public review

New companies are constantly popping up in the race for free trade and fractional shares. But Public isn’t new — it’s actually a re-brand of one of the first app-based investment products called Matador.

However, they have cleaned up their app, made it more user-friendly and continue to focus on their social networking features. In addition, they offer commission-free investing and fractional stock investing.

How do they compare now that most major brokerage firms also offer commission-free trading? Let’s check it out in our public investing app review.

Public investment app logoNo commission investment app with no minimum deposit Allows investing in fractional shares Community of traders and investors

Public investing app details

Free stock or stock disc worth up to $70

What is public?

Public is an app-based brokerage firm that does not charge commissions for transactions. It was founded in 2017. There are four founders: Jannick Malling, Matt Kennedy, Peter Quinn and Sean Hendelman.

The official name of the company is Public Holdings, Inc., doing business as Open to the Public Investing, Inc., a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC. Public used to be called Matador, but later changed the forward-facing name of the company to Public.

On February 17, 2021, Public announced it had raised $220 million in a Series D round at a valuation of $1.2 billion. Investors included Accel, Greycroft and Lakestar, Will Smith (through his Dreamers VC), Intuition Capital, Tiger Global, The Chainsmokers’ Mantis VC and more.

What do they offer?

Public offers commission-free brokerage services for trading stocks or ETFs in small units called slices. By cutting stocks into smaller units, Public makes them accessible to more people. Instead of paying per share, you pay per dollar.

App-based experience

Everything is done through the public mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android. The iOS app is rated 4.7/5.0 out of over 18,300 reviews. The Android app is rated 4.5/5.0 out of more than 13,200 reviews. Both apps seem to release updates consistently.

Social Investing

There is also a community of traders. Some of them are subject matter experts. In the community you can follow traders and see the trades they make. You can also share various trading and investment ideas. Public says it’s essentially a social network for investing.

Public Social Network

Additionally, Public manages stocks within Themes to help people discover companies based on trends and personal interests. Themes include Green Power (green energy stocks and ETFs), self-driving cars, Women in Charge (women-led companies), and dozens more.

Public Themes

You can also DM or build a group chat with other traders. There are many chats about specific stocks, specific industries, and there are even chats that take place during earnings calls so that investors can trade notes. This is a chat designed for investors, so you can even embed custom charts.

Reinvest dividends and fractional shares

For stocks that pay dividends, you have the option to reinvest the dividend in the stock. Public does not charge for this service. To reinvest your dividends, contact Public via the app’s chat function.

They are also one of a growing number of companies that allow you to invest in fractional stocks – meaning you can start investing in more expensive stocks with less upfront capital.

There are over 5,000 common stocks and ETFs on Public. Over-the-counter (OTC) shares are not offered. OTC stocks are not available because the public finds them too risky.

OTC stocks do not have the same regulatory or reporting requirements as stocks on larger exchanges such as the NYSE or NASDAQ. We also like that Public Safety Labels offers. These are labels they put on certain stocks that are considered very risky.

No payment for order flow (PFOF)

As commission-free trading has quickly become an industry-wide standard, brokers have had to find other ways to make money. Some platforms have chosen to monetize by routing their trades to specific clearing companies. This revenue model is called Payment For Order Flow (PFOF).

PFOF has been much reviled in the investment industry as many have said it creates a conflict of interest for brokers. Despite this, it is still the main source of income for several companies. However, Public is not one of them. It announced on February 16, 2021 that it was officially a PFOF-free brokerage.

In an effort to replace some of the lost earnings, Public has added an optional transaction tipping feature. To be clear, Public does not require any of its customers to leave a tip. But this is one way customers can show their support for Public’s desire to tailor their incentives to their customers.

Day trading

For those who day trade, Public may not be the best option. They enable periodic day trading. But doing it all the time will restrict the trader’s account. Accounts with four or more good faith violations will be restricted for 90 days by the public clearing firm, Apex Clearing. They also do not offer margin accounts.

If you want to trade, look for an app that specializes in trading, such as WeBull.

Investing in cryptocurrencies

Public allows users to invest in up to 30 different cryptocurrency options, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin, and more. New York residents are limited to just 7 options – but that’s better than most considering New York is crazy when it comes to cryptocurrency regulation.

However, Public does not offer a crypto wallet – this means you have no control over your crypto and cannot use it to transact outside of the public platform. So, if you are really interested in investing in crypto, you should use a genuine cryptocurrency exchange.

Cash account

It appears that Public is no longer offering a high-yield money account. Check out other options here: Best High Yield Savings Accounts.

Are there any costs?

Public is free of commission, but there may be a small exchange fee for transactions. In addition, there are costs associated with various services:

All broker-supported phone transactions: $30 Domestic Wire Transfer: $30 Overnight Check: $35 Returned Check, ACH, Wire Transfer and Payment Recall/Stop: $30ACAT Outgoing: $75Paper Statements: $35

How do I open an account?

An account can be opened via the mobile app. You can download the mobile app for iOS or Android from Part of the application process is an investor profile. This is standard with all brokers.

The requirements for opening an account are:

Be 18 years old Have a valid Social Security number Have a legal U.S. residential address Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or have a valid visa

You can also transfer money from another brokerage to Public, for which Public does not charge any fees. If the transferring company charges a fee, let the Public know, because for balances above $150, Public will cover your former brokerage’s transfer fees.

You can also fund the account with an ACH transfer from your bank. No minimum deposit is required. Checks can also be sent. Keep in mind that Public charges $75 to transfer money from Public to another brokerage.

You may not be able to withdraw funds if funds from recent transactions have not yet been settled.

How does the public compare?

Public isn’t the only commission-free investing app. But they are one of the few options that allow fractional investing and their community features are different. However, it has fewer investment options than other brokers as it does not support mutual funds, options, or bond trades.

Here’s how Public compares to some of the other popular apps:

Is it safe and secure?

Yes — Public is SIPC insured up to $500,000 worth of securities for each customer account. Public also uses AES 128-bit encryption and TLS 1.2 to secure data in transit.

How do I contact the public?

Public does not publish its customer service number. However, it does offer live chat support from within the app. You can also email their team at Their customer service hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM (ET). Note that if you have a simple question, you may be able to find the answer on the Audience FAQ page.

Is it worth it?

Similar commission-free brokers are available. Most have a social aspect and the quality of this social component is something that can really set these brokers apart. In addition, you may be drawn to the community of one brokerage and not another.

There is a low barrier to entry to find out if you like Public or not. App functionality will also factor into your decision. Is Public worth a try? Sure – it may turn out to be the one commission-free brokerage service that you enjoy the most.

View here Public >>

Public FAQ

Let’s answer some popular questions about Public.

Does Public have a web platform?

No, customers can only access and/or manage their public accounts from one of the mobile apps.

Can you trade mutual funds in the Public app?

No, mutual funds, options, bonds or other assets besides stocks and ETFs are not currently supported on Public’s investment platform.

How does the public make money?

Some of the ways Public can generate income include securities lending, optional tips, and earning interest on uninvested cash balances.

Does Public offer bonuses or incentives to new customers?

Yes, new customers referred by someone else can receive a free share or share worth up to $70.

Public functions

Investment funds without transaction costs (NTF)

Broker Assisted Phone Transactions: $30Domestic Wire Transfer: $30Domestic Overnight Check: $35
Check Returned, ACH, Wire Transfer, and Recall/Stop Payments: $30
ACAT Outgoing: $75
Paper statements: $35

Monday – Friday, 9am and 5pm (ET)

Web/Desktop Access Platform

Free stock or stock disc worth up to $70

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