Ease of Use
Public.com is a community-driven, free investing app and website designed to help the average investor. Public acts as a hybrid social media/connected investing platform and includes features such as fractional share trading, portfolios, a community space to connect with others, and more. Learn more before you make your final decision by reading our full Public.com review.
- Commission free stock trading – including no payment for order flow.
- Fractional shares, so you can start investing without buying a whole share.
- Strong social media element with an emphasis on connecting with like-minded others.
- Follow feature means you can see other portfolios of your favorite investors.
- Easy to use app.
- Straightforward investing options so you don’t have to hassle with details like order types.
- A wealth of educational and personal finance materials.
- Registration will net you a free stock.
- Only available for iOS and Android.
- No automated investing, research options, or any other details you may need to make an informed trade.
- Only offers taxable and savings investment accounts, no retirement accounts.
- Limited investment options: no mutual funds, options, forex, or bonds.
- The Public app is so minimalist, it feels at times more like a wire-frame than a public-facing service.
Public is a straightforward, community-driven, free investing app for Android and iOS only. The company launched the app with the goal of busting three main barriers to investing for the average investor: access, cost, and community. With Public, investors can begin trading fractional shares of popular stocks and ETFs at no cost and with help from a community of like-minded others!
Think of Public as a stock market investing app combined with two-parts Twitter, one-part Clubhouse. While building your investment portfolio, you can investment advice, create chat groups, personalize your news feed, and join live town halls with leading investment experts. You can also follow thought leaders and view their current portfolio holdings.
While no cost trading and a $1 minimum deposit will appeal to some investors, the lack of investment options, few account types, and limited order types means more experienced or sophisticated investors may not find much here.
Is the Public investing app worth using? Keep reading our Public app review to find out.
Founded in 2019, Public was launched with the mission to “make investing inclusive, educational, and fun.” In just a few short years, the company has attracted over $300 million, across multiple funding rounds, from names you know: Will Smith, Tony Hawk, Sophia Amoruso, and J. J. Watt.
The platform boasts several compelling features: fractional share investing, a unique social focus, commission-free, and cryptos. Unlike many other traditional fee-free trading services, Public goes one step further and refuses Payment for Order Flow in its business model. Payment for order flow means the company doesn’t receive compensation from market makers. To offset costs, the company offers optional tipping for each trade.
The company has differentiated itself with an explicit focus on community-driven investing and inclusivity. Many online brokers on the market don’t focus this strongly on community and ease-of-access.
First, I’ll look over the registration process. After that, I’ll dig into each section, highlighting the core features and what you can expect to get out of the Public app.
To get started, you will need to download the Public app from either the Apple app store or the Android app store.
Creating your Public brokerage account takes less than 10 minutes. You’ll need to be a U.S. citizen or visa holder. After some basic personal details, you’ll answer questions about your investing goals, experience, annual income, estimated net worth, and the total value of your investments.
Public has limited account types, so you’ll choose either a taxable brokerage account or savings account. No need to link your bank account.
In order to use the Public investing app, you will have to add money through one of three payment methods: debit card, a linked bank account, or through a wire transfer. It may cost you to transfer money. A major downside of this setup is that you can’t skip forward to try the app before adding money. Minimum deposit I could add was $1. The app offers two account types: taxable and savings. You get a free stock after the minimum investment.
The Public app is divided into three primary sections: community, portfolio, and explore. As far as investment apps go, this is a decidedly no-frills – very minimalist.
The community tab is the primary feature that differentiates Public from other trading apps, investment platforms, and services. Public is best thought of as a hybrid social media platform and connected investing platform. This differentiates the Public app from social trading (or copy trading) networks like eToro and online investor communities like tastytrade.
The community tab is where you connect and get investment advice. You can write posts, share content, connect with other users, and send DMs. You also have access to town halls, hosted by other investors, often affiliated with a particular firm.
As mentioned above, the community tab has the post and comment features of Twitter and the live town hall-style of Clubhouse.
Like Twitter, you can build a personalized feed of relevant stock information by following other users. Posts are tagged and sorted into several fixed categories, such as crypto, events, and insights. While the layout is done well, it would be nice to have some say over which categories you see on the Public app.
The town hall feature is meant as a forum where users can ask business leaders and other investors questions. Here you can really access the social aspect of not only trading and investing, but finance and general financial literacy. This could be a big sell for some.
The portfolio tab is where to make trades, deposit funds, and review held assets, and check gains and losses. From this tab, you can also link over to the explore tab to find new assets to invest in and check your stock price. After your first trade, you’ll get a free stock.
Let’s take a look at just what Public offers in terms of trading. Using Public, you can trade the following traditional and non-traditional assets:
- 9000+ stocks and ETFs
- 30+ cryptocurrencies, such as BTC, ETH, DOGE, XLM, and SOL
- Purchase whole shares or fractional shares
That last point on fractional shares is a big selling point for Public. Fractional shares, or slicing, means you can invest any amount to buy pieces of an expensive stock, like Tesla or Amazon.
When buying a whole share, you can choose between three order types: market, limit, or stop order. For fractional shares, you are limited to market orders.
As for pricing, there is no fee for any stock purchases and no payment for order flow. You have the option of adding a tip to each order, which goes to support the company. Account minimums are as low as $1.
The explore tab aims to be the place where you can build investing knowledge around your personal financial situation. I see three primary groupings of content in this tab: trending stocks and ETFs, investing knowledge, and live events, discussed in further detail below:
- Trending assets include, for example, top-earning stocks, sustainable ETFs, and popular cryptos among users.
- In the investing knowledge section, you can watch videos on investing strategy, or take short quizzes for small rewards on topics such as personal finance or financial products. Much of the content in the Public app is for beginning investors and those with some intermediate experience.
- Live events, also known as Public Live, provide in-app audio shows that include upcoming earnings events, stock market briefings, and commentary by investment experts.
For beginners, use this tab before you start investing to learn how to build different diversified portfolios. Other users portfolios can also help you decide what to invest in.
A key selling point for many users will be the commission-free structure of Public. This means you won’t be charged trading fees for stock or ETF. Public makes money by offering optional tipping after each trade. Unlike your Friday night dinner, you don’t have to tip if you don’t want to.
You may be thinking: “Surely Public has some trading fees.” You’re right. Public charges a 1% to 2% markup on crypto. To transfer funds, you’ll have to pay: $25 for domestic wire transfers and $75 for outgoing ACAT. Make sure to also check with your bank or financial institution.
Last, in a bid to encourage you to move funds from your current brokerage, Public waves fees for moving and will even pay expense fees you incur from your current brokerage.
Public.com Customer Service
Public has several support options available. The best option is to contact support through the in-app chat feature. If you have a question that doesn’t need a live person, try the help section on the website (also on the Public mobile app). Last, you can contact Public via email address or messaging the company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram.
Is Public Better Than Robinhood or Webull?
Public.com has two near rivals: Robinhood and Webull. If you aren’t interested in the social aspect of trading, either might be a better fit.
With Robinhood and Webull, you get access to desktop trading, more assets (such as options), actual investment resources (e.g., charting, price targets, or analyst ratings), and a $0 minimum. However, both use Payment for Order Flow, and neither is a hybrid social media/trading platform.
Who is Public Best For?
Public is an investing app good for those who want commission-free trading and who love the social side of investing. Many investment brokers offer trading and community, but no investing apps to-date combine social and trading.
If you don’t mind sticking to stocks, ETFs, and cryptos, and are just starting to grow your wealth, Public might be a good fit. For those who find themselves following investors on Twitter or Reddit, or hungering for more live, in-depth conversations with a community of like-minded others, then Public could be a good fit. Investors who need more technical resources, asset types, trade options, or independent financial advice, probably will pass.
FAQ: Public.com Review
Here are a few basic questions that came up during the public app review:
How does Public make money?
Optional tipping, securities lending (paid from Apex Clearing), uninvested cash balances, and crypto markup.
What order types does Public offer?
Market, limit, and stop orders for whole shares; market orders for fractional shares.
Where can I find a list of the stocks and ETFs Public offers?
Does Public protect from risky investments?
Yes, stocks considered risky by the Securities and Exchange Commission have labels in-app. And remember: all investing involves risk.
Does Public support mutual funds?
Unfortunately no, but hopefully in the future.
Final Verdict: Public.com
Public.com is more social media than trading platform. This is a bare-bones app with a few key selling points: community, accessibility, fractional share investing, and commission-free trading. If the social media element is your thing, and minimizing cost is one of your investment objectives, it might be worth trying.
This is a challenger investment app trying to capitalize on the popularity of commission-free trading, with a heavy inclusivity-bend and social focus. Beginning investors, or even intermediate investors, might find some value here. More sophisticated investors and those interested in day trading should probably pass.
One final note: Buying and selling cultural assets, like NFTs, art, and collectibles may be integrated into the Public app in the near future. With that said, check back in the future, as the company is still young and the app is still growing.