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The stock market moves quickly, you need constant access to your trading tools wherever you are. Trading apps make it easy to trade stocks on your phone or tablet, but trading apps are not equally capable. Besides, some traders need a bit more guidance from their stockbroker whereas other traders simply want in on the action as fast as possible. Which trading app is best for you? Read on to find out.
Best stock trading apps
How do you choose the best stock trading app? We think there are a couple of key points you should consider. Evaluate an app against these factors before you switch your trading activities:
Cost of trading. In most cases, you are charged a fee every time you execute a trade, and these fees add up. Do you trade frequently? Low fees will be important to you. Also, consider minimum investment amounts and any other extra charges and fees.
Broker reputation. Every trading app is backed by a stockbroker. What’s the reputation of the broker? How do they deal with trading glitches and are they available when you need support? Long-standing brokers are often an obvious choice but don’t rule out start-ups that may actually offer better service.
Research and guidance. Brokers can also act as information platforms, offering in-depth analysis and the latest news. Trading newbies should look out for brokers that offer tutorials, trading strategies and other types of handholding. Expert traders, in contrast, might find a broker’s research of little use.
Tools and facilities. Do you want to make straight-forward trades involving NYSE and NASDAQ stocks? Or do you want the ability to set up complex options trades across stocks, ETFs and currencies? Also, consider your need for in-app analysis and charting facilities. Perhaps you prefer a more passive approach, with low cost funds such as from Vanguard?
App quality. You’ll notice further down this article how some apps are simply better executed than others. Furthermore, there can be significant differences between the iOS edition of an app and the Android release. Referring to user reviews in the respective app stores can provide useful guidance.
Best stock trading apps for beginners
If you are relatively new to stock trading you should opt for an app that offers a bit of guidance and which keeps the trading interface straight forward. You also want a stockbroker that offers good value for money so that you can maximize returns. Check out these apps if you are new to trading stocks:
Many of our readers will know Ally as the popular online checking account provider. Ally Invest is an equally down-to-business stockbroking product, offering low fees at $4.95 per trade, while not imposing any minimum balance requirements. Ally also offers a broad range of stock research and analysis tools, all included with its broking service.
What do users say? Ally Invest is incorporated in the Ally Mobile app, which includes a variety of Ally services, so app store scores reflect Ally’s broader range of banking products. Nonetheless, Ally gets 4.8 / 5 from iOS users which is high praise indeed. On the flipside, Ally only manages 3.6 / 5 from Android users. It is worth noting that Ally does not have a dedicated trading app which is not ideal if you are planning on executing frequent trades.
We mentioned earlier in this article that comprehensive research and analysis can be really useful to beginners, and this is where TD Ameritrade’s app stands out. Trading on the TD Ameritrade platform is more expensive at $6.95 per trade vs. $ 4.95 per trade with Ally. However, TD Ameritrade offers much more extensive support for beginner traders, with stacks of information included with a TD Ameritrade account.
You’ll be set to trade with TD Ameritrade’s iOS app which scores 4.2 / 5 as users praise the amount of research material that is available in-app. However, Android userscould end up somewhat frustrated as the app scores only 3.2 / 5 from users in the Google Play store. We suggest you give the Android edition of TD Ameritrade’s app a try before committing to TD Ameritrade as your broker. (Note that TD Ameritrade is a separate, unrelated company from TD Bank; your deposits at TD Ameritrade are not FDIC insured.)
First, Acorns is not really a trading app. Instead, Acorns lets you invest in the stock market without picking individual stocks. Nonetheless, we include Acorns in this list as it’s a great introduction to investing and ideal for those who have never invested in stocks, and who don’t have the time to get deeply familiar with the stock market. Stash app offers a similar approach, where you can start investing just $5 per week.
Acorns even help you set money aside by automatically rounding up your bank transactions. In turn, your money is invested in your choice of funds (ETFs) which each consist out of a group of stocks. Acorns gets a solid 4.7 / 5 from iOS users, with plenty of users commenting that the app makes investing really easy. Over at Google Play Acorns gets 4.3 / 5 which is also a relatively high score.
Best stock trading app for experienced traders
Experienced traders have different priorities. Seasoned operators require apps that make the trading process as efficient as possible, including low trading fees. Nonetheless experienced traders require apps that are usable and glitch-free. Advanced charting and analysis tools are also a bonus. We suggest that experienced traders consider the following apps:
Active traders will like the action-packed TradeStation platform and the powerful analytical tools included in TradeStation. You need to maintain a minimum balance of $500 but in return, you get a choice of three commission plans, including a straightforward deal that charges you $5 per trade. Though TradeStation is strongly focused on getting the job done the broker does include comprehensive research plus an active trading community.
Android users rate the TradeStation app an average of 4.3 / 5 with users saying that the broker makes it easy to execute complex trading strategies. As usual there are a couple of reports about Android in-app glitches. iOS users are even more enthusiastic about TradeStation, scoring the app 4.7 / 5 as one user says that TradeStation is by far the most user-friendly app for professional traders.
Not for beginners, Interactive Brokers clearly aims straight at experienced, active traders who will like the per-share trading fee. Trade a single share and you’ll only pay $0.01. However, the broker has high account minimums, offers less in the way of training and guidance and charges a monthly inactivity fee if you don’t trade.
What do users think of the Interactive Brokers app, IKBR Mobile? Apple users are reasonably happy at an average rating of 3.7 / 5, with praise for smooth and easy order execution though some users complained about problems after app updates and login issues. Over at Google Play users score the IKBR app 4.2 / 5 with one user saying it’s a near-perfect mobile trading app, though plenty of users pointed out a variety of problems with the app, which is not unusual for the Android platform.
Best free stock trading apps
We’d like to report that you have a wide range of choices for free trading, but we can’t. Stockbrokers charge fees to cover their own staffing and infrastructure costs, and to make a profit. Expect to pay for your trading activities, but there is one exception. Let’s take a look.
Yes, you can trade free of charge with Robinhood. The broker charges no fees on straightforward trades across shares and ETFs. Note that you get a bare-bones trading platform. For example, the broker’s execution engine does not look for price movement opportunities which means trading larger chunks of shares can be more expensive than with other brokers. Nor do you get the in-app research and guidance provided by TD Ameritrade, for example.
How good can a free app be? Pretty good, it turns out. iOS users give Robinhood an aggregate 4.8 / 5. Users are pleased with its simple, clean design and the fact that trading is free. Robinhood scores a high 4.6 / 5 from Android users with the free aspect of the app again winning praise while users like the quick responses they get from customer support. However some users complained about glitches when trying to withdraw funds from Robinhood.
Choosing your trading apps
At the start of this article, we outlined some of the key points you should keep in mind when picking a stock trading app, and we’ve listed some of the better examples. Only you can decide which app is best for you, so take into consideration our review of the above apps and consider what you prioritize when it comes to stock trading.
Watch: Best trading apps for beginners
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