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Written by Logan Robison on March 11, 2021
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Public vs Stash 2023: Best Platform For Beginners?

There has been quite a lot of innovation in the Fintech world over the past decade, specifically when it comes to investing apps.

Many new platforms have emerged touting zero account minimums, no trading commissions, and free tools. This has led to a widespread leveling of the playing field for beginner investors and made investing in the stock market available to a larger population.

Two of the most popular beginner-friendly investing apps out there are Stash and Public. These two apps both allow users to invest in the stock market. However, they take a somewhat different approach in doing so.

Let's take a look at how Public vs Stash compare and where they differ!

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Stash vs Public: The Basics

Stash is a one-stop-shop for all things personal finance. With Stash, you can bank, invest, track, and spend all within one app. In addition, this platform offers perks like earning stock by shopping at your go-to places. Users will need to pay a monthly fee in order to use the Stash platform.

Public is a social-focused investing app where you can mix and mingle while investing your hard-earned cash. The app allows you to follow other investors and see what trades they are making. You won't have access to nearly as many different types of accounts as Stash offers on Public. However, the user interface is simpler and more geared towards beginner investors.

Both apps promote long-term investing and allow you to trade fractional shares of stocks. They also both provide some help sifting through stocks, but neither app is going to provide you with 1-on-1 advice on your investments.

Account Minimums$0$0
Trading CommissionsNoNo
Fractional SharesYesYes
Key FeaturesSocial investing focusedHolistic approach (investing, banking, cash back)
Retirement Accounts AvailableNoRoth, Traditional IRA
Best ForThose who invest for funThose who want a holistic view of their financial picture

Public vs Stash: Summary

  • Public allows you to interact with other investors through chat and comment functions
  • Stash offers an array of products in investing, spending, budgeting, and saving creating an all-in-one solution
  • Public offers new users a free $10 stock slice when they sign up
  • Both offer fractional shares and thousands of stocks and ETFs
  • Stash offers retirement accounts while Public does not
  • You can earn money back at the places you shop with Stash while Public offers no similar incentive
  • Both offer stock and ETF trading commission-free
  • Public is 100% free while Stash charges $1 to $9 per month

Offer valid for U.S. residents 18+ and subject to account approval. See

What Is Public?

Public allows investors to collaborate with others who share a passion for building wealth. On the app, you are able to see what your friends are buying and selling while creating your own wealth-building portfolio.

The app combines features of social media apps with an investing app to create a truly one-of-a-kind experience for investors. If you're someone who is learning the ropes and want to learn from others who have more experience, you'll be able to do just that on Public.

Account Minimums & Commissions

Public was founded on the idea that investing is for everyone, not just the wealthy.

As a result, there is a $0 minimum to open an account. However, the minimum stock slice you can purchase is $5. This means that you'll need to invest at least $5 into each of the companies you decide to purchase.

In addition, you can rest assured that you are paying $0 in trading commissions on all of your trades.

Fractional Shares

With Public, you can invest as little as $5 into a company with a much higher share price.

With the ever-increasing cost of company shares, the opportunity for everyone to invest gets smaller and smaller. For example, Amazon stock is currently trading upwards of $3,000 per stock. That's a high barrier to entry for a newer investor looking to get some exposure to the retail giant.

For this reason, companies like Public are opening up the gates for everyone with the use of fractional shares.

While this feature is still not the standard across all investing apps, it is becoming more and more popular thanks to apps like Public.

Investing Options

Over 5,000 stocks are available on Public.

As we mentioned before, you can buy all of one share or a fraction of that share with no trading commissions. Public will also let you search for companies by category as opposed to searching for individual companies.

If you are interested in women-led companies, or companies focused on the environment, Public will help you find them easily and quickly. This can help you cut down on your initial research time and help to streamline your investing.

When you settle on a company you might want to invest in, Public includes a description of the company along with information like trends, comments, and company history. You can then spend some time digging into the conversations taking place on the app related to that company to get a feel for the general sentiment around the company.

In addition, you'll also have access to buy and sell ETFs from leading firms like BlackRock, Fidelity, and Vanguard. These firms certainly know how to build top-performing funds of stocks so investing with them is often the more intelligent route if you want to be hands-off.

Public also offers numerous investment portfolios called Themes that are free to invest in as well. Most other brokers will charge you to use their proprietary portfolios, but this is not the case on Public.

Prebuilt Portfolios (Themes)

If you are interested in a particular category of stocks, you can also invest in portfolios called Themes.

For example, there is a Theme dedicated to Home & Garden companies. This is a portfolio of 21 different stocks that range from furniture, to sound systems, to home improvement companies.

If you invest if Public’s themes, you are investing in all of these at once!

This allows for instant diversification across an industry without you having to individually research and purchase each company individually.

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
  • Themes are free to invest in and provide instant diversification
  • Free $10 stock slice when you sign up

Public Cons

  • No retirement accounts
  • Limited research tools and features
  • Limited ability to day trade on the platform

What Is Stash?

At its most basic, Stash is a one-stop-shop for an individual's personal finance needs. The service provides investing accounts, bank accounts, debit cards, cash back, and virtually everything you would need to centralize your personal finances in one place.

Upon downloading the app, users will go through a series of questions to determine what plan fits their goals and experience. At that point, users will have the opportunity to choose 1 of 3 plans: Stash Beginner, Stash Growth, or Stash+.

Funding Stash

Once your plan has been selected, you will need to deposit money so that it can grow! You're able to easily and securely link up any bank account using Plaid. Then, once your cash makes its way to Stash, you're off to the races.

This is where we dive into some of the features that Stash offers, beginning with early payday.

Early Payday

With Stash, your paycheck can arrive as many as 2 days early.

Users who are tight on their funds or are looking to make a sizable investment don’t need to wait until payday any longer.

Stash passes along your paycheck straight to you as soon as it arrives. This perk is only available to those who have connected their direct deposit to Stash.

It's important to note that you're really only getting your paycheck early once. That's due to how the early payday feature works.

If you typically get paid on Friday, Stash can allow you to get paid on Wednesday. On your next paycheck, you'll also be getting paid on Wednesday. So, in essence, you have just changed your payday from Friday to Wednesday.

Banking With Stash

In addition to receiving your paycheck 2 days early with Stash, you can also use them exclusively as your bank account.

This can be quite convenient if you are investing with Stash because you can make instant transfers from your Stash bank account to your Stash investing account. If you were instead going to transfer funds from your outside bank account to your Stash investing account, it could take as long as 3-5 business days.

Unlike many traditional banks, Stash does not charge any overdraft fees, has no minimum balances, and offers over 19,000 ATMs where you can transact without a fee.

With Stash, you are also free to pay your bills, track your spending, and set goals to keep you on track to reach your financial objectives.

Investing With Stash

Investing on this platform is easy with Stash’s simple and user-friendly interface. The setup is somewhat similar to apps like Robinhood. However, the functionality on Stash is much greater.

Investors can find a large array of stocks and ETFs in Stash’s repertoire that can be purchased as full shares or fractional shares. The ETFs on the platform are unique and quite attractive to newer investors. For example, there is an ETF called Do the Right Thing which invests in socially responsible companies, and another called Internet Titans which specializes in tech companies.

By choosing to invest in these ETFs, investors can cut down on their research time and find greater diversification in less time.

Retirement accounts are also available on the platform (with Stash Growth and Stash +) which allow investors to take advantage of some significant tax advantages while investing.

The Stock-Back Card

The Stock-Back Card acts like a debit card connected to your Stash bank account but doubles as an investing tool. The card is available to all Stash users regardless of which plan they decide to opt for.

When you purchase food at your favorite publicly-traded restaurant, you will earn anywhere from 0.125% - 5% back in that restaurant’s stock. The same is true for your phone bill, streaming accounts, and more!

You can increase this by shopping at merchants who are contracted with Stash to give a higher percentage.

This is one way that you can increase your net worth by getting rewarded for shopping where you normally would. This is one of the most innovative ways to provide an easy way for young investors to get started investing. Instead of purchasing individual shares, all you need to do is shop at the stores you already shop at.

Learning with Stash

Stash offers many free educational resources to leverage as you build on your financial wealth of knowledge. Through money blogs, financial news, and educational videos for both adults and kids, you can learn all you need to about general financial knowledge.

This is refreshing to see Stash's focus on education when many other investing apps are laser-focused on getting the sale and frequently neglect the education piece.

One place where Stash falls short with its features and educational resources is the lack of in-depth analysis. Stash is very focused on helping those with limited financial knowledge gain control of their financial future.

Stash Pros

  • Stock-Back Card allows investors to passively earn stock when they shop
  • Ability to buy fractional shares commission-free
  • Retirement and tax-advantaged accounts available
  • Available checking account and debit card to keep all your finances in one place
  • No account minimums
  • Beginner-friendly platform with educational resources for newer investors

Stash Cons

  • Monthly subscription fees can be relatively expensive depending on your account balance
  • No access to mutual funds, cryptocurrency, or options
  • Very high-level investing advice, best for beginners
  • No social aspect

The Verdict: Public vs Stash

Public is built for the social investor, not the professional equities trader, nor the person who is looking to grow their retirement account on autopilot.

The users who most enjoy Public are those who believe that investing should be a discussion at the dinner table. It is something to be shared!

Stash is built for investors who what to see the whole picture. From monthly budgeting to ATM withdrawal, Stash has it all. With Stash, you can invest for now, for retirement, and even on the go with the Stock-Back Card.

This platform is best for those looking to get more out of their financial institution and get on the path toward retirement.

If you want to avoid all fees, Public is completely free. However, if you are looking for retirement accounts and other features, you won't find them with Public.

Article written by Logan Robison
Logan graduated with a degree in finance from Brigham Young University and currently works in merchandising for a large retailer. In his free time he loves to hike and camp with his wife and son. Logan is also heavily involved in real estate investing and owns properties in Utah and Arkansas.

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