Public App Review

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In this Public app review I will ask a few basic questions, like is the Public app legit, can I get free stock and do they hold secure data. is an investing platform that helps people be better investors. Members can build a portfolio with stocks, ETF’s, banking and crypto.

There are no “fees” but Crypto transactions are subject to an increase of 1 to 2% widening of the bid and ask spread.

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Who is Public?

Public was founded in September 2019, by Jannick Malling, Leif Abraham, and Matt Kennedy. On Public, ownership unlocks an experience of content and education, contextual to their portfolio, created by a community of millions of investors.

This includes allowing members to follow others trade activity. It also allows users to make their transactions public to those following them, or keep them private.

Public claims they put investors first, and doesn’t sell trades to market makers or take money from Payment for Order Flow (PFOF). This is true and very welcome for stocks and ETF’s.

However, Public makes money by receiving revenue rebates from crypto trades through their clearing firm, APEX clearing. You can learn more here:

The distinction between Apex widening spreads and then paying back some revenue to Public is a form of obfuscation, and they shouldn’t claim otherwise. There is nothing unreasonable about paying fees for crypto transactions, just be aware that it is definitely not “free” on Public.

Public investing is a member of FINRA and SIPC.

What is Public Financial LLC?

Public Financial LLC, which launched in 2019, claims it has just hit a million users and that it has raised $310 million from investors. Those investors include Accel and Greycroft, two venture capital funds that previously backed Venmo, as well as pro skater Tony Hawk and Mantis.

Public says it wants to build a community aspect around the stock market with no minimum deposit and a list of investment accounts and themes for the beginner investor and financial institutions alike, letting users keep track of other users’ stock portfolios. All portfolios are public by default, but never show how much money users have invested, lost, or gained in any given stock.

Public doesn’t charge a fee to join or trade, nor does it require a minimum investment. Users can invest in individual stocks or Exchange Traded Funds, commonly known as ETFs. (Similarly to stocks, ETFs trade on an exchange, such as the NASDAQ or New York Stock Exchange.)

An interesting and unique feature is that the Public app suggests investments based on themes, as well as user preferences and insights from fellow users.

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  • No outright “commissions” on any assets, although they do widen Crypto spreads for revenue.
  • Strong trading community with discussions of takeovers, valuations, and technical analysis in real time.
  • Public Referral Program


  • Only ETF’s, Options, and Some Crypto
  • Not all capabilities available on the Public app are available on the Web platform.
  • Public does not accept Margin, 401k, or other Retirement Account transfers through ACATS
Public App Review Homepage

Public Product options

Theme Based Portfolios

Public has some very interesting and forward looking theme based portfolios, totally free tool in the investing app, their equity collections. For instance, they have an Information Security themed portfolio with names like Zscaler, CyberArk Software, Tenable Holdings, etc.

These are not the big names you would generally see dominate an InfoSec portfolio from a financial institution, and it gives potentially smaller and younger investors the names that can really give them the possibility for big gains in their portfolio which I believe a investing themes and investing ideas should provide on an app like Public.

They also provide a Metaverse portfolio with a set of stocks you’ve probably never heard of — Skyworks Solutions, Bilibili, and some you have like Snap and Roblox. The themed portfolios are set up very carefully to provide a mix of small and large cap stocks that fit together very well and would be hard for a single retail investor to put together.

Managing taxes

Capital gains are earnings on assets like stocks, bonds, real estate and more.

Short-term capital gains (returns on positions you held for less than a year) are taxed at the same rate as your income.

Long-term capital gains (returns on positions you held for more than a year) are taxed at a lower rate.

Dividends are taxable, even if you held the position.

Public built a capital gains tax calculator which is integral to calculating investor taxes.

Public Customer Service

Customer Service revolves around their in app live chat which isn’t really live. It generally routes you to a chat bot for different key words such as taxes or cryptos and try to answer your question through a question and answer automated conversation.

During trading hours it may be up to 2-3 hours before a human being comes into your chat, and you need to keep ignoring the chat bot and asking for human support.

Their other main channel of customer service is [email protected] and can that can result in faster response times depending on the time of day and subject of the question.

While the lack of phone support or a real person’s voice is disappointing, it is consistent with other ultra discount brokers like Robinhood who all rely on chat support and it’s part of the reason they can offer no fees or commission free trading.

In-app help is easy to access from a user’s profile. Simply go to the “Account” icon, then “Settings,” and choose “Contact Support” for access to the chat feature. Although they do not provide phone support, live chat is offered from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST on business days, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST on weekends. Users can also always email [email protected].

From the in-app demos advertised on the community feed to the help articles categorized by topic, the company puts a strong focus on customer service Phone support would be nice to see, but like many ultra low-cost brokerage services the companies have determined that it is too expensive to create a full-fledged call center.

Public’s Commitment to Execution Quality

This is a complicated question. On the one hand, Public as one of the investment brokers is absolutely committed to execution quality with stocks and ETFs, they do not accept PFOF (Payment For Order Flow) and only trade at the NBBO (National Best Bid or Offer) with no commission fees for stocks or ETF’s. For Stocks and ETFs they are totally committed to commitment to execution quality.

However, their Crypto trades are bought and sold at a widened spread which they refuse to call a “commission” and Public even receives some of that money earned by widened spread as revenue.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with paying a widened spread to crypto trading, but Public is trying to have its cake and eat it too by claiming $0 commissions on everything when it’s technically not true.

Public Special Offers

Public has its own referral program. If you find other investors to sign up on the public app and start trading stocks in their new investment app, you both receive a slice of stock between $3 and and up to $300.

They may be fractional shares. The stock must be held 90 days before being sold.

Opening an account with Public

Opening an account with Public is very easy, and doesn’t even require a deposit or a valid social security number at first.

You can have a username and password and use Capital’s educational resources, themed portfolios, and other features without depositing anything.

If you do want to use the public mobile app to invest, use a debit card or bank account to deposit funds which will have the usual wait times depending on the funds source (30 minutes for debit cards, 7 days for Account Transfers, etc.) Public is a great ETF trading app and stock trading app, with a good Crypto trading selection (with trading fees!).

Public Education

The public investing app has a rather basic but clear education section to help new investors navigate their app, inform them that all investments involve risk, elaborate on the business model, disclose account maintenance fees (which are $0)

It can also confirm that Public supports fractional share investing, explain the free stock promotion offered via Public, explain the chat support for questions while trading, list upcoming earnings events, and other personal finance questions.

The public app has good investing education depending on your personal financial situation. If you are looking for highly complex investor education, the Public app is not for you.

Common Questions I get asked about the Public app

Here are some of the common questions asked about the the Public app. Are there limited investment options or is the Public app as good as it could be.

Is the app available on the Apple app store?

Yes the Public app is available on the Apple app store for IOS cell phones and the Google Play store for Andriod cell phones

Does Public offer options trading?

Public does offer publicly traded Options trading but no other type of Derivatives trading. This also applies to futures and FOREX trading and Public does not support mutual funds.

Why can’t I withdraw my ACH funds immediately?

ACH deposits take 7 days to settle, while wire transfers are available immediately depending on your bank or financial institution.

Can I trade cryptocurrency on Public?

Yes, you can use the public app to start investing in crypto. However, they widen the spreads on the crypto you trade so they are making money on your trade. I don’t think there is anything wrong with this, but calling it “no commission” is disingenuous. There are nicely developed Crypto investment advice and community investment apps with other investors to interact with.

Does Public support dividend reinvestment (DRIP) programs?

Yes, you can enable automatic DRIP reinvestment so you buy more stock every time the company pays a dividend.

Are OTC trades possible through Public?

No, Public only trades Stocks and ETFs actively traded on a major exchange such as the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange), they do not trade OTC trades or trades on the “pink sheets” (investments no longer traded on a major exchange), nor “penny stocks“. Investing in fractional shares is allowed in the public app.

Can I vote my Shares if I only have fractional ownership?

Yes, you have all the rights and responsibilities of proxy voting even if you only own a fraction of a share through investing apps.

Is Public registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)?

Yes Public is registered with the SEC and has been since 2017

Does Public charge any fees?

Yes, mostly by widening the spread of the trade in crypto and uncommon fees such as escheatment and TOD clauses (moving assets on death).

Does Public charge Short Selling Fees?

Public does not allow short selling or securities lending, so does not charge for short selling fees.

How fast can I make my first trade?

Within 5-10 minutes after your money is deposited. If you use a debit card, it should be very fast.

Can I invest in fractional shares

You can start investing in fractional shares, socially responsible investing through an ETF, publicly traded companies, companies that pay dividends, sell stocks, or put money into uninvested cash balances, and read independent financial advice through Public community investing community.

With the low trade minimum of just $1, fractional shares offer the ability to own a slice of high value stocks or ETFs.

How many subscribers does Public have?

At last count, 500,000 DAU (Daily Active Users)

Do you pay taxes on Public?

Yes, you are still responsible for all taxes just like you would be if you bought securities on any other exchange.

Public Products Available

Public offers publicly traded stocks, ETF’s, and some cryptocurrencies in the investing app.

Does Public trade mutual funds for $0.00?

No, Public does not offer full load or no load mutual funds at this time.

Can you lose money with Public?

Absolutely. Although Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s) are diversified, they can still take major hits in value if they are high technology or energy stocks for just two examples. You can definitely expect to lose money on some of your crypto investments, as most investing involves risk and crypto investing has a lot of risk.

Who is Public for?

Public is targeted at new investors looking for a fast way to get into the stock market and/or cryptocurrency trading, with a good community to talk about trades with and get support with their financial decisions.

Does Public provide research?

No. The public app does not provide stock market research, only links to research through the community personal financial advice.

Does Public have hidden fees?

Public does not have payment for order flow, so they do not have any fees for stocks and ETFs. However, they widen their spreads on cryptocurrencies to make extra revenue. They do disclose this, but they also say they have “no fees” so whether they have hidden fees is a matter of perspective.

You, as an investor using a Public account, should know that they they widen their crypto spreads when you invest with this Public app review.

My Final verdict: is Public any good?

Public is an excellent example of the new generation of ultra low-cost, low customer support investing app. They rightly tout their $0 stock and ETF fees, and widening of crypto fees are very attractive to new investors just learning how to trade.

The community aspects of the new ultra-low discount brokers is also a huge plus for the Public app review, as it gives support and confidence to new investors for trades they want to make.

Public Investing App FAQs

Are mobile apps like Public good for my personal finance portfolio?

Mobile apps can be a great addition to a personal finance portfolio because of the lack of commission fees, as long as you know they do not provide a retirement savings fund, high interest cash accounts, or a bank account like other higher cost brokers.

What if I need a human being at Public?

Public does not offer broker manned phone trades for selling stocks, nor does it offer a phone number for customer service questions. Live chat and email at [email protected] are the only options for customer service or market activities.

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