Public review 2022

Commission-free trading with social networking features.

finder.com’s rating: 3.8 / 5.0

★★★★★

Details

Signup bonusReceive a free stock slice worth between $3–$300 when you sign up for an account and deposit at least $20.
Annual Fee$0
Asset typesStocks, ETFs, Cryptocurrency
Account typesBrokerage
Account transfer fee$75
Minimum deposit$0

Bottom line

  • Consider Public if you’re a beginner investor and want a simple, cost-friendly way to access the markets.
  • Look elsewhere if you’re an experienced trader or investor seeking an advanced platform or a broader list of investment options.

Overview

Fees

★★★★★ 4/5

Commission-free trades on stocks and ETFs, but there’s an inactivity fee.
Available securities

★★★★★ 3/5

It offers stocks, ETFs and crypto.
Customer support

★★★★★ 3/5

Contact Public.com by live chat or email, but expect delayed response times.
Mobile app

★★★★★ 4.5/5

Both Android and iOS users give it high marks, but glitches are a common complaint.
Research and tools

★★★★★ 3/5

Basic company and stock information, but no interactive charts or in-depth research.
Reliability

★★★★★ 5/5

No major outages have been reported.

To learn how our star ratings are calculated, read our methodology at the bottom of the page.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Commission-free trades. Buy and sell stocks and ETFs without commission.
  • Fractional investing. Purchase slices of stocks, ETFs and crypto for as little as $1.
  • Earn stock and crypto. Complete in-app lessons on the market and investing and earn free stock and crypto as a reward.
  • Social investing. Follow other investors, discuss trends, swap strategies and more with Public’s social feed feature.
  • Account transfer bonus. Through December 31, 2022, get your old broker’s transfer fee reimbursed if your incoming account is over $500 and earn up to $10,000 when you transfer your account to Public.

Cons

  • Limited account lineup. Investors can only open cash accounts. No margin accounts or retirement accounts are available.
  • Limited investment options. While more investment options will come with Public’s acquisition of Otis, Public currently only offers access to stocks, ETFs and crypto.
  • Limited research tools. You’ll get fundamentals, like company information and key metrics, but no in-depth research or charting tools.

What we think of Public

Public is designed with the beginner in mind, in feel, functionality and cost. It offers fractional share trading, a clean interface and app that’s easy to navigate and a straightforward trading process.

So what makes Public stand out from the competition? It offers:

  • Social networking features that allow investors to interact and share trading ideas.
  • In-app live events and earnings calls and educational resources to learn and earn stocks and crypto.
  • Optional tipping in lieu of payment for order flow.

But Public’s simplicity creates something of a double-edged sword:

  • The platform lacks interactive charts and in-depth research.
  • It has a limited lineup of tradable securities, for now.
  • It doesn’t offer retirement accounts.

Public is a solid choice for beginners looking for a straightforward investing platform. And when it integrates Otis, Public will offer a lineup of securities that few brokers do.

But active traders and experienced investors will want to look elsewhere. It’s not a trading platform but an easy-to-use investing platform.

Upcoming features

  • Public acquired alternative asset investing platform Otis in March 2022. Integration of Otis is expected by year’s end and will add non-fungible tokens (NFTs), collectibles, trading cards and more to Public’s lineup of investment options.
  • Public is rolling out Public Premium, a $10 per month membership that includes advanced data and market metrics and analyst reports and insights. Customers can join the waitlist now for early access, which is provided on a rolling basis based on waitlist order.

Public‘s costs and fees are competitive

Aside from commission-free stock and ETF trades, which are standard these days, Public’s costs and fees are pretty competitive. Its account transfer, wire transfer and crypto fees are on par with the competition.

The one fee Public charges that stands out the most is its inactivity fee. Most brokers don’t charge this.

Here’s a breakdown of some common fees. For a full list of Public’s fees, check out its published fee schedule.

SEC Regulatory Fee$5.10 per $1,000,000 of principal (sells only)
Trading Activity Fee (TAF)$0.000119 per share (equity sells) and no greater than $5.95
Crypto fee1%–2% markup for each transaction
SEC Regulatory Fee$5.10 per $1,000,000 of principal (sells only)
Trading Activity Fee (TAF)$0.000119 per share (equity sells) and no greater than $5.95
Outgoing ACAT$75
Domestic wire transfer outgoing$25
Domestic overnight check delivery$35
Returned Check, ACH, Wire & Recall/Stop Payments$30
Inactivity fee$5 every 6 months for accounts with less than $20 in total value and no activity for the last 90 days
Reverse split fee$0

The SEC Regulatory Fee and TAF are fees imposed by regulatory bodies on brokers, who then pass them on to customers. According to a few brokers’ most recent fee schedules, these fees are lowest through Public.

Public is best for beginners

Public’s intuitive interface and fractional investing make it a platform that best caters to:

  • Beginner investors. Public’s user-friendly platform, theme investing and educational resources make it a practical choice for those new to investing.
  • Small quantity investors. Invest in fractional shares of stocks, ETFs and crypto for as little as $1 — a feature not every broker offers.

Public receives high praise from investors for providing an easy-to-navigate, beginner-friendly platform that’s rich with educational resources. And we have to agree. It’s clean and organized and feels familiar, making investing a breeze.

Features you’ll find in the Public app

The app includes three tabs: Community, Portfolio and Explore. A silhouette in the top left corner opens an account overview section where you can find your profile, app settings and Public’s help center and live chat feature.

Its “Explore” section of the app is particularly useful. Here, investors can search for securities and people via its search bar or by category. Investors can also explore Public’s educational resources, tune into live events and see which companies are reporting weekly earnings.

Categories include:

  • Most Popular Cryptos on Public
  • Top Movers
  • Themes
  • Index ETFs
  • New Cryptos on Public
  • Dividend Stocks
  • Streaming Stocks
  • Gaming & eSports

For Public’s social investing feature, heading over to the Community tab, where you’ll find a message board to interact with other Public investors.

How to place a trade

Once you’ve landed on a security you want to buy, select the blue Buy button, enter the dollar amount you want to invest, choose the order type and then submit your order. Here’s where you’ll have the opportunity to tip Public, which, again, is completely optional.

Public offers the following order types:

  • Market orders in fractional shares
  • Market orders in whole shares
  • Limit orders
  • Stop orders

Public’s research tools are limited

Investors will find basic research and company insights on the Public app, just enough to make an informed decision before investing. Any in-depth research will have to be done elsewhere.

Public’s research tools include:

  • Company information, including market cap, trading volume, P/E ratio and dividend rate
  • Key metrics, including expected and actual earnings, and an overview of price targets and analyst ratings
  • A news feed
  • A basic chart

What you won’t find are interactive charts with indicators and studies, specific analyst ratings and price targets or analyst reports. Some of this will be included with Public Premium, but it isn’t available to everyone yet.

Public’s reviews are generally positive, but a glitchy app is a common complaint

Google Play app4.4/5 stars based on over 43,700 reviews
Apple App Store app4.7/5 stars based on over 58,700 reviews

Date last updated: September, 2022

Sign up for Public in 6 steps

  1. Select the “Go to site” button below, download and open the Public app and enter your phone number.
  2. Select your free stock or ETF.
  3. Enter your name and a Public username.
  4. Proceed through the application, providing any necessary personal information. This will include your full legal name, email, date of birth, address, citizenship status and Social Security number.
  5. Enable crypto or skip for now.
  6. Agree to Public’s terms and conditions.

Go to site

Eligibility and required information

  • Be 18 years old
  • Have a valid US residential address and Social Security number
  • Be a US citizen, US permanent resident or have a valid visa
  • Have an existing bank or brokerage account for funding
  • Employer’s name

Is Public.com legit?

Yes, Public is a legitimate broker registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). SIPC membership provides customers with up to $500,000 of insurance for their cash and securities in the event a broker goes under.

Public also uses two-factor authentication and bank-grade security AES 128-bit encryption to secure accounts, as well as TLS to secure sensitive banking data in transit.

The company was founded in 2019 and is headquartered in New York City.

How does Public make money?

Public makes money in several ways. On February 16, 2021, the company stopped using the much-debated practice of payment for order flow (PFOF) and implemented an optional tipping feature for its services. Public’s other revenue sources include fees, interest payments and membership dues.

Public customer support

Reach Public’s customer support in two ways:

  1. Live chat. Speak to a Public rep through the in-app live chat feature or on the web most weekdays from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. ET. Response times are delayed, though, with Public saying it can take up to a few hours to get a response. We got a response in 45 minutes when we reached out.
  2. Email. Send an email to support@public.com.

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Disclaimer: The value of any investment can go up or down depending on news, trends and market conditions. We are not investment advisers, so do your own due diligence to understand the risks before you invest.

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How we rate trading platforms

★★★★★ 5/5 — Excellent

★★★★★ 4/5 — Good

★★★★★ 3/5 — Average

★★★★★ 2/5 — Subpar

★★★★★ 1/5 — Poor

We analyze top online trading platforms and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include fees, securities available for trade, customer support, customer feedback, platform resources and overall reliability.

For a complete breakdown of how we score each category, read the full methodology of how we rate trading platforms.

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