*Trade and Webull
E*Trade is another solid option for DIY investors. Users can benefit from the app’s robust research tools, commission-free trades, and wide selection of investments. For beginner investors, the platform offers a library and large selection of educational resources. Webull offers similar features. Best for new and active traders with $100k or less to invest, Webull offers short selling, no fees, and free commissions on options trading.

Best App for Managing Your 401(k): Blooom

$0 Account minimum
$120 Fee per year
DollarSprout Rating

Blooom offers portfolio management for employer-sponsored retirement plans like 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and some IRAs. There's no minimum balance to open an account, and their pricing is straightforward. New users can also take Blooom for a test spin using their free 401(k) analysis tool.

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Pros:

  • 10% discount with annual payment (otherwise, $30 each quarter)
  • No account minimum
  • Free 401(k) analysis
  • Access to human advisors
  • Simple and transparent fee structure
  • Easy-to-understand interface
  • No need to move your 401(k) or open a new account
  • Fraud monitoring

Cons:

  • Flat-fee pricing may be high for smaller account balances
  • Asset allocation doesn’t factor in other accounts

What sets Blooom apart from other robo advisors is that it focuses on optimizing your existing employer-sponsored retirement accounts, like your 401(k) or IRA. If you have a 401(k) with your current employer but aren’t sure how you should be investing the money inside it, Blooom will analyze your plan and provide you with a free personal investment strategy based on your goals and risk tolerance. It’s best for hands-off investors with employee-sponsored retirement plans.

Best Investing App for Long-Term Investing: Wealthfront

$500 Account Minimum
0.25% Fees
DollarSprout Rating

Wealthfront's robo advisory services are well-suited for hands-off investors looking for a low-cost option. The company doesn't charges fees for opening or closing an account or making trades, withdrawals, or transfers. In addition to minimizing fees, Wealthfront focuses on lowering your taxes and managing your investment risk with their custom-built portfolios.

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Pros:

  • Goal-setting and financial planning assistance
  • Tax-loss harvesting
  • Low expense ratios for ETFs
  • Automatic rebalancing

Cons:

  • Limited customer support
  • No option to purchase fractional shares

Wealthfront’s strategy isn’t about chasing the market; it’s about investing for the long term. The platform offers IRAs, 401(k) rollovers, and 529 college savings accounts. The automated investment approach, diversified portfolios, and tax-optimization strategies make Wealthfront an ideal fit for both new and advanced investors who prefer a more hands-off approach.

Honorable Mention: Wealthsimple
A close runner-up, Wealthsimple offers some similar features, including tax-loss harvesting and automatic portfolio rebalancing. You’ll also find socially responsible and halal-compliant investment options. There’s no account minimum and users receive access to human advisors regardless of account balance.

Best App for Real Estate Investing: Fundrise

$500 Account minimum
0.85% Management Fee
DollarSprout Rating

Fundrise is a platform designed exclusively for crowdsourced real estate investing. It offers diversification, access to experts to ask questions, and options for balanced investing, long term growth investing, or supplemental income investing. It's also open to both accredited and non-accredited investors.

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Pros:

  • Open to non-accredited investors
  • Low investment minimum
  • Historically strong returns

Cons:

  • Limited liquidity
  • Fee structure isn’t entirely straightforward
  • Methodology hasn’t been tested in a strong market downturn yet

Fundrise decreases the barrier to entry for real estate investors by allowing users to invest in real estate investment trusts, or REITs. The company offers eREITs, which invest in income-producing real estate, and eFunds, which develop and sell housing.

These eREITs and eFunds are limited liability companies that perform the deals. Investors purchase shares in the eREITs and eFunds by buying into a Fundrise Core plan: Starter, Supplemental Income, Balanced Investing, or Long-Term Growth. Starter offers a $500 minimum buy-in while the other three require an investment of $1,000 or more.

Related: DollarSprout’s Fundrise review

Best Investment App for Cryptocurrency: Coinbase

$2 Account minimum
1.49%* Fee 3.99% for debit card buys
DollarSprout Rating

Coinbase is an app where you can buy and trade over 25 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, among others. You can schedule recurring contributions and even earn free shares of crypto. Coinbase Pro offers additional features, lower fees, and is free to use for anyone with a Coinbase account.

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Pros:

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Highly liquid (quick access to your cash)
  • Relatively low fees
  • Variety of cryptocurrency options

Cons:

  • Poor customer support
  • Higher fees than Coinbase Pro with fewer tools
  • Users don’t control their private keys
  • *Fee structure isn’t entirely transparent; fees vary based on location, market price, and payment type

Coinbase touts itself as “the easiest place to buy, sell, and manage your cryptocurrency portfolio.” Users can buy and sell popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. Coinbase Wallet also allows users to see all their tokens in one place and pay other users straight from the app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices.

You can earn free cryptocurrency to add to you wallet by taking some of Coinbase’s free courses on specific cryptocurrencies. Advanced traders can take advantage of Coinbase Pro’s lower fees and additional trading options.

Honorable Mention: Robinhood
Robinhood also offers a crypto trading functionality. Available currencies include Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Dogecoin, among others. All trades are commission-free, which could result in significant savings for frequent traders.

Best App Designed Specifically for Women: Ellevest

$0 Account Minimum
$1-9/mo Fee
DollarSprout Rating

Ellevest is a robo advisor built by women, for women. Their claim is that the financial world was built for men, so Ellevest's mission is to provide for women's financial planning needs. That's why their algorithm takes into account financial factors that specifically impact women, such as the gender pay gap. The platform offers a standard monthly fee instead of charging based on assets under management.

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Pros:

  • Low fees and account minimums
  • Portfolios specifically caters to women’s financial needs
  • Can pick and choose services as needed at an additional cost (budget coaching, career coaching, financial planning, etc.)

Cons:

  • Have to pay extra for access to a financial planner or career coach
  • Fee is the same per month, even if you have less money in your account
  • Have to subscribe to a higher tier for help rolling over an account
  • Members on the Essential plan can’t open an IRA
  • No tax-loss harvesting

Though Ellevest welcomes men as clients, the robo advisor specifically focuses on women’s investing need. Their algorithm takes into account the pay gap, career breaks, and longer lifespans for women, making it the only one of its kind. The platform offers three tiers of service: Essential, Plus, and Executive. Each comes with a flat monthly fee of $1, $5, and $9, respectively.

In addition to their Core investing options, users can invest in Impact portfolios. These are designed to creative positive social impact and advance women on senior leadership teams and boards. Anyone can sign up for coaching with career experts and financial planners for a flat fee through Ellevest, but members receive up to a 50% discount on these services depending on their membership plan.

Best for Chase Clients and Cardholders: You Invest by J.P. Morgan

$0 Account Minimum $500 for You Invest Portfolios
$0 per trade Fee 0.35% mgmt. fee for Portfolios
DollarSprout Rating

You Invest by J.P. Morgan comes with two options: Trade and Portfolio. Trade is a solid option for DIY investors. It offers $0 commissions, free trading, and no account minimum. Portfolio is for hands-off investors who prefer the simplicity of having someone else manage their account. Both options link directly with Chase customers' existing accounts for a simple investing experience.

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Pros:

  • Both apps connect to all Chase accounts
  • Easy-to-use platforms
  • $0 commissions and no account minimum with Trade
  • Low expense ratios with Portfolios

Cons:

  • $500 account minimum and higher-than-average management fee for Portfolios
  • Limited access to research and tools
  • Limited customer support (phone only)

If you’re already a Chase customer, the You Invest app is built to integrate with your existing accounts and mobile banking app. This DIY trading platform offers $0 commissions and comes with a robo advisor option, You Invest Portfolios, for those interested in a more hands-off approach.

While the 0.35% management fee of the You Invest Porfolios is higher than competitors, it could be a good option for existing Chase customers who want to start investing quickly and have no interest in managing their own investments.

How DollarSprout Rates Investing Apps

The Editorial Team at DollarSprout looks at multiple factors when determining a 1 to 5 star rating for investing apps. Here are the most important factors that weigh into our ratings:

  • Ease of use
  • Mobile app reviews
  • Reviews from third-party websites
  • Cost per trade
  • Availability of commission-free ETFs
  • Access to research
  • Compatibility with other financial apps
  • Fees, and the likelihood that a user will incur them
  • Account balance requirements
  • Customer service

In addition to assigning a 1 to 5 star rating for each broker we research, we also aim to find the best broker for certain types of investors, such as:

  • Total beginners
  • Active traders
  • Cryptocurrency investors
  • Etc.
Research Team
Research Lead: Cat Alford
Product Reviewer: Megan Robinson
Final Review: Jeff Proctor
Review Date: October 27, 2020