top free stock investing apps sign up bonuses

Top 5 Free Stock Investing Apps I Use (Plus Rich Sign Up Bonuses)

This post is about the top stock trading apps, why I use them, and (what you’re presumably here for) the sign up bonuses. All these signup bonuses amount to $100+ in value, which is especially nice if you’re just starting out investing.

Note 1: Bonus terms and affiliate links may be subject to change. Not financial advice!
Note 2: You can also check out the top crypto referral bonuses for crypto trading platforms I use.

Wait, why use more than 1 stock trading app?

Other than getting free sign up bonuses, here are benefits of using a multi-account strategy:

  • Different features: some apps have different focuses and features, e.g. Public and eToro are focused on social trading.
  • Different offerings: not all stocks could be bought on all platforms. Schwab has more international or penny stocks you can buy, whereas the common retail investing apps don’t.
  • Less points of failure: if one app has some downtime and you want to trade, then at least you already have another stock trading account to use. Some apps got popular when Robinhood temporarily halted trading of Gamestop.

In light of all those points, here’s my personal use of

Most used stock trading appsAlternate investing apps I useRetirement & 401K accounts
Robinhood sign up bonusPublic sign up bonuseTrade sign up bonus
M1 Finance sign up bonuseToro sign up bonusFidelity
Schwab sign up bonusVanguard (no referral link)

Robinhood Sign Up Bonus: Get a free stock worth up to $200

Robinhood been around since 2015 and has always been a top trading app in terms of design and usability. Their feature set (which is ever-growing) benefits passive and active investors alike, from recurring investments to setting limit orders.

I use and recommend Robinhood despite the negative PR it received about payment for order flow. To me, that’s a non-issue. Robinhood is a company like any other that needs to make money to stay alive. However they botched the timing during the GameStop meme stock mania, I think they deserve a break.

Sign up bonus: If you sign up for a new account and link a bank account, then you’re guaranteed a free stock (or fraction of a stock)worth anywhere from $3 to $200.

Here are the current odds from Robinhood’s referral program:

  • Get up to $200 in stock value: 1% chance of getting a stock valued at least $20, 1-in-1000 chances gets at least $50.
  • You can earn up to a max of $500 in a year from referring friends.

Robinhood makes it very easy to do options trading and trading on margin. If you’re a beginner investor, I’d avoid these tactics—read my beginner’s guide to investing first.

Note: You must claim your free stock in the app within 60 days, or you lose it!

M1 Finance Sign Up Bonus: Get $50

Whereas Robinhood is optimized for buying single stocks and assets, M1 Finance is wonderful for building your own “portfolio,” or collection of stocks.

Every week, I have money dripping into my investing pie which my money across 14 stock picks and 2 index funds. To achieve the same thing would require a LOT of math and individual transfers on Robinhood.

Bonus: Earn $50 with my link when you sign up and deposit at least $100 to trade.

You can read the specific terms of the referral program, though it’s one of the richer and more straightforward bonuses on this list.

Public sign up bonus: Get a free stock

Public is a slick, free stock trading app that feels similar to Robinhood in functionality. It’s different in that it focuses on the social trading platform: whenever you buy or trade, that can be posted to your feed.

If you want to pick individual stocks thoughtfully, Public supports that showing investors who “put the money where their mouth is.”

Public pretty much copied Robinhood’s playbook when it comes to sign up bonuses. Reading their referral FAQ, you’ll find that the free stock is a fractional stock worth anywhere from $3 to $300.

Bonus: Sign up with my referral link, fund your account, and you’ll get rewarded a free fraction of a stock worth anywhere from $3 to $300.

eToro sign up bonus: Get $50

eToro is more well known in Europe, but they’ve made a splash since landing stateside. I’m sure the recent Superbowl commercial helped.

eToro has a killer CopyTrader feature: you can copy the investing decisions of top traders on the platform, and that includes both crypto and stock trading.

Bonus: With my referral link, you’ll earn $50 after depositing and trading at least $100. Curious? Read the referral program for more details.

While I don’t use eToro as my go-to investing app, I find it to be a valuable place to see how people are actually investing.

Charles Schwab: Get $100+ for depositing money

Most consumer trading apps like the ones mentioned above can only access stocks listed on the NASDAQ or NYSE. That means if there’s a stock that’s sold on OTC (“over the counter”) exchanges, you won’t be able to access them. Typically, these are penny stocks or international stocks.

That’s why I use Charles Schwab. Not only do they have a great checking account that reimburses you all ATM fees (amazing for travel), but they also a robust investment platform.

Example: I wanted to buy Voyager Digital (VYGVF), which is available on Schwab but not Robinhood.

By the way, this is not a recommendation to buy OTC stocks. Perhaps exchanges like Robinhood do this in order to protect investors, because OTC and penny stocks are considered more risky.

Schwab sign up bonus: get $100+ with my referral link when you deposit $25,000+.

Now, this is a lot of money, but I think this is also because Charles Schwab tends to serve high end clients that use them for a wide investing of banking activities, from investing to checking accounts.

What I use for my retirement accounts (IRA and 401K)

I use the following companies because they were provided by employers as part of my 401K plans, and they served as a fine place to hold index funds – as opposed to a place where I’d actively trade stocks.

Fidelity referral link: there are sometimes bonuses using my referral link, but I don’t see a current promo right now.

eTrade sign up bonus: get up to $2500 depending on how much you deposit. eTrade is a powerhouse and you can do several types of orders, alongside OTC buys, on the platform. You can read eTrade’s referral terms here.

Note: after you leave a company, you can transfer your 401K into an IRA, and you can often get a 401k transfer bonus for bringing that money over to a new retirement account provider. This is a whole industry because the amounts transferred tend to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. It’s a whole industry!

Afterthoughts on investing apps sign-up bonuses

Bonuses always change, so if you’re interested in grabbing some free cash, then it’s worth jumping on them now.

Pro tip: many common stock platforms allow you to transfer your stock holdings from one app to another via the Automated Customer Account Transfer Service (ACATS).

I’m not 100% sure if these transfers count towards account bonuses, but it’s a good note to keep in your back pocket if you ever want to transfer in/out of different platforms.

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