> > Public Review 2024: Making The Stock Market Social

Public Review 2024: Making The Stock Market Social

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Public is an investing platform through which users can purchase stocks and ETFs with zero commissions. They can also trade other assets, including crypto, bonds, royalties, and more. 

What makes Public different from other brokerages is its social features, which allow users to follow each other in a way similar to a social media platform, with the added possibility of seeing what others are investing in and what they think about those positions.

Public’s other unique feature is the ability to invest in fractional shares. The broker believes that fractional shares are one of the best ways to help investors with small account balances who often feel left out due to the stock prices of multiple popular companies having soared above $1,000.

Public Review 2024 | Features, Pros & Cons
Public

Overall Rating 3.9

The Modest Wallet Overall Rating (Our Rating Methodology)

Bottom Line: Public is an investing platform available on iOS and Android devices offering zero-commission trades on stocks and ETFs. Users can also invest in crypto, bonds, royalties and purchase fractional shares.

Account minimum

4.5

Fees and trading costs

4.5

Investment selection

4.5

Accounts supported

2.0

Features and tools

4.0

Ease of use

4.0

Trading platform

2.5

Security

4.0

Customer support

4.0

Best for:

    Fractional share investing
  • Beginner stock, ETFs, and crypto investors
  • Investing in alternative assets

Pros:

  • Access to fractional shares
  • Easy-to-use mobile app
  • No payment for order flow

Cons:

  • Limited crypto assets
  • Limited account types

What is Public?

Public is an investing platform founded in 2019 by Jannick Mailing and Leif Abraham.

The goal of the platform is to democratize access to the stock market and promote financial literacy among users by offering zero-commission trading on thousands of US-listed stocks along with an enjoyable experience that includes participating in a community made up of other investors who share ideas, thoughts, and perceptions regarding the financial decisions to enrich each other journeys.

Public facilitates the process of investing by offering fractional shares, allowing investors to hold a portion of almost any large US-listed company with as little as $5.

Even though Public started mainly as an investing app, it has now expanded its portfolio of services to include an AI-powered tool to perform fundamental analysis on stocks and a premium subscription for users who want to get more out of their investing experience.

Public.com Homepage
Source: Public

>> Read Also: 12 Best Online Brokers for Stock Trading


How Does Public Work?

Public is a self-directed trading platform that allows users to build portfolios seamlessly through the use of fractional shares regardless of the amount of money they have available to invest.

Fractional shares are portions of a stock. They allow investors to acquire a certain dollar amount or fractional of their favorite common shares. This is especially beneficial when stocks have high prices, as is the case of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A), whose stock was worth more than $500,000 at the time.

For retail investors, acquiring this stock was nearly impossible in the past. Now, through fractional shares, they can incorporate (NYSE: BRK.A) into their portfolios even if they only have $5 to invest in the company.

Moreover, Public is also providing access to the alternative investments market to its customers through the services of a company called the Dalmore Group. The platform now allows investors to purchase shares in asset classes like fine art, fine wine, and collectibles to further diversify their portfolio by harnessing financial opportunities that were only available to high-net-worth individuals in the past.

Account Minimum

No minimum deposit is required to open a Public account. In this sense, this broker’s offering is similar to what most zero-commission trading platforms offer nowadays.

However, Public does require a minimum investment of $5 to engage in trading activities involving fractional shares and a $5 minimum for sell orders. 

In addition, users who would like to buy Treasury Bills through the Public trading platform have to invest at least $100 into these bonds. These instruments can also be purchased in $100 increments.

Types of Accounts Supported

As of this writing, Public only allows its users to open individual taxable brokerage accounts for trading stocks, ETFs, and over-the-counter securities. Public does not support IRAs or other tax-advantaged products.

Aside from this, Public offers a crypto account provided by Bakkt Crypto Solutions. These accounts are not SIPC-insured.

A third party, the Dalmore Group, provides alternative investing services offered by Public. They do not open accounts for these assets. Instead, customers act as custodians of the shares that they own on the alternative assets investment opportunities listed on Public.com.

Finally, the Treasury account, which generates an annual yield by investing customers’ money into short-term Treasury Bills, is offered by Jiko Securities. This is a FINRA-regulated entity, and the account is covered by SIPC insurance.

Investment Selection

Public.com currently offers access to the financial markets in different ways. Here’s an overview of all the available investment instruments and solutions this provider currently offers.

Stocks and ETFs

Public allows customers to invest in more than 9,000 US-listed stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). All of these instruments can be traded for free by using Public’s app. Users can invest in fractional shares through this platform to build highly diversified portfolios without paying high transaction fees.

Bonds

Fixed-income investors can rely on Public to buy and sell a selection of securities, including corporate and treasury bonds, through its investing app without paying any commissions or fees on their trades.

According to Public’s website, more than 10,000 different corporate bonds are currently available within its platform. These can be screened by using a highly intuitive and detailed tool created by this provider that filters out offerings by their maturity date, credit rating, yield, and other similar factors.

The portfolio of available securities includes short-term and long-term bonds, junk bonds, treasury bills, and investment-grade securities.

>> Read Also: How to Invest In Bonds

Crypto

Public offers access to the increasingly popular crypto market through a partnership with Bakkt Crypto — a company licensed by the state of New York to provide crypto trading services to US residents.

At the time this is written, Public offers customers the possibility of trading the following cryptocurrencies:

  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Shiba Inu
  • Dogecoin
  • Litecoin
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Ethereum Classic

It is possible to trade these assets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they can also be bought in fractions. Customers can use a debit card to pay for their trades, and the minimum order size of $1 at the time.

>> Read Also: How to Invest In Cryptocurrencies

Alternative Assets

Alternative assets are non-traditional investments that can be used to diversify portfolios, boost returns, and gain exposure to attractive corners of the investment world that are typically reserved for accredited investors only.

With Public, investing in this type of asset has been made easier as customers can now partially own items like artistic pieces, music rights, collectibles, and other similar offerings. 

To participate in Public’s new or existing alternative assets offering, investors are to either sign up for one of the platform’s initial public offerings (IPOs) or buy shares on the secondary from other investors through the platform as well.

Royalties

Royalties are a way to generate passive income out of a specific asset, such as intellectual property (IP), trademarks, and licenses.

Public recently launched a fixed-income product that gives investors the possibility of earning a royalty over the rights of a popular soundtrack for the movie Shrek, which was composed by Harry Gregson. This is a pilot test performed by Public for this new feature. Public will own a quarter of the portfolio of 768 original songs composed by the artist for the movie. 

These were valued at nearly $890,000 and produced a return of 8.5% in 2022. Customers can buy up to $10 worth of shares in this particular venture. This entitles them to receive their corresponding portion of the royalties earnings every year.

Getting Started with Public

Setting up an account to start trading with Public is fairly easy. Here’s a step-by-step guide to get started.

  • Step 1 – Open an account: The process of opening an account with Public starts by clicking on the “Get Started” blue button located in the upper right corner of its official website or by downloading the app from either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
  • Step 2 – Provide your personal information and answer various questions: To complete their registration, users must provide certain personal details, including their full name, email, username, password, and profile picture. Public will also prompt users to answer some questions regarding their financial and employment situation and also about the purpose for which the customer plans to use the brokerage account.
  • Step 3 – Verify your ID: If needed, the process of signing up shouldn’t take longer than five minutes unless further ID verification is required. 
  • Step 4 – Deposit money into your account: Once the ID verification process is completed, users will be prompted to link their bank account to the platform so they can make deposits. In some cases, they grant instant buying powers to eligible customers even if the deposit they make has not been cleared yet.

Public typically offers rewards to new customers. The most common promotion is a free stock of the company they love.

Source: Public

Public Features and Tools

Public comes with good features out of the box. What may be the most unique feature is the ability to follow other accounts and see other investors’ portfolios.  But Public has other features worth checking out. 

Minimum Investment$0 ($5 for fractional shares)
Stock & ETF Fees$0 per trade
Options FeesN/A
Crypto Fees1% to 2% fee on crypto trades
Inactivity Fee$0
Withdrawal Fee$0
Investment TypesStocks, ETFs, Bonds, Alternatives, Royalties and Crypto
Account TypesIndividual Taxable
PlatformWeb-Based and Mobile (iOS / Android)
PromotionGet a free stock
Account FundingBank Transfer
Paper TradingNo
SIPC Protectionyes
Banking ServicesNo
SupportEmail ([email protected]), FAQ Page, and Live Chat

ETF and Stock Investing

Public offers access to more than 9,000 thousand US-listed stocks and ETFs that investors can buy and sell easily through their platform. These can be bought outright or via the fractional shares feature to create highly diversified portfolios with relatively small amounts of money.

Users can trade stocks of all sizes that are listed on top exchanges like the NYSE and NASDAQ, along with a selection of more than 300 over-the-counter securities (OTC) that include primarily large-cap international stocks. It is not possible to trade penny stocks with Public at this time.

It is also possible to reinvest all dividends received from both stocks and ETFs into the instruments by enrolling in a DRIP while Public has also made available tools like screeners and comparison tables to select the instruments that better fit the investor’s portfolio.

In addition, price alerts, live analysis of the financial markets, and access to advanced market data are possible by subscribing to Public Premium.

All of the stocks and ETFs available within the Public trading platform can be traded for free.

Invest in Treasuries

Public gives users the chance to access a high-yield savings account called a Treasury Account that currently pays an interest rate of 5.4% per year. Public claims that this rate exceeds that of other similar products in the marketplace.

Public also states that customers must not pay state or local taxes on the income they generate from the Treasury bills used by Public to generate money for these accounts, which allows them to keep more of the money they earn.

To clarify, this is not a bank account. Treasuries are financial securities issued by the United States federal government and backed by the full faith and credit of this country. However, the assets held within this account are covered by SIPC insurance for an amount of up to $500,000 per account.

This program is provided in partnership with a company called Jiko Securities, which is a registered broker-dealer entity overseen by FINRA and a member of SIPC. Jiko charges a flat management fee of 5 basis points (0.05%) per month on the average daily balance of the Treasury account. This means that customers will pay an annual fee of 0.6% on their average daily balance to Jiko.

Investment Plan

It’s a feature that users can set up to make automated deposits and investments in their favorite stocks, ETFs, and other financial instruments offered within the platform.

Up to 20 stocks, ETFs, or crypto can be added to each user’s Investment Plan, and customers can pick from various personalized recommendations of portfolio allocations based on their risk tolerance and financial goals.

For example, investors can opt to create conservative, moderate, or aggressive portfolios or invest in specific themes like crypto, tech, or artificial intelligence. It is also possible to create geographically focused portfolios or fixed-income-heavy allocations intended to produce a steady income stream for the investor.

Investment Plans can also be built from scratch, or existing recommendations can be modified to include and exclude specific securities. Investment plans that contain cryptocurrencies are subject to crypto transaction fees. 

Alternatives

Alternative assets are a broad category that includes investments that have quite different risk/return profiles and often require more thorough analysis, industry expertise, and extensive due diligence to be properly exploited.

These opportunities were previously available to accredited investors only, but platforms like Public have managed to provide access to them by creating investment vehicles that are used to sell fractions of ownership over these assets.

Public’s Alternatives service is exactly that: a way to invest in alternative assets like fine wine, art, and collectible items by buying shares of the entity that owns these assets either through an initial public offering (IPO) conducted by Public or from other investors by using the platform’s secondary market feature.

The brokerage services for alternative investments are provided by Dalmore Group. The account that holds these alternative assets is not SIPC insured, and the shares owned by customers are not held within a Public brokerage account; they remain in the custody of the purchaser directly.

Royalties

The royalties service offered by Public allows investors to earn passive income on non-traditional assets like intellectual property and licenses that the company vets and selects based on their profit-generation potential.

This is a type of alternative asset that is regularly not accessible to retail investors, but Public has managed to securitize it so it can sell shares to its customers who will own a portion of the underlying asset and receive a periodic royalty payment in exchange.

Public’s selected entity to make the investment will purchase a quarter of the portfolio of songs. Only U.S. users are allowed to invest in this type of asset at the moment.

Public Premium

In exchange for a subscription fee of $10 per month or $96 per year (paid upfront), Public users can get access to a set of exclusive features and tools that are available under the Premium package. Some of the perks that this program offers include:

  • Access to extended hours of trading.
  • Dedicated VIP support from a team of representatives.
  • Free automated recurring investment transactions.
  • Privileged and early access to all features being tested and soon to be rolled out by Public.
  • Customized price alerts.
  • A portfolio analyzer powered by Morningstar.
  • Access to exclusive research materials from Morningstar, weekly market recaps and analysis, and audio content featuring top stories for the week.

It is worth noting that users who have an account balance exceeding $20,000 will automatically get free access to Public Premium. However, they will be immediately excluded from this benefit if the account’s value falls below $15,000, in which case a $10 monthly subscription will be deducted automatically from the account every month to pay for the subscription unless the customer manually opts out of the program.

Public Alpha

Public Alpha is an experiment being run by Public in collaboration with OpenAI — the company behind some of the world’s most advanced generative AI solutions at the moment, including ChatGPT and GPT-4.

The service is, in essence, a GPT-4-powered chatbot that has been trained extensively to provide answers to both basic and advanced questions regarding finance and investments-related topics like stock prices, fundamental data, price analysis, and other similar prompts.

In the same way as other chatbots work, users can access the AI-powered assistant from the Public app and ask questions or send text prompts asking for a specific type of analysis.

The most coveted feature of Alpha is that the system is able to access real-time data to provide the answers that the user is looking for. This is a hurdle that most chatbots have not yet overcome, and Public is relying on it to help the solution come up with both accurate and relevant responses.

Public stresses that Alpha should not be relied on to provide financial advice. In addition, since the feature is still in an experimental phase, users should not fully rely on the facts and claims that the tool makes and should perform due diligence to confirm that the information is accurate.

Fractional Shares

Fractional shares are one of the core features that support Public’s mission and vision. Fractional shares allow a user to own a portion of virtually any stock or ETF offered within the firm’s trading platform — with as little as $5.

A fractional share entitles the holder to a portion of one stock. Fractional shares are meant to allow investors with small balances to diversify their portfolios, letting them purchase holdings in multiple companies.

This is attractive for many investors due to increasing share prices. Examples of current high-priced stocks (as of this writing) include Berkshire Hathaway and Seaboard Corporation, both of which trade above the $1,000 mark.

Social Features

Public offers a social media-like platform within the app that allows users to follow each other through the service and watch their portfolios, while they can also share ideas and insights by using group conversations, a feature that the firm has designed to build a community of investors who can learn from each other.

Once someone invests in a company, a notification will be posted on their feed, and other people can comment on their investments. Additionally, people can share their thoughts on a personal profile’s “wall,” similar to features on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook.

Another cool feature offered by Public is the possibility to connect with family, friends, and colleagues through the service.  The app can integrate your phone’s contact book to locate friends or family who may have signed up with the platform.

Public.com Social Features
Source: Public

>> Read Also: 12 Best Robo-Advisors: Automate Your Investments

Investing Themes

Themes are an innovative way Public classifies the different stocks and ETFs available within their platform, depending on the company’s industry or its mission.

Investors can use Public’s themes to invest in trends and economic sectors they see as promising or that align with their particular interests.

Some examples include the “American Made” theme, which consists of US-based firms, or the “Cash Cows” theme, which consists of businesses that pay large cash dividends to investors — a particularly attractive alternative for income investors. Some other notable themes include:

  • Crypto Revolution: The stocks and ETFs in this theme support the broader crypto movement.
  • Women in Charge: This theme spotlights public companies with women at the helm, including GM, Gap, Ulta, Oracle, and more.
  • Public Top 20: Companies on this list represent the 20 most popular stocks of the Public community, updated monthly.
  • Green Power: This theme includes exposure to companies in the solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower energy industries.
  • Food Delivery: This theme includes exposure to companies in the food delivery industry.
  • Cannabiz: This theme includes exposure to new companies like Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth, to heritage brands like ScottsMiracle-Gro.
  • Artificial Intelligence: In this theme, you’ll find companies that are ahead in the AI-driven future.
  • Space Exploration: This theme gives you exposure to companies contributing to space exploration such as Boeing, Intelsat, Lockheed Martin, and many more.
  • Self-Driving Cars: This theme gives investors exposure to self-driving cars and technology with companies like Tesla and Uber.
  • Gaming & eSports: This theme follows companies pioneering in gaming and esports.
  • Combat Carbon: The companies in this theme are seeking more innovative methods to combat carbon emission and climate change.

Top Movers

Public’s Top Movers feature keeps track of the stocks that have seen the biggest price fluctuations in any direction during a trading session. This feature displays a winners’ row and a losers’ row within the website and in the mobile app as well.

Investors can keep track of the movers to spot potential bargains within the loser’s row or stocks that are currently seeing positive momentum, which can translate into further upside in the near future.

Automatic Dividend Reinvestment

Public offers automatic dividend reinvestment for its users (i.e., Dividend Reinvestment Plan — DRIP). When you have dividends on the stocks you own, you can either choose to reinvest your dividends and purchase additional shares in the stock of that company or take them as cash.

The goal of this feature is to allow investors to grow their money faster through compounding growth and avoid having unused cash in their portfolios.

public
Source: Public

Public Talks

Public Talks are virtual events hosted by the firm, in which professional advisors and other financial experts share their views about the stock market and other interesting financial topics.

This feature is part of the firm’s effort to educate investors by introducing them to complex financial topics, with information shared in a way that is easy to understand for those who have no prior experience in investing.

Users can sign up for Public Talks at the firm’s official website, or they can browse through the list of upcoming events to RSVP for future events.

Public Learn

This section of Public’s website aims to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions amateur investors may have about investing — on topics like how exchange-traded funds work, when someone should sell a stock, or how dividends are calculated and distributed by companies.

The main areas covered by Public’s library include investing, the stock market, options, IPOs, crypto, alternatives, fixed-income, and retirement planning.

Public.com Earnings View
Source: Public

>> Read Also: 12 Best Investment Apps: For Beginners & Pros

Crypto Trading

The crypto trading service is provided by Bakkt Crypto, which provides cryptocurrency execution and custody services. Public users can buy, sell, and hold crypto. One thing to keep in mind is that Public does not provide a crypto wallet, but this is something they may provide in the near future.

The following crypto assets are currently available for trading in the Public app. As cryptos are traded in a different market than stocks, crypto markets are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week:

Another thing to keep in mind with regards to trading crypto with Public is that you cannot transfer your asset to an external wallet. The only way to transfer your assets is to liquidate them.


Public Trading Platform

Public offers a user-friendly trading platform aimed at providing a simple and intuitive app experience. Users can trade using the mobile apps available for iOS and Android devices and the web app available on Public’s website.

Public offers a variety of trading features. Users can search for stocks and ETFs, explore other investors’ portfolios, and access valuable market data and community insights on trades. Users can also browse through other investor posts and portfolios, join discussions, send direct messages, and even create group chats.

When searching for new stocks, users have two options. Users can either enter the ticker symbol directly into the search box or explore Public’s curated categories. These categories cover a range of options, including companies reporting earnings, newly listed companies, meme stocks, space exploration stocks, ETFs, and top movers.

While the web platform benefits from a larger display area, allowing for better content fitting and arrangement, there are no discrepancies in terms of toolsets, capabilities, or trading experience between mobile and web apps.


Public Fees

Public does not charge any fees for trading US-listed stocks or ETFs.

With regards to crypto trading fees, Bakkt charges a transaction fee between $0.49 and $6.29 depending on the order amount. Recurring crypto orders incur a 1.25% fee tier regardless of the order amount.

Public charges a transaction fee for its investment plan feature, which ranges between $0.49 to $1.99 depending on the number of stocks and ETF assets in the investment plan.

Alternative assets have a 2.5% transaction fee, and the Treasury account incurs a flat management fee charged at 5 basis points (0.05%) per month based on the average daily balance of your Treasury account.

The Public premium subscription costs $10 per month or $96 if paid annually.


Public Customer Support

Public has a Help Center section within its website called Investors First™, where users can go to find answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding topics like investing, deposits and withdrawals, account management, fractional shares, and taxation matters. 

Many of the issues that customers encounter when using the app should be solved by reading some of these helpful articles. Meanwhile, non-customers can reach out to a company representative by sending an e-mail to [email protected].

As for customers, the AI-powered chatbot created by Public in collaboration with OpenAI — Alpha — is trained to answer common questions from users regarding platform issues and financial instruments.

Public does not have a verified Trustpilot profile that users can turn to to read online reviews about the platform. Instead, they can visit the app’s official page on mobile marketplaces (Google Play and Apple App Store) to read user’s comments regarding their experience with the trading interface and other systems.

Meanwhile, the platform does have a verified profile with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Currently, it boasts an A+ rating, and it has received an average score of 2.7 stars out of 5 after 97 reviews.

In the past 3 years, Public has received 85 complaints from customers, 27 of which have been closed in the past 12 months.


Public Ease of Use

Public is a platform created primarily with beginner investors in mind. This means that its interface was designed to be highly user-friendly and intuitive. Tasks associated with account management, building portfolios, placing trades, and engaging with the different products created by the company can be performed easily from the comfort of users’ smartphones.

The mobile app is available for both iOS and Android-powered devices. Users’ comments and ratings for the iOS version are better than those found on the Google Play Store. On the Apple App Store, Public has received a 4.7-star rating after being reviewed by nearly 70,000 people.

Some users have complained about the app’s customer service and the time that it takes to get a response from a representative, especially when complicated cases come up, like issues associated with transferring accounts from other service providers to Public.

Meanwhile, on the Google Play Store, the mobile app has received a 4.2-star rating after nearly 50,000 reviews, and it has been downloaded more than a million times by users. On Android, users’ most common complaints are related to bugs and glitches they experience within the app that have not yet been solved or patched by the developing team.


Public Security

Public is a financial company that requires users to disclose sensitive personal, financial, and employment information to provide its services. According to its website, all of the data that is transferred to its servers is encrypted by using an AES 256-bit encryption protocol and TLS 1.2 or newer.

Moreover, the company prompts users to set up 2-factor authentication (2FA). This consists of an SMS message sent to the user when they are logging from an unregistered device. In addition, it is possible to set up biometric authentication and a Trusted Contact for the account. This is a person who will be authorized to have limited contact with the firm in the case that the owner of the account is unable to due to illness or other similar circumstances.

Public Investing is the brokerage services firm that offers trading services and accounts to customers for transacting with stocks and ETFs primarily. This company is a registered broker-dealer with FINRA and a member of SIPC, meaning that all of its customer accounts are insured for up to $500,000 in securities, including $250,000 in cash only in case the company goes under.

Meanwhile, the alternative assets investing service is offered by Public in partnership with an entity called the Dalmore Group. These assets are not held in a SIPC-insured account. Instead, the investor is responsible for custodying them.

Finally, cryptocurrency and Treasury accounts are also provided by third parties — Bakkt Crypto Solutions and Jiko Securities, respectively. Crypto accounts are not SIPC insured, but Treasury accounts are.

The fact that many of the services and accounts provided by Public are offered and managed by third parties could be a bit uncomfortable for some users as these companies don’t necessarily have the positive reputation and solid financial backing that Public does.


Public Pros Explained

  • Public is a regulated investing platform registered with the SEC, FINRA, and SIPC in the United States. 
  • Public offers zero-commission trades for US-listed stocks and ETFs.
  • Public has an easygoing approach to investing that allows account holders to invest in high-priced stocks through the purchase of fractional shares.
  • Public’s social media-like platform offers a very interesting twist on the usual individualistic (and sometimes lonely) path of building an investment portfolio.
  • Interactions within the platform with other investors can help enrich an investor’s knowledge base about finance and investing. 
  • Users have access to a wide range of asset classes.

Public Cons Explained

  • Public lacks a desktop trading station.
  • No foreign stocks or ETFs can be bought through Public, although there is a wide selection of US-listed ETFs that cover foreign stocks and other instruments.
  • Public does not offer margin or retirement accounts (as of this writing)
  • Public offers a limited number of crypto assets.
Public.com Trading
Source: Public

>> Read Also: What is Micro Investing? Is It the Best Way to Start Investing?


Public Alternatives

Before deciding whether Public is a good platform for you, there are a couple of alternatives worth considering.

Public vs. Robinhood

Public and Robinhood provide similar services. Fractional shares can be purchased by using the two platforms, and they also offer zero-commission ETF and stock trading alongside premium subscription packages to access exclusive perks and tools.

However, Public has always been considered a long-term investing app rather than a trading app. Meanwhile, Robinhood typically fosters active trading through gamification and instantly cleared deposits.

Public’s Alpha AI-powered chatbot is also a groundbreaking innovation that could be considered quite helpful to customers who benefit from letting the system run tedious analyses on securities rather than doing the work themselves. 

One disadvantage of Public at the time compared to Robinhood is that the former does not provide access to tax-advantaged accounts like IRAs.

One key advantage of Public over Robinhood is that it offers a wider range of assets, including fixed-income and alternative assets. Read our full Robinhood review to learn more.

Public vs. Webull

Webull provides access to similar financial instruments to Public’s, but it also offers a cash management product that currently generates a 5% annual percentage yield (APY).

Webull’s trading platform was created with active traders in mind, as it features several advanced tools for options and stock trading, which include technical patterns, drawing tools, and more. Webull also offers a desktop trading station that is available on MacOS, Linux, and Windows.

In addition, Webull lets users trade penny stocks with zero commissions and provides access to a paper trading account. Same as with Robinhood, Webull has an edge on Public, and it is the fact that it provides access to retirement accounts like IRAs and Roth IRAs. Read our full Webull review to learn more.

PublicRobinhoodWebull
Our Rating

3.9

3.6

4.0

Fees$0 for stock and ETF trades$0 for stock, crypto, options, and ETF trades$0 for stock, crypto, options, and ETF trades
Account Minimum$0$0$0
PromotionGet a free stockGet a free stockGet a free stock
HighlightFractional shares and social investing featuresBeginner active tradersAdvanced active traders
Best ForBeginner investorsBeginner investorsIntermediate to advanced investors

Compare Public

Find out how Public stacks up against the competition.


Who is Public Best For?

Public is an interesting app for beginners who enjoy sharing their thoughts with other investors and learning from the experiences of others within an online investing community.

The opportunity to buy a wide range of stocks through fractional shares makes this provider very appealing for investors with a small account balance, although the fact that the platform only offers US-listed securities is a limitation.

Public seems to be best suited for buy-and-hold investors rather than active traders.

Public is also best suited for individuals seeking a wide range of asset classes to invest in and diversify their portfolios.


Public FAQ

We have found some of the most frequently asked questions with regard to Public. Following are our answers.

Is Public Legit?

Yes. Public is a US-based social investing platform registered and regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  The firm is also a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC),  which offers protection for investors’ accounts (up to $500,000 for each account).

Is Public Secure?

All investments involve risk, and the past performance of a security or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns.

Keep in mind that while diversification may help spread risk, it does not assure a profit, or protect against losses in a down market.
 
There is always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities or other financial products. Investors should consider their investment objectives and risks carefully before investing.

That said, Public is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), a government agency that covers up to $500,000 in securities held in an investment account with this provider.

Are Margin Accounts Available with Public

Public does not offer margin accounts at the moment.

How Does Public Make Money?

Public makes money in a number of different ways:

1. They can lend the securities you hold — without you noticing or being affected by it — and they earn a lending rebate for doing so. 
2. The firm earns an interest rate on any available cash balance it holds from investors.
3. As of February 1, 2021, Public is moving away from PFOF as a revenue generator. As a replacement for this revenue source, Public has introduced an “optional tipping” feature for customers to use when they make a trade.
4. Transaction fees on cryptocurrency trading and alternative assets trading.
5. Other fees like withdrawal fees.
6. Public Premium subscription fees.

How Does The Tipping Feature Work with Public?

Tipping is 100% optional, and investors are still guaranteed to trade via Public with zero commissions. Tipping is separate from orders and will not affect an investor’s order execution.

After an investor submits his order, they will be given an opportunity to tip Public. If the investor decides to tip, they will have to tap the “+” sign until they reach the tip amount they want to give, up to a maximum of 5%. The tip is deducted against the buying power of the account.

In A Nutshell

  • Account Minimum: $0 ($5 to start investing in fractional shares)
  • Fees: Zero-commission stock and ETF trades
  • Promotion: Get a free stock
Public

on Public’s website


Final Thoughts

Public is an investing platform that offers zero-commission trading services on stocks and ETFs.

The firm’s social media-like environment is appealing to amateur investors who enjoy participating in a community of their peers in which they can learn and grow.

That said, the firm has been around for only three years, and its features are still fairly limited compared to what other brokerages offer.

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