Stash and Acorns both make investing accessible for beginners. Both services do this by offering a selection of low-cost investments and support for users to save for retirement and other financial goals. While Acorns helps users invest spare change by rounding up purchases, Stash helps users by building personalized investment portfolios.

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

Stash vs Acorns Overview

Features

Stash

IA Rating: 4.8 out of 5

Acorns

IA Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Account Fees

Stash Beginner: $1/month

Stash Growth: $3/month

Stash+: $9/month

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

varies depending on portfolio and funds selected

0.03 - 0.34%

Account Minimums

$0 to open account

No investing minimum3

$0 to open, $5 to start investing

Investment Options/Choices

Over 3,000 individuals stocks and ETFs in 20 asset classes

Socially responsible investment (SRI) funds available

Access to 22 ETFs in seven asset classes

Investment Account Options

Individual taxable brokerage accounts

IRA, Roth IRA

UTMA/UGMA accounts

Taxable brokers accounts

IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA

UTMA/UGMA accounts

Portfolio Construction

Automatic rebalancing of Smart Portfolio on Stash Growth and Stash+ accounts

Automatic portfolio rebalancing on all accounts

Tax Strategy

None

None

Customer Service and Support

Phone, email, and live chat support available Monday - Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST

Phone and email support, 6am 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 an account online, select account type, answer a few questions, select investment options (or Smart Portfolio), and fund the account ($0.05 minimum to invest).3

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. FDIC insurance ($250,000), SIPC insurance through their custodian Apex Clearing ($500,000)

Bank-grade data protection, 256-bit AES encryption, two-factor authentication. FDIC insurance ($250,000), SIPC insurance ($500,000)

Ease of access

Mobile app available, plus a full-featured website with a customer dashboard.

Mobile app for full account management, website offers help center.

About Stash

Stash is an investing app and robo-advisory service that helps users choose their investments through a series of questions and educational tools. Users can access over 3,000 exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and individual stocks, as well as personalized financial advice.

There are several levels of service available from Stash, from basic investment planning, to automatic investment management, to opening investment accounts for kids. Here’s a quick breakdown of each level of service:

Stash Beginner ($1/mo): Provides access to a personalized portfolio recommendation, Stash banking account, and the Stock-Back® Card1 (which rewards users with stocks instead of cash back). Users are responsible for manually purchasing the suggested investments to build the portfolio.

Stash Growth ($3/mo): Stash Growth offers everything in Stash Beginner, as well as the ability to open retirement accounts (IRAs). The “Smart Portfolio” option allows users to set up recurring investments4, as well as automatic portfolio rebalancing.

Stash+ ($9/mo): Stash+ offers everything in the previous two levels, plus 2x stock back2 with the Stock-Back® Card1, and access to investing accounts for kids.

Sign up with Stash and get $20 of free stock immediately when you fund your account.

About Acorns

Acorns is a mobile investing app and robo-advisor that helps users save and invest their spare change. It also offers a bank account with a debit card and reimbursed ATM fees. Users can invest in a range of low-cost ETFs, which Acorns uses to build investment portfolios, ranging from conservative to aggressive. Accounts are funded by rounding up purchases made from a linked checking account. Once the rounded up change amounts to $5 or more, Acorns invests those funds into the user’s investment portfolio. Acorns also gives users the ability to set up a recurring investment into the portfolio.

There are two levels of service available:

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 for parents to open kids’ investment accounts (as a custodian).

Main Features of Stash vs Acorns

Both Stash and Acorns can help make investing less scary for beginner investors. Here are a few of the stand-out features that each service offers:

Stash Personal Portfolio

Stash offers a personalized portfolio recommendation at every level of service, showing users the ETF and stocks recommended for their risk profile. Portfolio recommendations, which are based on the answers to the onboarding questionnaire, place users into risk profiles to select the appropriate asset allocation.

Users can adjust this portfolio at any time, and also pick socially-responsible investment (SRI) funds to include in their portfolio. Some examples include the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF, or the iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF, both which focus on environmental impact.

Stash Stock and ETF Selection

Stash has over 3,000 individual stocks and ETFs to choose from (and growing), giving users the ability to truly customize their Personal Portfolio. This wide selection is unique among robo-advisors, as most services offer a dozen or so ETFs.

Stash also renames ETFs according to themes, which makes it easier to understand what you’re investing in by describing what is in each fund. For example; Stash renamed Vanguard’s VTI fund, “Stocks Nationwide,” helping users understand the fund owns stocks within the U.S. total stock market index.

Acorns Round-Up Feature

Acorns was the first app to round-up a user’s spare change, which helps users ease into investing.

Each purchase from a linked debit or credit card account is rounded up to the nearest dollar, and then transferred to your Acorns account through the linked checking account. After $5-worth of change has been transferred, the funds will be invested.

RELATED: A Full Breakdown of Savings Accounts to Help You Find the Best Rates

Acorns Rewards

Acorns has partnered with over 12,000 online retailers that offer cash back when you use a linked card to make a purchase from that store. For example, Apple, Nike, and Wal-Mart all help Acorns users earn money with their purchases.

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. In addition, Acorns has a Chrome extension that allows users to earn bonuses while shopping online.

Stash and Acorns UTMA/UGMA Kids’ Investing Account

Both Stash and Acorns offer investing accounts for kids as part of their top-tier plans. This allows parents to open and invest into a UTMA/UGMA custodial investing account for their children.

These custodial accounts offer the same access to investments and portfolio management as the standard investment accounts. Accounts are transferable to the child once they are 18 years of age.

• 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.

Stash and Acorns Automatic Rebalancing

Both Stash and Acorns offer automatic rebalancing on investment accounts, which means the service will automatically buy or sell investments to keep your asset allocation the same. This rebalancing happens periodically, or when the portfolio drifts too far away from the predetermined asset allocation.

For example, consider an aggressive portfolio with 80% stock ETFs and 20% bond ETFs. Since stock investments may gain faster returns, your asset allocation could eventually shift to 85% stock ETFs and 15% bond ETFs. In this case, the portfolio will sell some stock ETFs to purchase bond ETFs and get you back to an 80% stock, 20% bond portfolio.

Stash and Acorns Fee Structures

Both Stash and Acorns use a flat-fee structure for management fees, with users paying a small monthly rate. This makes it easy to understand exactly what you are paying for each service.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each company’s fees:

Stash Fees:
Stash Beginner: $1 per month
Stash Growth: $3 per month
Stash+: $9 per month

Acorns Fees:
Acorns Personal: $3 per month
Acorns Family: $5 per month

While these fees seem low, those with smaller account balances may end up paying a large percentage in fees. Here’s a quick example:

If you invest $1,000 with Stash or Acorns using the $3/month plan, you are paying $36 per year in management fees. This ends up being a 3.6% annual management fee. Most robo-advisors charge about 0.15% - 0.35% in annual management fees, so both Stash and Acorns are charging much higher fees for those with small account balances.

RELATED: Personal Capital Review

Who Stash is Best for

Stash guides users through the investing process, focusing on financial education and eliminating most of the complicated financial jargon other investment firms use. This makes it a great option for beginners who may be afraid to invest. It also offers a fun way to earn rewards in the form of stocks.

Stash breaks everything into easy-to-understand steps and offers access to over 3,000 individual stocks, which most robo-advisors don’t do.

Overall, Stash is a great platform for beginners who want to learn about, and grow, their investment accounts.

Who Acorns is Best for

Acorns is best for beginner investors who are worried they need a large amount of money to get started. It offers a diverse selection of investment options, and users can automate much of the investing process through the mobile app. With its focus on user education, low-cost funds, and rewards programs, Acorns uses game-like elements to make investing less intimidating and shows how small investments add up.

Acorns will even give you a $10 sign-up bonus to help you get started. Get your $10 bonus here.

Summary

Both Stash and Acorns are geared toward beginner investors, breaking down the barriers to investing with features like “themed” investment fund names and automatically investing spare change.

Users who want some extra guidance might enjoy Stash’s helpful tips and step-by-step walkthrough to build an investment portfolio. Users who want to start investing in small amounts might prefer Acorn's simple-to-use round-up feature and cash back rewards.

While the flat monthly fees on both apps are a bit more expensive than competitors for accounts with smaller balances, these apps help get users off the sidelines to start investing.

My personal choice between these two companies is Acorns. While both platforms offer access to financial advice and multiple types of accounts, Acorns makes investing easier. With its round-up feature, automated portfolio management at all service levels, and access to a wide range of ETFs, Acorns is a decent investment option for beginners.

When to choose Stash

  • You want access to individual stocks
  • You prefer investing for yourself
  • You want access to more user education and financial advice
  • You want to earn stock rewards

When to choose Acorns

  • You want to start investing in small amounts
  • You prefer gamifying your investments
  • You prefer a flat-fee for your investment service
  • You want access to discounts and rewards
  • You want to get $20 of free stock immediately when you sign up here

RELATED: The Best Robo Advisors

References:

https://www.stash.com/investments/
https://ask.stash.com/ask/merchants-can-earn-stock-back/
https://support.acorns.com/hc/en-us/articles/360052527014-Where-is-my-money-invested-
https://support.acorns.com/hc/en-us/articles/360052527634-What-are-Round-Ups-

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Disclosures:

Paid non-client endorsement. See Apple App Store and Google Play reviews. View important disclosures.

Nothing in this material should be construed as an offer, recommendation, or solicitation to buy or sell any security. All investments are subject to risk and may lose value.

Stash through the “Diversification Analysis” feature does not rebalance portfolios or otherwise manage the Personal Portfolio Account for Clients on a discretionary basis. Each Client is solely responsible for implementing any such advice. This investment recommendation relies entirely on the responses you’ve provided regarding your risk tolerance. Stash does not verify the completeness or accuracy of such information. Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. No asset allocation is a guarantee against loss of principal.

“Smart” is only available in Growth ($3) and/or premium ($9).

A “Smart Portfolio” is a Discretionary Managed account whereby Stash has full authority to manage.

A “Personal Portfolio:” You can choose your own investments only in a “Personal Portfolio” which is a Non-Discretionary Managed account.

Stash offers three plans, starting at just $1/month. For more information on each plan, visit our pricing page.

"Kids Portfolio" is a custodial UGMA / UTMA account. Money in a custodial account is the property of the minor. This type of account is a Non-Discretionary Managed account.

"Retirement Portfolio" is an IRA (Traditional or Roth) and is a non-discretionary managed account. Stash does not monitor whether a customer is eligible for a particular type of IRA, or a tax deduction, or if a reduced contribution limit applies to a customer. These are based on a customer’s individual circumstances. You should consult with a tax advisor.

Roth IRA: Withdrawals of the money (Contributions) you put in are penalty and tax free. Prior to age 59½, withdrawals of interest and earnings are subject to income tax and a 10% penalty. All earnings are tax free at age 59½ or older, assuming your first contribution was more than 5 years prior. Income Eligibility applies.

Traditional IRA: Withdrawing prior to age 59½, generally means you’re subject to income tax and a 10% penalty. Withdrawals after age 59½ are only subject to income tax but no penalty.

To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value.This means your investments in your account are protected up to $500,000 total (including $250,000 for claims for cash). For details please see www.sipc.org. For uninvested funds, your Stash account is enrolled in something called the Apex FDIC-insured Sweep Program. Deposits to the Sweep Program are covered by FDIC insurance up to $250,000 limit per customer at each FDIC-insured bank that participates in the Sweep Program. Once your cash is deposited with the participating banks under the Sweep Program, such cash will no longer be covered by SIPC. Learn about the FDIC Sweep Program.

Bank Account Services provided by and Stash Visa Debit Card (Stock-Back® Card) issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association.

1 All rewards earned through use of the Stash Visa Debit card (Stock-Back® Card) will be fulfilled by Stash Investments LLC. Rewards will go to your Stash personal investment account, which is not FDIC insured. You will bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the investments that you earn, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash. Stash Stock-Back® Rewards is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot Corporation, Visa U.S.A., or any of their respective affiliates. What doesn’t count: Cash withdrawals, money orders, prepaid cards, and P2P payment. If stock of the merchant is not available for a qualifying purchase, the security will be in shares of a predetermined ETF or from a list of predetermined publicly-traded companies available on the Stash Platform. See full terms and conditions.

If publicly-traded stock of the merchant (or a subsidiary thereof, if applicable) is not available or otherwise capable of being fulfilled for any reason, the stock reward arising from a qualifying transaction will be in an ETF or a publicly traded company available on the Stash Platform. A user will receive shares of the ETF or publicly traded company that is designated as their Default Investment at the time the qualifying purchase posts to the user’s Stash Banking account.

2 Double Stock-Back® Rewards is subject to terms and conditions.

3 Fractional shares start at $0.05 for investments that cost $1,000+ per share.

4 The recurring transfers feature is offered by Stash Investments LLC and is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank.

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