vs. SoFi Invest: Which is the Better Trading App?

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Public vs. SoFi Invest

When you’re searching for an online brokerage, you’re likely to find plenty of options. Two of the most popular are Public and SoFi Invest.

Both these companies aim to make it easier for the average investor to make trades. But which one is the best choice for you?

In this vs. SoFi Invest comparison, you’ll find the relevant details to help you to make a decision.

Public vs. SoFi Invest Overview

The main difference between and SoFi Invest involves the specific investment options available. Both platforms offer stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies, including support for fractional shares. also offers alternative investments (fine art, collectibles, etc.) and treasuries. SoFi Invest stands out by offering a robo advisor option for those who prefer automated investing.

The social features offered by are an additional distinction between these two platforms. Thanks to the community and social functionality, you can connect with and learn from other users. SoFi Invest does not have social functionality.

The Basics

Public has been around since 2018 but originally operated under the name Matador. This online brokerage and mobile platform has a beautiful, user-friendly interface and offers commission-free trading.

The key difference between and most other trading platforms involves collaboration features. This platform allows you to work with other investors, so you can benefit from the knowledge of the more experienced traders. You can connect with friends and other users on the platform.

This makes Public a hybrid investment and social media platform as you can trade and communicate. When you log in, you can check your trades as you would with another platform, but you can also check in to chat with other investors or share strategies. has no minimum investments, and there are no trade commissions on stocks and ETFs.

Learn more in our review.

Top Pick
Get Free Stock from Get Free Stock from offers fractional shares so anyone can start investing. You'll love the social aspect that makes it possible to connect with other investors. Get a free stock slice worth up to $300 when you open an account through our link.

  • Commission-free trades of stocks and ETFs
  • Buy and sell 27 different cryptocurrencies
  • Fractional shares
  • Easy to use and beginner-friendly
  • Connect with a supportive community of investors
  • "Themes" help you to find investments that interest you
Offer valid for U.S. residents 18+ and subject to account approval. This is not a recommendation. You can lose money with any investment. Open To The Public Investing is a member of FINRA & SIPC. Regulatory and firm fees apply. New customers receive free stock with value $3-300; 0.3% receive the max value. Cryptocurrency trading provided by Apex Crypto LLC (NMLS ID 1828849). Apex Crypto is licensed to engage in virtual currency business activity by the New York State Department of Financial Services. See

The SoFi Invest Basics

SoFi Invest

SoFi Invest is the online brokerage arm of SoFi, a company that provides various products like loans, insurance, and credit cards. SoFi takes a unique approach by catering to both active and passive investors.

There are many stock trading apps and many robo advisors, but SoFi Invest is one of the few that offers both. Investors who prefer actively managing their portfolios can enjoy commission-free trades and a simple user interface. The automated investment feature allows hands-off investors to use it as a robo advisor.

This makes SoFi Invest a flexible platform that you can tailor to suit your trading preferences.

Investment Options

Public offers access to thousands of stocks and ETFs. However, if you don’t have specific companies in mind, you can use the categories or themes search to find your next trade. The themes include Plant-Based Movement, Women in Charge, Green Power, and close to 40 others that make it easy to find investments that interest you.

Investors can also buy or sell fractional shares, which makes the point of entry to higher-profile companies more accessible.

When you consider that some companies have shares that cost thousands of dollars each, fractional shares allow you to buy a slice of a share. It’s also a great feature for putting every dollar of your investment fund to work since you can buy a dollar amount rather than a specific number of shares. shows a detailed history of each company, including trends and comments from other users. And aside from stocks and ETFs, you can also invest in 25+ cryptocurrencies. A 1-2% markup is applied to crypto trades.

It’s worth noting that has changed and evolved quite significantly over the past couple of years. They added crypto trading in late 2021 and alternative investments in 2022. At the time this article is being written, you can invest in fine art, collectibles, and NFTs, but more alternative assets are expected to be added soon.

In 2023, expanded to offer treasuries as an alternative to savings accounts. Investing in T-bills traditionally can be cumbersome and time-consuming, but makes it as simple as a savings account. also has a free stock offer that’s worth checking out.

Join Public to get up to $300 of free stock when you make a deposit.*

SoFi Invest also offers thousands of ETFs and stocks with no trading fees. There are also over 30 cryptocurrencies, but there’s a 1.25% markup. SoFi does not offer alternative investments or treasuries.

As with Public, you can pick your own investments through SoFi via the Active Investing feature, or you can take a passive approach and allow the robo advisor to manage your investment portfolio. There are also opportunities to invest in IPOs of new stocks at IPO prices. This is not guaranteed, as you must submit your indication of interest and follow the specific participation rules.

In summary, offers more types of investments, but SoFi offers automated investing.

How the Platforms Work

As its name suggests, Public was designed to make trading accessible to everyone (the public). Therefore, it stands to reason that the platform would have a user-friendly interface that’s highly accessible to beginners, and it does. In fact, we find to be the most user-friendly investment app.

However, Public also has some great tools for the more experienced trader. The platform is intuitive and easy to understand. You can quickly search for stocks and funds using the categories. When you click on a specific company, you’ll see a screen of details, so you can confirm your investment criteria before you make a final trading decision. also has a news feed on the home page, where you can join discussions, send messages, build chat groups, and follow other platform users. And if you’re interested in advanced data and analyst insights can upgrade to a Public Premium account for $10 per month, or $8 per month if billed annually.

SoFi Invest has also been designed with new investors in mind. The Active Investing feature is aimed at younger investors who want to trade in stocks, crypto, and ETFs with minimal fees.

You can access SoFi Invest via the web-based platform or mobile trading app, but both are equally intuitive and easy to use.

That being said, more experienced investors may find the SoFi Invest platform a little basic. There are no advanced features that allow you to analyze technical indicators to execute more sophisticated trading strategies.

One of the main benefits of SoFi Invest is that you won’t need to change platforms if you decide to transition from an active trading to a passive trading approach. Very few trading apps offer robo advisor functionality, so this is definitely a stand-out feature.

Platform Features

Both platforms have been designed with the new investor in mind, so there are some similarities. However, there are also several key differences.

  • Social Investing: One of the most exciting features of the Public platform is that you can connect with your fellow investors to follow their trading favorites and see their recent activity. This allows you to see where others are investing funds via the feed of actions and comments. This creates a social experience, which you can also use to get opinions and feedback on your strategies from more experienced investors.
  • DRIP: DRIPs or Dividend Reinvestment Plans allow you to automatically reinvest dividends earned by the stocks and ETFs in your portfolio. Without DRIP, dividends are paid out as cash. Public has DRIPs as an optional feature, so you can turn it on if you’re focused on long-term growth. This feature is often overlooked when comparing platforms, but it’s very important for those with a long-term focus.
  • Alternative Investments: stands out from other stock trading apps by also offering alternatives like fine art, collectibles, NFTs, and more.
  • Treasuries: Having the option to easily invest in treasuries allows you to use Public as an alternative to a traditional savings account.
  • Advanced Data: While it’s not included for free accounts, Public does offer extensive data and metrics for a small monthly fee. This is not necessary for beginners but will be appreciated by experienced investors.

SoFi Invest

  • Automated Investing: This service is a robo advisor that uses ETFs to invest and rebalance portfolios according to your financial goals. There are no management fees for this feature if your account is less than $10,000. It’s ideal for smaller investors who need help getting a balanced portfolio or prefer a more hands-off approach.
  • Retirement Accounts: A key difference between SoFi and Public is access to retirement accounts. SoFi has multiple retirement account options for both active and automated investing. You can also access advice at no charge from qualified financial advisors.
  • Margin Trading: This is a relatively new feature that was only introduced in early 2022. It allows you to borrow funds against your current investors to buy more securities. You’ll pay interest on this borrowing, but it’s set at a reasonable rate. Just be aware that trading on margin increases your investing risks, so you must fully understand these risks before you borrow any funds.

Pricing and Fees

This is an area where there’s little to separate Public and SoFi, as both platforms have no trade fees or commissions on stocks and ETFs. However, both platforms do charge a markup on crypto transactions. This is 1% to 2% with Public and 1.25% with SoFi Invest.

If you use the SoFi robo advisor and your account balance is above $10,000, you’ll incur a 0.25% management fee, which is competitive in the industry. There is no fee of your balance is below $10,000.

Like other online brokerages, there are some incidental fees and charges you may encounter. For example, if you have returned payments or requested paper statements.

Platform Security

Both Public and SoFi take their platform security seriously. There’s SSL encryption, fraud protection, and two-factor authentication. Both platforms also have federal insurance, so you’re protected for up to $500,000 with up to $250,000 in cash should the brokerage fail. However, also has additional insurance via its clearing firm Apex that supplements its protection.

Cryptocurrency is not protected through FDIC insurance.

Pros and Cons

No platform is without flaws, and there are both pros and cons that are associated with Public and SoFi. It’s important to know these before deciding which platform is best for you.

Public Pros

  • Social Platform Features: Public has an excellent social aspect with activity feed and chat functions. This allows you to follow what more experienced traders are doing and get opinions on your investment strategies.
  • Dividend Reinvestment: Public offers DRIP to take full advantage of compounding your investments.
  • Lots of Investment Options: Stocks, ETFs, crypto, alternative assets, and treasuries.

Public Cons

  • Limited Account Options: Public offers minimal account types, with no retirement accounts.
  • Limited Research: Public does provide some basic company information, but this research is relatively minimal. You may need to upgrade to a Public Premium account if you want more in-depth research.

SoFi Invest Pros

  • Free Access to Financial Advisors: SoFi Invest offers access to advice from financial investment Pros at no additional cost.
  • Passive Investment Accounts: Unlike Public and most other stock trading platforms, SoFi also offers a robo advisor option.
  • Retirement Accounts Available: SoFi Invest also offers different account types, including retirement accounts.
  • Margin Trading: While it comes with greater investment risk, SoFi does offer margin trading.

SoFi Invest Cons

  • No Tax Loss Harvesting: The robo advisor does not offer tax loss harvesting, which is offered by many competitors.
  • Limited Stock Bits: Fractional shares are not available across the entire stock catalog, only select companies.
  • Basic Interface: The SoFi Invest is designed for the beginner, and you may find that it lacks some of the features you need as you develop your investment experience.


Both Public and SoFi are excellent companies that offer a great option for different types of investors. Both platforms offer access to stocks, ETFs, and fractional shares. Both platforms also offer trading with minimal fees and commissions. is a solid option for self-directed investors who enjoy sharing ideas with their peers. Newb investors can speed up their investment learning curve, benefitting from community intelligence. This social media feature is a key benefit of Public as you can share ideas, follow others and exchange thoughts. You can even follow what your investing friends are buying and selling.

SoFi Invest is slightly more flexible, but the platform is geared toward the newbie investor. You can self-direct or use the robo advisor. You can choose the best approach for you without needing to switch platforms. Unlike Public, you can open a retirement account, and SoFi provides free access to financial investment advice.

Ultimately, you need to think about what you’re looking for in a trading platform. If you’re looking for retirement accounts, robo advisors, and professional financial advice, you’re likely to prefer SoFi. On the other hand, if you would appreciate the community atmosphere of a hybrid trading and social media platform, or if you want to invest in alternatives or T-bills, then Public is likely the better choice. 

Fortunately, if you’re undecided, both platforms have very low account minimums and minimal fees. So, you could always give either platform or both a try to find the one which is best suited to your trading style and preferences.

* offer valid for U.S. residents 18+ and subject to account approval. This is not a recommendation. You can lose money with any investment. Open To The Public Investing is a member of FINRA & SIPC. Regulatory and firm fees apply. New customers receive free stock with value $3-300; 0.3% receive the max value. Cryptocurrency trading provided by Apex Crypto LLC (NMLS ID 1828849). Apex Crypto is licensed to engage in virtual currency business activity by the New York State Department of Financial Services. See

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