the-3-best-investment-apps—and-what-you-need-to-know-start-using-them

The 3 Best Investment Apps—and What You Need to Know Start Using Them

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With dozens of investing apps, ranging from robo-advisors and stock trading apps to traditional brokerage firms’ apps, choosing the best investment app can seem like a daunting task.

To help you get off on the right foot as an investor, we combed through the leading investing apps to determine the best overall investing app as well as top choices for beginners and active traders.

Best Overall Investing App: Fidelity

For stock, ETF and options traders, long-term investors and those interested in markets and the economy, Fidelity’s mobile app prevails.

Why Choose Fidelity

Fidelity is among the best comprehensive investment brokers and trounced competitor rankings on its mobile app with star ratings of 4.8 and 4.4 for iOS and Android, respectively. Fidelity shines with a selection of independent research reports not found on most other investment brokerage platforms and top-notch market and educational content.

Ray Prospero, a partner at AdvicePeriod in Los Angeles, touts the platform and claims “the app is suitable across the spectrum of investors, from the casual investor to the seasoned trader. In addition to handling the basic functions expected of an investment app, such as viewing your account balance and positions, transaction history, purchasing and selling securities, the Fidelity app also allows the user to trade sophisticated options contracts for their account.”

Fidelity’s app features:

  • Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and options investing.
  • Personally customized feed with portfolio, market and research information.
  • Content and news to fit your interests.
  • Watch list and customizable field options including 52-week range, P/E ratio, earnings per share, dividend and ex-dates, dividend amount and dividend yield.
  • Research and educational insights and reports, including Zack’s Bull and Bear of the day, nearly 20 independent research reports and more.
  • The ability to trade, bank and pay bills.
  • Webinars, podcasts and videos covering market insights, the economy and investing.
  • Zero expense ratio index mutual funds from Fidelity.
  • Robo-advisor, financial coaches and branch access.
  • No minimum investment amount required.

Related: Manage Your Investments with Personal Capital’s Financial Tools

Fidelity App Disadvantages

The main drawback to the Fidelity app is learning to use the app. Although it’s common to need time to pick up on how to navigate a new app, getting to the home screen is tricky as the Feed screen is the closest thing to a home page.

Certain activities are not available on the app, such as viewing multiple research reports or bond screening. The workaround is good, though: The app simply transfers you to the desktop version on your mobile device. So, although it’s a bit clumsy, you can view the entire powerful desktop version of the platform from the app.

Best Investment App for Beginners: Stash

Consider Stash as the elementary school of investing. Once you’re ready for high school, you can move to a free investment app with more assets, features and complexity, but for newbie investors who like to learn on their own, Stash is the place to start.

Why Choose Stash

Stash equips new investors with the knowledge to invest wisely and the means to do so easily. App users rewarded Stash with a 4.7 on iOS and a 4.2 on Android. Beginning investors can immerse themselves in the Stash Learn portal and read the five-chapter Introduction to Investing covering all the basics they need to know in less than a half-hour.

After building up investment knowledge, users can then take baby steps into investment markets via stocks and diversified ETFs. Even when dealing with complex subjects and transactions, the Stash app keeps things simple, which we appreciate as it’s easy to get overwhelmed by too much information and too many choices.

Stash’s app features:

  • Thousands of stocks and themed ETFs given descriptive names. Stash’s government bond fund, for example, is called “Uncle Sam: Medium Term.”
  • Personal, retirement and custodial children’s investment accounts available.
  • Educational content is interwoven into the site, grounded in sound investment practice.
  • Smart portfolio of premade group of investments for those that prefer help managing their investments. Rebalancing, a robo-advisory feature that returns stock and bond fund percentages to your preferred levels if they drift over time, is available.
  • Debit card available that rewards you with fractional shares of stock with each purchase.
  • Round-up feature that invests difference between purchase and whole dollar amount into the investment account.
  • No minimum investment amount required.

Stash Disadvantages

The Stash app charges monthly fees from $1 to $9, depending upon the plan. Although there are competing free investment apps, notably Robinhood, we believe the beginner-focused learning, banking and investing app is worth the price. Its predesigned portfolios, in particular, may appeal to beginning investors looking for a set-it-and-forget-it approach to investing. Notably, Stash doesn’t offer access to financial advisors like some of the robo-advisors or digital advisors, such as Betterment or Ellevest.

Investment Apps

An office front for Fidelity Investments.  John Nacion/Associated Press

Best Free Investment App for Traders: Webull

Webull loads many features that traders crave into an easily usable mobile trading app.

Why Choose Webull

For investors seeking the best stock trading app, Webull just might fit the bill. Launched in 2017, the 4.7 and 4.5 iOS and Android customer ratings show how pleased investors are with the trading app. Users can trade stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrency. With instant crypto settlement, a wide variety of order types and Smart Trading Tools, you won’t be disappointed whether you’re a beginning or advanced trader. Webull has no minimum requirement to begin trading.

Webull’s app features:

  • Analytical tools and charting that include more than 50 technical indicators and 12 charting tools.
  • Customizable screens for locating investment opportunities including market, region, fundamental ratios and technical categories.
  • Paper trading to try out investment strategies hypothetically before committing real money.
  • 45 widgets for charts, trend analysis, options and active trading.
  • One-click trading for active traders.
  • Single- and multi-leg advanced options trading.
  • No options trading commissions and per order charges.
  • Extended hours trading available.
  • Free stocks promotions.
  • Excellent educational resources, including videos for all levels of traders.

Webull Disadvantages

The Webull trading app is not for professional traders, and even less experienced investors interested in penny stocks, mutual funds or bonds need to look elsewhere. What’s more, small investors won’t find fractional shares at Webull. At the other end of the spectrum, investors will need a $25,000 account balance for day trading. Account types are limited to taxable and retirement accounts.

Investing 101: Top Factors to Consider When Investing

Investing isn’t gambling or a game. To do it successfully, you’ll need to have certain knowledge. Here’s what you need to know to get started:

What Are Investment Assets?

Investment assets typically include stocks and bonds. Buying a stock is akin to owning a part of a company while buying a bond is like lending money to the company. Many investors prefer to buy groups of stocks and bonds which are sold in funds, like ETFs or mutual funds. Real estate, commodities, currency and other asset classes are considered investment assets as well, but most investors can achieve financial success with a simple stock and bond fund portfolio.

How Do I Make Money From Investing?

During the past more than 100 years, stock investments have provided an annual average return of approximately 9 percent per year while bonds have yielded roughly 5 percent. If you had a diversified portfolio containing a mix of stocks and bonds, you’d have about 9 percent average annual returns since the 2008 Great Recession. For a $10,000 investment, that’s equal to more than $22,000 of total gains. It’s important to note that past performance doesn’t predict what will happen in the future.

Can I Lose Money When Investing?

There are no guarantees when it comes to investing. Unlike savings accounts, money is not insured by the government, and while stocks and bonds generally offer higher returns than bank accounts, you may lose money, especially in the short term, when you invest. However, in the past, the years when stocks and bonds have offered positive returns far outweigh and outnumber the years when the investments lose money, making them good choices for people who have more than a few years before they need their money.

Which Are Better: Individual Stocks or ETFs?

There’s no perfect answer to this question, but, in most cases, ETFs or mutual funds are preferred. Selecting the diversified mixes found in funds allows you to avoid picking individual stocks. Instead of betting a single winner, when you pick ETFs or mutual funds, you’re hedging your bets that the overall economy increases in value over time, which historically it has.

When Should I Begin Investing?

Now. The greatest returns from investing are gained by the length of time your money spends in the market. That’s why it’s best to begin deploying a set amount of money, even if it’s a small amount, into your retirement or taxable brokerage accounts now.

Methodology

To determine the best investment apps, we considered more than 20 of the most popular investment apps. To be included in our listing, apps had to have star ratings of at least 4.2 on both Apple and Android mobile apps. Further, an app had to be primarily an investing app, not a banking, financial management or budgeting app that also offers investing capabilities.

Apps were evaluated based on their trading and investing capabilities, educational resources, usability and suitability to various types of investor needs and experience levels.


Barbara A. Friedberg, MS, MBA is a former portfolio manager and university investments instructor. She’s enjoying her dream with publishing credits on US News and World Report, GoBanking Rates, Investopedia, MSN Money, Investor’s Business Daily and more.

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