Getting into the stock market can be a scary concept. Some investors may be afraid to buy stocks because they have the potential to decline in price and lose money.
But what if you could get your feet wet without risking your own money?
Believe it or not, there are a few options that allow you to access stock for free by working with select online stock brokers, choosing your employer wisely, or taking advantage of perks offered by financial service providers.
How to Get Free Stocks
Here are a few ways to obtain shares of stock for free.
1. Open an Account With Robinhood
There are a couple of discount brokers online that will give you free stock to get you to participate in their services or to invite your friends and family to join their platform.
One of the first companies to offer stock as an incentive to start investing and spread the word about the market was Robinhood.
To get your free shares of stock from Robinhood, simply follow these steps:
- Sign Up. First, sign up for a free online brokerage account with Robinhood. Click the green “Sign Up” button in the top right corner of their website and complete the form. Signing up takes just a few minutes.
- Connect Your Bank Account. Once you’ve signed up for your account, you’ll be prompted to connect a bank account to your newly minted brokerage account. Once your bank account is connected, you’ll be able to seamlessly transfer money between the accounts. Although connecting your bank account may make you nervous, Robinhood — like all quality online brokers — has top-notch security. Moreover, you aren’t required to move any money into your Robinhood account to get your free stock; the requirement to receive a free share is simply to connect your bank account.
- Refer Friends and Family. Each time you refer a friend or family member to the platform, you’ll be credited with another free share when they sign up. However, you’ll only be eligible to receive up to $500 in free shares per year, regardless of the number of people you refer to the program.
- Decide What to Do With Your Free Share. Once you’ve connected your bank account to your brokerage account or referred a friend, you’ll automatically receive one free share of stock ranging in value from $2.50 to $225, with 98% of the stock awarded being valued between $2.50 and $10. After two trading days, you’ll have the option to either sell your stock and cash in or keep your share in order to take part in the future growth of the company you now own a piece of.
While the free share of stock promotion may be what draws you to Robinhood, it’s not the only reason to consider opening an account with the company. As a commission-free service, you’ll be able to make free trades on the platform, with the exception of regulatory fees.
Moreover, Robinhood users enjoy access to fractional shares, which make large, expensive companies more accessible to new investors.
There are no account minimums associated with the platform, giving you the ability to invest as much or as little as you’d like when you decide to start buying stocks and working to build wealth.
2. Open an Account With Webull
Webull is another low-cost online broker known for offering commission-free trading and access to free stock for new users, as well as to users who refer their friends.
To gain access to free shares of stock with Webull, follow these steps:
- Sign Up. As with Robinhood, opening a new account with Webull is quick and easy. Sign up for Webull on its website the “Sign Up” link in the top right corner of the page. Once you click the link, fill out the form that loads, keeping in mind that this is a financial service and accurate information is required. Once you sign up, you’ll be given one share of free stock ranging in value from $2.50 to $250.
- Connect Your Bank Account. As is the case with any brokerage account, you’ll need to connect your bank account if you want to deposit or withdraw money to or from your investing account.
- Deposit $100 or More. Webull actually offers two shares of free stock to new investors who decide to sign up for and use their platform. You’ll receive one free share when you sign up and another when you take the first step toward using your account, which is depositing $100 or more. Once your initial deposit has cleared, you’ll receive a second free share of stock ranging in value from $8 to $1,600. Although you must deposit funds to receive your second free share of stock, you don’t actually have to invest your own money into any stocks if you don’t want to.
- Decide What to Do With Your Shares. Once you have your two shares of stock, you can either hold onto them and wait for them to grow in value or sell them and transfer the money back to your bank account.
As is the case with Robinhood, there are plenty of reasons to consider opening an account with Webull aside from the free shares of stock you’ll receive for doing so.
The company offers an intuitive trading platform, coupled with a mobile app, giving you access to commission-free trading on the go.
The company’s technical tools and charting capabilities make it one of the best online brokers for those looking to actively trade stocks, and the educational materials made available through the platform make it a great option for newcomers looking to dip their toes into the stock market.
3. Employer Compensation Plans
When deciding whether to work for a company, several factors will likely come to mind, including what you’ll be doing, the amount of money you’ll be paid, and the hours you’ll have to work.
One potential benefit that doesn’t generally come to mind is whether the company gives its employees ownership opportunities through stock-based compensation plans.
There are plenty of companies that see value in giving their employees ownership of a piece of the organization. After all, you’re more likely to work harder and stay with the employer for the long term if you have some skin in the game.
Of course, as with other aspects of employment, the number of shares provided to employees varies greatly from one company to another. Still, working with a company that shares ownership with its employees is a great way to get your hands on stock without having to pony up your own cash.
Common forms of stock compensation for employees include discounted shares, stock options that give an employee the right to buy a specific number of shares at a preset price, and restricted stock — shares of the company that can’t be sold until certain conditions are met.
Some of the most popular companies that offer stock as part of the compensation plans for employees include:
Genentech is a biotechnology company operating as a subsidiary of the Swiss multinational health care company Roche.
All employees of the company who work 20 hours per week or more have access to stock-based incentives, including shares of the company’s stock, stock appreciation rights, and restricted stock.
Stryker is a Michigan-based medical company known for giving stock to its employees. The company offers stock options and restricted stock with the goal of attracting, motivating, and retaining the most talented people in the industry.
Not only does the company often use stock as a motivating factor, but it also offers its employees direct stock purchase plans that allow for the purchase of shares at a discount to current market prices.
The Cheesecake Factory
If you’re a restaurant manager or an executive kitchen staffer in an upscale restaurant, consider giving The Cheesecake Factory a call.
Although only management gets to take part in most stock-based programs at the company, it is known for offering its managers stock-based rewards as an incentive for store performance.
The technology giant Intuit is yet another company known for giving its employees shares of stock as part of their compensation. In fact, every employee at the company is eligible for stock options or restricted stock.
Lower-level employees receive restricted stock, while those in a vice president position or higher receive nonqualified stock options.
Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market operates a chain of upscale grocery stores focused on the provision of healthier foods at a fair price.
The company is also interested in the long-term financial health of its employees, offering every employee shares of stock as part of their compensation plan after working their first 6,000 hours.
4. Sign Up for the Stock-Back Card From Stash
Stash is a personal finance app that’s centered around helping its members gain access to the stock market. Although you’ll be asked to invest your own money, you also have access to a pretty large cache of free stock with the company’s Stock-Back Card.
Through the app, you’ll have access to a digital checking account that’s connected to your Stock-Back Card, which is essentially a rewards debit card.
When you use the card for qualifying purchases, you’ll be rewarded in shares of stock, rather than travel points or cash. You’ll often receive fractional shares of the very companies you choose to patronize.
Although the rewards rate isn’t high, the Stash Stock-Back Card is a great way to passively accumulate free shares of stock just by making everyday purchases you’d make anyway. Learn more about the Stash Stock-Back Card
What to Do After You Get Your Free Stock
Programs that give you access to free stock won’t provide enough stock to make you wealthy. What can you do after you get your free shares to put yourself on the path to wealth?
Take the Opportunity to Learn
When most people earn free shares of stock through their employer, as an account-opening bonus, or as a reward on a debit card purchase, they feel momentary satisfaction but often leave the stock to passively grow and don’t think much about it.
Rather than putting your shares on the back burner, take the opportunity to learn about the stock market and alleviate the fear of investing your own money.
Follow the price movements and determine what factors play a role in the upward and downward movement in a given day, week, or month. Consider whether the stock pays dividends and how that correlates with both its level of risk and overall return.
You have the ability to learn something new every day simply by paying attention to what your free shares of stocks do.
Research Investment Strategies
Fear of loss tends to dissipate with education and practice. Take some time to educate yourself on the different investment strategies that have proven to be successful for other investors, and use them to expand your investment portfolio.
Pro tip: Before you add any stocks to your portfolio, make sure you’re choosing the best possible companies. Stock screeners like Stock Rover can help you narrow down the choices to companies that meet your individual requirements. Learn more about our favorite stock screeners.
Use a Trading Simulator
If you’re still unsure about whether investing is worth risking your own money, use a trading simulator to test your investing strategies in a real market environment. These simulators offer free access to virtual money.
If you end up losing that money, it’s like losing points on a video game rather than losing real cash.
Consider a Robo-Advisor
Investing seems complex to most newcomers and it is best to educate yourself before you start picking your own individual stocks. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait around and let the compounding power of investing pass you by while you learn.
While you educate yourself on the stock market itself, consider taking advantage of robo-advisors like Betterment or Acorns. These platforms invest in a list of ETFs for you, putting your money in the hands of the pros at a minimal cost.
If you’ve heard something like, “this company gives its employees free shares of its stock,” or “get free stock by signing up for this service,” or even, “using this card for groceries will result in free stock rewards,” and wondered if it could be true — it is!
Several companies offer stock to their customers and employees for various reasons. After all, giving stock to customers incentivizes brand loyalty, while giving stock to employees gives those employees a sense of ownership and pride in the companies they work for.
It’s a win-win for everyone.
When taking advantage of programs that offer free stock, it’s important to remember that the stock is an opportunity — not just a monetary one, but an educational one. Take the opportunity to learn about the stock market and expand your horizons as an investor in order to build long-term wealth.