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Written by Logan Robison on October 14, 2020
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M1 Finance vs Public 2020: Best Investing App?

From connecting with and following friends and other investors on Public to creating and diversifying your own portfolios with M1 Finance, these two platforms stand out from the crowd.

Both platforms offer great features such as fractional shares and $0 trading commissions. These latter features make it so new and less-experienced investors can feel confident that they have the right opportunities to invest and get the most out of every dollar.

However, when you take a peek under the hood, these are vastly different platforms. Here's the similarities and differences between M1 Finance vs Public.

FeaturePublicM1 Finance
Account Minimums$0$100 for brokerage; $500 for retirement
Account Types AvailableIndividualIndividual, Joint, IRA, Trust
Dividend ReinvestmentYesYes
Unique FeatureSocial Capabilities (activity feed and chat)Custom-Built Portfolios
Fractional SharesYesYes
Additional FeaturesNACash Management, Borrowing Capabilities
Product Features Overall Price Buy Now
m1 finance review

M1 Finance Review 2020: Best Free Investing Platform?

  • Pricing & Fees
  • Assets
  • Trading Window
  • Tax Minimization
  • Investment Tools & Features
  • Prebuilt Portfolios
  • User Interface
  • Account Types
Visit M1 Finance
Public Brokerage Review

Public Brokerage Review 2020: Best Investing App?

  • Pricing
  • Beginner Friendly
  • Account Types
  • Sign Up Incentive
  • Social Investing
  • Research/Data Tools
Invest With Public

Summary: Public vs M1 Finance

  • Public allows investors to interact with other investors through chat and comment functions
  • M1 Finance offers an array of products in investing, borrowing, and spending
  • Public offers new users a free $10 stock slice when they sign up while M1 Finance has no sign up incentive
  • Both offer fractional shares and prebuilt investment portfolios
  • M1 Finance offers retirement accounts while Public does not
  • Public has an open trading window while M1 Finance only offers 1-2 per day
  • M1 Finance has intelligent automation features such as automated rebalancing
  • Public is more focused on the social aspect of investing
  • Both offer stock and ETF trading commission free

What Is Public?

Public has brought a new product to market by merging two completely different worlds, investing and social media.

Public allows investors to collaborate with like-minded individuals who share a passion for building wealth. Connecting and chatting with friends and meeting new investors while analyzing investment opportunities is just one side of Public.

Social Investing

Public allows you to connect with and follow your favorite investors and friends. See where they have invested and chat with them about their decisions. Like many other social media platforms, you will be able to see a feed of actions taken by investors you follow.

Don’t let this feature intimidate you knowing that others might be able to see your stock moves. Instead, recognize that this is an opportunity to learn from those with potentially more experience. This is a great chance to get feedback on your strategy from advanced and seasoned investors.

Account Minimums & Commissions

There is a $0 minimum to open an account, however the minimum stock slice you can purchase is $5.

In addition, rest assured that you are paying $0 in trading commissions.

Fractional Shares

This feature is one of the greatest innovations in modern-day investing. The ability to purchase shares in dollar amounts as opposed to full quantities is a huge advantage for Public over several other brokerage accounts.

Instead of saving up to purchase an expensive stock, you can attack that slowly by investing a certain dollar amount as frequently or as infrequently as you want until you own the whole stock.

With Public, you can invest as little as $5.

Fractional shares is another feature that has leveled the investing playing field and one that makes Public stand out.

Public commission free stock trading app

Investing Options

Public has over 5,000 stocks to choose from and as mentioned above, come with no commission fees. One of the greatest features of Public is the ability to search for stocks by industry as opposed to searching individually.

Included with a description of the company is information like trends, comments, and company history. It also includes list of subsidiary companies that the company owns. This allows you to be relatively informed before making an investment decision.

You can also spend your hard-earned cash on ETFs from leading firms like BlackRock, Fidelity, and Vanguard. These firms certainly know how to build top performing portfolios of stocks so investing with them is often the more intelligent route.

Public also offers numerous investment portfolios called Themes that are free to invest in as well.

Public Pros

  • Fractional shares mean you can invest as little as $5
  • No account minimums or commission fees
  • Social aspect with chat and activity feed
  • Free $10 stock slice when you sign up

Public Cons

  • No retirement accounts
  • Limited research tools and features

What Is M1 Finance?

M1 Finance is a platform used by over half a million investors. The platform’s main focus is to help investors get ahead by offering stellar products in three categories: Investing, Borrowing, and Spending.

M1 finance is free for all who want to use the basic account features. However, M1 Finance also offers a premium package called M1 Plus. This comes at a price tag of $125 per year. While this may be costly for some, M1 Plus comes with many benefits that might make that extra $125 worth it.

Account Minimum

While the account is completely free, while there is a $100 minimum for initial investments with brokerage accounts and $500 for retirement accounts.

There are no commission fees on any of the 6,000 stocks and ETFs that trade.

In an effort to cut down on costs, all M1 Finance trades are placed in 1-2 windows. Normal users have access to 1 morning trading window per day. If you have M1 Plus, you will get access to a 2nd afternoon trading window.

Custom Portfolios

M1 Finance’s great value is in the ability to create your own custom portfolios. Then, put it on autopilot with a number of useful features. 

You will also be able to specify the exact percentage you want going toward each company. This is an incredible and unique benefit for investors.

If creating your own portfolio isn’t your style, use one of M1 Finance’s 30+ expert-built portfolios.

M1 Finance has some of the best features for passive, long term investing. However, it is not ideal for active trading due to the 1-2 trading windows per day.

Fractional Shares

Like Public above, investors can purchase portions of a share, instead of the whole thing. By doing this, several barriers to entry are eliminated for new and less-cash rich investors.

M1 Finance allows you to purchase as little as 1/10,000th of a share of any stock or ETF offered for trading on their brokerage.

With fractional shares, you can take advantage of the ability to create your own custom portfolio for as much or as little as you can afford (above $100).

Rebalancing Tools

With automatic rebalancing, M1 Finance makes sure that your investments stay at the thresholds you have designated. For example, if you have designated that Amazon in particular, will only make up 15% of your portfolio, automatic rebalancing will make sure it says that way.

If automatic rebalancing isn’t your preferred choice, there is also one-click rebalancing capabilities to make sure your investments stay on track. Keep in mind, using the one-click rebalancing could lead to a taxable event within your portfolio.

Dividends can also be automatically reinvested, and when this occurs your portfolio is rebalanced too.

Dividend Reinvestment Program

M1 offers all users the ability to take advantage of a portfolio-level DRIP.

A DRIP takes the dividends that your stocks pay and automatically invests them back into your portfolio to buy more shares of stock.

This ensures that you don't have extra cash sitting on the sidelines and allows you to take full advantage of compound interest.

M1 Finance has a number of tools for passive investors including the expert pies.

M1 Borrow

If you are looking to borrow money from your portfolio, check out M1 Borrow.

Once you have $10K invested with M1 Finance, you qualify for line of credit with up to 35% of the portfolio’s value. Other debt options are as follows below:

  • Credit card
  • Student Loan
  • Auto Loan
  • Mortgage

With M1 Plus, you are able to borrow at a base rate lower than the standard M1 offering.

M1 Spend

As an M1 Finance user, you can access a checking account and debit card to keep all of your finances in one place. M1 Finance offers many benefits such as a $0 minimum balance, cash back options for M1 Plus members, and ATM fee waivers.

By setting up direct deposit into your M1 Spend account and allocating funds directly into your investments, you can follow the age-old wisdom of paying yourself first.

This removes much of the discipline required to be a consistent investor over time and will ensure that you are dollar-cost averaging over time.

Additionally, M1 Plus users ($125 per year upgrade) will receive an above-average interest rate on the cash held in their account and 1% cash back on all purchases made on their debit card.

M1 Finance Pros

  • Automatic rebalancing ensures you are buying low and selling high
  • Tax-minimization features keep your portfolio efficient
  • Retirement accounts offered
  • Ability to buy fractional shares
  • Access to borrowing against your portfolio at a low interest rate
  • Free checking account and debit card to keep all your finances in one place

M1 Finance Cons

  • One trading window per day makes active trading not feasible
  • $100 minimum balance to start ($500 for retirement accounts)

The Verdict: M1 Finance vs Public

M1 Finance is designed for long term, passive investing. You can put your entire portfolio on autopilot using the automation tools and features such as auto-rebalancing and dividend reinvestment.

Public, on the other hand, is meant for a more active trader who wants to invest socially.

With both of these brokerages, share price is totally irrelevant thanks to fractional shares. However, you will only find retirement accounts with M1 Finance.

If you have under $100, you can't open an account with M1. However, Public will be happy to serve you with $0 minimums!

At the end of the day, both are free, so maybe try them each out and see which works better for you!

M1 Finance vs Public 2020: Most Innovative Platforms?
Article written by Logan Robison
Logan graduated with a degree in finance from Brigham Young University and currently works as a financial analyst for a large retailer. His love for personal finance inspired him to start a YouTube channel, Finance for Normals, where he hopes to give everyday people the basic finance knowledge they need to succeed.

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