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Public is among the best investment apps for beginners and active traders. The app offers access to about 900 stock and ETFs options and to over 25 crypto coins.
It also lets users buy fractional shares with only $1. In particular, Public stands out for its engaging social media features, which allow investors to connect and share insights with each other.
Keep on reading our in-depth Public review to find out what it offers and whether it is the best investment app for your financial goals.
Table of Contents
Overview of the Public stock trading app
- Commission-free trades of stocks, ETFs, fractional shares and cryptocurrency
- No account minimums
- Account can be instantly funded with a debit card
- Social features let you connect with other traders
- No access to mutual funds, options or bonds
- Withdrawals can take up to 7 days
- Limited charting and research tools
Open to the Public Investing Inc. is a brokerage firm founded in 2003 and located in New York. Its investing app, Public, was launched in 2019.
The company offers individual brokerage accounts and access to commission-free stocks, ETFs and crypto. You can open an account without depositing any money at all, and all you need is a $5 minimum deposit to start investing.
Public offers commission-free trading and self-directed brokerage services through its mobile app and its online trading platform.
What Public offers
With Public, customers can buy and sell stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and fractional shares listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ.
Customers can also access Public’s collection of over 25 crypto coins and tokens. Its crypto directory includes:
- Shiba Inu
Other key features include instant access to your deposits and the option to automatically reinvest any dividends into the same company that paid them out.
You can also transfer other online brokerage accounts to Public as long as the balance being transferred is $150 or more. The process is quite simple, you just need to choose the brokerage you’re transferring from (for example, Robinhood, TD Ameritrade, Webull, E*Trade or Fidelity), provide the account number and indicate how much you want to transfer. However, do note that the transfer can take up to 10 business days.
In addition, Public features a community feed where investors can connect with each other, share their recent investment moves and keep track of events and trending topics. Most recently, it started offering a Premium membership for users who want access to advanced research, data, weighted breakdowns and insights.
What Public does not offer
Public doesn’t offer access to
- Mutual funds
- Fixed income products
- OTC securities
- Options trading
In addition, Public does not provide custodial accounts, retirement accounts or robo-advisor services.
Online broker-dealers, like Public, are subject to federal regulations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which requires brokers to register with the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and become members of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Licenses and registrations
Public is registered as a brokerage firm with the SEC and FINRA. As such, it’s licensed to operate in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Public is also registered with the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), meaning securities are insured in case of the firm’s insolvency.
Awards and certifications
We didn’t find any awards or certifications for Public.
We didn’t find any third-party credit ratings regarding Public.
Regulatory and legal actions
We didn’t find regulatory or government legal actions involving Public within the last 10 years.
*Please note that, although we try to include accurate and up-to-date information on regulatory and legal actions, we don’t claim this information is complete or fully up to date. As always, we recommend you do your own research as well.
Like most trading platforms in the United States, Public is available to U.S. citizens that are 18 years of age or older and have a valid Social Security number, as well as a legal U.S. residential address.
Public can be accessed through its website, Public.com. In addition, its mobile app can be downloaded on both Android and iOS devices.
Public offers customer assistance via its in-app chat in the Help Center and over the email email@example.com. You can also reach out to its social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram.
Public’s online investing platform and its mobile app are intuitive and easy to use. To create an account you just need to answer a few basic questions and provide your personal information, such as your Social Security, phone number and address.
Public’s app can be navigated without much hassle. When logged in, you are immediately directed to your portfolio, where you can check your stocks’ performance, your watchlist and the account value.
In the community feed (a type of Twitter-like news feed) you can view insight from other investors and their recent buys and sells. You can also keep up with trending stock market news, post your recent investments, create group chats and connect with community members, including some CEOs and financial advisors.
In the app’s Explore section, you can search for people, stocks or crypto, and browse Public’s categories and themes, such as top movers and earners, trending investment options, recently added stocks and most popular cryptos. Additionally, you’ll find weekly highlights, short educational videos explaining key investment concepts and Public Live’s podcasts.
In the settings, you’ll be able to update your information, manage payment methods, withdraw funds and reinvest dividends. You can also access account statements and tax documents.
Public’s main limitation is its customer support which is completely online and semi-automated. Users have to either find answers to their questions on the app's extensive FAQs or send a message to the support team through the in-app chat or email.
Public’s customer satisfaction
Public has an A rating in the BBB, which considers factors such as complaint history, time in business, transparency and any known government actions.
A common customer complaint regarding Public is its funds withdrawal process. In order to withdraw your money, Public asks for a bank account statement to validate the account’s ownership. This process can take between 7 to 10 days. Some customers claim having issues validating their accounts even after providing all required documentation, resulting in longer than expected wait times.
Another common complaint among users is that customer support is oftentimes unresponsive, taking over 24 hours to respond to emails.
Public is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and holds an A rating. As of the time of publication, it has 79 customer reviews and an average customer rating of 3.01 out of 5. The BBB notes 56 complaints in the last three years, 47 of which have been resolved or closed.
Is Public trustworthy?
Is Public available outside of the USA?
Is Public safe?
Public uses bank-grade security with AES 128-bit encryption and TLS 1.2, one of the most secure encryption methods to secure data. Public also provides two-factor authentication, including biometric options, to protect your account.
Aside from these security features, Public is a member of the SIPC which ensures all users' securities and cash up to $500,000.
How does Public make money?
Public is one of the few trading apps that doesn't earn revenue from payment for order flow (PFOF), a widely used practice in the brokerage industry that has generated some criticism in recent years. Public doesn't make money by charging commission fees or trading fees either. It does, however, make money in more indirect ways.
For starters, Public charges a 1% to 2% markup on crypto transactions and may also charge management fees for some ETFs trades. It charges other fees for instant withdrawals, wire transfers and paper statements.
Public also makes money from Premium membership subscriptions, any optional tipping you may give when you place a trade, securities lending and interest on uninvested cash balances.
Is Public FDIC-insured?
No, non-deposit investment accounts like the one most trading apps offer are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Instead, Public is insured by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which protects your cash and securities up to $500,000. Do note, however, that cryptocurrencies are not insured by either the FDIC or SIPC.
How we evaluated Public stock trading apps
We evaluated Public’s investments offering, account minimums, fees, trading cost and educational resources availability and compared them with other investment apps. We considered the app’s user-friendliness, including how seamless it is to configure, link bank accounts and add funds. We also made sure the company was registered with the appropriate regulatory agencies.
Summary of Money’s Public review
Public offers commission-free stock trading and cryptocurrency trading. It provides individual brokerage accounts with no account minimums. The company stands out for its social features which let users connect with other traders and keep up with trending news and topics.