Who is this article for?
People whose wealth building has stalled out and want a quick win.
People who want to get started investing but are lacking capital.
Anyone who wants more stock, which should be everyone.
For the past 100 years, owning stock has been one of the most long-term and reliable ways to build wealth. Stocks have performed better than almost all other asset classes and have provided better returns in almost all market conditions. High-net-worth individuals disproportionately own stock — and lots of it.
The saving advice team did a review of all the “free stock” offers in the blogosphere and selected four. These all require very little money to be invested in the platform, don’t charge monthly fees or trading costs, are legal (in that the brokers and securities are registered with the SEC), and actually deliver on the value proposition.
Why Are Companies Offering Free Stocks?
For starters, there is no such thing as “free stock.” These companies are basically offering you a trade. They want to build an investor base and are willing to pay you to do it. You are essentially trading your time and your participation in their platform. In return, you get stock and use of their platform to access capital markets.
How To Approach This Article
Good quality companies have a tendency to increase in value, especially if you reinvest in dividends. Our recommendation is to sign up for ALL of these companies, get the free stocks, and let the value compound. They’ll be worth significantly more in the future. For example, if you sign up for all four companies, you’d get maybe $40 worth of stock — possibly more. In five years, that would easily be worth double.
Robinhood is an investing app that’s popular among active traders because it allows them to make equity and options trades for free. The app doesn’t charge any maintenance fees or require a minimum investment either. This makes it a low-cost way to get started with investing.
As an added bonus, Robinhood will give free stock when a user signs up and links a bank account. The reality is you’re probably going to get something worth between $4 and $10. Robinhood has been mostly been giving away shares of companies that aren’t doing that well such as Limelight Networks, or Ayro, Inc.
Robinhood’s reputation took a hit during the late Gamestop craze, when small investors coordinated on online forums such as Facebook and Reddit to drive up the price of Gamestop, Inc. This caused hedge funds who were short-selling the stock to incur huge losses — a situation known as a “short squeeze.” About two days after this occurred, Robinhood stopped trading in Gamestop, Inc. It’s unclear why, but it’s possible the company did it to preserve their relationships with hedge funds involved in the Gamestop short squeeze. So while its model relies on small investors, it is not getting paid to serve the small investors’ interests.
On the other hand, Robinhood has lightning-fast transfers and trade execution. If you did spot an opportunity and wanted in on it right away, Robinhood is best of breed.
Firstrade is another discount broker that allows you to trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options for free. It also offers complimentary trade ideas and access to research by trusted firms such as Morningstar and Briefing.com at no cost.
Firstrade is a privately held New York-based brokerage firm. Firstrade was started in 1985 by John Liu to serve the needs of the Chinese American community in Queens, New York. Since Firstrade is private, not much has been written about it. It generally gets good marks for account setup, research material availability, and trade execution. Its customer service gets terrible marks.
Firstrade has been penalized several times by FINRA largely due to deficiencies in internal controls. In 2013, the company’s internal controls failed to notice potential stock price manipulation using its trading platform. FINRA investigated but ultimately concluded the failure was due to technical limitations in Firstrade’s internal reporting. Firstrade has since upgraded its internal computing and controls.
Firstrade is following a similar model as Robinhood. It wants to expand its investor base by offering free stocks for sign-ups. What’s nice about it is that it’ll give you free stock for signing up custodial and joint accounts. If you have children this will help them get started investing.
Dough LLC claims that it is what investing should be — unlimited commission-free stock trading, zero account minimums, and an easy-to-use mobile app filled with smart ideas. Dough, Inc. is an interesting combination of a trading platform and a media company.
Founded in 2018, the company is the brainchild of TD Ameritrade Alumni Tom Sosnoff. The main idea behind this company is to build a stock/options trading platform and marry it with Tastytrade, a financial-focused media network. What makes it different from the others on this list is the multimedia in its app — it offers a wide variety of videos and commentary.
Dough is for smartphones only. Users can download the trading app for either iPhone or Android phones. Sign-up is very easy. You’ll be asked some basic brokerage questions such as your name, address, Social Security number, net worth, and market knowledge. Account approval is usually granted in three days or less. Your free stock comes a few days after that.
The quality of the stock you get for a free sign-up is somewhat better than Robinhood. I picked up shares of a utility and a European bank. Both were worth about $10 and have good long-term potential.
Its FINRA profile is clean and doesn’t have any regulatory issues.
Public.com is a Robinhood competitor just with a social networking component. The brainchild of entrepreneurs Matt Kennedy and Jannick Malling, the company was originally founded as Matador. Public is currently riding high on venture capital funding. According to Crunchbase, it has gained about $308.5 Million in five rounds of venture funding.
Public’s sign-up is pretty easy. You download the app and answer a bunch of standard questions. As part of the sign-up process, it will require you to link your bank account and move some money into its brokerage platform. You’ll also get to select which company you want to have a chunk of — you get about ten options to choose from. The good news is all the options are good. You’ll get shares in good quality companies. It will likely give you about $10 bucks worth of the company — a fractional share.
Public also has a clean regulatory bill of health.
Honorable Mention #1: Coinbase
Coinbase isn’t actually a stock – instead, it’s a cryptocurrency exchange. Coinbase is the most popular cryptocurrency exchange in the United States. It allows you to trade a wide variety of currencies including Bitcoin and Ethereum for a fee. The company also has a wallet app that enables you to securely store your holdings and shop at stores that accept cryptocurrency.
The way to maximize the value here is by signing up, collecting your $5 in bitcoin, and completing its rewards programs. The rewards program is interesting for two reasons. First, it’s worth maybe $20 or $30. Second, it’s an introduction to the world of cryptocurrency. Some of the concepts such as tokenization, blockchains, and distributed computing are amazingly energetic and fresh. Plus, signing up at Coinbase gives you access to cryptomarkets. It’s a bit like having a key that unlocks a new world.
The companies featured in Coinbase rewards are often companies that Coinbase, the brokerage, has invested in. So, they’re not offering rewards out of the goodness of their hearts, they want to build up demand and market awareness for cryptoventures they’re supporting. As with anything, caveat emptor.
Honorable Mention #2: Webull
Webull is an investing app that allows you to trade stocks, ETFs, and options for free. You can even buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as dogecoin and bitcoin on Webull, so it’s a great option for traders who want to dabble in alternative investments. However, the app doesn’t offer mutual funds or fractional shares, which is something to consider.
If you’re interested in signing up for Webull, you can get one free stock worth anywhere from $2.50 to $250 when you open an account. You can also earn a second stock worth up to $1,600 when you fund your account with at least $100. Realistically, you’ll get shares worth between $3 and $15.
You’ll get two stocks for your first successful referral and six stocks when your second friend signs up. For every referral you make after that, you’ll get an additional two free stocks.
Webull makes the honorable mention list because it has recently tightened up its offer. It is asking for a deposit of $100 before you get your two shares of stock. It used to issue shares for signing up, but our guess is its market position has improved so it is less aggressive about courting users. Now their offer is, you sign up and you get a single free share of stock. Then you have to deposit $100 to get your second share. It might be worth your time.
Webull’s desktop interface isn’t great and its customer service sometimes leaves much to be desired.
Sign up for all of these
All of these options allow you to get friends to sign up. Usually, the offer is if you get a friend to sign up, you’ll get another share of stock, and your friend will get one too. If you have a spouse or partner who is interested in personal finance, this is generally a good way to double the value proposition.
Do you know any additional sites where you can get free stocks? If so, please let us know in the comments below.
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