I used Robinhood, WeBull, and Public for the first time. They all have their advantages, but WeBull outperforms the competition with its resources for new traders.
- I opened brokerage accounts with three trading apps this week and compared the experience of using them.
- Robinhood has by far the best app. But if you want more resources to help you make investment decisions, use WeBull.
- Robinhood was launched in 2013 and is now looking to go public. WeBull and Public both launched in 2017.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
Robinhood was launched in 2013 and quickly appealed to new and young investors looking to try their hand at retail.
The trading app, which seeks to go public with a valuation of up to $ 30 billion, had around 13 million users at the end of 2020.
Some said the app was too much of a game, while others complained about the manipulation of the market in the midst of the GameStop frenzy.
The situation allowed the competitors to strengthen.
WeBull, the Chinese brokerage firm that launched in 2017, said it has seen a 16-fold increase in new account registrations following Robinhood’s reaction, Bloomberg reported at the time. Meanwhile, Public, which also launched in 2017, has doubled in size since the start of the year with over one million users.
These trading apps all compete for the attention of Millennial and Gen Z investors alongside more established brokers like TD Ameritrade, loyalty, and others.
For this story, I downloaded each of the three apps to compare the user interface, variety of features, security, and educational resources, to see which came out on top.
The bottom line? Robinhood was by far the most fun to use and interact with, but WeBull established itself with readily available data and resources to help me improve my investing strategies.
My perspective as a first-time retail investor
I’ll start by saying that I’ve never done this before. I started my career as a professional reporter at Bloomberg and am now a Millennial Investing reporter in the Markets team at Insider. These roles come with strict rules about what I can and cannot do in terms of investing.
For example, I write a lot about stocks as well as GameStop and AMC. If I were to invest in one, it would be a conflict of interest and put me in hot water with my employer. Besides contributing to a 401 (k), I stayed away from any other investment.
To open accounts with each of the apps, I had to answer a long list of questions, from my investment experience to a lot of personally identifying information, and then enter my banking information. This experience is standard in all departments.
While I haven’t redeemed the offer, all of the apps I’ve tested give users free stock as a bonus for signing up.
Additionally, it is important to note that all of these services are commission free. This is the case for both stocks and crypto on Robinhood and WeBull, while Public does not offer crypto trading at this time.
I see why Robinhood has been described as a “fun” investment. The app is well designed and exciting.
My retail investment journey started with Robinhood. I got the green light to transfer exactly $ 1 to my new brokerage account to invest in an exchange traded fund. I chose the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF, which trades under the symbol VOO.
With $ 1 in purchasing power, I received 0.002602 shares, depending on the app. I swiped up to submit the purchase. He said my order was complete and showed me a summary.
When I clicked “Done” a full screen graphic appeared saying, “Congratulations on your first trade, Natasha!”
As someone who wrote in the markets for a living, it was extremely fun. If I had had more than $ 1 I would have clicked the shiny green button at the bottom that said “Continue your journey” to buy more.
I started to understand how young people could become addicted to an investment app.
Public has made the shopping experience just that easy. Instead of the bright white and green color scheme on Robinhood, Public has a sleek black-blue and white design.
I easily found the Vanguard ETF, entered my $ 1 purchasing power, and clicked “confirm”. No confetti, but it was simple and straightforward.
WeBull was more of a challenge. I transferred my $ 1 from my bank account only to find out that the app does not offer split trading meaning I had to buy a full share which would have cost $ 386.91 at 2 p.m. 45 Friday.
The discovery was disappointing. I should either find an ETF that trades at $ 1, which doesn’t exist, or transfer more money for something more expensive.
I took a single share of the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF, traded under the symbol XLF, for $ 37.54.
After transferring more funds, I pressed the blue ‘trade’ button on the ETF main page, enter the amount at 1 and hit ‘confirm’. It brought up a receipt page that said “works” and would allow me to cancel or change my order in the meantime. Again no fireworks, but a relatively straightforward process.
WeBull has everything a young investor would need – except split trading and a fun user interface.
If you forget about the lack of split trading, which can be a great way for investors to own otherwise prohibitively expensive stocks, WeBull felt like the more serious investing app. Here’s why.
First of all, it had the most security features. I chose to set an unlock pattern every time I open the app. On top of that, when I decide to access my brokerage account in the app, I have to enter a six-digit PIN code.
It felt like bank level security, which I found important with a broker who has all of my personal information and bank details.
Robinhood and Public also have security features, but not so many. Robinhood needs my phone password every time I open the app. On Public, I chose to activate the face identification function for more security.
WeBull also provided the most data on the market.
While the deluge of data meant the app wasn’t as sleek as Robinhood, it also meant I had more access to important information before I invested.
That’s not to say Robinhood and Public don’t have market data. They do (on Robinhood, investors can pay $ 5 for a subscription to market research and level 2 data), but neither app has the amount of information WeBull provides up front. .
In terms of training young people or new investors, WeBull is also winning. The app regularly sent me messages with instructions on investing and explanations on topics such as initial public offerings.
There weren’t a lot of educational resources in the Robinhood app. The public offered it. All three provided access to relevant press articles.
WeBull also had a social media feature, where users can share their views and investments.
The audience, however, has a much more visible social aspect and markets it as a selling point. Its slogan is “The public makes the social stock market social”, and it recently launched a live audio function, similar to that of the Clubhouse app.
Among the apps, investors have to choose between a sleek and exciting platform with Robinhood, a less elegant but more informative app in WeBull, or a social media-focused platform in Public.
Overall, my experience would lead me to choose WeBull if I was in the market for a trading and investing platform.