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7 Best Micro-Investing Apps of 2021

Micro-investing apps offer individuals the flexibility to save and invest small amounts of money to grow their wealth overtime.

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Micro-investing aims to educate and help investors with a small account balance to build wealth, prepare for retirement, and achieve other financial goals by allowing them to invest small amounts of capital in innovative instruments such as fractional shares and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

The micro-investing boom and the subsequent launch of multiple micro-investing apps is driven by the low fees that these providers currently offer. While Robinhood is one of the pioneers in offering low-cost brokerage services, others have come forward in recent years to offer other kinds of solutions like robo-advisors.

Best Micro-Investing Apps of 2021

This article outlines the best micro-investing apps currently available in the US, including how they work, how much they cost, and where they excel,  to make an informed decision on the provider that best suits your goals. You can also check out our micro-investing guide to learn more about the fundamentals of micro-investing.

App

Best For

Families

Social Investors

Automated Investing

Beginner Investors

Crypto Investing

Millennial Investors

Fractional Shares

Acorns

Acorns specializes in providing automated passive-investing services to customers in the United States through a robo-advisor, which is a solution that uses algorithms to build portfolios based on different financial goals a particular client may have.

The firm was founded in 2012 and currently oversees more than $1.2B in assets for its clients. Investors can open an account with Acorns with as little as $5, and the firm works as a subscription-based service.

What Do We Like?

Acorns offers five different portfolios for its clients depending on their risk profile and financial goals. These portfolios will be assembled automatically once a client makes a deposit, and upon the completion of the sign-up process.

The fact that the firm allows investors to start building these portfolios with as little as $5 makes it an interesting choice for those who are just starting out in their investing journey, although the monthly fees paid for their services can be quite high in relative terms if the account balance is lower than $500.

Fees & Commissions

Acorns charges a monthly fee for all of its services. The firm currently offers the following three plans:

  • Acorns Lite ($1 per month) – entitles the user to enjoy the automated portfolio service, along with other basic features.
  • Acorns Personal ($3 per month) – user will be entitled to open a checking account and a retirement account, along with all the features offered by the Lite package.
  • Acorns Family ($5 per month) – this package offers everything included in the Personal package, along with a solution called Acorns Early, which allows parents to open custodial accounts to invest for their children’s future.

These fees apply to portfolios with a balance lower than $1 million. The exchange-traded funds (ETFs) used to build the portfolios also charge an annual fee on the balance invested. Go over to our full Acorns review to learn more.

In A Nutshell

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $1 per month (Lite), $3 per month (Personal) and $5 per month (Family)
  • Promotion: None at this moment

Public.com

Public sees itself as a social investing app. They use fractional shares to facilitate the process of investing for individuals in the United States. They are allowed to own a portion of virtually any company they like with as little as $5.

The firm follows a social media-like approach to investing in which individuals within the platform can interact and follow each other while also engaging in group conversations in which they can share their thoughts and insights on finance-related topics.

Public was founded in 2017, and it is backed by various celebrities, academics, and business personalities. 

What Do We Like?

Public is an accessible micro-investing platform through which users can buy and sell US-listed stocks and ETFs easily by using their mobile phones.

The platform does not charge any fees for making these trades, and they encourage long-term investments rather than short-term trades. Additionally, the social approach helps investors develop their knowledge in the investing field by sharing their experiences and insights with others who are following a similar path.

Additionally, Public helps investors find companies to invest in that are part of certain socio-economic trends to invest in through a feature known as “Investing Themes”.

Fees & Commissions

Public does not charge any fees for placing trades through their mobile platform, although they do charge $30 for broker-assisted trades made over the phone. 

Other fees charged by this provider include a $30 fee for domestic outgoing wires. To learn more about Public, make sure you read our full Public review.

In A Nutshell

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Zero-commission stock and ETF trades
  • Promotion: Free stock

M1 Finance

M1 Finance is a financial services firm that offers automated portfolio management services for free.

The company allows investors to open an account without having to deposit any money, and they can either choose to build their portfolio by following the robo-advisor’s recommendations or by incorporating any instruments (stocks or ETFs) that they like in a portfolio they build themselves.

Trades can be executed during one or two different trading windows during the day, depending on the plan. and investors can also borrow money from their accounts at a competitive interest rate.

The firm currently serves over 500,000 clients and oversees more than $2B in assets.

What Do We Like?

M1 Finance’s best feature is that it is entirely free. This may not sound important if other providers charge small subscription fees or low percentage fees, but the money saved on fees once reinvested can be turned into a sizable amount.

Furthermore, the possibility to borrow money against the investment account’s balance is not a feature that most providers have made available as of this writing, and it can be quite useful if the user needs cash urgently and doesn’t want to liquidate their holdings or take money out of the portfolio.

Fees & Commissions

M1 Finance offers both free and premium services. 

  • M1 Basic plan does not charge any fees and trades are executed during a single trading window within the day. With this plan, users can borrow money from their account if they have a balance higher than $10,000, at an interest rate of 3.5% per year.
  • M1 Plus plan costs $125 per year and entitles investors to execute trades during two different time windows within the day. They can borrow money at an annual rate of 2.0% per year. As an added bonus, any cash held in the account will earn 1% in interest per year.

Read out full M1 Finance review to learn more.

In A Nutshell

  • Account Minimum: $100 taxable accounts ($500 retirement accounts)
  • Fees: Zero-commission stock and ETF trading
  • Promotion: None at this moment

Stash

Stash is a self-directed micro-investing platform that allows investors to build customized portfolios through the use of fractional shares—and they can start by investing as little as $5. to get started.

The firm was founded in 2015, and has over 5 million clients. Its purpose is to help individuals with a small account balance to place trades and build portfolios without having to pay hefty fees.

Stash sees itself as a long-term investing platform instead of a trading platform, which means that it is a good alternative for people who want to build wealth through disciplined investment.

What Do We Like?

Stash’s banking solution offers a debit card called the Visa Stock-Back® Card, which offers rewards in the form of fractional shares that are immediately deposited in the user’s investment account. These rewards are doubled if the user signs up for the firm’s Stash+ Plan.

Additionally, Stash also offers retirement accounts, unlimited financial advice from professionals, and multiple educational and planning tools.

Fees & Commissions

Stash’s services are fairly similar to those provided by Acorns, although its fees are a bit higher.

  • Beginner Plan ($1 per month) – entitles the user to build a portfolio by buying fractional shares. It also gives them access to unlimited financial advice, along with a bank account.
  • Growth Plan ($3 per month) – offers the same features as the Beginner plan along with the possibility of opening a retirement account.
  • Stash+ Plan ($9 per month) – offers twice the rewards under the Stock-Back® program and incorporates custodial accounts for a user’s children.

Check out our Stash review to learn more.

In A Nutshell

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $1 per month (Beginner), $3 per month (Growth) and $9 per month (Stash+)
  • Promotion: $5 welcome bonus

Robinhood

Robinhood was founded in 2013 by a couple of former high-frequency traders and it is now considered by many as the go-to retail trading platform after it disrupted the way the brokerage industry traditionally functioned.

The firm was among the first ones to promote zero-commission trades in the United States, and since then many others have followed this path. 

The popularity that came along with this industry-disrupting practice gained Robinhood a stance among the younger generation, with the firm currently serving more than 13 million users — of which 80% are young folks.

Robinhood currently allows its users to trade US-listed stocks, ETFs, and American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), along with a selection of cryptocurrencies.

WhAt Do We Like?

Robinhood’s inexpensive trading service is no longer the most appealing aspect of its value proposition, as other brokerage firms have followed through with slashing their fees. 

Robinhood excels at offering cheap leverage for micro-investors as the firm does not charge any interest for the first $1,000 borrowed if the user signs up for a Robinhood Gold account.

This provider also offers a feature known as Instant Deposits, which allows the user to get deposits cleared instantly, while with other providers, investors typically have to wait one or two days before being able to use their funds.

Finally, the opportunity to  trade cryptocurrencies and options for free is another thing that makes Robinhood an appealing alternative.

Fees & Commissions

Robinhood does not charge any fees for trading US-listed stocks, options, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, or ADRs.

Signing up for Robinhood’s Gold package costs $5 per month and gives the user access to higher amounts of leverage, and a higher threshold for the instant deposits feature.

The first $1,000 taken on margin are free of charge for Gold users as well and the interest rate charged on any amount higher than that goes from 4.5% to a flat 5% rate.

To learn more about Robinhood, go over to our full Robinhood review.

In A Nutshell

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Zero-commission stock, ETF and per-leg options trading 
  • Promotion: 1 free stock

SoFi Invest (Stock Bits)

SoFi Invest is the investing service offered by Social Finance Inc., a US-based financial technology company founded in 2011 that currently serves more than 1 million customers.

This company lets investors allow a robo-advisor to build a portfolio for them, or they can do the work themselves through the service’s self-directed trading platform. 

Similar to other providers, SoFi offers zero-commission trades for US-listed instruments and they support many types of accounts including individual, joint, and retirement accounts.

What Do We Like?

SoFi’s automated investing service is a good alternative for individuals who don’t have the time or the expertise to handle their investments on their own, and the management fee charged by the company for using their robo-advisor is in line with what other providers currently charge.

Additionally, SoFi offers the possibility to trade three of the most important cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

Moreover, SoFi’s proprietary exchange-traded funds (ETFs) include the SoFi Select 500 (SFY), which is a fund that tracks the S&P 500 index. It charges no management fees for investors — at least for now.

Other than that, the self-directed trading service offers pretty much the same features as other providers including fractional shares (called Stock Bits), a user-friendly platform, and zero-commission trades. 

Fees & Commissions

SoFi does not charge any fees for trading US-listed stocks, ETFs, or fractional shares. 

A $1 investment is required to open an account with this provider and a minimum of $10 is required to start investing in cryptocurrencies. 

Additionally, SoFi charges 0.25% on the account balance if the user prefers to enroll in the automated investing service. This fee applies only to accounts with a balance lower than $10,000.

Check our our full SoFi Invest review to learn more.

In A Nutshell

  • Account Minimum: $0 ($1 to start investing)
  • Fees: Zero-commission stock and ETF trading
  • Promotion: None at the moment

Stockpile

Stockpile was founded in 2010 and it aims to popularize the use of fractional shares as a way to build small investment portfolios from scratch.

Stockpile offers access to 1,000 different US-listed stocks, ETFs, and ADRs. The firm’s platform was primarily conceived as a mobile app for both Android and iOS phones, although users can also access their account through the company’s official website. 

Aside from regular taxable individual accounts, users can also open custodial accounts for their children, and they can send stock to other people via gift cards.

What Do We Like?

Stockpile is one of the few providers that offers the possibility of sending fractional shares to other people in the form of gift cards.

Additionally, the company allows users to purchase shares by using their debit or credit card, which is not an alternative that many brokers in the United States have made available (as of this writing).

Fees & Commissions

Unlike other providers on this list, the firm charges $0.99 per trade. Additionally, sending a gift certificate for stock to a third party costs $2.99, which means that a $50 stock gift will end up costing the user $52.99.

In A Nutshell

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0.99 per trade (cash) or $0.99 + $3% (credit/debit card)
  • Promotion: None at this moment

FAQ Best Micro-Investing Apps

We’ve found some of the most frequently asked questions with regards to the best micro-investing apps. Following are our answers.

What is Micro-Investing 

Micro-investing is a way to define investing for individuals who have a small account balance. In the past, it was difficult for people to invest small amounts of capital as the cost per transaction ate up a big portion of their holdings. 

Additionally, if a stock has a high price, individuals will usually discard it as a potential holding, as they will have to pour in a large chunk of their balance into one single stock, which goes against the principle of diversification.

Now, with the introduction of innovative solutions such as fractional shares, individuals can hold many different instruments including stocks, ETFs, and ADRs regardless of how much money they have available to invest.

Moreover, zero-commission brokers, such as the ones listed here, have also facilitated micro-investing as users don’t have to worry about the cost of buying and selling securities while they build their investment portfolios.

Who Should Use Micro-Investing Apps? 

Micro-investing apps are a perfect fit for individuals with a small account balance. These apps will save you money while you build your investment portfolio and their services are designed with a micro-investor in mind, which means that other resources that they push forward are likely to benefit users as well.

How to Choose the Best Micro-Investing App 

Technology has allowed micro-investing apps to offer great services at virtually no cost for the user. That said, there are certain fees that could still eat up a sizable portion of your gains.

Before you sign up with a provider that charges a monthly subscription, be sure to calculate the impact of that monthly expenditure on your account. 

For example, if you pay $5 per month and you have $1,000 invested, that means you are paying 0.5% in fees per month – which adds up to 6% per year. 

That may not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that the historical return produced by broad-market indexes like the S&P 500 over a long period was close to 7%. That means you’ll end up generating only 1% on your investments after you pay these fees (in this hypothetical case).

For that reason, providers who charge a percentage fee are commonly the best choice for micro investors.

Additionally, make sure your provider is adequately regulated and registered with financial agencies in the United States including the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Final Thoughts

Micro-investing apps have disrupted the way the asset management industry traditionally  worked by introducing low fees for portfolio management services and zero-commission trades for self-directed portfolios.

Given the large number of providers available right now, you can take your time picking the one that fits you best so that you can start your journey toward building wealth on the right foot.

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