Public Investing Review: Real People Share Their Real Investments And You Can Start With Just $5

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Sorry to the very rich or seasoned stock traders, this article is not for you.
Successful investors, from seasoned traders, business leaders, celebrities, and financial bloggers, are helping the everyday American with their own personal finance looking to Wall Street for diversification in their portfolios by picking winning stocks and sharing them on a new social investing app.
If you are new to the stock market, this is by far the best way to get involved (hands down).

What is Public?

As a new investor or someone looking to build wealth in the stock market without an investment advisor or investment manager, wondering where to start or how to know which stocks to buy can be intimidating. Plus, we are all so busy. We might not necessarily have the time or desire to pick winners as a typical day-trader might. We simply might want to find companies we believe in to hold and grow in the long term.
That's where Public.com comes in.
It’s a new micro-investing app that allows you to see other people’s trades, invest in small amounts (this is called fractional investing), and much more.
When I signed up for this investing platform I noticed Shaq was a member and now I follow him to see where he invests.
shaq trading on public app
This really gave me the confidence to piggyback off of other people who know way more than I do.
It’s not just celebrities, everyday people just like you and I are sharing their stock picks and strategies. I follow Leif Abraham, see below.
Leif trading on Public app
Users of Public can see public accounts of people whose opinions they value and learn how and why they invest. You can even start a conversation with a few other investors to bounce ideas and improve your financial literacy within a real-world environment.

What is Public?

Before you ever make an important decision, what do you do? I know that I generally talk it through with people I trust. I might not follow what they say exactly, but just having a conversation can help me clear my mind and see things in new ways. The same goes with investing.
That’s what Public is all about.
Users can see where people are putting their money, and have transparent and constructive discussions with people from different backgrounds.
Similar to Venmo, Public has a social feed that shows recently verified transactions in a feed format. (Verified meaning that each post is tied to an actual transaction in the app, an investment, or sale.)
For example, Dylan Cooper invested in Boeing:
dylan trading on public app
You can see actual conversations. People are sharing information and helping each other make decisions.
Josh trading on public app

How Public works

We already know how incredibly valuable it is to not only follow investors’ ideas and portfolio investments and even more, the ability to invest in stocks and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), commission-free. You can even invest fractionally (portions of a share) in more than 2,800 equities, which means you can get in on the action no matter what circles you run in.
Plus, you don't need big dollar amounts in your bank account to invest, as some brokerages require. You can invest as little as you'd like with a minimum of $5 in your account through ETFs for a second.
These financial products have historically been popular with a broad range of investors because they make up a pool of multiple stocks. Furthermore, Public has access to the best ones in the market.
These are legit ETFs from some of the most trusted names in the business like Vanguard and BlackRock. And just like buying stocks with Public, ETF trades are commission-free with any amount of money.
In case you missed this earlier: There are 0 commissions, which means there are no fees on trades and no account minimums. (See Public.com/disclosures for more information.)
You gotta love millennials for mixing everything we love into one platform; social media, real talk, and building wealth in an accessible format.
As if these weren’t enough reasons to run and start making money moves with Public, they also encourage you to share with friends by offering free stock. Yup, FREE STOCK for referrals.

How much does Public cost?

There are no minimums and no commission fees for using Public.
Guy Trading stocks on his phone

Public features

Investing

Besides commission-free trading in stocks with any amount of money, you can invest in ETFs and funds "by the slice" without commission fees and, of course, invest in full shares — the choice is yours.

Fractional shares

Slices are small units of stocks and they are pioneering the way everyday Americans can invest in the stock market.
These "slices" of stocks make it accessible for more people. Instead of paying $400 for a share of Tesla, you can buy a slice by the dollar.
Fractional investing, as the finance nerds call it, was previously only available to the wealthy via their financial advisors at expensive investment banks.
Now you can do the same, all through Public's app.

Public investing

Public wants to make investing less frightening and opens conversation on its app where you can see what your friends and people you are following are doing and comment. Or, you can have private and group messages
The app's easy drag-and-drop feature allows you to organize your portfolio for the long term, which can also be shared.

Mobile app

You can access your brokerage account by Apple iOS or Android through the Public app for real-time views of your account.

Free stock

Every time you refer a friend, you can grow your portfolio.

Customer service

The Public app offers in-app live chat support so you can reach someone with questions at any time.

Public vs competitors

Betterment

One of the first robo advisors, Betterment launched in 2008 and does the investing for you. Rather than teach you about investing, as Public does, you fund your account and Betterment does all the work and recommends a portfolio that you fund. It also charges a 0.25% fee on your balance annually. Its Premium plan that manages investments over $10,000 charges 0.40%.

Robinhood

Providing commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options as well as cryptocurrencies, you can begin investing through Robinhood with as little as $1. Choose how much you want to invest and it will in fractional shares and give you the ability to customize your portfolios. It's also doing the investing for you but it's truly fee-free.

Stash

Stash wants you to invest in what you can afford, offering fractional share opportunities starting at $5. There are three investing programs: Stash Beginner which includes banking, savings tools, $1,000 life insurance, and personalized advice; Stash Growth that adds on an IRA, tax benefits, and personalized retirement advice; and Stash+, which offers rewards, child investing, and $10 in life insurance. They charge $1, $3, and $9 per month for membership.
PublicBettermentRobinhoodStash
Minimum investment$5$0$1$5
StocksYesYesYesYes
ETFsYesYesYesYes
Fractional tradingYesYesYesYes
Day tradingNoNoNoNo
CommissionsNone0.25$ annual fee up to $10kNoneCell
CellCellCellCellCharges $12 to $27 per year for a subscription

FAQs

Are my investments safe?
Yes, Public investments are insured up to $500,000 through the SIPC. Plus, Public wants you to learn and grow so they have built-in safeguards for risky stocks, explain terms when you see them, don't allow day-trading, don't sell complex investments, and don't sell margin loans.
Who is Public best for?
Beginner investors who are unsure how to invest and don't want to spend money for financial advice. Public's social aspect gives you a chance to follow your friends and public figures, which may make you feel more comfortable investing your hard-earned cash.

The bottom line

Public is a great tool for first-time investors who look at investing as a foreign object. By investing with little money and following and connecting with other investors, you'll learn, grow, and build confidence to eventually invest more.

See disclosures at Public.com/disclosures.

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