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If you’re new to trading or are considering moving to an online broker, you may find the number of platforms surprising. However, not all of these platforms offer a high standard of service, and just because they’re online, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re low cost.
Join Public to get up to $300 of free stock when you make a deposit.*
Public.com vs. Stash Summary
Before we get into the specific details of each platform, here is a high-level summary that may help you to decide which one is right for you.
- Both platforms offer commission-free trades of stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
- Both platforms allow you to buy or sell fractional shares.
- Public.com also allows you to trade cryptocurrency.
- Public.com charges no subscription or account management fees.
- Stash charges a subscription fee ranging from $1 per month to $9 per month, depending on which plan you choose.
- Public.com is a straightforward trading platform, but Stash also offers banking functionality.
- Public.com offers social features so you can connect with friends and learn from others in the community. Stash does not offer social features.
- Public.com provides investment Themes, which are essentially categorized lists that make it easy to find stocks and funds that interest you.
- Stash offers retirement and custodial accounts, while Public.com currently does not.
- Stash offers a stock back card (instead of a cashback card) that helps you to build your investment portfolio passively.
Originally named Matador, Public.com has been around since 2018. It is a mobile app based trading platform offering commission-free trades of stocks and funds with a user-friendly interface that makes it suitable for newbies or experienced investors.
However, what makes Public.com stand out from many other investing platforms is that it allows investors to collaborate. The app allows you to share your investing interest with other users. You can see what your contacts are buying and selling, take inspiration from more experienced traders, and ask questions of your fellow platform users.
This creates a community environment that you won’t find with most other investing/trading platforms. You can log in to check your investments and also share advice or review strategies. This is a fantastic resource for those with little or no investing experience, as you can improve your skillset and confidence.
Public.com was developed on the idea that investing should be accessible to everyone, not just the wealthy elite. As a result, the platform requires no minimum investment to open an account. There are also no trading commissions on stocks and ETFs.
Public.com 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
Stash is a little different than Public, as it has been developed as a one-stop shop for your personal finance needs. It has been operating since 2015 with the aim of making investing easy for beginners. However, this platform not only offers investing accounts but also bank accounts, cash back, debit cards, and other products that you would need if you wanted to centralize your personal finances.
Stash offers checking accounts with an associated debit card as part of a partnership with Green Dot Bank. You can set up a direct deposit for your salary and receive your paycheck up to two days early.
However, what is really innovative with this platform is the Stock Back Rewards. This card comes with Stash accounts and when you spend money with brands that have stock listed on the platform, you get 0.125% back in stock, or in the cases of Stash+ members, 0.25% back. This is a fantastic way to boost your investment fund, particularly if you’re new to investing and don’t have much free cash to take a risk on certain stocks.
As with Public, there are no trading fees, but you’ll need to consider your Stash subscription costs, which vary according to the tier you select. There are no maintenance or account fees from Green Dot Bank for your Stash banking account and you can immediately transfer money into your investing account.
Public.com provides access to over 5,000 stocks and ETFs. You can buy full or fractional shares with no trading commissions. You can also search for companies via category rather than looking for individual companies. So, if you want to build your portfolio around companies that focus on the environment, Public can help you to quickly and easily find them thanks to their categorized Themes.
Public provides a description of each company along with a company history, trends and comments. You can look at conversations related to the company to see if it appeals to you.
The list of themes include:
- Women in Charge: Public companies with female CEOs
- Plant-Based Movement: Companies investing and innovating in the plant-based food industry
- Combat Carbon: Companies that actively work towards a reduction in their carbon footprint.
- Green Power: These energy companies produce sustainable and renewable power.
- Reuse and Reduce: Companies that convert waste materials into new materials or items
- Immigrant Founders: These are U.S based companies founded by immigrants.
That’s just a small selection of the themes Public.com provides. There are many, many more.
Public also provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies. You can buy the most popular cryptocurrencies without the need to have your own digital wallet.
Stash also has great investment options. There’s a vast array of stocks and ETFs on the platform and like Public, you can purchase full or fractional shares. Stash also has themes for ETF investing. This makes ETF investing more accessible for beginners, as you can choose a theme that’s of interest to you. The list includes:
- Water the World
- Women Who Lead
- Clean & Green
- Combat Carbon
- Corporate Cannabis
- Do the Right Thing
- Internet Titans
Unlike Public.com, Stash does not allow you to buy and sell crypto.
Public.com only has one account type, which is a taxable individual brokerage account. Hopefully, other options like joint accounts and IRAs will be added in the future, but for now, those options are not available.
Because of Stash‘s subscription-based fee structure, there are a few different options. When you download the app, you’ll be asked a series of questions to determine your investing experience and goals. You will then have the option of three account plans:
- Stash Beginner ($1 per month)
- Stash Growth ($3 per month)
- Stash+ ($9 per month)
These membership plans provide different account types and access. For example, the Beginner plan only provides a personal investment account, but Growth adds a Traditional or Roth IRA, while Stash+ adds investment accounts and other perks.
This means that via the appropriate Stash plan, you can access personal investment taxable accounts, retirement accounts, and even custodial accounts for children.
Pricing and Fees
Public.com has no account minimums, maintenance fees, or charges to open or close an account. However, you may encounter some miscellaneous fees for things like wire transfers or (optional) paper statements.
Like Public, Stash has no trade commissions or account minimums, but you will need to consider the cost of your membership plan. As we touched on above, there are three tiers of membership and each one has a different subscription fee and feature set.
- Beginner: $1 per month. It includes a personal investment account, stock back card and $1,000 of life insurance cover via Avibra.
- Growth: $3 per month. It adds a Traditional or Roth IRA to the Beginner membership features, plus access to Stash’s Smart Portfolio.
- Stash Plus: $9 per month. It has all the Beginner and Growth features, but you also get a stock back card earning double, kids investment accounts, $10,000 of Avibra life insurance coverage, and monthly market insight reports.
One of the key advantages of Public.com is its social community. This is a collaborative feature where you can share knowledge with other platform users. There’s a main feed and stock-specific feeds that allow you to connect with other investors to get feedback on ideas and strategies and even see what investments they’re making. You can join groups to network and get ideas. This is particularly beneficial for newbies who can benefit from the wisdom of more experienced investors.
The Stash community is more centered on its functionality as a one-stop personal finance platform. You can link any bank account to your Stash account, which means that you can access some great features. This includes receiving your direct deposit paycheck up to two days early. You can use Stash exclusively as your bank account, allowing you to make instant transfers. Stash accounts have no minimum balances or overdraft fees and you can use a network of over 19,000 ATMs. You can also use your Stash account to track your spending, pay your bills and set financial goals to help you keep on track with your financial objectives.
Public.com is a very user-friendly platform (our choice as the most user-friendly investing app) that allows you to log in and conduct the main functions via the easy-to-navigate app. After you log in and fund your account, you should find it easy to search for stocks and funds, view other user’s portfolios and start your investment journey. You can browse the stocks via categories and when you click on a company, Public will display information including the company’s history, trends and any comments.
You can also access a news feed on the home page and if you want to look at recent posts from other users, you just need to click on their account profile. You can join discussions, direct message people, follow other investors or even build your own chat group.
Stash is also very easy to use. Once you have selected your membership tier, you’ll be able to see all the available features and benefits when you log in. Like Public.com, you can explore ETFs and stocks by category, but Stash also has automatic rebalancing. This is a robo advisor that buys or sells investments to ensure the optimal asset allocation according to your initial entry questionnaire or updated goals.
As Public.com is geared toward the newer investor, it does have minimal data and research options. There is basic data to help you to make an investment decision. However, the greatest research feature is the investment themes that allow you to participate in larger trends. You can pick a theme and see if the companies appeal to you or match your investing criteria.
On the other hand, Stash has numerous free educational resources to help you to build your financial knowledge. There’s financial news, money blogs, and educational videos for both adults and junior investors. This can provide some fantastic general financial knowledge. However, like Public, Stash does lack in-depth analysis, since this platform is also focused on helping the newer investor.
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- Research more than 8,500 stocks
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Both Public and Stash are regulated financial companies to ensure that your investments are safe. Both companies are members of SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation). This means that accounts have automatic insurance for up to $500,000 including $250,000 in cash claims.
Stash is also a registered member of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission). This means that Stash is required to follow federal regulations and provide investment advice in the best interest of the investor. Additionally, Green Dot Banks, the provider of Stash’s bank accounts, is an FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) member. This means that your cash accounts have up to $250,000 in protection.
The level of customer support is another important consideration when you’re choosing an investing platform. Fortunately, both Public and Stash make it easy to access their customer support teams, but in different ways.
Public.com has an all-digital approach to customer support. There are multiple channels available, but this does not include phone support. You can reach out using the app, connecting you with a real person via live chat, you can email, or connect via social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Stash is a little more old-school, offering a phone number and customer service email if you want to speak to a member of the support team.
Pros and Cons
Of course, no investing or financial platform is perfect and there are both advantages and potential drawbacks to both Public.com and Stash. It is important to be aware of these before you make a final decision about whether the platforms are a good choice for your preferences and requirements.
- Access to Crypto: This is a distinct advantage over Stash, as via Public.com you can access 25 cryptocurrencies. Since crypto has become an increasingly popular way to diversify, it’s nice that you can access crypto from the platform.
- Fractional Shares: While this is a feature common to both Public and Stash, it’s an important feature. Price is often a considerable barrier to entry, particularly if you’re looking at larger companies such as Google or Amazon, which can run to thousands of dollars per share.
- Follow More Experienced Investors: One of the key advantages of Public.com is the social aspect of the platform. You can follow more experienced investors and get their input on your strategies and ideas.
- Simple, Easy-to-Use Interface: All activity on Public takes place on its app. This has an easy-to-use, simple interface that is clear even for a complete novice.
- Investment Themes: Public.com’s categorized Themes can be extremely helpful for finding the right stocks and funds.
- Minimal Account Types. There are no options for retirement or custodial accounts, which are available through Stash.
- No Robo Advisor Services: While Public is geared towards newbies, it does not support any robo advisor services.
- Also Offers Fractional Shares: Like Public, Stash allows you to purchase fractional shares in large companies for as little as $5.
- Plenty of Educational Resources: Stash has a variety of articles, videos and news feeds to help newbie investors gain more insight and confidence about their trading.
- Retirement and Custodial Accounts Available: While you do need to upgrade from the Beginner membership plan, you can access retirement and kids investment accounts.
- Checking Account and Debit Card: You can use Stash as your main bank account with features including a debit card and early paycheck.
- Stock Back Card: This allows you to passively earn stock as you shop with your favorite brands and retailers.
- No Crypto: Unlike Public, you cannot access cryptocurrencies via Stash
- No Robo Advisor: Although it does offer auto rebalancing, Stash does not have a robo advisor.
- Membership Fees: You will need to pay a monthly membership fee of up to $9 per month.
While both platforms are quite beginner friendly, they’re designed to appeal to different types of investors. Public.com has been built for social investors who want to be able to connect with other investors and discuss their ideas and strategies.
Stash is more suited to investors who want to incorporate all of their finances under one roof. You can use your Stash accounts for ATM withdrawals, budgeting, investing, and even earning stock rewards with the Stock Back card. This is ideal for those who want to manage their money and work towards their financial goals.
If you want to avoid fees, Public is completely free of charge, but if you want to access retirement accounts and other perks, you may find the membership fees to be justified.
*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 offered by Apex Crypto LLC. See Public.com/disclosures/