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Best Free Stock Trading Apps for 2022

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

If you're looking to start trading stocks, there's some good news. Not only have virtually all major brokerage firms done away with commissions on stock trades, but the actual process of buying and selling stocks is easier than it has even been before. And a big reason for this is that there are some excellent commission-free stock trading apps available that allow for stock trading and much more.

In this guide, we'll share some of our favorite free stock trading apps from some of the best stock brokers as well as some things to consider when deciding which is the best choice for you.

Ratings Methodology
Bottom Line

Robinhood offers a user-friendly mobile app that allows trading in stocks, options, and cryptocurrencies.

Fees:

$0 for stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies

Account Minimum:

$0

Special Offer

Get a free stock with a new account

Open Account for Robinhood

On Robinhood's Secure Website.

Bottom Line

Merrill Edge® Self-Directed is a great option to consider not only for users of Bank of America (which it is a part of), but also those who are looking to invest and bank under one roof and with a highly capable app.

Fees:

$0 for online stock and ETF trades

Account Minimum:

$0

Special Offer

Open a self-directed account and get up to $600

Open Account for Merrill Edge® Self-Directed

On Merrill Edge® Self-Directed's Secure Website.

Bottom Line

E*TRADE sports two solid apps: one that shines for its ease-of-use, and one tailored to advanced active traders.

Fees:

Commission Free

Account Minimum:

$0

Special Offer

Open and fund an E*TRADE account & get up to $600 or more

Open Account for E*TRADE

On E*TRADE's Secure Website.

TIP

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Best free stock trading apps overview

1. TD Ameritrade

Best for: Diverse investing on the go

TD Ameritrade shines beyond just its free trading app, which is among the best we've come across. Combining TD Ameritrade's app capabilities with its highly-regarded customer service, array of investment vehicles, diversity of account types, and best-in-class trading platforms explains why the broker is a top pick to consider. This isn't to say that TD Ameritrade nails everything, though. For example, investors wanting to invest in fractional shares or cryptocurrencies will need to look elsewhere.

iOS rating: 4.5/5 stars

Android rating: 3.5/5 stars

Pros

  • Commission-free stock and ETF trades
  • Diverse investing vehicles available
  • Great customer service
  • Robust active trading platforms

Cons

  • No fractional shares investing
  • No cryptocurrency investing

2. Robinhood

Best for: No-frills stock and options trading.

Robinhood is a user-friendly trading app that allows for trading in stocks, options, and cryptocurrencies (including Bitcoin). Robinhood users have access to a cash management feature that allows interest to be earned on cash balances, and the $5 per month Robinhood Gold premium version of the platform allows for $1,000 of interest-free margin and access to Morningstar stock research reports. One of the standout features is $0 options commissions and no fee per contract. Even many of the best options brokers charge a fee per contract, but Robinhood doesn't.

There are some downsides, however. Specifically, there are few educational tools or advanced trading tools. There are also no mutual funds or IRAs. All this suggests Robinhood is designed more for traders, not long-term investors.

iOS rating: 4.1/5 stars

Android rating: 3.8/5 stars

Pros

  • No commissions
  • User-friendly trading platform
  • Allows fractional share investing
  • Functionality includes options and cryptocurrencies as well as stocks

Cons

  • Few educational resources
  • No access to stock research unless you pay for an upgraded account
  • No mutual fund investing or robo-advisory service

3. SoFi Invest

Best for: Investors who want access to other financial products as well.

SoFi Invest offers both active investing (stock trading) and automated investing (robo-advisory) services. It also allows investors to trade cryptocurrencies. And unlike several other tech-focused investment apps, SoFi offers traditional and Roth IRAs. The best part -- all of these features (lending, saving, investing, and more) are available through a single, highly-rated app.

One big differentiator is that SoFi, which is short for Social Finance, is designed to be an all-in-one financial community. In addition to its investment platform, the SoFi app also offers personal loans, mortgages, private student loans, credit cards, and high-yield savings accounts.

iOS rating: 4.8/5 stars

Android rating: 4.4/5 stars

RELATED: See The Ascent's side-by-side review of SoFi vs Webull

Pros

  • Offers stock investing, automated investing, and cryptocurrency trading
  • Fractional shares are available
  • Retirement accounts are available
  • Lots of other financial products

Cons

  • No options or mutual fund trading
  • Doesn't offer stock research or an advanced trading platform

4. E*TRADE

Best for: Easy-to-use platform for average investors, and an advanced app for active traders

E*TRADE scores high marks from our experts as a one-stop-shop for most things an investor needs in a trading app. In fact, E*TRADE actually sports two apps: the regular E*TRADE app and the Power E*TRADE app designed for active traders. Both apps are free.

Users of the regular E*TRADE app get an easy-to-use app that gives them access to most of the features that an average investor would expect: an intuitive platform for placing trades, managing your account, staying up-to-date on news, and performing stock research and screening.

If you’re an active trader, you’ll want to opt for the more advanced Power E*TRADE app. This app provides real-time technical analysis of stocks, advanced options trading features, futures trading, and excellent charting capabilities. Looking at app store reviews, it seems there may be some technical issues with the Android app that appear to be less of an issue on iOS, so that is perhaps something to take into consideration.

Unfortunately, neither app allows for cryptocurrency, forex, or fractional share trading, so you’ll want to look elsewhere if this is important to you.

iOS rating:

E*TRADE app: 4.6/5 stars

Power E*TRADE app: 4.5/5 stars

Android rating:

E*TRADE app: 4.2/5 stars

Power E*TRADE app: 3.7/5 stars

Pros

  • Feature-packed, easy-to-use regular app
  • Advanced app ideal for active traders
  • Strong in-app news and research offerings
  • Commission-free stock and ETF trades

Cons

  • Does not support fractional share investing
  • Does not support cryptocurrency investing (except some futures trading)
  • Does not have access to international exchanges

5. Webull

Best for: Active investors who want a simple and user-friendly trading platform.

Webull is a mobile-based stock trading platform that offers more features than most of its app-based rivals. Customers can trade stocks and options with no commissions whatsoever and no account minimums. For investors who use margin, Webull has some of the lowest rates we know of. New investors can take advantage of Webull's "Paper Trading" feature, a virtual trading simulator where you can learn investing without risking your hard-earned money.

iOS rating: 4.7/5 stars

Android rating: 4.4/5 stars

RELATED: See The Ascent's Webull vs. E*Trade review

Pros

  • Commission-free stock trading
  • Options trading is available
  • More features than most other app-based trading platforms
  • Offers traditional IRAs
  • Allows investors to trade cryptocurrencies

Cons

  • Does not support fractional shares
  • Investors cannot trade mutual funds or OTC stocks
  • Few educational resources
  • Most market data and research require subscriptions

6. Merrill Edge

Best for: Investing and banking in one

Merrill Edge, its brokerage offerings, and the investing app are a clear great fit for Bank of America banking customers. But that's not the only audience Merrill Edge is a fit for. Merrill Edge is a top stock broker to consider for anyone focused on finding one place to manage the majority of their money needs under one roof. Importantly, Merrill Edge's mobile investing app integrates well with Bank of America's banking app and this is reflect with its high iOS and Android app ratings. But investors wanting a leading trading platform or access to invest in cryptocurrencies will want to consider alternatives.

iOS rating: 4.7/5 stars

Android rating: 4/5 stars

Pros

  • Commission-free stock and ETF trades
  • Wide array of account types offered
  • Nation-wide branch access
  • Preferred Rewards program

Cons

  • Trading platforms can be beat
  • No cryptocurrency investing

7. Fidelity

Best for: Investors who want to trade stocks and other investments with all the features of Fidelity's brokerage.

Fidelity is a highly-rated mobile app. For a non-app-based broker, this is impressive, especially when you consider the impact some of the disruptive "trading apps" have had on the industry. The app's trading platform is user friendly and highly customizable. Through the app, users can set up a customized news feed, view stock research, and even deposit checks and pay their bills.

iOS rating: 4.8/5 stars

Android rating: 4.4/5 stars

Pros

Cons

  • Higher margin rates than many peers
  • Options commissions are on the higher end of the spectrum
  • No cryptocurrency functionality

8. Ally Invest

Best for: Investors who want their bank and investment accounts in the same place.

In addition to being able to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, options, and mutual funds, Ally Invest also offers the Managed Portfolios robo-advisory service, a high-yield savings account, checking accounts, CDs, mortgages, auto loans, personal loans, and more.

Ally Invest is more than just a trading app. In a nutshell, Ally is a great financial app that also has impressive investing functionality, making it an excellent choice for people who want to trade stocks in the same place where their checking and savings accounts are maintained.

iOS rating: 4.7/5 stars

Android rating: 4.1/5 stars

Pros

  • A feature-packed, app-based trading platform
  • One of the lowest mutual fund commissions we know of
  • IRAs are available for retirement saving
  • Offers banking and investment accounts in one app

Cons

  • No sophisticated trading platform for serious traders
  • Doesn't offer no-transaction-fee (NTF) mutual funds

9. Charles Schwab

Best for: Serious investors who want to build a portfolio for the long term.

For investors who want to be able to buy and sell stocks on the go but also benefit from a full-featured brokerage account, Charles Schwab could be the brokerage with the trading app for you. Schwab has top-notch customer service and a great selection of mutual funds. It also supports a variety of different account types and allows customers to buy and sell fractional shares of stock. And for those who want to put some or all of their investing on autopilot, Schwab also has one of the best platforms for robo-advisors, called "Schwab Intelligent Portfolio." RELATED: See The Ascent's comparison of Charles Schwab vs Robinhood.

iOS rating: 4.8/5 stars

Android rating: 3.6/5 stars

Pros

  • One of the most feature-packed brokers in the United States
  • Allows fractional share trading
  • Lots of educational features and research offerings
  • Great selection of mutual funds, including Schwab's proprietary products
  • Users with Schwab 401(k) plans can access their account through the app

Cons

  • No cryptocurrency trading
  • Margin rates are on the high end

What the best free stock trading apps offer

There's no such thing as the best investment app for every investor. And if there is, we certainly haven't found it. Some investors want things like stock research and educational tools, while others simply don't care about having access to that and just want a user-friendly way to buy and sell stocks. With that in mind, here are some things the best stock trading apps might offer. Before making your choice, you should decide which features are most important to you.

  • Commission-free stock trading
  • The ability to buy fractional shares of stock
  • Support for different account types, such as IRAs, custodial accounts for minors, joint accounts, and more
  • Cryptocurrency trading
  • Options trading
  • Competitive margin rates
  • Mutual funds -- and preferably a good selection that are available with no transaction fees
  • User-friendly trading platform
  • Sophisticated trading tools for active investors
  • Other financial products like bank accounts, loans, credit cards, etc.
  • Educational tools
  • Access to stock research

Free stock trading apps pros and cons

Pros

The advantages to using free trading apps like these for your investment needs generally have to do with convenience. With these apps, you can buy and sell stocks with the click of a button, anywhere in the world where you have a data connection. This makes them great brokers for beginners and for seasoned investors.

Cons

The major downside to using any free stock trading apps -- even those offered by best stock brokers -- is that you're never going to get as much functionality as you would with a desktop-based trading platform. Many apps don't have features like stock research and educational resources, even if the web-based versions of their platforms offer such features.

How much does it cost to start trading stocks?

There's no official minimum amount of money you need to start buying stocks.

Some brokerages have minimum required deposits, but many online brokerages have none. Those let you buy in with as little as a few dollars, purchasing fractional shares of stocks instead of full shares.

If you want to buy a full share of a specific stock, the minimum amount you'll need to get started is the cost of that stock -- which varies widely across companies. To ensure a diversified portfolio, we often suggest buying a minimum of 10 stocks, so that would put your minimum investment at the cost of those 10 stocks plus any commissions and fees paid to your brokerage.

What investments can you buy with free trading apps?

The free trading apps listed here will let you buy stocks, but the actual investment universe available depends on the particular app. For example, some of the apps allow trading in over-the-counter (OTC) stocks, while others don't. Some allow you to buy stocks directly on foreign stock markets in addition to U.S. exchanges. And some offer the ability to buy and sell options and mutual funds, while others are limited to only stock trading.

In addition, some of these apps offer automated investing or robo-advisory services, which essentially create and maintain an investment portfolio for you. The bottom line is that investment selection varies from one trading app to another and should certainly be a factor when deciding which to use.

How to choose a stock trading app as a beginner

No broker is perfect for everyone, but some brokers are better aimed at beginners.

Here are some of the factors to consider when you pick an online stock broker:

  • Cost structure: Do they charge monthly fees or commissions on trades?
  • Account minimums: Note the minimum deposit needed to open your account. For some brokerages, there's no minimum, but some might be as high as $500.
  • Variety of funds: As a beginner, you might not want to choose individual stocks. Look for brokerages that invest in no-fee mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) so you can invest without being a stock market expert.
  • Features and support: If you want to grow your investing knowledge and skills over time, look for an app that includes educational resources and strong customer support.

How to invest in stocks as a beginner

Follow these steps to get started investing in stocks:

  1. Determine your investing approach. You could be hands-on, selecting individual stocks, or hands-off, letting a robo-advisor manage your portfolio. You could fall somewhere in between, working with a broker to choose low-effort index funds for your portfolio.
  2. Choose how much to invest. Don't invest money you'll need within five years -- your investments aren't liquid funds, and short-term investments are too vulnerable to volatility. Before deciding how much to invest, make sure you've set aside an emergency fund, any vacation savings, short-term education costs, and other short-term savings like a down payment for a home or car.
  3. Open an investment account with a brokerage. Choose a brokerage like the ones we've listed above to manage your investments. Open your account with at least the minimum investment.
  4. Diversify your stocks. If you're investing in a self-directed account -- where you pick individual stocks -- choose stocks from businesses you understand across an array of industries. Avoid high-volatility stocks for now, or choose an ETF or index fund to skip having to choose altogether.
  5. Continue investing. Continue to contribute to your investment accounts and hold on to the investments long term in order to get the best and most stable returns on your investments.

Learn more: Beginner's Guide to Brokerages

Broker/Advisor Best For Commissions Next Steps
TD Ameritrade Offer Image
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Best For:

Trading apps

Commission:

$0 stock trades

Robinhood Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Best For:

No-frills stock and options trading

Commission:

$0 for stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies

Ally Invest Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Best For:

Investing and banking in one

Commission:

$0 stock and ETF trades

Merrill Edge® Self-Directed Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Best For:

Diversified investing needs

Commission:

$0 for online stock and ETF trades

SoFi Active Investing Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Best For:

Diverse investing needs

Commission:

$0 for stocks, 1.25% for cryptocurrencies

E*TRADE Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Best For:

Mobile platform

Commission:

Commission Free

Webull Offer Image
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
Best For:

User-friendly trading platform

Commission:

$0 per trade

Fidelity Offer Image
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Best For:

Full-featured broker

Commission:

$0 commission for online US stock and ETF trades

Charles Schwab Offer Image
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Best For:

Full-featured broker

Commission:

$0 stock and ETF trades

FAQs

  • When looking for a stock trading app, you should find one with low account and trading fees, wide-range of investment products, investment research and educational tools. You should also look for a trading app that has a trading platform that best suits your trading style.

  • Most stock trading apps are offered by large investment brokerage companies, which offer secure investing tools. You should look for an app that has up-to-date security features, and are members of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). The SIPC protects up to $500,000, including up to $250,000 in cash, if the brokerage firm fails.

  • There's no such thing as the best investment app for every investor. Free stock trading apps are great for beginner investors. These types of apps are easy to use, convenient, and offer a wide-range of products. Beginner investors should first choose which features are most important to them. Here are some factors to consider:

    • Commission-free stock trading and low fees
    • Wide-range of investment products, such as stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, and cryptocurrency
    • User-friendly trading platform and sophisticated trading tools
    • Access to stock research and educational tools

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