Fidelity Investments vs Public

Fidelity or Public.com - which is better in 2020? Compare margin accounts, online trading fees, stock broker extended hours, and differences.

Outline of Fidelity and Public.com

Public is a new brokerage firm on the scene, trying to compete against some older powerhouses in the industry. Can it outperform Fidelity? That’s exactly what this survey is going to find out.

Public and Fidelity Cost

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
Public $0 na na $0 $0
Fidelity $0 $49.95 $0.65 per contract $0 $0

Public and Fidelity Services

Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating


Public: Get FREE stock and $0 commission stocks/ETFs/partial shares.

Fidelity: Get 500 free trades with $100,000+ deposit.

First Category: Available Securities

Fidelity investors get a fairly large range of investment vehicles to choose from: mutual funds, ETFs, option contracts, bonds, closed-end funds, and stocks. The equity offering includes not just US-listed securities, but foreign securities on foreign exchanges, penny stocks, and OTC stocks.

Public clients can trade ETFs, closed-end funds, and equities. That’s it for right now.

Fidelity is the clear winner of the opening category.

Second Category: Investment Education

For financial education, Fidelity has a learning center on its site with a great number of materials. For instance, there are webinars, articles, videos, infographics, self-guided courses, and even in-person events at select locations. These resources cover a wide range of topics. Some examples include:

- Questions everyone should ask their bond fund managers
- Long butterfly spread with calls
- Sector investing with mutual funds and ETFs
- Assessing your retirement income plan

Over at Public, we found a few articles, and that’s it. Samples include:

- What is a stock?
- Long Term Investments – Power of Compounding
- What are high-yield savings accounts?

Fidelity easily wins the second category.

Third Category: Funds

Fidelity’s website offers two major centers: an ETF hub and a mutual fund marketplace. Both offer screeners with lots of search criteria, analyst ratings, recommendations from the broker’s investment advisors, fund commentary, and portfolio information.


Public provides basic trade data (which Fidelity also offers) such as most recent NAV and dividend yield. Although the broker doesn’t offer a screener, it does categorize funds by what it calls Themes, which are groups of funds by categories.

Fidelity by a mile.

Fourth Category: Stock Research

Moving onto equities, the state of affairs looks much the same. Fidelity customers get free access to stock reports from numerous analysts. The broker-dealer has a very effective screener that can scan the marketplace based on many criteria. And equity profiles come with loads of information.

Public customers have no screener at all (just the groups of Themes already mentioned); and profiles have scant information on them.

Fidelity by another mile.

Fifth Category: Software

When it comes time to place an order, Fidelity customers can choose between a website and a desktop platform. Both offer advanced charting, a good order ticket, watchlists, alerts, and many other helpful resources.

Public offers a website with no login and zero trading capability.

Fidelity again.

Sixth Category: Mobile Trading

Now things will improve somewhat for Public. It does have a mobile platform where trades can be submitted and research conducted. The order form offers just three order types:

Public vs Fidelity

  • Market
  • Limit
  • Stop

Although this isn’t much to write home about, things actually get worse for chartists. There are no graph tools, and a chart cannot be rotated horizontally.

Public.com Social Trading

Fidelity customers get much more. The company’s mobile app offers an order form with trailing orders and charting with several features, including:

  • Horizontal mode
  • Multiple graph styles
  • Comparisons
  • Technical studies
  • Linear or logarithmic mode
  • Extended-hours price history

Unlike Public, Fidelity offers mobile check deposit on its app, a must-have feature for today’s mobile existence. We also like the app’s podcast center and streaming business news.

Fidelity mobile app

Fidelity for sure.

Seventh Category: Other Services

DRIP service: If you want to take cash dividends and turn them into additional shares, both brokerage firms have you covered.

IRAs: Public doesn’t offer them, but Fidelity does.

Whole-dollar investing: Fidelity and Public both offer fractional-share trading. However, only Fidelity customers can use limit orders for trades of fractional shares.

Public loses yet another category.

Our Recommendations

Stock and ETF Trading: We suggest Fidelity, especially with its desktop platform.

Beginners: Fidelity’s customer service and learning hub are unsurpassed.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: Besides IRAs, Fidelity also has target-date mutual funds, a solo 401k, and annuities.

Small Accounts: Either Public or Fidelity will work.


Public: Get FREE stock and $0 commission stocks/ETFs/partial shares.

Fidelity: Get 500 free trades with $100,000+ deposit.

Public vs Fidelity Summary

Public is no match for Fidelity. Even its fractional-share trading service underperforms Fidelity’s.

Since both brokers are free and there is no cost to maintain an account, we recommend opening accounts at both places and seeing for yourself which of these firms works better for you.