I have spent a lot of time reviewing different apps in apps int he world of personal finance, today I’m going to go through one I highly recommend!
The answer up front is that Public is a great app to handle all your investing needs, but read on and find out why and find out if it is a fit for you!
If you’re interested in commission-free trading, you’ll likely have come across Public.com. This online trading platform offers no fee or low-cost trading, with a platform packed with features that are suited to traders of all experience levels. If you’re still unsure which investment app to use, here I’ll explore the topic of “What is the Public app?” With my full review, you should have the details you need to make an informed decision.
What is Public.com
Public.com has been around since 2019 and it has its headquarters in New York. This financial services company offers a mobile and web investing platform, offering brokerage accounts (through its regulated broker dealer, Open to the Public Investing, Inc., which is a member of SIPC. Under SIPC membership, securities in your brokerage account are protected up to $500,000. For details, please see www.sipc.org).
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
- Access to alternative investors
- High-yield Treasury accounts
- Easy to use and beginner-friendly
- Connect with a supportive community of investors
- "Themes" help you to find investments that interest you
Public is a user friendly trading platform that caters particularly to beginner investors. The target market of the platform is those who are hesitant to invest due to their lack of financial knowledge or have a limited investment fund that may put high-cost share prices out of reach. The Public platform was designed to address these issues and make the stock market accessible to a broader spectrum of investors.
Public.com App Features
While Public.com is designed to make investing accessible, the platform does still have some interesting features that may appeal to more experienced investors. These include:
While the Public app does not have stock screeners, it does have themes. These group the stocks into lists including one of the top movers. Just be aware that these themes are not controllable or customizable. However, these stock themes do make it easier to find stocks that you may be interested to buy.
One of the main difficulties new traders can have is knowing how much of a capital gains tax obligation they will incur with their trades: However, the Public platform has a capital gains tax calculator which estimates your obligation according to the profit earned, the length of ownership and some other financial circumstances.
There is also a fractional share calculator, which will show you what shares you can buy with specified dollar amounts.
You can access news about the companies on your stocks watchlist. This feed is sourced from a variety of publications including Reuter’s Business Insider, Barron’s and Market Watch. The news feed is available on the homepage, so you can immediately see it when you log into your account.
Public has an impressive library of educational resources including articles relating to the stock market, investing and retirement. The company also partners with other organizations to offer workshops and live events.
One of the most interesting features of Public.com is the social collaboration. You can connect with other Public members to see their recent activity, follow trades and chat. This creates a great sense of community as you can follow a feed of comments and discuss strategies. You can socialize and get opinions on your trading ideas from more experienced traders. The feed is available on your main home page.
The Public app offers the ability to purchase fractional shares. This eliminates the financial barrier to entry for many investors. Fractional shares will allow you to purchase partial shares in higher profile brands, with shares that can be as much as thousands of dollars per share.
Fractional shares also allow you to put every dollar of your investment fund to work, as you can buy both full and fractional shares to make up your budget amount.
DRIP or dividend reinvestment plans are automated investments. In simple terms, it is like getting compound interest on the balance in your bank account. If you have stocks paying dividends, you can opt in to use dividends to automatically supplement your investment fund. So, rather than receiving a few dollars in dividends for your shares, it can be rolled into purchasing more shares.
It’s great to have things on a payment plan … similar to reinvesting dividends (like in the prior paragraph). Public’s investment plans allow you to automatically invest on a recurring basis!
They have a a catalog of different plans based on how often you want to invest, how much risk, and what type of investments you want. Or, you can just create your own plan (this includes stocks, ETFs, and even crypto).
Invest with AI (Alpha)***
Of course, it’s hard to think about much of anything these days without thinking of AI. Alpha has an AI tool that is powered by GPT-4! You can use this tool to have access to real time information on all different assets and you can chat just like chat GPT!
Public has been designed to be a user-friendly platform that is easy to navigate and not particularly daunting for newbies. Once you answer a few basic questions to sign up and open your account, you can fund your account to start investing.
On the home page, you’ll see community insights and market data. You can also view investor posts and portfolios when you click on an account profile. If you want to build your knowledge and confidence before you make any trades, you can join a discussion, start a group chat or direct message other Public members.
When you’re ready to make a trade, you can search for stocks by typing in the ticker symbol within the search box or browsing the stock themes. The order types are clear and there is a minimal learning curve even if you’re a complete novice.
The Public investing app is available as both a web platform and an app, and aside from screen sizing, both platforms are almost identical. This makes it easier to manage your trades, whether you want to use your home computer or your mobile device.
Pricing and Fees
The Public platform is free to use. There are no account maintenance fees or account minimums. However, you may still encounter some fees that you should be aware of. These include:
Domestic overnight checks: $35
Outgoing domestic wire transfers: $25
Returned checks: $30
Paper statements: $5
Crypto markup: There is a markup on cryptocurrencies which is $0.49 to 1.25% of your order.
You can check out all their fees HERE
However, you can earn interest on any uninvested cash in your account. You can also upgrade to Public Premium. This is a paid subscription, but Public Premium does add charting, data, research and specialized customer support.
If you like, you can support Public via an optional tipping feature. You can opt to add a tip to your trade to help support the platform. This is an additional income stream for Public who don’t use the payment for order flow.
Payment for order flow is a common way for online trading platforms to make money. Essentially, the platform earns a commission for using a particular service provider to facilitate the trades. However, many experts view this income stream as controversial, as there is an argument that trading platforms may prioritize making a higher percentage over choosing service providers that offer a better trade experience.
Is Public.com Legit?
Public is certainly a legit platform that takes security very seriously. You can only log into your account using a registered device and there is bank grade 256 bit encryption to secure trading data in transit. There is also a capability for biometric authentication.
The Public investing app is also an SIPC member, which protects securities customers of its members up to $500,000 (including $250,000 for claims for cash). (Explanatory brochure available upon request or at www.sipc.org)
Public.com also features safety labels to help investors be aware of potentially risky investments. Of course, you still need to perform your own due diligence, but it adds a further layer of protection.
According to the Better Business Bureau, Public has an A+ rating, which is generated according to any customer complaints, licensing and government actions, time in business and other factors.
If you do have any queries or issues with your account, there is a comprehensive FAQ section on the official website, or you can email or use the in-app live chat feature to speak to a member of the customer support team.
Public.com Pros and Cons
Before you sign up and try Public investing, let’s take a look at its pros and cons. Because like all financial platforms and products, there are both positives and potential negatives associated with Public.com. These include:
Access to fractional shares: Although it is not a unique feature of Public, it is nice that those with limited cash can still access higher-profile brands.
Social features: Public has almost a social media feel to it. Creators and more experienced traders can share their ideas and discuss strategies. This makes Public an educational and inclusive place for collaboration.
No PFOF: As we touched on earlier, Public does not participate in PFOF or payment for order flow. This practice encourages brokerage firms to choose clearing firms according to the rebates and commissions offered rather than which offers the best service.
User-friendly interface: Public has been designed to help new traders learn the ropes of investing. You can open an account quickly and the platform is easy to navigate with a minimal learning curve.
Limited account types: Public only offers individual, taxable brokerage accounts. This means that you can’t open a joint account or an IRA account to plan for your retirement.
Limited investment vehicles: While Public does offer access to stocks, treasuries, cryptocurrencies and alternatives such as collectibles, this is the extent of what you can trade in through the platform. Public does not support options, forex, bonds or mutual funds.
Limited advanced tools: Although Public is quite beginner friendly, those with more trading experience may find the platform a little limited. There are no charting capabilities, no screeners and you won’t be able to access stock evaluation tools. This means that you will either need to use third-party tools or move across to a more sophisticated platform after you’ve developed some experience and trading confidence.
Public.com is a solid platform that is designed for newbie investors who are interested in a social community and sharing trading ideas. The platform has minimal fees and is easy to use with a minimal learning curve. However, this does come at a cost. There are only individual, taxable brokerage accounts, with no retirement accounts, mutual funds or forex.
If you’re new to trading, you may appreciate the social element of Public, but more experienced traders are likely to find the lack of charting, screeners and analysis a little frustrating.
On the other hand, Public is a good choice if you’re interested in alternative investing. You can access fractional shares of art and other collectibles. In fact, it is thought that Public will soon be offering access to real estate, music royalties and other alternative assets or investment vehicles.
So, now we’ve answered the question, what is Public app? You’ll need to think about what you’re looking for in a trading platform. If you are interested in a platform with an easy-to-use interface that isn’t particularly daunting due to its lack of sophisticated tools, Public is likely to appeal to you. However, if you’re thinking about investing in the long term, you may want to consider other low or no cost trading platforms which can grow with you as you gain experience and confidence.
*Fractional shares are illiquid outside of Public and not transferable. For a complete explanation of conditions, restrictions and limitations associated with fractional shares, see our Fractional Share Disclosure to learn more.
**Availability of the Investment Plans tool on Public.com is not a recommendation or endorsement of the tool. Public.com does not provide investment, tax or legal advice. Available to US members only. For additional disclosures about Investment Plans, go to public.com/disclosures.
***Alpha is an experiment brought to you by Public Holdings, Inc. (“Public”). Alpha is an artificial intelligence investment exploration tool powered by GPT-4, a generative large language model offered by OpenAI. Given that Alpha is an experimental technology, it may sometimes give inaccurate or inappropriate information. Any output generated by Alpha is not and should not be construed as investment research, investment advice, or a recommendation to buy or sell a security, nor should any output serve as the basis for any investment decisions. Alpha output is provided “as is” and Public makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy, completeness, quality, timeliness, or any other characteristic of Alpha output. We strongly recommend that you independently evaluate and verify the accuracy of any Alpha output for your use case. Alpha is available to US members only. Additional information and disclosures at https://public.com/alpha
All investing involves the risk of loss, including loss of principal. Brokerage services for US-listed, registered securities are offered by Open to the Public Investing, Inc., member FINRA & SIPC. Brokerage services for alternative assets are offered by Dalmore Group, LLC, member FINRA & SIPC. Cryptocurrency trading services are offered by Bakkt Crypto Solutions, LLC (NMLS ID 1828849), which is licensed to engage in virtual currency business activity by the NYSDFS. Bakkt is not a member of SIPC or FINRA. Brokerage services for U.S. Treasuries are offered by Jiko Securities, Inc., member FINRA & SIPC. Banking services are offered by Jiko Bank, a division of Mid-Central National Bank.
Securities investments: Not FDIC Insured; No Bank Guarantee; May Lose Value. ETFs, alternative assets, cryptocurrency, and treasury services are available to US members only.
See public.com/#disclosures-main for more information.