Have you started investing, even though you’re a college student? If not, give it some serious thought. You have an opportunity to gain valuable investment experience before you land that first career job. And since there are plenty of investment brokerages that allow you to get started with just a few dollars, there’s no reason you can’t start now.
To help you get started, we’ve created this list of the seven best brokerages for college students. Each allows you to open an account with no money, and to begin investing with as little as $1.
This is your chance to get a jump on the investment game; will you take advantage of the opportunity?
To compile this list of the seven best brokerages for college students, we used objective criteria. We focused on brokerages that are most accommodating to the specific investment needs of college students.
For example, since college students are unlikely to have more than a few dollars to invest, we favored brokerages with no cash or low initial cash requirements. Virtually all the brokerages on our list require no money to open an account, and no more than a few dollars to begin investing.
We also looked at brokers that offer fractional shares, and six out of the seven do. This is another important feature for college students. You may not be able to afford to purchase a $200 stock. But if the brokerage offers fractional shares, you can invest $2 to purchase 1/100th of a share in that stock.
We also considered the types of accounts offered. Most give you the option of either a taxable brokerage account or a retirement account. A taxable brokerage account gives you the advantage of being able to access your money at any time. But just in case you’re thinking of starting your retirement savings as soon as possible, we also favored those brokerages that offer IRA accounts.
The types of investments available are also important criteria. As a college student, you’re most likely to invest in individual stocks, exchange traded funds (ETFs), or mutual funds. But we also included some that offer options trading, and even cryptocurrencies. The point is to be sure you have choices in exactly how you’ll invest.
Beyond the criteria above, we also looked at the availability of customer service, as well as investment tools, resources, and educational material. In some cases, you may want to go with a brokerage that’s strong in those categories. But if you’re feeling confident in your own abilities to invest, we’ve also included brokerages that provide less support, but other advantages.
With that in mind, here are the seven best brokerages for college students:
Best for: Best all-around brokerage for college students.
Why SoFi Invest is one of the best brokerages for college students: SoFi Invest is the best all-around brokerage for college students in no small part because it was designed specifically for the group. Or more particularly, for those needing to refinance student loans. The company started out that way, and it’s still the product they are best known for. But they’ve branched into virtually all areas of financial management.
That includes investing. SoFi provides two options here, SoFi Active Investing and SoFi Automated Investing. Active Investing, as the name implies, is for active—or self-directed—investing. There you can invest in individual stocks, exchange traded funds (ETFs), and even cryptocurrencies. Best of all, you can begin trading with as little as $1, with no commissions on your stocks or ETFs.
If you prefer professional management of your investments, you can have it through SoFi Automated Investing. It’s SoFi’s own robo-advisor, that both creates and manages a portfolio for you. And like SoFi Active Investing, you can begin investing with as little as $1, and there are no advisory fees charged for the service.
SoFi Invest Pros:
SoFi Invest Cons:
Best for: Choose your own investments, then have them professionally managed free of charge.
Why M1 Finance Expert Pies is one of the best brokerages for college students: M1 Finance Expert Pies isn’t a brokerage, at least not in the traditional sense. But it is something of a hybrid between a traditional brokerage and a robo-advisor. With M1 Finance, you select the investments you want to hold, then the platform provides automated management of your portfolio. You should also know that there are no fees to purchase the investments you’ll hold, nor is there a management fee of any kind.
The investment process revolves around “pies.” This is the name M1 Finance gives to the portfolios you’ll hold in your account. Each pie can hold as many as 100 individual stocks and ETFs. Those securities can either be chosen by M1, or you can choose them yourself. You can even build pies around specific themes, like green energy or biotechnology. And you can create as many pies as you like. No money is required to open an account, but you will need at least $100 to create a pie.
M1 Finance Expert Pies Pros:
M1 Finance Expert Pies Cons:
Best for: Mutual fund investors and for customer service.
Why Charles Schwab is one of the best brokerages for college students: Charles Schwab is the largest brokerage firm in the world, which means it’s suitable for investors at all levels. But it may be especially attractive to college students because it offers more than 4,000 no-load mutual funds. And because it’s a very large and well-established firm, it offers plenty of customer support and investor tools and resources.
Charles Schwab Pros:
Charles Schwab Cons:
Best for: ETF investors and for customer service.
Why Fidelity is one of the best brokerages for college students: Fidelity is the second largest brokerage and provides options and services comparable to Charles Schwab. But what they specialize in is low-cost and no-cost ETFs. Since these are one of the preferred investment vehicles in recent years—and those low fees translate into higher returns—Fidelity is one of our top picks.
They also offer fully diversified investment options, plenty of investment tools and resources, and top-notch customer service. They also offer a robo-advisor option with Fidelity Go, complete with no advisory fee on accounts under $10,000.
Best for: Cryptocurrency trading.
Why Robinhood is one of the best brokerages for college students: Robinhood is a brokerage app that’s especially popular among college students. And it’s easy to see why. It’s an easy-to-use trading app, providing commission-free trades of stocks, ETFs, and options. You can also trade cryptocurrencies, which is only getting more popular all the time. In fact, Robinhood was one of the first brokerage platforms to offer trading in cryptos.
Best for: Options trading.
Why Webull is one of the best brokerages for college students: If you prefer investing in options instead of stocks, Webull is the investment broker for you. Not only does the app emphasize options, but they charge no fees. That means no commissions, and no per-contract fees! That will both minimize losses and increase gains.
But be aware that, like Robinhood, Webull is a limited trading platform. Compared to brokers like Schwab and Fidelity, it’s light on investment tools, research, education, and customer service. But it’s an excellent trading platform if you have enough investment experience for fully self-directed investing.
Best for: Fractional shares.
Why Public is one of the best brokerages for college students: Fractional share trading and investing are important to college students, who typically have limited investment capital. While most other brokerages on this list offer fractional shares, Public stands out because they specialize in it. They even have a special name for them—Slices. They enable a college student with limited funds to invest in a fully diversified portfolio. And if you like dividend-paying stocks, they offer free dividend reinvestment.
Any of the brokerages in this guide will help you be a more successful investor as a college student. Choose the one you feel will be the best fit for you, then get started as soon as possible.
When it comes to investing, starting early is an incalculable advantage. You have an opportunity to gain that advantage, while you’re still in school, rather than waiting until after graduation.