Newbie Trader? There’s an App for That.
Dear Penny Stock Millionaire,
Trading is a personal endeavor, right? What works for one trader doesn’t necessarily work for someone else. I know every trader faces different challenges in the journey to becoming a self-sufficient trader.
I prefer to trade from a laptop and recommend you do the same. But I know it’s not always possible…so finding the right stock trading app can be key.
Trading apps let you manage your trades on the go, Or even start a trade on your laptop and then watch it from your phone throughout the day.
So today I’ll look at some of the top trading apps available.
I want you to succeed. That means you gotta find the tools that work for you.
All these apps have excellent uses for some traders. But of course, not all of them will be suitable for everyone.
Keep in mind your situation, your trading style, and your current account size.
Top Stock Trading App for Beginners
Too many newbie traders take on too much too fast. Fortunately, some apps can help newbies learn trading and market basics. Some can also help if you’re saving up for a trading account.
Most of my students who start with one of these apps upgrade down the road. I’ll review some options for that in a bit.
Robinhood’s a well-known commission-free broker. It actually started as a mobile app. The desktop interface came much later.
For the true beginner, it can be an OK place to start. There’s no minimum deposit and the order types are clearly defined with visualizations.
Robinhood’s default is to start every new account as a margin account subject to the pattern day trader (PDT) rule. That means you can only trade three times every five days. Personally, I think the PDT is a good restriction when you’re learning to trade.
Also, despite forcing you into a margin account, it doesn’t allow you to short stocks. I also don’t think newbies should short. It’s a risky strategy — you can blow up your account with one trade.
But Robinhood has some big limitations: Its executions and customer service. Plus, you can’t trade OTCs.
This is another commission-free firm. It’s not as popular as Robinhood, but it has a few advantages…
You can link Acorns to your bank account. Every time you make a purchase, it rounds up the purchase to a whole dollar amount. The difference goes into a brokerage account.
Once you have some cash saved, you can use the app’s built-in feature to help you build a portfolio … That might include stocks, bonds, or ETFs (exchange-traded funds). Better yet, you can let the cash build and make your own trades later.
It also offers individual retirement accounts (IRAs). This app is fine for passive investors, but I don’t recommend Acorns for active traders.
Sometimes you just need a quick quote. Or maybe you’re not ready to take on the markets just yet. Yep, there’s an app for that too!
Yahoo! Finance carved out a niche for itself in the finance world. You can find other resources out there… but none come close to Yahoo!’s interface.
With the tap of your finger you can pull up the current price, the float, the short float, recent news, SEC filings, and so much more.
You can also easily keep up with market trends. The app sends alerts throughout the day about broader market trends and big news events. It’s easy to create a watchlist and get custom alerts when a stock on your list makes a big move.
Yahoo! recently added a paid option, but I haven’t tried it so I can’t give you any information about that part of it.
Top Free Stock Trading Apps
Commission-free trading is all the rage now. In 2019, the concept became mainstream. Several online brokers dropped commissions to $0 per trade.
Do your research when you choose a broker. A broker that offers a phone app for trading can be great if you need that.
But make sure you choose a broker that’s established, has a strong track record, is highly regulated, and fully insured. You don’t want to worry about your broker shutting down overnight and your money disappearing. Yep, it’s happened before, and it could happen again!
I’ve used Thinkorswim in the past before TD Ameritrade bought it. It was my all-time favorite for customer service. But after TD Ameritrade acquired it, the borrows weren’t as good. (I was still a short-biased trader at the time.)
Schwab recently acquired TD Ameritrade, so that could affect the app and trading platform in the future. But as of now, it can be a decent trading platform once your account is in the $2,000 range.
With Thinkorswim, you get free access to Level 2 data, customizable scanners, and solid executions.
But nothing’s perfect, right? Of course it has some disadvantages. There are a limited number of shares available for shorting. If shorting is your go-to style, this won’t be the best fit for you.
Also, OTC data is delayed 15–20 minutes. That’s a big issue if you wanna trade the OTC markets. Frankly, it’s where you can find some of the best penny stock plays.
If you’re a long-biased trader who mainly trades listed stocks, this can be a good choice for you.
Many consider E-Trade to be the original place to trade online. It’s been around as long as online trading.
I’ve had an account open at E-Trade for over 20 years. In 2019, it also went to commission-free trades with the rest of the big brokers. But only for stocks listed on the NYSE or Nasdaq. You’ll still pay commissions on stocks that trade on the OTC exchanges. Those commissions typically range from $4.95–$6.95.
E-Trade also includes access to all the data you need to trade. That includes access to Level 2 data on every stock without delay — both listed and unlisted. There’s a fee for Level 2 but it’s money well spent. If you’re serious about trading you need access to Level 2 data.
E-Trade’s fees are reasonable but don’t take them on unless you’re ready. Also, it has limited access to borrows for shorting. So if you have a short bias, the next app could be a better fit.
Interactive Brokers is also a brokerage I currently use. The main drawback is its $10,000 minimum initial deposit. Not the best choice for small accounts.
It has a zero-commission option. It’s long been an industry leader for established traders and anyone who primarily short sells. (And if you’re a newbie, I don’t recommend you short anyway — it’s dangerous.)
If you have a small account, Interactive Brokers won’t be your best option. There are still plenty of great options out there. Check out some of the other apps we’ve already discussed.
Technology is changing everything. These days, you don’t need to be tied to a desk to trade. Yes, you need solid tools. But what’s really key? The right education and the right mindset.
Apps can certainly help, but they won’t make or break your trading career. But you can think about it this way… Most of us carry around powerful machines all the time. We’re tied to our smartphones. So why not use them to better our lives and trading?
Do your research. Find the tools and apps that work for you. The apps that I use may not be the best fit for you. But it’s so easy to try. Installing an app takes little time and usually costs nothing. Try out as many as you need to find the best fit for your trading style.
Editor, Penny Stock Millionaires