Before choosing an investing app, there are 7 things you need to know:
- There are several types of investing app;
- Investing apps charge fees;
- They offer different features;
- You can access different investment options;
- Not all apps are user-friendly;
- The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) authorises investment platforms – including apps; and
- You should check the customer support.
1. There are several types of investing app
Investing games are also known as stock market simulators. They run the gamut from extremely simple to just as complicated as the stock market. If you’re nervous about investing, these are a great way to start. Choose an app with clear instructions and real stock market data, invest your fake money on the stock market, and see how it goes.
Even if you’re an experienced investor, these games are still useful for testing new or risky strategies without putting your money on the line.
Three of the most popular investing games are:
- Wall Street Survivor;
- Stock Trainer: Virtual Trading; and
- Forex & Stock Market Investing.
If you already have investments, you can get portfolio information at your fingertips. Features like portfolio analysis, stock alerts, real-time tracking, automated advice and fee analysis help you make the most of your investments.
The free versions of these apps are either time-limited (they track your whole portfolio for a short period of time), size-limited (they track a limited number of stocks) or feature-limited. Try a few and choose an app that works for you.
Three of the top investment-tracking apps are:
- Personal Capital;
- Morningstar; and
Micro-investing and investing apps
Micro-investing apps are an easy way to get into investing. With low fees and low minimum investments, they have a low barrier to entry. Most offer a set-and-forget option: set your preferences once, then let the system get on with investing. Before you choose a micro-investing app, make sure you know what you’re getting into: micro-investing is still investing and carries the same risks.
Investing apps are the next step up and are aimed at people who know more about investing. Rather than letting you invest spare change, these usually set a higher minimum value for each investment.
Three of the top micro-investing apps are:
- Wombat; and
While three popular investing apps are:
- Freetrade; and
- Hargreaves Lansdown.
2. Investing apps charge fees
Investment platforms have to cover their costs. Before choosing an investing app, find out what it will cost you.
Micro-investing apps often have high fees for small investments. Most platforms charge about $1 or £1 a month, plus a percentage of your portfolio value (usually between 0.25% and 0.75%) and sometimes a fund provider fee of up to 0.7%. If you’re only investing £5 a month, a big chunk of that £5 will disappear in fees. Do the maths before you hand over your money.
Most investing platforms charge a percentage of your portfolio value (usually between 0.1% and 0.5%, sometimes capped annually), plus a set fee of £6-15 per trade. They also add government fees like stamp duty, as well as withdrawal fees and service fees in some cases.
3. They offer different features
Features in all investing apps range from educational programs to portfolio analysis, financial advice and stock tips. Compare the available features and choose apps with features that will be genuinely useful to you.
4. You can access different investment options
Which investment options does your app offer? Do you want to trade on the New York Stock Exchange or Australian Securities Exchange, or invest in foreign exchange (forex)? Do you want to set a risk rating and let the platform work it out for you? Whatever you want, make sure you check it’s available in your chosen app.
5. Not all apps are user-friendly
If you can’t find your way around the app and don’t understand what it’s telling you, you probably won’t use it. Try it out before you hand over any money.
6. The FCA authorises investment platforms – including apps
In the UK, the FCA authorises firms that undertake financial activities. Part of the approval process reviews “…how the firm engages with customers to check that they are treated fairly during their relationship with the firm”. The FCA will intervene if approved companies and platforms fail to meet its standards.
And, of course, always check the security reputation of any company, including those that run investing apps, before you hand over your financial details!
7. You should check the customer support
If you have a problem, will anyone at the company help you? Every platform says it will, but customers often disagree. None of us wants problems with our money, but things don’t always go to plan. Plan ahead for problems and check what other customers have to say.
Investing apps offer a convenient way to learn, invest, track investments, and more. You now know what you need to know before choosing an investing app, so why not get started?
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