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Best Stock Trading Apps for 2021

Blain Reinkensmeyer

Jul 20, 2021

The StockBrokers.com best online brokers 2021 review (11th annual) took three months to complete and produced over 40,000 words of research. Here's how we tested.

Like most things in today's high-tech world, trading stocks has become an everyday activity on mobile devices. The best stock trading apps offer $0 stock and ETF trades, are easy to use, and deliver a fully-featured online trading experience for everyone from beginner to seasoned active traders.

For our 2021 Annual Review, we thoroughly tested 11 stock trading apps and reviewed each one across 40 different features. To score high marks, a broker had to provide an excellent stock trading experience across many usability categories. Testing was conducted using an iPhone XS (Apple iOS) and Samsung Galaxy S9+ (Android).

Best Stock Trading Apps 2021

StockBrokers.com 2021 Review
Fidelity
Overall

Best Stock App for Investors

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.65

Trade at Fidelity.1

Fidelity’s mobile experience is cleanly designed, bug-free, and delivers a phenomenal experience for investors. While active traders may be left wanting more, for the majority, Fidelity delivers, winning our award, No. 1 Investor App, for 2021. Read full review

Pros

  • Excellent mobile app for investors.
  • Our top pick for order execution, no payment for order flow (PFOF).

Cons

  • Margin rates can be higher than peers'.
  • No custom screening on mobile.
  • Banking services offered via a third party.
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E*TRADE
Overall

Best App for Options

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.65

Open & fund, get $600 w/ code: BONUS21

In our 2021 Review, E*TRADE once again ranked among the best because its apps are easy to use and feature-rich. My recommendation: use E*TRADE mobile for stock trading and Power E*TRADE Mobile for options trading. Read full review

Pros

  • Excellent web and mobile platforms; Power E*TRADE.
  • Our top pick for options trading.

Cons

  • $1,000 minimum for streaming data.
  • Range of educational materials is limited compared to peers.
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TD Ameritrade
Overall

Best Stock App for Traders

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.65

Get up to $375 and trade commission-free

TD Ameritrade delivers $0 trades, fantastic trading platforms, excellent market research, industry-leading education for beginners, and reliable customer service. While not No. 1 for mobile trading, TD Ameritrade took first place Overall in our 2021 Review. Read full review

Pros

  • Excellent education for beginners.
  • thinkorswim platform suite is our top desktop platform for 2021.
  • Futures and forex trading available.

Cons

  • $6.95 fee per trade for penny stocks.
  • No access to international stock markets.
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Interactive Brokers
Overall

Best Stock App for Professionals

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.65

EXCLUSIVE: New clients, special margin rates.

Mobile trading with Interactive Brokers is well supported across all devices. From lightning-quick streaming data to full-featured order entry and portfolio management, Interactive Brokers includes everything professionals require to trade on the go. Read full review

Pros

  • Web-based client portal great for casual investors.
  • Offers access to global markets.
  • Robust mobile app.

Cons

  • TWS desktop platform best suited for professionals, not beginners.
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Merrill Edge
Overall

Great for Stock Research

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.65

Merrill Edge's mobile app is easy to use, great for research (including ESG research), and exceeds the industry standard experience. For existing Bank of America customers, the mult-account rewards and universal account functionality makes Merrill Edge an easy winner. Read full review

Pros

  • Excellent tools for ESG research.
  • Robust rewards program for current Bank of America customers.

Cons

  • Penny stocks and OTC securities are not available.
  • Fractional share trading is not available.
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Other Trading Apps

In addition to our top five stock apps for 2021, we reviewed six others: TradeStation, Charles Schwab, Webull, Robinhood, Firstrade, and Ally Invest. Here are our high-level takeaways for each. To dive deeper, read our reviews.

TradeStation
Overall

Best trading technology

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.50

Free Commission on Stocks, ETFs, & more. Advertisement

TradeStation's mobile app is meticulously designed and provides the functionality that active and professional traders need to succeed. Thanks to Matrix (ladder trading) and complex options trading support, full day trading functionality is incorporated. Read full review

Pros

  • Excellent desktop and web-based trading platforms.
  • Great for professionals.
  • Offers cryptocurrency trading.

Cons

  • Research trails industry leaders.
  • Educational content split between two sites.
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Charles Schwab
Overall

Best IRA accounts

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.65

Charles Schwab provides a consistent and generally enjoyable experience for mobile trading, regardless of the device. That said, for active traders, Schwab's mobile apps lack core functionality in two key areas: alerts and quotes. Read full review

Pros

  • Our top pick for stock and market research.
  • Fractional shares available.
  • Multiple financial planning services.

Cons

  • Mobile app lacks alerts, streaming quotes and options chains.
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Webull
Overall

Easy to use, limited tools

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.00

$0 Commission: Stocks, Options, Crypto*

While Webull's mobile app offers more features than Robinhood, it struggles to compete with the extensive amount of trading tools provided by the best stock trading apps. Read full review

Pros

  • Easy to use trading platforms.
  • Offers cryptocurrency trading.

Cons

  • Trails the best brokers in trading tools, research, and education.
  • No phone support offered.
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Robinhood
Overall

Easy to use, limited research

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.00

Robinhood's stock app is very easy to use; however, now that all online brokers offer $0 stock and ETF trades, Robinhood's lack of trading tools and research leaves it a step behind the competition. Read full review

Pros

  • "Robinhood Snacks" is our fav market newsletter for 2021.
  • Easy-to-use app.

Cons

  • Limited phone support.
  • Lacks trading tools and market research offered by competitors.
  • Controversial order practices.
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Firstrade
Overall

Chinese-speaking investors

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.00

Commission-Free Trading on 700+ ETFs

While Firstrade is easy to use and terrific for Chinese-speaking investors, its overall offering struggles to stand out against brokers who also offer $0 stock trades. Read full review

Pros

  • Excellent for Chinese-speaking clients.

Cons

  • Firstrade Navigator trading platform requires at least $10,000 in your account.
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Ally Invest
Overall

Current Ally customers

Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $0.50

If you are not already an Ally Bank customer, Ally Invest struggles to compete as a standalone broker. Ally Invest trails industry leaders in most areas, including trading platforms, tools, investment research, and education. Read full review

Pros

  • Excellent banking via Ally Bank.
  • Universal account management.

Cons

  • Trading tools lag behind leading bank/brokers.
  • Limited education and stock research.
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Best stock trading apps comparison

Comparing stock apps side by side, while features such as real-time streaming quotes, charting with multiple indicators, and synced watch lists are commonly found, others are not. For example, less than 50% of stock apps support basic stock alerts.

Looking for forex trading apps? See our picks for best forex trading apps on our sister site, ForexBrokers.com.

Feature Fidelity
Open Account
E*TRADE
Open Account
TD Ameritrade
Open Account
Watch List Syncing Yes Yes Yes
Stock Alerts Yes Yes Yes
Charting - After Hours Yes Yes Yes
Charting - Drawing No No Yes
Charting - Study Customizations Yes Yes Yes
Heatmapping Yes No No
Stream Live TV Yes Yes Yes
Barcode Lookup No Yes Yes

Comparison Tool: Compare 100+ features side-by-side

What is the best free trading app?

The best free stock trading app is TD Ameritrade. Unlike most brokers, TD Ameritrade offers two apps: TD Ameritrade Mobile and thinkorswim Mobile. TD Ameritrade Mobile is designed for casual investors. Meanwhile, thinkorswim Mobile is designed for the feature-hungry active trader. Both apps are top notch.

How do I choose the best stock trading app?

Now that all stock apps offer $0 stock trades, we recommend comparing other app features to choose the best stock trading app. The most widely used stock app features are watch lists, stock charts, and order tickets, so make sure those are great. To help readers, we include full screenshots of each stock trading app in our broker reviews.

Fun fact: Not all stock trading apps offer real-time streaming quotes. Instead, some apps only refresh stock quotes every few seconds or longer. Watch lists aside, apps like TD Ameritrade and TradeStation provide excellent stock chart tools and stock alerts functionality. Both brokers offer traders access to several hundred technical indicators in addition to endless customization options.

What is the best stock trading app for beginners?

For beginners in 2021, the best stock trading apps are TD Ameritrade and Fidelity. Between the two brokers, TD Ameritrade has the edge for educational resources and trading tools. Meanwhile, Fidelity offers a more comprehensive research experience for casual investors.

What is the safest stock app?

The safest stock apps come from the overall best and most trustworthy brokers. The following brokers offer the safest stock apps in 2021:

  • Fidelity: Best stock app for investors
  • E*TRADE: Best app for options
  • TD Ameritrade: Best stock app for traders
  • Interactive Brokers: Best stock app for professionals
  • Merrill Edge: Great for stock research

If the broker you’re using were compromised, a secure app would do little to protect your account; whereas a broker that has proper security measures across its websites, platforms and applications will have you covered.

The best apps allow login with biometrics (fingerprint or retina, for example) and other features such as two-factor authentication to reduce the chance of accounts being hacked.

Which stock app offers the best technology?

On the innovation front, TD Ameritrade was one of the first brokers to offer an Alexa Skill, and in August 2017, it became the first broker to integrate with Facebook Messenger, embracing the future of artificial intelligence (AI) with its own chatbot. In 2018, Apple Business Chat was added. Then, in 2019, TD Ameritrade for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both rolled out. All in all, TD Ameritrade is the undisputed leader in mobile trading tech and can be found everywhere you are.

TD Ameritrade isn't the only broker to offer Alexa Skills. Fidelity, Charles Schwab, and Interactive Brokers offer Alexa Skills compatibility, too. Note: Our research this year did not include testing specific Alexa features; however, based on Amazon’s ratings, it appears TD Ameritrade has the lead in delivering a diverse quality experience.

What app gives you free stock?

Apps from brokers like Webull and Robinhood will give you a small amount of a stock of their choice — usually one or two shares — as a way to incentivize you to trade and invest, subject to certain terms and eligibility conditions. Robinhood offers U.S. customers free stock for new accounts and referrals, up to $500 per year. Webull offers one free share for opening an account, and another for making a deposit.

Often the free shares will be given after you first open and fund a new brokerage account, or when you complete certain actions for the first time, such as linking your bank account.

Can I start trading with $100?

Yes. Nowadays, most online brokers offer no minimum deposit to open an account, commission-free stock and ETF trades, as well as the availability of fractional shares. As a result, new traders can start trading with a small investment such as $100. To compare features and pricing, use our online broker comparison tool.

Summary

To recap, here are the best stock trading apps.

Best stock trading apps 2021


Read Next



Methodology

For the StockBrokers.com 11th annual best trading platforms review published in January 2021, a total of 2,816 data points were collected over three months and used to score brokers. This makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry.

Participation is required to be included. Each broker completed an in-depth data profile and offered executive time (live in person or over the web) for an annual update meeting. Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.



About the Author

Blain Reinkensmeyer

As Head of Research at StockBrokers.com, Blain Reinkensmeyer has 20 years of trading experience with over 1,000 trades placed during that time. Referenced as a leading expert on the US online brokerage industry, Blain has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and Fast Company, among others.



All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 01/19/2021 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. For stock trade rates, advertised pricing is for a standard order size of 500 shares of stock priced at $30 per share. For options orders, an options regulatory fee per contract may apply.

1 Fidelity Sell orders are subject to an activity assessment fee from $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of principal. Options trading entails significant risk and is not appropriate for all investors. Certain complex options strategies carry additional risk. Before trading options, please read Characteristics and Risks of Standardized Options. Supporting documentation for any claims, if applicable, will be furnished upon request.

TD Ameritrade, Inc. and StockBrokers.com are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each other’s services and products. View terms.

*Webull Disclaimer View Disclaimer.

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