It can be difficult to pick one that fits well for you, with so many different types of online stock brokers and robo-advisors open to investors. That’s why we have taken these U.S.-based businesses into a rigorous evaluation process to assess the best in the industry, including hands-on testing.
The mantra, “mobile-first,” has been gradually embraced by brokers and robo-advisors over the last few years. As more investors and traders use tablets or smartphones as their main forum, these businesses have made attempts to develop their mobile applications, which in turn draw more mobile customers. A seamless experience between desktop and mobile devices, including exchanging watch lists and warnings as well as tools such as stock screeners and depositing checks into your account, is provided by the best online trading applications. The best applications for robo-advisors keep you in touch with your progress against your investment objectives and make it easy to handle your cash.
- Wealthfront: Best Automated Investing App
With a comprehensive bundle of target building, planning, finance, and saving offered in a modern, user-friendly interface and smartphone app, Wealthfront won our award for the Best Robo-Advisor of 2020. If you are looking for financial advice and do not want it to come from an individual, for a very affordable price, Wealthfront provides entirely digital investment. The objective-setting and strategy technology of Wealthfront is outstanding and can act as a blueprint for replication by other robo-advisors. Setting up a Wealthfront account allows you access to Road, the free platform for financial planning that incorporates your account details and uses data from third parties to help forecast your financial position.
With minimal typing, the smartphone software, native iOS and Android, are designed to be incredibly easy to use. To prevent having typos, data inputs, such as dates and monthly deposits, are seen on sliders or drop-down menus. However, if external accounts are connected, you will need to enter your user IDs and passwords. It is logical and quick to follow the workflow with a new account.
With the introduction of Autopilot, which tracks bank deposits and transfers funds above your monthly spending needs into an investment account or the high-yield savings account of Wealthfront, Wealthfront has taken tremendous strides in its corporate objective of providing what it calls Self-Driving Capital. In collaboration with Green Dot Bank, Wealthfront’s Cash Account is provided and contains services such as mobile deposit and a network of fee-free ATMs.
2. TD Ameritrade: Best Stock Trading App
TD Ameritrade has the honor of being our choice in our 2020 Online Broker Analysis for the best overall stock trading app. In reality, as it enables investors to choose between the TD Ameritrade Mobile App and thinkerswim Mobile, TD Ameritrade has two of the best stock trading applications. Any software is great for stock trading, but with an impressive account overview, trend updates, and a variety of news and analysis, the TD Ameritrade Smartphone App is oriented towards simple investment. In fact, buy and hold buyers will be able to do their trading via the smartphone app, saving them from having to cope with the more cluttered desktop interface of TD Ameritrade.
The thinkorswim web app is an acceptable alternative for the full desktop trading platform for traders and more involved buyers. Generally, from the prism of role maintenance, we review the trading features of mobile applications when away from the full platform, but thinkerswim and a select few other apps have reached the stage that a trader can schedule, test, and open complicated trades on the go fairly. The mobile app workflow for options, stocks, and futures by thinkerswim is intuitive and strong. Traders will find plenty of bells and whistles that, for certain trading purposes, make the mobile app a full solution, including broadcasting real-time data and the ability to trade from charts. Both applications are very close to the functionality of the full platform, so it is very fluid to transition back and forth.
3. Betterment: Best App for Beginners
As its platform is intuitive, user-friendly, and full of educational opportunities, Betterment is our top pick for beginners.
Betterment has one of the simplest accounts to set up, and for smart devices, the procedure is streamlined. Users insert their age, annual earnings, and a goal. None of the traditional risk-related questions remain. Instead, Betterment provides you with a recommendation for asset allocation and the related vulnerability that you can alter by changing the stock ratio versus fixed income retained in the portfolio. Betterment provides five types of portfolio, and once a portfolio is supported, clients can switch strategies. Prior to making a move, the platform would also notify you if there are any tax consequences.
The business released Betterment Checking and Betterment Cash Balance, its cash management offerings, in April 2020. A debit card is used with the bank account and ATM fees and international transaction fees are refunded. Betterment also added mobile deposit capabilities to its checking account offering in June 2020. With the two-way sweep allowed, cash is swept into the reserve account from the checking account, which pays a higher interest rate.
4. Interactive Brokers: Best App for Active Traders
TD Ameritrade offers the best stock exchange apps overall, but when it comes to competitive trading, Virtual Traders has the edge. This does not come as a surprise as, with the exception of options trading, Interactive Brokers took almost every relevant trading segment in our 2020 study. Interactive Brokers is designed towards active traders, whether you are using the strong Traders Workstation (TWS) or the smartphone app intended to give you the key functionality on the go. The Interactive Brokers app has almost all of the company’s web-based site capabilities, but in contrast to the TWS desktop app, it is understandably constrained. That said, in real-time, you can queue up trades for all asset groups and data sources.
The smartphone app of Interactive Brokers is one of the very few to encourage traders to analyze the market and open new positions on the move, as opposed to merely watching current trades. Although the smartphone app has excellent analysis, superb maps, and a wide variety of indicators, the lack of drawing software and some other restrictions will still contribute to most successful traders choosing, where possible, the full-featured TWS experience. However, relative to other smartphone applications for active traders, the app is a step ahead of Interactive Brokers.
5. tastyworks: Best App for Options Traders
There is no shortage of emphasis at Tastyworks. The brokerage is very focused on traders of options and this focus has helped the mobile app of tastyworks to unseat Interactive Brokers in this area. Although the norm for active traders is still Interactive Brokers, traders who primarily use options strategies can find a better match for the tastyworks app.
The mobile workflow of tastyworks is optimized for entry of order choices, making the process fast and intuitive. Traders of options use drag and drop to select the legs of the spread options, avoiding keyboard entry. The Tastyworks mobile app is best thought of as a short-term replacement for the desktop application, despite this ease of access. Although you can enter new positions and leave old ones, the software lacks some of the tools for investigating and reviewing trades found on the desktop platform. It is hard to compare the complete feature set and extra graphic space that comes with the desktop platforms for intense options trading.