The best websites to buy stocks for free shares and bonus cash this year.
One of the most overlooked strategies in investing is taking advantage of cash bonus and free stock programs. You hear about it all the time with credit card rewards but WHY NOT investing?
In this video, I’ll show you how to get thousands in bonus cash and how I’ve collected nearly $500 in free stock just by moving my money around.
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Free Stock and Cash Bonus Investing
Nation with the race to zero on fees, the investing sites are ramping up their giveaways and cash bonus offers but I feel like investors are still missing out on a lot of free money.
For example, if you’ve heard of credit card hacking, where you open up different credit accounts for the bonus miles, basically being strategic about getting those points and free trips.
But nobody ever talks about doing the same thing with investing!
Investors seem to think they can only have one investment account and the problem here isn’t just missing out on free money. Nation, I have nine investment accounts on seven different websites.
Not only did I get bonus cash and free stocks but there are a lot of features specific to each platform that are really going to come in handy when you invest.
Review Free Investing Websites and Offers
So what I want to do today is review all the free offers on these websites, where to buy stocks online and get free money and shares of stocks. I’ll show you the best features on each site, why I use it and even a few of the things I don’t like about each.
Now before we get into the first website here, understand that these free stock and bonus offers change so I’ll show you what they’re offering right now but make sure you check when you sign up. Even if the offers change though, I’ve got money on all six of the platforms we’ll talk about and recommend them for the features alone.
Investing on Webull
Our first site is actually the newest, I started using Webull in October and this is hands-down the best place to buy stocks if you’re going to be trading.
As one of the newer platforms, Webull is in that growth mode so it’s offering some huge freebies besides the features you won’t find anywhere else. Right now the site is offering two free shares of stock. You get one if you complete your registration within 24 hours and you get another when you deposit at least $100 in the account.
Webull goes farther than some of these other sites. Where the free stock value is capped at $200 on Robinhood, on Webull you can get shares of companies trading for up to $1,000 and recently they bumped that to include stocks trading for as high as $1,400.
I’m not sure if they’ll extend the holiday promotion yet but beyond the free stock, they’ve been offering bonus cash of up to $1,500 depending on how much you deposit. This tiered system is something you’ll see on other sites and can add another percent or two of returns to your portfolio.
Now on to using Webull because again the platform has some really unique features you won’t find anywhere else. Like most of the sites I’ve used, you pay no commissions to buy or sell stocks, you get full access to stocks, exchange traded funds and foreign stocks and options investing is coming soon. But where I think a lot of investors, especially ones looking for stock market trading, are going to like it is in some of the extra features.
Opening the app and the first thing you notice is the advanced research and charting available. You get a complete newstream, quotes are available for stocks in 90 countries and 100 global exchanges with real-time data for the US market.
Something I rarely see even on the established investing platforms is this IPO Center that shows you all the upcoming and filed IPOs including the range for offering price and number of shares listed.
Another great resource for traders, the Earnings Center shows you the companies scheduled to report their numbers, the earnings estimate, release date and these are all months in advance.
There’s a lot of market data here from Advancers/Decliners to industries with big inflows and ETFs getting investor attention. All to the purpose of giving you as much information as you need to trade stocks.
Now those of you in the community know, I’m not much of a stock trader. I like the buy-and-hold approach but even I was drawn to one feature on the app, this Paper Trading function. The app gives you a million dollars to trade virtually, testing out your strategies and ideas to see how they do before committing real money. I’m testing out a few penny stocks I like, following the trends before I decide if I want to invest.
Another big feature for stock traders is extended hours trading, so investing in stocks before and after the rest of the market gets the chance in public trading. Webull gives you access to trade from four to 9:30 am and four to eight pm eastern standard time, before and after the market closes.
Against all these features, there were some things I didn’t like about the Webull app besides kind of a weak desktop function. There are no retirement account options yet though management says it’s on the way. This was important to me when I set up our 2019 Stock Market Challenge portfolio to save money on taxes in dividend stocks. The app also takes a while to find yourself around. There’s just so much loaded on it that you really do need the tutorial emails sent out by Webull after you open an account.
Get Free Stock on Robinhood
Next here is probably the most popular site to buy stock online, Robinhood, and it’s free stock program.
Robinhood was one of the first to offer a free share of stock when you signed up and they really make it easy to get free stock. You get one share worth up to $200 when you sign up and then, you get a share code and anytime someone uses your link to open an account, you both get another free share!
So even though the shares are capped at $200 each, these can really add up in your portfolio. For example, I’ve got an account worth over $330 with just the free shares I’ve collected. That includes shares of Sprint, Fitbit, Ford, GE and even a free share of Microsoft worth $153! All told, I’ve gotten 24 free shares of stock on Robinhood.
Want free shares of stock on Robinhood? Click here and get your free share of stock right now!
Robinhood started as just a mobile app but has since added a website as well. When I opened my account, it felt a little weird not having that website option and doing everything on my phone.
The app is completely free to use. You’ll never pay a fee to buy or sell stocks. It’s probably one of the easiest I’ve used with everything laid out so even us tech newbies can use it. It literally took me less than two minutes to open an account.
There are some nice features on Robinhood you don’t find on other free sites. You can place limit and stop orders. There’s no account minimum and you can even invest in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
They don’t yet have retirement account options. There’s also no auto-invest or reinvestment option so you have to reinvest all your dividends manually.
Besides those few downsides, Robinhood is a solid app that’s easy to use and actually a lot of fun with the free stock program.
Automated Investing on M1 Finance
Those of you in the Nation will recognize our third site, M1 Finance, from our 2019 Dividend Challenge videos.
Now M1 isn’t doing any freebies right now but I wanted to add it to the list because I use it and love the features. They’ve run signup cash bonuses in the past so be on the lookout for that but this one is all about the features.
M1 is completely free to use, there are no monthly fees or a percentage charged on your account. 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 across all those investments, in the percentages you choose.
So what you get on M1 is more of a whole portfolio approach to investing. You pick a group of stocks and funds and just deposit money into your account. The website takes care of the rest, splitting your money up into that entire diversified group of investments.
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.
We used M1 Finance four our 2019 Stock Market Challenge. With just ten stocks in January, we tracked the portfolio all year and ended up beating the market by 3% with a return of 26% through mid-December.
I picked M1 Finance for our dividend portfolio because it allows retirement accounts like the Roth and the traditional IRA. Putting my dividend paying stocks in these tax-deferred accounts means I don’t pay taxes on them every year when collected, that money stays in my account and I can reinvest it.
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.
M1 also allows fractional shares, meaning you can invest any amount in a stock even if it’s not enough to buy a full share.
For example, if you wanted to invest in Amazon, you would need nearly two grand to buy a share on Robinhood or other apps. With M1 Finance, you can invest whatever you want, say $500 and the platform would buy you a fraction of a share.
The platform just launched a borrow feature that allows you to borrow up to a third of your account value and the rates are pretty low, just 4.25% right now. I wouldn’t always recommend trading on margin or borrowing against your account but it’s a nice feature and the rate is way under the comparable program on other platforms.
One thing I don’t like about M1 is they use a trading window, so you put in the stocks you want to buy or sell, then your trade is entered at one of two points each day. This helps aggregate all the orders for the platform and enables that fractional share investing but it also means you don’t get that instant trading you get on other sites. It’s not something long-term investors are even going to care about but this one definitely isn’t for stock traders.
I love the portfolio-view of investing though, letting you invest instantly across all the stocks and funds in your portfolio and rebalancing with the click of a button. It really lets you create a diversified portfolio covering lots of stocks and bonds, across funds and individual names and then invest evenly across all of them without paying a fee to buy each one.
ETrade Bonus Offer and Features
This next one, ETrade, is my oldest investment account dating back to 1999. I had this account back when it was called Brown & Company, before the ETrade acquisition but I’ve really liked the features.
ETrade is offering a cash bonus up to $2,500 for new accounts and while the free stock offers are nice, you can get a lot of free money on these cash offers. Now you have to deposit some serious money to get that top bonus but even the lowest amount, that $100 ends up being a 2% instant return if you deposit $5,000 within 60 days of opening the account.
That’s how these tiered bonus offers work. You don’t have to deposit all that money immediately when you open the account. The website checks how much total you’ve deposited at some point, usually after 60 days, then credits your account with the bonus level.
ETrade just dropped its commissions to zero but I kept an account for a long time just for the research. Besides news, charting and market data, I get access to stock research from Credit Suisse, Morningstar and TipRanks. I can see analyst price targets as well as estimates for quarterly earnings.
There’s actually a lot more available on ETrade that I don’t even use. I’ve used it in the past to trade futures contracts and buy individual bonds. The site has a lot of planning tools for retirement and customer services has been the best I’ve found on any site.
The one thing I would say I don’t like about ETrade is that margin rates are pretty much the highest I’ve seen. Right now, ETrade borrowing rates start at almost 7% and that’s if you’ve got a million or more in your portfolio. For smaller accounts, you’re looking at rates as high as ten percent.
I don’t use margin much but every once in a while, I’ll add a stock position and have to borrow money on the account so I’ll usually do that on an account like M1 Finance where the margin rate is less than half of what I’d pay on ETrade.
How Fundrise Works for Real Estate Investing
Taking a break from stock investing sites, our next site here, Fundrise is a great site to get some real estate exposure.
This one isn’t offering a freebie now but I wanted to include it because it gives you that exposure to real estate assets and a little diversification from an all stock portfolio.
The way Fundrise works, its team of property developers and analysts look at individual properties to include in portfolios. The portfolios take either a debt or equity investment in the properties and then investors can buy shares in the portfolios. So you’re getting a diversified portfolio of different property types and in different regions, along with professional management.
Portfolios have returned between 9% to over 12% since 2014 and the site offers several choices for different investing styles. You’ve got the supplemental income portfolio which focuses on cash flow and a dividend yield as high as 8.5% a year. You’ve got the long-term growth portfolio here that focuses more on price appreciation, in the range of 8% a year but still provides cash flow of about 1.5% annually. Then you’ve got a balanced fund that provides both cash income and appreciation.
What I like about Fundrise and why I finally signed up last year is the complete transparency on all the investments. You can see how each property stacks up on risk as well as how many are debt investments and how many are equity.
You can click through to see individual properties. The platform is going to show you the project risk, what type of investment the portfolio has as well as a full market analysis.
And again, that diversification of property types is important here. You’ve got commercial properties like office and industrial as well as residential property. You’ve got those debt investments that provide safety and income as well as the equity projects that help boost returns for the portfolios.
All-in fees for investors are 1% which is in-line with private advisory and way below what you pay on most real estate crowdfunding sites. One feature that really sets Fundrise apart is this 90-day trial offer and low $500 minimum. Invest as little as $500 in the starter portfolio and try it out for 90-days. If you’re not totally satisfied, you get your entire investment returned.
Banking and Investing on Ally Invest
I had an account on TradeKing before the acquisition by Ally Invest but I really like this one for an all-around financial and investing site.
Ally offers one of the highest cash bonuses available but you’ll have to work for it to get that money. You have to deposit ten grand just to get that first level of $50 bonus but then it jumps to $200 and you can get up to $3,500 total.
Ally is going to be very similar to ETrade in its features and how it feels. It doesn’t quite have the research available on ETrade but I what I love about Ally is the banking features.
The site offers 1.7% interest on its online savings accounts and half a percent on checking accounts. This is a full service bank with money market and high yield CDs. The bank offers auto and home loans as well as a lot of tools in that personal finance theme.
Ally is also commission-free so you won’t pay to buy stocks online. You get access to all the types of investments from stocks to bonds and futures. You can even get extended hours trading though it doesn’t have some of the charting and research stock traders will want.
Margin rates are a little lower than you’ll find on ETrade but still higher than M1 Finance or Webull so you probably won’t want to be trading on margin or borrowing on the account.
Comparing the websites we see it’s not a matter of which is best but which offers the tools you need for different types of investing and it’s why I have accounts on all six. I use M1 Finance for that easy portfolio investing, I get all the research I need on ETrade, banking on Ally Invest, real estate through Fundrise and all the trading tools I want on Webull.
Taking advantage of these free stock and cash bonus offers is just the icing. For example, with roughly $100,000 to invest; I could get $300 in cash from Ally Invest and ETrade. I could collect the $360 in free stock I’ve gotten from Robinhood and I’d get a couple of free shares and $350 from Webull. That’s over thirteen hundred in free stock and cash for doing nothing more than moving some money around!