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Written by Ryan Scribner on June 9, 2021
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Webull vs M1 Finance 2021: Best Free Investing App?

With so many investing and trading platforms, it can be difficult to choose which is best for you. Recently, a variety of commission-free trading platforms have emerged. In this article, we are going to review two of the top trading platforms available today: Webull and M1 Finance.

Webull is a commission-free brokerage that has no account minimum and offers 2 FREE stocks once you sign-up and fund your account with $100.

M1 Finance offers free stock and ETF investing as well as prebuilt portfolios. With a $100 minimum ($500 for retirement accounts) you can get started using M1 Finance for free.

The platforms are similar in many respects. However, they are tailored toward two very different types of investors.

Let's break these two platforms down to determine which one is best for you.


Webull vs M1 Finance: The Basics

Webull is best for intermediate to advanced investors because of its focus on in-depth analysis and a wide variety of tools. This platform is sleek and easy to use although it may be overwhelming for beginner investors. Think of Webull as a more advanced version of Robinhood. Webull does not offer fractional shares but does offer other services like a free virtual trading simulator and crypto trading.

M1 Finance is colloquially known as the finance super app because it aims to provide all the necessities of a healthy financial life. This platform offers tools for those interested in investing, borrowing, and spending their cash. The investing features are unique with the ability for users to create their own portfolios and invest in several hand-picked stocks at once.

Webull vs M1 Finance Summary

  • Webull offers free trading of stocks, ETFs, options, and crypto
  • It also has a $0 account minimum to open an account
  • M1 Finance offers free investing for stocks and ETFs and has a $100 account minimum ($500 for retirement accounts)
  • The basic account on M1 Finance only offers one trading window per day, making it a better platform for long-term investors rather than frequent traders.
  • Webull offers a more advanced trading platform for active investors and those who frequently trade in and out of positions.
  • M1 Finance focuses on long-term investing using portfolios called "pies".
  • It also offers pre-built portfolios for free
  • Webull offers a more technical user interface with charting, analyst ratings, fundamentals, and news data.
  • M1 Finance has tax minimization and fractional shares, Webull does not offer fractional shares.
FeatureWebullM1 Finance
Minimum Balance$0$100 ($500 Retirement)
Trading CommissionsNoneNone
Account TypesTaxable, RetirementTaxable, Retirement, SEP, Checking
Sign Up Incentive2 Free StocksNone
Fractional SharesNoYes
Dividend ReinvestmentNoYes
Trading SimulatorYesNo
DataAdvancedBasic
Rebalancing ToolsNoYes
Prebuilt PortfoliosNoYes
IPO InvestingYesNo
AssetsStocks, ETFs, Options, Short SellingStocks, ETFs
Trading WindowOpen1 Per Day (2 With M1 Plus)
Best ForIntermediate Active TradersLong Term/Dividend Investors

Both M1 Finance vs Webull are free trading platforms, but they differ in a few areas. M1 Finance offers free portfolio building using stocks and ETFs. Webull offers a trading platform where users can exchange stocks, ETFs, and options. M1 Finance offers fractional shares and tax minimization but has a $100 minimum.

Product Features Overall Price Buy Now
webull review

Webull Review 2021: Best Free Investing App?

  • Pricing
  • Data & Charting Tools
  • Beginner Friendly
  • Account Types
  • Sign Up Incentive
  • Assets
Download Webull
m1 finance review

M1 Finance Review 2021: Best Free Investing App?

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

What Is M1 Finance?

M1 finance investing platform allows you to invest in individual stocks and ETFs for free. M1 charges no commissions or fees to invest. With a $100 minimum investment M1 gives investors access to their dynamic application.

M1 Finance was launched in 2015 and is an online robo-advisor and brokerage hybrid for everyday people who want to invest in stocks or exchange traded funds (ETFs).

M1 Finance combines features of a traditional brokerage account with a modern robo-advisor. First, you select your investments and your allocations. Then, you automate the entire portfolio! Check out our detailed review of M1 Finance here.

M1 Finance focuses on low-cost passive investing with additional features such as automatic rebalancing, professionally built portfolios, and tax minimization strategies. The only fees you pay are the fees associated with any ETFs you invest in. M1 Finance is a completely free investing platform!

M1 Finance Summary:

  • Commission-Free: Stocks and ETFs
  • Account Types: Individual, Joint, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA
  • Account Minimums: $100 for individual accounts, $500 for retirement accounts
  • Top Features: Free pre-built portfolios, fractional shares, free retirement accounts, low account minimum, beginner-friendly interface.

Best Free Stock Promotions

BrokeragePromotionLink
Robinhood Logo1 Free Stock (Up To $225)Download
Webull Logo2 Free Stocks (Up To $1,850)Download
Firstrade trading platform2 Free Stocks (Up To $400)Download
M1 Finance Robo AdvisorGet $30 When You Deposit $1,000Download
Acorns LogoFree $10 BonusDownload
SoFi Robo Advisor1 Free Stock Up To $1,000Download

M1 Finance Features

The comprehensive feature set of M1 Finance makes it an attractive choice compared to many of the other free investing apps on the market.

Custom Portfolios

M1 Finance operates by creating portfolios of stocks and ETFs called “Pies”. You can customize your pie and choose the specific stocks and ETFs that you want to add to your portfolio. For example, you could build a pie with 50% Tesla stock and 50% Google stock.

Within each pie, you can have up to 100 stocks or ETFs. Each can carry a different weight in the portfolio. There is no limit on the number of pies you can have in your M1 Finance account! For example, you could have one growth-oriented pie and one income-oriented pie in your M1 Finance account.

Pre-built Portfolios

M1 also offers pre-built pies that are free to invest in, these are called expert pies. You can invest in these pre-built portfolios based on your investment time horizon and personal preferences.

It is important to understand that these portfolios or expert pies are not tailored to any one person. Each investor has a unique set of circumstances. If you want a personalized portfolio, you should consider a robo advisor like Betterment or a financial advisor. Betterment is another cutting-edge platform that saves investors money by leveraging technology.

Most investing platforms charge an asset management fee in exchange for any kind of investment guidance. M1 Finance offers these pre-built pies for free. They do not charge any fees outside of the ETF expense ratio. This expense is present regardless of the platform you choose to invest with.

M1 Finance Free Training

We put together a free 30 minute video training that walks you through the entire process, step by step. This training will help you get up and running in no time at all.

GET THE GUIDE

Fractional Shares

M1 Finance also allows you to buy fractional shares of a corporation within your pie. For example, if your M1 Finance account has a balance of $1,000 but you would like to buy a share of Amazon for $3,000+, you can purchase a partial share of Amazon to hold in your portfolio. With fractional shares, you can buy as little as 1/10,000th of a share!

This keeps more of your money invested and less idle cash sitting on the sidelines. It also prevents a high share price from being a barrier to your investing.

Retirement Accounts

M1 Finance offers investors the ability to take advantage of retirement accounts including IRAs, Roth IRAs, SEP IRAs, and even trust accounts.

These accounts allow for a reduction in the tax liability due on your investment gains provided you don't withdraw your cash until retirement. Additionally, trust accounts provide the ability to plan for future generations and ensure your wealth lives beyond your life.

M1 Spend

The M1 Finance platform offers a free checking account in addition to the investment tools available. With the M1 Finance basic account, you won't earn any interest or be eligible for any cash back when spending on the debit card you are issued.

However, by upgrading to M1 Plus ($125/year), you'll earn an above-average APY on the account and get 1% cash back on all of your spending on the card. This comes in addition to multiple other features and perks exclusive to M1 Plus users.

Portfolio Automation

As a platform that focuses on passive investing, M1 provides a host of features that aim to simplify and automate the investing process.

First, you are able to set up automatic recurring deposits into your M1 Finance pies. This allows you to follow a dollar-cost averaging strategy without the discipline or time that doing so would typically require.

Personally, I have a recurring deposit set up every 2 weeks to deposit $100 into my M1 Finance portfolio. This keeps my portfolio growing without me needing to do anything.

Smart Transfers

The next automation feature that sets M1 Finance apart is Smart Transfers. Smart Transfers take recurring deposits up a notch by creating logic-based rules for your M1 Finance account.

For example, if you know you want to keep $1,500 in your checking account at all times and invest any money above that amount, Smart Transfer is a great solution. M1 will monitor your checking account and whenever the balance is over that threshold, the rest will automatically be moved to your investments.

Currently, this feature is only open to M1 Plus investors but it's possible that over time it could be rolled out to a wider audience.

M1 Plus

M1 Plus

For investors looking for additional features beyond what M1 Finance Basic offers, they can choose to subscribe to M1 Plus. This $125 per year service will provide four main benefits not included in the standard M1 Finance Basic features.

  1. Access to a second trading window in the afternoon.
  2. Lower interest rates when using M1 Borrow.
  3. 1% Cash back on all purchases made with your M1 Finance debit card.
  4. 1% APY on the balance of your M1 Spend account. (without M1 Plus, you won't earn any interest on this account)

Clearly, most users won't need M1 Plus. However, for some these features will be well worth the price tag.

M1 Finance Pros

  • M1 Finance has no fees or commissions to use the platform
  • Free access to professionally-built expert pies
  • Automated rebalancing tools to save you more time and make investing seamless
  • Free dividend reinvestment program
  • Access to high-yield checking account
  • Lower interest rates on margin borrowing
  • Simple interface for long-term investors
  • Automatic diversification through pie investing

M1 Finance Cons

  • Not well-suited for active traders
  • Limited to one trading window per day
  • Cannot buy or sell options or crypto on the platform

Who Is M1 Finance For?

M1 Finance has a great platform for long-term investors. In most cases, the ideal user for M1 Finance is someone who is a somewhat passive investor, relatively fee sensitive, and does not want to spend a significant time managing their investments.

M1 Finance offers a greater amount of flexibility because you can choose exactly what you invest in. Most other robo-advisors limit you to a handful of ETFs.

M1 Finance is also a great platform for dividend investors. Your dividends will be automatically reinvested back into your portfolio once the cash balance exceeds $10. Other free investing platforms like Robinhood and Webull do not offer any kind of automated dividend reinvestment. Typical brokerage accounts that offer dividend reinvestment and fractional shares charge a fee for this service.

What Is Webull?

Webull is a commission-free stock and ETF trading platform. It is ideal for the active trader who is looking for a more dynamic user interface. Webull has a variety of features that benefit traders such as technical indicators, research agency ratings, financial calendars, and free margin trading as well as short selling, options trading, and crypto trading.

With easy access to margin, research tools, and live data, Webull has built an ideal platform for active traders. Check out our detailed review of Webull here.

Webull is a platform that is designed for the intermediate trader who already has some experience with the stock market. If you are a complete beginner, you might experience information overload.

Webull Summary

  • Free trading: stocks, ETFs, options, and crypto.
  • Account Types: Individual, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA
  • Account Minimums: $0
  • Top Features: Commission-free trading, real-time market data, commission-free short-selling, trading simulator, advanced mobile app.

Webull Free Stock Promotion!

If you sign up via our link, you will two free stocks! You just have to open an account and fund it with at least $100. Webull also frequently raises their promotion to multiple stocks, so make sure to check the button below to see how many stocks they are giving away.

Webull Features

Technical Indicators: Webull has a variety of technical indicators available on the platform. You can choose from up to 22 technical indicators such as moving averages, relative strength indexes, and more. Here is the full list in our complete Webull review.

Virtual Trading Simulator: Webull has a useful feature called the virtual trading simulator. This feature lets you create a virtual portfolio with fake money to test out strategies before risking real money. This is an ideal feature for someone just starting out who may need to gain more investing knowledge and know-how before investing real money.

Smart Alerts: Webull lets you set a variety of alerts for different holdings. You can get an alert when a price level is hit, or a rate of change has hit a defined level. There are also alerts for volume levels or changes, this can be useful for traders to get a sense of where the stock may be headed in the short term.

Financial Calendar: The financial calendar feature keeps you informed on all the latest and upcoming financial news. Important events such as upcoming IPOs, dividend payouts, and earnings releases are all provided to you in a calendar format on the Webull platform.

Margin Trading: Webull allows margin trading on its platform to certain users. You must have a minimum account balance of $2,000 for margin trading access. Check out this site for Webull's margin interest rates. 

Extended Hours Trading: Webull offers after-hours and pre-market trading. You can trade securities from 4 am to 8 pm on the Webull platform offering more flexibility in placing trades.

Commission-Free Short Selling: There are no trading commissions to short a stock in Webull. Short selling occurs in a margin account, but all trades are completely free.

Free Crypto Trading: Webull now allows users to trade four different cryptocurrencies on their platform. These are Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash. It's likely that as time goes on, Webull will add more cryptos to invest in but time will tell.

Webull Free Training

We put together a free 30 minute video training that walks you through the entire process, step by step. This training will help you get up and running in no time at all.

GET THE GUIDE

Webull Pros

  • Commission-free trading of stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency
  • Advanced features make the platform attractive to active traders
  • Ability to actively buy and sell individual stocks and ETFs throughout the day
  • Increased access to research and screening tools
  • Access to trading both options and cryptocurrencies
  • Advanced desktop trading platform called Webull Desktop 4.0
  • Ability to paper trade $1,000,000 in fake money

Webull Cons

  • Webull does not offer fractional shares on its platform
  • The Webull interface can be intimidating for complete beginners
  • Higher interest rates for margin borrowing
  • Webull does not provide automatic rebalancing of your portfolio

webull app

Who Is Webull For?

Webull is ideal for active traders who focus on investment research. Webull provides an array of research tools for both technical and fundamental investment researchers.

In most cases, this platform is best for those with some prior investment experience. If you are completely new to investing in the stock market, you might be overwhelmed by the number of research tools available to you.

But if you have experience trading in the market, Webull will likely have many of the features you have been missing out on with other free investing apps.

If you sign up via our link and fund your account with at least $100, you will get 2 free stocks!

Webull vs M1 Finance: Final Thoughts

M1 Finance and Webull are both very powerful investing platforms. A decade ago the features available on these platforms were only offered by the best and most advanced investment companies to wealthy individuals. Now, with so many platforms available to the retail investor, people have a wide variety of options to choose from.

We believe M1 Finance and Webull offer two different services that each meet its own target user. In most cases, M1 Finance is a good platform for someone who is investing for the long term and using a relatively passive investing approach.

Whereas Webull fits best with more of an active trading style. Investors who use technical indicators and those who need to make more frequent trades would be better off using the Webull platform. In the end, both platforms are free so you can always give both a try and see which is best for you!

webull vs m1 finance
Article written by Ryan Scribner
Ryan Scribner is a personal finance YouTuber that is approaching 500,000 subscribers on his channel. He has created a thriving business around his passion, which is helping others navigate the complicated world of investing.

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