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Public App Review – Commission-Free Investing App

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The Bottom Line: Public.com is a commission-free stock investing app that allows you to invest in fractional shares of companies and connect with a community of like-minded investors.

Public-com logo

Our Partner

Top Stock Investing App

AT A GLANCE

  • Commission-free stock trading app
  • Free to join with no minimum deposit
  • Community focused investing
  • Ability to purchase fractional shares

Overall Rating

4/5

Recently launched company

Elite team of investors like Will Smith

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No minimum for accounts
  • Ability to purchase fractional shares
  • Social trading community
  • Exceptional customer service

Cons

  • Limited account types
  • Not all investment types available

There is no shortage of brokerages and companies offering fractional shares and free trading in an effort to attract new customers.

It’s great that there are so many to help those getting started on their investing journey, choosing from them seems intimidating.

The good news is that one of the first app based investing products has a slicker app and focus on helping consumers with commission-free investing as well as investing in fractional shares.

Public.com is a rebrand of Matador, and it’s worth looking into even though many of the major brokerage firms offer trading commission. 

Keep reading our Public investing app review to see whether this is the best option for you.

Public-com Icon

Quick Summary

Account Minimum: $0

Trading Fees: $0

Promotion: No current promos

What is Public.com?

Founded in 2017, Public is a stock brokerage company that’s app-based and doesn’t charge trade commissions. 

The four founders are Jannick Malling, Matt Kennedy, Peter Quinn, and Sean Hendelman.

Legally called Public Holdings, Inc, and DBA Open to the Public Investing, Inc. the company is a member of FINRA and SIPC as well as a registered broker-dealer.

Again, the company used to be called Matador. 

How Does The App Work?

Once you download the app, it’s pretty fast and easy to open a Public account.

In many chases you can do so within less than 5 minutes. 

Then you’ll need to log in and fund the account before you can start trading.

The app is intuitive to use — users should be able to navigate around it easily.

Sections of the app include the ability to view the portfolio of other users, search for ETFs and stocks, and buy and sell them. 

Currently, there are no joint or IRA accounts, only taxable brokerage accounts for individuals. 

When looking around the app for stocks or ETFs to purchase, you can see basic details including analyst ratings, price history, upcoming earnings events, price targets, basic fundamentals, and recent news. 

The information you’ll get is best for novice or beginner investors and is a good place to get you started.

For more experienced or advanced investors, it’s best to do more research elsewhere before trading, buying or selling. 

Features

Fractional Shares

Traditionally, brokerages only allow you to purchase full share.

For example, if you want to purchase stock from companies such as Google, Nike or Amazon, you’ll need to pay thousands of dollars in order to become a shareholder. 

Instead, Public allows you to pick a stock and choose the amount you want to invest and you’ll receive a fractional share, which the company calls “slices” to fit the price you paid.

You can purchase as many slices as you want. 

Let’s say you want to invest $50 in a share and the full stock costs $5,000, you’re going to end up purchasing 0.1 shares.

Or you want to invest in a share that typically costs $500 and you fork over $1,000, you have 2 shares.

This way, any ETF or stock accessible to you, whether you’re a long-term investor or active trader. 

The downside is that not all stocks and ETFs are available on Public.

However, there are over 1,000 available to purchase as slices.

You can subscribe to their mailing list so that Public can send you weekly emails, some of which notify you when there are new slices available. 

Remember, there are plenty of competitors in this space, so this feature isn’t unique to Public.

Other brokerages, robo advisors and investing companies like Webull and M1 Finance also offer fractional shares to their investors. 

Investing Community

All Public account holders are required to create an investor profile.

You’ll need to create a public username so that everyone in the Public community can see it.  

Being Public is optional. It's encouraged b/c we think the most special part of the app is the social layer, but it's not mandatory.

You can also choose to be "public" on Public but make certain trades private, if you like.

That also means you can look at other investor profiles, including ones from well-known figures. 

If you want to see if your friends or acquaintances are on the platform, you can connect your account to your phone’s address book to see. 

The idea behind these public profiles is so that investors don’t feel like they’re not part of an exclusive club like much of the traditional world where sharing of knowledge is limited to a few people.

Instead, the point is to build a transparent community in Public’s trading platform so that you can see what other people are investing. 

There are also social engagement features where you share what you are investing in.

Sure, it’s optional, but it adds to the experience of being in Public.

Many similar brokerages don’t offer much in terms of interaction.

That way, you’re not alone and can gain value from users who share in their collective wisdom.

Yes, it means friends, subject matter experts and other types of investors can see what you’re investing in (and vice versa), but you can discover new stocks and ETFs to invest in.

At the very least, learn more about them. 

Investing Themes

The reason Public is great for beginner investors is that it makes it easy to find stocks and ETFs.

Plus, those who want to invest in companies that are in line with their interests and values can search through the brokerage’s curated themes.

Basically, these are groups of stocks that are housed under a specific theme to help you browse easier — think of it like genres when you’re finding a show to watch on Netflix. 

Public has lots of interesting and fun themes for users to look through, plus rolling out new ones constantly.

Here’s a selection of what you can find:

  • Meatless Revolution: Public companies that are creating plant-based products such as United Natural foods (UNFI), Kellogg (K), Unilever (UL), Hain Celestial Group (HAIN), Buge (BG), and Beyond Meat (BYND).
  • Women in Charge: Female led S&P 500 companies such as Progressive (PGR), Duke Energy (DUK), Hershey (HSY), Oracle (ORCL) and General Dynamics (GD). 
  • Fighting Disease: Companies that are working for a cure to fight diseases which include Merk (MRK), Exact Sciences (EXAS), Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN), Amgen (AMGN), Moderna (MRNA), and Eli Lilly (LLY).

Commission-Free Trades

You won’t be charged and commissions or trading fees with Public.

As is standard with other brokerages, you could pay some TAF or SEC fees, but they’re typically small.

Besides, most traders with Public will only pay a few cents, especially if you’re trading at a low volume. 

Real-Time Trading

Yes, Public isn’t the only company that offers fractional shares or investing features.

However, the company stands out in that you can trade your slices in real-time.

Other brokerages don’t have this feature.

Instead, when you purchase one of their fractional shares, you’re not actually buying the share after pressing the buy now button.

Yes, that’s even if the market is open. 

What this means is that this delay will mean the stock price could change between the time your order is placed and when it’s executed during the trading window. 

With Public, your order is executed in real time (aka the same time) as long as the market is open.

Fees

While Public doesn’t charge commissions or fees, you may need to pay small exchange fees from the SEC or TAF (again probably a few cents, nothing major).

However, that doesn’t mean Public is totally free either.

There are some fees for different services.

Service

Fee

Domestic wire transfer

$30

Domestic overnight check

$35

Broker-assisted phone trades

$30

Paper statements

$35

ACAT (outgoing)

$75

Returned check, ACH, wire and recall/stop payments

$30

A whole new way to invest...

Is it Safe to Use Public?

The short answer is yes, Public is safe to use.

Since the company is insured by SIPC, your securities investments are protected up to $500,000.

Plus, the app uses 128-bit encryption for all Public accounts and data uses Transport Layer Security as a security measure. 

Who is Public For?

Public offers a lot for the right investor but it’s not for everyone.

Basically, if you’re interested in day trading — aka wanting to make larger trades daily — then this app is mostly likely not for you since there aren’t as many options or advanced trading research. 

In addition, Public will restrict your account if you make a large volume of trades in any given day — up to four times.

There is also no ability to invest in cryptocurrencies and after hours trading. 

It’s also not for those who are interested in more advanced trading such as trading over the counter (OTC) stocks, ones that aren’t listed on major exchanges.

Otherwise, trading public stocks and ETFs are available, which is fine for most investors. 

All this to say, Public is best for those who are more interested in long-term investing tactics and aren’t interested in advanced strategies or research like OTC stocks or cryptocurrencies

It’s also best for those who are interested in seeing a curated list of stocks and the ability to know see others are investing in, even if it’s simply out of curiosity. 

Public App vs. Competitors

best choice

Webull logo
  • Trading Fees: $0
  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Promotion: Receive 2 free stocks

BEST FOR BEGINNERS

robinhood app logo
  • Trading Fees: $0
  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Promotion: Free stocks

BEST FOR BEGINNERS

M1 Finance logo
  • Trading Fees: $0
  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Promotion: No current promos

How to Open a Public Account

It’s simple to put an account through Public. 

First, you’ll need to download their mobile app, available on both iOS or Android from their website. 

Before signing up, make sure you meet the following requirements:

  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Have a legal U.S residential address
  • Are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or have a valid U.S. visa
  • You have a valid Social Security Number

When applying for an account, you’ll be required to fill out an investor profile.

Afterwards, you can then fund your account.

Even though Public doesn’t charge a fee, your bank or transferring firm might. 

If you’re transferring more than $150, Public will reimburse you the transfer fee your other brokerage charges. 

For bank bank transfers, there is no minimum funding amount. You can also mail in a check. 

Bottom Line

While there are plenty of brokerages that offer commission free trading and fractional shares, Public offers a social component that is helpful if you’re interested in finding a community to learn trading from. 

Plus, with real-time trading, it can be a serious advantage.

For those who are just getting started and want a low barrier to entry, Public is a great start.

However, if you want to be able to do more advanced trading, day trading or manage your account other than through an app, you’ll need to look elsewhere.  

Public.com

Public.com is a commission-free stock investing app that allows you to invest in fractional shares of companies and connect with a community of like-minded investors.

Public-com Icon
  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 4 stars
  • 80%

  • Public Investing App
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: April 30, 2021


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