May 24, 2024

Public.com Investing Review 2023

Our experts answer readers’ investing questions and write unbiased product reviews (here’s how we assess investing products). Paid non-client promotion: In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners. Our opinions are always our own.

Public Investing

4.14/5

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star


Fees

0% stocks and ETFs; Crypto: 1% or 2% markup; Alternative assets: 2.5% per transaction; Public Premium: $10/month


Investment Types

Stocks, ETFs, alternative assets, treasury bills, and cryptocurrencies

Public Investing

4.14/5

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star

A five pointed star


Fees

0% stocks and ETFs; Crypto: 1% or 2% markup; Alternative assets: 2.5% per transaction; Public Premium: $10/month


Investment Types

Stocks, ETFs, alternative assets, treasury bills, and cryptocurrencies


Public Investing

Public is best for active traders who want to invest in stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies while utilizing the expertise and insights of other Public.com members.

Details


Fees

0% stocks and ETFs; Crypto: 1% or 2% markup; Alternative assets: 2.5% per transaction; Public Premium: $10/month

Pros & Cons
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Highlights
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Additional Reading
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Founded in 2017, Public is an investment app offering crypto trading, treasuries, commission-free stock, and ETF trading, as well as community trading features for those who favor DIY trading over advisor-assisted investing or automated investing.

In addition to offering a $0 minimum requirement, Public allows you to filter its investment selection to see the securities that best align with your preferences. However, it’s not the best move for day traders or those who want exposure to investments like mutual funds or options.

However, similar investing platforms, such as the ones featured on our top picks for the best investment apps and the best investment apps for beginners, offer more account options than Public, as well as provide a larger selection of investment options and more advanced trading features. 

Public is available on both iOS and Android

Public: Overall Rating

Public and M1 Finance both offer stocks. ETFs, and crypto but Public Investing has a lower account minimum, offers fractional shares, and is best suited for investors interested in buying and selling alternative investments like wine and art.

Although M1 Finance has a higher minimum requirement ($100 minimum and $500 required to open a retirement account), it’s an overall better option for investors looking for a wider range of account types, goal-planning features, and increased investment options. Available assets through M1 Finance include stocks, mutual funds, REITs, ESG investing options, ETFs, private equity, and crypto.

Public and Tornado both offer minimum-free trading, with a vast selection of stocks and ETFs. However, you’ll pay more in fees at Tornado than you will with Public. Both Tornado and Public are the best options for those who value educational resources, community investing, and social media-style features.

If you want access to more investment options, Public is the best choice. Tornado only offers stocks, ETFs, and American Depositary Receipts (ADRs). Tornado is a better option for beginners as it launched its Learn and Earn program in 2021. This program allows investors to complete educational modules on topics like economics and investing while earning monetary rewards (up to $40). 

Ways to Invest with Public

Stocks and ETFs

Public currently offers more than 9,000 stocks and ETFs, so you’ll have a variety of different investments to choose from. Your taxable brokerage account also allows for both fractional share investing (you’ll need at least $1 for this) and commission-free trading. Plus, it offers a few other features that can help you choose the best investments.

Its “Investing Themes” feature allows you to toggle your portfolio according to your interests. The “Top Movers” tool lets you view which stocks are experiencing the highest or lowest movement during each day, and its “Stock Trends” feature compares the most popular investments to the least popular ones. 

While Public is quite suitable for active traders who want to take their investments into their own hands, it’s arguably an even better fit for those who can benefit from the community-like investing features it provides. 

Public also lets you inform your decisions with the market moves of other traders and/or public figures. You can use the feed to follow different members to see what they’re investing in, and you can also share your investment knowledge and decisions with other users. Public additionally gives you the power to create chat groups with other investors, and you can also participate in investing events and listen to live conversations through the app.

Cryptocurrencies

You can also now diversify your portfolio with digital assets, thanks to Public’s partner, Apex Crypto. Public launched cryptocurrency investing on its platform in October 2021, and it currently offers more than 25 coins and tokens. Its investment selection includes, but isn’t limited to, the following:

  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Dogecoin
  • Solana
  • Cardano
  • Algorand

Though you’ll be placing orders through the Public platform, Apex Crypto is responsible for executing them. Its partner also holds your crypto and charges a 1% to 2% markup on each transaction. Another thing to keep in mind is that crypto trading isn’t available for residents of Guam or the US Virgin Islands.

Treasury bills

You can also invest in treasury bills (aka T bills). These are generally low-risk, short-term investments. Public’s offers a Treasury Account with a 5.5% yield and no account minimum.

With a high-yield savings treasury account, investors don’t have to pay state or local taxes on the income generates from the treasury bills. 

Alternative assets

Public recently introduced alternative assets to its platform. This now gives its users access to contemporary art, NFTs, collectibles, and more. In addition, the platform has vetted each available investment, and it takes away a lot of the legwork in maintaining each asset by managing things like storage, authentication, and more. 

While it’s transaction fee of 2.5% resembles that of many NFT marketplaces (e.g., both OpenSea and Rarible charge creators. 2.5% per transaction), Public also offers more investment choices than most NFT platforms.

This new offering makes diversification much easier, since you’ll ultimately have your fair pick of stocks, ETFs, crypto, and alternative assets.

Yes, Public is a legitimate investing app. Public is registered with both the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The brokerage also offers insurance for up to $500,000 for your securities.

The amount of money you can make on Public ultimately depends on what you invest in and how much you invest in it. Returns may vary across stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies.

Public has some fees. Crypto transactions come with a 1% or 2% markup, and alternative assets (e.g., NFTs) have a 2.5% commission. Plus, you’ll pay a $10 monthly fee if you decide to enroll in the Public Premium plan.

Public also offers commission-free purchases for its stocks and ETFs, but you may incur a couple of small regulatory fees when you sell. For instance, you’ll run into an SEC regulatory fee of $5.10 per $1 million on sell transactions, along with a trading activity fee of $0.000119 per share on sells. 

Public.com: Is it trustworthy?

Yes, Public is trustworthy. The Better Business Bureau gives Public an A+ rating. These ratings generally reflect the bureau’s opinion of how well a company interacts with its customers. It hasn’t racked up any major lawsuits over the past few years. Its BBB profile shows that it has closed 28 complaints in the past 12 months. 

When evaluating companies, the bureau also considers things like type of business, time in business, licensing and government actions, and advertising issues. It’s important to note, however, that its ratings don’t guarantee whether a platform, like Public, will be reliable or perform well. Therefore, it’s equally important to do your own due diligence before settling on an investment app.

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