The 4 Best Apps for Investing in Stocks

2020 was unfortunate for a whole list of reasons, but one that shook up the lives of me and my friends was the loss of a job due to COVID-19. The virus completely changed the world, not only from a global health standpoint, but also economically with the market dropping to the lowest percentage it has ever been, thousands of businesses going under, and millions losing their jobs. The idea of trying to make money during a pandemic as a college student with no job sounded so far-fetched, but it turns out it is possible. When in quarantine with nothing much to do, what better way to spend the days than with investing in stocks and making some money with a few buttons and a little market research? 

Learning about stocks might sound intimidating, but that’s why I have my best friend and stocks enthusiast friend who I will call AJ*. He’s been investing in stocks for the past two years and is a member of an investment social group with a portfolio of more than $5 million where he and his fellow group members partake in strategic investments. He has been in the group for over a year discussing the market and learning from these fellow investors who trade daily and learns how to place money for added growth. 

To help me and you, he provided me with his suggestions of the best apps on the market right now. Here are four apps that have helped us make some money during this quarantine and learn a little bit more about how to understand the global market. 

Related: 6 Things the Pandemic Taught Me about Investing

Before getting into the apps, I thought it’d be helpful to add some friendly tips provided by AJ to help ease any concerns you might have when you first start investing: 

When it comes to investing, you do not have to be an expert on stocks to start investing. You don’t need a lot of money to start. Start with $100 and allow that number to grow over time. Focus on the rate of return which, as defined by Investopedia, is the net gain or loss of an investment over a specified time period, expressed as a percentage of the investment’s initial cost. By looking at the number as a percentage rather than focusing on the value you currently have, you are less likely to feel like your investing is ineffective. For example, if you invest $100 and only get $20 in return, it’s not nothing. That means you received 20 percent of a return on your investment, which is fantastic!

However, don’t get excited too fast as soon as you can start making money and trading. Marketing news might be exciting especially if the news says the market is high for a specific firm or market. However, that stock could crash in an instant, so play it safe. Never trade immediately when the trading hours open because anything could happen; stocks could rise or crash as soon as the hours open. Give it a 20-to-30-minute wait post opening bell and closing hours, and trust your better judgment.

If you feel lost, it’s best to join a trading group and find someone who you can discuss the market with to decide what might be good investments. This is great for more knowledge about the market and for beginners. 

Now, on to the apps!

  1. 1. Robinhood

    Stock market recession

    For people who are just beginning to invest and don’t want to go overboard, you don’t want to worry about companies charging you for every transaction or even deal with a monthly fee for using the platform. That’s why Robinhood is a great app for beginners, because it doesn’t require a fee to begin investing in stocks, unlike some others. As someone who actually uses the app, it was easy to start with investing $100 and allowing my initial investment to grow over time with only a few stocks.

  2. 2. E*Trade

    Another app popular among stock investors is E*Trade. According to AJ, E*trade “is the most simple app and the easiest to navigate.” E*Trade is great because it has unlimited $0 commission, meaning you won’t be charged a commission on whatever you earn as you are investing.

    E*Trade provides a number of free resources to help you understand how to invest and give you articles and recent headlines about what companies might be good to invest in. They also provide great customer service which is definitely a plus!

  3. 3. TD Ameritrade

    stock app

    According to AJ, the TD Ameritrade app is the next best investment app after E*Trade. There isn’t too much of a difference between the two in terms of function; they both have unlimited $0 commissions and provide a lot of great free resources for market research. In the stock world, E*Trade and TD Ameritrade are commonly pitted against each other for how similar both are and what they offer. 

    Two small differences are that TD Ameritrade offers more options for investing in mutual funds, and the ability to invest in cryptocurrencies. Without overwhelming you, mutual funds are basically funds where multiple investors come together to “mutually” pool all of their money into buying more stocks. They are just another less risky option to invest in that isn’t stocks. Other than that, they are quite similar, so it’s up to the user to determine their preference. 

  4. 4. Acorns

    stock market app

    My last suggestion is Acorns, another great beginner trading app similar to Robinhood. Acorns is great because it rounds up to the nearest dollar (or more) for every credit card purchase and micro-invests the difference. By connecting your bank account and credit or debit card, you can earn money towards your investments. For every purchase you make, it rounds your purchase up to the nearest dollar and that difference is invested into investment accounts of your choosing.

    You can even schedule deposits and allocate a portion of your paycheck to go into your investing accounts with Acorns Spend. It’s a great option for those who want to invest money little by little with funds that you’re already spending. 

Investing in stocks can seem extremely intimidating at first, especially because the market is so complex and takes some time to truly understand. It is unpredictable in so many ways, but investing just a little bit into a couple good markets and allowing it to grow over time might build up cash that will only help you out in the long run. So give it a shot, tread carefully, and let us know how your stocks did on HC!