Once upon a time, any financial management beyond running a pen-and-paper budget used to be solidly out of reach for those who weren’t “in the know” or couldn’t afford advice from a professional.
But these days, you only have to head to the app store to see a wide array of apps that will let you harness the powers of saving and investing straight from your fingertips.
With so much choice on offer, it’s only natural to wonder where you should focus your attention — what sets the best personal finance apps apart from the mediocre?
We’ll break this down for you by running through some key aspects to pay attention to, including fees, investment types on offer, and other features to be aware of.
Six of the Best Personal Finance Apps
“Personal finance apps” is a broad term that applies to everything from simple budgeting to creating a complex investment strategy.
The six apps we’ve chosen below focus on investing, but some offer other tools, such as loan applications or special cards.
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All do a great job of helping you manage your finances, but depending on your priorities and where you are in your journey, you may have a different favorite choice — so don’t just stop reading after the first entry.
- Best for: Investors that want to access cashback and saving perks.
- Fees: 0% (but M1 Plus is $125 a year)
M1 calls itself a “finance super app” thanks to the wide array of functions it performs.
It doesn’t just offer a way for you to invest but also has a reward card with 10% cashback, a checking account, and margin loans.
You can invest through a brokerage account, IRA, or even a “community pie” consisting of sustainable and minority-led companies.
Whichever you choose, you can build a DIY portfolio with stocks of your choice or follow an expert’s approach.
You can also choose ETFs and fractional shares as well as stocks — but M1 doesn’t offer anything else in terms of variety, which limits you a little compared to the other apps on the list.
You’ll conveniently be able to see a breakdown of all your investments on a dashboard to see how your portfolio is distributed, along with returns and other key metrics.
The metrics allow you to understand how everything is performing and make decisions about adjusting your investments if necessary.
One of the biggest disadvantages is that you’ll have to join the expensive M1 Plus to access certain features, such as additional cash back and the option to trade in the PM.
- Access to other features
- Offers IRA
- No commission on trades
- Have to pay for certain features
- Limited investment types
- Best for: All-round investing and personal finance app.
- Fees: 0% (apart from cryptocurrencies).
As well as investing, SoFi offers a range of other personal finance features — including credit score tracking, personal loans, insurance, a bank account with 1.5% APY, and a rewards credit card with 2% cashback.
In fact, its roots are as an online bank and lender.
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This might sound somewhat similar to M1. But while the latter restricts its offering to stocks and ETFs, SoFi lets you invest in more than 27 different cryptocurrencies (although it does come at a fee of 1.25%, while other types of trading are free).
It also offers automated trading and gives you access to Certified Financial Planners, as well as resources to help you learn more about investing.
However, a few advanced investing features are missing, such as stop-loss orders and tax-loss harvesting.
- Access to cryptocurrencies
- Various personal finance tools on offer
- Educational tools for investing
- Missing advanced investing features
- Best for: Investors looking for a range of investment choices.
- Fees: 0%
Robinhood is a well-known name in the world of personal finance apps for charging 0% trading fees on its investments.
As you might expect, it offers a broad range of investment types — not just stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies but also more advanced choices like options, IPOs, and ADRs.
If you don’t know the last items mentioned, don’t worry because Robinhood also boasts plenty of resources to help you learn more about investing.
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You can also start trading with just $0 (except for Robinhood Gold, in which case you’ll need $2,000).
However, these low fees do come with drawbacks. Customer service is limited, and Robinhood has been involved with controversies, especially regarding riskier investment choices such as retirement or education saving accounts.
Like the platforms above, it offers a card, the Robinhood Cash Card: A debit card that rounds up your purchases and invests the bonuses into stocks and crypto of your choice.
This is an excellent feature for those who struggle to save — or anyone who wants to maximize their investments.
- Lots of investment types
- No commission
- Offers round-up debit card
- Limited customer service
- Past controversies
- Best for: Investors trying to save more money.
- Fees: $3 or $5
No matter how great the investment tools you have at your disposal are, you won’t go far if you never have any spare money at the end of the month that you can use for investing in the first place.
Acorns’ defining feature is rounding up your spare change from purchases to use it toward your savings goals.
The feature is made possible by using a debit card that uses the future automatically as you spend.
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Even better, you can put the money straight into retirement accounts or portfolios curated by professionals, so you know your money is going toward wherever it will have the best results.
There are also some extra perks, such as the Acorns checking account, which allows you to access your salary two days early.
However, unlike the other platforms on this list, it comes with some fees (albeit minimal ones), costing $3 or $5 a month to create an account.
- Rounds up purchases
- Offers help from professionals
- Feature to access salary early
- Charges fees
- Best for: Interacting with others as you invest.
- Fees: $0
Investing can sometimes feel like you’re not privy to everyone else’s secret.
You get the feeling that everyone is doing better than you or knows something you don’t, yet most people don’t discuss what they’re investing in.
Public.com noticed this problem and decided to create an investing app that borrows features from social media sites. It’s a novel concept that won’t work for everyone but can be a fun way to get involved in trading.
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When you log into the app, you’ll have a feed where you can see what other people are investing in — including expert investors.
There are also various other interactive features, such as group chats and live events.
This is great for beginners but also experienced traders who feel they have more to learn or may be missing out.
Public also has features that rival other sites, with a range of stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies on offer.
Although this isn’t a comprehensive list of investment types, it’s a good selection.
- Opportunity to follow and learn from others
- Features like group chats and live events
- Offers cryptocurrencies
- Some might find the social media format annoying
- Somewhat limited investment types
- Best for: More advanced traders.
- Fees: $0 (but some products charge commission)
Founded in 2017, WeBull might be newer than some of its rivals, but it’s fast become an established platform in the space of commission-free investing.
It allows you to trade for free, but there are some fees for certain services, including margin loans.
It offers various tools, including stocks, options, ETFs, OTCs, and ADRs.
For those who want to take their trading to the next level, Webull offers a stock trading simulator, which is a great way to learn the ropes and try out new strategies without risking your capital.
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All of this makes it an excellent choice for investors who have ambitions beyond simply purchasing a few assets and hoping for the best. And anyone can benefit from opening a traditional, Roth, or rollover IRA and a standard brokerage account.
However, complete beginners may benefit from opting for a different platform, as Webull can be confusing to navigate.
As a plus, WeBull frequently offers free stocks for sign-ups.
- Lots of choice over investment options
- More advanced tools
- Often offers free stocks
- Hard for beginners to use
- Fees for certain services
Final Word: Personal Finance Apps
Whether you’re looking to learn how to trade, access advanced trading features, or even have the opportunity to engage socially to improve your trading, there’s an app for that — and one of the platforms outlined above should have everything you’re looking for.
Feel free to test out a few and figure out what works for you, but don’t delay too long before you start putting your money to good use.
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This was produced and syndicated by Wealthy Living.
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Branislav Nenin.