If you’re just trying to start investing a little money and don’t want to have to pay to use a brokerage, there are a few brokerages out there that are free and don’t charge you commissions for trading, other than the mandatory regulatory fees, but those are very tiny.
Today we’ll discuss two of these options, Webull and M1 Finance, and compare these two apps so you can get a better idea about which investing app is right for your needs.
Which free investment app is best: Webull or M1 Finance?
Most regular people are just trying to get started with long-term investing rather than become a day-trader and if you don’t know the difference, here’s a really good article that will explain the difference between day-trading and long-term investing better than I can.
So if you’re a regular person who is just trying to get involved with the stock market through long-term investing, M1 Finance is focused more on providing an easy investing experience.
M1 Finance also added the ability to create Custodial Accounts for your children, to teach them about investing. This fits in really well with the simplicity of the passive investing approach of M1 Finance compared to the more day-trading focus of Webull.
Webull also allows cryptocurrency trading, while M1 Finance doesn’t, so if crypto interests you… Webull is the obvious choice here.
If you keep reading below I’ll break each of these ratings into more detail so you have a more accurate picture of what each investment app has to offer.
Webull and M1 Finance Services
The rating we give investment apps for Service represents a mix between the features available and our overall opinion of the functionality of the app.
Here’s a list of the main features of each investing app:
|Webull Features||Free Account||Premium Account||M1 Finance Features||Free Account||Premium Account|
|Monthly Fee||$0||N/A||Monthly Fee||$0||$125/ year|
|Minimum Balance||$0 or $100 for deposit bonus||N/A||Minimum Balance||$0 or $100 for deposit bonus||$0|
|Instant Deposits||Partial||N/A||Instant Deposits|
|Automatic Deposits||N/A||Automatic Deposits|
|Fractional Shares||N/A||Fractional Shares|
|Mutual Funds||N/A||Mutual Funds|
|Paper Trading||N/A||Paper Trading|
|Margin Accounts||N/A||Margin Accounts|
|Retirement Accounts||N/A||Retirement Accounts|
|Banking Services||N/A||Banking Services|
|Human Advisors||N/A||Human Advisors|
|Robo Advisors||N/A||Robo Advisors|
|Stock Screeners||N/A||Stock Screeners|
|Level 2 Market Data||Level 2 Market Data|
|Other||Stock Lending||N/A||Other||Pie Sharing||Pie Sharing|
Webull or M1 Finance: Which investing app has the best service?
Both of these free investing apps have a solid service, each with it’s own strengths and weaknesses, depending on what type of investing experience you’re looking for.
M1 Finance gives you access to fractional shares, a form of DRIP, and passive investing with the robo-advisor powered Auto-invest feature, which simply means a computer automatically invests your cash balance and re-balances your portfolio for you.
This saves you the hassle of calculating your positions and trying to figure out how to re-balance your investments yourself.
M1 Finance recently added the ability to open Custodial Accounts to teach your kids about investing, which is really fitting for an investment app that focuses on the passive side of investing.
M1 Finance also offers users a debit card they can use that offers 1% APY and 1% cashback, but it’s only available to their M1 Plus users, which costs $125 a year, so most people probably aren’t going to use this, but it’s there if you need it.
On the other side of the coin, Webull offers more powerful stock research tools, the ability to purchase options, paper trading, and they recently added the ability to trade major cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum. (Sorry, Webull doesn’t allow you to trade Dogecoin)
There’s also a feature called the Webull Stock Lending Income Program, which allows investors to lend shares of stocks to Webull in exchange for interest payments.
Webull is going to be a better choice if you’re interested in day-trading, or if you want to be more hands-on with your investments.
Simplicity: Webull vs M1 Finance
No-one likes downloading an app just to find out that it’s too complicated for them to use. This is especially true when we are talking about investing apps because people’s money is on the line.
So we tried out Webull and M1 Finance to see which one felt easiest to use, that way you wouldn’t have to.
Here’s what we found!
How easy is Webull to use?
Webull was designed to have powerful tools, but NOT for simplicity. This doesn’t mean the app is hard to use, or that it isn’t intuitive, but Webull simply isn’t as easy to use as apps that were specifically designed to be as simple as possible (like Acorns, or CashApp for example)
If simplicity is your #1 concern then I highly suggest you don’t choose Webull as your investing app.
How easy is M1 Finance to use?
On the opposite side of the spectrum, M1 Finance is very easy to use and offers some AMAZING features, especially for beginner investors.
When a single share of some stocks are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (Berkshire Hathaway BRK-A ~$274,000 at the time of writing this) , you can easily see why it’s convenient being able to purchase small fractions of a stock.
M1 Finance is known as a Robo-advisor, which basically means a computer analyzes your portfolio and will invest money as efficiently as possible to maintain your chosen portfolio balance.
With M1 Finance’s Auto-Invest feature you can automatically deposit money into your M1 Finance account and have the robo-advisor invest it into stocks you have chosen to form a “pie”. This pie is really intuitive, and each slice represents different stocks you have chosen, and the size of each slice of the “pie” is determined by the percentage of your portfolio you wish that stock to occupy.
As far as dividend payments go, a lot of investing apps either force investors to manually invest their dividend payments, or they off a Dividend Re-Investment Plan (DRIP) which automatically invests dividend payments into shares of stock that the dividend was from. M1 Finance operates a little differently than a DRIP, but the effect is pretty much the same.
Instead of investing each dividend payment into a specific stock like a regular DRIP, M1 Finance saves your dividend payments until they reach a threshold of $5 at which point the robo-advisor splits it up and invests it into the selections in your pie.
If you don’t feel comfortable picking your own stocks, M1 Finance even allows you to skip that part of it and copy the pies of other investors. So no matter what your investing skill level is, M1 Finance has you covered.
Which app is easier to use, Webull or M1 Finance?
M1 Finance is definitely much easier to use than Webull is, which makes it perfect for beginning investors or people who don’t want to waste time learning how to use an app just to start investing.
If passive investing sounds great to you, then M1 Finance is a great choice, or you can check out this other article about passive investing apps to see if they look like a better fit for you.
As we said earlier in this article, Webull isn’t exactly difficult to use, it just isn’t as simple and intuitive as M1 Finance.
Webull and M1 Finance: Sign-up and referral bonuses
Most services these days, including Webull and M1 Finance, will give you either some sort of discount, or will outright pay you just to join and try their service.
The logic behind this is: Companies know that if they solve some sort of problem for you, once you try their service, enough people will keep using it to make up for all of the sign-up bonuses they pay out.
Since neither of these investing apps cost anything, this bonus comes in the form of either free cash or free shares of stocks.
So which app has better sign-up and referral bonuses? Let’s take a look…
Webull sign up and referral bonuses and requirements
Webull has an AMAZING sign-up and referral bonus program, which often includes some promotions that are meant to be fun and engaging, like the Webull Wheel (currently active in Feb 2021 and ends on March 1st 2021.)
The Webull Wheel allows users to spin a digital wheel (Wheel of Fortune style) and potentially win shares of popular companies, like Google (Ticker: GOOG, current share price: ~$2086) or Facebook (Ticker: FB, current share price: ~$271).
When you sign up, they’ll give you a free share of stock, valued between $2.50-$250, and if you deposit $100 or more when within, Webull will reward you with another free stock valued between $12 USD and $1400 USD.
If you are referring people to use Webull’s service, Webull will reward you with two free shares of randomly selected stocks worth between $12 USD and $1400 USD when new users sign up and deposit at least $100 into their account.
Webull usually only requires users to deposit $.01 to receive the deposit bonus, but since the economy is in bad shape right now they had to raise the minimum requirement.
Even so, this is still a really solid sign-up and referral bonus.
Webull also has a promotion right now where they’re giving away 1200 shares of KO! So don’t miss out!
M1 Finance sign-up and referral bonuses and requirements
M1 Finance has a fairly decent yet still conservative sign-up and referral program. Users are required to deposit $100 when opening their account in order to receive $30 added to their account by M1 Finance.
For referring new users, you’ll receive $30 as well when they open an account with your referral link and deposit $100 into their account.
The $30 promotion has a limited time frame, though. Usually it’s only $10, but they change the amount occasionally.
Most people who are going to start investing will end up putting $100 into their account anyway, but if you’re really hurting for money and just trying to open an account for the sign-up bonus or trying to refer new users for the referral bonus, you may find this requirement to be pretty annoying.
Take it from a professional affiliate marketer, it is REALLY frustrating seeing a bunch of people sign up for a service only to realize you don’t get anything because none of them deposited $100 into their account, but hey… that’s just how it is.
BUT with that being said, if you’re wanting to use M1 Finance and you’re going to make a $100 deposit anyway $10 is still pretty decent. An instant 10% return is nothing to laugh at.
Webull vs M1 Finance: Best Sign-up and Referral Program
Technically speaking, Webull has a stronger sign-up and referral program, but due to the fact that they reward you in shares of stocks, which complicates things, I’d say Webull and M1 Finance are tied in this category.
If you know a lot of people who are interested in day-trading rather than long-term investing, then I’d definitely say Webull has an edge in this category, but usually people who are interested in day-trading will use a more powerful platform like TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim.
Webull has been gaining a lot of traction in the day-trading world, and we are seeing more and more people using it over the huge platforms like Thinkorswim, but part of that is probably because of the really beginner-friendly referral program.
Webull and M1 Finance Stock Research Tools
“Know what you own, and know why you own it.” – Peter Lynch
You aren’t really going to find a more simple and elegant way to say it than that.
So here’s what we think about the Webull and M1 Finance stock research tools.
Webull stock research tools
For a mobile app, or even for desktop, Webull’s research tools are AMAZING. They are jam-packed full of useful features and offer you much more than the typical investing app does.
Webull gives you access to tons of technical analysis indicators and they keep adding more and more of them.
This is one of the major selling points of Webull so if you’re wanting to get started trading stocks through technical analysis, Webull is easily one of the best investing apps for you.
M1 Finance stock research tools
The M1 Finance research tools are just decent and they are enough to get the job done, but they aren’t anything worth bragging about.
Luckily, most people don’t need amazing tools to be able to invest successfully, however if you are wanting to get really in-depth with your analysis you may want to try using a third party research tool rather than M1 Finance’s.
Which investing app has better stock research tools?
Really none of the other investing apps come close to having stock research tools that are as powerful as Webull.
Webull is constantly adding new technical analysis tools and it’s pretty clear that they chose to use their research tools as a competitive advantage over the other fintech companies.
If you were wanting to join M1 Finance up until this section, possibly consider going with M1 Finance anyway, because investors should use multiple sources of information when they’re trying to pick stocks, so this really shouldn’t be the deciding factor in your decision.
There are plenty of amazing third-party sources for stock information and quotes, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the in-app tools.
Which Investing App Do You Like Better, Webull or M1 Finance?
To provide better investing app reviews we’re interested in hearing which app you picked and why! So leave us a comment below and let us know.
If neither of these apps seemed right for you, we encourage you to check out our homepage for more great investing app reviews.