Robinhood 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.
Top Takeaways for 2022
After spending three months testing 15 of the best online brokers for our 12th Annual Review, here are our top findings on Robinhood:
- Thanks to a clean design that focuses on the basics, Robinhood's mobile app remains one of the top contenders in our analysis for ease of use, and thus may appeal to beginner investors.
- Robinhood provides a bare-bones trading experience, making it a poor choice for investors seeking the best trading platform. Also, Robinhood's stock research tools are severely lacking when compared to $0 brokers such as TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, and Fidelity.
- At $5/month ($60 per year), the Robinhood Gold account level is not a good deal unless you have a large account balance, frequently place trades and consistently use margin. See "Robinhood Gold" under Commissions and Fees below.
|Commissions & Fees|
|Platforms & Tools|
|Mobile Trading Apps|
|Offering of Investments|
|Ease of Use|
Offering of investments
Robinhood offers stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency trading. However, mutual funds and bonds are not supported at Robinhood, nor is futures trading.
Cryptocurrency: Robinhood allows users to trade the following cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin SV (BSV), Dogecoin (DOGE), Ethereum (ETH), Ethereum Classic (ETC), and Litecoin (LTC).
Robinhood offering summary:
|OTCBB / Pink Sheets||No|
|Complex Options Max Legs||4|
|Bonds (US Treasury)||No|
|Mutual Funds (Total)||0|
|Crypto Trading - Total Coins||7|
Commissions and fees
Like many other $0 commission-free brokers, Robinhood charges no commission for trading stocks, ETFs, options, or cryptocurrency. Like other such brokers, to make money, Robinhood’s order routing relies on payment for order flow, or PFOF, in which the broker sells a customer’s order to wholesale market makers.
Penny stocks: Robinhood does not support trading OTC stocks. The only penny stocks supported by Robinhood are stocks that trade on either the NASDAQ or NYSE.
Robinhood Gold: In our testing, we found the Robinhood Gold account level to be a bad deal. Robinhood Gold costs $5 per month to gain access to Morningstar reports, Level II streaming quotes, and margin trading (which charges 5% annual interest). Competitors TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE, and Charles Schwab all charge higher margin rates but offer measurably better stock research, trading tools and customer service for the same $0 per stock trade price.
Robinhood pricing summary:
|Penny Stock Fees (OTCCB)||N/A|
|ETF Trade Fee||$0.00|
|Options (Base Fee)||$0.00|
|Options (Per Contract)||$0.00|
|Futures (Per Contract)||N/A|
|Mutual Fund Trade Fee||N/A|
|Broker Assisted Trade Fee||N/A|
Mobile trading apps
Robinhood's mobile app is fast, simple and one of the best on those terms. For stock trading, Robinhood has the functionality required to be productive: basic watch lists, basic stock quotes with charts and analyst ratings, recent news and streaming Bloomberg TV, alongside simple trade entry.
Ease of use: Robinhood initially led the way in the field in terms of ease of use when it came to its mobile app. Now that others have caught up in this realm, Robinhood’s primary edge is gone.
Watch lists: Robinhood's focus on simplicity also has several notable drawbacks. Besides automatically syncing across devices, the watch list functionality is minimal, with just a handful of optional columns beyond the last price and percentage change. In comparison, TradeStation offers over 300, and TD Ameritrade offers over 500.
Charting: When pulling a stock quote, charts cannot be modified beyond six default date ranges and two chart types. Also, no technical analysis can be conducted, and landscape mode is not supported for horizontal viewing. Pulling stock quotes using the free Yahoo Finance or CNBC mobile app, in contrast, provides a superior charting experience.
Trading tools: Robinhood’s trading tools are minimal at best and are outpaced by virtually all of the competition. The options discovery tab does allow you to put in your view of the direction of the underlying and give suggested trades, and you can build multi-legged options strategies relatively easily.
Price alerts: Robinhood does not enable users to set custom price alerts for individual stocks. This is surprising, as stock price alerts are an industry standard feature.
Robinhood mobile app screenshots:
Robinhood mobile summary:
|Apple Watch App||Yes|
|Watch List Syncing||Yes|
|Charting - After-Hours||Yes|
|Charting - Technical Studies||0|
|Charting - Study Customizations||No|
|Watch Lists - Streaming||Yes|
|Watch Lists - Create & Manage||Yes|
|Watch Lists - Column Customization||Yes|
Other trading platforms and tools
Robinhood is optimized for individuals who are new to investing and want to start with the core basics. However, once you learn how to invest, Robinhood may no longer meet your needs, as Robinhood’s range of trading tools and features pales in comparison to those of the best online stock brokers.
Platforms overview: In addition to the mobile app, there is a web-based platform that is virtually identical to the app. That makes it feel quite simplistic and overly basic compared to the detailed tools and platforms of its competitors.
Trading tools: The trading tools and features available on Robinhood's website are minimal compared to category leaders. For example, charts are rudimentary, with just four technical indicators available.
Fractional shares: Robinhood's greatest strength is in its simplicity. Its recurring investment tool, for instance, enables you to automatically invest a fixed dollar amount periodically, such as once per week. Similarly, if you enable dividend reinvestment (DRIP) in your account, Robinhood automatically reinvests any earned dividends from stocks or ETFs, provided the related symbols support fractional share trading.
Options trading: Options trading is simple and straightforward. The option chains are unorthodox, but the drop-down for each option does include the Greeks (risk measurements). You can also build multi-leg option strategies very easily. When you do, you are presented with an “expected profit and loss” diagram, as well as the max profit, the max loss and the breakeven, all of which are very useful.
Robinhood trading platform screenshots:
Robinhood trading platform summary:
|Desktop Trading Platform||No|
|Web Trading Platform||Yes|
|Watch Lists - Total Fields||7|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies||5|
|Charting - Drawing Tools||0|
|Charting - Study Customizations||2|
|Charting - Save Profiles||No|
|Trade Ideas - Technical Analysis||No|
|Streaming Time & Sales||No|
|Trade Ideas - Backtesting||No|
Stock and ETFs research: Robinhood offers analyst ratings, "people also bought" recommendations and sections such as "about" for reading up on company bios. It's a cut-and-dried experience focused on simplicity. There are also lists on Robinhood, which are akin to predefined stock screeners with few information points such as market cap size and current prices. This is adequate for some investors; others will be left wanting more.Gaining access to Morningstar research reports requires subscribing to Robinhood Gold for $5 per month ($60/year). At competitors such as Fidelity, Charles Schwab, or TD Ameritrade, customers have access to at least seven third-party reports, all included for free.
Robinhood Snacks: If there is one highlight with Robinhood's research, it is the Robinhood Snacks newsletter and podcast. The Robinhood Snacks editorial team summarizes the market each day in an easy-to-understand, digestible format. The newsletter is excellent.
Robinhood market research screenshots:
Robinhood research summary:
|Research - Stocks||Yes|
|Stock Research - ESG||No|
|Stock Research - PDF Reports||0|
|Screener - Stocks||No|
|Research - ETFs||Yes|
|Screener - ETFs||No|
|Research - Mutual Funds||No|
|Screener - Mutual Funds||No|
|Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB||No|
|Research - Bonds||No|
|Research - Futures||No|
|Research - Forex||No|
Alongside the standout Robinhood Snacks newsletter and podcast, Robinhood offers a basic educational area aimed primarily at beginner investors.
Learning center: A library compiles a range of articles with beginners in mind, including topics such as “What is a stock?” and “What is a crypto wallet?” Overall, I found the content to be of good quality. That said, there are no advanced articles, videos or webinars, and progress tracking is not available.
Robinhood's recently launched YouTube channel is entirely dedicated to research, and it would make logical sense to add educational content there as well. In the meantime, education is a category where Robinhood is making notable progress, but still trails industry leaders.
Robinhood education screenshots:
Robinhood education summary:
|Education (Mutual Funds)||No|
|Interactive Learning - Quizzes||No|
Robinhood is not a traditional bank with branch offices, credit cards, mortgages, wire transfers, and the like. For a list of brokers that are also banks, read our guide to the best brokers for banking services .
Cash management: Though it’s not a bank, Robinhood offers a cash management account, which includes use of a debit card. With the cash management account, any uninvested cash is swept to partner banks, where, as with any savings account, the net yield fluctuates alongside interest rates; money is also protected by FDIC insurance.
Robinhood banking summary:
|Bank (Member FDIC)||No|
For investors looking for a simple, easy-to-use stock trading app, Robinhood gets the job done. But beyond that, Robinhood will leave you wanting more, especially as $0 trades are now available everywhere.
Is Robinhood completely free?
The short answer is yes, technically Robinhood is free and charges $0 for stock, options, and cryptocurrency trades. However, certain features require a $5/month subscription to Robinhood Gold, and Robinhood does accept payment for order flow, or PFOF. Here's Robinhood's Fees disclosure PDF.
Is Robinhood good for beginners?
Robinhood is a great choice for beginners due to the simplicity of its trading app and a website platform that focuses on the core investing basics for new investors.
Robinhood’s simple user interface makes it easy to navigate and carry out basic trading and investing operations. On the other hand, once you gain basic experience, you might find the range of trading tools available limited at Robinhood.
What is the catch with Robinhood?
Unlike most online stock brokers, Robinhood does not offer trading of mutual funds; only stocks, ETFs, and crypto, are supported. And while Robinhood does offer commission-free trading, it earns money from your business in a number of ways.
For example, Robinhood receives Payment for Order Flow, or PFOF, from venues where it routes your trades; while PFOF is a common industry practice, it may not be fully understood by new traders. Robinhood also may earn a fee from the program banks to which it sweeps funds from customers’ cash management accounts. The broker also charges $5 per month for its premium Gold Pricing package, which provides Level II real-time data and research reports from Morningstar, in addition to other account service fees, including 2.5% charged for margin accounts with more than $1,000.
What is the downside to Robinhood?
Robinhood lacks advanced features including trading tools, and although it's worth noting that the broker continues to refine and improve its offering, it still lags other brokers in categories such as platforms and tools, mobile, education, research, and offering of investments.
Also, because there are many users on Robinhood who follow the crowd, there can be periods when the platform may be down because many people are trying to do the same thing at once, such as buying a particular security.
How do I get my money out of Robinhood without paying any fees?
First, sell all your stocks and any other positions. Next, transfer all your cash via ACH to your bank account (ACH transfers are free). Finally, contact Robinhood to close your account. If you transfer stock holdings to another broker, Robinhood will charge you a $75 ACAT fee. Switching brokers? See our list of the best online stock brokers for 2022.
Can I day trade stocks using Robinhood?
You need at least $25,000 in your account to day trade with Robinhood (all brokers require at least $25,000 by law), otherwise your account is restricted to just three day trades every rolling five business days. That said, even if you had $25,000, I wouldn't recommend Robinhood. Read our best day trading platforms guide.
Can I buy and sell Bitcoin with Robinhood?
Yes. Robinhood currently offers seven tradeable cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Dogecoin (DOGE), Ethereum Classic (ETC), and Bitcoin SV (BSV). Ten additional cryptocurrencies can be added to any watch list.
Can you trade penny stocks with Robinhood?
No. You cannot trade penny stocks on Robinhood. Over-the-counter (OTC) securities are not supported. However, Robinhood customers can trade company shares listed on the NASDAQ and NYSE whose stock price is currently below $1.00.
Can you trade international stocks with Robinhood?
Yes. Robinhood offers customers the opportunity to buy and sell over 250 popular American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), including shares in companies such as Adidas (ADDYY), Tencent (TCEHY), and Nintendo (NTDOY).
Is Robinhood safe?
Like its competitors, Robinhood is regulated by the SEC and is a registered member of the SIPC and FINRA (CRD #165998) in the United States. The company has its headquarters in Palo Alto, California, and has reported several security breaches since its launch in 2013.
Do any of Robinhood’s competitors offer $0 trading?
Can I trade immediately after opening my Robinhood account?
When you open and fund an account with Robinhood, the broker is unique in that it provides you access to up to $1,000 in funds, available immediately for trading while your ACH transfer deposit processes. Under normal ACH transfers, the average processing time is two to three days.
How do I contact Robinhood customer support?
Unlike most of the best online brokers for beginners, Robinhood does not offer a direct phone line or live chat support. Instead, users must email email@example.com or use the app to request a callback.
Founded in 2013 and based in Menlo Park, California, Robinhood is an online broker that has raised $2.2 billion in venture capital funding and has more than 22 million users. The broker, which appeals primarily to millennial do-it-yourself investors, is best known for offering $0 stock, ETF, options and cryptocurrency trades via an easy-to-use website and mobile trading app.
2022 Review Methodology
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About the Author
Blain Reinkensmeyer Blain Reinkensmeyer is a Managing Partner at Reink Media Group. He heads research for all U.S.-based brokerages on StockBrokers.com and is respected by executives as the leading analyst covering the online broker industry. Blain’s insights have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among other media outlets, and he is noted as a top expert on the U.S. online brokerage industry.
Chris McKhann Chris McKhann has been in the industry for more than 20 years. He has worked for many of the top names in the online trading space, including TD Ameritrade and optionMONSTER, which later became part of E*TRADE. His work has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Financial Times, Forbes, CNBC, Nasdaq.com and Nikkei. He has also been an advisor and outside trader for several hedge funds. He was one of the first traders to delve into the VIX tradable products and to write about them (back in 2006). Chris is also an educator who teaches high school statistics, finance and computer science.