Stockpile Review 2018

By Claire Boyte-White  | May 15, 2018

A unique online brokerage using fractional share trading, allowing users to invest as much or as little as they like.

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Overall Rating

Stockpile Fast Facts

Stockpile was designed to allow people to give small amounts of stock and to teach children and beginning investors about the stock market. Rather than giving his kids and relatives toys or other 'things' for special occasions, Stockpile's founder, Avi Lele, wanted to give them stock. Frustrated that most of the stocks he wanted to give cost hundreds of dollars per share, Lele developed Stockpile so that people could give the gift of stock in lesser amounts, using fractional shares.

pros

  • Easy Gift Giving
    Gift cards can be purchased easily at many locations, like Safeway and Target
  • No Minimums
    No account minimums. Start trading fractional shares with as little as $5
  • Low Trading Fees
    Buying and selling stocks costs just $0.99 per trade
  • Simple Interface
    Both website and app are easy to use
  • Full-Functionality App
    The iOS and Android apps have the same features as the website, including the ability to deposit and withdraw funds

cons

  • No Other Security Types
    Stockpile only supports trading of stocks and ETFs
  • Limited Stocks Available
    Not all publicly traded stocks and ETFs are available
  • Delayed Execution
    To accommodate fractional shares, trades are bundled and executed at the end of each day, not when placed
  • Limited Educational Resources
    The Learn sections of the site and apps are focused on stock basics and how to use Stockpile
  • Bare-bones Research Tools
    Stockpile is built for simple, buy-and-hold investing. There are no interactive charts or other detailed research tools
Gifts of Stock
E-gifts/Physical Gift Cards
2010
Year Founded
1,000+
Number of Stocks and ETFs Available

Fees & Products

A commitment to clear, accessible pricing and low commissions is a big part of the Stockpile ethos. With no account minimums and no hidden account maintenance fees, Stockpile makes everything from account setup to trading and gift-giving easy and affordable. Since most of the trades placed on Stockpile are for fractional shares, Stockpile bundles trades from different users and executes trades en masse at the end of each market day. The process is much cheaper than immediate trade execution, and the savings are passed on to users in the form of $0.99 commissions, but it is a less agile platform than most active traders will need.

  • Stocks, ETFs and ADRs
    $0.99 per trade
  • Gift Cards*
    $2.99 for first stock add $0.99 for each additional stock
  • Options
    Not Available
  • Futures
    Not Available
  • Mutual Funds
    Not Available
  • Bonds & Fixed-Income
    Not Available
  • Forex
    Not Available
  • Cryptocurrency
    Not Available

Trust

As with any reputable brokerage, Stockpile is a member of both FINRA and SIPC. This means that the brokerage not only adheres to federal regulations for securities trading, but also that users are insured should Stockpile fail. Stockpile also takes your online security seriously. The site uses 256-bit encryption to keep data safe, and all sites -- both public access and private accounts -- are protected with TLS 1.3, one of the strongest encryption protocols available. However, neither the website nor the apps offer two-factor authentication. Accounts are only password-protected.

$250,000
Total Cash Insured
$500,000
Total securities Insured

What you need to know

Stockpiles reputation, membership with FINRA and SPIC and their level of security make Stockpile a good option for traders seeking a reliable option. While they do have high-security measures using some of the strongest encryption protocols available, they do not offer two-factor authentication and are only password-protected accounts.

Special Features

Stockpile special features

Stockpile is geared toward young people just starting out in investing, families who want to teach children about the stock market, and people seeking nontraditional gifts. Their custodial accouts are perfect for educating kids about what it means to invest. Since Stockpile does not court active or day traders, the company doesn't focus on best-execution promises or optimal market timing. Instead, it takes advantage of bundled trading to minimize costs for users, making it an accessible platform for those without huge amounts of capital or investment experience.

Wish List
Let family and friends know which you want
Redeem for Retail
Option to redeem for retail gift cards instead of stock
Curated Gift Bundles
Pre-selected collections with different themes, like coffee or social media
Invest With Credit Card
Use a credit or debit card or PayPal to fund your account

What you need to know

Stockpile has a specific product offering: It features are focused solely on gift cards and simple, affordable stock investing. Users can either select a stock or ETF to trade within their own account or purchase gift cards for others. Gift card senders can choose a specific stock to send, select a curated gift bundle of stocks, or send a gift redeemable for the stock of the recipient's choosing. If recipients don't want to redeem a gift card for stock, they can choose from a range of retail gift cards. An unusual feature of the Stockpile offering is the ability to fund your account, or purchase gift cards, with debit or credit cards. Credit card funding is not typically available on most other online platforms. While using a credit card for investing can be risky, it does make this investment platform more accessible to a wider range of people.

Desktop Experience

Desktop Platform Experience

The Stockpile platform, like its products, is straightforward and easy to understand. The limited product range makes for a user-friendly experience. From account setup to funding, gift card purchase to redemption, trading to withdrawals, everything on the platform is exactly where you'd expect it to be.

Pros

The website is simple and a great fit for those who are new to investing and may be intimidated by tickers and charts. A menu along the left side of the screen allows users to find their accounts quickly. Current portfolio values are displayed at the top for easy reference. The home screen also shows an easy-to-read chart displaying the change in your account's value over time. You can select weekly, monthly, annual, or all-time views. Below, your individual stock and ETF holdings are shown with large icons so you can easily click on an individual security to monitor its performance. When viewing information about a stock or ETF, clearly marked tabs allow you to see a past performance chart, statistics, recent news, and company information. Any multi-step process like depositing funds or selecting a gift card is laid out in bite-sized click-through steps. Users of any age and experience level will find this platform easy to use.

Cons

Again, Stockpile isn't built for especially advanced traders, those who want to time the market, or anyone who wants to really dive into the data. Stockpile supports only stock and ETF trading, and not all publicly traded stocks and ETFs are available for purchase. While performance charts are provided, they are not customizable or interactive, and all data is delayed by 15 minutes. While its commissions are extremely competitive and moderate and its options perfect for beginners and casual investors, Stockpile's limited product offerings and bare-bones platform will likely fall short for most active traders.

Mobile Experience

Mobile Platform Experience

Stockpile offers free apps for both iOS and Android devices. Once you connect your account, the apps offer the same functionality as the web-based site. You can check performance, make deposits or withdrawals, set up auto deposits, redeem gift cards, place trades, and check out the support guides with just a few taps.

Pros

The full-functionality apps are perhaps even better than the web-based platform because they offer all the same data in a much smaller, more portable package. While most brokerages offer an app of some kind, Stockpile's app is one of only a few that include all the features of the website. In fact, the app also offers a customizable watchlist function, which is not available on the website.

Cons

The primary drawback of the mobile apps is that they do not offer any kind of two-factor authentication. Since most people keep passwords saved somewhere on their phones, making them vulnerable should the phone be lost or stolen, having fingerprint ID or passcode authentication would add another level of protection for this investment app.

Customer Support

As mentioned above, Stockpile isn't built for active trading, so research tools and resources are limited. While there is enough basic information on each security to determine its performance history, you won't find the types of data you'd need to really analyze trends.

What you need to know

Stockpile has no brick-and-mortar office to visit, which is one reason they can keep costs low, and does not offer a phone line for customer service. However, their popup chat window informs users that the team usually responds within one day to all queries. Since this platform isn't made for active traders, and trades are executed at market close, there presumably isn't as much need for immediate customer support. Stockpile also has active accounts on both Facebook and Twitter, where followers can read articles and keep up to date on special offers.

Research & Insights

As mentioned above, Stockpile isn't built for active trading, so research tools and resources are limited. While there is enough basic information on each security to determine its performance history, you won't find the types of data you'd need to really analyze trends.

performance Chart
Basic price information only; no studies or indicators
Company Fundamentals
Basic statistics like price high/low, P/E ratio, dividend yield
Watchlists
Watchlists for every category
Related News
Security profile includes daily news items, not searchable
Curated Lists
Use biggest gainers, most popular, and most active lists for ideas
Blog
Searchable articles on market movements, financial strategies, and more

Pros

The benefit of Stockpile's minimalist research suite is that new investors (young and old) are not likely to feel overwhelmed. No streaming tickers or nested windows of complicated statistics clutter up the page. Basic information is provided on every ticker in an easy-to-read format, allowing users to pick stocks based more on personal knowledge of the brand and its products than on technical or fundamental analysis.

Cons

The flipside, of course, is that there's little in the way of real research. If you're looking for a chart that shows anything but price or allows you to plot studies alongside up-to-the-tick data, this isn't the platform for you. Of course, for $0.99 per trade, you could potentially do your research elsewhere and use Stockpile to place actual trades to keep your costs down, but you'd need to be OK with once-a-day execution at market close.

Education

The educational offerings are a bit more robust and include a wide selection of educational articles and lessons aimed at educating inexperienced investors. There is no need to cover mutual funds, managed portfolio options, or the pros and cons of active versus passive investing, but Stockpile provides a reasonably comprehensive collection of educational pieces focused on how stocks work, stock market basics, and how to best use the platform.

Glossary
Find out what stock market jargon really means
Mini Lessons
Learn the basics of stock investing and beyond
Advice and Answers Forum
Ask questions and get answers from the Stockpile staff

What you need to know

For new investors or kids under 18 who are learning about investing and how to make good financial decisions, the educational features on Stockpile will be helpful. Like the rest of the site, the Blog and Learn sections are designed to be engaging and easy to navigate. Much of the most important, basic information is available in more than one place for easy access. For example, an answer to the question "What is stock?" can be found in both the mini lessons in the Learn section, and in the Advice and Answers forum. For those who already know the basics of investing and the stock market, these resources are unlikely to further your education.

Bottom Line

Stockpile isn't trying to compete with larger brokerages by offering cutting-edge research tools or professionally managed portfolios. Instead, it is focused on making investing easy and affordable for people of all ages and incomes. Because users can invest by the dollar, not the share, Stockpile gives people of any income level access to even the most expensive blue-chip stocks. What's more, by allowing people to give the gift of stock in the form of gift cards, Stockpile offers an entertaining alternative to traditional gifts and a simple way to introduce the next generation to the basics of investing.

Claire Boyte-White
Reviewed by Claire Boyte-White

  • • Investopedia Contributor since 2014
  • • Lead Writer for NapkinFinance.com
  • • Co-Author of I Am Net Worthy, a Millennial-focused book on financial independence

Experience

Claire has been writing about personal and corporate finance, retirement planning, investing, and tax policy since 2013.

Claire believes that financial literacy resources and investing education should be readily available to everyone, so she enjoys making complex topics accessible and engaging. Her keen attention to detail and head for numbers have made her a perfect fit for Investopedia.

Education

Claire received her Bachelors from Willamette University with a degree in Psychology.

Quote from Claire

"I know many people find investing and financial topics overwhelming. As our cultural and economic landscape continues to change rapidly, it's more important than ever for everyone - from new college grads to retirees - to feel comfortable and competent when it comes to financial planning. I consider my role in the industry to be that of a facilitator: breaking down intimidating concepts and making financial literacy accessible to all."

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