Public accounts are easy and quick to open. I was able to complete the new account signup process in less than five minutes.
Once you login and fund your account, it’s easy to navigate, search for stocks and ETFs, view other users’ portfolios, and start trading. Plus you don’t need to link to your bank account to fund your Public account. You can use a debit card, which is great for people who are hesitant about linking third-party websites to their banks.
As of now, Public only offes individual, taxable brokerage accounts. There are no IRA or joint accounts.
You can view basic details about each supported security. That includes a price history, analyst ratings and price targets, upcoming earnings events, recent news, and basic fundamentals.
There’s enough information to get you started, but it may be a good idea to do more outside research before buying or selling. It’s still a lot of information for a beginner to digest, but very light for an expert or advanced investor.
The Public.com app organizes stocks into different investing baskets, or themes. If you want to invest in a particular sector but don’t know where to start, themes help point you in the right direction.
What’s nice about Public is that themes are also relevant to current world events and trends. Examples of some themes you can explore include:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Blockchain technology
- Crypto Assets
- Gaming & eSports
- Green Power
- Information Security
- Plant-Based Movement
- Self-Driving Cars
- Space Exploration
- The Metaverse
Overall, themes provide a nice balance of tech, financial, consumer, and health-based companies. Some themes also relate to ESG investing or social issues, like public companies with diverse leadership or women in leadership roles.
Fractional Share Investing
Instead of entering orders for a fixed number of shares, Public lets you buy fractional shares, or “Slices.” You can invest in stocks, ETFs, and crypto-all in one place, which is very beginner-friendly if you don’t have a lot of capital to invest.
For example, if a stock costs $1,000 per share and you want to invest $100, you can buy 0.1 shares. Or if a stock costs $300 per share and you want to invest $500, you could buy 1.6 shares. That makes any stock or ETF affordable to virtually any active trader or long-term investor.
Keep in mind that Public isn’t the only investing platform that lets you trade fractional shares. You’ll find this feature with a few stock brokers and robo advisors we’ve reviewed, including Betterment, M1, Stockpile and Stash, to name a few.
However, Public acquired Otis, an alternative asset fractional share investing platform, in 2022. In the future, this should mean that Public users will be able to invest in fractional shares of assets like artwork, comic books, sports cards, NFTs, and other collectibles.
One new Public feature is cryptocurrency investing. The app supports over 30 popular cryptos, including:
- Shiba Inu
There isn’t a minimum investing requirement, so you can trade crypto with just a few dollars if you’re testing the waters.
Like its stock and ETF investing, Public.com works with Apex Crypto to support crypto trading. This means Public doesn’t have its own crypto wallet, so Apex Crypto holds your coins as a custodian. You can sell crypto for cash, but currently, you can’t transfer crypto you buy through Public.com to another wallet.
Overall, the lack of a native wallet is a downside for Public’s crypto investing. It also supports far fewer coins than crypto exchanges like Coinbase or Gemini.
If you just want to dabble in crypto investing and eventually sell your holdings, Public gets the job done. Just remember you’re limiting you options, and other exchanges like Coinbase even let you stake different coins to earn passive income.
Public doesn’t charge any trading fees or commissions. As with every brokerage, there may be some small SEC and TAF fees, but most Public traders will be at a low enough volume that they won’t ever pay more than a few cents.
Public Investor Profiles
When you sign up for a Public account, you create an investor profile with a public username. Anyone in the Public community can view your profile. You can also look at other investors’ profiles for ideas and inspiration.
There are also some “celebrity” profiles that are easy to find and view. In addition, you can connect to your phone’s address book to see if anyone you know already is on the platform.
Ultimately, this system helps you find more investing ideas and connect with other investors. You should still do your own research, but it’s nice to see what successful investors are trading.
Have a question for a CEO of a company you’ve invested in or are thinking about investing in? With Public’s Town Halls, you can connect with founders and CEOs. These meetings are live, written Q&As that take place within the app.
You can also submit questions in advance and tune in live to see them answered. The sessions are usually scheduled about one to two months in advance, so check on the app to see who is joining Public’s upcoming Town Halls.
When you go to buy a stock or ETF, Public.com will have a label on the product if it’s considered risky by the Securities and Exchange Commission. While all stocks have a bit of risk, some are riskier than others and Public.com identifies those that are considered very risky.
For example, a company that filed for bankruptcy has a higher level of risk than a company that is making a profit. Knowing if a stock is riskier or not allows you to make an informed decision about whether or not to invest in that stock or ETF.
Public is SIPC-insured, which means that each customer’s securities investment is protected up to $500,000. Cash amounts up to $250,000 are also covered.
On the tech side of things, Public accounts are protected by bank-grade 128-bit encryption, and all data is secured with Transport Layer Security.