Public.com is an investing app that aims to let you invest in everything, with a growing list of asset classes, in one place. The sophisticated platform gives you access to stocks, ETFs, crypto, and alternative assets like art and collectibles.
It’s also backed by powerful investing tools, live shows, and community insights from millions of other investors. If you’re just getting into investing and wondering where to begin, Public is a great place to learn and start actively trading.
Public is free to download and is available both on iOS and Android devices.
Public.com is not the first commission-free trading app, but it’s trying to stand out with several competitive features:
One of Public’s largest draw is the ability to purchase any stock for any amount of money. This way you can use small investments to make money, which they call Slices.
With many brokerages, you can buy only full shares, which means that if you want to invest in companies like Amazon, Google, or Berkshire Hathaway, (to name a few), you’d have to shell out thousands to become a shareholder.
With Public, users pick their stock and enter the amount they would like to invest, and Public “slices” off a portion of a share to fit the desired price.
Public offers more than 1,000 tickers available for slices (including ETFs).
And with its recent acquisition of Otis, Public lets you invest in alternative assets with fractional shares, like NFTs, artwork, and comic books.
Public stands out from its competitors by offering a versatile lineup of investment options. You can invest in the following:
- Fine arts
Public notes that the platform will be adding music royalties and real estate to the mix soon, too.
One of Public’s biggest perks is the ability to invest in all of these assets in one app.
In terms of account types, Public is a little more limited. You can invest in a taxable/individual brokerage account, but there are no joint accounts or retirement accounts.
Community of Investors
The traditional financial world can feel like an exclusive club, with knowledge-sharing limited to the few. Public has flipped the script by building a transparent community in which investments are put out in the open.
Public is the first investing app to offer social engagement features, and though sharing is optional, they are core to the experience. Most other apps offer a siloed experience — just you and your account — but Public has built its app to provide value to users through the collective wisdom of their network.
As an investor, not only can you browse stocks, but you can also find friends and other investors to connect with, many of which are subject matter experts. By engaging with others, you can share investment strategies and discover new companies to explore and perhaps even buy.
Public also aims to make it easy to find stocks that align with your values and interests through curated themes. Themes are simply bundles of stocks that are grouped under a central theme for the sake of discovery.
You can choose from around 50 themes, including:
- Tech Giants: The most influential and powerful tech companies, which include Netflix (NFLX), Alphabet (GOOGL), Oracle (ORCL), Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB), etc.
- The Future is Female: S&P 500 companies led by female CEOs, which include General Motors (GM), Kohl’s (KSS), IBM (IBM), Eventbrite (EB), Progressive (PGR), etc.
- Clean and Green: Environmentally-friendly companies, which include Vivint Solar (VSLR), Waste Management (WM), Ecolab (ECL), Darling Ingredients (DAR), etc.
- Crypto Assets: This theme features a diverse lineup of 29 popular cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Sushiswap, and Decentraland.
Fractional investing features are becoming more commonplace, but Public approaches these a bit differently.
Public.com is the first brokerage that allows you to buy fractional shares and trade in real-time. Why does this matter? With most, when purchasing fractional shares, you aren’t actually purchasing the stocks at the moment you hit the “buy” button — even if the market is open.
This delay means that there could be shifts in the stock price from the time you place your order to when the trading window opens. Without real-time fractional trading, your order is saved and executed during a trading window the next day.
With Public, as long as the market is open, your trade is executed at the same time.
Public.com is the real deal when it comes to being free from commissions. However, you may still incur small exchange fees from your trades.
Public also charges fees for certain services, some of which we’ve listed below:
- Domestic Wire Transfer: $25
- Domestic Overnight Check: $35
- Returned Check, ACH, Wire, and Recall/Stop Payments: $30
- ACAT Outgoing: $75
- Paper Statements: $5
- Crypto Trades: 1-2% markup for all trades
Public also has a Premium version. For $10 per month, premium users get advanced data insights and expert guidance.
Like other investing apps, Public will reward you and your friends if you share your referral link, and they successfully open an account.
In the app, you can find your share link, which gives you and your friends a free slice of stock upon sign up.
Public is SIPC-insured, so each customer is protected up to $500,000 in securities and a limit of $250,000 in cash.
They also use AES 128-bit encryption and TLS 1.2 to secure data.
Pros and Cons
- Social Interface: Public.com is built around social engagement. In addition to providing educational resources, the app gives you access to insights from other investors and industry experts. For example, you can join town halls with executives and founders of major companies and experts in alternative assets. You can also join daily Public Live shows with journalists and analysts.
- Fractional Shares: Public lets you in on investing in stocks from your favorite brands with as little as $1. While it isn’t the only platform that offers fractional shares, Public does allow you to invest infractional shares of alternative assets like sports cards and NFTs, which other robo-advisors don’t.
- Over 25 Cryptocurrencies: Public.com grants investors access to more than 25 cryptos, like Dogecoin, Ethereum, and ApeCoin. These assets are offered with Apex Crypto, where your coins are stored. With no minimum investment requirement, Public is a great place to start investing in crypto with any budget.
- No Day-Trading: If you’re looking to make bigger bets on a daily basis, a practice that is commonly known as day-trading, then Public might not be right for you. Focused on longer-term investing strategies, Public will restrict users from making a high volume of trades in a day. Each user is allowed up to four violations for day trading before your account is restricted.
- No OTC Stocks: Public also does not trade any over the counter (OTC) stocks, which are stocks not listed on the major exchanges. While they allow you to trade almost any stock or ETF, you’ll have to go elsewhere if not having access to OTC stocks is a dealbreaker for you.
- Limited Account Types: While Public offers plenty of assets to invest in, its account options are limited. You can only open an individual brokerage account, with no retirement account options.
Alternatives to Public.com
There are many great investing platforms to check out, here are some of Public’s top competitors:
- Robinhood: Robinhood is a solid competitor that offers fractional shares and lets you move crypto in and out of your wallet.
- Learn More: Robinhood vs Public
- Webull: Webull is an alternative worth considering if you like the features of Public but want to open an IRA.
- Learn More: Webull vs Public
- Acorns: Acorns is a good alternative for beginners if you want help saving, with automated roundups to invest your spare change.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Public.com trustworthy?
Yes, Public is trustworthy. Registered with both the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the brokerage offers insurance up to $500,000 for your securities.
Is Public better than Robinhood?
It depends on what you are looking for. Public’s community aspect of its trading platform set’s it apart, so if you want a social investing app, Public is best for you. Public’s community aspect sets it apart. If you want a social investing app, Pubic is best for you.
Is Public a good trading app?
Public is a great trading app for novice and intermediate investors looking to invest in a range of assets in one place.
Is Public Investing for You?
Public’s mission to level the playing field in the public market is noble, and offering a platform that’s free of charge is definitely reason enough to give them a try.
While it might not be the right choice for a stereotypical day trader, it’s great for novice and intermediate investors looking to invest in a range of assets in one spot.
Their interface is intuitive and straightforward, and with a low barrier of entry, it’s worth a shot.