The proliferation of investment apps has coincided with the evolution of user preferences, with a growing number of people opting to mainly manage their money through tablets or smartphones. Stock trading and robo-advisor platforms have embraced this transition by focusing on improving their mobile app experiences. Brokers’ desktop trading platforms have historically had more features and capabilities than mobile, but the experiences and functionality have increasingly become virtually interchangeable. This improved consistency between mobile and desktop provides investors with a more synchronized experience in terms of alerts, watchlists, and updates, while also improving the ease with which you manage your money and monitor your investment goals. To help evaluate the best options in the industry, we performed extensive research on a range of U.S.-based offerings to determine the top platforms for several categories. 

Best Investing Apps

Wealthfront: Best Automated Investing App

  • Account Minimum: $500
  • Fees: 0.25% for most accounts, no trading commission or fees for withdrawals, minimums, or transfers
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Why We Chose It

Wealthfront delivers a powerful, digital-only investment experience that gives users access to comprehensive money management features through an elegant, sleek design. You’ll find the financial guidance, account aggregation, goal setting, investing, and banking options to be both user-friendly and seamless to navigate. Wealthfront’s Self-Driving Money allows you to further automate your finances by using a rules-based approach to move money between your accounts while optimizing for your goals, putting even control of your financial journey right at your fingertips.

The mobile apps for Android and iOS platforms are both superb and are on par with the desktop experience in terms of features, functionality, and ease of navigation. The app is thoughtfully designed to minimize unnecessary data inputs or typing, opting instead to leverage more user-friendly sliders, drop-down menus, and auto-fill functionality. You’ll still have to input user IDs and passwords when linking external accounts, but generally, the workflows are intuitive and consistent. Overall, while E*TRADE’s Core Portfolio robo-advisor offering won our Best Robo-Advisor for Mobile Experience category, Wealthfront was our best overall robo-advisor, and its platform provides a polished, smart user experience with exposure to a significantly greater range of comprehensive money management tools. 

Pros & Cons

  • Comprehensive financial planning tools

  • The digital-only financial guidance through Path is best in class

  • Thoughtful mobile experience designed to reduce errors and optimize functionality

  • Self-Driving Money provides seamless financial management through your smartphone

  • External account syncing can be inconsistent

  • No discounts for larger balances

  • No human financial advisors

TD Ameritrade: Best Stock Trading App

  • Account Minimum: $0.00
  • Fees: $0.00 for equities/ETFs. $0.65 per contract for options. Futures $2.25 per contract
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Why We Chose It

TD Ameritrade stands out for creating a mobile trading experience that can be more intuitive than the desktop version while maintaining a deep feature set. The mobile trading features are neatly organized into easy-to-understand functionalities and menus. This simple design incorporates watchlists, orders, managing positions, options, and chart customization. If you are using the TD Ameritrade app, the workflow is slimmed down to focus on what you need for buying and selling as well as monitoring the overall portfolio. With thinkorswim, however, the workflow mimics the downloadable platform and allows you to customize charts, analyze positions, and much more. 

Regardless of which app you use, you’ll find that TD Ameritrade’s mobile experience has all the accessories needed to manage your money on the go. The apps provide a dynamic and powerful alternative to the full desktop versions. While thinkorswim users will still gravitate to the desktop version whenever possible, the TD Ameritrade app can serve its users as the primary trading platform.?The big question in the coming months is what from the TD app experience will be brought over to Schwab as their integration has started in 2023 and is expected to complete in 2024.

Pros & Cons

  • Expertly designed mobile apps that are more streamlined than desktop versions

  • Choice between two apps appeals to users of all backgrounds

  • Charts, updates, and customizations fluidly sync between mobile and desktop platforms

  • Extensive investment selections and trading functionality

  • Drawing on charts is only available through thinkorswim mobile

  • TD Ameritrade doesn’t offer fractional share trading

  • Some tools are only available on one platform, creating a challenge for hybrid users

  • Potentially big changes ahead as Schwab integration moves to completion

TD Ameritrade: Best App for Beginners

  • Account Minimum: $0.00
  • Fees: $0.00 for equities/ETFs. $0.65 per contract for options. Futures $2.25 per contract
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Why We Chose It

TD Ameritrade also wins our best app for beginners category, boasting a clear educational focus that empowers users to better understand the market and investing. TD Ameritrade supports a range of educational offerings that match investors of all backgrounds. That said, TD Ameritrade’s education through the app isn’t as in-depth as the website. The educational angle has been slimmed down to put more focus on investing on the go rather than learning about investing on the go. Even this slimmed-down educational experience is much more comprehensive than the competition, however, as TD Ameritrade is pulling from one of the deepest libraries of content around.?

Investors can start with TD Ameritrade without committing to the platform by trading via a paper account, a helpful feature for investors to understand how the market behaves without risking capital. For paper trading on mobile, you have to use the thinkorswim mobile app. This is a great feature for aspiring traders to test out, but it can be intimidating if you are just looking to do basic investing. Overall, however, you will find that the mobile experience gives a comprehensive feel without being overpowering, allowing you to choose features that match your capabilities. This allows for a gentler introduction to investing and makes TD Ameritrade an excellent choice for beginner investors. As mentioned, we will see how the merged TD Ameritrade and Schwab apps combine and what features are ported over this year before the TD Ameritrade app is retired.

Pros & Cons

  • Mobile app is designed with ease of use and education in mind

  • Wide-ranging educational tools to empower investor knowledge

  • Blend of trading platforms and investment options for variety of users

  • Extensive learning pathways covering the basics to advanced investing strategies

  • No fractional share trading

  • Low interest on uninvested cash

  • Integration with Schwab app is coming

Interactive Brokers: Best App for Active Traders

  • Account Minimum: $0.00
  • Fees:?$0.00 commissions for equities/ETFs available on IBKR’s TWS Lite, or low costs scaled by volume for active traders that want access to advanced functionality such as order routing.?$0.65 per contract for options on TWS Lite; that is also the base rate for TWS Pro users, with scaled rates based on volume. $0.85 per contract for futures.
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Why We Chose It

While TD Ameritrade has the best app for self-directed trading, Interactive Brokers (IBKR) edges out the competition for our best app for active traders category. Sophisticated traders will find an immediate fit as the mobile experience carries over all the core features from the desktop Traders Workstation (TWS) functionality, which is one of the most comprehensive trading platforms in existence. Users will also have access to every available asset class, including cryptocurrency for direct coin trading, to go alongside unmatched research, analysis, and strategy tools.

The overall mobile experience generally flows smoothly for experienced traders who already know TWS. The mobile app provides synchronized functionality with watchlists created on the app also being visible on the desktop offering. While the core features of the IBKR app maintain nearly all the functionality of the desktop version, there are some reasonable constraints given the depth and breadth of the full TWS platform. The desktop option has a lot more options for analysis and trading strategies. Despite these constraints, the Interactive Brokers app stands above the rest as the top option for active traders because of the range of assets and markets it puts into your hands.

Pros & Cons

  • Mobile experience successfully mimics core functionality of the comprehensive desktop version

  • App stock screeners and option strategies match web offering

  • Mobile charts are detailed, intuitive, and provide useful indicators

  • Outstanding order execution processing

  • Attractive, low margin interest rates

  • No fixed income screener on mobile

  • Expansive platform capabilities may have a learning curve

tastytrade (Formerly tastyworks): Best App for Options Traders

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees & Commissions: $0 stock trades, $1 to open options trades (capped at $10 per leg), $0 to close
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Why We Chose It

Tastytrade (formerly Tastyworks) specializes in options trading with a focus on intuitive tools, education, and seamless design. This relentless focus on options trading—and nothing but—has tastytrade taking our top spot in the best app for options traders category. The workflow is built with seamless options order management in mind, which results in an effective and quick trading experience. The mobile app has order types, asset classes, and quote streaming capabilities that mirror the desktop version. 

While tastytrade's option workflow optimization makes it stand out in this category, there are some notable mobile constraints such as a lack of news, research, and drawing tools. Graphs on mobile devices also cannot be rotated horizontally, which is the biggest drawback of the mobile platform. Simply put, tastytrade is a great broker for options traders and the majority of those traders will be using the desktop whenever possible. That said, the tastytrade mobile app is singularly focused on options trading, whereas other brokerage mobile apps have to balance options features against more heavily used asset classes. This means tastytrade’s mobile app is stripped down by comparison but still gets the job done for options traders when they are away from the desktop version.?

Pros & Cons

  • Mobile user flow is optimized for full options trading

  • Easily edit multi-leg options trades

  • Outstanding blend of tools and pricing compared to competition

  • Full offering of asset classes beyond options

  • Account opening isn’t supported on mobile devices

  • Price alerts and order notifications aren’t available

  • Heavy options traders won’t find the mobile experience a suitable desktop replacement

  • App isn’t optimized for trading anything outside of options

Compare the Best Investment Apps

Company ?Fees Account Minimum Mobile App
?Wealthfront 0.25% for most accounts, no trading commission or fees for withdrawals, minimums, or transfers. $500 Android, iOS
TD Ameritrade Free stock, ETF, and per-leg options trading commissions. $0.65 per options contract. $0 Android, iOS
Interactive Brokers Maximum $0.005?per share for Pro platform up to 1% of trade value, $0 for IBKR Lite. $0 Android, iOS
?tastytrade $0.00 stock trades, starting at $1.00 to open options trades $0.00 to close. $0? ?Android, iOS

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The Evolution of Investing Apps

The rapid advancement of technology has benefited investors by providing more market knowledge, transparency, and investment options than ever before. Originally this technological transformation was more keenly felt in desktop trading experiences. However, with more investors opting to use mobile devices, brokers have focused on improving these experiences as well. As a result, many app and desktop experiences are very close to parity in terms of functionality, ease of use, and synchronization. It is fast becoming the industry standard to provide the same investment functionalities across all trading platforms.

That said, more sophisticated investors and active market participants like traders will likely never feel completely comfortable moving to mobile-only experiences. There are physical limitations to mobile screen size that will frustrate chart enthusiasts and many of the heavier features and tools on trading platforms are still often missing or watered down on the mobile versions. Heavy traders, in particular, tend to prefer the higher level of customization that can really only be done on a desktop platform. For average investors, however, the choice between using mobile or desktop investment platform versions is now mostly a matter of preference. Investors looking to buy-and-hold or trade intermittently throughout the year can now do so entirely on mobile apps without missing much if they never use their broker’s desktop platform. The speed at which the market went from trading by phone to trading by computer to trading by smartphone has been truly remarkable.

Desktop vs. Mobile Experiences

Desktop trading platforms still have a strong customer base because of the superior trading experience they provide. Thanks to the growth of app-only retail investors, however, brokers can’t focus solely on the desktop experience. Mobile-first and mobile-only brokerages already exist, and established brokers are having to simultaneously develop their desktop and mobile platforms to keep up.?

To do this, many brokerages have changed their product approach to focus on creating a consistent experience across multiple devices. This means you can usually find similar workflows and key tools regardless of which platform you are on. This comes with a trader-specific caveat, as many desktop platforms intended for active traders have to cut out a lot more when transitioning to mobile when compared to brokerages with platforms aimed at average investors.?

The extent of this feature reduction has been lessened as the smartphone technology running these trading apps has improved, however, and more brokers are aligning and synchronizing key features across both the mobile and desktop workflows such as analysis, research, screening tools, money movement, and charting. More recently, complex trading strategies originally reserved for desktop experiences like multi-leg options trades and contingent orders have been enabled on apps as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Advantages of Using Investing Apps to Trade Stocks?

The key advantage of using an investing app to trade stocks is accessibility. Investing apps have leveraged rapid mobile technological advancements to make it easier than ever to invest and trade stocks. Like most people now, you probably carry your mobile device with you all the time, allowing you to react to market movements and monitor your investments in places where it just wasn’t practical before. The convenience of mobile trading has also made the market more accessible to users of all backgrounds, interests, and experience levels. You don’t need a trading terminal with four monitors anymore. Increased competition among brokers and innovation in the form of new apps and platforms has reduced barriers to entry such as cost and education. With a supercomputer in your pocket, you have access to the same real-time market data on the go and can trade accordingly.

What Are the Disadvantages of Using an Investing App to Trade Stocks?

While investment apps are moving closer to full feature parity with the desktop versions, there are still some functionality gaps that impact certain types of investors. The gaps vary by investment platform and investor preferences, but generally, you can expect there to be some product differences between desktop and mobile trade experiences in terms of the charting and analysis tools. Some investing apps also omit asset types or market exchanges that are available through the desktop version. Another disadvantage to app-based trading is the size limitations on mobile devices compared to full computer monitors. These factors tend to affect active traders the most, but they can be a downside for any investor depending on your preferences and trading strategies.

What Should I Consider Before Using a Stock Trading App?

App-based trading gives you access to financial markets right at your fingertips, wherever you are located. When considering investing through a mobile app it’s helpful to identify your goals, preferences, and investment strategy. Being aware of your personal investment experience and educational opportunities can also help match you to the right trading platform. It is also important to evaluate the broker as a whole, rather than just by the mobile app. A slick app can’t make up for the impact of higher-than-average fees and poor execution, for example.?

As you decide between different apps, you may find some platforms provide paper-based accounts to experiment without risking your personal capital. Testing out more than one app-based investment offering can also give you more insight to properly compare and contrast features that match your preferences. All these factors can help determine which app will be the right fit for you.

What's the Difference Between Finance Apps and Investing Apps?

In this review, we are focused on investing apps rather than finance apps. Investing apps allow you to actually buy and sell assets and, in practical terms, are the apps provided by brokerages to trade in your account with them. There is a wider universe of financial apps out there, and some brokerages also offer finance app functions through their investment apps (i.e. external account syncing with financial analysis on your total holdings). The key difference with a finance app is that you cannot trade stocks or assets through those apps even though you may be able to sync your brokerage accounts to the app. In contrast, investment apps enable you to research investments, check positions, and place new orders, all without having to leave the app. Finance apps generally stop at being able to display your brokerage account balance as part of your overall financial picture. Some of the most popular financial apps are budgeting apps, and we review these separately from our investment app reviews.


Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. Our reviews are the result of months of evaluating all aspects of an online broker’s platform, including the user experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on its platforms, costs and fees, security, the mobile experience, and customer service. We established a rating scale based on our criteria, collecting thousands of data points that we weighed into our star-scoring system.

Read our full methodology.

Dotdash Meredith receives cash compensation from Wealthfront Advisers LLC (“Wealthfront Advisers”) for each new client that applies for a Wealthfront Automated Investing Account through our links. This creates an incentive that results in a material conflict of interest. Dotdash Meredith is not a Wealthfront Advisers client, and this is a paid endorsement. More information is available via our links to Wealthfront Advisers.

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