Public App review
If you’re in the trading industry, you know a good brokerage can be key. Public App is a commission-free brokerage app made for iOS and Android devices. This app allows fractional shares, dividend reinvestment, and more. Is Public the right brokerage app for your trading? Read our review of Public App and learn more before you decide.
Public is a commission-free brokerage app for iOS and Android devices. In contrast to other commission-free stock brokers, Public focuses on social investing and making stock market investing more accessible to those with small amounts of capital.
While the social aspect is nice, there’s otherwise not much daylight between Public and well-established competitors like Robinhood and Webull. Our Public app review will help you decide if this mobile brokerage is worth your time.
Public App Features
At its heart, Public is a mobile brokerage. It allows you to invest in the stock of most publicly traded US companies and ETFs (exchange-traded funds). The Public mobile app also recently added support for crypto and lets you buy and sell 25 different digital currencies. The broker doesn’t support mutual funds, bonds, or options.
There are a couple of advantages that Public can claim over other investing apps. First, it’s fully commission-free. Eliminating trading fees is hardly unique for a brokerage nowadays, but it’s nevertheless important. What’s even more noteworthy is that Public doesn’t make money through payment for order flow, a practice that landed Robinhood in hot water with many traders. Instead, the brokerage earns interest on uninvested cash balances, markups on crypto transactions, and securities lending.
Public also doesn’t require you to open an investing account to use the app or require a minimum deposit if you do create a trading account. It’s a totally free investing app for exploring the stock market and monitoring stocks and ETFs.
Another major advantage to using the Public investing app is that it allows you to invest in fractional shares. That’s also not all that unique, but Public does a better job with this than most other brokerages. Fractional shares are quoted in real-time, and orders are executed immediately. You don’t have to wait until the end of the day to join in on a batch order. In addition, Public sets the minimum investment for most fractional shares at just $1.
Finally, the Public investing app offers automatic dividend reinvestment for any of the stocks you own in your portfolio. That’s something that many of its competitors, most notably Robinhood, don’t have as an option.
It’s also worth noting that Public offers a few free stock deals for new members. When you make your first deposit, you’ll receive a free stock slice valued at between $3 and $300. The platform also has a generous referral program that offers another slice of free stock when a friend signs up.
Another important way in which the Public investing app is unique is that this brokerage leans heavily into social investing. All investing accounts on the platform are public, including what stocks are in every user’s portfolios. You can’t see how any user has distributed their money across the stocks in their portfolio or cash, though, so it’s rather difficult to glean much useful information from this feature. While the Public app shows you which users you follow are watching or holding a particular stock, you also can’t see how many users across the platform are buying or selling to help gauge sentiment across the stock market.
The more functional aspect of social investing with Public is that users can leave a comment when they buy or sell a stock. Ideally, you can follow other users who leave helpful commentary about why they’re making specific trading decisions. It’s worth noting, though, that there’s some bias in this system. You can only discuss a stock when buying or selling it, not when looking at it and deciding against trading it.
Public also serves as a large community forum for investors. While you can’t comment directly on stocks except when trading, you can comment on other users’ portfolios and trades. You can also direct message other investors or set up a group investing chat with friends. The Public app even hosts town halls with well-known investors, financial analysts, and economists.
The stock pages on Public look eerily similar to those on Robinhood. Public uses the same line charts and doesn’t offer any sort of candlestick or more detailed price charts. It’s a little tough to glean any details about a stock’s past performance and the fundamental data available in the app is also extremely minimal. You can find recent news articles, which are typically sourced from well-known market news sources like Seeking Alpha and Benzinga. On the whole, though, Public’s stock research is limited to looking through what the investing community on the app has to say about a stock.
Public App Customization and Layout
Most of Public’s customization features are centered around its social investing dashboard. In addition to choosing who you follow, the platform will automatically surface suggested Public accounts to help grow your network. You can also create a watchlist (but only one) by starring companies that you want to keep an eye on. Overall, the customization options are nice, but none of the core features of the Public app – most notably the charts and other data displayed for stocks – can be changed.
Unlike some of the other mobile-centric brokers, Public still doesn’t have a web trading platform. You have to use the mobile app to invest.
Customer support isn’t as exciting as technical features, but this is an area where Public excels compared to other brokerages. The Public app offers in-app, real-time text chat support. That means that if you have a question, you can get it answered immediately without even leaving the app.
Public Platform Differentiators
Public is one of several mobile-centric investment apps offering commission-free trading. Most notably, this app has a tremendous amount in common with Robinhood, which is much more well-established. Like Public, Robinhood offers completely free trading for most US stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrency, as well as real-time trading for fractional investing.
The main thing that differentiates the Public app is its social investing component. Even then, there are other social brokerages and social stock research tools, so Public’s main contribution is to bring together social trading and fractional investing. This isn’t to say that’s not a good combination or that the brokerage has little to offer, but it seems like it reinvented the wheel to a large extent.
Perhaps the best reason to opt for the Public app over a competing app is the in-app live chat support. This is something that few commission-free brokerages offer, and being able to get support immediately can make a huge difference if you need it. Public may also appeal to investors who don’t appreciate payment for order flow.
What Type of Trader is Public Best For?
The Public app is best for new investors who want to start investing with a brokerage that offers either a social experience or real-time investing in fractional shares. The fact that Public investment accounts don’t have minimum balances is a plus compared to other brokers that offer commission-free stock trading. In addition, fractional share investing makes this brokerage very accessible to first-time investors who don’t have a lot of cash to put into the market. Dividend reinvestment helps orient this app towards long-term value investors who are looking for a brokerage with which to save for retirement.
Keep in mind that the Public app does not have much in the way of stock market research tools beyond surfacing users’ commentary on trades. This is definitively not the best brokerage for day trading or any type of advanced technical and fundamental trading that relies heavily on data.
- Commission-free trading on stocks, ETFs, and crypto
- Invest in fractional shares with real-time execution
- Offers dividend reinvestment
- Social trading allows you to see what others are buying and selling
- In-app chat support
- No technical charts and few research tools
- Can only comment on stocks when you buy or sell stocks