The best apps for investing online from your smartphone

Oluwatosin Jegede

The evolution of technology and user preferences has spurred remarkable growth in investment apps. As more people gravitate towards managing their money via tablets and smartphones, stock trading and robo-advisor platforms are rapidly adapting, enhancing their mobile experiences to match their desktop counterparts.

The line between the two is blurring, ushering in a seamless and synchronized experience that allows investors to easily track alerts, maintain watchlists, and stay up-to-date on their financial goals.

Best investment apps

We’ve undertaken in-depth research on numerous U.S.-based platforms to navigate this landscape. The objective? To identify the top-performing investment apps across various categories, enabling you to make an informed choice tailored to your investing needs. Stay tuned as we unpack the best the industry has to offer.

1. Wealthfront

Wealthfront is the embodiment of an effective digital investment experience. The app provides comprehensive money management tools, financial guidance, investing, and banking options, all within a seamless, sleek, and user-friendly interface. Its standout feature, Self-Driving Money, employs a rules-based approach to automate money movement across your accounts, optimizing for your financial goals.

The Android and iOS mobile apps mirror the superior experience offered on the desktop platform. The design minimizes manual data inputs, utilizing user-friendly sliders, drop-down menus, and auto-fill functionalities for a smoother user journey.

2. TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade has crafted a mobile trading experience that matches, if not surpasses, its desktop version in intuitiveness and feature richness. The mobile trading tools are conveniently organized into easily navigable functionalities and menus. These include watchlists, orders, position management, options, and chart customization.

The TD Ameritrade app emphasizes essential buying, selling, and portfolio monitoring features. Its counterpart, thinkorswim, emulates the downloadable platform’s workflow, allowing in-depth chart customization and position analysis. Regardless of your app choice, TD Ameritrade offers a dynamic and potent mobile experience catering to on-the-go money management needs.

3. Interactive Brokers

TD Ameritrade excels in self-directed trading. However, Interactive Brokers (IBKR) wins as the best app for active traders. Its mobile app mirrors all the core features of the desktop Traders Workstation (TWS) platform. This makes it an easy switch for sophisticated traders.

Users can trade in every available asset class, including direct coin trading in cryptocurrency. They also enjoy access to unmatched research, analysis, and strategy tools.

Seasoned traders familiar with TWS find the mobile experience smooth. The app and desktop platform offer synchronized functionalities like visible watchlists. The full TWS platform’s extensive depth does impose some constraints on the mobile app. But for active traders, Interactive Brokers remains a standout. It offers wide-reaching access to various assets and markets.

Read also: A comprehensive guide to stockbrokers: roles, requirements, and salaries

4. Tastytrade

Specializing in options trading, tastytrade (formerly Tastyworks) provides intuitive tools, educational content, and a seamless design to facilitate effective and quick trading experiences. The app’s laser focus on options trading has earned it the top spot in our best app for options traders category. Its order types, asset classes, and quote streaming capabilities align with those of its desktop counterpart.

Tastytrade specializes in workflow optimization. However, the mobile version does have some limitations. It lacks news updates, research tools, and drawing tools. Additionally, you cannot rotate graphs horizontally on the app.

The majority of traders prefer using the desktop version of tastytrade. Nevertheless, the mobile app is a dependable platform for options trading when on the move. While the mobile app is streamlined compared to other platforms, it retains its singular focus on options trading. This focus distinguishes it from other brokerage apps which accommodate a wider range of asset classes.

The evolution of investment apps

Technology has propelled the investing world into an era of increased market knowledge, transparency, and investment options. This technological transformation, initially more pronounced in desktop trading experiences, has now extended to mobile platforms as more investors lean towards using these devices.

Today, many app and desktop experiences offer near-parity in terms of functionality, ease of use, and synchronization, setting a new industry standard.

However, more sophisticated investors and active traders may never fully transition to mobile-only platforms. Physical screen size limitations can frustrate chart enthusiasts, and many advanced features and tools on trading platforms are often absent or diluted on mobile versions.

Heavy traders typically prefer the extensive customization offered by desktop platforms. Yet, for average investors, the choice between mobile or desktop investment platforms largely boils down to personal preference. Those looking to buy and hold or intermittently trade throughout the year can now comfortably operate solely on mobile apps without significant drawbacks if they never use their broker’s desktop platform.

The industry’s progression from phone trading to computer trading to smartphone trading underscores the remarkable pace of technological advancement.

Read also: Cognitive bias and financial choices: how our mind influences the investments we make

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