December 2, 2023

The Public app is a do-it-yourself funding device, based in 2017, that gives fundamental options for an uncomplicated buying and selling expertise. There are important shortcomings (which we’ll define), however it’s acquired just a few glorious options that, for many traders, will largely atone for these deficiencies.

TIME’s Take: The Public app is the proper place to get your toes moist

The Public app has turn into probably the greatest on-line brokers because of its simplicity and powerful concentrate on training and social engagement.

Who’s the Public app finest for?

The Public app is finest for funding learners. Its finest options all goal somebody simply studying the ropes and unwilling to instantly dump massive sums of cash into the market.

For instance, Public provides you the choice to purchase a portion of a single share (known as a “fractional share”) that can assist you purchase belongings you really imagine in, even when the inventory costs are greater than you’ll be able to afford. With Public, for those who’ve acquired at the very least $1 to spend, you’ll be able to make investments.

Moreover, Public provides you the flexibility to observe and message different traders to additional your information and understanding. By watching how specialists on the Public app commerce and asking them questions, you’ll be able to velocity by the educational curve you’d most likely endure with competing funding apps.

Public app execs and cons

Slim choice of account choices

Comparatively few funding varieties

Advantages of the Public app

Simple to make use of

Public is among the less complicated buying and selling platforms. The person interface may be very digestible, and its categorization of shares is intuitive.

You possibly can start your journey after answering just some questions, and also you don’t want a pile of disposable revenue to get began. You possibly can fund your account with simply $1 and begin  buying shares and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Academic aspect

Public does extra than simply drop a bunch of investing instruments in your lap and launch you into the wild. In case you’re new to the world of investing, the app does a very good job of instructing you the fundamentals. In case you use the assets Public presents, it is going to civilize you into an adept investor in a brief period of time. It’s acquired loads of “how one can” posts that pithily clarify frequent questions.

Fractional share buying and selling

Public’s fractional commerce sharing allows you to buy inventory from firms with sky-high costs, even for those who don’t have the funds to buy a complete share.

For instance, if you wish to purchase inventory from an organization with a share worth of $150, you should buy as little as $1 price (which might get you an .00667 share) through Public.

Integrates social media

You’ll recognize the buying and selling knowledge that the Public group shares with one another—and you’ll simply view different shares on Public that can assist you formulate your individual technique. Public additionally hosts discussions and allows you to direct-message different customers.

How can the Public app be improved?

Slim choice of accounts on supply

A person taxable brokerage account is the one kind of account you’ll be able to create with Public. You possibly can’t go for joint accounts, margin accounts, or retirement accounts, similar to conventional or Roth IRAs.

Comparatively few funding varieties

You gained’t discover many funding choices—for instance, no mutual funds, bonds, and foreign currency trading—with Public. What you should buy are shares, ETFs, crypto, and different investments, similar to artwork and different collectibles.

Sparse options

Furthering the concept Public is finest suited to learners what it doesn’t supply. This contains margin loans (which provide the capacity to borrow cash to buy inventory) and screeners for shares, ETFs, fixed-income property, and different funding autos. You additionally don’t get many analytical instruments, similar to charting or portfolio evaluations.

In case you’re prepared to pay for Public Premium, you’ll get extra options, together with superior knowledge and evaluation, third-party analysis, portfolio-management instruments, and improved customer support.

How does the Public app examine?

The Public app holds its personal in a number of classes, similar to funding training and ease of use. What’s extra, its capacity to have interaction in fractional buying and selling is a refreshing characteristic that isn’t a given with different apps and widespread buying and selling websites.

A look at competing funding platforms exposes Public’s numerous deficiencies.

$100 ($500 for retirement accounts)

Particular person
  taxable account

Particular person
Joint Retirement Entity

Particular person taxable account
Retirement accounts (IRA and Roth IRA)

Particular person
Joint Retirement (IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA)
Belief Custodial

Alternate options

Mutual funds

Mutual funds
Fastened revenue

No upkeep charges, buying and selling charges, or commissions
Crypto: As much as 1.25% price

Different property: 2.5% per transaction

Automated buyer account Switch: $75 outgoing

Public Premium membership: $10/month (or $96/12 months)

$125 price for outgoing account transfers ($50 inactivity price)

Inventory: $0 for as much as 10,000 shares (then as much as 0.5 cents per share)

Choices: Between 60 cents and $1 per contract

Mutual funds: $14.95 commissions.

Funding: $35 IRA account price ($50 termination price)

Crypto: Between $2 + .60% and .025% (relying on the dimensions of your orders and when they’re marketable)

No commissions for on-line shares, ETFs, mutual funds, and choices $75 account switch price

Choices: $0.65 per commerce (plus $25 if representative-assisted)

As much as $20 per commerce transaction for representative-assisted mutual funds

No administration charges for accounts between $5,000 and $100,000

$100 termination price for outgoing transfers and IRA closures

As much as 0.2% in expense ratios $10 per thirty days for M1 Plus membership

In-person at native Chase branches
Electronic mail
Social media

For instance, Tradestation—extensively thought-about one of many favourite choices for knowledgeable traders—presents vastly extra market knowledge, intricate charting capabilities, and automatic buying and selling methods.

In the meantime, JP Morgan Self-Directed Investing shines in customer support, with the flexibility to hunt assist by social media and hundreds of brick-and-mortar Chase branches across the nation. These are options which might be unusual amongst investing apps.

M1 excels in its providing of account choices, which vary from particular person and joint accounts to a number of completely different retirement accounts to custodial accounts to trusts and crypto.

All that is to say that in order for you a lite model of investing to get your toes moist, Public is the best way to go. When you’re dry behind the ears, you’ll most likely wish to look into platforms that offer you extra freedom.

Public app: In-depth evaluate


Getting began with Public couldn’t be simpler. The app is free to obtain, and just some probing questions later you’re able to go. With a single greenback you’ll be able to start your funding journey.

Utilizing the Public app may be very self-explanatory, and it does a very good job at making knowledge clear and understandable. And whereas it largely embraces minimalism, you’ve additionally acquired the choice to make use of Public’s desktop web site for a extra in-depth view of your data.

Funding choices

Public has every little thing to curiosity the novice investor. This contains shares, ETFs, crypto, and different property, similar to uncommon collectibles. It additionally touts the flexibility to purchase fractional shares.

An attention-grabbing funding new to the platform is the flexibility to put your money in a Treasuries account. Public at present pegs the return price at 5.5%, which is considerably greater than most high-yield checking and financial savings accounts. It is a widespread possibility, as a result of it has low danger.

The massive Achilles heel right here is which you can solely open particular person taxable accounts. It is a nonstarter for anybody desirous about joint accounts, retirement accounts, and many others.


There’s a lot that Public doesn’t do. For instance:

  • Backtesting and automatic buying and selling aren’t supported.
  • There isn’t any charting performance.
  • There aren’t any inventory/ETF screeners.
  •  You possibly can’t stage a number of orders.

Customization isn’t a precedence with Public. Its most important focus is simplicity.


Public doesn’t take the nickel-and-dime strategy with its customers. You gained’t be penalized for issues similar to account upkeep and opening/closing accounts. It doesn’t implement account minimums. There aren’t any buying and selling charges or commissions.

Public can also be celebrated for not accepting fee for order circulation (PFOF). That is when a brokerage agency is compensated for routing your order by market makers. With PFOF you may not be getting one of the best deal. “Zero-commission” buying and selling platforms make some huge cash with PFOF—so their finest curiosity isn’t essentially your finest curiosity.

Once more, downloading the Public app is free, however you’ll be able to decide into Public Premium for additional options. You possibly can pay both month-to-month ($10) or yearly ($96, which saves you $24 for those who hold the app for a full 12 months).

There are additionally numerous charges for the standard suspects: wire transfers, returned checks, extended-hours trades for shares and ETFs, and many others.


The Public app has a complete data middle that can assist you shortly study the basics of the inventory market, in addition to suggestions for investing and retirement. You possibly can even attend occasions and dialogue teams hosted by third events to additional your training.

Social options

Talking of training, Public’s social media high quality is maybe its largest win on this space. Informative articles are nice, however the capacity to attach with different merchants (specialists, even) could be a sport changer. You possibly can observe them and think about their Public investments, and you’ll even ship them direct messages or create group conversations.

Customer support

Public gives barely above the naked minimal in the case of customer support. You possibly can stay chat throughout the app or ship an electronic mail. Public additionally has Twitter and Instagram accounts listed on its Contact web page to which you’ll ship a direct message.

Safety and reliability 

Public presents a number of layers of safety on your account. It provides you AES 256-bit encryption at relaxation and TLS 1.2 or newer. It additionally requires two-factor authentication if you log in.

Regarding insurance coverage, Public is a member of Securities Investor Safety Company (SIPC). You’re protected as much as $500,000, which incorporates $250,000 for money claims.

Firm popularity

Public’s popularity is sweet. It has an A+ score with the Higher Enterprise Bureau, is freed from main lawsuits, and has closed 22 complaints prior to now 12 months. 

How does the Public app generate income?

In addition to Public’s premium membership, the corporate makes cash from curiosity on money balances which might be uninvested. Moreover, the app has a tipping possibility that you need to use everytime you commerce.

The underside line

Whereas the Public app has rather a lot going for it, it’s nearly actually going to underwhelm critical traders. And that’s okay—it has by no means claimed to be essentially the most well-rounded alternative. It shines in areas similar to simplicity, training, and the flexibility to buy fractional shares.

Often requested questions (FAQs)

Is the Public app legit?

Sure. It ranks properly with the BBB and hasn’t had any lawsuits that undermine the corporate’s integrity. It additionally presents bank-grade encryption and two-factor authentication to maintain your data secure.

Find out how to use the Public app

The Public app downloads without cost in seconds, and creating your profile is fast and painless. Public presents many hundreds of shares, that are categorized by “themes” to assist introduce you to potential investments that fit your particular scenario.

Find out how to withdraw money from the Public app

To withdraw money throughout the Public app, hit the menu icon within the prime left nook of the display screen. You’ll discover Account Settings on the backside. Scroll till you see “Transfers.” That is the place you’ll discover an possibility known as “Withdraw Funds.”