For many new investors, one of the barriers to entry that keeps them from getting started is the fees that some companies charge.
A new generation of brokerage platforms and free stock trading apps are driving down trading fees and even offering commission-free trading.
One of these low-cost platforms is Public. In this Public app review, we will delve into the details of this great new platform to help you decide if it would be a good fit for you.
- Commission free trades.
- No minimum investment.
- Buy real-time fractional stocks.
- Refer your friends, get free stock.
Public App Basics
Public (formerly called Matador) is an app based brokerage company that offers free trades with no minimum investment. The legal name of the company is Public Holdings Inc, and it is a member of both the SIPC and FINRA. The platform launched in 2017.
The founders sought venture capital funding to get started, and notable investors through the Series A and Series B funding include Will Smith, through his Dreamers VC company, and NFL star JJ Watt, among others.
Like other recent popular online brokerage platforms, Public is commission-free and has no minimum deposit requirements. However, there is a social media element to the platform. As its name suggests, your portfolio is public to other users, and you can browse other people’s portfolios as well.
Public has a motto that “Everyone’s an InvestorTM”, and you will find a platform that's easy for everyone to use, and allows you to buy and sell stocks without a lot of roadblocks.
On the other hand it also may not have all the features and tools you might find with some more advanced online brokerages.
Public Fees and Charges
The Public app is completely free to use.
There is zero commission for investing in any stock. You can also process funds transfers both into and out of your account with no fees. The entire premise of the company is that for most people investing small amounts like $10 as a newbie is practically pointless if you need to pay $10 in commission fees. So, your day to day trading will cost you nothing.
However, there are some fees for more advanced services. These include:
- Domestic overnight checks: $35
- Domestic wire transfers: $30
- Paper statements: $35
- Returned checks and stop payments: $30
- Broker manned phone trades: $30
One area where Public stands apart from many other free stocks apps is that there is a generous transfer policy. Even if you transfer funds from another brokerage, Public won't charge a fee. Additionally, if your original brokerage imposes a fee, Public will often cover the cost.
Many newer investing apps are severely limited in what you can do, but Public actually offers some great functionality.
You can buy any stock regardless of its share price, and the platform also has some interesting educational and social features that can help investors of all experience levels.
Buying Partial Share Slices - Fractional Shares
With the traditional stock market model, to buy a share, you need to pay the full share amount and receive a percentage of the company. While this usually works fine for most investors, there are some great companies that have incredibly high stock values. Google, Amazon, and other giants can command thousands of dollars per share. So for small time or newbie investors it may not be an option to buy even a single share of stock in these companies.
Public works a little differently. This platform allows you to invest whatever you can afford. So, if you have $100, you can buy a $100 slice of one share, allowing you to invest in your favorite companies without the high dollar barrier to entry.
Public does also allow you to buy full shares of stock. When you do this, you can access market, stop order, and limit types. This allows you to trade more extensively. Share slices just provide a unique bonus for the platform.
Instant, Real Time Fractional Stocks
Generally, many investment brokers will queue up orders for fractional shares of stock. They may only put them through once a day or even once a week. This can create a problem of a lack of accuracy on the price you receive when you buy the stock. So, you wont know the precise price you are working with until the buy order goes through.
Public, however, is a little different as it immediately executes your stock order. This allows you to see in real time the price you are getting, which will give you a more accurate picture.
Additionally, Public will also reinvest your dividends if you ask, so you can increase your earnings by quickly reinvesting your money, instead of letting it sit dormant in your account.
Friendly Categorization Of Stocks
For many new investors, looking at a list of stock options can be daunting. Since you may not be familiar with the stocks, they may appear to be in a strange order that doesn’t appear logical. This is because the stocks are arranged by industry. So, you need to know how a company is categorized to find it.
However, Public has turned this on its head. On the app, the stocks are organized into themes, creating more user friendly categories. So, if you are interested in new age industries or female led companies, you can quickly browse these sectors and invest in companies of interest to you.
Just some of the examples of the themes, include New Kids on the Block, Bio-Tech, Cannabis, and The Future is Female.
As we touched on above, Public takes its name from the social investment aspect that its platform has. Public has a large community forum where traders can ask questions or make comments about trade related issues. You can share your experience or ask questions from people with some direct experience in the specific category. This creates a social aspect where you can get insight and feedback to enable smart trading.
This social feed can be a real game changer. Historically, financial institutions are closed off from a free flow of information about the investment approach taken by other users. Since you can follow people on Public and see their portfolios, you'll be able to get some really good information and insight into how others are investing.
Of course, you'll want to make sure you establish whether someone you follow is reliable before you take note of any tips or make major investments. But, the platform will give you an overall feel that you are not going it alone. Investing can feel like a jungle filled with aggressive investors who dominate while the little guy struggles to get ahead. For newbies, this can be intimidating. Public can help you to feel that you have some support and guidance to help you over your first few hurdles as you're learning to invest.
Like many free stock app options, Public does not have physical locations where you can speak face to face with a broker. However, the platform does provide chat support. This provides access to the customer support team if you have an investing questions or technical issues using the app.
One of the nice features of Public is that it has a generous referral program. When you sign up you’ll receive a referral link, and when someone you refer signs up, you’ll receive a slice of stock. Additionally, your friend will get one too. Currently referrers and referees will receive a free stock worth up to $15.
To get your referral link go to the gift icon in your app, select to "copy invite link" and then send that referral link to your friend, family member or acquaintance. Once they have established a "qualified account" through your link, you'll both get your free stock.
See the Public FAQ site for full referral program details.
The Pros and Cons of Public
As with any financial platform or product, Public is not perfect. There are both pros and cons that you should assess to make an informed decision about whether it is a good choice for your specific needs.
- Free Investing: The biggest pro for Public is that it is completely free to use. Of course, this will be appealing for first time investors who only have small amounts to buy shares. However, it will also benefit the savvy investor who doesn’t want to pay exorbitant fees and commissions. Public allows you to invest, trade money in, and take money out without paying a penny. Bear in mind that some advanced features such as order flow payments or share lending will attract a fee.
- Investment Community: Public helps you to feel that you are not alone on your investment journey. There is both chat support and an investor community. This can help you navigate your first time investments and gain insight into some more advanced options.
- Real-Time Fractional Stocks: Public is quite unique as it also offers real-time fractional investing. While Acorns, Betterment, or Robinhood may offer fractional shares or free commissions, they don’t typically combine both features.
- Ample Investing Information: Many free investment apps have very basic information. However, Public aims to help you learn more about investing, including seldom discussed topics. This includes areas such as best practices and investment trends. There is even background information on individual companies. So, it can help you if you want to invest while supporting a cause.
- Still A New Company: Public has only been operating for a few years, and while the company does seem to be promising in what it offers, it doesn't have a decade long (or longer) track record to show that they're around for the long haul
- USA Only: Public is currently only available to residents of the USA. If you’re in other areas of the world, you will be unable to open an account.
If you like what you’ve read so far and want to get started, rest assured that Public aims to make the sign up process as easy as possible.
The entire process starts by downloading the app. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices. Just visit the website through our link below, enter your cell phone number, and then download the app on the device of your choice. The company is constantly releasing updates and improving the app.
You can do download it here:
Create a Profile
After you download the app, you’ll need to answer some basic questions.
Public will ask you for information such as your name, social security number, bank details, and age. Bear in mind that you need to be 18+ to open an account.
Choose Stocks To Start Real Time Trading
Public has over 5,000 stocks listed that you can trade. These are organized into themes. This will help you to discover new companies in categories of interest to you.
Simply choose a category, browse the list, and pick a company that seems interesting. Public does provide lots of information on each company. So, you can explore company histories, comments, and trends. There is even a list of sub brands. You can even see what other brands a parent company owns. This will help you to learn a great deal before you choose to invest.
This app works incredibly quickly. After you open your account, you can immediately start investing, regardless of how much you deposit. The moment your funds transfer clears, you can start real time trading. As long as the market is open, you can immediately execute trades.
After you’ve selected and bought some stocks, you can sit back and watch how they do in the markets. If you choose to buy small fractional slices of stock, you’re not likely to make a fortune right away, but it can be interesting to view and track your investments as they grow over time.
Public automatically deposits dividends in cash as a default. You can opt into Public automatically reinvesting your dividends, however.
Simply message the support team, and they can activate the service. Or, if you prefer, you can go to your "Account" page, click on the "settings" icon and then scroll down to the "Dividend Reinvestment" section to enable it yourself. I would recommend reinvesting your dividends, that way none of your money remains un-invested in non interest-bearing cash deposits, it will go back into the markets to grow as the dividends come in.
Is Public a Good Option for You?
Public has some great features for newbie investors and those looking for fee-free trading. That makes it an attractive proposition that is worthy of serious consideration.
If you don’t have a lot of money but want to get started investing, or need help and guidance to develop your investing skills, Public has a lot to offer. Additionally, the lack of commissions or fees will also be attractive to most investors.
Public is an excellent app for many investors, but it may not be for everyone. If you live outside the US, regularly day trade, or need more automation tools, you may be better suited to another platform. It is also worth bearing in mind that Public does not facilitate more complex trade options such as cryptocurrencies or OTC stocks.
Want to get started with this free trading platform? Click on the button below to sign up!
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