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10 Best Trading Apps For College Students

Are you thinking of investing? here are the best trading apps for students.



A street sign with the words SAVING STREET and INVESTING BLVD in white text on black signs.


Investing in the stock market as a college student seems impossible. The little amount of money you have to spend is precious and should be maximized when buying stock.

We’ve put together 10 of the best stock trading apps for college students to put in as little money as possible. 

Apart from those, we also offer investment options other than the stock market, all of which are suitable for college students.


Overall Best Trading App for College Students

Blue Betterment logo

1. Betterment 

Among all the trading apps, perhaps Betterment is the best one. It is easy to use, and it is almost a fit for everyone.

Betterment is a reputable financial service that provides you with investment advice in an automated manner.

Using automation, Betterment maximizes your return on investment while minimizing the risks associated with investing in the marketplace.

No matter what your income level or investment goals, Betterment is for you. It is a reasonably priced product that is easy to use, handy and all-encompassing.

Key Features:

  • App Name: Betterment: Investing
  • Account Minimum: No account minimum
  • Fees:  0.25% per year on your invested balance, which covers all trading costs
  • Incentives: Get automatic cash back from thousands of your favorite brands when you spend with Betterment Checking and the Betterment Visa Debit Card
  • Referral Program: refer friends to earn a special offer
  • Opening Account Process: Sign up in three minutes

Other Important Details:  Betterment not only has powerful technology, but also offers personalized advice developed by a team of experts. When you have questions, their Customer Support team is ready to help you.

Most Popular Trading Apps for College Students

A green logo with white text saying, "Robinhood."

2. Robinhood

Robinhood is one of the best apps for both college students who are just beginning to enter the stock market and more experienced students.

This company offers simplistic explanations of the stock market and related information to expand your knowledge of finances.

You can control the flow of information you see on the app to prevent the experience from being overwhelming. With customizable news and notifications, you can also check the status of your assets as often as you would like.

Key Features:

  • App Name: Robinhood: Invest. Save. Earn.
  • Account Minimum: No account minimum
  • Fees: No commission fees for stock, ETFs and options. No base fees, no exercise and assignment fees, and no per-contract commission.
  • Incentives:  Gives a free “Surprise” Stock worth up to $190.09 when opening an account. You are not required to have money in the account to get the free stock.
  • Referral Program: For every friend you refer, you both get a free stock. Earn up to $500 worth of free stock each year.
  • Opening Account Process: Simple application process and most cases only wait one day for approval.

Other Important Details: There is the option to buy fractional shares meaning you don’t have to buy an entire share. You can spend as little as $1.

A logo in black text saying,"Public" with a polygon blue shape to the left of it.

3. Public

Public offers more than just resources on trading stock, they also provide a community within the app for college students and users to feel connected. This app is best for users who want an active community.

You can follow other investors and share insights with them through group messaging. You can attend virtual events and workshops to improve your financial literacy or read a wide range of resources.

The app allows you to stay connected with companies you own or follow through their breaking news section.

It also provides tools for easy organization of your portfolio and personalized exploration of stock through specific themes like Green Power, Women in Charge, and Growing Diversity.

Key Features:

  • App Name: Public – Invest in Stocks
  • Account Minimum: No account minimum
  • Fees: No commission fees for stock or ETFs
  • Incentives: Can gift stock for free to as many friends as you’d like. They are worth up to $50. Only allowed one per person and must be new to Public.  
  • Referral Program: Earn free stock through their referral program
  • Opening Account Process: Quick application process with instant approval for most cases.

Other Important Details: Offers fractional shares for as little as $5.

A logo in back text saying, "Webull", with a blue symbol to the left of it.

4. Webull

Webull is the best app for earning free stock. With a customizable desktop platform in addition to their app, college students will find Webull very intuitive.

To build your portfolio, they have a stock screener that allows you to find the companies you are looking for faster. 

Key Features:

  • App Name: Webull: Stocks, Options, and ETFs
  • Account Minimum: No account minimum
  • Fees: $0 in commissions to trade stocks, ETFs and options
  • Incentives: Provides one free stock when opening an account with no deposit required. Earn a second free stock after depositing $100 or more.
  • Referral Program: For each successful referral to a friend, earn two free stocks.
  • Opening Account Process: Easy to open an account with instant approval for most cases.

Other Important Details: Market analysis and detailed charts available to help you make smart decisions as well as tools for both advanced and beginner users.

A logo with all black text, a purple and green asterisk between the "E" and the "T", saying E*TRADE.


E*TRADE is a good app for gaining financial knowledge. They offer videos and content to help beginners understand what it means to trade stock.

Their tools are very easy to use and they offer guidance to simplify investing.

They also have a second app called Power E*TRADE with innovative charting tools and risk analysis tools. 

Key Features:

  • App Name: E*TRADE: Invest. Trade. Save. 
  • Account Minimum: No account minimum
  • Fees: $0 per trade in online stock, ETFs, and option trades
  • Incentives: Financial consults on call free of charge 
  • Referral Program: Refer a friend and earn a $50 Amazon Gift Card
  • Opening Account Process: Open an account online, by phone, or by mail

Other Important Details: Trading tools are available for every level of experience.

a dark purple logo saying, "ally", short for Ally Invest.

6. Ally Invest 

Ally Invest has many pros, but also a few cons. Currently, their incentive to join is unrealistic for college students to achieve; they require a $10,000 deposit for the cash bonus.

However, this app offers resources beyond the stock market. They provide tips and tools for financial lifestyle choices on a wide range of topics including life, buying cars and homes, banking, and more.

They also teach online courses through their program called Wallet Wise. For college students who are looking for a little bit of direction, this app is best for them. 

Key Features

  • App Name: Ally Mobile
  • Account Minimum: No account minimum
  • Fees: No commission fee on US-listed stocks and ETFs, no commission on option trades 
  • Incentives: Earn up to $3500 in Cash Bonus when signing up. 
  • Referral Program: Temporarily suspended.
  • Opening Account Process: Fast application process with most accepted in minutes.

Other Important Details: Offers in-depth research and market analysis tools for all to use. 

7. Acorns

Acorns implements the concept of simple investing — automatically investing users’ change.

If you choose to participate in Auto Investing, Acorns will invest your allowance, then your investments will be spread over 7,000 stocks and bonds, and Acorn will automatically rebalance your portfolio to maintain its target allocation.

Acorns offers checking accounts and debit cards, so you can save, invest, and earn money while spending.

Key Features:

  • App Name: Acorns: Investing. Earning. Growing.
  • Account Minimum: $5 
  • Fees: $1, $3, or $5 per month on different service level
  • Incentives: Refer friends and they invest at least $5, and you will get a $5 bonus.
  • Referral Program: Your friends will also get a $5 bonus after you get that.
  • Opening Account Process: Open an account online, by phone, or by mail

Other Important Details:  Acorns has five portfolios that clients can choose from, and they all have easy-to-read titles such as “aggressive” and “moderately conservative”.  Acorns is a great fit for investors who want to keep it simple.

8. Firstrade

Firstrade is a leading investment asset tool designed to help investors to take control of their financial future.

With its proprietary trading technology, excellent customer service, and highly intuitive user interface, Firstrade provides a comprehensive solution to all of its clients’ investment needs.

To be more precise, Firstrade offers online and mobile trading in equities/ETFs, options, mutual funds, fixed income, and more.

Key Features:

  • App Name: Firstrade: Trade, Invest, Save
  • Account Minimum: No account minimum
  • Fees:  $0 commission on all trades & $0 options contract Fee
  • Incentives: Open an account and get one free stock between May 1 and June 1 in 2021. Get 1 additional free stock if you deposit at least $100 or more within 30 days of account approval.
  • Referral Program: Invite a friend and receive a free stock
  • Opening Account Process: Open an account in just a few minutes

Other Important Details:  Note that Firstrade offers extended trading hours from 8 am to 8 pm and executes trades at a rate of 0.1 seconds.

9. M1 Finance

M1 is an investment platform for college students that allows you to easily manage the investment portfolio you want. For those who want to try investing for the first time, you can customize and organize a portfolio on this platform. 

The most important thing is that it is very easy, all transactions are automatically completed based on specific events. Both deposits and withdrawals can be made by clicking a button.

Key Features:

  • App Name: M1 Finance: Yours to build.
  • Account Minimum: No Account Minimum
  • Fees: No commissions or markups on trades
  • Incentives: Refer a friend and after your friend invests $100 into an individual account within 30 days of opening their M1 account, you will receive $30.
  • Referral Program: And your friend can receive $30 after you receive that!
  • Opening Account Process: Open an account online, by phone, or by mail.

Other Important Details: As a self-directed brokerage, M1 does not monitor your investments against your investor profile.

10. Stash

Stash Invest is a micro-investment app that offers huge profits. Upon signing up, each customer will receive a free checking account with no overdraft fees and a stock buyback award with each debit card purchase.

Stash is thoughtful enough to provide clients with hundreds of stocks and nearly 80 ETFs. You can easily check out the stock options on its website.

Key Features:

  • App Name: Stash: Invest& Build Wealth
  • Account Minimum: No minimum to open your account
  • Fees: The fees range from $1 to $9 per month
  • Incentives: For a limited time,  get $5 when opening an account.
  • Referral Program: When you use your Stash Banking debit card to make eligible purchases, you’ll earn 0.125% back. 
  • Opening Account Process: Open your account online or through the mobile app.

Other Important Details: You can use the Stash app to meet all of your family’s financial needs, as Stash has three main types of investment accounts: Investments, Retirement, and Custodial.

Related: 5 Surprisingly Easy Ways Students Can Save Money Throughout College

Can you learn stock trading in college

Fundamental course for the stock investing

To learn stock trading, there are many basic lessons to learn. It can be a contradiction to get started investing without knowing the basics of economics and the financial industry.

So here are a few courses that can help you invest.

Macroeconomics is essential. Macroeconomics courses include discussions of monetary and fiscal policy, national income, which helps you understand the macro concept of the economy.

With the macro concept, we should learn the micro concept next, and personal finance is a good choice. This is one of the basic courses that students can take before moving on to more advanced economics courses.

The course usually covers the fundamentals of investing in stocks and bonds. 

Once you master the basic knowledge, it may be time to take some more in-depth courses. The investment analysis course provides more in-depth training in the valuation of stocks and derivatives to prepare you for the initial stage of stock trading.

Financial and investment club 

It is better to do than talk. Although the class can let you master the knowledge,  you may need to practice many times. Many universities offer finance and investment clubs, which might be the right place for you to give your first try.

This club is your window into the investment world as a young person. You can manage a real-time stock portfolio with your peers.

You will be here to learn what stocks are worth investing in and to promote the stocks you think are worth investing in.

Perhaps the most exciting is the weekly seminars that give you a chance to discuss the recent stock market with your friends.

Read books about investing

Reading plays an important role in college life. As for learning stock trading, reading outside the class is also indispensable. Here I recommend a few classic financial books for college students to read. 

The first is The intelligent investor. Though it is an old book dating back to 1949, Benjamin Graham’s smart value investing strategy seems never out of fashion.

As you are a college student who is not able to take massive risks, the book is right here to teach you how to make money through stock trading with few risks.

If you want to read a book that keeps up with The Times, pick this one – A Beginner’s Guide to the Stock Market. Everything you don’t know about the stock market can be explained here. With it, you may avoid a lot of mistakes in stock trading.

Related: Best Remote Jobs For College Students – The Ultimate 2021 Guide 

Other Ways to Invest as a College Student

Build an emergency fund

Entering college means you have become an adult. Even though your parents may still be supporting you, you should start learning to be independent.

So it’s time to prepare yourself an Emergency Fund for a rainy day. For example, after college, it probably takes you a while to find a job, which is when you will use the Emergency Fund.

Building an emergency fund requires you to set a goal first. You need to assess your expenses and then estimate how much money you need to keep as an emergency fund.

Then you have to set a plan for how long it will take to get the money. To achieve that, it is likely that you find a new part-time job with higher pay, or cut back on your daily expenses.

It may not be a huge amount of money, but it is an important step towards your independence.

High-Interest Savings Account

Now that you have an emergency fund, it’s better to find a high-yielding savings account and put it away. A high-yield savings account is a bank account that offers a higher interest rate than a traditional savings account.

Interest rates on high-yield savings accounts typically range from 1 to 2 percent. Many banks and credit unions offer high-yielding savings accounts.

There are many benefits to a high-yield savings account. First of all, you have the opportunity to earn more money because of the high-interest rate on such accounts.

And high-yield savings accounts are not exposed to market risk. In most cases, the return is guaranteed and you will never lose your principal investment.

For college students, opening a high-yield account is a good start to manage money.

Roth IRA

For college students, focusing on retirement may be a little early. But it may be wise to consider the Roth IRA for retirement.

I know, maybe as a college student, you generally don’t have money. But you’re young, which means you have plenty of time, so this might be a good time to open a Roth IRA account.

If you slowly put some of the money you have leftover into this retirement account, you are likely to have a good return by the time you retire. And note that——A Roth IRA is tax-free. 

A Roth IRA account is easy to open. You can find suppliers by doing a simple Internet search or registering with your local bank. As long as you have a paid part-time job, you may be eligible to open a Roth IRA account.

For college students, it is a perfect choice because the money you save for your future can still be used while you’re in school.

Don’t ignore the 401k

If you’re a recent graduate, finding a job is a priority. Chances are you’ll need to pay off your college loans, so salary is a factor that cannot be ignored.

But there’s something else to watch out for, and that’s the 401K retirement plan that many employers offer. A 401K is a deferred tax.

Ultimately, by investing your 401k each month, you’ll save the amount of taxes you owe at the end of the year.

Once you put your money into your 401K, it will be used in different areas of the financial market.

Your employer will partner with financial institutions to invest their company’s retirement funds.

You will be introduced to the retired representative of the company. The representative will discuss with you how much you want to invest and how you want to invest.

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Related: Need Some Cash? Use These 6 Insanely Easy Apps To Earn Money As A College Student

Final thoughts on Trading Apps for Students

Everyone has different trading goals and experience. Think about what you would like to get out of the app and test a couple out before investing your own money

Overall, as a student, the sooner you start, the better it is to form a sense of financial management. During university, you should actively learn the knowledge of investment and financial management, and have a better understanding of various investment and financial management tools.