How to Get Free Stocks
As many of you know, I’m all about fast-tracking personal finances. Success ultimately boils down to how badly you want financial freedom, how willing you are to capitalize on opportunities when they arise, and how disciplined you are about spending.
As such, achieving long-term financial success starts with being highly discerning. Sometimes, the best deal you take is the one that you avoid. This is especially true when dealing with apps that offer free stocks in exchange for signing up for their services.
At the same time, if you can pick up a free stock for opening up a new brokerage account that you planned to open up anyway, why not?
8 Ways To Get Free Stocks
As it turns out, it’s pretty easy to get free stocks. In most cases, all you have to do is sign up for a service using a referral link or promo code. The promotion is then automatically applied to your account.
Here are some of the top services offering free stock promotions right now when you open a new account.
Robinhood is a leading investing app that offers commission-free trading for stocks, options, and ETFs. Robinhood also offers micro-investing and lets you buy and sell cryptocurrencies.
However, even though I made some solid money on bitcoin back in the day, I generally don’t encourage my readers to gamble their savings on crypto.
Here’s how Robinhood’s free stock offer works: When you sign up for Robinhood, the company will automatically add one free stock to your account when you fulfill the conditions of their promotion. Stock bonuses are usually awarded within about a week.
In addition, Robinhood offers a referral program that will give you up to $500 annually in free stocks. All you need to do is get other people to sign up for their service.
This may sound great. But do you really want to be that person — you know, the annoying person on Facebook you know from high school who is incessantly begging friends and family members to sign up for an investment service?
This option really only pays for people who network heavily, know massive amounts of people, and aren’t afraid to shamelessly promote someone else’s services for a modicum of a return. To be fair, $500 is a nice chunk of change. But how much is your dignity worth?
Again, if you’re interested in a service like Robinhood, do it because you like the platform and don’t even think too much about the kickback you get. It’s just not worth it.
Webull is an online brokerage that offers a similar service to Robinhood, providing a free share of stock of their choice in exchange for opening an account.
According to Webull, the stock you’ll receive is valued between $2.50 and $250. In addition, making a deposit of $100 will let you receive a second free stock valued between $12 and $1,400.
Webull also offers a referral program that will give you two free stocks valued between $12 and $1,400. However, it comes with a catch: The person you invite must make an initial deposit of $100 or more in their account.
Stash is an automated investment service for beginners who want a passive way to start putting money aside for long-term growth. The subscription-based service will take small amounts of money and invest it in the stock market while giving you options as to where you should invest your money. Stash lets you buy fractional shares of stocks—which is also called micro-investing—so you can invest however much or little money you want.
As a promotion, Stash is currently offering a $5 deposit for signing up for its service, which users can turn around and invest. However, they also charge a $1 monthly fee. After your account reaches $5,000, the annual fee becomes a whopping 0.25% of your balance — something you’ll want to steer clear of at all costs.
In my opinion, this is another good example of a service that’s better than the promotion they’re offering. If you think this app will encourage you to invest, then go for it. But you’ll want to get in and get out quickly before you start paying hefty annual fees, which can potentially negate your earnings.
Public.com (formerly Matador)
Public.com is a social stock sharing program offering micro-investing and commission-free stock trading. Unlike other platforms, Public offers a unique social component and access to the wider Public community.
In addition, you can receive a $10 bonus for signing up for the service, and a referral program that will give you a piece of stock valued at up to $10. Previously, Stock offered a “Give $20, Get $20” campaign.
But unfortunately, this is no longer around.
Acorns is an investment platform that enables you to invest your spare change by automatically rounding up each purchase and routing your spare change to your account. The platform also issues rewards to users who shop with partner brands, so depending on your style and habits, you might be able to start growing a decent account by spending your money strategically.
Acorns offers two plans: Lite at $1/month and Personal at $3/month. The platform doesn’t have hidden fees, and they also reimburse any ATM fees you might incur.
Currently, Acorns isn’t offering free stocks. But keep checking back. They do, however, offer a $5 referral bonus, which is better than nothing.
M1 Finance is a money management platform and trading app designed to help users save more money and invest their funds for free. The platform also doubles as a financing website, as users are able to borrow funds at decent rates if they have at least $10,000 invested.
M1 Finance offers a $10 referral credit that you’ll receive every time a friend signs up through the service using a unique link you provide. New users can also receive a $10 referral bonus for creating a new account.
Currently, M1 Finance isn’t offering free stocks. But they have before. So keep checking back from time to time. You never know when you might catch them at the right time.
NVSTR is a great example of why it’s important to read the fine print before jumping into any of these services. On their website, NVSTR claims you receive up to $1,000 in “free cash after joining. Cashback is also distributed for each successful referral. Not too bad, right?
This offer seems pretty solid at first — until you look at the probability of receiving each randomly selected award. For example, the company claims there is a 34.94% chance of receiving the minimum $8 award. On the flip side, there is only a 0.02% chance of receiving $1,000. Aha!
Granted, an $8 referral bonus is not terrible, and if you like gambling, you may enjoy the thrill of potentially landing a large bonus.
It’s also important to consider that NVSTR charges a $4.50 commission per stock trade. But keep in mind that many platforms, like Robinhood, Fidelity, and Schwab, now offer commission-free trades.
However, NVSTR doesn’t have any monthly fees or membership fees, which is a great thing. Customers also don’t have to pay fees to open or close accounts, or when transferring funds. Last but not least, there is also no minimum account requirement.
Stockpile is an online investing platform that lets new users get started with just $5. I’m detecting a pattern here.
On Stockpile, you can buy fractional shares of upwards of 1,000 stocks and ETFs. Stockpile is free to sign up for, but the service does charge a 99-cent fee on each trade.
What sets Stockpile apart from its competitors is that you can send gifts of stock to your friends on the network. Your kids can also open up shop on the network, and you’re able to approve their trades before they go through.
At the time of this writing, Stockpile is offering $5 worth of free stock. Hey, at least they’re more honest than the companies suggesting you might end up with hundreds of dollars worth of stock, or even more.
Are Free Stocks a Smart Idea?
The real question here isn’t whether free shares of stock are a good thing. Of course, they are. After all, everyone loves free money. But that’s not the point.
Instead of going after free stuff as a priority, you should first ask whether investment apps, in general, are a good fit for your needs. You need to determine how much you want to commit to this process. You also need to decide whether you are serious about building a strong and diversified portfolio that’s designed for long-term success or whether you’re just looking to passively invest using apps.
If you have no skin in the game, and you just need a push to start buying stocks, then using an investment app is a great way to begin. Even just having an app handy on your phone will encourage you to spend more time thinking about your finances, instead of mindlessly browsing Instagram or burning hours away on mobile games.
Who knows? A simple decision to download an app could be a stepping stone to financial mindfulness.
Only you can determine whether investment apps and their free stock bonuses and referrals are right for you, or whether you need something more structured right off the bat.
Free Stocks: What’s the Catch?
By this point, you are probably wondering why companies would give money away for merely signing up for their services. Is there a catch?
There is one answer and one answer only: These are promotions. And almost all promotions are designed to make companies money first, at the expense of their customers. It may sound cold, but that’s just how it works.
Be wary that the signup bonus isn’t masking hidden fees. As my readers know, I detest fees. They are one of the top wealth killers — and one of the most overlooked aspects for investors.
Perhaps the biggest kicker, though, is that some of these apps offer free stocks that aren’t all that valuable. Many of the free stocks that you might get don’t even offer dividends, which are something that new investors may want to prioritize.
Typically, customers have no say in the free stocks they receive during promotions. You might want a share of Amazon, Apple, Ford, or Uber, but you could end up with a share of Hertz (which has plummeted in value as of late).
Of course, some free stocks can be valuable. This is how investment apps like to pull in consumers: by dangling the opportunity for large payouts.
For example, Robinhood advertises reward stocks of over $100, with a 1 in 300 chance of receiving them. If you’re the gambling type, you may be interested in pursuing this option. If you’re like me, you’ll scoff at your 1 in 300 chances and look elsewhere.
Always remember: There is no such thing as a free lunch.
When choosing an investment or stock trading platform, you should spend more time looking into the actual program, and deciding whether it’s a good fit for you personally. For example, does the company offer a commission-free trading platform, or do they charge fees for trades? Are there account minimums to worry about? And does the platform offer access to the types of investment vehicles that you want to invest in? (For example, ETFs, index funds, or IRAs?)
Now that you have a better idea of the pros and cons of free stocks, let’s take a look at some of the more reputable vendors on the market.
Think Before You Take the Bonus
I’m in no position to personally advise you whether any of these services are right for you. All I’m saying is that you need to think about what you are actually getting in terms of free stock shares in exchange for what you’re giving up.
Just because a company is offering something for free, doesn’t necessarily mean you should take the deal. You should always question what you are getting in return and whether the offer is worth your time and your money.
In all likelihood, you may be better off pulling your money together and investing in some ETFs or index funds that will benchmark your investments and provide relatively stable returns over time (in theory). It will also help you plan more for the long term instead of potentially wasting your time buying and selling stocks for short-term gains.
Of course, investment apps don’t like to advertise the dangers of reckless investing and making haphazard decisions. If you’re just starting off, think carefully about building a stable financial future for yourself. The best way to win in the long run is to be intelligent about the choices you make from the outset.
But you do have to make a choice eventually. Your money won’t invest itself, after all. Do your due diligence, design an investment strategy that works for you, and never invest any more money than you’re comfortable losing.
With a little patience and a lot of determination, you can put together a decent portfolio that starts going to work for you every day. Inch by inch is a cinch, as they say.