Investing > Stockpile vs. Robinhood

Stockpile vs. Robinhood

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Stockpile and Robinhood are two mobile trading apps that want investing to be more accessible and less intimidating for beginners. The simple interfaces, easy order types, and low-cost trading fees make them both appealing.

However, each has some different investment options even though the apps ultimately have a limited product range overall.We look at the fees, investment options, and tools available with each app to see which one is most suitable for your investment personality.

Both of these apps were designed as an easy way for young people to start investing, but Stockpile may not be worth the cost.

How to these two low-cost investing apps stack up? Let’s take a look.

Fees
Commissions

$0.99 per trade

$0

Account minimum

$0

$0

Minimum initial deposit

$0

$0

General
Best for

Young, new investors

DIY stock trading

Highlight

Stock Gift Cards

Pioneer of commission-free stock trading

Promotion

None

Free stock

Rating
Fees

Commissions

$0.99 per trade

$0

Account minimum

$0

$0

Minimum initial deposit

$0

$0

General

Best for

Young, new investors

DIY stock trading

Highlight

Stock Gift Cards

Pioneer of commission-free stock trading

Promotion

None

Free stock

Investor Warning: All securities trading, whether in stocks, exchange-traded funds (“ETFs”), options, or other investment vehicles, is speculative in nature and involves substantial risk of loss. Robinhood Financial encourages its Customers to invest carefully and to use the information available at the websites of the SEC at http://www.sec.gov and FINRA at http://FINRA.org.

Overview of Stockpile and Robinhood

Stockpile

  •  Stockpile offers a unique, mobile approach to stock trading that invites young traders to get started
  •  Traders can give e-gifts and gift cards for stocks to friends and family
  •  You can buy and sell fractional shares of your favorite stocks
  •  Trades cost $0.99, but there is no account minimum or monthly fees
  •  There are fees to buy gift cards including a $2.99 cost for the first card, and $0.99 after that
  •  You can fund your account with credit and debit cards but there are additional fees
  •  Kids and teens can participate and place trades on their own, and parents can approve those trades
  •  App allows you to reinvest dividends for free

Robinhood

  •  Robinhood offers a commission-free mobile trading app with access to traditional stocks, ETFs, options, crypto, and fractional shares
  •  All trades cost $0 including $0 base plus $0 per contract options
  •  App offers simple order types with some tools, such as sync watchlists, candlestick charting, alerts, and “corporate actions” tracker
  •  Easy-to-use app but there is no customer service to call or chat with
  •  Robinhood Gold is an upgrade from the basic account and costs $5, provides access to trade on margin
  •  Robinhood Instant available to some customers, which enables instant transfers, but not all accounts are eligible

Fees and Commissions

All trades are free with Robinhood. You can trade stocks, ETFs, and options without ever paying a commission.

Option contracts are even $0. There are also no account minimums, and you will never be charged an inactivity fee.

The only time Robinhood charges a fee is if you want to trade on margin. To do so, traders have to sign up for their premium product called Robinhood Gold.

Picture showing a smartphone running Robinhood Gold app on gold background with various symbols emerging from it
Robinhood Gold is a premium platform specially designed for traders who trade on margin.

This costs $5 per month, and you need a minimum balance of $2,000. Margin loans are given out with 5 percent interest rates, which is far below the industry standard that hovers around 9 percent typically.

In comparison, Stockpile offers trades for $0.99. You can trade stocks, ETFs, and non-US stocks called American Depository Receipts or ADRs.

Stockpile also has gift card options that have fees. Basically, you can use these gift card options to give away stocks to other people. Gift cards for stocks cost $2.99 for the first stock and then $0.99 for each additional stock.

For example, with Stockpile, if you buy a $25 gift card of Amazon.com INC, you pay $27.99 total, and your recipient receives about 0.02 shares of Amazon stock.

Accounts can be funded with a debit card, but you will pay an additional 1.5% fee that covers transaction costs. If you purchase a gift card with a debit or credit card, you will also see a transaction charge of 3% of the total value of the gift card. Other than that, there are no other fees for account maintenance, withdraws, transfers, or closures.

Winner: Robinhood certainly has less fees. Unfortunately, Stockpile charges too much for convenience.

Investment Selection

Both Robinhood and Stockpile limit their offerings to the basics.

With Robinhood, you can trade in:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
  • Fractional shares
  • Cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Dogecoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum Classic

Options strategies are pretty easy and simple, but you won’t get much help to pick a strategy. Robinhood expects you to know what you are doing, but on the website, you can place a single call Call and Put.

There are also options to sell a covered call if you are opening a longer stock position. You can also access multi-leg strategies in the app including straddles, strangles, iron condors, call and put debit spreads, or call and put credit spreads.

How Do Fractional Shares Work with Robinhood?

The mobile trapping app added fractional share trading in December 2019. These types of shares have become more popular with cost-cutting traders who want to participate in much more expensive stocks without investing a whole lot. You can invest in any stock with as little as $1.

Robinhood also announced plans to start a Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP) and recurring investments in 2020.

With Stockpile, there are a few available investments including:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Fractional shares
  • Non-US Stocks or ADRs

While you are able to invest in gold and lithium through certain ETFs, it is not possible to invest in commodities or cryptocurrency trades directly. In addition, options, mutual funds, forex, and other fixed income assets are not available.

How Do Fractional Shares Work with Stockpile?

Stockpile offers a number of different services and products that are different from other traditional brokerage and apps like Robinhood. Fractional shares is a service that allows you to own a small part of a much larger share for a fraction of the price. This is for those investors who cannot afford Amazon or Apple stocks, but they want to own stock anyway.

Stockpile Fractional Shares
Fractional shares service allows traders with smaller net-worth to enroll in the process of investing.

For example, with Stockpile you can head to their fractional stock page and find large companies available to trade for minimal amounts. If a company’s stock is worth $100 a share, and you invest $5, then you own 0.05 shares. These stocks can grow gradually as they earn more year-over-year.

Winner: Robinhood has a bigger range of offerings when it comes to securities and cryptocurrency trades. However, if you want to buy fractional shares or gift a share, Webull has a unique lock on this market.

Online Advisors and Educational Offerings

Both Stockpile and Robinhood have simple, clean interfaces that cater to a DIY investor who has some experience. You will not find a wide range of advisor tools, research and analysis resources, or education materials on either platform.

Robinhood does offer a news feed that you can customize to show content from Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch, Associated Press, and Seeking Alpha. You can also see the biggest headlines from the day, and you can access Wall Street Journal news coverage at no charge.

Screenshot of Robinhood website with Lets Talk Money Page selected
Although limited, Robinhood’s research tools and options provide traders with all the crucial info.

Candlestick charting is available, but it only includes five years of price history. One tool that Robinhood offers is “collections,” which allows you to search and group investments by interests, such as female CEOs, tech stocks, or medical stocks.

Robinhood also created a new tool called Robinhood Snacks that provides a daily newsletter and podcast. For Robinhood Gold users, the additional subscription gives you access to Morningstar reports and NASDAQ level II quotes.

On Stockpile, users have access to basic price charts that connect to different time frames, but there are no technical studies or other indicators to plot. You also cannot access balance sheets or analyst recommendations.

Users can check the “Stats” tab and see tickers that offer some basic data, such as highs and lows over the past 52 weeks, P/E ratio, and dividend yield. There are also a few relevant news stories related to each sticker.

Most investors will need to bring their own knowledge to Stockpile and take advantage of the low-cost trading fees and gift card options.

Winner: There are a few more tools available with Robinhood’s desktop and mobile app that outshine Stockpile’s basic interface. It feels a bit dated to the intuitive tools and customizable options available with most brokerages.

Trade Experience and Security

Robinhood utilizes simple trade tickets for their investments. You simply open a new order and fill in the number of shares that you want. Market orders are the default setting, but you can also place limit and stop orders.

However, Robinhood does not utilize real-time streaming quotes or pricing data, so it may be difficult to figure out a limit order for markets moving faster than others.

While Robinhood does not offer their trading statistics up for scrutiny, they were recently fined for their issues with executions and order flow. Robinhood says they have fixed this issue, but it’s also clear that they use a per dollar basis for executions.

The company claims that this is more accurate for their market partners, but the standard order flow for almost all brokers operates on a per-share basis. This is important as the way a broker routes your order could mean that you receive a price improvement or not. For this reason, we rate trade execution particularly low for Robinhood in comparison to other brokers.

The Stockpile platform is very simple, and it offers a unique angle to those who want to gift stocks to others. Once you log in to the app, you go to your dashboard, which lets you monitor all of your current positions and see your performance. There is a button to “Buy Stocks,” which allows you to select a stock or ETF to view from each ticker logo.

Users can use the tickets to see what’s gaining the most, select a specific industry, or look at what’s trending. Once you tap on a ticker, a pop-up occurs and you can select the amount of shares you’d like to purchase. There are also some simple charting tools, relevant news, and performance stats for each stat if you click around.

You can also access fractional share investing, which allows you to choose a dollar amount to invest, rather than whole shares. If you have a low account balance, you can invest in bigger stocks like Amazon or Apple using these fractional shares.

For more advanced investors, both of these platforms won’t be the right fit. There aren’t any order-routing options for Stockpile, and you can’t place any advanced order types.

Both apps utilize some security features, and you will be prompted to verify your account with a text message from Stockpile if it doesn’t recognize your device.

Winner: This really depends on the type of investor you are. If you like more charts and watchlists with advanced order types, then Robinhood would be the best way to go.

Mobile and New Trade Tech

Both of these brokerages have apps on the iOS and Android store. Stockpile utilizes tickers and watchlists. You can set up a dashboard with your custom watchlists and tickers for your favorite app, but it’s not intuitive enough to sync this up with the website.

You can view news related to your current tickers and stock holdings through your watchlist on the dashboard. The mobile experience is pretty easy to navigate. You can get the details for each of your holdings and see performance, and you can “gift” different stocks with just a tap of a button.

Robinhood’s interface is also easy-to-use and utilizes custom watchlists, alerts, candlestick charts, and some stock information. You can customize your news feed, and you can monitor all of your positions. Basic order types are available, and you can click on “collections” to get ideas for stocks if you want more ideas.

Which One is Right for You?

Stockpile offers a unique approach to investing that is relatively new. There has never been an easier way to get friends and family involved in investing than by “gifting” stocks with gift cards.

However, advanced traders really won’t use the platform, and you can only trade in a few securities. It does offer a basic way for young people to learn about stocks and basic investing.

If you want low-cost, free trading, Robinhood is right up your alley, especially if you are a DIY, self-directed investor. While there aren’t any bells and whistles with this platform, you can trade in cryptocurrency, which is different than almost every other online brokerage.

Frequently Asked Questions: Stockpile vs Robinhood

Does Stockpile or Robinhood offer better customer support?

Unfortunately, both of these apps offer email support only. You cannot contact support by phone or reach out to a broker.

While Stockpile has a “chat” icon, this is a simple way to connect you to the email support option. There is a Help Center with answers to how the platform works and some basics for investing through Stockpile, such as how to send gift cards.

How do you redeem a Stockpile gift card?

Stockpile Gift Card

While you can purchase Stockpile gift cards right on the website, many customers report that it is difficult to “redeem” or unlock the gift cards. Your recipient must be at least 18 years of age and have a Stockpile brokerage account. If they do not have one, then Stockpile prompts them to open one in order to access the funds on the card.

The recipient must also be a US citizen. However, gift card recipients do not have to purchase any more stock from the company on the gift card. They can buy or sell what’s on the gift as they like through Stockpile.

If you don’t want to purchase stock with the gift card, then you can use the gift card at selected retail merchants. This is useful when the recipient is not a US citizen or is not eligible to open a Stockpile account.

The maximum amount that can be purchased for a gift card is $2,000. However, they never expire, unless the company were to go out of business.

According to Robinhood, what are unsettled funds?

Another issue that traders have with Robinhood is that you cannot trade a stock and then immediately use your profits to purchase another. This is due to something called “unsettled funds.” The problem is that some funds do not settle for a period of 3 days.

Robinhood notes that unsettled funds are cash from the sale of a stock that the buyer has not yet sent to the seller. The transfer must be completed as part of the settlement.

What is Robinhood Instant?

To get around the “unsettled funds” problem, Robinhood created another program called Robinhood Instant. It allowed for instant deposits and bank transfers of up to $1,000.

Promotional picture for Robinhood Instant service showing one black and one white smartphone running Robinhood app with Robinhood Instant service selected
Robinhood Instant facilitates funds withdrawal as it significantly speeds up the withdrawal process.

Proceeds from sales were also immediately available to reinvest. While it is free to use this feature, the company offered a mysterious way to upgrade that left many of its customers in the dark.

The company directed its clients to share a unique referral link found in the mobile app to invite friends. In order to upgrade, customers had to share the link and get friends to sign up for an account. If you have a lot of friends who create an account, you get access sooner to Robinhood Instant.

If you were not automatically upgraded to Robinhood Instant, you can gain access through Robinhood Gold, which provides instant deposits and transfers.

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