Best online brokers for stock

An In-Depth Look at the Top Mobile Trading Platforms

Trading stocks on the go has never been easier thanks to a variety of powerful mobile apps. With commission-free trades, advanced analysis tools, and intuitive interfaces, these apps allow you to manage your portfolio and execute trades seamlessly right from your smartphone.

In this comprehensive guide, we dive into the 13 best stock apps available in October 2023 based on costs, features, ease of use and more. Whether you’re a beginner looking to dip your toe in or an active trader seeking a robust on-the-go experience, these top-rated apps have something for everyone.

Table of Contents

  • Overview of the Best Stock Apps
  • Our Evaluation Methodology
  • The 13 Best Stock Apps
    • Charles Schwab
    • Webull
    • TD Ameritrade
    • SoFi Active Investing
    • J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
    • Fidelity
    • Vanguard
    • Axos Self-Directed Trading
    • Ally Invest
    • Stash
    • Firstrade
    • E*TRADE
    • Merrill Edge® Self-Directed
  • What to Look for in a Stock Trading App
  • Pros and Cons of Mobile Trading
  • FAQs

Overview of the Best Stock Apps

When it comes to picking a stock app, you want a platform that fits your individual needs and style. Active traders may prioritize robust tools and charting, while beginners often benefit more from educational resources.

With that said, some key features that the best stock apps tend to have in common include:

  • Commission-free trades — The top stock apps don’t charge commission fees for stock, ETF, and options trades. This helps keep investing affordable.
  • User-friendly interface — The apps are intuitive and easy to navigate. Managing your positions and executing trades is seamless.
  • Real-time data — View live streaming quotes and market data to help inform your investment decisions.
  • Advanced trading capabilities — Place complex options trades, access margin trading, set price alerts, and more.
  • Powerful analytical tools — Perform technical and fundamental analysis with integrated charting and screening capabilities.
  • Educational resources — Quality market research, investment strategy guides, and virtual seminars help you learn.
  • Security features — Face/fingerprint ID login, account monitoring, and other security measures keep your data and assets safe.

The top stock apps excel in the above areas while also catering to both casual and active investor types. With that foundation established, let’s look at the top 13 apps of October 2023.

Our Evaluation Methodology

We used an in-depth, data-driven approach to select the 13 best stock apps. Here are the key factors we considered:

Fees — The top apps offer $0 stock, ETF, and options commissions. Account minimums and inactive fees were also evaluated.

Platform capabilities — The trading platforms were assessed for their functionality, tools, research, and ease of use. Both casual and active traders were considered.

Investment selection — Apps offering extensive stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, futures, forex, and cryptocurrency earned higher marks.

Customer support — Quality of phone, chat, email, and FAQ customer service was measured. Educational resources were also considered.

Security — Safety features like Face/Touch ID login, cash sweeping programs, account monitoring and risk management were evaluated.

Company reputation — The app providers’ overall reputation, transparency, ethics, and financial stability were analyzed.

User experience — Actual customer reviews from both Apple and Google Play app stores informed the rankings.

Armed with these criteria, we are confident these are the leading stock apps available today. Now let’s get into the top picks!

The 13 Best Stock Apps

1. Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab offers three powerful mobile apps — Schwab Mobile, StreetSmart Mobile, and Schwab Trading Services — giving you complete access to investments, research, and trading on the go.

The intuitive Schwab Mobile app allows you to trade commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options, while StreetSmart Mobile provides active traders with advanced charting and screening tools. Real-time quotes and market data can be accessed across all apps.

With $0 account minimums and no hidden fees, Charles Schwab removes barriers for investors of all experience levels. The apps also integrate Schwab’s extensive market research from sources like Morningstar and Credit Suisse.

Notable features:

  • $0 commissions on stock, ETF, & options trades
  • Live streaming quotes & market data
  • StreetSmart Mobile advanced charting
  • Access to 4,000+ commission-free ETFs
  • Integrated third-party investment research

Best for: Active traders, investors who value market research.

Pros

  • Powerful charting and trading tools
  • $0 commissions on all trade types
  • Market research from 14 providers
  • Intuitive, easy-to-use interface

Cons

  • High cash sweep program minimums
  • Limited virtual seminars

2. Webull

Offering commission-free trades across stocks, ETFs, and options, Webull provides an impressive trading experience through both its web and mobile apps. Trading cryptocurrencies is also possible.

Webull really shines when it comes to market data, research, and charting. You can analyze stocks using interactive graphs with over 100 technical indicators. There is also a community feed where you can discuss investment ideas with fellow investors.

While Webull lacks educational content, the app itself is easy to use for casual and active traders alike. Active investors will especially appreciate all of the tools at their fingertips.

Notable features:

  • $0 commissions on all trade types
  • Advanced charting & screening tools
  • Level 2 market data display
  • Cryptocurrency trading
  • Virtual trading community

Best for: Traders seeking robust tools and low costs

Pros

  • Advanced charting and trading tools
  • $0 commissions across all asset types
  • Level 2 quotes provide depth of market
  • Intuitive watchlist and order entry
  • Paper trading functionality

Cons

  • Limited educational resources
  • Higher margin interest rates
  • No mutual funds

3. TD Ameritrade

From basic stock trades to advanced futures and forex, you can trade it all commission-free on TD Ameritrade Mobile. TD Ameritrade’s regular mobile app provides core functionality like quotes and charting, while its thinkorswim mobile app offers active investors more power.

thinkorswim mobile gives you the ability to trade complex multi-leg options strategies and use advanced chart studies. You can also access research reports, earnings data, and other helpful market intel.

With $0 account minimums and no hidden fees, TD Ameritrade gives all investors access to robust trading capabilities right from their phone.

Notable features:

  • $0 stock, ETF & options commissions
  • thinkorswim advanced trading platform
  • Streamlined order entry and account management
  • In-depth market research & analysis
  • Paper trading functionality

Best for: Active traders seeking an advanced experience. Casual investors benefit from easy-to-use core app.

Pros

  • thinkorswim app mirrors desktop functionality
  • $0 commissions across all asset types
  • Extensive trading tools for active investors
  • High-quality market research and data
  • Paper trading to practice strategies

Cons

  • Limited virtual seminars for beginners
  • No fractional share trading
  • thinkorswim has learning curve

4. SoFi Active Investing

Part of a full-service personal finance app, SoFi Active Investing makes it easy for investors to trade stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies straight from their phone.

The straightforward mobile interface allows you to place trades with zero commissions. You’ll also find basic charts, watchlists, order types, and account management tools to help you execute trades seamlessly. Unique perks like career coaching and financial planning guidance are also available from SoFi.

While not packed with robust tools, SoFi Active Investing offers an accessible way for newcomers to dip their toes into trading the markets.

Notable features:

  • $0 stock and ETF commissions
  • Cryptocurrency trading
  • Fractional share trading
  • Minimal, easy-to-use interface
  • Unique financial planning perks

Best for: Beginner investors and casual traders.

Pros

  • Streamlined and easy to navigate
  • $0 commissions on stock and ETF trades
  • Ability to invest in cryptocurrencies
  • Fractional share trading offered
  • Perks like career coaching

Cons

  • Tools are basic compared to other platforms
  • Low interest paid on cash balances
  • No options, mutual funds, or futures

5. J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing

J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing offers a polished mobile experience that allows you to trade stocks, ETFs, options, and more commission-free. The app can also be linked to your Chase bank account for easy transfers.

While the tools and research are limited compared to rivals, the app provides the core functionality needed for basic stock and ETF trading. New investors can access educational resources through J.P. Morgan’s website as well.

Notable features:

  • $0 commissions on stock, ETF & options trades
  • Easy account management tools
  • Can be linked to Chase Bank accounts
  • Access to retirement planning resources
  • Sleek, user-friendly interface

Best for: Beginner investors, especially those banking with Chase.

Pros

  • Seamless pairing with Chase Bank accounts
  • Simple and intuitive mobile interface
  • $0 trade commissions across all assets
  • Retirement planning tools included

Cons

  • Light on trading tools and research
  • Advanced tools require $2,500 minimum
  • No fractional share trading

6. Fidelity

Fidelity offers a highly rated mobile app that provides access to stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, and more. Active traders have access to streaming Level 2 quotes and advanced charting.

The app allows you to easily manage existing investments, track performance, and quickly enter trades with price alerts. Fidelity also offers a customized experience through its Youth Account mobile app tailored specifically to young investors.

With $0 stock and ETF commissions, Fidelity makes it affordable for casual and active investors alike to trade on the go. Educational resources help beginners get started.

Notable features:

  • $0 stock & ETF commissions
  • Advanced charting & screening tools
  • Customized Youth Account app
  • Robust stock, fund, options selection
  • Live Level 2 quotes available

Best for: Active traders and beginners. All-around excellent experience.

Pros

  • Active trading tools and real-time quotes
  • Commission-free online stock, ETF & options trades
  • Custom experience for younger investors
  • Extensive investment selection
  • Top-notch educational content

Cons

  • Advanced tools can have learning curve
  • Higher fees for broker-assisted trades

7. Vanguard

While not packed with robust tools, Vanguard’s mobile app provides an easy way for existing Vanguard clients to manage their investments and retirement accounts.

The streamlined interface allows you to view your portfolio allocation, monitor performance, and trade stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds commission-free. The app is geared heavily toward retirement and index investors who like Vanguard’s low-cost mutual fund offerings.

If you’re looking for advanced charting capabilities or Level 2 quotes, Vanguard is not the app for you. But for Vanguard clients, especially buy-and-hold investors, the mobile experience is excellent.

Notable features:

  • $0 commissions on all trade types
  • Streamlined investment monitoring
  • Manage & trade retirement accounts
  • Huge selection of index funds
  • Track asset allocation

Best for: Vanguard clients, retirement & passive investors.

Pros

  • Easy to navigate and use
  • $0 commissions across assets
  • Manage all Vanguard retirement accounts
  • Trade the firm’s popular index funds
  • Monitor portfolio composition

Cons

  • Tools cater to casual investors
  • No advanced charting or Level 2 data
  • Limited fund screening capabilities

8. Axos Self-Directed Trading

While the trading tools are fairly basic, Axos Self-Directed Trading offers an affordable way for investors to trade stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds right from your smartphone.

The app allows commission-free trading and provides easy access to your other Axos Bank accounts. However, active trading capabilities are limited compared to rivals.

For casual investors, especially those looking for a consolidated banking and trading experience, Axos delivers. But active traders may want to look elsewhere.

Notable features:

  • $0 stock and ETF commissions
  • Easy integration with Axos Banking
  • Access to low-minimum mutual funds
  • Fractional share trading
  • Automated trading available

Best for: Casual investors who also bank with Axos.

Pros

  • Deep integration with Axos Bank accounts
  • Affordable way to trade stocks and ETFs
  • Good mutual fund selection
  • Can automate trades

Cons

  • Fairly basic trading tools overall
  • Active traders may find lacking
  • Subscription needed for some features

9. Ally Invest

Offering $0 commissions across stocks, ETFs, and options trades, Ally Invest provides a straightforward yet powerful trading experience through both its web and mobile platforms.

While the tools cater more toward casual investors, active traders can access useful features like streaming quotes, customizable charting, and the builtin Ally Invest Insights tool. There is also a community forum to exchange ideas with fellow traders.

With no minimums required to open an account, Ally Invest makes it easy for any investor to give its mobile app a try. Educational resources help beginners learn the ropes.

Notable features:

  • $0 commissions on all trade types
  • Ally Invest Insights research tool
  • Customizable charting & screeners
  • Robust stock, fund, options selection
  • Community chat forum for investors

Best for: Casual investors and beginners, but active traders can benefit as well.

Pros

  • Well-rounded capabilities for all investors
  • $0 stock, ETF and options commissions
  • Good selection of mutual funds
  • Educational content and community forum
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use

Cons

  • Tools less advanced than some competitors
  • Higher margin interest rates
  • Limited international trading

10. Stash

Stash skews more toward education and guidance versus advanced trading capabilities. The app makes investing approachable through thematic investment bundles and automated account management.

You can build a customized portfolio of stocks and ETFs based on your interests, like tech, green energy, and more. Stash also provides financial tips and guidance on smart saving and money management techniques.

The simple, jargon-free interface is perfect for those who find investing intimidating. Just don’t expect lots of intricate charting tools.

Notable features:

  • Thematic investment “bundles”
  • Automated account management
  • Customizable investment packages
  • Financial tips & education
  • Simple and easy-to-use

Best for: Beginner investors who want guidance and education.

Pros

  • Perfect for investment novices
  • Thematic investment bundles
  • Automated rebalancing and dividend reinvesting
  • Standard $1 minimum investment
  • Solid educational articles and tips

Cons

  • Very limited tools for advanced traders
  • Higher management expense ratios on bundles
  • Account transfers out cost $75

11. Firstrade

Boasting $0 commissions on all trade types, Firstrade offers an affordable mobile trading option for active and casual investors alike.

While the app itself has a dated interface, you get access to customizable charts, screening tools, and real-time streaming quotes. Options traders can utilize strategy scanners, profit calculators, and other handy tools.

With no account minimums and a decent stock, fund, and options selection, Firstrade brings simple mobile trading to all.

Notable features:

  • $0 commissions on all trade types
  • Streaming real-time Level 2 quotes
  • Options strategy & profit calculator
  • International trading available
  • Decent mutual fund selection

Best for: Price-conscious active traders. Casual investors can benefit from low costs.

Pros

  • $0 stock, ETF and options commissions
  • Real-time Level 2 quotes provided
  • Options trading tools and screeners
  • No minimum balances required
  • Access to global trading

Cons

  • Dated, clunky mobile interface
  • Limited educational offerings
  • Underwhelming fundamental research

12. E*TRADE

A long-time popular trading platform, ETRADE offers robust mobile apps that include the standard ETRADE app and advanced Power E*TRADE app.

The Power E*TRADE app provides active investors with pro-level tools including customizable charts, Level II quotes, options strategy scanners, and more. Two-factor authentication helps keep your account secure.

Casual investors can benefit from the educational resources and easy-to-use standard mobile app. With no required minimums, E*TRADE makes mobile investing available to all.

Notable features:

  • $0 stock, ETF, and options trades
  • Power E*TRADE advanced app
  • Customizable charts & screeners
  • Robust research & education
  • Two-factor authentication

Best for: Active traders and investors who value security.

Pros

  • Advanced active trader tools available
  • $0 commissions on all trade types
  • High-quality educational content
  • Integrated banking services
  • 24/7 customer support

Cons

  • $25,000 minimum for margin trading
  • Higher fees for broker-assisted trades

13. Merrill Edge® Self-Directed

Offering commission-free online trades, Merrill Edge® Self-Directed provides a full-featured mobile experience for investors. The app can be linked to your Bank of America accounts for easy money transfers.

The streamlined interface allows you to analyze stocks with real-time quotes, customizable charts, screeners, and more. There is also access to quality market research from third-party providers.

While margin trading requires a $25,000 balance, Merrill Edge® Self-Directed otherwise makes investing available to all types of investors through both its website and mobile apps.

Notable features:

  • $0 online stock, ETF, and options trades
  • Robust stock research & analysis tools
  • Track Bank of America account balances
  • Customizable price alerts
  • Retirement and education planning tools

Best for: Casual and active investors, especially Bank of America customers.

Pros

  • $0 commissions for online trading
  • Real-time streaming quotes
  • Quality fundamental & technical research
  • Integrated Bank of America experience
  • 24/7 customer support

Cons

  • $25,000 minimum for margin trading
  • No cryptocurrency trading offered
  • Advanced tools can have learning curve

And there you have it — the 13 top stock apps for October 2023 based on costs, functionality, tools, and overall user experience!

What to Look for in a Stock Trading App

With dozens of stock apps available, it helps to know what factors and features to focus on as you evaluate your options. Here are some key things to look for:

  • Trading costs — $0 commissions on stocks, ETFs, and options are standard now for most quality brokers. But account minimums and inactive fees can vary.
  • Investment selection — Look for a broad selection of stocks, funds, ETFs, options, and other asset classes you plan to trade.
  • Trading tools — Seek robust charting, Level 2 quotes, screeners, calculators and other tools to suit your experience level.
  • Platform speed — Fast trade execution and live streaming data ensure you’re getting real-time info to act quickly.
  • Intuitive interface — The app should be easy to navigate and performing core functions should feel seamless.
  • Customer support — Look for 24/7 phone and chat support in case any issues arise with the app.
  • Security features — Seek two-factor or biometric authentication and other measures to protect your personal data.
  • Brand reputation — Consider the provider’s overall reputation, transparency, ethics and track record with users.

Prioritize the features that matter most to your individual investing approach and style. The apps that get all of the above right while catering to both casual and active traders will rise to the top.

Pros and Cons of Mobile Trading

Trading stocks on your smartphone comes with both advantages and potential drawbacks. Consider these key pros and cons:

Pros

  • Convenience — Manage your account and trade anytime, anywhere instead of being tethered to a desktop.
  • Real-time notifications — Get price alerts and account notifications immediately via your mobile device.
  • Quick access to information — News, charts, data and your account status are available on-the-go.
  • Better prices — Mobile trading allows you to act fast on real-time data.
  • User-friendly experience — Streamlined mobile apps can be easier to use than crowded trading platforms.
  • Improved security — Biometric logins and enhanced cybersecurity measures help protect your information and assets.

Cons

  • Limited functionality — Mobile apps offer less tools, charts, and overall functionality compared to full trading platforms.
  • Data usage — Streaming quotes, charts and watching multimedia can consume data and bandwidth quickly.
  • Battery drainage — The constant data streaming and real-time updates can drain your phone’s battery life.
  • Screen size — Compact smartphone screens make it harder to view charts, trading ladders, and data.
  • Connectivity issues — Spotty internet connections can lead to delays and failed transactions.
  • Cyber risks — Mobile devices have higher vulnerability risks than secured desktop computers.

While mobile trading apps provide an exciting opportunity to take your investing on the go, it’s key to be mindful of the above limitations. Approach mobile trading as a complement to traditional desktop platforms for the best experience.

FAQs

What is the best free stock trading app?

The best free stock trading apps include:

  • Webull — Offers free stocks and allows trading with no commissions, account minimums, or deposit requirements.
  • Robinhood — Has no trading commissions and no account minimums. Offers fractional share trading.
  • Firstrade — Provides commission-free trading with no account minimums or inactivity fees.

Are stock trading apps safe to use?

Stock apps can be safe if you take proper security precautions. Enable biometric authentication like fingerprint or face ID. Only download apps from legitimate providers and app stores. Beware of phishing scams via email or text. Use strong and unique passwords. Monitor your account regularly for suspicious activity. Trading though a provider’s website on your personal computer is generally safest.

What can you trade on a stock app?

Most stock apps allow you to trade stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, and cryptocurrency. Some also offer access to more advanced assets like futures, forex, and global stocks. The specific tradable securities depend on the individual app. Advanced apps tailored for active traders allow trading complex multi-leg options strategies.

How do I choose the best stock app for me?

Consider your experience level, account size, trading style and priorities. Casual beginner investors may want an app focused on financial education and guidance. Active traders will benefit most from advanced apps with robust analytical tools. Also factor in costs, investment selection, platform speed, interface design, and security. Pick an app that aligns with your overall needs and goals as an investor.

Can I make money using a stock app?

While it is possible to make money trading stocks using an app, nothing is guaranteed. Trading involves substantial risk of loss. The app simply provides you the tools to invest in the stock market — your trading gains and losses are entirely dependent on the success of your investment strategy and decisions. Approach stock trading with realistic expectations, and be prepared to lose money, especially when first starting out.

The Bottom Line

Mobile stock trading apps provide investors an exciting opportunity to manage portfolios and execute trades on the go. The top stock apps have intuitive interfaces, $0 commissions, and helpful tools suited for both new and experienced investors.

Focus on identifying an app that best aligns with your personal needs and style. Look for an app with the features, assets, tools, and overall user experience that will support your investing approach. Use our list of the 13 best stock apps for October 2023 as a guide to finding your ideal platform.

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