Investing > Deep Dive: The Best Robinhood Alternatives

Deep Dive: The Best Robinhood Alternatives

Looking for an alternative to Robinhood? In today's world of commission-free stock trading, there are a variety of options.

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Updated May 20, 2022

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There are many stock trading apps out there, but we consistently hear about one—and that is the famed Robinhood.

This is because most popular brokers are old, well-entrenched bricks in Wall Street, and as such, they aren’t particularly “cool.” So, for the longest time, investing wasn’t considered “cool” either, partially because the idea of stocks and bonds was tied to the image of obscenely wealthy, formal businessmen —until Robinhood came along with a different vision.

What is now one of the biggest brokers in the U.S. began its journey as a FinTech startup but quickly grew by attracting clients who had never invested before. Robinhood’s secret to success was commission-free trading and a brilliantly designed, user-friendly trading app.

This innovation took the financial world by storm and caused a sort of revolution—but now, other brokers have adapted and are trying to steal the spotlight from the people’s champion. Moreover, after all the troubles that came to Robinhood after the GameStop controversy, many traders are looking for alternatives both because of Robinhood’s inherent limitations and its tarnished reputation.

However, the world’s most famous broker wouldn’t have earned its title without great merit, and finding an alternative is not easy. We’ve listed our picks for the top Robinhood alternatives below and explained what types of traders would find a better home at a different brokerage and why.

So let’s get straight to it. 👇

Best Robinhoood Alternatives

Here are some of the top Robinhood alternatives that we rounded up for you:

  1. TradeStation
    Best Overall
  2. Interactive Brokers
    Best for Advanced Traders
  3. Webull
    Best for Intermediate Traders
  4. Acorns
    Best for Passive Long-term Investing
  5. Fidelity
    Best for Buy-and-Hold Investors

Leading Robinhood Alternatives 🏆

1. TradeStation – Best Overall

Due to its intuitive UI that even complete beginners can easily use, Robinhood’s (RH) mobile trading app is its most outstanding feature—so we’ll start this list with one of the few brokers that give RH’s trading software a run for its money. Tradestation’s mobile and desktop trading platforms are good-looking, easy to use, and offer greater functionality than RH.

Tradestation website homepage, one of the few trading platforms to give Robinhood a run for their money.
TTradestation provides investors with advanced charting options, an intuitive search function, as well as useful educational material for beginners.

Pros

  • Intuitive platform with greater functionality
  • Broader list of tradable assets in all areas
  • Accepts international clients
  • Huge selection of high-quality educational resources

Cons

  • Even though fees and commissions are low, they exist
  • Some advanced features on the platform are not free

Visit TradeStation on TradeStation’s website

Namely, Tradestation (TS) offers advanced charting options, dozens of basic and advanced order types, and a handy search function to help users quickly get where they need to. In addition, users can access just about all the features on the mobile app through the menu on the front page. So, getting used to the platform and figuring out its core functions should be a walk in the park, even for beginners.

And speaking of beginners, TS has a great selection of top-notch educational material, including videos, webinars, a demo account, and more. As a result, it is often considered one of the go-to brokers for beginners who want a good education and a user-friendly trading experience.

When it comes to tradable assets, Tradestation is notably stronger than RH—the broker offers mutual funds, futures, and bonds on top of everything on Robinhood. Moreover, this service is available outside the U.S. and is likely to expand even further as Tradestation moves to branch out into Asia.

However, Robinhood’s second most notable feature (or maybe the first) is its zero-commission trading. Unfortunately, Tradestation does have fees, but luckily, they are very affordable for anyone who doesn’t plan on scalp trading. Namely, stock trades only incur a $0.01 fee per share traded, there is an inactivity fee of $50 per year, and mutual fund trades cost $14.95. Robinhood has an advantage here, but it isn’t huge.

All in all, Tradestation offers a smooth trading platform like RH, and its list of tradable assets is far more impressive. This platform also features top-class educational content —the only significant advantage that Robinhood has is its zero-fee policy.

As of April 2022, Tradestation serves around 240,000 clients, making it far less popular than RH—but TS’s list of offerings is far broader and doesn’t limit clients to only trading stocks, options, and ETFs.


2. Interactive Brokers – Best for Advanced Traders

Interactive Brokers (IBRK) is a powerhouse among brokers and probably the most widespread international broker in the U.S. It offers access to all U.S. stock exchanges and dozens of other major exchanges around the world—out of all brokerages, IBKR probably has and will continue to have the longest list of tradable assets.

InteractiveBrokers website homepage, one of the most advanced trading platforms out there.
Interactive Brokers is touted as the best platform for advanced traders because of its extensive list of tradable assets, and features for technical and fundamental analysis.

Pros

  • One of the biggest selection of tradable assets out of any broker
  • Access to most major international markets
  • Features for advanced traders both in terms of technical and fundamental analysis
  • Great educational resources for new traders

Cons

  • Complicated trading platform with a UI that seems outdated compared to Robinhood’s
  • A fairly long account opening process
  • Stock and ETF trading is only free for IBKR Lite users
Visit Interactive Brokers on Interactive Brokers’ website

This long list includes stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, futures, options, crypto, and even CFDs and forex. You can find it on IBKR’s platform regardless of which asset type is your forte.

The trading platform itself  has many more advanced features for experienced and thorough traders but is significantly harder to use due to its less intuitive UI design and generally outdated look. Whether that’s an advantage or a disadvantage depends on the traders and their needs—RH is easier to use while IBKR is more technical.

When it comes to trading fees, IBKR stands toe to toe with Robinhood—almost. U.S.-based users with IBKR Lite accounts have free stock and ETF trading, just like regular RH users. However, other clients have to pay $0.005 per share when trading stocks, while mutual funds incur a $14.95 or 3% fee, whichever is lower. All in all, IBKR has some of the lowest fees out there but Robinhood is completely free.

Another minor advantage that RH has is the speed of administration. Opening an account with RH is very quick while IBKR’s account opening process can last up to 3 days. 

All in all, Interactive Brokers is better suited for advanced traders who need all their trading gadgets in one place, and international traders who want to invest in non-U.S. markets. Additionally, the platform is ideal for investors who can’t find assets like bonds, futures, forex, or mutual funds on Robinhood.


3. Webull – Best for Intermediate Traders

As one of the newer and more rapidly-growing brokers in the U.S., Webull excels and lacks in the same areas as Robinhood—they are very similar, even according to Webull’s CEO. There are a few slight differences, but Webull is a slightly improved Chinese-owned version of Robinhood that has been taking its users away for a few years now.

Website homepage of webull trading platform, a competing platform with Robinhood.
Webull and Robinhood share a number of similarities, meaning investors don’t miss out on much by selecting one platform over the other.

Pros

  • Trading platform has more advanced features for intermediate traders
  • Slightly more versatile customer support and cheaper wire transfer fees

Cons

  • Not listed on a stock exchange
  • Lack of educational resources for beginners
Visit Webull on Webull’s website

When it comes to fees, account opening, and tradable products, the two brokers are nearly identical, but there is a difference between the two trading platforms. Webull’s trading software offers more technical analysis tools and fundamental data that advanced traders need, whereas Robinhood is more geared towards complete beginners and has fewer features—this makes Webull’s trading platform more powerful.

Both brokers offer commission-free trading and have no non-trading fees of any kind. However, Webull is slightly more economical since it provides free ACH transfers and international wire transfers cost $45 compared to Robinhood’s $50.

When it comes to customer service, Webull has another slight advantage as it has phone support. Unfortunately, neither broker offers any notable educational resources, but like all other brokers on this list, Webull does have a demo account feature which RH is lacking.

For most investors who are divided between Robinhood and Webull, neither choice is a bad one. However, Webull has shown to be a handier tool for more advanced traders and does have several small advantages that give it an edge in the eyes of intermediate traders.


4. Acorns – Best for Passive Long-term Investing

Where Robinhood caters to novice investors, Acorns does the same but with a different main idea. Namely, Acorns is a platform that encourages safe and financially responsible decisions. 

Website homepage of Acorns, a micro-investing platform.
Acorns is a micro-investing app that doubles up as a robo-advisor, helping investors make trade on their behalf and manage their investments.

Pros

  • Automatically invests money used for buying everyday items and offers discounts on some consumer goods
  • Very easy to use
  • Money is safely invested automatically
  • Very responsive customer service

Cons

  • $3 monthly account maintenance fee for individual accounts
  • Doesn’t support manual trading
  • Users have little control over how their money is invested—only a few premade portfolios are available
Visit Acorns on Acorns’ website

In contrast, Robinhood is as libertarian as it gets— offering more freedom and more ways to lose all your money. Moreover, Acorns is a robo-advisor, which means it invests the user’s money automatically in market-tracking ETFs and bonds, so we shouldn’t compare the two the same way as the rest.

Here is how Acorns works: The app automatically invests your trading balance in ETFs with low expense ratios that offer reliable returns similar to the stock market average. Of course, this heavily limits the potential of a trader with an RH account, but most traders lose money, and beginners are prone to making mistakes.

This is why Acorns takes an entirely different approach. For instance, when users use their Acorns debit card to buy everyday items, their purchases are rounded up to the next dollar and automatically invested. Moreover, Acorns has a deal with many companies and retailers, and their users can get sizable discounts when buying items from Apple, Walmart, Nike, and 350 more brands.

Acorns also supports retirement accounts, offers some investing education, and has an easy-to-use app. All in all, it is the king when it comes to care-free passive investing that can grow spare change into a retirement fund. 

But, even though using Acorns is an effortless, low-risk venture, that doesn’t matter to traders—the app simply cannot be used for active trading like Robinhood and, therefore, doesn’t offer great potential for profit.

However, this doesn’t mean that one has to pick between Robinhood and Acorns. Considering how both platforms work, it makes sense to use both. Robinhood is a user-friendly trading app, whereas Acorns is geared towards saving money, so there is no reason to choose one over the other as both are inexpensive and easy to use.


5. Fidelity – Best for Buy-and-Hold Investors

Unlike the young and hip Robinhood, Fidelity Investments is just another brick in the financial hub called Wall Street—albeit a very big and impressive brick that knows how to keep up with all the latest trends. Namely, Fidelity also offers free trading for U.S. stocks and ETFs and has a neat, user-friendly trading platform that can compare to Robinhood.

Fidelity Investments official website homepage, one of the most popular trading platforms in the U.S.
Fidelity Investments is one of the most established trading platforms in the U.S. offering free trading for U.S. stocks and ETFs.

Pros

  • Free trading for U.S. stocks and ETFs
  • Superior offering of stocks and ETFs, as well as bonds
  • Versatile and intuitive trading platform with powerful research tools
  • Comprehensive educational resources

Cons

  • High fees for buying mutual funds
  • No crypto trading
  • High margin fees
Visit Fidelity on Fidelities’ Website

However, there are a few major differences between the two brokers. For one, Fidelity doesn’t offer crypto trading, but it does have bonds and mutual funds—unfortunately, buying a mutual fund will incur a fee ranging from $50 to $75, which is very high compared to most discount brokers.

But on the bright side, some of the stocks and ETFs on the platforms are foreign, and some are Fidelity’s proprietary ETFs, which makes the old-school broker’s selection of offerings superior to RH’s. The same can be said for Fidelity’s customer service and education—customer support can be reached via phone and live chat. In addition, the educational resources on the platform include video lessons, webinars, and quality written articles.

Moreover, Fidelity provides more extensive research data, which means that traders don’t need to rely on third-party sources of info for their fundamental analysis and analyst opinions. The only notable advantage that Robinhood has over Fidelity is its remarkably user-friendly trading app, lower margin rates, and faster account opening process.

All in all, Fidelity is geared toward buy-and-hold investors and swing traders who want to thoroughly research their positions before making any moves. In contrast, Robinhood is better suited for active traders who don’t require as much analytical power on a single platform. Besides that, Fidelity and Robinhood can go toe to toe as some of the best free trading brokers in the U.S.


An Overview of Robinhood 📚

A wise man once said: “If you want to be loved, give people free stuff.” OK, we made that up, but this proverb resonates with Robinhood’s rise to popularity and acclaim.

Namely, Robinhood was the first broker to introduce free trading, meaning no commissions for every executed trade. As the company’s name suggests, Robinhood’s goal was to make an investing platform accessible to the average person—the service is free, and the trading app has won awards for its intuitive UI design. New users even get a free stock when signing up, which is very encouraging for beginners.

The brokerage was established in 2013 and has since revolutionized the brokerage market by making convenient trading apps and zero-commission trades the norm. This made RH one of the most user-rich trading platforms, but as is often the case, just if something is popular doesn’t mean it is perfect.

In essence, the Robinhood trading experience is geared towards casual swing and buy-and-hold traders but lacks the features that advanced traders, very passive investors, and retirement investors need. So let’s take a look at RH’s weaknesses and strengths and see where its competitors have the advantage.

Why Robinhood May Not Be the Best Option for You 🤔

No investing platform is perfect, but one might be perfect for one type of investor. Consequently, despite all its revolutionary features, Robinhood still falls short of other premium brokers in certain areas—one of them being that it is only available in the U.S., albeit while making attempts to branch out into Europe. Here are some areas where Robinhood lacks in comparison to its fiercest competitors.

Selection of Assets 🗃

Compared to most top-level brokers, Robinhood has a very limited offering of tradable markets and products. Namely, the broker only offers U.S. stocks and ETFs, options trading, and an ever-expanding list of relevant cryptocurrencies. Although this list of assets might lengthen in the future, it still lacks mutual funds, futures, commodities, bonds, CFDs, and other investments.

There are over 5,000 U.S. stocks and ETFs available on RH but other more defensive or niche investments like foreign stocks or fixed-income securities. Therefore, RH’s selection of tradable assets will likely be more than sufficient for most stock investors and swing traders.

Interactive Brokers is the brokerage that probably has the most significant advantage in this tether over Robinhood. Quite simply, IBKR offers stocks from almost all major stock markets of the world and just about any asset that investors can trade through an app. 

Essentially, Robinhood’s lack of alternative investments is very limiting for investors who want to create a balanced portfolio that includes bonds, mutual funds, and foreign stocks. However, for most swing trading purposes, RH’s platform is very intuitive and unrestrictive—which is one of the reasons behind its popularity.

Charting Tools and Analytics 🛠

There are casual traders, and there are traders who like to be thorough with their technical analysis. Robinhood was primarily designed for the former.

Both the app and the desktop platform have very basic charting options—this means that advanced technical analysis requires third-party charting software, which is a hassle. The rest of the information and research tools aren’t too impressive either.

Robinhood’s platform provides fundamental data on stocks, analyst opinions, and a rich and easily-navigable news feed. Users with a Robinhood Gold account get level 2 live market data and Morningstar’s research and reports, which are considered very high-level.

However, compared to RH, TD Ameritrade’s platform has many more features and available information that no trader would be unsatisfied with. But, Robinhood’s lack of features also makes the software much more straightforward—it is very easy to use, and traders with no need for advanced analysis tools may appreciate that more.

Tax-Efficient Retirement Accounts 👴

One of the things that RH is famous for is definitely not retirement accounts. The addition of IRAs and Roth IRAs began in 2022, but the brokerage is not a hotspot for retirement investors and probably won’t be for the foreseeable future.

This is for a couple of reasons: First, RH’s selection of investments lacks fixed-income securities, funds, and other asset classes that retirement investors like to own. Second, the established go-to retirement brokers are geared towards retirement investors, and they have a huge number of clients.

Simply, companies like Vanguard have proprietary ETFs and mutual funds, which they offer to clients and have all assets one would need for a retirement portfolio available on their trading app. Moreover, when it comes to retirement, no amount of safety can be considered too safe, so it is often more comfortable for investors to sign up with a decades-old behemoth of a company like Vanguard or Fidelity.

Robinhood: PFOF and GameStop Short Squeeze Controversy 📰

As a revolutionary hero of the common people, Robinhood was everyone’s favorite until 2021, when the broker’s affiliation with the deep, shady layers of Wall Street became more apparent. Namely, in January 2021, a Reddit group of investors called r/Wallstreetbets made a joint effort to squeeze several stocks, including GameStop (GME).

These stocks had an extremely high short interest, making them the perfect target for a short squeeze. This movement went viral, and as investors bought GME to inflate its price, the hedge funds that shorted the same stock were in a place where they already suffered billions in losses and could’ve suffered even more if trading wasn’t halted on Robinhood and a few other trading platforms.

RH claimed they had a problem with their clearinghouse because of the increased trading volume. However, this began a debate—Robinhood is able to offer zero-commission trading because they make money by routing their order flow to market makers.

In this situation, the market maker was Citadel Capital which was short GME indirectly. They owned a significant stake in a few hedge funds like Melvin Capital which had shorted the stock and were at risk of shutting down because of the squeeze.

This payment for order flow (PFOF) is a crucial element of RH’s business model, so some investors assumed that Robinhood was acting in Citadel’s interest by removing the clients’ access to the stocks that were getting squeezed. Even Elon Musk publicly questioned Robinhood’s actions, bringing more attention to this event.

All in all, this shook the public’s faith in Robinhood’s image. Whatever caused the stocks involved in the GameStop saga to be frozen for traders is not something that should ever happen to a top broker and will likely stain RH’s reputation for years to come.

What to Look for in a Robinhood Replacement

It doesn’t make sense to trade a horse for a donkey, and there is no point in leaving Robinhood just to end up with a lesser broker. So, let’s see what Robinhood’s best qualities are and how the same (or even better) qualities can be found elsewhere.

Account Opening Process 👨‍💻

Before putting all their money on a risky put option, a trader must open a brokerage account—and that is as easy as it gets with Robinhood. The whole process is free and can be completed online in minutes.

Like most other brokers, Robinhood asks for some personal info, requires you to wait until they verify your information, and once that’s done you’re good to go. However, to sweeten the deal, Robinhood also offers a free stock for every new user, which can be considered an advantage. Aside from this, though, RH’s sign-up procedure is just as impressive as most others on the market.

Trading Fees 💰

What RH became famous for is its zero-commission business model—clients on Robinhood trade stocks and ETFs for free. When that happened back in 2021, other brokers followed suit, and now, there are quite a few premium brokers with free trading.

However, many more brokerages still charge trading commissions and other fees, and a suitable RH alternative should definitely be a free broker. No-commission trades are nearly essential to very active day traders who need to place many trades each day and don’t want to pay a commission on each one.

Trading Platform 💻

The trading platform that won numerous awards and has been the people’s favorite since its launch is, no doubt, Robinhood’s flagship product. It offers a balance between functional and simple—this makes the platform extremely easy to use and full of all the main features that a casual retail trader will ever need. The mobile app is also considered one of the best for beginners.

No broker will offer trading software that is, hands-down, better than RH’s. Some platforms, however, can boast that they are easier and richer in features. For example, Acorns is specifically designed for passive investors—the UI is much simpler than Robinhood’s, and trading can be automated.

On the other hand, there is TD Ameritrade. The Thinkorswim platform, as it is called, is often proclaimed the best because it is suitable for pro traders and thorough stock researchers while still retaining an intuitive UI that won’t scare off a beginner. All in all, Robinhood’s trading software isn’t downright outmatched by anything on the market, but there are better alternatives for very passive and very active investors.

Safety and Regulations of Trading Apps 🛡

Like all high-level brokers, Robinhood is regulated and watched by the top government financial institutions like the SEC and FINRA. The government insures all users of any U.S. broker that is fully regulated. This ensures protection if their wealth is somehow unjustly usurped or destroyed by the broker—which might happen if the broker goes bankrupt or violates something from their terms of service.

All brokers are similar when it comes to safety—they are safe. However, Robinhood’s involvement in the GME scandal in 2021, when the broker temporarily blocked the trading of 50 stocks, did cause damage to the owners of those assets. Investors who can’t simply trust RH after a scandal like this might be more comfortable with a broker like IBKR—a company that is very well-established in the industry and hadn’t halted trading during the GME saga.

Conclusion 🏁

As the most popular trading app, Robinhood excels at one thing above all else—it offers the retail trader an easy-to-use platform with minimal cost and a selection of trading assets that fits the bill for most casual investors. RH fills the demand for an accessible investing and stock trading vehicle that’s not complicated and makes trading accessible to the average investor.

However, advanced traders might find RH lacking because of the absence of research features. Retirement investors cannot open tax-efficient accounts and create defensive portfolios with non-equity investments. There are brokers with more advanced features, better investment selections, and even those that are easier to use in the list above, and they are all more than suitable alternatives to RH in their own way.

All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on tokenist.com. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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