The Best Fee-Free Investment Apps

By Julia Devin | 11 March 2019

They say time is money. And that’s certainly true when you’re investing your cash. Unless, of course, those investment fees are eating up your profits.
Luckily, in recent years, new apps have come along that allow you to invest your money for free and on the go. You can now travel the world while your money travels to the stock exchange from your phone. (Who said finances weren’t exciting?)
Here are the top free investing apps, ranked by level of involvement and functionality. So whether you’re a hands-on, hands-off, or a somewhere-in-between investor, you can manage your money on your own terms, and in your own time.
If just hearing the word “stocks” raises your blood pressure, you’re not alone. WiseBanyan gets it, and they’ve built an entire app for absolute beginners with one good-looking, easy-to-use interface.
They’re also a robo-advisor, meaning their algorithms will do all the investing work for you while diversifying (a fancy way of saying “they won’t put all your eggs in one basket.”)
One nice feature of this platform is that it asks what your goals are—maybe you’re building an emergency fund or maybe you’re planning for retirement (inside scoop: they offer individual retirement accounts, a.k.a. IRAs).
Based on that information, and the level of risk you want to take, the app determines how much money (and how often) you should be adding to your account. In short, WiseBanyan is all about “invest and chill,” (no, not THAT kind of chill, pervs) which is great for anyone not looking to trade actively.
But be aware: When nav.igating WiseBanyan’s offerings, any extras come at a price. The platform charges for services outside their basic portfolio management, like tax protection or paper statements.
Robin Hood was a people pleaser, and so is this app. Like WiseBanyan, Robinhood is simple, beautiful, and easy to use, with the added option of trading a bit more actively (although that’s not required).
Robinhood lets users invest in stocks or ETFs. That’s short for exchange-traded funds, a premade grouping of assets (like stocks, bonds, etc.) that you can opt into in a single investment. Hint: this is a good idea if you want to diversify.
You’ll also be able to invest in more advanced financial products (like cryptocurrency…ooh la la) and also keep an eye on changes to the stock market with the platform’s stock charts and watchlists.
But ultimately, this app is still designed with newbies and laid-back investors in mind. Robinhood doesn’t offer many trading analysis tools, and you can only buy full shares (vs. buying fractions of a share), so any seasoned investors should probably look elsewhere.
If you’re looking to start a retirement fund, this app might also not be the best since Robinhood doesn’t offer IRAs or individual 401(k) accounts.
M1 Finance
M1 turns investing into a piece of Pie (nope, not a typo!). Their focus is to help you diversify your investments by building what they call a Pie. It looks like a pie graph where any slice is a stock, ETF, or even another Pie.
It’s customizable, so you can be super hands-on with your portfolio. Or if that sounds like your personal nightmare, they also offer pre-made Expert Pies. Together with their option of setting up automated contributions, you can be your best investing self, without ever having to think about it.
Even better, M1 also automatically rebalances your investments, something that’s usually only done by the pros. That means it sells and buys assets on your portfolio at their optimal price without you having to move a finger.
M1 doesn’t offer the option to invest in products outside of stocks and ETFs, but it offers the most functionality out of the lot, making it a great app for beginners, savvy users, and investors-in-training alike.
How to Investing Your Way to Financial Bliss
  • Less is more. If you’re just getting started, too many investment features can be overwhelming. Choose an app that matches your skill level. You can always level up!
  • Know yourself. Are you an eager investment beaver ready to trade non-stop? Or do you think TL;DR when you see the word “investing”? Stick with the app that will match your involvement style. Don’t play yourself!
  • Perfect is the enemy of good (investing). Ultimately, what matters is that you’re committed to growing your money, so don’t stress if your strategy isn’t perfect all the time. Remember, you’re playing the long game!
Want more tips for your finances? Download the app for iOS or Android today!
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