Robinhood was the first commission-free brokerage app, and it’s been popular among millennial inventors since it was founded in 2013. But after Robinhood banned trades on certain stocks in January of 2021, many people have started looking for alternatives apps for investing.
Fortunately, there are lots of solid alternatives to Robinhood. Since Robinhood was launched, brokerages have been eliminating commissions to make investing affordable and accessible to more people.
Now there are even better low-cost options than Robinhood. When I say better, I mean tax-advantaged retirement accounts, more investment options, better research, strong educational content, and more.
9 Robinhood Alternatives if you’re feeling frustrated with Robinhood
Webull is an advanced trading platform that is free to sign up for, and it has $0 commissions and $0 trading fees. It’s worth noting that all of these trading apps still charge SEC and FINRA fees.
It’s best for active, short-term traders who know what they’re doing. The platform itself is designed for experienced traders, but new Webull users can take Webull’s trading courses or use the trading simulator to learn more about the market and develop a trading plan.
Webull offers users individual brokerage accounts and IRAs (Roth, traditional, and rollover accounts). You can trade stocks, options, ETFs, and crypto on the platform.
For margin trading, you’ll need to have $2,000 invested through Webull and you’ll be charged 6.99% for all margins under $25,000. Robinhood users need to upgrade to Robinhood Gold, which costs $5/month, and have $2,000 in their account before they can trade on margin. Robinhood gives you up to $1,000 on margin, and you pay 2.5% yearly interest if you go beyond $1,000.
Like Robinhood, Webull supports full extended trading hours. One major perk of Webull is that all users have access to Level II market data, but Robinhood users have to pay for Gold if they want access to that data.
M$M tip: Whichever investing app you use, I highly recommend signing up for Personal Capital. It’s a free tool that tracks your investments, analyzes fees (so you can save money), tracks your net worth, and helps you plan for retirement.
Vanguard is known in the industry for its low-cost ETFs. And its founder, Jack Bogle, is credited with creating the first index fund.
There are no fees to sign up and create an account with Vanguard. Investors like the long lot of tradable securities it offers: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, CDs, and options. Trades on stocks and ETFs are all commission-free. But Vanguard does not offer crypto trades like Robinhood does.
One of the things investors love about Vanguard is that its ETFs are some of the least expensive ones around, with an average expense ratio of 0.10% compared to an industry average of 0.45%. High expense ratios can really eat into your long-term savings.
Speaking of long-term investments, Vanguard is best for buy-and-hold investors. The platform isn’t geared towards active day traders like Robinhood is.
Fidelity is another popular commission-free Robinhood alternative, and it’s a powerhouse with even more investment options, including over 3,400 no-transaction-fee mutual funds and stellar research tools.
When you compare Fidelity vs Robinhood on tradable securities, Robinhood just doesn’t offer the same selection Fidelity has. Fidelity lets you trade stocks, bonds, fractional shares, mutual funds, ETFs, options, precious metals, IPOs, and international investments. You can also trade on margin. The only thing Fidelity doesn't offer that Robinhood does is crypto trading.
Fidelity also has a reputation for strong customer service, and it has a highly-rated mobile app.
Fidelity has more than just personal brokerage accounts. There even offer IRAs, 401ks, and other self-employed retirement accounts. They also offer an FDIC-insured cash management account that you can pair with your brokerage account. It has similar features to a checking account (ATM access, no monthly fees, and no overdraft fees), but it has a higher APY than you’d find with a traditional bank account.
Now that Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro platform is available for all investors for free, it’s becoming a popular option for both active traders and retirement investors. Active Trader Pro is customizable and can include shortcuts, a pre-built market, technical and options filters, advanced options tools, and a multi-trade ticket that can store orders for later and place up to 50 orders at a time.
Fidelity is a very low-cost Robinhood alternative, but there are some fees you should be aware of. There’s a $32.95 fee for broker-assisted trades, which is a little on the high side. And while there’s no base commission on options trades, there is a $0.65 fee per contract.
Public launched in 2017, making it the newest kid on the block. It’s a simple free stock trading app with a social media component: there’s a feed where you can follow people and see their portfolios. You can also refer friends and earn a stock slice ($10 fractional share) when your friend opens an account.
Public only allows for personal brokerage accounts, so no designated retirement account options. They specialize in stocks and ETFs, which you purchase by the full share or fractional shares called slices.
Investments options are organized by theme to help identify investments that align with your values or interest. For example, if you click on “Nom Nom Now” you’ll get a list of companies that are all related to food and food delivery, like Starbucks, Shake Shack, Blue Apron, and Grubhub.
When it comes to Public vs. Robinhood, one of the most notable things is the stand Public recently took against PFOF (payment for order flow), which is how a lot of free investing apps stay free. It’s essentially selling orders to market makers for fees.
To keep itself free, Public is rolling out a tipping feature. It’s entirely optional and allows users to leave a tip to help pay for the cost of executing trades.
5. Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers is a very comprehensive trading platform that’s really good for advanced traders who want access to a wide range of securities. Compared to Robinhood, Interactive Brokers has $0 trades on stocks, ETFs, and options. There are also no account minimums.
Interactive Brokers has a wider range of securities than Robinhood offers, like mutual funds, which come with a $14.95 trade fee. They also offer futures ($0.85 per contract) and broker-assisted trades ($30 fee for each trade).
Both brokerages offer margin lending, but Interactive Brokers has much lower fees, ranging from 0.75% to 1.59% compared to Robinhood’s 2.5%.
Interactive Brokers offers over 100 different types of trades, from limit orders to really advanced options like algorithmic trading. It also has detailed reporting and a robust desktop trading platform. Their mobile app has built-in trading tools like an options spread grid and an Order Entry Wheel.
Interactive Brokers also offers fractional shares, which are appealing to new investors. And they recently unveiled a free Impact Dashboard that supports socially responsible investing. It helps you choose stocks based on criteria you identify or exclude. So you could set your criteria for gender equality or clean energy, and then Interactive Brokers will identify companies that are known for those things. On the other side, you can exclude companies with specific practices, like animal testing or producing hazardous waste.
There are two different levels at Interactive Brokers: Lite has commission-free trades, and Pro charges minimal tiered rates based on the number of orders you place. For example, if you have a Pro account, you would pay $0.0005 - $0.0035 per share for stock and ETF trades.
6. Ally Invest
With its $0 account minimum and $0 trading commissions, Ally Invest is another good Robinhood alternative, and it’s got a lot of other features that are worth talking about.
In addition to $0 trading costs on eligible U.S. securities, Ally Invest also offers a huge selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds. It also offers forex trading (with a dedicated forex mobile app), automated portfolio management tools, a cash management account, margin lending, very low contract fees on options trades ($0.50 per contract), a customizable trading dashboard, and more.
Ally Invest also offers a wealth of research and tools. There are options trading tools like an options pricing calculator to compare current bid/ask prices and a strategy scanner to execute different options strategies based on your criteria.
Self-directed trading on Ally Invest is free and requires no account minimum. But if you want automated investing, you’ll need $100 in your account to start – it’s free after that.
Acorns is a micro-investing app that’s built as a robo-advisor. You don’t pick individual stocks to buy and sell. Instead, you fill out information about your current financial situation and your goals, and Acorns matches you with one of five pre-built portfolios that range from conservative to aggressive. Portfolios contain a diverse set of ETFs.
You can schedule deposits into your Acorns account and the app will automatically invest them for you. They’ll also rebalance your portfolio as needed. Or you can do what Acorns is really well known for, which is spare change investing.
Spare change investing and micro-investing are basically the same thing – it’s the practice of investing with small amounts of money. You connect your debit or credit card to your Acorns account and the app rounds up transactions to the next dollar amount and invests the difference.
Say you buy a latte for $4.37. Acorns will round that transaction up to $5 and invest the $0.63 difference. You can add multipliers for 2x, 3x, or 10x so that $0.63 could turn into $1.26, $1.89, or $6.30.
There’s also a feature called Earn, where you earn money back on purchases from partner companies that are then automatically invested in your Acorns portfolio.
Acorns supports personal brokerage accounts, retirement accounts (Roth IRA, traditional IRA, and SEP IRA), and custodial accounts for children. While there are $0 trading fees, Acorns does charge a monthly fee based on the kind of account you choose, ranging from $3 to $5/month.
As far as Robinhood competitors go, Acorn is very different, but worth checking out if you’re a hands-off investor who doesn’t mind the monthly fee.
Stash is one of the best investing apps for beginner investors who are interested in spare change investing. Like Acorns, you have the option to connect a debit card and let Stash round up transactions and invest the difference. But where Stash shines is that you can either use its robo-advisor platform or direct your investments. At the same time, Stash holds your hand so you can learn how to invest as you go.
Stash has a very clean app and organizes stocks, bonds, and ETFs based on theme. This allows for thematic or impact investing, like investing in corporate cannabis or female-led companies. You get a clear description of each security, including historic performance, expense ratio, etc, but Stash does it in a way that’s not confusing for newbs.
Stash supports automatic reinvestment of dividends (or DRIP), there’s also a retirement calculator, diversification analysis – good if you’re choosing your own investments – and has a Stash Coach to expand your investing knowledge.
Originally there were three different account levels starting at $1/month, but Stash recently got rid of its lowest tier plan, and now the cost ranges from $3 to $9/month. The monthly subscription cost is where Stash starts to fall flat, especially that $9/month plan. You’re paying for the sleek app and educational content, and the latter is definitely available for free online.
Betterment is the OG robo-advisor, and it should be a contender if you’re a hands-off investor. Unlike the last two investing apps, Betterment gives you far more options as a robo-advisor, like a dedicated tax strategy, advanced portfolio options, and paid access to a financial advisor.
What you might not like about Betterment is that you can only invest in ETFs – that’s their bread and butter. However, the ETFs Betterment offers have an average expense ratio of 0.11%, with the average being a much higher expense ratio of 0.44%. That’s money saved with Betterment.
Betterment uses modern portfolio theory (same as Stash and Acorns) to develop portfolios that highlight diversity. It’s the same reason why Betterment focuses on ETFs only.
Betterment’s tax strategy includes tax-loss harvesting, a tax-coordinated portfolio tool, and a tax impact preview tool where you can see how your investment choices will affect your taxes.
There’s free automatic rebalancing on all accounts that is monitored daily. Once drift reaches or exceeds 3%, Betterment will rebalance for you. They also use cash flow to rebalance, which optimizes your accounts.
Betterment offers individual brokerage accounts, IRAs (Roth, traditional, rollover, and SEP), trust, and a high yield cash savings account.
This is a stellar app if you’re hands-off. You can set financial goals, and trust that Betterment will help you get there. If you ever need personal support, you can pay for one-time access to a human financial advisor, but these packages cost $199 to $299.
Betterment has two account options, and the first is Betterment Digital, which costs 0.25% of assets under management (AUM). There’s no account minimum or additional fees. If you have at least $100,000 in your account, you can sign up for Betterment Premium at 0.40% AUM. That gives you unlimited phone and email support with a human advisor, plus in-depth advice on any investments you hold outside of Betterment.
The final word on Robinhood alternatives
If you want to learn more about how Robinhood makes money, please read this article where I break it all down.
Then, think about what makes an app the best investing app for you. Are you an active trader? Check out Fidelity, Webull, or Interactive Brokers. Are you looking for some hand-holding? Try Stash. Are you only investing for retirement? Then Betterment or Vanguard have awesome options.
Robinhood isn’t the only commission-free app out there.
Yes, there are better-investing apps than Robinhood. Low-cost brokerage apps are becoming incredibly popular, and even big-name brokerages have slashed fees to compete with low-cost brokerages. Charles Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, Interactive Brokers, and more all reduced or eliminated fees entirely in response to the newer apps like Robinhood.
There are investing apps with more investment options, more robust features, and apps that are taking a stand against things like payment for order flow (PFOF).
Direct Robinhood competitors are Webull, Fidelity, Interactive Brokers, and Vanguard. Those apps all have options for active traders, like margin lending, options trading, etc. They also have $0 account minimums and $0 commissions on stock trades.
Listen, Robinhood caught a lot of flack when people learned that Robinhood made money off of payment for order flow (PFOF). That’s when they send trades to a market maker who can handle larger orders, and Robinhood earns money for sending trades to these market markers.
The issue here is that when a service is free, you’re usually the product. The market makers who Robinhood uses to execute trades use the data they get from Robinhood to learn how the market moves. And Robinhood hasn’t been transparent about this.
Robinhood 100% needs to be more transparent, but is what they are doing wrong? I’m not going to get into that, but I will say that there are a lot of services we use every single day that are making money off of us.