Best Stock Trading Apps and Commission-Free Platforms

 – Best Stock Trading Apps – 

Smartphones are making life easier these days. With a smartphone, you can have access to virtually all major brokerage firms, through some stock trading apps, making the process of buying and selling a lot easier. 

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In this guide, we’ll share some of the best stock trading apps from some of the best stockbrokers as well as some things to consider when deciding which is the best choice for you.

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What Is a Stock?

A stock is a financial instrument that represents ownership in a company or corporation and represents a proportionate claim on its assets (what it owns) and earnings (what it generates in profits).

Stocks are also called shares or a company’s equity. 

Stock ownership implies that the shareholder owns a slice of the company equal to the number of shares held as a proportion of the company’s total outstanding shares.

For instance, an individual or entity that owns 100,000 shares of a company with one million outstanding shares would have a 10% ownership stake in it.

Most companies have outstanding shares that run into the millions or billions.

What is the ‘Stock Market’?

Also known as the equities market, a stock market is a place where shares of publicly owned companies can be bought and sold.

Publicly traded shares can be traded either through centralized exchanges or OTC (over-the-counter).

The stock market is essentially a free economy market where companies can access capital by offering part ownership to interested investors who are basically outsiders.

This is beneficial for both investors and the underlying companies.

For investors, the stock market offers a unique opportunity to be part of an established or already running business and to reap any of their resulting rewards without the high risk of investing in a new, unproven business. 

For the underlying companies, the stock market allows them to access a convenient source of capital to fund their growth or expansion activities. This creates a win-win situation for both parties.

Are there Risks in the Stock Market?

But like any investment activity, there are also risks involved. The amount of risk a trader incurs depends entirely on the price of the stock held. If the price of a stock increases, a trader will earn profits if they sell their shares.

On the other hand, losses will be realized if the stock is sold at a lower price than it was bought at.

The extent of profits or losses realized will depend on the amount of stock that was initially bought, and of course, how much the price of the stock rises or falls.

Stock Market Basics

Stock markets facilitate the sale and purchase of these stocks between individual investors, institutional investors, and companies. The vast majority of stock trades take place between investors.

That means, for example, that if you want to buy shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and hit the “buy” button through your broker’s website, you are buying shares that another investor has decided to sell — not from Microsoft itself.

By purchasing shares of a stock, you become an investor in the underlying company.

How are Prices Determined on a Stock Market?

Supply and demand govern stock prices on exchanges, plain and simple.

At any given time, there’s a maximum price someone is willing to pay for a certain stock and a minimum price someone else is willing to sell shares of the stock for.

Think of stock market trading as an auction, with some investors bidding for the stocks that other investors are willing to sell.

If there is a lot of demand for a stock, investors will buy shares quicker than sellers want to get rid of them, and the price will move higher.

On the other hand, if more investors are selling stock than buying, the market price will drop.

Taking it a step further, it’s important to consider how it’s possible to always buy or sell a stock you own. That’s where market makers come in.

How is the Stock Market Broken Down?

There are various segments of the stock market to consider when entering into a purchase or interest in the shares of a particular public company. The stock market is divided into the primary market and the secondary market.

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1. Primary Market

The primary market is when new securities are created or issued, and they then become available for trading by individuals and institutions.

Here, securities are directly issued by the company that seeks to raise capital to fund its long-term goals and ambitions.

The most common way companies interact in the primary market is through an IPO (Initial Public Offering) where stocks are listed for the first time to trade in the market.

Companies can also engage in the primary market through a Rights Issue (raising money through existing shareholders) or a Preferential Allotment (issuing shares to a few shareholders at a predetermined price).

2. Secondary Market

After the initial offering in the primary market, all subsequent trading of securities takes place in the secondary market between investors, with the underlying company not involved.

Trades are facilitated by stock exchanges or by brokers who act as intermediaries.

3. OTC Market

Also known as trading off-exchange, trading OTC (over-the-counter) is an option for investors to buy and sell stocks in a decentralized market.

Trades are conducted between two parties via a dealer network, with a centralized exchange not involved.

Typically, the OTC market is for stocks or stock prices not listed on a stock exchange. Decentralized is where a transaction of buying or selling will take place between two parties, such as the trader and the broker.

There are generally no rigid conditions in an OTC market, with trading being very flexible with as few limitations as possible.

How to Invest in the Stock Market For Beginners

1. Buy the Right Investment

Buying the right stock is so much easier said than done. Anyone can see a stock that’s performed well in the past, but anticipating the performance of a stock in the future is much more difficult.

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If you want to succeed by investing in individual stocks, you have to be prepared to do a lot of work to analyze a company and manage the investment.

2. Avoid Individual Stocks if You’re a Beginner

Everyone has heard someone talk about a big stock win or a great stock pick. You can get lucky sometimes picking an individual stock. It’s hard to be lucky over time and avoid those big downturns as well.

To make money consistently in individual stocks, you need to know something that the forward-looking market isn’t already pricing into the stock price.

Keep in mind that for every seller in the market, there’s a buyer for those same shares who’s equally sure they will profit.

3. Create a Diversified Portfolio

One of the key advantages of an index fund is that you immediately have a range of stocks in the fund.

For example, if you own a broadly diversified fund based on the S&P 500, you’ll own stocks in hundreds of companies across many different industries.

When it comes to diversification, that doesn’t just mean many stocks.

It also means investments that are spread among different asset classes–since stocks in similar sectors may move in a similar direction for the same reason.

4. Be Prepared for a Downturn

The hardest issue for most investors is stomaching a loss in their investments. And because the stock market can fluctuate, you will have losses occur from time to time.

You’ll have to steel yourself to handle these losses, or you’ll be apt to buy high and sell low during a panic.

As long as you diversify your portfolio, any single stock that you own shouldn’t have too much of an impact on your overall return.

If it does, buying individual stocks might not be the right choice for you.

5. Try a Stock Market Simulator Before Investing Real Money

One way to enter the world of investing without taking risks is to use a stock simulator. Using an online trading account with virtual dollars won’t put your real money at risk.

best stock trading apps

You’ll also be able to determine how you would react if this really were the money that you gained or lost. Asking yourself why you’re investing can help determine if investing in stocks is for you.

6. Stay Committed to Your Long-term Portfolio

Investing should be a long-term activity. He also says you should divorce yourself from the daily news cycle.

By skipping the daily financial news, you’ll be able to develop patience, which you’ll need if you want to stay in the investing game for the long term.

7. Start Now

Choosing the perfect opportunity to jump in and invest in the stock market typically doesn’t work well. Nobody knows with 100 percent certainty the best time to get in. And investing is meant to be a long-term activity.

There is no perfect time to start.

One of the core points with investing is not just to think about it, but to get started. And start now.

Because if you invest now, and often over time, that compounding is the thing that can really drive your results. 

8. Avoid Short-term Trading

Understanding whether you’re investing for the long-term future or the short term can also help determine your strategy.

And whether you should be investing at all. Sometimes short-term investors can have unrealistic expectations about growing their money.

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Best stock trading Apps for 2022

1. Best overall: Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab‘s Schwab Mobile is a strong all-around choice for stock traders. It comes with no account minimums and no recurring fees.

You can choose between just about any type of investment account you would want and most types of investments.

charles schwab

And for stock trades, the app is well-rounded for both beginners and experts. Schwab also offers a no-fee automated adviser, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios.

The mobile app makes it easy to view your accounts, positions, and balances. You can view market indices and news, research stocks, and enter an array of trade types from the app.

A new feature, the Schwab Assistant, gives you voice control to make trades, get quotes, set alerts, and get answers to questions about investments.

Users also have access to the more advanced StreetSmart Mobile. It works well but doesn’t rate among the very best for the most active traders.

But Schwab now owns TD Ameritrade and thinkorswim, which is an industry leader for active traders. More on that in the next section.

2. Best for Active Traders: Thinkorswim

TD Ameritrade‘s thinkorswim is a top stock trading app for active traders. TD Ameritrade features accounts with no recurring fees and no minimum balance.

It offers a diverse range of accounts and investments, including some investments that are less commonly supported such as futures, forex, and cryptocurrencies.

But it stands out for its active trader offering for both experts and those looking to become experts in active trading.

The flagship active trading platform at TD Ameritrade is thinkorswim. Thinkorswim gives you a nearly identical experience wherever you log in, including desktop or mobile.

It features advanced charting, advanced trade tools, profit-and-loss calculations, a live CNBC news stream, and chat support where you can get live help from a TD Ameritrade trading specialist from inside the app.

Note: Charles Schwab acquired TD Ameritrade on October 6, 2020. That means TD Ameritrade accounts are likely to become Schwab accounts. However, Schwab has announced it plans to keep thinkorswim alongside StreetSmart Edge.

3. Best for Beginners: SoFi

SoFi Invest is one of the best stock market brokerages for new traders. SoFi’s app is less robust than some larger competitors, but that also makes it easy to navigate and understand if you don’t have as much experience in the markets.

SoFi offers taxable accounts, retirement accounts, and a more limited set of investment choices. But stocks and ETFs are well represented.

SoFi also offers a no-fee automated investing platform, and it lets you invest in fractional shares through a product it calls Stock Bits.

The stock trading section of the SoFi app offers basic fundamental information and recent price charts for supported investments.

Beginners will enjoy browsing through groups of stocks by category to get ideas for how to invest. The app also includes education articles accessible from stock account pages.

If you are brand new to the markets, SoFi offers a way to get started with a small investment and no fees. That’s a good combination for learning how to trade stocks.

4. Best for no Commissions: Vanguard

Vanguard has investment options for just about every type of investor. In addition to its Jack Bogle-created index funds, the brokerage offers commission-free trading on several investments.

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Also, automated investing (with the choice of one-on-one advisor guidance, thanks to Vanguard Personal Advisor Services), IRAs and other retirement resources, and market research and educational resources.

In addition to its iOS and Android mobile apps, Vanguard also offers trusts, 529 plans, custodial accounts, small business retirement plans, and more.

5. Best for Long-term Investing: Fidelity

Fidelity offers a wide range of accounts and investments that could meet the needs of virtually any investor.

It stands out as a great choice for stock market inventors looking to buy and hold for long-term goals like retirement. It offers a wide range of investing products, including fractional shares.

In addition to common tools that allow you to research and trade stocks, Fidelity offers apps and tools to help you reach retirement goals and other long-term plans.

For example, the new Fidelity Spire app is a goal-oriented app that encourages good saving and investing habits to reach the goals you’ve specified.

Fidelity is best for beginners as well as experienced, long-term, passive investors.

6. Best for Expert Traders: Interactive Brokers

For expert traders looking for a slick, Wall Street-style trading platform, Interactive Brokers is a great choice.

Sometimes called IBKR for short, Interactive Brokers offers multiple types of accounts, including ones that work well for retail investors all the way up to professional and institutional investors.

It gives investors access to a very wide range of assets including, of course, stocks.

Interactive Brokers’ mobile app, IBKR Mobile, is a fully functioning investment platform with advanced trading tools in your pocket.

Advanced quotes and research contain 50 columns of data in a very similar format to the desktop platform. It’s cutting edge and works best for those with at least some investment experience.

7. Best for Banking and Stock Trading: Ally Invest

If you’re interested in a simple and straightforward investment platform that goes hand-in-hand with some of the best checking and savings accounts on the market today, Ally could be the right fit.

Ally Invest has no minimum and no recurring fees and shares the same login for accounts with Ally Bank. With Ally Mobile, you can view your investments and enter stock trades with just a few taps.

The app includes basic research and charting, recent news, and the ability to quickly enter a trade.

It doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as some stock trading apps, but it covers the basics and makes it easy to trade for a very low cost.

Other Brokerages we Considered

best stock trading apps

  1. E-TRADE: E-Trade offers a great stock trading platform for a wide range of investors. Morgan Stanley recently acquired it.
  2. Robinhood: Robinhood is a brokerage service offering commission-free trades on stocks, ETFs, and options. The investing platform also offers fractional shares and specialty investment products like cryptocurrencies, but its investment selection is limited.
  3. Webull: Webull and Robinhood share many similarities. Both brokerages offer cryptocurrencies and commission-free trading in stocks, ETFs, and options, but Webull also offers IRAs. A drawback, however, is that it doesn’t offer automated accounts, mutual funds, or joint brokerage accounts.
  4. Tastyworks: Tastyworks is best for traders who are more interested in active options trading.
  5. Firstrade: Firstrade offers commission-free trades for most assets, but its trading apps are not quite as strong as some others.
  6. Public: Public is best for traders looking to learn how to trade from others. It includes “public” trading where you can view what others are doing to learn more and improve your trading skills.

How do Beginners Trade Stocks?

Here are common steps for beginners when learning how to buy stocks online:

  1. Account setup: Open a self-directed brokerage account.
  2. Navigate platform: Learn how the trading software works (website, mobile app, or desktop).
  3. Budget: Decide on a monthly amount you can afford to risk.
  4. Strategize: Develop an investing style, such as buy and hold or short-term trading.
  5. Manage risk and reward: Incorporate rules using order types (stop and limit orders).
  6. Set goals: Focus on percentage returns and decide on your time horizon.
  7. Find stocks to trade: Analyze news and research to find investment opportunities.
  8. Avoid concentrated positions: Don’t put too much into a single position.
  9. Index funds: Consider incorporating low-cost index funds to gain broad market exposure.

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Best Stocks to Buy and Watch Now

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These are the top 10 best stocks to buy now:
  1. Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ: ISRG)
  2. Coinbase Global, Inc. (NASDAQ: COIN)
  3. Twilio Inc. (NYSE: TWLO)
  4. Shopify Inc. (NYSE: SHOP)
  5. PayPal Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: PYPL)
  6. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD)
  7. Upstart Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: UPST)
  8. CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: CRWD)
  9. Airbnb, Inc. (NASDAQ: ABNB)
  10. Unity Software Inc. (NYSE: U)

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do we Choose the Best Stock Trading Apps?

The best stock trading apps come from brokerages that offer low-fee accounts and feature-filled mobile trading platforms.

We also considered pricing, available investments, account types, and investment research resources in the apps.

2. What are Brokerage Accounts?

A brokerage account is a financial account that gives you access to buy, sell, and hold stocks and other supported investment assets.

Like a bank account, you can deposit and withdraw cash. But unlike a bank account, you can use your cash balance to buy stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures, forex, bonds, and other assets.

3. How do Brokerage Accounts Work?

They connected brokerage accounts to the US financial system.

You can generally add funds using your brokerage’s mobile app by check. You can also add or withdraw using electronic funds transfers, wire transfers, and other supported methods from your brokerage.

In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA) regulate brokerage accounts.

While investment assets can lose value, accounts are insured by the US government through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).

4. Who Should Use a Brokerage Account?

best stock trading apps

You can’t buy and own stocks and other assets without a brokerage account, so anyone who wants to invest should get one.

If you’re heavily in debt, you may want to pay off high-interest debts before funnelling too much of your budget into the stock market.

Remember that while most people buy stocks with the intention of making money, stocks and other investments can go down in value. Make sure you learn about what you’re investing in so you understand the risks and potential return.

How Much Should a Brokerage Account Cost?

In the 2020s, brokerage accounts should be free for the most part.

You should be able to open and maintain an account with no minimum balance requirement, no recurring fees, and no activity requirements, with a few exceptions for active traders and managed portfolios.

In 2019, most brokerages got rid of commissions for trading stocks and ETFs, as well as base fees for options. This makes investing accessible to just about anyone.

For instance, some of the other brokerages that offer commission-free trading include Merrilledge and TradeStation.

How do I Choose an Online Brokerage?

Every investor has different goals and preferences. You should pick a brokerage that offers platforms and tools that are comfortable to you and products that align with your investment style.

Fees can take a huge portion out of your investment gains, so always look at commissions, fees, and pricing for any activity you may need so you don’t get surprised with an unexpected charge.

Note that investment selection varies from one trading app to another and should certainly be a factor when deciding which to use.

If this article was helpful to you, do well to share it with others, as this might be helpful to them as well. 

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