Free Stock Trades with Robinhood
I used eTrade for a few years when I received stock options from the first company I worked with. About a year ago, I exercised the options and then sold the stock so I could do some trading. I loved the feeling of making money, but I really didn’t like the cost of the trades. On eTrade, it’s $9.99 a trade which means if you want to buy or sell a few shares of Apple (AAPL) stock, it’s going to cost $9.99 just to make those trades through eTrade. For those that are selling large quantities at once, it’s not a big deal. I’ve made $40 in 4 minutes before on a quick buy and sell, but if I had waited another 2 minutes, I would have lost more than that. The point being that when you buy stock, you are already losing money unless the stock goes up. If you buy the stock and then sell it at the exact same price, you lose $9.99 on the buy and $9.99 on the sell. That’s not fun for someone trying to learn about the market.
After playing for a little while, I came across Robinhood. It’s a mobile app (that was only available on iOS when I started using it) that allows you to trade for free. I was a little skeptical at first, but I saw they were funded by Google Ventures so I decided to try it out. I downloaded the Robinhood app to my phone from the App Store and then created an account. I transferred a small amount of money at first to make sure everything worked the way it was supposed to.
The app is designed beautifully. The home screen lists the value of your portfolio at the top and shows your value over time. There are different time periods at the bottom you can select from.
As you scroll down, you’ll see different stocks listed with their value throughout the day. The ones in green have increased in price since the stock market opened and the ones in red have decreased in price. You can touch the dollar amount on the right to switch between the last change price, the percent change since open, and your equity in that stock. You can also search for a stock by touching the magnifying glass at the top right corner of the screen.
Touch a stock to see the high level information. You can also see a line graph with the time periods at the bottom again. You can scroll down to see the latest news articles associated with the company.
If you touch Buy, you can select how many of the stock you wish to buy and it will estimate the cost. You can review the order before you submit the order. When you buy or sell stock, Robinhood will send an email for each step of the process.
There are also different orders types available. If you touch Order Types at the top right corner, you’ll see the following options:
- Market Order - will purchase the stock at the best available price right now
- Limit Order - will purchase the stock at a price that is no more than a price that you specify
- Stop Loss Order - allows you to set a price above the current price that converts your order to a market order
- Stop Limit Order - allows you to set a price above the current price that converts your order to a limit order
The last screenshots I’ll show are all part of the Account screen. If you click the little icon in the top left that looks like a person, it will show the Account screen. At the top, you’ll see an account overview with information on where your funds currently sit.
As you scroll down, you’ll see options to transfer money to and from your bank account as well as set your Touch ID to ensure no one else can access your account.
If you scroll to the bottom, you’ll see Documents which is where you can view your trades, statements, and tax documents. Robinhood will also email you account statements once a month.
Overall, I recommend Robinhood for its easy to use interface and free trades. For more advanced investors, this app does not have all the features you probably would like in a trading app like advanced searches for stock that meet a certain criteria or the ability to trade on a margin. The last feature should be coming to Robinhood shortly.
Obvious Disclaimer: The content on this website is for educational purposes only. I’m not an investment advisor and I’m not trying to sell you securities. You’re responsible for your trading – both gains and losses. There is a very high degree of risk involved in trading. I’m also not paid to post any of the content on this website.