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Finding an Online Brokerage App That Helps You Invest Smarter

Choosing an online investment platform is not a decision you should be taking lightly. As any investor knows, the right app can help you turn a substantial profit, make intelligent trade decisions, and save you from catastrophic choices that lead to significant losses. 

So, what goes into a good quality investment application? Below, we've listed several of the key features that a service needs in order to rank as a top quality online investment app, so have a look and learn a thing or two about buying stocks online.

Trade Options 

Possibly the biggest deciding factor, which trade options a service provides will determine how much flexibility and availability you are given in the realm of trading. Investment options range from IRA, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, stocks, bonds, international investing, and more, and not all services will cover each of these categories. 

Research and Education

Whether you know a lot about trading in the stock market or not, research is a must. In fact, the more you begin to learn, the more you understand that looking into the common trends, social signals, and market fluctuations is imperative to making good trade decisions. How much research an investment app allows and assists you with will make the difference between smart trading decisions and anything less than that. Since this will heavily influence your overall investment experience, investors should put a lot of weight into the research factor of an investment service.

Automation

For many, trading is not an enjoyable pastime, and the less they have to deal with their options the happier they are. That’s why many online investment platforms offer automation tools that will take care of the trading, analysis, and distribution without any input from a human being (least of which, the account owner). Bots will make calculations, corrections, and decisions based on market trends, social cues, and other indications that are designated when you sign up for an account. Automation is the ideal feature for anyone who doesn’t know enough about the stock market or doesn’t have an interest in participating in the behind the scenes, nitty gritty, hard number crunching aspects of the business.

Customer Service

Customer service is important for most software you buy, but it is particularly crucial for an investment platform that could impact your livelihood. After all, if you can’t figure out a feature on your photo editing app or your video streaming site stops streaming temporarily, not too much damage will be done.

This is not the case with an online investment application. Even a moment’s glitch in the system can result in significant repercussions that could amount to major losses or missed opportunities in trading deals. So, a good customer service staff is imperative.

Mobile App and Ease of Use 

A good mobile app is a godsend for active traders. If you are only doing this once in a while, it may not be as important to you. For investors who frequently deal with their investments, though, mobility is crucial. 

The easier a system is to use, the more people will enjoy their experience with the software, so ease of use is a pretty important factor, as well. Different applications will have varying ways to make the user experience smoother and more pleasant, offering an assortment of features, tools, and design layouts to accommodate this end.

Tools are also handy when it comes to trading, so weigh these into your equation. It’s also nice when the service has multiple trading platforms to cater to the different types and levels of investors out there.

Here’s a closer look at 10 brokerage apps that meet the above requirements and cater to those of all income levels, investment goals, and stock market experience: 

1. Charles Schwab 

  • No fees or minimum balance requirements
  • Comprehensive research tools
  • No-charge robo-advisor 

An approachable platform that offers plenty of trading opportunities for investments of all types, Charles Schwab is a solid choice especially for beginners. There are no fees and no minimum balances, but plenty of resources that can educate you and keep you on the pulse of the stock world in general and your investments in particular. The platform offers plenty of research tools and a no-charge robo-adviser that together provide the opportunity to be guided and make your own informed decisions. 

2. Fidelity 

  • Zero trade and account fees
  • More than 3,000 mutual funds
  • Retirement Score tool 

Fidelity has excellent research tools for investors and an admirable number of mutual funds to choose from. Its user tools include calculators, a robo-advisor option, and the Retirement Score tool that allows you to set, track, and meet your retirement goals. The customer service is exceptional too, which is critical for those long-term investors and those who plan on making adjustments as they go. 

3. Merrill Edge 

  • Seamless service for Bank of America customers
  • Zero commissions 
  • Zero account minimum 

Merrill Edge covers all of its bases with reliable third-party research, a modern platform, and responsive customer service. Operating under its parent company Bank of America, Merrill provides a rich yet accessible entryway into trading that appeals to both experienced and casual traders. Those who bank with Bank of America will find Merrill to be a natural fit. 

4. Ameritrade

  • Zero fees for stocks and ETFs
  • No account minimum for DIY portfolios 
  • Extensive research tools 

TD Ameritrade is an excellent example of what investors can do with the right research tools. This app offers members equity social, equity metric, equity reports, social comparisons, and metrics, along with ETF and mutual fund reports. TD Ameritrade’s social trends indicators include brand-relevant tweets and most tweeted brands, and its peer comparison charts are something that you won’t find anywhere else.

5. Betterment

  • Leading robo-advisor platform 
  • No account minimum 
  • Great for beginners 

Betterment does it one better by factoring in all of your various financial indicators and choosing the best trade options for you. It even includes taxes! 

6. Fundrise 

  • Invest in real estate with low minimums
  • Open to non-accredited investors
  • Easy-to-use platform 

Fundrise lets those of all income brackets enter the real estate investment game with REITs on private commercial and residential properties. The simple and accessible platform invites non-accredited investors to join in real-estate investing with low minimums. Not ideal for everyone, Fundrise is a unique platform for those without extravagant funds to get a taste of real estate investments.   

7. Acorns

  • Great for college students
  • Helpful “Spare change” savings tool

Acorns is a little guy in the industry, but it also helps the little guys get a foot up in this niche. Offering free management for college students, Acorn takes your savings and invests it in the most practical and profitable ways possible for your financial situation. Acorn provides in-depth educational materials and resources such as terminology dictionaries, help videos, and trading resources that explain what moves you can make and why or when to make them. 

8. Etrade 

  • Zero account minimum 
  • Zero trade fees
  • More than 4,000 mutual funds 

Etrade which has a great mobile app for beginners. The app has rich explanations, integrates with many devices including Apple Watch, delivers real-time alerts, and has CNBC on demand. Etrade offers commission-free stock and over 4,000 mutual funds.  

9. Wealthfront 

  • Focuses on low-cost index funds
  • Tech-driven auto investing 
  • Free wealth management 

Wealthfront, a totally unique option, provides free wealth management up to $10,000 and only charges .25% annually after that. This service subscribes to “passive investing” and relies on technology-driven auto-investing for long-term growth, making it an option best geared towards millennials and tech-savvy, lower-commitment users. It has a few other factors that distinguish it from the competition, including Self-Driving Money tools. Because of Wealthfront’s unique approach, it’s wise to look into it thoroughly before deciding if it’s the best option for you.

10. Robinhood

  • One of the first free platforms
  • Cryptocurrency trading options

Robinhood is a totally free platform, but you are definitely giving up on some of the quality that comes from services that charge. You'll settle for fewer investment options, significantly less research and educational options, and trading tools. Those interested in trading cryptocurrency, however, might use Robinhood to fill a niche that the larger platforms have yet to enter.  

Brokerage Apps Mean Smarter Investments  

Whether you’re new to investing or looking to diversify your portfolio, the above platforms offer various ways to invest more intelligently and perhaps venture into new markets. Technology makes it easy to keep closer tabs on your investments, move money around, and stay educated so that you can make the best decisions possible and earn more. Try one today!

How we created this
list
Compiled from “Best of” lists published by the world’s most trusted sources, and with our own recommended brands peppered in - this Top10 list aims to help consumers make smarter decisions.