What are the best Robinhood alternatives for retail investors?
Founded in 2013, Robinhood is a relatively young stock broker that took the market by storm, becoming one of the largest brokers in the world. Today, Robinhood serves more than 13 million active traders and has become a favorite among new investors.
In mid-2020, the trading platform experienced an outage. Day traders were forced to sit and wait as their portfolio values tumbled. Investors were unable to buy or sell their shares at all. According to CNBC, the outage led to a class-action lawsuit against the company, in which complainants argued that they missed out on what could have been some of the highest single-day gains in market history.
Other users were similarly miffed in late January 2021 when Robinhood and several other brokers suspended buy orders for GameStop and AMC stocks after trade volumes spiked during what was later called The Big Short Squeeze, preventing users from buying these stocks amid their heightened volatility.
Some members began to abandon ship, looking for alternatives. If you’re one of them, read on.
The Best Robinhood Alternatives
With all that the company offers, are there any compelling alternatives out there that hold a candle to Robinhood?
Yes, there are! Here’s a list of several to consider.
Founded in 1982 as a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, E*Trade is an online discount broker with a pedigree. Today, the broker serves more than 7.1 million investors and offers one of the most popular investing apps online.
The platform is functionally similar to Robinhood, providing many of the same features plus a few extras, including:
- Free Trades. Like Robinhood, E*Trade offers its investors commission-free trades. Keep in mind that free trades mean you don’t pay commission on your trades, but they will still be subject to regulatory expenses.
- Forex. Investors on the platform have access to the foreign exchange (forex) market, which Robinhood doesn’t have.
- Ease of Use. At first glance, the company’s trading platform may seem convoluted compared with Robinhood’s, but as you dive in and begin trading, you’ll quickly realize that all the tools you need happen to be right where you need them as you invest, making it one of the easiest platforms to use.
- Derivatives Trading. E*Trade supports options and futures trading, allowing its investors to take advantage of the derivatives market.
- Other Trading and Investing Options. With an E*Trade brokerage account, you’ll have several options in terms of the assets you will be able to invest in. Outside of forex, stocks, and derivatives, users also have access to mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), bonds, certificates of deposit (CDs), and prebuilt portfolios designed by market-leading experts.
- Advisor Services. Robinhood investors don’t have access to financial advisors that can guide them on their wealth-building journey. However, investors who take advantage of E*Trade services have the option to work with a certified financial advisor when making their investment decisions.
- Detailed Charts. If you take part in day trading, technical analysis is crucial. So, it’s important that you have the tools necessary for solid charts. Although Robinhood does offer some charting features, the detail and sheer number of indicators offered at E*Trade beat those offered by Robinhood by far.
- An Intuitive App. The company also offers a mobile app, allowing investors who use the platform to trade on the go. The mobile app is just as intuitive and user-friendly as the desktop application.
As a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley, E*Trade is a highly reputable online brokerage firm.
Although the platform is missing some features offered by Robinhood — including fractional shares, access to cryptocurrency, and free stock promotions — it makes up for these pitfalls with options Robinhood doesn’t offer. These include futures trading, bonds, CDs, advisory services, and a market-leading list of prebuilt portfolios.
2. TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade is another well-known investment brokerage. Founded in 1975, the brokerage has a long history of assisting its clients in achieving higher levels of wealth.
According to the company, more than 11 million investors actively use one of TD Ameritrade’s platforms, including its newest platform called thinkorswim. Some of the benefits to using the company’s services include:
- Commission-Free Trading. Like Robinhood and a long list of other online brokers, TD Ameritrade doesn’t charge commissions on trades. As with any other broker, you will be required to pay regulatory fees as you trade.
- Charts. The thinkorswim platform was designed by traders for traders. So, if there’s an indicator you need for your stock trading and investing activities, you can bet that you’ll find it on the platform.
- OTC Stocks. Robinhood and most online platforms only offer stocks listed on major exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. Investors who use TD Ameritrade have access to over-the-counter (OTC) pink sheets and stocks listed on the OTC Bulletin Board as well.
- Other Investment Options. TD Ameritrade provides widespread access to financial markets. Not only will you have access to domestic stocks — both OTC and listed on major exchanges — as well as derivatives, but you’ll also have access to international markets, mutual funds, ETFs, and bonds.
- Automated Investing. You’ll also gain access to an automated investing service for those who don’t have the time or expertise to manage their own portfolios. Once enrolled, your investing dollars will be invested in a list of diversified, low-cost funds, providing widespread exposure to the market as a whole.
- Advisor Services. The company has a team of financial advisors ready to assist its customers on their journey through the market.
- Mobile Trading App. Finally, users also enjoy the company’s intuitive mobile platform that provides everything the desktop platform offers in an easy-to-use way.
TD Ameritrade is one of the most trusted brokers on Wall Street. The company’s customers enjoy the intuitive trading tools offered through the thinkorswim platform and the ability to take a relatively hands-off approach with the company’s automated investing service.
For more information, read our TD Ameritrade review.
Founded in 2017, Webull is yet another relatively new broker that’s making a big splash among investors, especially beginners. In just a few short years, the company has grown to serve more than 10 million active members.
So, what drives investors to the Webull platform?
- Commission-Free Trading. Although you will be responsible for regulatory fees associated with your trading activities as with any broker, the company doesn’t charge commissions on any trade, helping to reduce the cost associated with investing.
- Charts. The platform comes with compelling interactive charts, complete with all the indicators you’ll need for successful trading.
- Cryptocurrency Trading. Webull offers its customers the ability to buy and sell a long list of cryptocurrencies, including popular coins like Bitcoin, Etherium, Ripple, and Litecoin.
- Other Investing Options. You’ll have access to stocks listed on major exchanges, options, and ETFs, in addition to a long list of cryptocurrency-related assets.
- Impressive App. The mobile platform offered by Webull is equipped with all the features you’ll find in the desktop version, including an expansive suite of indicators and a stock screener.
- Free Stock Promotions. When you open an account with WeBull, you’ll receive 2 free stocks valued between $3 and $300. Once the account is funded, you’ll receive up to 10 additional fractional share stocks valued between $7 and $3,000, for a total potential bonus value of more than $30,000.
Webull is a 100% online brokerage that puts heavy emphasis on the idea that cutting-edge technology has the potential to improve your returns in the stock market.
As a result, the company has built a solid platform complete with various trading options, first-in-class tools, and a stock screener that makes finding the types of stocks you’re looking for a relatively simple process.
For more information, read our Webull review.
4. M1 Finance
Founded in 2015, M1 Finance is yet another relatively new online company that’s making waves on Wall Street.
At the moment, M1 Finance is small compared to other brokers, having around 500,000 users and about $4.5 billion in assets under management. Nonetheless, the platform is growing quickly, and for several reasons, namely:
- Commission-Free Trading. The company has never charged commissions for trades made on its platform.
- Automated Trading. Once you create and employ your investing strategy, the platform keeps your portfolio in balance automatically, making manual rebalancing on a monthly or quarterly basis a thing of the past. Keep in mind that it’s still important to stay on top of your investments and be abreast of what the companies represented by them are doing.
- Fractional Shares. Letting users purchase fractional shares hasn’t quite swept all the major brokerages as of yet. However, there are a handful of companies that offer them. M1 Finance is one among that handful.
- Quality Charts. The company’s services are designed for the self-directed investor. This means that the platform was designed to include all the tools that you would need to make successful investment decisions, including high-quality, real-time charts.
- An Intuitive Trading App. Users also have access to an intuitive mobile platform that’s among the best, featuring all the tools the desktop platform offers.
While M1 Finance is relatively young when compared to other brokerage firms, both online and off, the company is quickly grabbing the attention of the retail investing community with trading tools designed to turn beginner investors into experts.
For more information, read our M1 Finance review.
5. Ally Invest
Founded in 1919, Ally Financial has been around for quite some time and is a well-respected member of the investing community. At present, the firm serves more than 406,000 investors with more than $13 billion in assets under management.
Here’s why investors choose to invest with Ally Invest:
- Semi-Commission-Free Trading. If you’re trading above the penny stock category, you won’t have to worry about commissions. However, any stock or fund with a price of under $2 per share will come with a base commission of $4.95 per trade plus $0.01 per share.
- A Wide Range of Assets. Aside from stocks and ETFs, investors will also have access to mutual funds, options, and bonds.
- Automated Investing. For investors who don’t have the time or expertise to manage their own investments, Ally Invest offers managed portfolio investing. Its portfolios are managed by a highly-regarded team of experts and there are no advisory fees or rebalancing fees for taking part in the service.
- Intuitive Tools. Ally Invest offers its investors some of the most intuitive tools on the market today, inclusive of charting tools and a complete education center that will teach you the ropes.
- Simple Yet Effective App. The mobile platform offered by Ally Invest is so simple that it feels like it’s missing something. However, as you start using it, you’ll quickly realize that’s not the case — the app has everything the desktop platform has but in an elegant mobile layout that’s simple to understand.
As one of the oldest companies on this list, Ally is a brand that has earned a high level of trust in the investing community.
Although the Ally Invest online platform may not be a good option for those looking to trade penny stocks thanks to the fees associated with trading these assets on the platform, it is a great option for the beginner investor looking to invest in well-established companies.
For more information, read our Ally Invest review.
Acorns is a robo-advisor and micro-investing platform that’s gained quite a bit of steam over the past few years. Since its inception, the company has built a client base of more than 8.2 million investors with more than $4.7 billion in assets under management.
However, Acorns isn’t your average broker. The firm is a robo-advisor that takes the work completely out of investing. The basic investing model is that by rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and adding the change to your investment account, you’ll be able to invest a meaningful amount of money over a longer period of time.
Your spare-change deposits are then invested in a series of ETFs, providing diversified exposure to the market. Here’s why the company has become so popular:
- Low Cost. Plans start at just $3 per month for automated investing of your rounded-up change and any recurring transfers you’d like to set up, plus personal banking features and tax-advantaged retirement accounts. The most expensive plan — just $5 per month — covers your entire family, allowing you to open investing accounts for your children and teach them about building wealth in the market.
- Hands Off. Acorns is a completely hands-off approach to investing. You won’t have to spend time researching, building, and rebalancing your portfolio. That will all be managed for you by a world-class team of experts.
- Job Search. Not only will the company help you land a new job, giving you the ability to earn more money, but they’ll also reward you for doing so through the Acorns Earn program.
- Earn Rewards. When you shop through the Acorns app at popular brands like Walmart, Apple, and Chevron, a percentage of your purchase amount will be deposited into your investing account, expanding your earnings potential in financial markets.
- Track Your Spending. Acorns isn’t just an investing app — it’s an all-inclusive personal finance app that’s designed to help you achieve financial freedom through fiscal responsibility from earning more money to spending and saving it wisely.
Acorns isn’t your typical investment broker, and if you’re looking to pick your own stocks or take part in day trading, it’s not a good option for you.
However, if you’re looking for a way for your spare change to assist you in building wealth, you want to improve your financial stability through better spending habits and higher earnings, and you want to learn how to control your financial lifestyle, Acorns is a great option for you.
For more information, read our Acorns review.
Founded in 2008, Betterment was one of the first robo-advisors to appear on the market. Today, the company has more than 615,000 users and more than $29 billion in assets under management.
Some of the most significant perks to using this automated approach to investing include:
- Low-Cost Investing. Betterment only charges an annual fee of 0.25% of the assets they manage for you. For example, if you invest $10,000 in your account, you’ll pay an annual fee of $25.
- Set It and Forget It. Through the platform, you can make deposits at will or set up monthly transfers into the account. Once money is deposited, your investing account will be managed for you, giving you the ability to focus your time on other things.
- Set Your Asset Allocation. With Betterment, a percentage of your portfolio is invested in highly diversified funds with the remaining funds in your portfolio being invested in a highly diversified list of bonds. On the platform, you can choose to keep the asset allocation the company sets for you based on your goals or customize your allocation to adjust for your unique appetite for risk.
- Let Betterment Guide You. When using the platform, you can set specific goals like retirement, saving for education, or saving for the down payment on a new house. When setting your goals, answer the questionnaire regarding how much money you’ll need and how quickly you’d like to save that amount and the platform will create an investing plan for you designed to help you achieve your goals.
- High-Yield Cash Savings. The company also gives you the ability to set up a cash reserve account, ensuring that you have liquid funds available at any time. The money held in your cash reserve account will earn substantially higher interest than a traditional savings account.
All in all, Betterment is a great option for someone looking to buy a home or cover another high-cost expense over the next few years and who wants to use the stock market as a means to build their savings account to do so.
For more information, read our Betterment review.
Founded in 1946, Fidelity is another investment brokerage that has a long history of doing right by its customers. Today, the firm serves more than 83.4 million investors with more than $10.4 trillion in customer assets under management.
Here’s why so many people invest with the company:
- Commission-Free Trading. If you choose to trade with Fidelity, you’ll never pay commissions on your trades.
- Top-Notch Charts. As one of the largest and most trusted brokerages on Wall Street today, Fidelity offers some of the highest quality real-time chart technology on the market with all the indicators you’ll need to achieve success, whether you’re investing or trading.
- Analyst Opinions and Commentary. Although it’s never a good idea to blindly follow any expert’s opinions, it is a good idea to use their opinions as a source of validation for your own. Fidelity offers content from more than 20 highly regarded Wall Street experts, assisting its members in making educated investment decisions.
- Stocks by the Slice. One of the primary drivers of Robinhood’s popularity is the ability to buy and sell fractional shares. Stocks by the Slice from Fidelity offers the same functionality. Through the platform, you’ll be able to buy fractional shares based on the dollar amount you’d like to invest rather than being forced to buy a whole share at the current price of the stock.
- Personal Banking. Fidelity also offers a suite of personal banking products, complete with checking accounts, savings accounts, and debit cards.
- Investment-Grade Funds. Investors who use Fidelity will have access to ETFs and other styles of funds, many of which come with market-leading expense ratios.
- Retirement Accounts. Fidelity is a go-to source for retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs.
As one of the most highly-respected firms on Wall Street today, Fidelity is a prime choice for traders looking for Robinhood alternatives, especially those looking for the opportunity to trade with no minimums, buy slices of shares, and avoid commissions associated with their trading activities.
Founded in 1985, Firstrade Securities has been serving customers for well over three decades. Investors who use the platform enjoy the following benefits:
- Commission-Free Trading. Like many others on this list, the company doesn’t charge trade-related commissions.
- Zero Contract Fee on Options. The vast majority of brokers, even brokers that don’t charge commissions, charge contract fees for options. Firstrade goes against the grain, offering options with zero contract fee.
- Plenty of Investing Choices. When you invest with the firm, you’ll enjoy access to a long list of investment assets, including stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, and options.
- Free Stock Promotions. Like Robinhood and Webull, Firstrade realizes how quickly offering free shares of stocks can drive new users to its platform. You’ll earn a free share every time you refer a friend through the platform.
- Comprehensive Research. You’ll also gain free access to comprehensive research from credible sources like Benzinga, Zacks, and Morningstar.
- A Great Option for Chinese Speakers. Firstrade offers world-class customer service. Moreover, they have fluent Chinese-speaking customer service representatives along with training materials, research reports, and other materials that are often translated into Chinese.
- High-Quality Trading App. The company’s app is on par with, if not better than, the Robinhood app, featuring high-quality trading tools including top-notch charts and investment research.
Compared with other established zero-commission platforms, Firstrade’s web platform is outdated, but the company makes up for it with an intuitive mobile application and additional perks not commonly seen among online brokerages, like zero contract fees on options and comprehensive research syndication.
10. Charles Schwab
Founded in 1971, Charles Schwab is yet another well-respected brokerage with a history of assisting investors in building their wealth. Today, the company is one of the largest investment brokerage firms in the United States, boasting more than 32.4 million active accounts.
Here’s why so many people trust Schwab with their investing dollars:
- Commission-Free Trades. Charles Schwab wasn’t always on the free commission bandwagon, but as the trend began to spread across Wall Street, it quickly adapted to become one. Today, all trades made through the company’s online platform are commission-free.
- Automated Investing. The platform is the home of Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. These portfolios give investors the opportunity to have their portfolio managed for them by some of the most well-respected members of the Wall Street community.
- Several Assets to Choose From. Investors love choices. Charles Schwab gives investors access to a wide range of investments, including stocks, bonds, CDs, ETFs, mutual funds, index funds, money market funds, options, and futures.
- Market-Leading Educational Materials. Well-researched, educated decisions are the basis of successful investing. If you’re a beginner, you’ll be well served by reading the educational materials offered by Charles Schwab. The company’s education center is one of the most comprehensive guides to building wealth in the market online today.
- Access to Advisors. Investors have access to the company’s advisory services, making this a great option for those who like having an advisor in their corner.
- Personal Banking. Working with the firm, you can manage all your money in one place. On top of its long list of investing services, Schwab also offers personal banking services including both checking and savings accounts.
Charles Schwab has grown to be one of the largest investment brokerages in the United States because the company puts its investors first.
With compelling educational materials, plenty of options to maintain a well-diversified portfolio, and access to pros when you’re in need, it’s no wonder so many investors use the broker.
Stash is a company built around the idea that small investments now can make huge differences in the future. The company encourages its investors to make a series of small investments and wise financial decisions, a process that has built wealth for many.
Today, more than 5 million people use Stash, and that number is growing quickly. Here’s why:
- Low-Cost Investing. Stash charges between $1 and $9 per month, depending on the type of account you have and the investments you make.
- Fractional Shares. The firm was one of the early adopters of fractional shares among discount online brokers. As a result, members of the company’s trading platform will have the ability to buy shares based on dollar amounts they wish to invest rather than being limited to buying whole shares.
- Stock-Back Card. Using the Stash Stock-Back Card — a rewards debit card — investors will earn stock back on their purchases, allowing for automatic investments based on your spending. At the moment, Stash is the only company offering this type of perk, which acts like a cash-back rewards program but rewards users with stock instead of points.
- Invest for Your Children. With Stash, you’re able to set up investment accounts for your children, giving you the ability to set your kids on a strong financial foundation with an understanding of how investing works and why it’s important.
- Personal Banking Services. The company offers personal banking services, including checking and savings accounts, complete with a Stash-branded debit card.
- Quality Mobile App. Finally, the service was built as a platform for millennials. So, it only makes sense that the company offers a high-quality mobile platform, making investing on the go a possibility.
If you’re looking for free investing opportunities, Stash isn’t it.
However, if you’d like to work with a broker that rewards you with stock and focuses on improving your overall financial stability while giving you the opportunity to teach your children about investing, Stash just may be a great fit.
For more information, read our Stash review.
Founded in 2017, Public.com is a relatively new broker, but that hasn’t stopped more than a million members from joining, and for several good reasons. Here’s what’s driving the masses to Public:
- No Commissions. When trading on the platform, you won’t be charged commissions for your trade, but the discount here actually goes a step further. Some brokers use Payment for Order Flow services, receiving compensation to route orders to third parties. This platform isn’t one of them. Instead, the platform comes with a “Tip Your Broker ” feature, giving users the option to tip the company for facilitating the trade, completely eliminating hidden fees and any conflict of interests for the broker.
- Public Portfolios. A great way for beginners to get a grasp of strong portfolios in the stock market is to look into other, successful portfolios. When using the platform, your portfolio is made public and you’ll have the ability to browse portfolios of other members, adding a social twist to the investing process.
- Fractional Shares. When investing with Public, you’ll be able to invest in fractions of shares based on dollar amounts you wish to invest, rather than being limited to purchasing whole shares.
- A Simple Interface. While more experienced traders may be turned off by the lack of features on the platform, it’s a great option for many investors, especially beginners who want to take a simple approach with an easy-to-use interface.
- Quality App. If you live an on-the-go lifestyle, you’ll love the company’s mobile app, which is designed with the same “simple and better” approach the desktop platform provides.
While the platform isn’t a great option for active traders that require a robust set of indicators and charting features, it is a great option for investors who take a more fundamental approach.
This is especially the case when you consider the industry-leading low fees, social features, and simplistic approach the platform offers.
Last but far from least is SoFi, a discount online broker that launched in 2011. The company boasts more than 1 million members and offers a compelling investing experience alongside top-notch personal finance tools.
Here’s what people love about SoFi:
- No Fees or Minimums. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions on trades or require investors to maintain any minimum account balance. Regardless of the amount of money you have to start with, you’re welcome to use the platform.
- Cryptocurrency Trading. While the platform is lacking when it comes to assets like mutual funds and bonds, it does make cryptocurrency trading possible, which is something you’ll be hard-pressed to find with most other brokers.
- Stock Bits. With SoFi, you don’t have to buy an entire share when you invest in stocks. Instead, you have the option to purchase shares based on dollar amounts rather than share counts, even if the dollar amounts only add up to small bits of a share.
- Financial Counseling. Perhaps one of the biggest draws for the SoFi platform is that it comes with free financial counseling. When taking advantage of these services, you’ll have an expert to lean on when making not only investment choices but also broader personal financial decisions, which is an invaluable tool.
- Free Stock. When you sign up and fund your account, you’ll get the chance to play the stock claw machine. In the game, you’ll be able to win a stock with values ranging from $5 to $1,000.
- Personal Finance Features. The company also offers a long list of personal finance products, ranging from personal loans to student loans and even debt consolidation services.
All in all, SoFi is a great option, especially for the beginner investor or customers interested in improving their overall financial well-being in addition to simply buying securities.
For more information, read our SoFi review.
Robinhood is a compelling investing platform. Designed for new investors, the platform has garnered the attention of the masses. However, with recent outages and trading restrictions costing many members potential gains — or worse, leading to losses — some users have lost faith in the platform.
Although Robinhood has made it clear that all issues causing the outage have been resolved at this point, the long-lasting fear that a similar event may take place is leading many to look for alternatives.
If you’re looking for alternatives to the trading platform, don’t worry; there are plenty of options out there to choose from.