Gone are the days when someone had to physically walk into a bank or schedule an in-person meeting with their financial advisor to plan for retirement or their kids’ college education. In addition to offering a previously unheard of level of financial flexibility, the digital age has significantly reduced the fees associated with stock and investment trading. Trading in the 80s could earn brokers 3% commissions, which might not sound like a lot, but not only does that figure really add up, but the fee would be assessed regardless of whether or not they were successful in their investments.

Since then, the world has seen the rise of exchange-traded and mutual funds, which have helped to bring the fees down for amateur investors. When consumer-facing financial software reached the market at scale, anyone with a financial interest and an internet connection could access critical information- and executional capabilities at low or no cost. 

Investment and banking apps are the next generation of this technology, in that they allow people to manage their finances on the go. Both novice investors and experienced financial analysts are likely to find a banking and investment app that will work for their needs and goals. Tech experience, individual goals, and size of the investment budget  are essential factors to consider when choosing a financial investment app. 

We’ve rounded up 7 of the best banking and investment apps available in 2021.

Stash

Often hailed as one of the best mobile investment apps for beginners, Stash provides novice investors with ample educational content and even offers a coaching feature. The app functions as an educational tool, designed to help the user better understand the holistic process of investing. Stash also offers users the ability to participate in customized challenges while tracking progress and amassing investing knowledge. 

After downloading the Stash app to your mobile device, you’ll be directed to a short questionnaire, designed to determine how much risk you are comfortable bearing, as well as understand your unique investment goals. The app will then suggest several Exchange Traded Funds (ETFS) and individual stocks that might be good choices for you to invest in.  Additionally, Stash will populate the education tab with content tailored to your financial understanding and goals. 

A review of the site shows an in-depth evaluation of- and investment opportunity in- Fortune 500 stocks such as 3M, Caterpillar and Exxon Mobil.  To provide recommendations and up-to-the-minute market news, the app connects to platforms like Yahoo Finance and Market-Watch.

Registering for a Stash account costs just  $5, and users can buy fractional shares in more than 100 of the hottest stocks. 

Robinhood

For self-starters who want a clean, easy to use interface while independently making  investment decisions- and want to keep fees to an absolute minimum- Robinhood is a popular choice. 

The investing app has achieved widespread popularity for two reasons: an intuitive user interface and some of the lowest fees in the investing space. Robinhood is considered to be easy to use, as transitioning from one screen to another is both smooth and intuitive. For instance, a user can easily toggle between a feed that aggregates investing news and an interface that allows users to smoothly buy or sell stock positions.  And because Robinhood doesn’t charge commission and has one of the lowest minimum account balances in the industry ($0 required to keep the account open), Robinhood is a great choice for investors who are in the early stages of their financial investment  journey. 

Unlike other investing apps, Robinhood allows the customer the flexibility to trade in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Etherium, and LiteCoin.For added flexibility, Robinhood offers a $5/month premium subscription, called Robinhood Gold. Subscribers to Robinhood Gold will have access to additional data research and margin trading. 

While there are many pluses for Robinhood, one drawback is that they don’t offer retirement accounts. This means all investments made are self-managed and taxable, so Robinhood may not be a good choice for savers. 

Acorns

Because of their low fees and low account balance requirements, Acorns is often considered a good choice for student/ post-college investors. They’re able to offer lower fees and balance requirements- and even free management for college students- because Acorns falls into the category of being an automated advisor. Also called roboadvisor, automated advisors use algorithm-based, automated financial planning services with little-to-no active human input.

Acorns is also attractive for student investors because they make it extremely easy to save money. Users can link payment methods to the app and then “pay”as normal for everyday goods and services.

 The app’s spare change savings tool that rounds up to the next dollar on the purchases users make and invests the “spare change” into a designated acorns investment. For instance, if someone were to spend $2.13 on a coffee, they would be “charged” $3 for the coffee, and the $.87 difference would automatically be invested. Essentially, the app transfers small amounts of money from a checking account and “saves” it to active investment funds. 

Registering for an Acorn lite account costs just  $1 per month, and an Acorns Personal account is just $3/month. An Acorns Personal account allows for retirement planning with their Roth, SEP and traditional individual retirement account (better known as IRAs) plans.

Acorns is a great investment app for young people, because guaranteed saving is built into the model, and having a financial cushion early is an important step to financial success.

Betterment

Betterment- one of the newer robo-advisers- is goal based, meaning its algorithms are designed to make financial recommendations based upon user goals. Betterment differentiates itself from other investing apps by applying professional management to  portfolios using a selection of ETFs that are calibrated against your risk tolerance. 

Both conservative and aggressive investors can use the risk tolerance parameters to create a risk strategy that fees individually appropriate. Regardless of an investor’s individual risk tolerance level, Betterment’s algorithm and professional team can help to assist in planning for children’s future education, retirement nest eggs, and even major purchases like home and cars.

Betterment offers accounts at three levels: the basic package offers no fee, but limited services and support. The mid-tier Digital Investing plan has a $0 balance minimum, but charges .25% annual management fee. For more sophisticated investors with larger balances, Betterment offers Premium Investing services for just .4% annually- considerably lower than a traditional advisor’s 1% fee. 

SoFi

What began as a lender in the student loan space, SoFi has now matured into a comprehensive financial service firm with lending and investing capabilities via their mobile app. While SoFi may have grown up from their days as a student loan company, that doesn’t mean young people are no longer the core audience they serve. 

SoFi is a suitable choice for investing novices, as it incorporates investment education into the platform. New investors can also “dip their toe in the water” by investing in fractional shares, referred to as Stock Bits. 

Advantages of Sofi include the fact there is no minimum amount required to start investing- something that’s definitely beneficial to young investors. SoFi users also have access to certified financial planners with no additional fees, and  no trading fees, with only low fees for fund maintenance. 

However, there are a few drawbacks to investing with SoFi. There are no options for stop-loss orders, nor is there the option for tax-loss harvesting, a mode of selling stocks at a tax benefit or loss. There is a 1.25% mark up on crypto transactions, and the expense ratios depend on the brands exchange-traded funds. 

Overall, the SoFi app offers some features for novice investors that are easy to use and well-priced. 

FinTron

The FinTron brokerage app prides itself in operating at the crossroads of investor education, user-friendly platform design, and transactional affordability. Founded by a team of young entrepreneurs, Fintron focuses on helping tech-savvy new investors between 18 and 35 get into- and excel at-financial investing. Generations Y and Z are notoriously skeptical of traditional financial institutions, and FinTron caters directly to this group.

With FinTron, risks are systematically assessed relative to their investment value, allowing users to search for investment opportunities that meet all of their criteria. The platform allows for unlimited trading in over 600 fractional investments, including ETFs and stocks.  

Fees with FinTron are extremely palatable, compared to competition. The app costs just $2/month and offers commission-free, unlimited fractional share trading, with minimum orders of just $5. The app also allows mobile banking and ATM withdrawals, so it’s easy to link Apple, Samsung or Android Pay to the Fintron app and have all of your finances in one place. 

WeBull

Experienced or professional investors will appreciate the robust interface and trading capabilities of WeBull. Unlike apps aimed at novice investors, WeBull is designed for experts who seek comprehensive brokerage capabilities, on the go, and as such it may be a bit overwhelming for the beginners. 

In addition to offering retirement account support and cryptocurrency trading, Webull offers advanced features like advanced orders, dozens of technical indicators, and in-depth charting. Premium account holders will also enjoy services like margin trading, extended trading hours, short sell ability, and robust customer support.

Because every investor has unique goals, requirements, and investment budgets, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all “best” investing and banking app. Determining which investing app is right for you depends on your investing prowess, your risk tolerance level, end goals, and total investment amount. In assessing investment apps, it’s imperative that you review costs, fees and features of each before subscribing. While the ever-growing field of banking and investment apps can feel overwhelming, there are investing apps for beginners and experts alike.