When it comes to investing as a beginner, simplicity is key.
At least that belief is what Public and Robinhood were founded on. Both platforms make it easy for new investors to get involved with clean and crisp apps, no account minimums, and no commission fees.
When compared with many of the other investing apps out there, these two are the most beginner-friendly. This makes them a popular choice for those that are just getting into investing for the first time.
|Account Minimum||$0||$0 ($2,000 for margin investing)|
|Available Assets||Stocks, ETFs||Stocks, ETFs, Options, Cryptocurrencies|
|Best For||New investors with a social aspect||New investors who learn by doing|
Robinhood is the pioneer commission-free trading app and offers stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies. The simple interface has helped them attract a new generation of investors. While having simplicity as a key focus, the company also provides a number of advanced features like options trading, margin, retirement accounts, and cash management.
Public is a cross between Robinhood and a social media app like Twitter. The app has a main feed where you can read posts from other investors and share your thoughts. You're also able to follow other investors and see what they are investing in. Public has the edge when it comes to pre-built portfolios and access to alternative investments like art and wine.
Both apps put the power of investing into the hands of normal individuals without finance backgrounds or exorbitant amounts of cash. These apps allow users to get the full experience without risking their life savings.
Apps like these are changing the investing landscape and will continue to push out new advancements to continue their legacy of looking out for the little guy!
Here's our full breakdown of Robinhood vs Public.
If you prefer watching instead, check out our video below!
Public is a social investing app that allows new investors to enter the stock market with no account minimums and no commissions.
The app is very unique thanks to the focus it places on the social aspect. This is not something that many other investing apps are looking at, but for Public, it is one of the cornerstones of the platform.
This app also offers fractional shares meaning that you can invest in companies using dollar amounts and not the number of shares.
Additionally, Public makes it easy to collaborate with other investors who share a passion for watching their money grow. Connect and chat with friends and meet new investors while analyzing investment opportunities.
This brokerage aims to make investing easy and social. The investment themes or prebuilt portfolios are a plus too!
Public, like many other new-age investing platforms, offers the ability to invest with no account minimums.
You can invest any amount to start and have the same benefits as those starting out with $10,000. This offering means that the playing field has been leveled for retail investors.
Likewise, hefty commission fees reserved the investing field for the wealthy, or at least those who could afford to pay a fee each time they made a trade. Not anymore.
Fees have essentially been waved on all newer investment platforms, including Public. Meaning you’ll never have to worry about paying the company for all the trades you make.
This feature is, in my opinion, one of the greatest revolutions in modern-day investing.
With fractional shares, gone are the days that require investors to have the full amount of a stock before they purchase. Now, with Public, you can invest as little as $5 into a company without the need to purchase the whole stock.
Keep in mind, however, that this does not reduce the risk of purchasing a stock as your returns will be the same as they would be with the full stock. However, this does allow you to allocate your portfolio differently.
Purchasing smaller dollar amounts of a lot of companies reduces your risk when compared to only owning a couple of stocks. This is part of having a diversified portfolio.
With only $100, you can own fractional shares in 20 different companies, as opposed to only being able to invest in 1 or 2 full shares. This is helpful because when one stock goes down, your other stocks may offset that decline.
Public offers a free Dividend Reinvestment Plan that investors can take advantage of. When stocks you own pay out dividends, you can choose whether to take them as cash, or to reinvest them back into stock of that company.
When you reinvest your dividends, you're able to take advantage of the power of compound interest and allow your portfolio to grow exponentially. This will also prevent you from sitting on excess cash if you want to stay fully invested.
With Public, you can choose from over 9,000 stocks/ETFs in which to invest. These all come with no commissions and you can even sort through categories of stocks instead of searching for individual corporations.
Included with a description of the company is information like trends, comments, and company history. It also includes a list of subsidiary companies that the company owns. This allows you to be relatively informed before making an investment decision.
Public also offers investment themes, which are essentially prebuilt portfolios that are free to invest in. This is one area that makes them stand out against Robinhood.
Some of these themes include...
Many other brokerages charge for pre-built portfolios. However, on Public these are completely free to invest in.
In addition to stocks and ETFs, investors can invest in crypto, fine art, collectibles, treasuries, and more through Public.
This is an area where Public may have an edge. Public recognized that alternative investments like fine art and wine are typically reserved for high net worth individuals. They created an option where investors can purchase fractional shares of famous artwork or famous sneakers like a pair of Michael Jordan's from a championship game.
Public stands out from the crowd with its social features. Connect with and follow your favorite investors and friends. See where they have invested and chat about their decisions.
Similar to a standard social media offering, you will see a feed of consistently updating actions taken by other investors.
Investors who are new to the game might be intimidated by this knowing that everyone can see your stock moves, but this is a great chance to get feedback on your strategy from advanced and seasoned investors.
Plus, you can keep tabs on investors you look up to and see what kind of investments they are making.
Public also recently launched their product called Pulse. This is a product that allows companies to understand the investors who buy their stock. For investors, this means better understanding the company you are investing in by following leaders of publicly traded company. Learn more about Pulse on the Public website.
Public offers its members access to a premium account option with a few added perks. This account comes with a monthly $8 fee.
With this fee, investors gain access to extended market hours, enhanced market insights, and Public's VIP team.
One of the downsides to investing with Public is a lack of research resources. With premium, investors receive Morningstar reports as well as increased KPIs and metrics. As part of these KPIs, investors will be able to see portfolio breakdowns and insights to help them make more informed decisions.
Although there are no commission fees, the saying "there’s no such thing as a free lunch" is still true.
Here are some fees to be aware of with Public:
Most of these costs will not apply to the majority of investors, however, in the off chance they do, it's important to keep them in mind.
Robinhood, the classic investment app without account balances or commissions was founded in 2013 and is the pioneer of this new investing era. Robinhood believes investing shouldn’t be a sport for the elite, instead, it should be available and accessible to everyone.
This brokerage is known to have one of the cleanest looking apps. Users love Robinhood’s interface because it contains the right amount of data that the average investor will need. However, advanced traders may find it is a bit limiting over time.
Despite being an app focused on simplicity, Robinhood still offers investors a number of advanced features not found on Public. For example, Robinhood offers in members access to margin, options trading, and level 2 market data.
This brokerage aims to be the most attractive and user-friendly app out there for commission-free trades.
Robinhood was one of the first, but certainly not the last. As mentioned above with Public, almost all investing platforms now allow users to come and go as they please without worrying about having enough to begin investing.
However, if you are interested in more advanced investing, there is an account minimum of $2,000 to open a margin account. This type of account will allow you to borrow additional funds from Robinhood for a fee to invest.
Robinhood lets investors trade with no commissions.
This includes stock, ETF, option, and crypto trades.
Without paying the $5 per month, users need to wait upwards of 3 business days for their funds to finally settle from the bank. Waiting that long often could be the difference between a huge return and a bust.
However, all users get up to $1,000 settled instantly for investing.
With Robinhood Gold, users can access cash instantly, review level II market data, have a reduced interest rate with margin investing, and study professional research from Morningstar on 1,700+ stocks.
Investors that are on the fence can choose to take advantage of a free 30 day trial of Robinhood Gold when they sign up using our link.
Having an emergency fund is absolutely necessary if you want to protect your nest egg from unexpected emergencies or inconveniences. However, it is important that you keep this cash in a place that will give you the most bang for your buck.
This is a huge advantage over traditional banking as interest rates for savings accounts have largely been stagnant for several years. Users that store their money with Robinhood also have access to an optional debit card and 90,000 ATMs where you can withdraw your cash for free. This cash management account is a great option for those looking to have all of their money in one place.
Keeping your uninvested cash working for you is a great idea, and the savings account offered by Robinhood allows investors to do just that.
Like Public, Robinhood allows investors to purchase a dollar amount of a company instead of complete shares. This is an incredible perk that quite frankly, Robinhood was pretty slow adopting.
With this feature, you will be able to purchase shares of stocks and ETFs in $1 increments.
This makes it easier to diversify, as well as invest all of the funds in your account to eliminate any cash drag.
A key advantage with Robinhood is their retirement account options. Investors have the option to open a traditional or Roth IRA. While many brokerages offer this to their investors, Robinhood offers a key perk: matching.
Typically matching is reserved for employer sponsored retirement accounts like a 401k. With Robinhood, investors receive a 1% match on all contributions made to their IRA. This is highly unusual as no other brokerages currently offer this type of match.
Read about Robinhood's retirement account to learn more.
Robinhood allows you to trade a variety of popular cryptocurrencies 100% commission-free. Currently, the platforms supports 18 cryptocurrencies.
It is important to recognize that Robinhood Crypto is not a part of Robinhood Financial LLC.
Robinhood Crypto LLC and as such, is held in a different account which is not regulated by FINRA or insured by the FDIC. Check out our complete review of Robinhood Crypto for more.
Robinhood provides members with a highly detailed customer service help center with hundreds and hundreds of questions and answers. If members are unable to find the answer they are looking for, they can also email or request a phone call. Both emailing and requesting a phone call are managed within the app under "Help" inside of settings. Members can expect an answer to their email within 1 business day or a phone call within 30 minutes.
While this may not be as convenient as a simple phone number that you can call, it is more efficient for Robinhood as many questions can be answered in the help center.
Within the Robinhood platform, investors can access a personalized portfolio breakdown. This will break down the percentage of your portfolio held in different asset classes.
Then, investors can further segment each asset class based on the industry of the stocks or ETFs they hold.
By taking advantage of this feature, it's easy to see where your portfolio might be overly-concentrated and find potential areas for diversification.
Robinhood has also created various lists of stocks in every industry. This way, you can search for investments based on the sector rather than looking for individual companies.
Users are also able to create their own lists to segment investments based on any criteria that are important to them. As a result, it's easy to keep track of any future investments you might want to invest in in the future.
Both of these apps are built to help investors who have little to no experience investing, access the key to financial freedom; assets.
Public lets investors communicate with others to gain insight. They can also follow their favorite celebrity investors who utilize the platform. Stock slices make high-value stocks accessible to smaller investors. Lastly, investment themes take the guesswork out of building a portfolio.
Robinhood is basically the simplest way to trade stocks, ETFs, options, and crypto. They know what they do best and that is what they focus on.
Neither of these investment platforms have account minimums or commission fees so you could give them both a try and see which you prefer.
Robinhood has the edge when it comes to account types. With Robinhood, investors can trade options, invest with a retirement account, trade on margin, and even open a cash management account.
Public, on the other hand, gets the edge if you want to follow other investors and be closer to companies. Additionally, if you are interested in investing in alternative investments like art or wine, then Public is the platform for you. Public also has the advantage for those looking to be more hands off as they have prebuilt portfolios.