Every once in a while, an investment company comes along that promises to revolutionize the industry. Many of these companies either wind up folding or wind up eventually becoming like any other investment firm. Public.com is one of the rare companies that promises change and has the potential to deliver on it. If you like the idea of trading for free in an environment that is fun, cool, and social (yes, social), read our Public.com review. It's an excellent concept and one that you're almost sure to like!
Public.com Review: What Is This Company?
First, let's go over a little bit of background on what Public.com is. At its core, it's a brokerage like Fidelity, e-trade, and all the other brokerages that exist today. Founded in 2017, Public.com has a bold mission to “open the stock market to everyone” and make it “inclusive, educational, and fun.”
The general idea behind Public.com is that trading stocks shouldn't be complex. And kind of like anything else we do (playing games, watching videos, etc.), there isn't any reason why investing shouldn't be a social activity. There's something cool about sharing knowledge, learning about what others are investing in, and getting tips and tricks from the people who have been in the world of investing a long time.
In this sense, Public.com‘s target market is the people who are beginning their investing journey. The people who want to put $10 away a week in Google. Or people who would love to buy Tesla hoping that they'll make enough to buy a Tesla one day.
Indeed, you can even sense this from Public.com‘s investors and advisors. The company counts Will Smith, Tony Hawk, The Chainsmokers, and J.J. Watt as investors and advisors. Indeed, this company is serious about appealing to a broader audience!
What Are the Benefits of Public.com?
Public.com offers a no-frills approach to investing. You won't find fancy straddles and long forms in this app. Instead, this app is unlike any other brokerage account that you've signed up for in the past.
In the true spirit of fusing social media with investing, Public.com creates an investor profile for you when you register. This profile is your presence within the app, much like you have a profile and presence with Facebook or Instagram.
You can log in, browse others' profiles, see stocks, and more. There are even groups that you can join for shareholders of a particular stock to talk about it. So, let's say you bought a couple of shares of Tesla. You can join that group to share ideas, insights, and more. While it might not sound like much, it does make the whole investing experience feel much more “human.” Rather than entering a trade and watching some numbers increase, you can feel like you are part of a broader community. For stocks that have followings (like Apple, for example), this works well. For other lesser-known companies, these communities aren't quite as important.
Public.com shows some fundamental data about the security. You can view its price history, analyst targets, upcoming earnings, recent news, and some more elementary aspects of the stock. While most people might think the “lack” of more complex data is a negative mark against the platform, it's OK for who Public.com targets (plus, if you want additional data, it's not too hard to find from other sources!). The goal is to keep investing accessible and affordable. Including the basics does that!
This brokerage has some nice perks when it comes to the actual investing itself. You can buy fractional shares, which is the ownership of less than one stock. Let's say that company A's stock is worth $1,000, but you only have $100 that you want to invest. Historically, you would need to hold off investing until you had that $1,000. However, with fractional shares, you can buy 0.1 of company A's stock. It's a great way to own stock without needing to wait until you can buy one complete share.
Finally, like so many brokerages right now, Public.com offers commission-free trading. That means you won't need to pay any money to buy or sell your stocks! Incidentally, if you're interested in other platforms that offer $0 commission trading, check out our review of M1 Finance vs. Webull. These are two of the best $0 commission platforms available for traders today.
Are There Drawbacks To Public.com?
As with any platform, there are some issues and areas of improvement. Let's go over those in our Public.com review!
First, the one thing that would be nice to see is multiple account types available. As of right now, all you can open is a taxable, individual account. There are no IRAs here, no corporate accounts, and no joint ones either. For some individuals and couples, this might make Public.com impractical.
Not offering corporate accounts is plausible, but not offering joint or IRA accounts seems genuinely bizarre. These are two popular account types, and Public.com must be missing out on a significant amount of business by not offering them. Plus, Public.com caters to the buy-and-hold crowd, which tends to be people who want an IRA (since you'll buy and hold until retirement). It's a strange decision by the owners!
Public.com also misses the mark on a couple of trading-related things. First, the company has Themes. Each Theme includes businesses related to a specific idea or concept. For example, a Theme might be female-led companies, and the curated list would then only include woman-led companies. Another theme might be the environment, and the list only includes businesses that have pledged to help with climate change.
In theory, this makes total sense. In practice, it's not quite as good. You'll find Themes that don't contain companies related to that Theme. GoDaddy as part of a theme about space? That's just one example. So while this is a great idea, and it would be wonderful if Public.com improved upon this more for the future, right now, it isn't all that useful.
The other point that could be good or bad is that this company does not allow day-trading, and they don't have margin accounts. Given the target market, this is probably fine for many people – however, people's accounts and trading needs often grow. As you accumulate more and more money in your investments, it seems limiting not to have the option to get a margin account or day-trade if you want in the future. Instead, if you accumulate a pot of money and decide that being a more active trader is right for you, you'll need to open an account elsewhere.
While Public.com caters to the beginning investor market, this limitation seems puzzling. With the simplified data, we considered that still positive in part because you can always find a workaround for it (research data on other sites, get quotes from another firm, etc.). With this limitation, you'll need to transfer your account out of Public.com entirely if you change your mind about day-trading or want a margin account.
Public.com Review: Promotions
At Inkmattic, we've discussed the benefit of getting free stocks in the US! With a growing array of brokerages and other investment firms, it's getting much easier to find companies willing to give away free shares as part of the sign-up process.
Public.com also has one of these promotions. If you sign up for an account, you can almost always get free stock as part of the process. The dollar value of that stock varies depending on the current promotion. However, it's usually up to $20-$50 worth of free stock. You might get lucky and get a share worth $20, or you might get one worth a couple of dollars. Either way, free stock for signing up is a great feeling (and a fantastic way to begin your investing journey!).
Public.com Review: So Much Potential
As we've seen in this Public.com review, the platform nails many crucial aspects of beginning investing. From the sleek app to the simplified orders, getting started in the wonderful world of investing has never been easier. The fact that it makes the whole process social is phenomenal as well. It becomes easy to be part of a community looking to share investing knowledge (and interact with fans of the same companies and concepts you are!).
However, that promise is not without limitations. While the platform is beginner-friendly, it could benefit from a few more advanced things. Public.com might work for people initially, but it feels like this platform is one that you can outgrow. As people invest more money, it's hard to see them carrying huge balances in this brokerage. If you have $200k in there, for example, you'll probably want better data, margin, and the ability to buy and sell whenever you want (day-trading).
If you're interested in signing up for Public.com (and we recommend that you do!), please click here. You will see a page with a textbox to input your phone number. Once you do that and click “Text Me The App,” you'll get a text notification saying where and how to download the Public.com app. From there, you can create your new account!