These days there are more ways than ever before to invest. This is thanks mostly to technology. It’s not merely the fact that the internet exists and that we can access it in more ways; rather, it’s that we’ve evolved in our thinking of how we use the internet, such that we now feel completely comfortable conducting financial practices and trusting that things will be handled efficiently and securely. Then again, these are also some of the most relevant factors to keep in mind when we decide between different investment platforms. There are so many options nowadays that even small differences in reputations for security, efficiency, safety, and customer service can make a huge difference.
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Ultimately, what matters most is where you feel most comfortable investing your money, and where you feel you can get the best possible return. However, to go over some of the options and the differences between them, we’ll look here at several different platforms broken up into three distinct categories: online, mobile, and fringe investment platforms.
Best Online Investment Platforms
This section concerns established online investment platforms. These services offer fairly traditional brokerage services, by and large, and in most cases have strong reputations established over several years. They are perhaps the most traditional means of investing independently (which is to say if you’re not merely hiring a broker to manage your portfolio).
Fidelity Investments offers one of the most straightforward platforms on the web for long-term investors. Fees are just under $5 per trade, which may sound like a lot of you haven’t invested online before, but is actually toward the lower end. And the service has a reputation for good service in a variety of areas: interface, ease of use, execution of trades, etc. It’s simply a trustworthy, well-rounded platform.
If you’re familiar with E*Trade it’s probably because the company may advertise more than all of the others listed here combined – or at least it can seem that way if you watch television regularly. It’s valued in large part for quick execution, a very high-end mobile platform, and a variety of research tools that help users to learn on the go and educate themselves as to what the best trading decisions are. However, the fees are a little higher, at about $7 per trade. While this article is more about information than predictions, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see E*Trade become a true leader among online brokers because of a combination of marketing strength and mobile optimization.
Ally Invest is a little bit newer than some of its counterparts, at least insofar as it has become a mainstream investment platform. It has a few built-in advantages. For one thing, $4.95 trades will appeal to a lot of young users looking for a first-time platform. For another, Ally has become somewhat trendy as an alternative banking option, and investment through the platform makes for an easy transition for those who already use it for banking services. For what it’s worth, one very thorough write-up specifically of investment for beginners called Ally Invest the best choice for trading stocks and options. It’s still a subjective statement, but it’s hard to argue definitively against it.
TD Ameritrade is another thoroughly established and thus well trusted service. It’s known for included services that help to educate traders, as well as for access to mutual funds, which are often recommended as good options for those with limited experience. Fees are slightly toward to high end, at just under $7, but some would argue you’re essentially paying for one of the most reliable services in the business.
Mobile Investment Platforms
This section covers a sort of new-age selection of mobile investment platforms. While the services listed above in the “online” section have their own apps and can be accessed via mobile platforms, the following services actually emerged as apps. They are better known to younger audiences seeking cheap and easy ways to establish portfolios, and in some people’s opinions they represent the future of independent, personal trading.
Robinhood is quite possibly the most famous mobile investing tool in existence at this point, even though as mentioned some of the established online platforms listed above have their own apps as well. This is a fairly new company, and one that has made its early reputation (a glowing one) by offering free trades in most any amount. The point is largely to appeal to younger people who might shy away from fees and who may not have large amounts to invest just yet. Through these perks, as well as an interface that is frankly so beautiful as to be a pleasure to use, Robinhood has established itself as a formidable counterpart to more traditional online broker options.
Stash is frankly very much like Robinhood, though for whatever reason it doesn’t seem to get quite the same amount of fanfare. The company was launched in 2015, and like Robinhood invites people to invest in very low amounts regardless of a stock’s share price, beginning with an account of just $5. Stash also places a premium on learning, offering beginners’ guides and educational features that can help you as you go. In a way, it’s automated to help you make the right decisions while you trade, making it an excellent option for beginners. And because it’s primarily a mobile platform, it’s worth noting that its interface is also quite smooth, though perhaps not quite as uniquely lovely as Robinhood’s.
Like Robinhood and Stash, Acorns is very clearly geared toward a young, mobile-friendly audience, as well as toward beginner investors. However, it’s an entirely different kind of platform. Acorns is all about passive investment. It links to your credit or debit card and rounds up all of your purchases such that “spare change” is invested into an account that is traded for you. You have some say over the level of aggression in this account (there’s sort of a scale from conservative to risky), but for the most part the app does the work for you. If it sounds too good to be true, it should be noted that the app isn’t designed to make you massive amounts of money. However, it can make you some income with very little effort or expense.
Fringe Investment Platforms
These are platforms that do not represent traditional investment, and which in fact may not even be called investment by most. They are higher-risk options more akin to betting than informed trading. However, because they’re both readily available and fun (or interesting at least), they cater to wide user bases, particularly in younger generations. Thus, while they aren’t recommended as actual investment options, they’re worth mentioning as fringe alternatives. Just note that they are not considered responsible from an investment standpoint.
Coinbase is one of many platforms in the cryptocurrency space, which together could make for a whole separate article similar to this one. However, it has as good an argument as any as being the leader in this space, and so bears mentioning. Basically, this is an online and mobile platform through which users can buy and sell cryptocurrencies: namely, bitcoin, litecoin, bitcoin cash, and ethereum, though others have been and can be added. Fees vary depending on how you buy cryptocurrency – through deposited cash, through a debit card, or directly via your bank account – but the process is simple. The caveat is that cryptocurrency is highly volatile and largely unpredictable. However, some do view it as an investment commodity.
Sports betting is quite clearly not a conventional form of investment. But it does involve risking some money in the hopes of making more, and it is set to become significantly more popular. Sports betting has been legalized in New Jersey, in addition to Pennsylvania, Nevada, and a handful of other states, and is well on its way to national regulation in the United States. As such, it will be made more common, primarily through existing platforms such as FanDuel’s included sportsbook. The FanDuel company has made a name for itself both online and in the mobile category for facilitating daily fantasy sports, and thus carries a massive user base’s trust already. It is on the cusp of becoming an easy-to-use, popular base for betting, conceivably even by those who want to invest but would rather do so in a risky yet entertaining manner.
PredictIt is another service that offers something more akin to betting or gambling than investing, though it’s billed as the “stock market of politics.” It’s actually quite a clever service, in that it sells shares of political outcomes (such as who will win a given election) for fractions of a dollar. It’s really that simple, and particularly in an age in which the public at large is paying more and more attention to political drama, it’s catching on very quickly. One can imagine that it could ultimately be laying the foundation for a busier pseudo-investment platform akin to betting yet organized as a mock stock market, not just for politics but for various public events and points of pop culture interest.
So that was all on the best online investment platforms through which you can get started to take calculated risks and build enormous wealth. Let us know what you think about the mentioned platforms using the comment section below.