Selecting an investing app is one of the most important but most frequently overlooked steps in starting one's investing journey.
Many new investors simply rely on what their friends are using without exploring the options that exist. They might even see a Facebook ad and automatically think it's the platform for them.
In reality, many of the options are quite different and are tailored toward distinct audiences. Depending on your investing style, it's likely that there is at least one app tailor-made for you. It's just a matter of doing some research and learning the ins and outs of each.
In this review, we dive into two great platforms for beginners, Webull and Public.
Both are relatively new, but both have very unique roles to play.
Webull is built for active investors and provides significant research tools and data to help traders move quickly. Because of this, the app has a rather complex interface that might intimidate new investors.
Public provides a much simpler interface and is tailored to new or casual investors. The platform is quite unique thanks to its spin on social investing. One of the cornerstones of the app is the feed that gives you the ability to follow other investors and view their portfolios.
Both apps are commission-free and neither charges a monthly maintenance fee to use. On top of that, there is no required minimum for either account. So if you're a complete beginner investor, both apps will allow you to get started from scratch.
Here are the similarities and differences between Webull vs Public.
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|Account Types||Retirement, Individual Brokerage||Individual Brokerage|
|Trading Features||Stocks, ETFs, Margin Investing, Short-Selling||Stocks, ETFs|
|Platforms||Mobile app, web version, desktop version||Mobile app|
While Webull does provide a lot of data, the company has gone to great lengths to make sure this data is user-friendly and as simple as possible. It aims to supply you with all of the data and research tools you need while keeping the platform simplified and easy to use.
Investors of all experience levels should be able to navigate the platform with relative ease and make investments.
Webull offers many great features that put the power back in the hands of the investors. These features include commission-free trades, mobile, web-based, and desktop apps, paper trading, and investing data and research.
Webull offers over 5,000 stocks and ETFs, all of which trade with no commissions. Coupled with this are options that are available with $0 commissions, $0 contract fees, and $0 assignment or exercise fees. This puts a whole lot of money back into the pockets of options traders.
In addition to trading capabilities with no commissions for active traders, Webull also offers retirement accounts and is one of the only commission-free trading apps with no account minimums or account fees on its IRAs. This means you can start saving for retirement with whatever you currently have.
It was only a few years ago when investors had to build up $2,500 or more to start investing in a Roth IRA.
Webull offers traditional, Roth, and Rollover IRAs. All of which can be leveraged at different stages in the investing lifestyle to increase wealth and gain financial stability.
Margin trading is also available for investors who have over $2,000 in their account. The margin rate is variable and is determined by the size of the margin loan.
The US stock market is open to most investors from 9:30 am - 4:00 pm EST Monday through Friday. However, some investors can trade before the market opens or after the market closes.
All investors on Webull have this ability and are able to trade from 4:00 am - 8:00 pm EST Monday through Friday. This gives investors on the platform additional time to react to market-moving events like earnings reports or breaking news.
It should be noted that there is typically more volatility outside of normal market hours because of the lessened trading activity.
Fractional shares allow investors to invest in dollar amounts and not whole shares. This feature is one of the greatest innovations in modern-day investing. Webull sets itself apart from many other brokerage firms by allowing you to invest the exact amount you can afford.
Instead of saving up to purchase an expensive stock, you can buy in slowly by investing a certain dollar amount as frequently or as infrequently as you want. This reduces the amount of idle cash you'll have sitting on the sidelines within your portfolio.
On Webull, you can invest as much as you can afford. Fractional shares are another feature that has leveled the investing playing field and one that makes Webull stand out.
With Webull, you can trade on both its mobile phone app and its online web platform. This is something that not many companies offer. You can log in and manage your account on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and the web. Webull has made it possible and convenient to manage your trades from wherever is most convenient for you.
In addition, Webull offers a desktop app that you can download and utilize as a software program on your desktop as opposed to simply trading on the web version.
Using the desktop platform will provide investors with substantially more resources and tools for making effective investments. The Webull Desktop 4.0 platform is one of the most comprehensive free trading platforms we have come across in our research.
Webull offers paper trading in addition to all the free research and data. Paper trading is essentially a trading simulator that allows you to practice your trading strategies.
When you sign up for paper trading, Webull gives you $1,000,000 to trade with.
These funds of course, are not real, but they mimic the market exactly so you can see what would have happened based on your decisions.
These market simulations can help you test the waters and determine if you are up for the job of investing your own hard-earned cash. The fun doesn’t stop there, Webull is also known to hold competitions to see who the best traders are.
In 2019 it offered a first-place prize of $500 to the winner of the event.
While the emotions involved with paper trading are not the same as those of real trading, it can be a great way to get your feet wet and learn the ins and outs of the platform before your hard-earned cash is on the line.
Webull offers both fundamental and technical data. This means that no matter who you are, when you are investing in a company, you should know the basics about its income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows. These are all available within the Webull platform.
More technical research is likewise available with Webull. Take advantage of the 20+ technical indicators to gauge your investing decisions. These technical indicators are pretty advanced for most investors and many free brokerages simply don’t offer them.
However, a word to the wise, all this information can be a bit overwhelming. So do your research and make sure you are focusing on the most important data points without suffering from analysis paralysis.
On the Webull platform, investors have the ability to buy and sell a number of different cryptocurrencies. These include Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and more.
There are no commissions on crypto trades and you are able to buy and sell 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, there is a 100-basis point spread on either side of a crypto trade.
It is important to note that no cryptocurrency purchased on Webull can be transferred off of the platform. This is significant because, unlike other investments that are protected by SIPC insurance, cryptos do not receive the same protections.
For this reason, many seasoned crypto investors prefer to store their coins in an offline wallet. In order to do this, you'll need to go through a broker that specializes in cryptos like Coinbase.
Public has inserted itself into the crowded space by integrating a well-loved feature into investing... social media.
That’s right, Public has brought a new product to market by merging two completely different worlds: investing and social media. This platform enables investors looking to make money and friends to collaborate with like-minded individuals who share a passion for building wealth.
Public offers standard features like zero account minimums, no commissions, and fractional shares. However, it mixes these with innovative offerings like chat/social functions. All these make Public a great option for first-time investors.
Public allows investors to follow investing favorites and connect with friends and see their investing activity. Observe where your friends are making moves and putting their money through a Twitter-like feed of comments and actions.
Some new investors might feel a little uneasy at the thought of divulging their stock moves and preferences. However, don’t let this feature intimidate you. Instead, recognize that although you don’t know everything, neither does anyone else. This is a great chance to get feedback on your strategy from advanced and seasoned investors.
In addition, you can follow investors you look up to on the platform in order to learn from the best.
Public, just like the many brokerage accounts that came before and the many that will come after, has no account minimums on its investment accounts. This means you can invest as much, or as little as you want to start out your investing journey.
Previously, almost all brokerage fees required large sums of money to begin investing and this was seen as a large barrier for those trying to improve their finances. This feature of no account minimums means that the playing field has been leveled for all retail investors.
Public has waived all commissions on stock and ETF trades. This is a great benefit for all users!
Now, each dollar that you make in returns, you get to keep (excluding capital gains taxes).
Public also offers automatic dividend reinvestment (DRIP). This is a great feature because investing your dividends is a lot like compound interest. You get to earn money on the money you have accumulated thanks to the dividends paid out! This is one advantage that Public has over Webull which does not currently offer DRIP.
Of course, you can still choose to take your dividends as cash, but most long-term investors will do well to reinvest their dividends to speed up their portfolio's growth.
Just like Webull, Public allows users to trade in fractional shares. This is a huge value add to users on Public and is becoming mainstream on many investing platforms.
Public has over 5,000 stocks to choose from. These include big-ticket companies like Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. With Public, you can organize watch lists and even search for categories of companies instead of entering specific names.
For example, if you want to invest in women- or minority-led companies, Public has a category for that. This can significantly cut down on your research time if you're not looking to go too in-depth.
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 touts several ETFs created by some of the biggest names in investing: 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.
By taking advantage of these low-cost options, investors can easily diversify their portfolios without spending hours researching individual companies.
Although there are no commission fees, there are still some costs that may occasionally arise.
Here are some fees to be aware of with Public:
Most of these fees do not apply to the majority of investors, however, if you're thinking about taking one of these actions, you'll want to be aware of any potential fees.
The decision between Webull or Public comes down to what you are looking to get out of your brokerage.
Both are going to offer you stock and ETF trading that is 100% commission-free. However, Webull takes this a step further by offering commission-free options trading and margin accounts.
If you want to invest for retirement, Webull offers IRAs while Public does not. Both platforms offer fractional shares for all investors.
Webull is designed for beginner to intermediate traders who want access to lots of research tools and data. Public has less information available, making it more beginner-friendly. Public is for those who are looking to make investing a social experience.
If you plan to do a lot of active trading or day trading, Webull will be your best bet since Public does not allow day trading. However, if you're just looking for something simple to set up for the long term in a few minutes, you might be better off going with Public.
At the end of the day, both are free, so maybe try each one to see which you prefer!