SoFi vs Acorns: Which Is Better for You?

Updated November 28, 2021

SoFi is a large online lender and investment firm that offers a simple way to invest through its Automated Investing platform. Great for beginners, SoFi is one of the best robo advisors and has only a $5 account minimum, charges no management fee, and even gives users access to Certified Financial PlannersTM (CFPs®) at no additional cost.

Acorns is a financial app that rounds up the change on your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the difference. It offers full management of your investments, helps you choose an investment strategy, and invests in a wide range of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to keep costs low. Acorns charges a flat monthly fee, and comes with a built-in checking account and rewards debit card as well.

We’ve compared both SoFi and Acorns’ robo-advisory services, breaking down the pricing, investment options, security, and user experience of each.

SoFi vs Acorns Overview

FeaturesSoFi Automated InvestingAcorns
Account Fees 
  • No annual management fee
  • $75 to transfer funds out
  • Personal: $3 per month, includes investment account, IRA, and checking account
  • Family: $5 per month includes everything in Personal plus kids’ investment account
Expense Ratios 
  • 0.00% to 0.19%, depending on funds selected
  • 0.03 - 0.34%
Account Minimums
  • $5
  • $0 to open, $5 to start investing
Investment Options
  • ETFs in over a dozen asset classes; 10 portfolio choices based on risk and account options
  • Access to 22 ETFs in seven asset classes
Investment Account Options
  • Taxable brokerage accounts
  • IRA, Roth IRA, Rollover IRA
  • Joint accounts
  • Keogh plans
  • Taxable brokerage accounts
  • IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA
  • UTMA/UGMA accounts
Portfolio Construction
  • Automatic portfolio rebalancing on all accounts
  • Automatic portfolio rebalancing on all accounts
Tax Strategy
  • Access to municipal bonds
  • None
Customer Service and Support
  • Phone and email support, 5am to 7pm PST, seven days a week
Mobile Compatibility
  • Mobile app available; Website is mobile-friendly
  • Mobile app available; Website is mobile-friendly
Account Setup
  • Simple online account setup
  • Sign up for free with your email address, provide personal information and goals, and fund the account for as little as $5
  • Simple account setup, all done online or through mobile app
  • Sign up for free with your email address, provide personal information, answer a few questions, and fund the account (no minimum balance required, but $5 needed to make an investment)
Security
  • Bank-grade data protection, two-factor authentication
  • Bank-grade data protection, 256-bit AES encryption, two-factor authentication
Ease of access
  • Mobile app for full account management
  • Mobile app for full account management, website offers help center

About SoFi

Sofi started in 2011 as a student loan provider, but has since expanded its business to include personal loans, bank accounts, credit cards, and even the ability to invest in crypto. SoFi launched its investing platform in 2019 as a way to help investors access stocks and ETFs with no trading fees. 

Sofi Automated Investing is a robo-advisory service that uses advanced computer algorithms (e.g. fancy software programs) to help users build an investing portfolio to save for large financial goals, such as retirement or buying a home. 

About Acorns

Acorns is a micro-investing app that allows users to round up purchases from their debit or credit card and invest the difference. Acorns was the first of its kind when it launched in 2014, and has since grown into a full investment management platform and banking service. Acorns helps users build investment portfolios with a range of low-cost ETFs, as well as helping users understand their risk tolerance when investing.

Acorns has no account minimums, and as users round up their purchases, the spare change is transferred from a user’s linked checking account into Acorns. Once the balance reaches $5, Acorns will purchase the investments selected in a user’s portfolio. Acorns also allows users to set up an automated investing plan, with recurring transfers from their bank account to fund the Acorns investing account.

Acorns offers two account levels:

Acorns Personal: For $3/month, users can open a brokerage account, IRA, and checking account with a debit card.

Acorns Family: For $5/month, users get access to everything from Acorns Personal, plus the ability to open kids’ investment accounts.

Main Features of SoFi vs Acorns

Both SoFi and Acorns are great options for beginner investors who want to dip their toes into the investing world. Both charge low fees and offer a mix of investments to choose from. Here are a few of the top features for both SoFi and Acorns:

SoFi Management Fees (Free)

Sofi Automated Investing allows users to sign up and invest as little as $5, and charges no annual management fees. This is unique among robo-advisors, which may charge in the range of 0.15% to 0.89% per year. SoFi also offers access to licensed financial advisors and career coaches as part of its “free” service, making it even more valuable to investors.

SoFi may make money through the underlying investments of the robo-advisory service, such as the SoFi-sponsored ETFs. These funds are included in most portfolios automatically, and may come with a higher expense ratio than other ETFs. Currently, fees on these funds are waived through June 30, 2022.

SoFi Access to Certified Financial Planners™

Sofi Automated Investing is one of the only robo-advisory services that gives users access to a Certified Financial Planner™ at no additional cost. While some robo-advisors offer add-on or upgraded services for access to financial advisors, there is typically a higher annual fee.

SoFi advisors can help with financial planning, including debt payoff strategies, savings goals, and answer any investing questions you may have. CFPs® are available by phone, email, online chat, or even video chat.

SoFi Career Coaches

Sofi Automated Investing customers have access to complimentary career coaching, which can help users negotiate a pay raise, find job offers, come up with a career change strategy, prepare a resume, learn how to negotiate, or simply have their career questions answered. Anyone who is a SoFi customer of certain products, such as SoFi loans, mortgages, or investment accounts, has access to these complimentary career coaches.

Acorns Round-Up Feature

Acorns allows users to start investing small amounts by rounding up purchases to the nearest dollar, and then transferring the difference from a linked checking account. Once the Acorns savings balance reaches $5, the funds will be invested. This micro-investing strategy helps users invest without even thinking about it, essentially “tricking” users into saving and investing.

Users can link debit or credit cards to round-up purchases, though funds can only be transferred from a linked checking account.

Acorns Rewards

Acorns offers rewards for shopping at partner retailers or finding a job through the Acorns mobile app. Acorns has also partnered with over 12,000 online retailers that offer cash back when you use the Acorns Earn Chrome extension that allows users to earn bonuses while shopping online. 

When a user makes a qualified purchase, the cash back bonus is deposited into a user’s Acorns account and invested, just like their spare change. This is a convenient way to take your cash back and turn it directly into investment dollars.

Acorns Kids’ Investing Accounts (UTMA/UGMA)

Acorns offers investing accounts for kids as part of its Acorns Family plan. This allows parents to open an investing account for their kids. The Acorns UTMA/UGMA custodial investing account offers the same access to investments and portfolio management as the standard investment accounts, but are also transferable to the child once they turn 18 years old. This can be a great way to help kids learn about investing and make their first investments with a small amount of money.

  • Note: UTMA/UGMA accounts may reduce a child’s eligibility for financial aid, such as student loans or grants. We recommend consulting with a financial professional before opening a custodial account for your child.


Who SoFi is Best for?

SoFi Automated Investing is ideal for beginner investors who want access to Certified Financial PlannersTM and online investment management for no annual fee. It offers a wide selection of ETFs, the ability to set up recurring investments, and even access to career coaches. New investors can get started for as little as $5.

SoFi is also great for users that want access to lending products, such as mortgages or personal loans, as SoFi Automated Investing clients gain access to exclusive discounts on loans. SoFi also offers credit cards, insurance, and other financial products, making it a one-stop shop for your finances.

Who Acorns is Best for?

Acorns is ideal for customers who may be too overwhelmed by financial jargon and complicated investment firms. It makes investing easy, with a simple-to-use mobile app and the ability to round up purchases to save money in small amounts. Acorns also offers the ability to earn rewards through its mobile app and Chrome extension and invests the cash back earned. 

Acorns helps automate the investing process, allowing users to also set up recurring investments, as well as the ability to 2x or 10x “round-ups” for additional investing. Combine that with its diversified portfolios of low-cost ETFs, and Acorns can help investors grow their savings with confidence.

Want free money? Acorns will give you $10 to get started today.

Summary

Both SoFi Automated Investing and Acorns are aimed at beginner investors, offering simple on-boarding and intuitive mobile apps to make it easy to invest. With low (or no) monthly fees, and a wide selection of ETFs, both apps help investors make smart money choices.

SoFi is geared toward educating investors, with direct access to licensed financial advisors and career coaches to help its users grow their investments and their careers. Acorns is a great way to gamify investing, rounding up purchases and rewarding users that use Acorns to shop online.

Overall, both robo-advisors help new investors start investing, without the huge account minimums of other investment firms.

Want more options? Check out the 13 best robo advisors.

References:

https://www.sofi.com/faq/#automated-investing
https://www.acorns.com/pricing/
https://support.acorns.com/hc/en-us/articles/360052528474-What-is-a-Pros...
https://www.sofi.com/faq/
https://www.acorns.com/chrome-extension/

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Mark Herman has been helping friends with financial questions since serving as an Army helicopter pilot. Since then, he’s gained valuable experience in the corporate world before moving on to become a Certified Financial Planner™.

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