Best Alternative Investment Platforms

Read our Advertiser Disclosure.
Contributor, Benzinga
December 26, 2023
verified by Kevin Vandenboss

Looking for ways to diversify your portfolio and boost returns? This list of the best alternative investment platforms is a great place to start.

Different financial advisors take different approaches to investing. But the piece of advice that nearly all of them give almost all of their clients is to diversify their portfolio. The logic behind this is simple. Even the best investments go through down cycles, which means putting all your investment eggs in 1 basket is inherently risky. Diversifying your portfolio minimizes the risk that all your investments go south at the same time.  One of the best ways to diversify your portfolio is by making alternative investments.

Quick Look: Best Alt Invest Platforms

Best Alternative Investing Platforms

One of the miracles of the internet is how much smaller it has made the world of investing. Before the internet, if you wanted to make an alternative investment in wine or art, you’d have to have a wine cellar or warehouse to store it in. Then you’d have to arrange security and insurance for the investments. It would literally be a full-time job. 

But thanks to the internet, there are now dozens of alternative investment platforms where you can pick and choose what to invest in while someone else does the heavy lifting. Some of Benzinga’s favorite alternative platforms are listed below.

Best for Investing in Rental Homes: Ark7

  • securely through ark7's website
    securely through ark7's website
    Best For:
    Accredited and Non-Accredited Investors
    Rating:
    Read Review

    Ark7 makes money by charging a sourcing fee and an asset management fee on its investments. Its sourcing fee is equal to 3% of the property market cap (determined by the property’s net operating income and dividing it by its value.)

Ark7 serves as a fractional real estate investing platform that wants to make it easier for you to access rental properties. This means that you’re not buying into a REIT or trying to find a specific property to buy. You have control over the properties where your money goes, you can expand or contract your portfolio as much as you like, and it’s available to accredited and non-accredited investors.

There’s no minimum on this platform, there are no commissions for transactions and you can review the portfolio to see what interests you most. Yes, the sourcing fees may seem to be a bit high, but the platform still makes it easier than ever to get into the property sector.

Pros

  • Fractional real estate investing is an easy way to access a market that can be quite pricey
  • This is even easier to manage than investing in a REIT

Cons

  • You may not want to get too specific with your real estate investments

Best for Fractional Real Estate: Arrived Homes

Arrived Homes is one of the newest and fastest growing crowdfunding platforms on the internet. The company allows non-accredited investors to buy shares in carefully selected rental properties.

The minimum investment is only $100, making it easy to start earning passive income from property investments and to diversify across multiple properties. Investors simply collect quarterly dividends from their properties while waiting for the asset to increase in value over time. Arrived Homes takes care of finding tenants as well as all of the management

Pros

  • Non-accredited investors can access a marketplace that can be extremely difficult to enter, especially when properties are so expensive
  • There’s no need to manage these properties because Arrived is doing the work for you
  • You can start small and grow your investment at your own pace

Cons

  • You may feel as though you don’t have as much information on some of these properties as you might like, giving you a less “hands on” feeling

Best for Real Estate Crowdfunding: CrowdStreet

CrowdStreet is a real estate crowdfunding platform that offers investors the chance to purchase equity shares in various real estate investments around the country. It’s a great way to get involved in property investing, but you must be an accredited investor to buy into any CrowdStreet offerings. That means only investors who pass a certain net worth threshold are eligible.

If you are accredited, CrowdStreet offers some great investment opportunities with the potential for very high returns. The downside is that the minimum buy-ins are on the high side, and most CrowdStreet investments don’t pay dividends for several years. 

Pros

  • You can invest in properties across the country in one place
  • CrowdStreet allows you to look into different types of properties and decide what might be best for you

Cons

  • Only accredited investors are allowed, meaning some investors will be left out

Best for Employers and Employees: EquityBee

EquityBee is an excellent alternative investment platform, providing investors with access to startups and growing firms. At the same time, startups and companies with big ideas can access retail investors through EquityBee—broadening their reach.

Employees can use the platform to push their stock options back into the firm and take part in its future success. 

Investors can use EquityBee to diversify their investments, gain access to companies that have no IPO’d or even make their first investments in the private sector. 

By funding employee stock options, EquityBee makes it possible to serve both team members and investors. With a minimum investment of $10,000, EquityBee allows you to get in on the ground level today.

Pros

  • You can invest in a whole new part of a business that most people forget about
  • The minimum is relatively low considering the nature of the investment

Cons

  • You may not want to invest in something other than employee stock options
  • Employee stock option investments can get complicated

Best for Trading Ideas: Public.com

If you want to diversify your portfolio beyond stocks, ETFs, and crypto, you may be looking at alternative assets as a new investment vehicle. Public.com recently launched alternative assets on their platform—meaning you can now invest in art, collectibles, and more right from their app.

You can use the interactive interface to learn more about each asset you choose before buying, and you can track the movement of each asset so that you know your investments are truly performing.

If you’re not sure what to buy or when to sell, you can check out the social feed to learn what other traders are doing. Perhaps they’ll lend you some inspiration.

Plus, there’s a massive educational section where you can learn all about alternative assets and how they should fit into your portfolio. All of this happens on your mobile phone or tablet and you don’t need any investing experience to get started.

Pros

  • This platform is designed to help you learn and invest slowly, over time
  • You can access alternative investments where some other platforms do not offer this option

Cons

  • Public.com may seem too simplistic for some investors

Best for Accredited Investors: DLP Capital

  • securely through DLP Capital's website
    securely through DLP Capital's website
    Best For:
    Individual Investors Seeking Passive Income
    Rating:
    Read Review

DLP Capital functions as a private financial and real estate investment firm that allows you access to large cities and attainable workforce housing. The solutions and investment products that are provided both inform and enlighten the individual investor, and the platform as a whole has never missed a payment distribution to investors. Plus, the platform has never lost investor principal. 

While the platform is only designed accredited investors, you can expect regular distributions after gaining access to workforce housing projects along with some tax benefits that may come with these investments. 

All investments are subject to an intensive screening process, and due diligence is complete on each property just as would be done with a standard investment or property management company. 

Every investment is highly liquid, these investments do not correlate with the stock market and allows you to diversify your portfolio even more than before. Plus, all returns are paid to investors before fees are removed.

Pros

  • The liquidity on the site is rather high considering the type of investments it offers
  • The screening on these investments helps you save quite a lot of time

Cons

  • Workforce housing may not seem like the sort of investment that will grab your interest

Best for Non-Accredited Investors: Cityfunds by Nada

  • securely through Nada / Cityfunds's website
    securely through Nada / Cityfunds's website
    Best For:
    Accredited and Non Accredited Investors
    Rating:

When you invest in Cityfunds by Nada, you can invest in a piece of a city for as little as $250. Anyone can buy into the program at any time with this small minimum deposit, and you are putting your stake into a piece of a city.

The firm invests in residential properties in a particular market, especially high-demand markets like Miami, Dallas and Austin. You can also buy and sell your shares in these cities like stocks so that you aren’t relying on a particular development to see a return.

In short, Cityfunds by Nada combines what you love about ETFs with what is the largest asset class in the world. Plus, you can get yourself on the waitlist for the Nada Card, a debit card that will allow you to earn rewards that you can invest further in your real estate portfolio.

Pros

  • This platform helps you focus on specific cities that may interest you
  • You can diversify within the platform by investing in multiple cities

Cons

  • Some investors may feel like residential real estate investing is not as lucrative as other sectors

Best for Investors Looking for a Diverse Range of Offerings: EquityMultiple

EquityMultiple is a new alternative investment platform that uses technology to make property investing easier to understand for the investor, especially when you need help choosing the right investments. There are short-term and long-term growth options, and you can make the most of the cash you invest by pinpointing the real estate in which you would like to invest, without buying properties yourself.

In short, EquityMultiple offers:

  • Quick returns
  • Low buy-in pricing, often less than $10,000
  • Excellent client support

Remember, this platform is only for accredited investors, but it allows you to do the hands-on work that you do with your other investments. You can learn all the information you need to know, but you’re never tasked with managing these properties. You simply see the profits when they come in.

Pros

  • Quick returns help you see what the platform can do for you and if it is worth your time and money
  • You can choose from short and long-term investments, depending on your personal strategy

Cons

  • You may not want to buy in at the level this platform requires

Best for Diverse Range of Offerings: Yieldstreet

Yieldstreet offers an all-in-one alternative investment platform with offerings for non-accredited investors as well as offerings available to accredited investors only. Yieldstreet regularly has new investment opportunities available, ranging from commercial real estate, art equity funds, structured notes, portfolios of consumer debt and many others.

Even if you're not quite ready to jump into one of Yieldstreet's offerings, it's worth signing up for the platform to gain access to the many webinars and educational content available to learn the ins and outs of various types of alternative investments.

Pros

  • You can choose from several options on this platform
  • You can diversify without opening multiple accounts

Cons

  • You may not feel like the offerings in your preferred category are robust enough

Best for Investors Seeking a 1031 Exchange for Tax Deferral & Access to DST: Kay Properties & Investments

  • securely through Kay Properties and Investments's website
    securely through Kay Properties and Investments's website
    Best For:
    Best for Investors Seeking a 1031 Exchange for Tax Deferral & Access Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) Opportunities
    Rating:
    Read Review

When investors, such as yourself, look into real estate, they often cringe at the idea of buying and managing properties outright. There are other ways to enter the real estate market, however, and one of the most overlooked is the DST 1031 exchange. At Kay Properties & Investments, you can diversify your portfolio with passive ownership or find properties for your 1031 or 1033 exchange. 

You can use the properties you find through Kay to:

  • Defer capital gains taxes
  • Access a variety of asset classes
  • Search for a range of geographic locations
  • Seek out varying leverage scenarios

With these tax-smart investment options, you can begin to build a portfolio that doesn’t require you to carry debt or hire a massive staff to manage each new property. Remember, the platform is only available to accredited investors, but there are experts available to answer your questions, 25 sponsor companies that make the magic possible and 200 years of experience for every investor to fall back on, making a DST a quality option for your portfolio.

Pros

  • Tax advantages of the DST can help defray other costs or liabilities
  • You can invest in a unique product that requires very little overhead or work on your part
  • You’re not tasked with truly owning and managing properties when you invest with Kay

Cons

  • Not all investors can afford to hold their positions for long periods of time

Best for Accredited Energy Investors: Energia

In its simplest form, Energia allows accredited investors to purchase fractional shares in oil and gas wells that are thoroughly vetted to offer the best chance of success and profitability. Energia partners with sponsors who help purchase these assets and maintain their value. Plus, Energia allows you to learn more about energy investing, shows you all the information you need to see about each asset and uses AI, machine learning and advanced analytics to select only the best offerings. Think of Energia as the perfect intersection of real estate and exposure to energy prices.

Pros

  • Energia works diligently to build offerings that are appropriate for investors
  • You get support submitting your accreditation documents
  • The customer service team is both responsive and knowledgeable

Cons

  • Energy assets such as these may not serve as a hedge against economic turmoil

Best for Real Estate Notes: Groundfloor

Groundfloor is an alternative real estate investing platform that offers investments in high-yield, short-term property loans. The platform is open to non-accredited investors and private individuals looking for active real estate alternative investment. Groundfloor has great volume with an average of 50-70 investments available at any given time.. 

Individuals with small portfolios will also like the low $10 minimum and 0 investor fees. The low minimum investment allows investors to easily diversify their Groundfloor portfolio across multiple loan offerings. 

Pros

  • This platform allows you to get into the real estate market in new and interesting ways
  • The super-low minimum is perfect for new investors

Cons

  • The range of investments, while impressive, may confuse novice investors

Best for Commercial Real Estate Insights: Placer.ai

When you’re looking for the best and most current information on commercial real estate properties, you can turn to Placer.ai for assistance. This platform helps you make decisions based on available data, which can even include residential, retail, brokerage, government, finance and hospitality listings. 

You learn quite a bit from Placer.ai, including:

  • Visitation trends
  • Foot traffic figures
  • Cross-shopping habits
  • Co-tenant information
  • Combined metrics using these figures and more

Using this platform, you can review any property in any state across the country. You can even search the city, state and ZIP code, depending on your needs. This is a simple way to identify new business opportunities or to learn the truth of a property in which you are already interested. 

Pros

  • Useful for even a sole proprietor investor
  • Helpful for businesses looking to open new locations
  • Offers information that tells business owners a better idea of their income potential

Cons

  • The lengthy subscriptions may not be cost-effective for your needs

Best for Art: Masterworks

  • securely through Masterworks's website
    securely through Masterworks's website
    Best For:
    Art Investing
    Rating:

This alternative investment platform is based on fine art. It identifies select artists and buys works, which are then registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a regulation A share offering. Investors will then share in the profits when the artwork they’ve invested in is sold. 

Masterworks features works from famous artists both living and dead. In fact, it even has works by Banksy — the pseudonym of the England-based Street artist.  This is, however, a long-term investment. Unlike investment real estate, there is no residual income generated by Masterworks investments, and investors must be willing to wait for several years before earning a dividend. 

Pros

  • Art is an excellent long-term investment
  • You can access art pieces that would have never known about or could afford

Cons

  • You may prefer to invest in art you physically own and display

Best for Wine: Vint

  • securely through Vint's website
    securely through Vint's website
    Best For:
    Securitized Wine Investments
    Rating:
    Read Review

Anyone who has ever been to a fancy restaurant and ordered a bottle of wine knows it can be expensive. That’s because wine is produced in finite quantities, and fine wine is in high demand worldwide. That makes it a great alternative investment. Vint allows retail investors to benefit from the price increased caused by this high demand with its wine investment platform.

Vint has the buying power, industry connections and knowledge necessary to gain access to the most sought-after wines on the market at attractive prices before they reach peak value. The company also makes it possible for individual investors to gain access to these wines with a much smaller minimum investment than seeking these bottles out on their own.

Pros

  • You can turn your love for wine and spirits into a diversifying investment
  • You can get in for small minimums, which are akin to the price of more affordable wines

Cons

  • You may want to invest in wines that you plan to drink. For example, saving nice bottles for special occasions like weddings, anniversaries, graduations, births, etc.

Best for Watches: Bezel

The luxury watch market has been growing of late, and Bezel allows you to enter this market without hunting in antique shops or social media marketplaces. Launched in 2022, Bezel offers a highly curated selection of luxury timepieces from household names like Cartier, Rolex, Tag Heuer, Tiffany and more. 

Bezel’s mobile app is just as easy to use as its website, and the catalog appeals to both new collectors and timepiece enthusiasts or even those looking for that one special watch.

At Bezel, you gain peace of mind and get the value you deserve with:

  • Digital and in-house authentication of every timepiece before it’s listed for sale
  • A range of sellers from private owners to dealers and resellers
  • Extraordinary customer care
  • Fully insured overnight shipping
  • Available warranties (for an added cost)

While Bezel is only available in the U.S., it’s the best way for you to invest in watches, add value to a diverse portfolio, adorn your wrist with some luxury, find the perfect gift or resell a watch that lost its spot in your rotation.

Pros

  • You can access many styles and brands in one place
  • The platform verifies the authenticity of every timepiece so that you don’t need to

Cons

  • While timepieces tend to not go out of style, you may prefer to own a single, classic watch that you wear regularly

What is an Alternative Investment?

Any investment you make in something outside of stocks and bonds is considered an alternative investment. It may sound exotic but in reality, people have been making alternative investments for a long time. Historically, real estate and gold are two of the most popular alternative investments. You can diversify your portfolio by making alternative investments as supplements to your stocks and bonds, or you can have a portfolio that consists entirely of different alternative investments.  

Types of Alternative Investments

As discussed in the section above, real estate and gold are two of the most commonly held alternative investments. With that said, there is a multitude of alternative investments you can make. Here are some of the most popular options:

  1. Rental or investment properties
  2. Precious metals (gold, silver, platinum)
  3. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Dogecoin
  4. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
  5. Startups
  6. Collectibles such as baseball cards, historical items and rare jewelry
  7. Wine
  8. Art

Diversify With Preferred Alternative Investments

Alternative investments may sound like a fancy, New Age concept, but that’s far from the truth. In fact, if you own property, you have already made an alternative investment. Many people who see the wisdom of investing, but are put off by the volatility of the stock market, have been gravitating toward alternative investments for quite some time. With that said, it’s important to remember that there is an incredible variety of alternative investments outside of real property or even gold. The rise of internet-based alternative investment platforms has opened up a whole new world to potential investors.

Now you can buy shares of startup companies, wine futures and even sports collectibles as alternative investments. Some have high payoffs and an elevated risk level, while others may require investor accreditation and the ability to wait a long time before earning a dividend. 

Other alternative investments have an active secondary market that allows you to liquidate your shares quickly. The variety is nearly limitless. Alternative investments can be a great way to diversify your portfolio, but you still must consider the risks and choose wisely. As always, Benzinga is a great place to go for neutral information on all the pluses and minuses. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

What are some examples of alternative investments?

A

Any investments made in something aside from stocks and bonds are considered to be alternative investments. Examples of popular alternative investments include the following: gold, real estate, wine, sports collectibles, startups, art, cryptocurrency.

Q

What are the best alternative investments?

A

The answer to that question depends on several factors, and the answer will vary depending on the needs of each investor. Long-term, accredited investors might like REITs, but there are also real estate offerings for nonaccredited investors as well.

Other investors may already have real estate holdings and want to buy into niche investments that pique their personal interests such as wine or sports collectibles. In all cases, investors have to consider their liquidity and individual risk tolerance before deciding what investment is best for them. What might be right for one, may not be right for another.

Q

Are alternative investments profitable?

A

Yes, alternative investments can be profitable, but they generate profit in different ways. For example, real estate may generate steady income while wine, watches and collectibles may only generate income when they are sold.

Accelerate Your Wealth

Arrived Homes allows retail investors to buy shares of individual rental properties for as little as $100. Arrived Homes acquires properties in some of the fastest-growing rental markets in the country, then sells shares to individual investors who simply collect passive income while waiting for the property to appreciate in value over 5 to 7 years. When the time is right, Arrived Homes sells the property so investors can cash in on the equity they've gained over time. Offerings are available to non-accredited investors. Sign up for an account on Arrived Homes to browse available properties and add real estate to your portfolio today.