Find the features right for you in these top five investing apps and sites
I love talking stock picks but how do you get started investing? How do you know which investing website is best for your needs and which have the lowest fees?
There are hundreds of legit investment apps out there, some for traders and some for longer-term investors. Some offer a lifetime worth of research, while some are bare-bones for the lowest cost possible.
In this video, I’m revealing the five websites for stock investing that I use to grow my wealth. I’ll show you which sites I use for research, which I use for my retirement accounts and which are my favorite investing apps for no-fee investment.
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How to Pick the Right Investing Website
We talk a lot about stocks on the channel but not necessarily the how of investing, the websites you can use to invest. It’s something I wanted to highlight in this video because that HOW is more important than most investors know.
Paying a $10 per trade commission will set you back almost $120,000 over thirty years. That’s compared to a no-cost or low-cost investing platform like we’ll talk about. Fidelity found that the average investor makes 88 stock trades a year between buying and selling shares. Not only is that $880 lost to commissions every year but all the money you’d make on it otherwise.
Those investing fees are a killer but the lowest-cost option might not always be the best choice either. I have accounts with five sites and have reviewed dozens of platforms for the blogs. The idea is to find a low-cost option with the features you need as an investor.
So I’m going to reveal the five investing sites I use for different types of investments and different needs, the five most recommended by readers on the blog. I’d love to hear which sites you use and why so be sure to scroll down and tell us in the comments below.
Best No-Fee Investment App
The first site here, voted best for no-cost investing, is one I’m using for our 2019 stock market challenge here on YouTube, M1 Finance.
M1 is completely free to use, no monthly fees like a lot of the apps and no trading fees. When you open an account, you pick the stocks and funds you want in your portfolio. The site then applies any money in your account to those investments, in the percentages you choose.
Another great part about M1 is that it’s automated. You can set up for a monthly withdrawal from your bank and the platform will automatically invest that cash commission-free into your stocks. It will also reinvest dividends in your account once they hit a certain level.
I’m using M1 Finance for the 2019 stock market challenge on YouTube. I’ve created a portfolio of ten dividend stocks and will be tracking it through the year against some of the biggest channels on YouTube. The portfolio is already beating the stocks in the S&P 500 with one pick up over 50% in two months.
You can add or remove stocks from your portfolio. If you want professional help, M1 also features expert portfolios which it calls pies, that you can use for your investments. There are expert pies in about every theme conceivable like dividend investing and tracking pros like Warren Buffett.
I know the Robinhood is popular here on YouTube for no-cost investing so I want to address why I picked M1 instead. While there’s no fees on Robinhood, there’s also no retirement account option available. Now you know I love retirement investing in an IRA or Roth. This is some of the best investing you can do, especially with dividend investing because you don’t pay taxes on that cash flow each year.
So if you’re investing on Robinhood, just know that you’re going to need another site for your retirement accounts and you get the same no-cost option on M1 Finance.
Best Overall Investing Website
Our next investing site, voted best overall financial website, is Ally Invest.
I’ve had an account since it was the standalone TradeKing brand but was really happy about the move to merge with Ally and create an all-in-one financial site. Between the investing platform and Ally Bank, you could do everything you need through the one website.
Ally Invest charges just $4.95 per trade and $3.95 for frequent traders or accounts over a hundred grand. That makes it a strong runner-up for best low-cost investing and it has commission-free ETFs in every theme and strategy.
The savings rate at Ally Bank is 2% which is unheard of and the bank even pays up to 0.6% on checking accounts. The bank offers home and auto loans, both original and refinancing with mortgage rates from 3.75% on fixed and adjustable terms.
The Ally credit card offers 2% cash back and a 10% bonus on your rewards when they’re deposited into an Ally Bank account. And that’s on top of a $100 sign-up bonus.
I don’t get quite the stock research on Ally Invest compared to ETrade but they do offer analyst reports from CFRA which is the old Standard & Poors as well as from Seeking Alpha. Overall a great all-in-one solution.
Best Peer-to-Peer Lending Website
Our third site, my favorite p2p site and voted best for alternative investments, is Lending Club.
A lot of people are going to disagree with me here but I truly believe everyone needs some exposure to alternative assets in their portfolio, whether that’s managed futures or private equity or peer-to-peer lending.
These types of investments are going to give you the returns of stocks but help diversify away some of those roller-coaster prices you see in the market. For example, I earned seven and a half percent last year on my Lending Club account while stocks did little better than break even.
And Lending Club really makes it easy to invest and get that diversification. I’ve got a video on the channel that details the loan criteria I use to get above-average returns and low defaults.
invest on Lending Club is $1,000 but this isn’t really an issue. You invest as little as $25 in the loans that meet your criteria so a grand is only going to get you 40 loans in your portfolio. What I usually recommend is investing at least $2,500 so you can invest in 100 loans and no single loan is more than one percent of your portfolio.
Another great feature on Lending Club is that it makes the process completely automated. By setting up the auto-invest function, any cash that comes into the account is instantly invested in new loans. Since you’re getting payments back on invested loans every month, that’s a lot of cash that needs reinvested so it’s nice to not have to manage it myself.
Best Investing App for Research
Our fourth investing site, the one I’ve had longer than any other and voted best for research, is ETrade.
I had a Brown and company account while I was in the Marine Corps and kept it when ETrade acquired them in 2005 so that’s about 18 years with this account. The site used to be one of the lowest-cost on fees though it’s kind of fallen back on that against those no-cost options.
Investing on ETrade still isn’t expensive at $6.95 a trade or about five dollars for active traders. Options and futures trading is about the same as other sites with $0.75 per option contract and $1.50 for futures.
The strength for ETrade is in its research and data available. The site has the best selection of third-party research and it’s own analytics I’ve seen. There are a lot of research providers aggregated on ETrade.
Trefis provides a sum-of-parts analysis for each stock, a look at each product segment or division at a company and how much it’s worth to the stock price. ETrade also brings in analysis from TipRanks, which follows Wall Street analyst recommendations, to show average targets and a ranking of each analyst. You’ll get access to professional reports by Credit Suisse and Morningstar.
One of the best pieces of research, something you won’t find anywhere else, is the earnings and revenue data which shows what Wall Street is expecting as well as the company’s history of beating or missing expectations.
Best Real Estate Investing Site
Fifth on our list, voted best real estate crowdfunding site, is Peerstreet.
I want to put in a disclaimer here that PeerStreet is a solid real estate crowdfunding site for accredited investors. That’s people with more than a million net worth or $200,000+ annual income. For non-accredited investors, go with stREITwise, a real estate fund open to all investors and diversified across multiple property types.
PeerStreet is another from that idea of alternative investments, giving you exposure to real estate but without the down payment and stress of buying individual properties. The site has a team of finance and real estate experts that analyze the underwriting on loans backed by commercial property. The platform charges a management fee from 0.25% to 1% on payments collected so you only pay a fee on the money you get back.
Investors can then buy a chunk of each loan for the principal and interest payments, much like with Lending Club. What I like about PeerStreet is that access to real estate and a completely managed process. The site manages the loans and passes payments through to investors.
Loans are normally shorter-duration with most from six- to 24-months and a loan to value below 75% with properties diversified across property type and geography.
That’s important because most real estate investors don’t get that diversification if you’re just buying single-family rentals or individual properties. Your portfolio is at risk completely on just one property type and location.
Another feature I like on PeerStreet is the automated investing function. Just like on Lending Club, you can set up your criteria and the platform will automatically reinvest any money in your account making it as passive as possible.
These five best investment apps and websites are some of my favorite but there are a lot of great sites that didn’t make the list. Look around and find out what features work best for you. You don’t need a lot of accounts on different investing sites but taking advantage of new account offers can help boost your returns a little each year.