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In these digital times, investing in stock can be done right at your fingertips with a click of a button. Investing apps are becoming the new norm for investors of all levels. While you used to have to pick up the phone to place an investment or make a trade, you can now download an app and start putting your money to work instantly.

With dozens of stock trading apps currently on the market, it can be tricky 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 2019.

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.

Comparing the Best Investing Apps

Editorial Disclaimer: Please note that, although we regularly update this page, you should research an app’s website to get the most up to date information available (including pricing and promotional info). Some of the links from this page are from paid partners of DollarSprout. Here’s how we make money.

At a glance:

  • Acorns – Best overall 
  • Stash– Best for values-based investing
  • Betterment – Best investing app for long term investors
  • M1 Finance Best commission free investing app
  • Ally – Best app for do-it-yourself investors
  • Fundrise – Best real estate investment app
  • Stockpile – Best for buying fractional shares
  • Robinhood – Best for options and crypto trading

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 useful for you on this list.

Note: Before you start using an investing app, you should already have a monthly household budget and a plan in place to pay off your debt, if you have any. 

Best Overall App for Beginners: Acorns

$0 Account minimum You'll need $5 to start trading.
$1-$3/mo Monthly Fees
DollarSprout Rating

How Acorns stands out:

The Acorns app is very easy to use, which is perfect for new investors who are learning the ropes. Users' everyday purchases are rounded up and the change is invested, which makes investing a daily habit. Acorns is free for college students and people under age 24.

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Pros:

  • Free investing for college students
  • Completely automated
  • No investment minimum
  • $5 sign-up bonus

Cons:

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

Account Types:

  • Taxable investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Checking account with debit card
  • Open an account in under 5 minutes, with no minimum investment required.
  • Answer a few questions about your age, risk tolerance, etc.
  • There are several ways to add to your account, including depositing your “spare change” (the app will round up your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and move the extra few cents into your Acorns account).
  • You can also make lump-sum deposits and use Acorns’ “Found Money” program, which is essentially a cash back program that works in a way that’s similar to Rakuten or Swagbucks.

Best Values-Based Investing App: Stash

$5 Account Minimum
$1-9/mo Monthly Fees Beginner: $1/mo, Growth: $3/mo, STASH+: $9/mo
DollarSprout Rating

How Stash stands out:

Stash is a simple investing app that makes it easy to start putting money to work, even if you’re only looking to invest a small amount of money. Stash allows you to invest money online by letting you choose from 150+ stocks or investment “themes”; pick from the best options for your goals, interests, and beliefs. Each theme includes a group of companies to invest in rather than just one.

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Cons:

  • No investment management option

Account Types:

  • Taxable accounts
  • IRAs
  • Custodial accounts
  • You open your account with as little as $5.
  • Stash allows you to invest money online by letting you choose from 150+ stocks or investment “themes”; pick from the best options for your goals, interests, and beliefs.
  • Each theme includes a group of companies to invest in rather than just one.
  • Each week you can make a small automatic deposit into your Stash account to invest (even just $5 a week).
Editorial Disclaimer: DollarSprout is a paid partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

Best App for Long Term Investors: Betterment

$0 Account Minimum Betterment Premium has $100k minimum
0.25% Annual Fee For account balances over $100k, fee is 0.40%. No trade fees.
DollarSprout Rating

How Betterment stands out:

Betterment is one of the most well 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 use a human advisor.

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Cons:

  • Not designed for DIY stock traders
  • Can’t balance asset allocation with external accounts

Account Types:

  • Taxable investment accounts
  • IRAs
  • Smart Saver account,
  • Trust

Betterment is more than just an investment app — it’s designed to be a one stop shop for all of your investing needs. It’s focused primarily on long term investing, and the platform caters to a “set it and forget it” investing style (which is perfect for beginners). 

  • Answer a few questions about your age, risk tolerance, etc. You’ll be asked about your goals and what you are investing for.
  • Based on your answers, Betterment will put together a portfolio that suits your needs. As time goes on, Betterment handles portfolio rebalancing so your asset allocation stays in line with your goals.
  • If you have investment accounts outside of Betterment, you can still use the app to track all of your assets in one place.

Best Commission-Free Investing App: M1 Finance

$0 Cost per trade
$100 Account minimum $500 minimum for IRAs
DollarSprout Rating

Summary:

M1 Finance is a combination online brokerage and robo advisor. It's very highly rated across the personal finance community for it's interface, fund availability, and low costs. They offer investment portfolio templates you can choose from, and you can invest completely free.

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Pros:

  • Free to trade
  • Offers fractional investing and no hidden fees
  • You can borrow against your portfolio in some instances
  • Automates investing and rebalancing

Cons:

  • They do not offer tax loss harvesting
  • They only offer stocks and ETFs; no mutual funds

Best For:

Hands off investors who want the benefit of a robo-advisor with $0 per trade. Also, it’s best for people who want to invest in stocks and ETFs, not mutual funds.

M1 Finance offers a lot of attractive features. The people who will get the most use out of M1 Finance are those who don’t want to spend much time thinking about their investments and who don’t want to pay for more advanced advisory services. 

With M1 Finance, the app does everything for you. When you decide which investments to make, M1 Finance asks you to create your “Pie.” This is your set of chosen investments, which can include individual stocks or bonds, exchange traded funds, and more. After creating your Pie, all you have to do is deposit funds into your account. The app then automatically distributes your money to your chosen investments as specified by your Pie.

As time passes, each slice will grow or shrink based on the recorded returns. When you make additional deposits, M1 Finance will allocate your money with the goal of bringing each Slice back to its target.

Best App for Do-It-Yourself Investors: Ally Invest

$0 Cost per trade
$100 Account minimum
DollarSprout Rating

Summary:

Ally Invest is the investing portion of Ally Bank, an online only bank with no brick and mortar locations. Ally acquired Trade King in 2017 and now offers a suite of investment options. This platform is great for active day traders, but it's also easy for a beginner to get started. Ally is well regarded in the financial space, and they have a good reputation.

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Pros:

Managed Accounts 

  • No advisory fees.
  • Automated investing.
  • $100 account minimum.
  • Interest-earning cash buffer.

 
Self-Directed Accounts

  •  Commission-free trading on U.S. listed stocks and ETFs.
  •  Transfer fee reimbursement.
  •  $0 account minimum.
  •  Up to $3,500 cash bonus.

Cons:

Managed Accounts 

  • No tax loss harvesting.
  • No human advisor.
  • No physical branch.
  • No existing promotions.

 
Self-Directed Accounts

  • No automatic rebalancing.
  • Mutual funds carry transaction fees.
  • No human advisor.
  • No physical branch.

Best For:

  • Managed accounts are best for beginners looking for low-fee, completely automated investing.
  • Self-directed accounts are best for active traders, forex traders, day traders, and options traders.

If you want a more hands-on way to invest your money, Ally Invest is a solid option to consider.

  • You choose each individual investment (stocks, bonds, ETFs, etc). There are no pre-made themes like other apps on this list have. This means you have much more flexibility.
  • You enter each individual trade and are responsible for rebalancing your portfolio on your own.
  • A huge collection of educational resources.

A word of caution: If you are completely new to investing, this may not be the best investment app for you. If, however, you are excited to research investments and learn more about the stock market in general, Ally Invest is a high quality platform.

Best Real Estate Investing App: Fundrise

$500 Account minimum
0.85% Management Fee Investors pay a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee, which may be waived under certain circumstances.
DollarSprout Rating

How Fundrise stands out:

Fundrise is a platform designed exclusively for crowdsourced real estate investing. It offers diversification, access to experts to ask questions, and several options for balanced investing, long term growth investing or supplemental income investing. Real estate investing has other risk factors to consider than traditional investing in the stock market, but Fundrise is a viable avenue for people who want to pursue that alternative route.

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Cons:

  • Limited liquidity
  • Methodology hasn’t been tested in a strong market downturn yet

Account Types:

  • Taxable accounts
  • IRAs (account min. is $1,000)

Best App for Buying Fractional Shares: Stockpile

$5 Account minimum
$0.99 Cost per trade No monthly fees or minimums
DollarSprout Rating

How Stockpile stands out:

Stockpile allows investors to buy fractional shares of stocks and ETFs, which makes investing in high priced securities more accessible. Instead of paying $1,000+ for a single share of Amazon stock, you can buy just 0.05 shares for a more affordable price. This app is great for beginning investors or anyone interested in teaching kids about the stock market.

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Cons:

  • Only offers individual stocks and ETFs
  • No pre-made portfolios

Account Types:

  • Taxable investment accounts
  • Custodial accounts

Best App for Option & Crypto Trading: Robinhood

$0 Account minimum
$0 Cost per trade
DollarSprout Rating

How Robinhood stands out:

Commission free trades and high tech app makes it Robinhood an easy to use investing app. You can trade ETFs, stocks, options, and cryptocurrency without incurring extra charges, which makes it a great fit for investors with small account balances. By design, the app has very few bells and whistles.

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Cons:

  • Access to research costs $5 per month
  • Mobile app only; no desktop version
  • Does not always sync with basic expense tracking software like Mint, Personal Capital, etc.

Account Types:

  • Taxable investment accounts

Time is on your side

If you haven’t started investing yet, don’t fret — it’s not entirely your fault.

It’s not like we crawl out of the womb knowing what a 401(k) is or how you should start saving for retirement.

We aren’t born knowing the ins and outs of trading stocks, and basic personal finance still isn’t being taught in schools.

But to make this work, you need to start tucking away some of your money into the stock market as soon as possible. You need to start now while time is still on your side.

With any one of the investment apps listed above, it’s easier than ever to get started with investing. Even if you are a complete beginner!

The more time your investments have to grow, the more money you will end up having in retirement. That means that you need to start doing this now, even if you start small. The rise of mobile has made tracking and growing your money easier than ever.

This list has, in our opinion, the best investing apps that will allow you to realistically and responsibly invest money online. Whether you’re looking for more hands-on investing, or more of a “set it and forget it” approach, there is an investing app out there for you.

Which App is Right For You?

  • Acorns – Best overall 
  • Stash– Best for values-based investing
  • Betterment – Best investing app for long term investors
  • M1 Finance Best commission free investing app
  • Ally – Best app for do-it-yourself investors
  • Fundrise – Best real estate investment app
  • Stockpile – Best for buying fractional shares
  • Robinhood – Best for options and crypto trading

How DollarSprout Rates Investing Apps

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

  • Ease of use
  • Mobile app reviews
  • 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 1-5 star rating for each broker we research, we also aim to find the best broker for certain types of investors, such as:

  • Best app for total beginners
  • Best app for active traders
  • Best app for cryptocurrency investors
  • Etc.
Research Team
Research Lead: Cat Alford
Product Reviewer: TJ Porter
Final Review: Jeff Proctor
Review Date: October 5, 2019
Author

Our mission at DollarSprout is simple: we want everyone to worry less about money and spend more time on the things that truly matter in life. By bringing you our latest ideas on how to make money, save money, and make smarter financial choices, we are doing our small part to help.