Robinhood Review 2022: Best Trading App for Beginners

Robinhood
Robinhood
3.0

Robinhood is a popular stock & crypto trading app that's extremely popular with millenials. You can buy and sell stocks, cryptocurrencies, and options for free.

Fees: $0
Promotion: Up to $600 in Transfer Bonuses
Account Minimums: $0

Robinhood is a bare bones stock, ETF, crypto and options trading app for buying and selling securities and cryptocurrencies.

In this review, I will provide you with everything you need to know about Robinhood based on my 3+ years of experience using the app.

Robinhood Overview

Robinhood is a revolutionary commission-free stock, ETF, and cryptocurrency trading app for investors who want to save money on trading fees and grow a substantial equity portfolio over time.

The company, headquartered in California, was founded in 2013 by Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt who were upset at the current broker options available to the average investor.

Due to the app’s massive success, Robinhood went public and trades on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol: HOOD.

The company is backed by billionaire crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried who bought a 7.6% stake in the company during the 2022 crypto crash.

Robinhood Founders
Founders of Robinhood App are Vladimir Tenev (left) and Baiju Bhatt (right). Photo Credit: Bizjournals

My Honest Experience with Robinhood

I’m a longtime user of Robinhood since 2019 and have experienced both ups and downs while using the platform.

First off, Robinhood deserves a lot of respect by eliminating stock & options trading fees for customers, which forced change throughout the entire brokerage industry.

I still remember the good ol’ days when Fidelity charged $7.95 per stock trade while other full service brokerages such as Merrill Lynch charged $19.95 or more.

Robinhood literally changed the investing industry forever and I am very thankful for their contribution to American finance.

However, I do realize the company isn’t perfect and lost a lot of their reputation during the Gamestop fiasco.

Deleting the buy button was a desperate attempt to protect their hedge fund clients who pay Robinhood for order flow so they can trade against retail investors.

Robinhood didn’t want hedge funds such as Citadel and Melvin Capital to suffer major losses because they were shorting Gamestop and AMC stock while retail investors were driving up the price.

No company is perfect and I think Robinhood will use it as motivation to prepare itself in the future for similar issues.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced individual investors to stay indoors and people didn’t have much else to do except trade stocks. I don’t see this happening again anytime soon although I could be wrong.

Robinhood is a simple and easy to use platform without extra bells and whistles you will find on other stock trading platforms.

I love the simple layout, fast instant deposits, and exciting line charts that can soar or crash at a moment’s notice.

Robinhood isn’t for everyone so that’s why I wrote this comprehensive review to give you the full scoop on whether Robinhood is a good choice for you.

Who is Robinhood For?

Robinhood is great for younger investors who enjoy a mixed experience of Wall Street and Las Vegas all in one app. It’s not perfect but I enjoy using Robinhood despite its messy past.

The app is used mostly by millennial investors who are new to investing and want to grow their portfolios over time. The average Robinhood user is 31 years old with a median account balance of $250 (source).

I’d easily recommend Robinhood for 30 something’s like myself but wouldn’t advise my 74 year old father to sign up for the app.

Advertisement

However, I think all investors can benefit from zero cost stock trades because that extra money saved on fees can be reinvested in your portfolio and will boost your overall return

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • $0 commission free trades
  • Fractional share trading
  • Extended Hours trading
  • Fast mobile app
  • 24/7 Phone Customer Support
  • Trade 13 Cryptocurrencies
  • 1% APY Cash management account w/ debit card
  • Automatic scheduled deposits
  • Zero hidden fees
  • Dividend Reinvestment (DRIP)
  • Stock Lending Program

Cons

  • No beneficiary in case of death
  • No retirement accounts available
  • No forex trading
  • No short selling
  • Occasional outages

Account Opening Process

Robinhood app is a wonderful free stock trading app but it’s only available to US citizens, US permanent residents or aliens with a valid US visa.

To apply for a Robinhood account, you will need the following:

  • Over 18 years of age
  • Have a valid Social security number
  • Have a legal US address

The signup process is simple and easy but before you sign up, use this link to get a free share of stock as a gift.

Fill out the application and link your checking account to make your first deposit into your Robinhood account.

Robinhood Alternatives for Non-US Citizens

If you live outside the United States then you cannot open a Robinhood account. Firstrade is a good alternative to Robinhood if you want to trade US publicly traded companies.

If you live in Europe then check out this list of Robinhood alternatives in Europe.

Depositing Funds

Robinhood offers instant deposits from your checking and savings account so you can trade immediately without having to wait. This is one of the reasons why I trade options on Robinhood so frequently.

You can act quickly on fast moving stocks and deposit funds to trade options within seconds. Other brokerages require the funds to clear, which can take up to 5 business days.

As long as you have the funds in your bank account, Robinhood will grant you instant deposits.

When you deposit funds, you will see two different types of funds availability: brokerage cash and buying power.

Brokerage cash is the total amount of settled funds in your Robinhood account. You can use these funds or trading or withdrew them to your bank account.

Buying power is the total amount of money you can use to purchase equities or cryptocurrencies.

Robinhood Buying Power

Increasing Buying power is important if you want to make a quick trade but already have funds tied up in other equities.

The only way to increase your buying power is to deposit more funds or sign up for Robinhood Gold (more on that later).

Features & Usability

Robinhood offers both a desktop and app for users but it’s definitely a mobile-first brokerage platform.

The Robinhood mobile app is lightweight (17.7 MB), well designed, and easy to use.

I enjoy browsing through dozens of stocks each day and I find it simple to research new stocks I never heard of using the Browse tool.

In the Browse section, you can review the “Top Movers”, popular collections of stocks, or even read headlines from major news sources like MarketWatch, CNBC, and Yahoo! Finance.

You can view your account balance, watchlist, holdings, and notifications on the main page.

Robinhood Dashboard

On the second page, you can search for stocks by ticker symbol or classification. Robinhood organizes thousands of stocks into categories based on price, industry, and popularity.

Trending lists show stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies that are either new to the platform or popular with other investors.

Advertisement
Robinhood Trending Lists
Robinhood Trending Lists

This is a good starting point if you are looking for investing ideas or stocks to swing trade.

Daily Movers is a list of 20 equities with the highest percentage increase and decrease in price. This list is updated throughout the day and only shows equities with at least a $300 million market capitalization.

Robinhood Daily Movers

Desktop Website

The desktop website site is extremely bare and lacking. I rather use the desktop version but you can buy and sell from your laptop as well.

Range of Offerings

Robinhood only offers stocks, several ETFs, REITs, cryptocurrencies (bitcoin & others), and options trading. You cannot open an IRA, short stocks, or buy mutual funds or bonds using the app. They lack a lot of full-service brokerage features in order to offer free stock trades to their customers.

Stocks

Nasdaq, AMEX & NYSE stocks are available on Robinhood. You can buy and sell popular stocks like Tesla, Amazon, Apple, etc.

Options Trading

Finally, options traders can rejoice! Robinhood offers free options trading using the 4 basic order types:

  • Buy Long Call
  • Sell Short Call
  • Buy Long Put
  • Sell Short Put

Simply click Trade -> Trade Options to view a symbol’s options chain. Most equities have both near to expiration and long term contracts available.

Bonds

Bonds are offered on Robinhood as bond ETFs that track on major US exchanges. You can buy or sell these bond funds to diversify your portfolio allocation mix.

ETFs

There are lots of different ETFs on Robinhood that track major indexes. For example, SPY is a well-known ETF that tracks the S & P 500.

REITs

Trade REITs on Robinhood - Simon Property ZGroup

Real Estate Investment trusts (REITS) are publicly traded stocks that allow investors to invest their money into a pool of real estate properties and collect regular dividend payments.

For example, Simon Property Group (SPQ) and Realty Income (O) are well known REITs.

Cryptocurrency

You can trade cyyptocurrencies 24.7 with Robinhood using their new Robinhood Crypto platform. First, you need to verify your ID to unlock your trading account.

Here’s a list of 13 available Cryptocurrencies to buy and sell:

  • Bitcoin
  • Ethereum
  • Solana
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Litecoin
  • Dogecoin
  • Ethereum Classic
  • Bitcoin SV
  • Shiba Inu
  • Polygon
  • Compound
  • Chainlink
  • Uniswap

However, only US residences in the following states can trade cyptryo: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Trading Experience

The trading experience is very smooth. Robinhood supports both standard market hours (9:30AM to 4PM EST) and extended hours (9AM to 6PM EST) for equities while you can trade cryptocurrencies 24/7.

Placing a trade is very simple to do and I usually start off by clicking the search icon and typing in the name or company symbol.

From there, tap the floating TRADE button on your mobile device and select from Buy, Sell (if you already have shares) or trade options. Not every stock or ETFs is available for options trading. Be sure to check beforehand.

Order Types

Enter the number of shares and choose your order type from Market, Limit, Stop Loss or Stop limit.

Market trades get executed immediately while limit trades are safer if the stock is experiencing extreme volatility.

Robinhood requires you to have at least a 5% premium on limit trades so you may have to deposit more money if you don’t have the extra 5%.

Trade Execution

Once you enter your trade, you simply swipe up to place the trade. Your order status will either be queued or placed. Let’s quickly define the differences:

Advertisement
  • Queued means the trade has not executed yet and you will have to wait until the order is placed
  • Placed means the order was successful and your account will reflect the changes.

Robinhood does a good job of trying to enter your trade at the lowest price and I’ve luckily bought several stocks at their 52 week low dips thanks to Robinhood.

You receive a mobile confirmation of your trade along with an email. If you want to turn off these notifications, go to Settings -> Notifications.

Cost & Fees

Robinhood became a leading stock trading app by disrupting the retail investment sector with free stock trades. However, there are some other fees to take note of:

  • Stock and ETF trades: $0
  • Options trading: $0 (no per-leg or per-contract fees)
  • Margin Trading: Trading on margin requires a $5 Robinhood Gold subscription, which includes $1,000 of margin. The margin interest rate is 2.5% on any amount above $1,000.
  • Account transfer fee: $75

Security

Robinhood offers a lot of the standard SPIC insurance protection & SSL security that many full-service brokers offer.

Equity securities are protected by the SPIC up to $500,000.

Crypto assets aren’t protected by the SPIC and are subject to loss.

Your sensitive details like social security number and passwords are encrypted before they are stored to protect your account from hackers.

Robinhood also offers TouchID, FaceID, fingerprint, and custom PIN codes to protect your account. For example, you must enter your 4 digit pin code whenever you want to access the app on your phone.

It’s a bit of a hassle to constantly enter your PIN code but this security measure protects your account from unwanted access or panic trading.

For enhanced security, use 2FA (two-factor authentication) via text that requires a special PIN code to access your account.

Customer Service

Robinhood added 24/7 phone customer support for all its users in October 2021. You can open a support ticket and request a call back within 30 minutes. This makes Robinhood the first cryptocurrency broker to offer 24/7 phone support and hopefully, other competitors like Webull and Coinbase do the same.

Cash Management

Robinhood offers a cash management account that’s similar to a bank checking account.

Robinhood pays 0.30% APY annual interest plus you can sign up for the Robinhood debit card to use your account to pay bills.

Cash Management accounts are FDIC insured for up to $1.5 million and serve as a nice alternative to high yield checking accounts.

Pattern Day Trading

Robinhood enforces a “Pattern Day Trading” rule that limits you to no more than 3 day trades over 5 trading days if your account balance is less than $25,000.

The Pattern Day Trading Rule is enforced by the FINRA/SEC and cannot be overruled by Robinhood.

If you make more than 3 day trades over 5 consecutive trading days then your account will be suspended rom buying & stocks for 90 days.

One way to avoid the Pattern Day trading rule is to turn off instant deposits and use a cash-only account. The downside is you must wait 5 business days for your deposit to clear.

I like Robinhood’s instant deposit feature so I simply wait to buy stocks/options near the end of the day’s trading session then sell them at the beginning of tomorrow’s market open.

That’s a simple strategy to avoid the dreaded Pattern Day Trading 90 day ban.

What is Robinhood Gold?

Robinhood Gold is the premium upgrade for select users who want access to increased benefits like:

Advertisement
  • In-depth Morningstar Research Reports
  • Bigger Instant Deposits
  • Access to Margin Investing

There are different pricing tiers depending on your account size and desired instant deposit limit:

Robinhood Gold Pricing Tiers

Closing Thoughts

I think Robinhood is a fantastic product and expect to see great things from the brokerage in the future.

Of course, nothing is perfect and I have no plans of getting rid of my Fidelity account in the future.

It’s the best overall app for commission-free trading and I haven’t had any serious issues with the app yet.

Robinhood isn’t for everyone so just make sure you realize the pros and the cons before you become a Robinhoodie.

FAQ

What is Robinhood’s business model? How do they make money?

They earn revenue from several different models including interest on cash deposits, rebates from order flow, and the Robinhood gold membership. Futher reading on how Robinhood makes money.

Does Robinhood pay dividends?

Yes. Dividends are credited to your account according to the pay date. However, Robinhood does not offer dividend reinvestment plans (aka DRIP) for investors. You can use the extra cash to buy more shares once you have enough.

Does Robinhood charge expense ratios?

Yes. They charge expense ratios on ETFs and make money by sharing a cut of the fee with the fund company.

Does Robinhood offer mutual funds?

No. You can trade ETFs that track major mutual funds instead.

Does Robinhood offer short selling?

No.

Current Robinhood Promo: Get a Free Share of Stock

Robinhood Free Share of Stock

Robinhood is offering both you and me a free share of stock if you sign up under my referral link. Chances are you will receive a cheaper stock around $5 for but there is a 1 in 200 chance of receive a more valuable stock like Microsoft or Berkshire Hathaway.

Here’s a list of all the free stocks I got for inviting friends to Robinhood:

  • 3 shares of GRPN
  • 1 share of INSYQ
  • 2 share of FIT
  • 1 share of SIRI

Special thanks to those of you who have already signed up: Benjamin J, John D, Antonio S, Randall H, Willie Lee J, Ernest H, and Vincent P.

Similar Posts