Public.com Review 2022

A Commission-Free Trading App for Beginners

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In this Public.com review, we're covering an app that lets you buy and sell stocks without paying commissions or navigating a complicated trading platform. You can also use this app to invest in crypto, find new companies, and connect with like-minded investors.

Commissions & Fees - 10
Customer Service - 8.5
Ease of Use - 9.5
Tools & Resources - 5
Investment Options - 7
Account Options - 3

7

Public.com is a commission-free stock and ETF trading app for iOS and Android. Public also supports fractional share investing and crypto investing. And its sharing feature makes your trades public (get the name?) to let users view the portfolios of others.

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pros

  • Commission-free stock and ETF trading
  • Supports over 30 popular cryptocurrencies
  • Supports fractional share investing
  • Public Themes help you find new investing ideas
  • Get a free stock worth up to $300

cons

  • You can't transfer crypto to another wallet
  • No options, mutual funds, precious metals, or bonds
  • Only offers individual brokerage accounts and not IRAs

What Is Public.com?

Public.com is a free trading app that began in 2017. It used to be named Matador and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a broker-dealer called T3 Securities Inc. Public uses a third party, Apex Clearing, to handle the background administrative stuff of running Public user accounts.

Like many online brokers nowadays, Public is commission-free and doesn't require a minimum deposit to start investing. It also doesn't use Payment For Order Flow, which is when brokers receive compensation to route orders to third-parties for trade execution.

Instead, Public has a tipping feature for trades. You can decide to give a tip to the broker for executing the trade. This helps eliminate conflicts of interest between brokers and customers.

There's also a social media element to Public: The app makes your portfolio public to other users (hence the name) and gives you the ability to browse others' portfolios.

Another big draw for Public is that the app lets you buy fractional shares (which it calls “slices”). This means you can purchase less than one entire share of a stock. Fractional shares come in handy when you'd like to buy, say, Amazon, which currently trades for more than $2,700 per share.

While Public makes buying and selling stocks and ETFs free and easy, its features are somewhat limited compared to larger brokers that also let you trade stocks and ETFs without paying commissions. For example, Public doesn't support mutual funds, bonds, options, precious metals, and has somewhat limited stock research capabilities.

However, Public's motto is “Everyone's an Investor.” If you're looking for an easy-to-use app that lets you buy and sell on the stock market, this app does an excellent job of meeting those needs. However, keep in mind that it just doesn't have all of the features, research, and tools you'll find with many other online brokers.

Public Features

Minimum Investment$0
Stock/ETF Trades$0
Options TradesN/A
Mutual FundsN/A
Investment TypesStocks, OTC/Penny Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Options, Forex, Cryptocurrencies, Futures
Accounts Types
  • Taxable
  • Joint
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Rollover IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • SIMPLE IRA
  • 401(k)
  • Solo 401(k)
  • Trusts
  • Limited Partnerships
  • Partnerships
  • Coverdell
  • 529
  • Custodial
  • Non-Profit
  • Annuities
  • Checking
  • Savings
  • Money Market
  • CDs
Broker Assisted Trade$30
Virtual Trades

Customer ServicePhone and Live Chat: M-F 9A-5P ET; Email

How Does Public Work?

Public accounts are easy and quick to open. I was able to complete the new account signup process in less than five minutes.

Once you login and fund your account, it's easy to navigate, search for stocks and ETFs, view other users' portfolios, and start trading. Plus you don't need to link to your bank account to fund your Public account. You can use a debit card, which is great for people who are hesitant about linking third-party websites to their banks.

As of now, Public only offes individual, taxable brokerage accounts. There are no IRA or joint accounts.

You can view basic details about each supported security. That includes a price history, analyst ratings and price targets, upcoming earnings events, recent news, and basic fundamentals.

There's enough information to get you started, but it may be a good idea to do more outside research before buying or selling. It's still a lot of information for a beginner to digest, but very light for an expert or advanced investor.

Themes

The Public.com app organizes stocks into different investing baskets, or themes. If you want to invest in a particular sector but don't know where to start, themes help point you in the right direction.

What's nice about Public is that themes are also relevant to current world events and trends. Examples of some themes you can explore include:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Blockchain technology
  • Crypto Assets
  • Gaming & eSports
  • Green Power
  • Information Security
  • Plant-Based Movement
  • Self-Driving Cars
  • Space Exploration
  • The Metaverse

Overall, themes provide a nice balance of tech, financial, consumer, and health-based companies. Some themes also relate to ESG investing or social issues, like public companies with diverse leadership or women in leadership roles.

Fractional Share Investing

Instead of entering orders for a fixed number of shares, Public lets you buy fractional shares, or “Slices.” You can invest in stocks, ETFs, and crypto-all in one place, which is very beginner-friendly if you don't have a lot of capital to invest.

For example, if a stock costs $1,000 per share and you want to invest $100, you can buy 0.1 shares. Or if a stock costs $300 per share and you want to invest $500, you could buy 1.6 shares. That makes any stock or ETF affordable to virtually any active trader or long-term investor.

Keep in mind that Public isn't the only investing platform that lets you trade fractional shares. You'll find this feature with a few stock brokers and robo advisors we've reviewed, including Betterment, M1, Stockpile and Stash, to name a few.

Cryptocurrency Investing

One new Public feature is cryptocurrency investing. The app supports over 30 popular cryptos, including:

There isn't a minimum investing requirement, so you can trade crypto with just a few dollars if you're testing the waters.

Like its stock and ETF investing, Public.com works with Apex Crypto to support crypto trading. This means Public doesn't have its own crypto wallet, so Apex Crypto holds your coins as a custodian. You can sell crypto for cash, but currently, you can't transfer crypto you buy through Public.com to another wallet.

Overall, the lack of a native wallet is a downside for Public's crypto investing. It also supports far fewer coins than crypto exchanges like Coinbase or Gemini.

If you just want to dabble in crypto investing and eventually sell your holdings, Public gets the job done. Just remember you're limiting you options, and other exchanges like Coinbase even let you stake different coins to earn passive income.

No Commissions

Public doesn't charge any trading fees or commissions. As with every brokerage, there may be some small SEC and TAF fees, but most Public traders will be at a low enough volume that they won't ever pay more than a few cents.

Public Investor Profiles

When you sign up for a Public account, you create an investor profile with a public username. Anyone in the Public community can view your profile. You can also look at other investors' profiles for ideas and inspiration.

There are also some “celebrity” profiles that are easy to find and view. In addition, you can connect to your phone's address book to see if anyone you know already is on the platform.

Ultimately, this system helps you find more investing ideas and connect with other investors. You should still do your own research, but it's nice to see what successful investors are trading.

Town Halls

Have a question for a CEO of a company you've invested in or are thinking about investing in? With Public's Town Halls, you can connect with founders and CEOs. These meetings are live, written Q&As that take place within the app.

You can also submit questions in advance and tune in live to see them answered. The sessions are usually scheduled about one to two months in advance, so check on the app to see who is joining Public's upcoming Town Halls.

Safety Labels

When you go to buy a stock or ETF, Public.com will have a label on the product if it's considered risky by the Securities and Exchange Commission. While all stocks have a bit of risk, some are riskier than others and Public.com identifies those that are considered very risky.

For example, a company that filed for bankruptcy has a higher level of risk than a company that is making a profit. Knowing if a stock is riskier or not allows you to make an informed decision about whether or not to invest in that stock or ETF.

Account Security

Public is SIPC-insured, which means that each customer's securities investment is protected up to $500,000. Cash amounts up to $250,000 are also covered.

On the tech side of things, Public accounts are protected by bank-grade 128-bit encryption, and all data is secured with Transport Layer Security.

Public.com Pricing & Fees

As mentioned, Public.com doesn't charge commissions for trading stocks and ETFs. And instead of using Payment for Order Flow to generate revenue, it uses an optional tipping system to generate revenue from trades.

However, you can still encounter some Public fees, especially if you trade crypto:

  • Crypto Trades: Apex Crypto charges a 1% to 2% markup fee for all cryptocurrency trades.
  • Domestic Wire Transfers: $25.
  • Returned Check, ACH, & Wires: $30.
  • Instant Withdrawals: Up to 2% of the amount with a $0.50 minimum and $50 maximum.
  • Inactivity Fees: $5 per quarter for accounts with less than $20 in value and no activity for the last 90 days.

Crypto fees seem like a downside, but you pay a similar spread fee with exchanges like Crypto.com or Gemini. If you want a more cost-effective way to invest in crypto, exchanges like FTX.US or Binance.US are better choices.

If you decide to test out Public, just be cautious of the inactivity fees so you don't throw $20 away.

How To Contact Public.com

You can contact Public customer support by emailing support@public.com. Alternatively, use the live chat feature within the app. Chat support is available from 9:00am to 5:00pm ET, Monday through Friday.

Best Public.com Alternatives

Public is an easy-to-use investing app that's great for beginners because of its fractional share investing. Its themes and public profiles can also help point you in the right direction if you need investing ideas.

That said, there are other commission-free investing apps you can use to trade stocks, ETFs, and crypto. And some Public.com alternatives like Robinhood and Webull have even more investing options.

HighlightsRobinhoodPublicWebull
Rating8.5/107/108.5/10
Min. Investment$0$0$0
Stock Trades$0/trade$0/trade$0/trade
Options Trades$0N/A$0
Crypto Trades
Mutual Funds
Virtual Trading

Like Public, both Robinhood and Webull offer fractional shares. These investing apps also let you trade options unlike Public. And currently, Webull supports both IRA and individual brokerage accounts, so it has more account options than Public. Robinhood is also rolling out IRA support.

As for simple crypto trading, Robinhood is your best option even though it only supports 11 coins. This is because it lets you transfer crypto in and out of your wallet. In contrast, both Public and Webull don't let you transfer crypto assets.

The bottom line is that Public's selling point is that it's public; you can learn from other investors and use its themes to find baskets of stocks you're interested in. In this sense, it's an excellent investing app for beginners. But if you want more trading options and account flexibility, Robinhood or Webull are better choices.

Plus, Robinhood gives eligible new accounts a free stock worth anywhere from $3 to $225. And Webull gives you up to five free stocks for opening and funding an account, with stocks being worth up to $3,000.

Public also gives you a free stock ranging from $3 to $300, so you can try each app to find you favorite and leverage sign-up bonuses.

Bottom Line

Public is a great place for beginners to start buying and selling stocks if they prefer an app-based trading experience. The app removes much of the confusion that holds new people back from opening a new stock trading account. And if you're attracted to the community aspect, that could be another positive feature that draws you in.

Intermediate to advanced investors will likely find the offerings from Public not strong enough to meet their needs. And if you're serious about crypto trading, exchanges like Coinbase or Gemini are better alternatives.

Overall, it's not perfect for everyone, but Public could be a fun choice for new investors looking to get started with stocks and ETFs.

Disclaimer - Paid non-client endorsement. See Apple App Store and Google Play reviews. View important disclosures.

Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

¹For securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares start at $0.05.

²Debit Account Services provided by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC and Stash Visa Debit Card issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC. pursuant to a license from VISA U.S.A. Inc. Investment products and services provided by Stash Investments LLC, not Green Dot Bank, and are Not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value.” because the article mentions the debit card.

³You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.

⁴Other fees apply to the debit account. Please see Deposit Account Agreement for details.

⁵Stock-Back® is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot Corporation, Visa U.S.A, or any of their respective affiliates, and none of the foregoing has any responsibility to fulfill any stock rewards earned through this program.
Advertiser Disclosure – This advertisement contains information and materials provided by Robinhood Financial LLC and its affiliates (“Robinhood”) and InvestorJunkie, a third party not affiliated with Robinhood. All investments involve risk and the past performance of a security, or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns. Securities offered through Robinhood Financial LLC and Robinhood Securities LLC, which are members of FINRA and SIPC. InvestorJunkie is not a member of FINRA or SIPC.”

Eric Rosenberg

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager and corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to take his online side hustle full time. He has in-depth experience writing about banking, credit cards, investing and other financial topics and is an avid travel hacker. When away from the keyboard, Eric enjoys exploring the world, flying small airplanes, discovering new craft beers and spending time with his wife and little girls.

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15 Comments

  1. This is a scamming platform. I trusted them with my funds and regretted it in the long run. It took a long time before I could be able to hold them liable for what they had done. It is a pattern of theirs to lure you in with investment plans, with you thinking you’ll be entitled to profits and even access to withdraw your funds outrightly, they deny you all these. In my own case, support at onestandardfinance dot org.took it into their hands to help adjudicate and resolve the matter, I got back my funds and they got blacklisted as far as I am concerned. I advise you to do same.

  2. New investors beware! Public is not a good app
    I am a full time nurse working in the trenches with covid. I was picking up as much over time as I could so I could investand perhaps retire comfortably. Thanks to public I have a headache instead of a nest egg. Their customer service is so bad that I have potentialy lost thousands of dollers waiting for them to fix things. They wont allow me access to my funds!
    Approximately 5 months ago I tried to transfer my Public account to another broker. The transfer failed within three weeks, so I gave up on the idea and decided to stay with public. Unfortunately, since then I have been unable to withdraw funds or see an accurate picture of my account. I have no access to the message portion of the help center, and public does not have a telephone number that allows you to talk with a person. I am stuck emailing, and waiting for nonsense responses that trickle in, days apart, sent from different people, most of their responses have very little to do with the actual issue. A few days ago, I received an e-mail from public support stating that they closed /froze my account when the transfer started, and if I needed to withdraw, or see an accurate picture of my account to let them know. I emailed back requesting the withdrawal and the log in info for apex and they did not answer. It is curious that they “closed” my account and the only thing I can’t do is access my funds. FUnny enough I am still able to deposit, buy, and sell stocks; the ones I can see that is.I am not wealthy this is a huge financial setback for me.

  3. I have to agree with the negative comments.
    For a company that’s dealing with peoples money you would think they would make themselves readily available but all to the contrary. Have been trying to withdraw $250 dollars from my acct and after going thru all their verification process’ …they still are rejecting my bank. They’re quick to take your money but well, still trying to get mine. And of course we wouldnt want to violate any money laundering laws so I might have to wait for a long time before I receive my funds. The best thing I can say about them is they saved me from violating those laundering laws. Investors beware!

  4. Stay Away!!!
    No customer service
    No phone number
    No replys to over 20 chats, emails
    I requested my account to be closed 2 months ago, but instead they have locked me out of buying and selling because I had a few shares that needed to be sold they told me a month down the road.
    Hows that possible when Public has my account locked!! They won’t return texts, or emails, but they allow what remaining balance in my account to be drained. Over $300 so far. Yet I get at least 20 notices a week telling me my supposal stock purchases did not purchase. What!!!!!
    On a closed account… Then the notices tell me if I don’t agree or see something wrong go to Public and let them know through their chat or email. Yeah that works, NOT!!.
    So they made me install their app at least 4 times since I told them I was closing it over 2 months ago. Like I still wanted to do business with them. Hell no! I’m thinking kind of like a several year old bill that one once you start paying it starts the process as if it was new again and you screw yourself. If I use their app is it like I actually want anything to do with them?
    I certainly hope these celebrities that supposably endorse Public are really better people in real life then the business they support. Shame on you guys!
    Please don’t use Public
    File a complaint at Finra.Org

    1. I agree with Gene!!! Stay away from Public. Support is horrible at best, and if you don’t care to ever access your money, than Public is A #1.

  5. Hi everyone,
    I’ve been a member of Public for a few weeks now. I can say, It is safe and legit. They have to ask your social security number, especially when they give you free money and free stock.
    I think they’ve been growing rapidly because of the free stock offer, and yes customer service can be slow to respond; you have to give them four or five business days. DON’T keep following up until they respond- otherwise your question winds up at the back of the queue again.
    I actually asked them two questions, and their answers and support were fabulous (they even gave me a bonus)🤑.
    PROS:
    #1) You don’t have to make a deposit, (I did deposit $1), to get the free stock! (Many require a $50 or a $100 deposit).
    #2) Their bonus is $10, the value of most free stocks you get from other brokers will be lower than that, unless they give you two shares for depositing $100 or more.
    #3) They actually give you a choice of a $10 slice (fractional share) of a top company like Apple, Zoom or another household name. Other brokers tend to give you stocks you’ve never heard of, and may not be around next month. (You can also buy fractional shares with Public).
    Con: customer service is a little slow to respond.

  6. 8.5 on support? Are you crazy? I’ve sent 6 emails in the past 2 weeks for 1 single issue and still have not received a response, I’ll be closing this as soon as this issue is resolved.

    1. Omg. Im having the same problem. They have my account locked (I wanted closed) up but allow my account to become drained every day. At least 20 texts, and emails= Nothing!!
      Plus my account was supposed to be closed over 2 months ago, but I still get notices of stock being tried to be purchased.

  7. I have always been warned not to disclose your #SS to an unknown site… I started the app and added info until I reached the enter social security number point ..my inner self stopped me from going any further. I really wanted to know if this would be a safe site to enroll in or a scam that would come back to bite me in the butt.

  8. Doesn’t have certain ETFs that Robinhood and, most certainly, Charles Schwab have. If you try and search it by the ticker, it will come back with no results. Some serious holes for a brokerage organization.

  9. Can’t even get that close to opening an account as the App does not appear when you search in iOS library.
    Does not exactly instill a large degree of confidence when it is your money that you are expecting to invest………so best go somewhere else

    1. It’s pretty high up on the App Store – scroll down a bit. Not every app is going to be in the top 1 to 3 listings.

  10. Public has almost 0 customer support.No phone number,no reliable way to answer complaints.Refuse to close accounts or refund your funds.dont support this scam service.

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