4-star brokerage rating

Public Brokerage Review (2020)


Overview of Public Investing App


Public.com is a fractional-share brokerage firm that offers trading on a simple but user-friendly mobile app. Although the commission schedule is unbeatable, there are many brokerage features missing.


Public Pricing and Minimum Deposit


InvestmentsCommissions
Stocks and ETFs $0
Options not offered
Mutual funds not offered

Investments stocks, closed-end funds, and ETFs
Minimum deposit to open account $0
FeesPublic fees
Promotion Public promotions


Public Pros...


- Fantastic pricing schedule
- Whole-dollar investing
- Social networking dimension


Public Cons...


- Lack of trading platforms
- Only stocks and ETFs right now
- Limited selection of account types


Is Public.com Safe?


Public.com is a member of FINRA (with ID # 127818) and the SEC (with ID # 8-66049). It has been registered with the latter group since 2004.

Public.com is also a member of the SIPC, which means every account is insured up to $500,000.


What Brokerage Services Does Public.com Offer?


Public brokerage app offers trading in the following investment vehicles:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Closed-end funds

The following assets are not yet available:

  • Options
  • Futures
  • Mutual funds
  • Forex
  • Bonds
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • OTC equities
  • Penny stocks

The not-available list is obviously much longer than the available list. We are sure that Public.com grows in the future.


Public Investing Review


To trade the small selection of investments that are available, Public.com clients can open individual taxable accounts. The following accounts are not available at Public.com:

  • Joint accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Business accounts
  • Education accounts
  • Custodial accounts
  • Margin accounts


Unfortunately, Public.com does not offer any investment advice, robo-investing, or other features many investors will want to use.


How Much Does it Cost?


This is where Public.com really shines. Trades are free, and there are no account minimums. The broker-dealer charges nothing to open or close an account. Obviously, this is a great place for small investors.

There are a few miscellaneous fees for uncommon services. For example, an outgoing ACAT transfer is $75, and broker-assisted trades are $30 each.


How Good Is the Software?


Public.com doesn’t have a desktop program, browser platform, or even a website login. The only trading system is the broker’s mobile app, which works on Apple and Android tablets and phones. The broker’s website is used to advertise its services.

There isn’t much trading per se on Public.com’s app. The order form is very simple. If you’re trading fractional shares, the order ticket defaults to a market order. If you buy whole shares, you can choose from among limit, market, and stop orders.


Public Trading Review: Charts


Charting on the app is basically horrendous. There is only a small graph in line format. It cannot be rotated horizontally, and there are no charting tools of any kind.

But a security’s profile does have some decent information below the chart. Helpful data points include:

  • News reports
  • Consensus analyst ratings
  • Company events, including upcoming events
  • Brief earnings history
  • Trade stats like volume and market cap

To actually find stocks and funds, the Public app offers themes. These include things like ‘Stay at Home’ and ‘Meatless Revolution.’ Tapping on a tile generates a list of stocks and ETFs that fit the bill. Under the category ‘Self-Driving Cars,’ we found the following stocks:


Public Trading Review: Themes


  • General Motors
  • Google
  • Nvidia
  • IBM
  • Uber

One noteworthy highlight on the Public app is the community aspect. Trades can be posted to the community forum, and other users can comment and like a trade. Posts can also be exported. This social-networking feature provides a way to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of trades.


Public Investing Review: Stocks


And What About Customer Support?


Public.com doesn’t have the most comprehensive customer service. There are two brick-and-mortar offices: one in Copenhagen and one in New York. There is a list of articles and frequently-asked questions that appears on the website and app.


Public.com Customer Support


The app has a messaging tool. The broker says a response could take up to a day. When we took the tool for a test drive, it said a rep would be available within 30 minutes. To access the messaging feature, tap on the ‘Account’ icon in the menu and then tap on ‘Contact Support.’

The broker can also be reached at hello@public.com.


What Other Services Does Public.com Offer?


For obvious reasons, Public.com investors cannot sign up for auto mutual fund investing. The brokerage firm does offer a free DRIP service, though.


High Cash Interest


One area where Public beats not only all brokerage firms but also all banks is interest on cash balances. The broker pays very high rate of 2.5% on cash balances under $10,000. Balances about that amount don't earn interest.


Free Stocks


When we opened an account on the mobile app, we were given $5 worth of any one stock.

There is a second promotion on the app. Users who invite friends who open accounts will qualify for additional free (fractional) shares of stocks.


Public.com Friend Referral


Open Public Account



Open Public Account



How Does Public.com Compare to Other Brokers?


Stockpile is another broker that offers fractional-share trading. Unlike Public.com, it has a website login. However, trades are 99¢ each; and not all stocks are available.

Robinhood, M1 Finance and Stash also permit whole-dollar investments into stocks. M1 Finance is the best option out of the three.


Our Recommendations


Beginners: Public.com has done a good job of simplifying the investment process. Community aspect of the app, which almost no-one else offers, could be invaluable for new investors.

Mutual Fund Investors: Obviously, Public.com won’t cut it here. We can recommend E*Trade and Ally Invest, though.

Individual Retirement Accounts: Public.com doesn’t cut it here, either. Fidelity or Schwab would be a good pick.

Active Stock and ETF Trading: Due to the lack of adequate trading tools, we cannot recommend Public.com for frequent equity trading. Webull would be a good choice.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: Once again, Public.com fails to get our stamp of approval. TD Ameritrade would be a better road to take.

Small Accounts: Public.com is one of the best brokers for small accounts.


Awards


Best Broker For Small Account


Public Investing Review Summary


Public.com offers $0 trades, but many companies offer similar pricing. What sets Public trading app apart from the others is community sharing and easy investing in partial shares. But the most unique feature of the app is high interest of 2.5% on cash balances under $10,000 which no other broker or bank offers today.


Open Public Account



Open Public Account