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Public vs. Robinhood

Beginner-focused and well-matched, the best platform comes down to mobile app performance.

Both Public and Robinhood offer commission-free trades and are suitable for new traders, but Public takes the cake for its social networking feature and well-reviewed mobile app.

Which one is better?

  • Choose Public if you’re interested in trading with a social networking twist.
  • Choose Robinhood if you want access to options or cryptocurrencies.

All things considered, Public and Robinhood are remarkably similar. They both offer commission-free stocks and ETFs, cater to beginner traders and impose no account minimums.

And it’s not only their strengths they have in common — they also share a similar collection of drawbacks. These include limited securities, barebones research tools and a meager selection of accounts.

Robinhood offers options and cryptocurrency trading, which Public lacks, but both are missing mutual funds, bonds, futures and forex. Not to mention you can’t open a retirement account with either platform.

Now, to be fair, both platforms are worthy of consideration — especially if you’re a new investor. Their mobile apps boast intuitive interfaces and newbies likely won’t feel overwhelmed by an abundance of choices: What you see is what you get with these services. Plus, commission-free trades are certainly attractive.

And as far as a winner is concerned, I’ve got to give this one to Public. Why? Three reasons.

First, Public’s app is better-reviewed. Second, the platform has a unique social networking feature that encourages you to connect with and learn from other traders. And third, Public has recently ditched its Payment for Order Flow (PFOF) profit model and switched to optional tipping instead.

For more information on why this is a big deal, check out our Public review.

How do Public and Robinhood compare?

PublicRobinhood
Public logo
Open an account
Robinhood logo
Open an account
Stock trade fee$0$0
Annual fee0%0%
Minimum deposit to open$0$0
Benefits
  • $0 commissions. Buy and sell stocks and ETFs through Public commission-free.
  • No minimum deposit requirement. Open an account with any amount.
  • Fractional investing. Trade fractional slices of stock for as little as $5.
  • Social investing. Connect with fellow investors through group messaging and follow experienced traders for trading ideas.
  • No PFOF profit. Unlike many of its competitors, Public uses an optional tipping system instead of profiting from Payment for Order Flow.
  • Commission-free trades. Robinhood trades are commission-free — even for options contracts.
  • Rapid access to funds. Deposits of up to $1,000 are approved almost instantly.
  • Cryptocurrency trades. Not many platforms offer access to the crypto market, but Robinhood does.
  • No account minimums. Sign up and start trading with any amount.
Drawbacks
  • No desktop platform. Public’s trading interface is only available as a mobile app.
  • Limited account lineup. If you want to open a joint, retirement, custodial or 401(k) account, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
  • Fewer securities. Public only offers access to stocks and ETFs.
  • Limited research tools. Public lacks several research essentials, including a stock screener and charting tools.
  • No phone support. Robinhood’s customer support is limited to its online ticketing system.
  • Limited assets. You can only trade stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrencies through Robinhood.
  • No IRAs. Account options are limited to individual brokerage accounts.
  • Service outages. Multiple outages have been reported for this platform.
  • Rudimentary charting. Robinhood’s charts only have a handful of technical indicators to choose from.
Tools and research
  • Fundamentals. Review price history, charts and analysts’ ratings for stocks you’re interested in.
  • Town halls. Participate in live Q&As with CEOs of publicly traded companies.
  • Capital gains calculator. Estimate capital gains taxes on assets bought and sold.
  • Top movers. Get a daily rundown of stocks with the most movement — both up and down.
  • Follow investors. Follow Public traders to build financial literacy and generate trading ideas.
  • Group messaging. Join group chats to talk shop, market news and recent trends.
  • Watchlists. Create personalized lists of stocks you’d like to keep tabs on.
  • Newsfeed. Read market news from the Financial Post, MarketWatch.com, Reuters and The New York Times.
  • Earnings calendar. Review estimated projections and earnings on quarterly reports.
  • Analyst ratings. Decide whether to buy, hold or sell with the help of analyst ratings.
  • Candlestick charts. Equip up to five chart indicators to pinpoint trends in a stock’s performance.
  • Robinhood Gold. Pay $5 monthly to access Morningstar and Nasdaq Level II Market Data Stock research reports.
Reputation and customer reviews
  • Reviews are: mostly positive.
  • Customers praise: beginner-friendly learning environment and helpful customer support reps.
  • Customers complain about: delays depositing and withdrawing funds.
  • Reviews are: mostly negative.
  • Customers praise: commission-free trades and easy-to-use platform.
  • Customers complain about: frustrating customer support experiences, service outages and hold-ups when trying to withdraw their cash.
Mobile app reviews
  • Apple App Store reviews

    ★★★★★ 4.7/5

  • Google Play Store reviews

    ★★★★★ 4.4/5

  • Apple App Store reviews

    ★★★★★ 4.8/5

  • Google Play Store reviews

    ★★★★★ 4.3/5

Support
  • Email. Send an email to support@public.com for a reply from the team within one to two business days.
  • Live chat. Speak to a Public rep through the in-app live chat feature weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET.
  • Email. Fill out an online support ticket request on Robinhood’s website for an email response from the customer service team.
Learn more

Read our review

Read our review

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.

Bottom line

Both of these platforms cater to new traders and offer commission-free trades alongside sleek, easy-to-navigate mobile apps. With so much in common, it comes down to the wire with these platforms — but Public edges out its competitor with a unique social networking feature you can’t get anywhere else.

Before you apply, compare your account options by features, research tools and investor feedback to find the platform best suited to your investment goals.

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