Using the best investing tools, apps and resources can help you grow your wealth and achieve your goals. They’re easy to get started with and can improve your investing knowledge.
One of the best free tools for managing your investments is the Empower app. There’s a free net worth tracker and a powerful retirement planner that we would rank as one of the best to use. Add that to a number of free calculators, including one on growing your investments to show how much you may make over time, and Empower tops our list as a must-have tool for investors.
Overview: Best investment tools and resources
- Our pick: Empower
- Best online broker: Interactive Brokers
- Best for receiving stock picks from professionals: Motley Fool Stock Advisor
- and more investment tools and resources that are also great
Empower is a mix between a financial advisor aided by technology and powerful investment tool with a financial management dashboard free for anyone to use.
Empower is a hybrid digital wealth management company and powerful finance app. In addition to paid investment management and advisory services, Empower offers a number of free tools and calculators to help with everything from net worth tracking to saving and retirement planning.
- Easy-to-use app provides financial 'big picture'
- Tools and calculators are completely free to use
- Great security, including two-factor authentication
- Wealth management fees can be be high
- May be subject to upsells
Free financial dashboard
The free financial dashboard can help you view your entire portfolio in one place. While you may have investment accounts across several apps, brokerage firms, and workplaces, you can connect them all to Empower’s dashboard. Then, you can see the total performance over time with helpful charts.
View your portfolio asset allocation
Empower’s dashboard is useful as more than an aggregator, though. It allows you to view your portfolio’s overall asset allocation based on asset classes. This can help prevent you from being overly invested in one area without realizing it. Since investments at each brokerage you invest with don’t talk to each other, it’s easy to double up on similar investments and not know it.
The dashboard also allows you to view what sectors your investments fall in, the fees you pay on your investments, and plan for your future retirement with their retirement planner tool. The retirement planner allows you to view how key expenses (like putting your kids through college) will have on the way to retirement and run different scenarios adjusting for time and savings. You can even simulate a recession to project just how much you would be impacted.
Empower has tools to help you manage your cash flows and budget, too.
Wealth management services
If you want to have a financial advisor help manage your investments, Empower offers that service to people with $100,000 or more of investable assets at a fee that starts at 0.89% of assets under management.. The advisors work with you to develop a financial plan and put it into action. Technology helps the advisers get the most out of your investments with tools like smart weighting, tax optimization, intelligent rebalancing, and dynamic portfolio allocation.
This option for their paid management service is part of the reason why Empower offers such a comprehensive and powerful free investment app.
Interactive Brokers: Best for active trading
Interactive Brokers is a longstanding favorite trading platform of professionals and serious individual investors that you can use, too. Featuring commission-free stocks, powerful trading tools and access to foreign markets and cryptocurrency trading, there’s little IB can’t do. Whether your primary goal is simply to invest in individual stocks and ETFs or you want to be able to trade options, on foreign markets, or on margin, Interactive Brokers can’t be beat.
Interactive Brokers is a longstanding favorite trading platform for professional and serious individual investors alike. IB gets you access to institutional-grade trading tools, foreign stock markets, and popular cryptocurrencies.
IB features commission-free stock trades, $0.65 options contracts, and there's no minimum to open an account.
- Professional-grade trading tools
- Trade on foreign markets
- Low margin rates
- Institutional features can be overkill for basic investors
Interactive Brokers offers more investment options than almost any other U.S. stock broker open to individual investors. Customers can trade on more than 135 international markets in more than 30 countries. You can also trade Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash.
Interactive Brokers has two pricing models: Pro and Lite. Interactive Brokers Lite will appeal to most casual traders. You’ll enjoy $0 U.S. stock and ETF trades and the same option pricing as Pro. The biggest difference between Lite and Pro is the priority and cost of order execution. Interactive Brokers earns money from Lite customers through “payment for order flow”, just like Robinhood and most commission-free stock brokers.
A Pro plan at Interactive Brokers unlocks the ability to trade thousands of shares of stock at a time without sending ripples through the market that may result in a less favorable trading price. That’s great if you’re running a hedge fund, but not something most individual investors need to worry about.
All Interactive Brokers customers can apply for options trading, which come with a tiered commission schedule. Premiums greater than $0.10 cost $0.65 per contract ($1 minimum; no max). The rate drops to $0.50 per contract for premiums between $0.05 and $0.10 and $0.25 per contract for premiums less than $0.05.
Interactive Brokers is also the place to go for the lowest margin rates. For investors who qualify, margin allows you to trade stocks on credit or even take a cash loan secured by your investments.
Motley Fool Stock Advisor
The Motley Fool Stock Advisor is an excellent paid resource for investors. You pay $199 per year in exchange for two new stock picks each month and unlimited access to a library of expert stock recommendations inside the service.
Motley Fool Stock Advisor is a stock-picking service created by experts at The Motley Fool. Members receive monthly stock picks and analyses along with other investing recommendations and resources. It’s ideal for long-term investing and best for intermediate investors.
- Stock recommendations provided monthly
- Access to history of past stock picks
- Additional investing tools and resources
- Everyone gets the same picks at the same time
- May be receive additional upsells
The Motley Fool has a long history of providing stock tips on the internet through premium products like this. This service helps take a lot of time and research out of the stock-picking equation by allowing experts to do it for you.
You still have to decide if you want to invest in the stock picks they offer via a brokerage account, which will require some research on your own. The Motley Fool Stock Advisor does give you a starting place to begin, though. Keep in mind, you aren’t the only one receiving this service. Motley Fool has other paid subscribers that will be getting the same tips. This could result in changes in the investment’s price after picks are released.
Two huge benefits of this service are the educational materials and community access. These materials can help you learn more about stock picking and investing as a whole. If you have questions, you can post messages in their investor community to learn from other experienced investors, as well.
There are a mountain of investing tools, resources and apps out there, especially for new investors. It becomes a crowded affair when companies know there are dollars out there that want to be invested. That can be great for you though! Competition breeds ingenuity and incentives for new and current investors.
Some also great options we recommend are more community-oriented while others focus on offering an abundance of information backed by reputation. Continue reading to learn more about them.
Robinhood has gained some serious popularity over the years, and for good reason as it led the commission-free charge for brokerages. Investors beginners will appreciate the simplicity of the Robinhood app.
Robinhood is a popular stock trading and investing app that offers zero-commission trades on thousands of investments, including stocks, starting with as little as $1.
With beginner-friendly features and easy-to-read charts, Robinhood is great for new investors and there's advanced features even more seasoned investors can appreciate.
- Commission-free trading
- Easy to use, well-displayed dashboard
- No obligation or minimum account balance
- No bonds or mutual funds
- Crypto fees can be more transparent
Plenty of investing resources
Robinhood has three sets of investing resources they call Investing 101, library, and snacks. Investing 101 provides you the basic knowledge you need to start investing in the investment options they offer. Library gives you information about investing in general and specific situations, such as how they believe you should approach investing in your 20s. Snacks are more news-related finance pieces.
Robinhood’s educational resources should help you get ready to use their platform. The app allows you to make trades commission-free. You can buy and sell stocks, ETFs, options, and certain cryptocurrencies on the platform. Unlike Vanguard, you can get started with Robinhood with just $1. You can easily see all your investments via Robonhod’s mobile app, and you can even add investments you want to track to your watchlist.
Robinhood also offers fractional shares that can be placed both by dollar amount or share amount. Fractional shares are pieces, or fractions as the name suggests, of whole shares of a company or ETF. That means you can purchase $50 of Apple (AAPL) if that’s what you would like to invest at that time and it will track proportionally and be subject to dividends just as a full share would.
DIY approach to investing
Robinhood requires you to manage your money yourself. There are no robo-advisor options with the app so you control your destiny. This can be a good thing if you have a solid investment plan you can stick to. If you don’t have one yet, Robinhood’s educational resources can help you get on the right track to start.
If you’re looking for a great place to research before making your investments, Morningstar might be the perfect solution for you. It’s one of the best stock market tracking apps out there for budget-conscious investors.
Morningstar is an industry leader in financial information and investment industry activity. The company offers a variety of products to professional and nonprofessional investors, specializing in in-depth analysis of stocks and mutual funds. It's best for investors who want to understand the fundamentals behind every investment.
- High-quality investment research and data
- Variety of useful, helpful tools
- Independent analysis
- Annual membership can be pricey
Morningstar offers many features, including investment news, current market pricing, and basic information about many investments including stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds.
View investment features
People considering a particular investment can view that investment’s expense ratio, fee level, manager tenure, category, investment style, minimum initial investment, historical performance data, risk, and much more all in one place. Plus, Morningstar’s own proprietary ratings add another dimension, emphasizing long-term value over flash-in-the-pan fads. These can be great resources when you’re narrowing down a list of potential investments.
Morningstar Investor features and tools
Morningstar Investor adds analyst reports, top investment picks, and more features within its portfolio manager tool. There are also additional tools within their portfolio x-ray tool that provide you personalized insights and more screening options, including watchlists. You can manually add investments in and compare them over time against indexes to see how they stack up over time.
All these investing tools and resources can help you track and manage your investments.
Perfect for stock investors
If you’re an index investor, Morningstar probably won’t add much value for you. Even so, stock pickers and market timers may find Morningstar’s analyst reports and in-depth research very useful when deciding whether an investment is worth putting money into.
Public has a large community forum where traders can comment and ask questions about all things trade-related; people can weigh in on their own experiences, or ask questions of others with direct experience in the category.
Public is a free trading and investing app with a social insight twist that offers fractional investing with no commission fees or account minimums.
Invest in stocks, treasuries, crypto, ETFs, and alternative assets—including fine art and collectibles—all in one place.
- Trade U.S. stocks and ETFs commission-free
- Can deposit funds with your debit card
- Real-time fractional trading
- Not internationally available
Fractional share investing
They allow you to invest in stocks and ETFs like many other apps do, and they even enable partial share investments to help people invest without putting up enough money to buy whole shares.
Social investing feature
Where Public stands out is the unique social investing features of their app. Public allows you to follow other investors as they share their thoughts on their investments. These people may have unique perspectives you haven’t thought of, opening up new ideas and new investment possibilities.
The Public app also supports starting and joining group chats to talk about investments, companies, and trends. Their group chats can include stock tickers, real-time charts, and let you mention other investors within the conversations.
While social investing sounds neat, you need to be careful. One person may love how a company is doing something unique. However, that uniqueness may be a bad thing if it leads to substandard profits or the company failing. You always need to do your own research before investing rather than relying on tips from others you don’t know.
Vanguard’s is the original source of index-based funds and now one of the largest financial companies in the world. The Vanguard website provides information in a more traditional style but still offers plenty of great resources and education materials.
Tons of educational materials
Vanguard has a wealth of information about investment types and account types to help you pick the right varieties for your situation. They share guides about investing for specific goals, such as college, as well as investor education pieces about taxes, choosing investments, and investment research.
Large variety of account types
Vanguard offers a wide variety of account types you can open including IRAs, taxable brokerage accounts, and other niche account types you may need. They also allow you to invest in a wide variety of investment options.
Digital Advisor service
Newer investors or people that would rather not manage their investments themselves might want to consider Vanguard’s Digital Advisor service. It provides automated investing in a personalized portfolio based on your goals and risk tolerance.
Vanguard Digital Advisor is a low-cost robo-advisor offered by Vanguard, the world's largest provider of mutual funds.
Vanguard Digital Advisor combines Vanguard's famous low-cost index funds with personalized strategies and advice for your unique investing goals.
- Vanguard's unmatched reputation
- Advisory fees as low as 0.20%
- ESG option
- Not for active traders or stock pickers
- $3,000 account opening minimum
The program makes adjustments when necessary to keep you on the right path toward your goals. It even has a debt pay-off tool and a dashboard to help you better manage your finances. Vanguard’s robo-advisor service requires a $3,000 minimum to enroll but comes with a relatively low fee of approximately 0.15% for managing and tracking your investments and money for you.
How we came up with this list of best investment tools and resources
To come up with this list, we looked at investing tools and resources available and carefully considering which ones are the most useful based on different situations.
Each one of these investing tools needed to offer multiple features, especially ones with a relatively high cost. For example, Empower offers everything from investing trackers to wealth management.
While some of these services definitely have a higher cost, the value you get for your money is what we took into consideration. Each tool offers a wealth of knowledge that any investor could benefit from.
We considered different resources based on where a person may be in their investing journey. We wanted to include companies that offer educational value for young investors in particular, but also for more experienced investors as well.
Who should use the best investing tools and resources?
Investing tools and resources should be used by new and experienced investors looking for assistance and methods to potentially achieve better investment performance. Alternatively, the resources may help you learn facts and techniques about investing without making common investing mistakes first.
For example, Empower’s financial management offering can help you properly diversify your investments. By doing this, you can avoid learning firsthand that a portfolio that isn’t diversified can quickly decline in value if your main investment falters.
The tools can also provide information that may otherwise take many hours to gather on your own. They may display information in unique and helpful ways that make it easier to see what’s going on in the investment world.
Who shouldn’t use the best investing tools and resources?
All investing tools and resources won’t be a good fit for you. Some may promote investing strategies you don’t believe in. For instance, an index investor or Boglehead would likely never use Motley Fool’s Stock Advisor.
That doesn’t mean all investing tools and resources are bad, though. Index investors may appreciate reading books about index investing or using a robo-advisor that uses smart tax strategies to attempt to increase overall returns.
The key is finding the investing tools that help you become a better investor based on the type of investing you want to do, so some of these we recommend as best investing tools and resources may not be best for you.
Most important features of investing tools and resources
Each investing tool or resource has different features, benefits, and costs. Ideally, you should focus on finding tools or resources that provide the most overall value for the money.
Free resources may seem like the best deal, but that isn’t always the case. If they don’t give you access to the information you need in an easy-to-understand format, you may end up wasting precious time making mistakes with your investments. Opportunity is not free.
Balance the value of your time and the benefits an investing tool or resource provides to find the ones that may be a good fit for you.
Ultimate free resource – books
Books are one of the best investing resources we have available to us today. You won’t be able to get information on the most recent trends or the latest stock quotes in books. What you can get is fantastic foundational knowledge to help you build your investing philosophy.
When selecting a book, carefully consider the author, when it was published, and why you want to read it. Some basics of investing, like The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, don’t change even after decades. More timely commentary needs to be updated every few years, months, or even weeks.
Even with books written by financial experts, you need to be careful. A single person’s view isn’t always right for you. Each expert has their own advice that may not align with your ideas or another expert’s opinions. For this reason, it makes sense to read several viewpoints before settling on how you want to manage your investments.
The best part is you can usually borrow books for free from your local library. If that isn’t an option, purchasing digital versions of books may save you money. Used books are an option, too. Of course, buying a full-price new book can still be worth the cost if you learn something useful.
Summary: Best investing tools and resources
Investing tools and resources can help you build foundational knowledge to start investing for your future. Some paid services claim to give you an edge over others by providing specific advice or recommendations. In the end, you must decide which investment strategy to use.
If your particular strategy would benefit from these tools and resources, they’re worth considering. Just make sure that the value you get from them exceeds their cost.