Technology has made it possible to do almost everything from your phone — order take out, pay your bills, and start investing. I love that, and it means there are the best investment apps for every kind of investor.
My team and I have taken a look at dozens of investment apps, and we’ve picked our favorite investing apps of 2021. You’re going to learn about who each of these stock trading apps is best for, fees, account types, and what they’re lacking.
10 Best Investment Apps of 2021
Best investment app overall: TD Ameritrade
Why: TD Ameritrade has stellar online trading platforms for both experienced and new investors. Both online trading apps include strong research and customer support. With all of its features, TD Ameritrade continues to be a low-cost option for investors.
What is TD Ameritrade:
TD Ameritrade has been in business since 1975, then as First Omaha Securities. Charles Schwab recently acquired it in 2020, but TD Ameritrade is still operating as its own entity. This is all worth mentioning because it lets you know TD Ameritrade has the kind of history and name recognition important to some investors.
All of that aside, TD Ameritrade has a lot to offer investors, including the full range of investments from stocks, ETFs, futures, forex, bitcoin, and IPOs. You can self-direct or opt for a managed portfolio. There’s no account minimum, and most casual investors will incur minimal costs because there are $0 commission trades on ETFs, stocks, and over 4,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
TD Ameritrade has two different online trading apps — TD Ameritrade mobile app and thinkorswim. Thinkorswim is for serious traders with technical analysis tools, customizable screeners, backtesting capabilities, and more. The main app includes research from Morningstar, Thomson Reuters, and CRFA, plus screeners and a tool for tracking capital gain and losses for tax season.
You can even run practice trades through TD Ameritrade's paperMoney simulator. You get $100,000 in practice money and a margin account to run mock trades, and it’s even available for non-customers to try out before they commit to opening an account.
TD Ameritrade fees: $0 online trades for stocks, ETFs, no-transaction-fee mutual funds, and options; broker-assisted trades are $25; no-load mutual funds are $49.99 commission; options contracts $0.65; future and options on futures $2.25 per contract; $75 full transfer fee
Account types: Standard accounts — individual brokerage account, joint, guardianship, etc.; traditional, Roth, rollover, SEP, SIMPLE IRAs; Solo 401; pension or profit plan; 529 plans; tax-free Coverdell; UGMA/UTMA
What TD Ameritrade is missing: TD Ameritrade doesn’t sell fractional shares of stock, and some new investors might miss that option.There’s something to fit each of those niches, so don’t let narrowing down an investment app stop you from . Do your research, and get started!
Best investment app for beginners: Betterment
Why: Betterment is one of the first robo-advisors on the market, and it helps investors set goals and automate their investing. Betterment has straightforward and low pricing, multiple portfolio options, and fractional shares, so you invest all of your cash.
As I mentioned, Betterment is one of the first robo-advisor investing apps available. Betterment uses modern portfolio theory to develop its core portfolio, which includes 13 asset classes for different risk tolerance levels. Based on your goals and timeline, Betterment recommends a specific asset allocation to reach your goals on time.
Betterment also has a smart beta portfolio for investors willing to risk a little more for potentially larger returns. And there’s a lower risk option in the form of a target income portfolio for retirement-aged investors.
For investors interested in a socially responsible investing (SRI) strategy, Betterment recently enhanced its options and now has Broad Impact, Climate Impact, and Social Impact portfolios.
Betterment’s robo-advisor features include automatic rebalancing, either when cash flows in or out of your account, or when your asset allocation drifts 3% over or under its target level. There’s also tax-loss harvesting to offset gain and reduce your tax liability.
Investors can also use Betterment’s high-yield cash account that pays 0.40% interest (which can change over time). There’s no minimum balance on the cash account, no maintenance or overdraft fees, and Betterment reimburses ATM fees worldwide. You can opt into the Two-Way Sweep to move excess cash from checking to savings and back if your balance gets low.
Another perk of Betterment is its retirement planning tool, which lets you link your non-Betterment accounts, including company 401ks, to the planner. You get in-depth retirement planning advice based on your total retirement savings picture.
Betterment fees: 0.25% for Betterment Digital, 0.40% for Betterment Premium (will also need a minimum balance of $100,00); financial planning packages with an advisor starting at $299
Account types: Individual and joint non-retirement accounts; Roth, traditional, and SEP IRAs; trusts
What Betterment is missing: Unfortunately, Betterment doesn’t have direct indexing, which it’s main competitor, Wealthfront, offers.
Best for added banking features: Ally Invest
Why: Ally Invest has a large selection of tradable securities and $0 trading cost on most U.S. securities, but its online bank gives investors options like a high-interest checking account, money market account, online savings account, and CDs.
What is Ally Invest:
Since you’re here for best investment apps, let’s first cover what Ally offers for investors. This is a very low-cost investment app with lots of options. Ally investors can trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options, forex, and penny stocks. There are commission-free trades on eligible U.S. stocks, options, and ETFs. Ally has over 18,000 funds with a $6.95 commission fee, and options trades have a low fee of $0.50 per contract.
Ally Invest gives investors a full suite of investing tools, including options pricing calculator, strategy scanner, Recognia tools, profit-and-loss calculator, Maxit Tax Manager, and more. Your Ally Invest dashboard is fully customizable to show the real-time streaming quotes and data you want.
It’s also worth noting that Ally Invest has two options: self-directed trading and managed portfolios. Both are free, and managed portfolios include automatic rebalancing.
Now banking. Ally’s high-interest checking account currently boasts a 0.25% APY. You can access over 43,000 no-fee ATMs, there are no monthly or annual fees, and a $0 minimum deposit. There’s also an online savings account with an envelope savings feature that would be an excellent way to save your sinking funds. All of Ally’s banking and investing features integrate so you can easily see where you stand.
Ally fees: $0 trades (on eligible U.S. securities); no base commission on commission, but there is a $0.50 fee per contract; $50 full outgoing transfer fee.
Account types: Individual brokerage account; Roth, traditional, rollover, SIMPLE and SEP IRA; custodial accounts
What Ally is missing: Even though Ally has some solid banking features, there aren’t any physical branches.
Best for round-ups: Acorns
Why: Acorns’ simple spare-change savings feature and cash-back rewards program teach new investors they can start investing without much money.
What is Acorns?
Acorn is both a robo-advisor and automated savings tool. Its most notable feature is Round-Ups, which rounds transactions from a linked credit or debit card up to the next dollar and invests the change. You can add multipliers of 2x, 3x, or 10x to make your spare change add up even faster.
Acorns’ Found Money program gives you cashback to invest when you use your linked card at any of Acorns over 350 partner companies. The rewards can be a fixed dollar amount or percentage of your purchase.
Your funds — Round-Ups, recurring deposits, one-time deposits, and Found Money — are invested in one of Acorns’ five different pre-built portfolios. Acorns recommends one of them when you create an account and tell them about your financial goals. Acorns tracks everything in its very user-friendly investment app, and you can see exactly how Acorns is investing your money.
Acorns fees: $1/month for an individual brokerage account; $3/month to add an IRA and checking account; $5/month for everything plus a custodial accounts for kids
Account types: Individual brokerage account; Roth, traditional, and SEP IRA; UTMA/UGMA accounts for kids
What Acorns is missing: The biggest bummer with Acorns is that the monthly subscription fee is pretty high for robo-advisors, especially if you have a low balance. I know $1/month feels cheap, but that’s a 1.2% annual fee on a balance of $1,000. What you’re really paying for with Acorns is the Round-Ups feature.
Best for automated investing: SoFi
Why: SoFi has a broad range of low-cost investments, 10 pre-built portfolios, automatic rebalancing, and free portfolio management. And unlike many other automated options, SoFI gives investors free access to financial planners.
What is SoFi Invest?
SoFi Invest launched in 2017, making it one of the newer investing apps on this list,, but you may already recognize the name for student loan refinancing, personal loans, insurance,
Overall, SoFi is a great fit for cost-conscious investors who want a passive experience. Again, there are no portfolio management fees, but the average expense ratios on SoFi’s portfolios are 0.05%.
SoFi walks you through the process of selecting the right portfolio, based on your goals and timeline. Then it recommends one of 10 different portfolios containing ETFs from 13 different asset classes. Portfolios are automatically rebalanced if any security reaches 5% of drift.
No matter what your balance is, all clients get unlimited access to SoFi’s financial planners for no extra charge. This is a major perk, even among best investment apps. SoFi’s CFPs are non-commissioned fiduciaries, meaning they don’t make money off of recommended trades, and they’re obligated to operate in your best interest.
SoFi also has an active investing platform if you want to try your hand at self-directing investments. And it has a high-interest savings account that pays 0.25% annually.
Sofi fees: $0 management fees; $75 outgoing transfer fee
Account types: Individual and joint brokerage accounts; Roth and traditional IRAs; Keough plans
What SoFi is missing: There’s no tax-loss harvesting, and SoFi’s relatively new status may be a turn off for some investors
Best for limited cryptocurrency: Webull
Why: Webull gives investors access to cryptocurrency — Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin — but it also has some of the lowest fees out of all of the best investment apps on this list.
Webull is a mobile-first , free trading app known for its impressive trading platform for active investors. It’s still a relatively new investment app — Webull launched in 2017 — but it’s become a front runner for investors who want low fees and are interested in cryptocurrency.
When I say low fees, Webull has no account minimums, no trading commissions, and it doesn’t charge contract fees for options. You can trade stocks, ETFs, options, crypto, and ADRs. Webull doesn’t have the crypto options you’ll find with a trading app like Coinbase, but the limited selection it offers might be enough for some investors.
Webull’s trading platform is robust and built for more advanced traders with it’s charts, graphs, indicators, and screeners. The interface is still self-explanatory and something new investors can learn to use.
Investors interested in trading on margin will also appreciate Webull’s margin rates, which are lower than most of its competitors.
Webull fees: $0 trades; no annual or inactivity fees; $75 full or partial transfer fee
Account types: Individual brokerage account; traditional, Roth, or rollover IRA
What you might not like about Webull: Webull has fairly limited account types. It also lacks any kind of cash management feature, and the educational component isn’t robust. But remember, it’s all free.
Best Investment Apps: Honorable mentions
Listen, it’s hard to narrow the options down because the investment apps out there continue to get better, for the most part. These companies are trying to stay competitive by lowering or eliminating fees and updating features.
Because the choice is so hard, here are a few investment apps that didn’t make the top list but are still worth checking out.
Wealthfront is another top-ranking robo-advisor, and it’s Betterment’s biggest competitor. Wealthfront offers competitive 0.25% management fee, and it has a $500 minimum balance requirement. Overall, the expense ratios on Wealthfront ETFs are very low, plus it offers daily tax-loss harvesting, direct indexing, and automatic rebalancing. The biggest bummer is that Wealthfront does not offer fractional shares.
E*Trade is a strong contender for beginners’ best investing apps because it has a large library of educational resources paired, excellent customer service, and easy-to-use investing tools. E*Trade also offers $0 commissions on stocks and ETFs, and has over 4,500 no-transaction-fee mutual funds. You can self-direct or use E*Trade’s robo-advisor service for a fee of 0.30%.
Schwab has serious name recognition and a long history, but it’s been slashing it’s fees and rolling out new features, like Schwab Slices (fractional shares) to appeal to new investors. But Schwab has a lot to offer all investors — incredibly sophisticated research tools, three trading platforms, banking features, and over 4,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
Stash’s goal is to break down barriers to traditional investing, like the cost and confusion. It succeeds by offering free trades, fractional shares, easy-to-digest information on each security, and help building your portfolio. Investors can easily find investments because Stash organizes its offerings based on theme or mission. The major downside to Stash is the monthly subscription fee, which ranges from $1-$9/month based on what kind of account you want to open.
The final word on the best investment apps of 2021
Overall, investing has gotten more affordable and approachable, and it’s no longer difficult to find a free trading app. I’m all here for that!
But with so many good choices, it’s still difficult to pick which one to use. Start by thinking about what kind of investing experience you want. Do you want to be hands-off or hands-on? Do you need to open a retirement account? Or, do you want a brokerage that offers everything?There’s something to fit each of those niches, so don’t let narrowing down an investment app stop you from starting to invest. Do your research, and get started!