Public vs M1 Finance


2022: M1 Finance versus Public for online investing. Compare cost, brokerage fees, IRA accounts, and differences. Which firm is better?



Two Rivals: M1 Finance and Public


If you want a modern brokerage firm, look no further than M1 Finance and Public.com. These two have fresh ideas on trading and investing, but which one should you choose? For the answer, take a look at the following comparison:


Pricing


Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Commission
Mutual Fund
Commission
Options
Commission
Maintenance
Fee
Annual IRA
Fee
Public $0 na na $0 $0
M1 Finance $0 na na $0 $0


Services


Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
Public
M1 Finance


Promotions


M1 Finance: Up to $500 cash bonus for funding account at M1 Finance.

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



First Category: Investments


M1 Finance customers invest in Pies, which are collections of stocks, closed-end funds, and exchange-traded funds. M1 builds its own Pies, and clients get to create their own as well. The Pies assembled by M1 are managed by a software program, so they are a form of portfolio management. Whether broker- or customer-created, orders for Pies only execute at certain times of the market day.

Over at Public.com, orders can be sent to the major exchanges any time the exchanges are open. The brokerage firm offers self-directed trading in stocks, closed-end funds, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies. Currently, there are more than 20 digital currencies available.


Public vs M1 Finance


Winner: Public.com


Second Category: Margin


M1 Finance customers can sign up for a service called M1 Borrow. This is the company’s margin service. It can be used to buy additional securities or simply to take out a loan. Currently, debits cost either 4.25% or 2.75%, either of which is a great deal.

Public.com does not currently offer margin trading or margin accounts of any kind.

Winner: M1 Finance


Third Category: Websites


Public.com recently rolled out website trading. During our investigation into this new site, we found it easy to navigate. Most tools are overly simple, however.

For example, charts have only one format (line) with zero graphing tools. A chart cannot be displayed the full width of the monitor, and there are only 5 years of price history. On the positive side, the website has a watchlist that syncs with the list on its mobile app (more on that up ahead).

Public’s web-based trade ticket offers just market orders. At this time, there are no other trade types, although the broker says it has plans for updates.

M1 Finance has had website trading from day 1. Like the Public site, features tend to be on the simple side. Charts, for example, have just line format and 5 years of price data.


M1 vs Public.com


The M1 Finance order ticket really isn’t one at all. Customers use it to send requests to the broker, who then sends orders to the exchanges in batches.

Winner: Public.com


Fourth Category: Mobile Apps


As promised, Public.com has a mobile app. The great advantage of it over its website cousin is the trade ticket. On the mobile app, there are three trade types: market, limit, and stop. Elementary charting makes another appearance, and crypto balances are shown alongside securities balances.


Public vs M1 Finance


The M1 Finance app doesn’t result in a better order ticket than its website cousin. Charts, however, can be shown in full horizontal mode, one noteworthy improvement. A bottom menu makes switching between different M1 Finance categories (like Spend and Invest) very easy. It’s possible to create and manage Pies with the app, another plus.


M1 Finance vs Public


Winner: Public.com


Fifth Category: Education and Research


On both the Public website and mobile app, there is a community forum. It’s possible to comment on securities and news articles, like posts, and communicate with other Public clients. Another great feature is the ability to follow other traders.

Besides this really helpful service, Public’s trading platforms also have asset profiles. Although the amount of information isn’t very extensive, there are some important details, such as price targets, analyst ratings, and earnings history.

For general investment education, Public doesn’t offer much. During our research, we did find articles on the website that cover a small amount of topics, such as meme stocks and cryptocurrencies.

M1 Finance doesn’t offer much in terms of investor education, either. The broker’s website does have some articles that describe how to invest the Pie way. Asset profiles are similar to Public’s profiles in their brevity. The one major weakness M1 Finance has here is the lack of social networking.

Winner: Public.com


Promotions


M1 Finance: Up to $500 cash bonus for funding account at M1 Finance.

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



Sixth Category: Other Services


Fractional-share Trading: Both brokerage firms in this examination offer whole-dollar investing.

IPO Availability: Neither firm provides early access to initial offerings.

Banking Tools: A debit card with ATM refunds and an interest-bearing checking account will only be found at M1 Finance. The company is also launching a Visa credit card.

Dividend Reinvestment Program: Both Public and M1 Finance offer free DRIP services. M1 Finance requires a $25 cash balance before it kicks in, though.

Extended Hours: Not available at either firm.

IRAs: Retirement accounts will only be found at M1 Finance at this time.

Winner: M1 Finance


Our Recommendations


Small Accounts: M1 Finance requires a minimum deposit of $100 for taxable accounts and $500 for IRAs. Public.com has no such minimums. Easy choice.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: On top of its IRA lineup, M1 Finance also has target-date Pies. Public.com has no emphasis on retirement investing.

Stock/ETF Trading: Neither broker-dealer in this survey has powerful trading tools. Because Public.com at least offers access to the full market day, it gets our endorsement here.

Beginners M1’s system of Pie investing can be a little confusing even to the most seasoned of investors. Public’s software does a better job of simplifying the investment process. Plus, its community forum can be a big help for newbies.


Promotions


M1 Finance: Up to $500 cash bonus for funding account at M1 Finance.

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



Public vs M1 Finance Recap


Although M1 Finance did well in the banking, margin, and retirement categories, the upstart Public.com is the better pick for website and mobile app.


Updated on 5/18/2022.


About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for Brokerage-Review.com, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.