Investing has long been seen as a rich man’s game. But it shouldn’t be. It turns out, once women take the leap into investing, they’re good at it, says Lauren Pearson, (opens in new tab)certified financial planner and cofounder of The Wealth Edit. In fact, when it comes to achieving positive returns, women outperform men by 0.4 percent. Thankfully, there are more resources than ever to help women gain agency over their finances. Hands-on investing tools have also made wealth-building more accessible in the last decade, thanks. to low-cost robo-advisors and intuitive mobile apps.
But if you’re looking for investing apps to be exciting, reconsider. “Your investment apps can and should be boring,” says Nicole Lapin, host of the podcast Money Rebab. “If you want a thrill, open your Instagram or Tinder app. If you want a game, play Words with Friends. When it comes to your money, stay away from the hyped-up ones or those that try to gamify investing.”
Rather, opt for the tried-and-true apps that have proven credibility and sound reviews. “And avoid ones like Robinhood,” adds Lapin. “Your money and investments are important—they don’t have to be served in a sexy package that ultimately comes with a price.”
Erin Lowry, author of Broke Millennial Takes on Investing (opens in new tab), agrees that a discerning strategy is key. “Access alone doesn’t mean it’s the right move for you,” she says. Here’s how to go about it right: First, take stock of your overall financial situation. If you’re trying to pay off high-interest debt, like credit cards, you shouldn’t focus on investing outside of retirement accounts, like a 401K or IRA, just yet.
If you are largely debt-free and ready to invest beyond your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, then be sure to calculate fees and understand exactly when and what you’re getting charged. Explains Lowry, “Paying $1 or $10 a month for access to an investing app might sound cheap, and it can be, depending on how much you’re investing.” But if you’re investing a low sum each month, then those fees could be eating away potential returns.
Also, proceed with caution when it comes to advanced investing moves, like trading on margin.
That said, if you’re in a financial place where investing makes sense, here are 10 apps that come recommended by our expert panel. To pick one that works for you, read user reviews, and consider investment costs, fees, minimum requirements and quality of customer service.
Ally (opens in new tab) is an online bank and brokerage, and online banks tend to give you more interest because they don’t have to pay the overhead costs associated with traditional banks. Ally’s user experience is intuitive and simple to navigate, and it offers commission-free trades on eligible U.S. stocks, options, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
With no minimum balance you can start investing with just $1. Fidelity’s mobile experience closely matches its reliable desktop experience, which offers access to an array of financial planning tools and reliable customer service. You can manage all types of accounts, including your checking, business retirement and IRA, all on one dashboard.
Many fiduciary advisors work with Fidelity as a custodian, or the keeper and recorder of your assets. So if you decide to work with a financial advisor, you can easily move your assets under their management. The Fidelity app is known for easy mobile trading, thorough research and industry insights to help you make sense of the markets.
Personal finance site Kiplinger writes this platform is aimed at novice investors, "with its low account minimum ($500), modest fee (0.30%), streamlined design and lack of frills. E*Trade does the basics well, providing managed, diversified portfolios (with strong performance) even for small accounts."
The app has an integrated guide to investing and pre-built portfolios for beginners. Because it offers commission-free trades, E*Trade is also attractive to frequent traders. “The app is easy to use and the breaking news functionality as well as streaming live Bloomberg video is nice to have,” Lapin says. “They have professionally built portfolios that are helpful if you’re building one for the first time.”
An automated investing account requires a minimum balance of $500.
Schwab Mobile is often voted the best for beginners thanks to its educational resources and helpful customer service. There is no minimum requirement balance and you can trade stocks and ETFs, commission-free.
It may not be the snazziest app and doesn’t have the coolest colors or pictures, Lapin says, “but it’s rock solid.” You can buy and sell investments quickly and easily, and “I personally have an account and actually enjoy the no-frills experience,” Lapin says. “I’m in and out and get my business done.”
The robo-investor pioneer offers practical and comprehensive tools that allow customers plan for specific and multiple goals, such as purchasing a car, buying a home or planning for retirement.
Kiplinger notes that Betterment returns "a reasonable 0.25% annual fee with no account minimum, the digital investment manager appeals to a wide audience," including new investors.
For those looking to focus on socially-responsible trading, Ellevest designs portfolios that factor in the unique financial circumstances of women, such as lower earnings due to the gender pay gap, as well as longer lifespans than men.
CEO Sallie Krawcheck launched the platform in 2014 and just last year, it hit $1 billion assets under management. The robo-advisor also has no investing minimum “because, let’s face it, investing minimums are exclusionary,” Krawcheck says.
Vanguard has a no nonsense interface with thorough research reports. The low-cost funds and commission-free trades make it ideal for beginners, or long-term and retirement investors. But as you become a more active investor, this basic trading platform might fall short.
Also, fun fact: Warren Buffett, one of the greatest investors of our time, stated in his own will that 90% of his wife’s fortune be put in low-cost S&P 500 index funds. “I suggest Vanguard’s,” he wrote.
This digital financial-planning firm offers highly customized financial advice and investment management. You get virtual access to a dedicated CFP, but you’ll have to pay a fixed, annual fee that starts at $1,800.
“We like Facet Wealth because they blend financial planning and an investment platform, which is easy for new investors to access—especially if they want to tie in financial planning,” Pearson says. It has no minimum balance requirement and customers can give Facet’s comprehensive services a test run with a free initial consultation.
It runs a mutual fund, The Aspiration Redwood Fund (Ticker: REDWX), which is like an S&P 500 Index Fund but without the big oil and gas, firearms, or private prison companies.
“Investing in this gives you the security of a trusty, broad-based index fund without the icky stuff,” says Lapin. “Remember, you can and should put your money where your mouth is. Your dollars are a vote on your values.”
This app caters to beginners and enthusiasts alike. Those new to investing can buy any stock ased on dollar amounts versus number of shares, simplifying the process. There are also no commissions or account minimums.
Although it recently launched in 2019, Public (opens in new tab) has already amassed more than a million users. Its Twitter-esque function allows you to share your investments with others and view what others are saying about different stocks, ETFs and even crypto. The community-building app centers its interface around long-term investing rather than trading, which is a great step toward building long-term, sustainable wealth.
- When it comes to investing apps, stay away from buzzy, gimmicky apps that try to gamify investing.
- If you are ready to invest beyond your tax-advantaged retirement accounts, be sure to calculate fees and understand exactly when and what you’re getting charged.
- If you’re in a financial place where investing makes sense, here are 10 apps that come recommended by personal finance experts.
- When picking the right mobile investing app, check user reviews, and consider investment costs, fees, minimum requirements and quality of customer service.
Rachel Burchfield is a writer whose primary interests are fashion and beauty, society and culture, and, most especially, the British Royal Family. In addition to serving as the royal editor at Marie Claire, she has worked with publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and more. She cohosts Podcast Royal, a show that provides candid commentary on the biggest royal family headlines and offers segments on fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and lifestyle.
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