3 Places to Buy Stocks That Are Better Than Robinhood

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Novelty alone doesn't make for a good broker.

Online stock broker Robinhood has had a rough year. Stoppages during the meme stock explosion in January led users to file dozens of class action lawsuits. Then the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority hit the broker with a record fine for regulatory noncompliance. And Robinhood is still reeling from its lackluster IPO launch.

That said, Robinhood's problems didn't start when the ball dropped at the end of 2020. The platform has had years of outages and customer service problems that led them to this year's train of disasters.

While there is a somewhat reasonable argument that the broker is still working through its growing pains -- Robinhood has been around less than a decade -- that's cold comfort to burned users.

At this point, all that bad press may have you reconsidering whether Robinhood is the right place for your money. Robinhood's app and features are certainly robust -- when they're at 100% -- but it's hardly the only stock trading app on the market. You can find a number of alternatives that offer many of the same features, including low-cost accounts and commission-free trades. Here are some to consider.

1. Fidelity

If you're looking for a stock brokerage with a solid reputation, you can't get much better than Fidelity. The popular broker has few, if any, outages, and is well regarded for its customer service. Fidelity's mobile app is feature packed and easy to use, making it easy to manage your accounts on the go.

Robinhood users will like Fidelity's commission-free stock and ETF trades, as well as fractional share investing (the ability to buy parts of shares instead of only trading in whole shares). Fidelity also has brick-and-mortar offices, so you can talk to an actual human about your account -- something Robinhood users are sure to envy, as the company didn't even have a phone number until recently.

2. M1 Finance

M1 Finance is a streamlined online brokerage that's designed around its self-directed investing features rather than offering full-service advising and account management. Like Robinhood, M1 Finance is a relative newcomer to the stock trading world. But that novelty doesn't mean it can't keep up with some of the bigger players.

Users can find a good variety of trading tools in M1's mobile app, including the ability to place individual stock or ETF orders and the option to trade fractional shares. There are no trading fees, and the basic account option has no management fee. One thing to note is that accounts with a low balance ($20 or less) that have no trading activity for 90 days will incur a $20 inactivity fee.

3. Charles Schwab

Stock trading giant Charles Schwab has become a household name -- and that was before it bought rival TD Ameritrade. The popular brokerage has added more than 5 million accounts this year, and it's still growing. And a look at its offerings makes it clear why.

Not only does Charles Schwab offer many of the features you might want in a full-service brokerage -- including hundreds of brick-and-mortar locations for that human touch -- but it also competes well in the modern trading app marketplace. Users can enjoy commission-free stock and ETF trades, fractional share trading, and tons of mutual funds. There's also a long-standing reputation for reliability.

Honorable mention: Coinbase

One of the things appealing about Robinhood is that it packs a lot of versatility into one app. While many major stock trading apps don't include a ton of crypto options, Robinhood lets users invest in a number of popular digital currencies.

But you don't have to use Robinhood if you want flexible crypto investing -- not when Coinbase practically invented the cryptocurrency exchange. You can find tons of popular cryptos on Coinbase. And, unlike some alternatives, Coinbase has spent years building its collection of crypto education, research, and trading tools.

It's impossible to stress enough the importance of being able to trust that your stock brokerage is giving you accurate, up-to-date information at all times. You also want an online broker that will be available when the market is moving -- and the rest of the time, too.

Robinhood may be on shaky ground these days. With so many solid alternatives, you have plenty of options for finding a broker you can rely on for years to come.

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