The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

Couple planning their investments
Photo by fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Investing can be intimidating in the best of times, and this isn’t the best of times.

Of course, you’ve probably heard that the best time to buy is when everybody else is selling. But maybe you’re not sure what to do with that information or feel like you don’t have enough money to get started investing. Or maybe you’re not sure which brokerage to entrust with your hard-earned money.

That’s where the best investing apps for beginners come in. You can learn the ropes without the trouble of dealing with a financial adviser or the difficulty of finding trustworthy sources on the internet. In 10 minutes, with less than $500, you could be set up in a smartly diversified portfolio with a company that will help you learn as you earn.

Here are some of the best investment apps and “robo-advisers” you could start with, and the strong points for each.

1. Acorns: Beginner automated investing

Acorns charges a flat fee of $1 to $5 per month depending on the features you want. The higher tiers include money advice for you and your family, the ability to set up recurring retirement contributions, and even a checking account with no minimum balance, ATM fees or overdraft fees.

There is no minimum investment.

Acorns is one of the best investment apps for those who want to get started, even though they may not have a lot of cash to invest at first. Its phone app is designed to round up the price of your everyday purchases to the nearest dollar then take that amount (your “change”) and automatically invest it in ETFs. It does this automatically after you link it to your credit card or checking account. Example: You buy a bag of groceries for $10.45 and pay for it with your linked credit card. The price charged to the card is rounded up to $11, then Acorns debits the difference (55 cents in this case) from your account and invests it.

Acorns has “Found Money” partnerships with more than 300 brands that work like cash back on a credit card — except the money is earmarked for investment. There’s a delay of 90 to 120 days in getting the money, which is automatically invested.

2. M1 Finance: Flexibility without fees

M1 Finance allows you to build a flexible, custom portfolio of individual stocks and funds or choose from dozens of premixed options for free. While it will likely appeal to experienced investors — and has a paid option that lets you pick the time of day to trade or invest, among other things — it’s also one of the best investment apps for beginners who don’t want a lot of hand-holding.

M1 Finance lets you automate your contributions and supports fractional share investing, which is investing in expensive stocks without buying full shares. It doesn’t charge any commissions or the management fees that are common elsewhere, but the app can charge a $20 inactivity fee after 90 days for low balances. M1 Finance has a minimum account balance of $100, or $500 for retirement accounts.

3. Robinhood: No minimum simplicity

Robinhood is an easy place to get started investing because it has no minimum balance, a simple-to-understand interface, fractional shares and doesn’t charge commissions or fees.

Robinhood allows you to invest in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, in addition to individual stocks and ETFs (exchange-traded funds, which are simply diversified portfolios of stocks, bonds or a mix of both).

The company also offers a premium subscription called Robinhood Gold with a cost starting at $5 a month. Gold offers access to investment research and data and margin trading, which involves borrowing (with interest) from Robinhood to invest.

4. Stash: Education for beginners

Stash lets you invest with no minimum, and monthly fees vary from $1 to $9 depending on account type. The beginner account allows you to invest in fractional shares of an individual stock, bond or ETF; the $3 per month “growth” account allows for IRAs; and the big “Stash+” offering provides monthly market research and allows for custodial investment accounts for kids.

Its Auto-Stash feature lets you schedule regular investments, and, like Acorns, it allows you to round up purchases and invest the spare change.

Stash recommends investments to you based on the profile you build at sign-up. It’s also one of the best investment apps if you want to get digestible educational content to boost your trading knowledge.

Plus, it offers personalized guidance, challenges and quizzes. It even has a podcast.

5. Betterment: Goal-based investment

Betterment LLC helps you plan savings and investments for specific life goals such as funding a safety net, a child’s education, a retirement nest egg or major purchases like a home or wedding.

Betterment’s basic plan has an annual advisory fee of 0.25%. (It also has a premium plan with a fee of 0.4%, which offers access to professional advice but requires a $100,000 balance.) Betterment says the ETFs it uses have average fees of 0.11%.

It charges no other fees, and there is no minimum balance for an account.

6. Ellevest: Investing for women

Ellevest, as you might guess from the name, is one of the best investing apps for women and was built around research on female investors. This robo-adviser tries to account for the gender pay gap and the likelihood of women living longer than men in designing portfolios, although male investors can and do use it too.

Ellevest‘s basic plan costs $1 per month; there are also Ellevest Plus at $5 per month and Ellevest Executive at $9 per month. The higher tiers include support for 401(k) rollovers and transfers, larger discounts on financial planning and career coaching services, and a wider variety of goal-setting options.

There is no minimum balance for the basic plan. The funds it uses carry fees ranging from 0.05% to 0.19%.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
How to Prepare Your Finances for Retirement in 7 Steps
How to Prepare Your Finances for Retirement in 7 Steps

Here is how to get your finances in shape for your golden years, one step at a time.

8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths
8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths

Think you’re ready to buy a house? Don’t fall victim to these rookie mistakes.

8 Things You Should Never Put in a Microwave
8 Things You Should Never Put in a Microwave

A microwave can be a busy cook’s best friend. But heating certain things in a microwave can cause disaster.

5 Home Improvements That Help You ‘Age in Place’
5 Home Improvements That Help You ‘Age in Place’

These safety-conscious home upgrades can help retirees stay in their home.

These 13 States Tax Social Security Income
These 13 States Tax Social Security Income

Uncle Sam is not the only one looking for a piece of your retirement income. Is your state on this list?

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

17 Surprising Things You Can Sell for Extra Money
17 Surprising Things You Can Sell for Extra Money

You probably don’t realize these items are worth decent cash.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable
10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

These 5 States Are the Most Expensive Places to Retire
These 5 States Are the Most Expensive Places to Retire

If you expect to have modest retirement income, you may want to avoid spending your golden years here.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.