Successful investors like Warren Buffett and Jim Collins will tell you there’s great money to be made by investing in the stock market. Unfortunately, not everyone has the bandwidth to buy whole shares of stocks in successful companies. This is where the Public investing app comes in.
Public helps make investing possible for a larger audience of people. In this Public review, I’ll cover what Public has to offer, so you can see if using the Public Investing app might be a good way for you to start investing.
Table of Contents
- What Is the Public Investing App?
- What Is Public’s History?
- How Can I Open a Public Investing Account?
- Who Is Eligible for a Public Account?
- How Does Public Work?
- What Stocks Can I Buy?
- What Alternative Investments Does Public Offer?
- How Much Does Public Cost?
- How Does Public Make Money?
- What Is Public Premium?
- Is Public Safe?
- What Else Should I Know About Public?
- Public Investing App Pros and Cons
- Final Verdict
What Is the Public Investing App?
Simply put, Public is an investing app that allows you to buy “slices” of stocks, ETFs, crypto, and more, instead of purchasing whole shares of these types of investments.
For instance, let’s say you want to invest in a company like Amazon.
As of this writing, Chipotle stock shares sell for just over $1,500 each. But even if you’re interested, you might not have $1,500+ to buy a share of Chipotle stock now.
With Public, you can buy a “slice” of a stock share in Chipotle for as little as $1. Public’s $1 minimum price for share slices makes investing more affordable to a larger group of people than traditional per-share stock purchases.
The minimum to open your Public account is $0, so you can start your Public account for as little as you want. Then, when your balance builds up to at least $1, you can start purchasing slices of stock.
What Is Public’s History?
Public was founded in 2017 and started out as the Matador investing app. When the company decided to rebrand as Public, it cleaned up its app and made it easier to use.
They still focus on their primary goal: to help open investing to a broader audience by making stock purchases more affordable.
How Can I Open a Public Investing Account?
Public is easy to use–even for beginner investors. When you click on a link to the Public home page, you’ll see a box that says, “text me the app.”
Enter your phone number, click on the box, and you’ll be sent a link to the app on your phone. Click on the link, and it’ll take you to the Apple iOS store or Android store, where you can install the app.
Once you install the app, you can hit the “open” button. You’ll hit the “get started” button and follow the directions. It’s pretty easy, honestly.
After your account is opened, you’ll link your Public account to your bank account, so you can start depositing money into your Public account. Then you’re ready to invest.
Who Is Eligible for a Public Account?
You need to meet a few criteria to be eligible to open an account with Public. You need to:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Have a valid U.S. social security number
- Be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. permanent resident, or have a resident visa.
- Have a legal U.S. residential address
If you meet these requirements, you can open a Public investing account.
How Does Public Work?
Okay, so you’ve followed the directions above and opened your Public account. Now what?
Once your account is opened, and you’ve deposited money into it, you’ll be taken to a page on your phone that says, “Pick your interest.”
You can choose from various categories, such as Tech Giants or Media and Entertainment, or you can choose to follow a specific investor in the Public community. Choosing your interest can help you connect with like-minded people in the Public community.
However, you can always use the search icon on the app to find specific stocks in any business category. Once you decide on a company, you can purchase stock slices.
Note that you can buy whole shares of stock as well. But if you want to spend less, you can buy a stock slice for as little as $1.
When you find a stock you want to purchase a slice of, you simply enter the amount of money you want to invest in that company’s stock. Public purchases it for you, and you’re on your way.
What Stocks Can I Buy?
Public offers more than 1,000 stocks and EFTs you can buy in slices. The app offers over 5,000 stocks, but the stocks you can buy in slices are limited to a specific group.
You’ll find the most popular stocks in the “slice” group, such as Coca-Cola, 3M, Colgate-Palmolive, and more. With over 1,000 companies listed in the “slice” group, you’re almost sure to find something you like
What Alternative Investments Does Public Offer?
Public also offers alternative investment options. You can invest in 25+ cryptocurrencies with Public, including Bitcoin, Ether, Dogecoin, Chainlink, and more.
In addition, Public recently added the ability to invest in Alts (alternative assets). And you can invest in both cryptos and Alts with fractional shares.
For example, as of this writing Public is currently offering investments in a pair of game-worn Michael Jordan high tops.
The shoes have an initial offering value of $700,000, and $70,000 shares are offered at $10 each.
The wealthy often invest in alternative investments such as art and collectibles. This new addition to Public’s investment offerings opens the door for nearly anyone to invest in collectibles.
Public is also planning on adding income-producing Alts, including music royalty shares and real estate.
As with any investment, investing in cryptocurrencies or alternative investments does come with a risk of loss of your entire investment.
In addition, there are fees associated with investing in alternative investments on Public.
How Much Does Public Cost?
This is the good part: In most instances, trading stocks with the Public app is free. You won’t pay anything to open your account, and you won’t pay anything to trade stock slices.
However, there are some other fees the company has that you should be aware of:
- If you transfer your entire Public account to another brokerage, you’ll pay $75)
- Paper statements are $5
- Domestic wire transfers out of your account are $25
- Domestic overnight checks are $35
- Returned checks, stop payments, wires, or ACH transfers are $30
There may be other fees for special services, too; however, basic trading is free, and there are no monthly or annual service charges. Also, some trades might incur small fees on occasion.
Note that there’s no fee (from Public) to transfer money from another brokerage account to Public. If the brokerage you’re transferring from charges you a fee, tell a Public customer service rep about it; they may cover the fee for you.
How Does Public Make Money?
Okay, so you may be wondering: what’s the catch? If Public doesn’t charge you for trades, how do they make money?
Have you ever heard of someone shorting a stock? That’s where they make a bet that the price of a stock will go down. To short a stock, you borrow shares from someone and promise to pay them back for it later.
You sell them now, wait for the stock to drop, then buy it back and return the shares. Public lends out shares of stock to people who want to short them and gets paid for it.
To a lesser degree, Public also earns money by investing their cash balances. This currently is quite low (as you’d imagine), representing a very small piece.
Lastly, they also make money through “smart order routing.” Smart order routing means the clearing firm sells your shares to certain people. You should always get the best price, but Public gets transaction rebates. (they may eventually offer premium subscription services down the road)
These investing practices allow Public to offer free trading to its members and still make money.
Another way that Public makes money is by offering Public Premium.
What Is Public Premium?
Public Premium is a subscription-based upgrade Public users can sign up for. When you upgrade to Public Premium, you’ll pay $10 per month (well, technically every 30 calendar days) to access features such as:
- Advanced stock and ETF insights
- Free extended hours trading
- Expert ratings, reports, and insights from Morningstar
- Expanded portfolio management tools
- Subscriber-only content
- VIP member support
- Early access waitlist
- Price alerts for stocks and crypto
Public Premium is free to account holders with a balance of at least $20,000. There are no free trials with Public Premium, but you can cancel anytime.
Is Public Safe?
The Public investing app is safe and secure. Your investments are insured by the SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) for up to $500,000 per individual account.
Public uses AES 128-bit encryption and TLS 1.2 to secure your data.
What Else Should I Know About Public?
You should know a few other things about the Public Investing app. First, the app thrives off of its community. When you become a Public member, you can see what other members are trading, and you can learn from subject matter experts in the community too.
Once you’ve selected your favorite stock interest category, you’ll get a watch list that shows you how stocks in that category are performing. These tools can keep you up to date on investment happenings.
By studying community members and subject matter experts, you can learn more about the dos and don’ts of investing.
Public has a referral program as well. When you refer friends or family members that open accounts and trade on Public, you can earn free stock.
Note that Public investing accounts aren’t meant for day trading. Public account holders that participate in frequent day trading run the risk of getting their accounts restricted.
Public Investing App Pros and Cons
- $0 minimum account balance, $1 minimum trade, no commissions.
- Ability to buy fractional shares (slices) in real-time
- Referral program to earn free stock
- Public community can be a great way to be involved with, and learn more about, the investing world.
- Option to invest in alternative investments such as crypto and collectibles
- Public is a largely self-directed trading platform
- No free trial for Public Premium
- No day-trading (account will be subject to restrictions)
- No OTC (over-the-counter) stocks
- Only available in the United States
Like other commission-free brokerages, the Public investing app can be a good way to start investing affordably. With the ability to buy fractional shares, it makes it very useful for new investors who don’t have a lot of money to commit to the markets.
There is also a strong social element to investing, with the ability to interact with the community and feel like it’s more than just a place to buy and sell shares (or slices of shares).
As with any investment, the stocks you purchase using Public can lose money. That’s just part of the process when it comes to investing. If you’re comfortable with the risks, the Public app can help you invest in stocks while avoiding per-trade fees.
There are other similar apps, such as Webull and Robinhood, that offer free trades, fractional shares, and an app interface, so Public isn’t the only game in town. Both offer free stock when you sign up, which can be a nice little bonus to try out their platforms.
Have you ever used Public? Have you used other commission-free brokerages? If so, what was your experience? Feel free to leave us a comment sharing your experience.