How to choose an investing app if you don't want to use Robinhood anymore

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  • If you don’t want to use Robinhood, take four steps to choose another investing app.
  • You can narrow down your search by assessing each app’s fees and investment choices.
  • Do your research to make sure you can trust an app with your money.
  • SmartAsset’s free tool can find a financial planner to help you take control of your money »

Robinhood’s recent crypto trading outage restricted investment transactions among users who were looking to capitalize off of the Dogecoin cryptocurrency surge. While the investment app has fully restored crypto trading, this temporarily prevented traders from exchanging the popular virtual asset.

Robinhood also restricted trading of Gamestop (GME), AMC Entertainment (AMC), and several other stocks earlier in 2021 after share prices skyrocketed due to a Reddit-influenced short squeeze. This led to severe backlash from its users and left many retail investors wondering whether they should consider other investment apps.

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If you don’t want to invest with Robinhood, there are a few steps you can take to find a new investing app that meets your needs. But no matter which app you decide to use, remember that the best way to build wealth through investing is to build a long-term strategy, rather than using risky day-trading tactics that are more likely to backfire. And if you’re hesitant to start investing without some guidance, consider consulting a financial advisor. 

1. Determine your investment style 

The two primary types of investors are active investors, who are hands-on with their trades, and passive investors, who tend to use automated investing platforms that do the work of managing their portfolio for them. 

If you like the active investing or DIY route, you’ll want to look for online brokerages and stock-trading apps that let you place your own trades. Firstrade, SoFi, and Tradestation all let you trade on your own. Passive investors will want to consider automated investment apps such as Betterment, Wealthfront, and M1 Finance.

The two investment styles don’t have to be mutually exclusive, though. In fact, some investment companies — including Fidelity, J.P. Morgan, TD Ameritrade, and Vanguard — offer both active trading accounts and automated investing accounts so you can mix and match. 

2. Consider the fees 

Price also dictates the options you’ll have when it comes to finding a new investment app. Whether you’re thinking of investing $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000, advisory fees vary per platform. Some brokerages require account minimums, while others don’t. For instance, Zacks Trade requires an account minimum of $2,500, while Interactive Brokers has no minimum requirement. 

Online brokerages and active trading apps like Charles Schwab and Robinhood mostly offer commission-free trading. But some apps — such as Ellevest, Acorns, and Stash — charge monthly subscription fees. And in some cases, automated apps like Blooom charge yearly flat fees. The best fee structure for you comes down to your personal preference.

Robinhood, along with other brokerages like Webull and Schwab, earns a large portion of its revenue from a process called payment for order flow (PFOF). In other words, the app sells customer orders to third parties that execute the trades by sending them to the stock exchanges. Robinhood and other discount brokerages are facing criticism for this practice. While PFOF doesn’t jeopardize the security of your account, it does affect how much you pay for shares — which can create conflicts of interest for the brokerage app. 

You can bypass payment for order flow by choosing a brokerage that doesn’t use third parties for trade execution. For instance, Fidelity doesn’t accept PFOF; it places the trades itself.

3. Pick an investment (or two, or three)

Most apps offer a vast amount of investment choices. These might include stocks, cryptocurrencies, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options, and real estate investment trust (REIT) funds. You’ll want to choose an investment platform that offers the best deals on the investment(s) you’re interested in buying.

For instance, if you’re looking for low-cost mutual funds, consider apps that offer a large collection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds (mutual funds that have no commissions or sales charges) One example is E*TRADE. The brokerage has more than 4,400 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

Interested in trying your luck with Bitcoin, Dogecoin, or other virtual assets? Many online brokerages like Webull and SoFi offer cryptocurrencies. But if you want a larger selection of cryptocurrencies, crypto apps like Coinbase and Kraken could be a better fit.

If you’d like to trade options — contracts that give you the right, but not the obligation, to sell securities like stocks by a certain date — you should consider choosing brokerages that charge the least for options contracts. Options contracts typically range from $0.50 to $0.65, depending on the brokerage.

If you’re thinking about real estate investing, you can also set up an account with an automated real estate crowdfunding platform like Fundrise. These apps primarily invest your money into real estate investment trusts (REITs).  

If you’d like to invest for a child or dependent, some investment apps, like Vanguard and Charles Schwab, also offer 529 college savings plans , UTMA/UGMA plans, and other custodial accounts.

4. Do your research 

Once you’ve figured how you’d like to invest, what you’d like to invest in, how much you’d like to invest, and which fee structure works best for you, the final step lies in doing your due diligence on the investment apps you’re considering. 

There are several signs that indicate an investment app is trustworthy. The most trustworthy apps are usually transparent about their fees, registered with the SEC and/or FINRA, eager to help customers, and rated highly by the Better Business Bureau.

Personal Finance Insider has its own recommendations for the best investing apps and stock trading apps, depending on your needs.

Rickie Houston is a wealth-building reporter at Personal Finance Insider who covers investing, brokerage, and wealth-building products.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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