Public vs M1 Finance

2021: M1 Finance versus Public for online investing. Compare cost, brokerage fees, IRA accounts, and differences. Which firm is better?

Overview of M1 Finance vs Public

Are you looking for a place to trade fractional shares of stocks and ETFs? Look no further than Public and M1 Finance. But which one should you pick? We’ll help you make a selection. Keep reading.


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
Public $0 na na $0 $0
M1 Finance $0 na na $0 $0


M1 Finance: $30 bonus for funding account with $1,000. Transfer account to get up to $4,000 bonus.

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

Securities Offered

Both Public and M1 Finance provide trading services for equities, ETFs, and closed-end funds. Neither firm offers penny stocks, over-the-counter securities, or other investments.

Winner: Tie

M1 Finance

Style of Investing

Public offers self-directed trading in the securities mentioned above. The brokerage firm does not provide any pre-selected investments or financial advice.

M1 Finance provides trading in Pies. Pies are collections of stocks and funds. The broker builds Pies for its customers; and it’s possible to build your own if you don’t find what you’re looking for on M1’s list (it’s not that large).

At either brokerage firm, it’s possible to trade a single asset. At M1, you just need to place one stock or fund inside a custom-built Pie. Of course, you’re always free to add more investments to a Pie and set whatever target percentages you want.

Winner: M1 Finance

Public vs M1

Investment Education

Public offers stock profiles with limited information. During our investigation, we found news articles, analyst trade recommendations, upcoming company events, earnings histories, and brief stats like volume and dividend yield. The broker-dealer doesn’t have a stock or fund screener, which is a huge failure. It does, however, group stocks and funds into what it calls Themes. These are groups of investments that have certain economic patterns in common, such as the manufacture of pharmaceuticals or a history of dividends.

M1 Finance does have a stock screener, and it has a fund screener, too. Unfortunately, neither tool offers many search criteria (just 4 for the equity screener and 4 for the fund tool); but it’s more than Public offers.

Pies on M1’s platform are grouped into categories by investment strategy, such as aggressive 2030 or conservative 2040.

Although we weren’t overly impressed with Public’s security profiles, M1 Finance provides even less data. We didn’t find trade recommendations, earnings history, or similar details.

Winner: Draw Social Trading

Desktop Software

Public has a website whose purpose is to advertise the company’s investment service. There is no login, and so obviously, no trading capability.

M1 Finance offers both an informative website and a trading platform. The latter comes with simple charting, funds transfer, and account management tools. We also found a section on market news with index data and article links on up-to-the-minute topics.

Winner: M1 Finance

Mobile Apps

Because Public doesn’t offer any type of computer trading, the broker’s customers use its mobile app. We found it easy to navigate, but it doesn’t have a lot of great features. Charts cannot be rotated horizontally, and there are no tools. The app has a watchlist and a Top Movers section. The one feature we really liked was a community forum, which provides a social-networking aspect.

The M1 mobile app has horizontal charting with up to 5 years of price history; although there are no tools. There is a watchlist, and Pies can easily be managed.

M1 Mobile App

Winner: Public

Other Services

Dividend Reinvestment Program: Public customers can sign up for a free DRIP plan to convert dividends into additional shares. M1 Finance offers a modified DRIP plan based on Modern Portfolio Theory.

Retirement Accounts: M1 customers, but not Public investors, can open Individual Retirement Accounts.

Fractional-Share Trading: Both brokers have it.

Winner: M1 Finance

Our Recommendations

Stock and ETF Trading: For M1’s desktop trading service, the broker gets our nod.

Beginners: Neither broker-dealer has an overwhelming educational hub or customer service department. M1’s Pies could help new investors, however, by providing pre-screened and continually-managed investment vehicles.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: M1 Finance clients can invest in target-date Pies, which become less aggressive over time. And these Pies can be traded in IRAs (or taxable accounts if you wish).

Small Accounts: M1 Finance requires $100 to start investing. Public requires no balance and will even offer $5 worth of stock for free. We recommend Public.


M1 Finance: $30 bonus for funding account with $1,000. Transfer account to get up to $4,000 bonus.

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

Public vs M1 Finance - Judgment

M1 Finance did an overall better job than Public. But traders who want to social network with other traders should choose the latter broker.