Stash Review - One of the Best Robo Advisors for Beginner Investors

Written By
Jacob Wade
Reviewed By
Mark Herman, CFP

Stash is an easy-to-use investing app geared toward new investors who are looking to get started with saving/investing. Here's a closer look at why we think Stash is one of the best robo advisor platforms for beginners.

Stash ranks high as one of the best robo advisors for beginners
 
Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

Stash is an easy-to-use investing app and robo advisor that helps beginners get started investing while also educating them along the way with useful resources and tools. Stash Growth and Stash+ users gain access to retirement account investments, as well as automatic rebalancing and recurring investments, making it a great “set-it-and-forget-it” way to invest.

Highlights
  • Focused on investor education
  • Offers personalized portfolio recommendations
  • Easy to use
  • No investing account minimums1
Visit Stash

One of the hardest parts of investing for beginners is picking the right investments. While some investment services help you automate the process of investing, most don’t truly educate you on the details of what you are investing in. For those who want to build a custom portfolio with a mix of individual stocks, index funds, and other investments, Stash may be a good robo advisor option for you.

Stash helps guide new investors through building an investment portfolio, with helpful tips and educational resources built right into the app. Stash offers multiple levels of service, from building portfolios, to automated investing and child investment accounts. Stash is a great option for new investors who are intimidated by investing and looking for guidance on how to get started.

Stash Overview

Features

Details

Account Fees 

Stash Beginner: $1/month
Stash Growth: $3/month
Stash+: $9/month

Expense Ratios 

varies depending on portfolio and funds selected
 

Account Minimums 

$0 to open account

No investing minimum1

Investment Options 

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

Socially responsible investment (SRI) funds available

Investment Account Options 

Individual taxable brokerage investment accounts

IRA, Roth IRA

UTMA/UGMA accounts

Portfolio Construction 

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

Tax Strategy 

None

Customer Service and Support 

Phone, email, and live chat support available Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.

Mobile Compatibility 

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).1

Security

Bank-grade data protection, two-factor authentication. FDIC insurance ($250,000), SIPC insurance through their custodian Apex Clearing ($500,000)

Ease of access 

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

What is Stash?

Stash is an investing app and robo-advisory service that helps investors choose their investments through a series of questions and educational tools. Stash offers access to thousands of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and individual stocks, as well as the ability to reinvest dividends earned on those investments. Here’s a breakdown of each service level:

Stash Beginner ($1/mo): In the beginner level of service, users can open a regular investment account, answer a few questions about their risk tolerance, and receive personalized investment suggestions. Users are responsible for manually purchasing the suggested investments to build the portfolio. Stash Beginner also offers access to the Stash banking account and Stock-Back® Card2, which rewards users with stocks instead of cash back.

Stash Growth ($3/mo): The next tier up offers everything in Stash Beginner, as well as the ability to open retirement accounts (IRAs). Stash Growth also offers personal finance guidance, and access to “Smart Portfolio”, which allows users to set up recurring investments4, as well as automatic rebalancing of their portfolio.

Stash+ ($9/mo): This top level of service from Stash offers everything in the previous two levels, 2x stock back3 with Stock-Back® Card2, and access to investing accounts for kids.

How Stash Works

Stash is an investment platform that offers access to personalized financial advice and portfolio options, as well as the ability to invest in over 3,000 individual stocks and ETFs. Stash also offers a linked Stash banking account with the Stock-Back® Card2, giving users stock rewards instead of cash back. Stash focuses on user education, with an entire section of its app dedicated to personal finance learning.

One of the big differences between Stash and other robo-advisory services is Stash’s lowest-cost option (Stash Beginner) does not purchase investments for you, but rather shows you recommended investments for your Personal Portfolio. Stash then guides users through searching for, and purchasing, the recommended investments.

Stash Growth and Stash+ users can sign up for the Smart Portfolios option, which automatically invests deposited funds and rebalances portfolios on a quarterly basis. These features are similar to competing robo-advisors, and allow a more "hands-off" approach to investing.

Main Features

Stash is focused on user education, helping new investors navigate the world of investing by breaking everything down into manageable steps. While Stash may not have all the bells and whistles of other robo-advisors, here are a few of its standout features:

Personalized Portfolio

Stash offers personalized portfolio recommendations at every level of service, giving users a diversified portfolio recommendation and showing the exact funds 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 suggest an appropriate asset allocation. This personalization and customization is unique among robo-advisory services.

ETF and Stock Choices

Stash has over 3,500 individual stocks and ETFs to choose from (and growing), giving users the ability to truly customize their investment portfolio. While most robo-advisors focus on a handful of broad-based ETFs, Stash gives users a wider range of options.

Stash also renames ETFs according to themes, which describe what is in each fund. An example of this is Vanguard's VTI fund. Instead of "Total Stock Market Index Fund", Stash renames the fund "Stocks Nationwide." This clever system helps new investors understand what they are investing in.

Note: Don’t worry, users can get the "real" name of any ETF with a single click, showing the performance and top holdings of any ETF as well.

Fractional Shares

Stash lowers the barrier to entry for new investors by allowing users to purchase any investment for as little as $0.051. It's easy to set up a recurring investment4 of any amount, as users can purchase a fraction of a stock, also known as a fractional share, at whatever dollar amount they choose.

Automatic Rebalancing (with certain plans)

On the Stash Growth and Stash+ plans, those who choose the Smart Portfolio option will have access to automatic rebalancing of their investments. This rebalancing happens quarterly if your portfolio drifts 5% away from its target allocation.

Stock-Back Rewards

Stash offers a Stash banking account with Stock-Back® Card for every account type. Instead of rewarding purchases with cash back like many credit cards do, Stash offers rewards in the form of small amounts of stock added to a user's investment portfolio. Stash+ users also gain access to 2x Stock-Back® Rewards on all purchases.

While this sounds like a great way to grow your investments, the reward is 0.125% on purchases, which is lower than most cash back debit and credit cards. But certain companies offer additional Stock-Back® Rewards as a bonus, so it can be a lucrative option, depending on where you shop.

Who Stash is Best for

Stash is geared toward new investors who need some help understanding how to invest and what to invest in. Stash breaks everything into easy-to-understand steps, helping users build a diversified portfolio based on their risk tolerance and investment goals. Stash also lets users customize their portfolio, giving access to over 3,000 individual stocks and ETFs, including many socially responsible investment (SRI) options.

For investors who already have a firm grasp on investing and are looking for lower-fee options, Stash may be a bit expensive, especially for those with small account balances.

Is Stash Legit?

Yes, Stash is legit.

Stash Investments LLC is an SEC-registered investment adviser that offers investment tools and advice through its mobile app and website. Its checking account service is FDIC insured (up to $250,000) and investment accounts are SIPC insured through their custodian Apex Clearing up to $500,000. Keep in mind SIPC does not protect against market loss. It protects against a loss of securities due to instances like theft or brokerage failure.

The mobile app offers biometric access, and all accounts offer two-factor authentications and bank-grade data protection.

How to Get Started

Users can sign up for a Stash account on its website or mobile app using their email address. Once the account is created, users are prompted to input their personal information, pick a subscription plan, and then answer a few questions about investing risk. 

On every Stash plan, users will receive a personalized portfolio recommendation based on the answers to the questionnaire and selected risk profile (ranging from conservative to aggressive). Users can then adjust the portfolio recommendation and fund their Stash account to start investing.

Pros and Cons

While Stash offers some unique features, it also falls short in a few areas. Here are the things we like (and don’t like) about Stash:

Pros

  • Over 3,000 individual stocks and ETFs to choose from

  • No investment account minimums1

  • Fractional shares available

  • Stock-Back® Card and Rewards

  • Large financial education library

  • Offers easy way to save automatically with Auto-Stash

Cons

  • High fees for those with low account balances

  • No access to human advisors

  • Limited account types (Personal Portfolio, Smart Portfolio, IRA, Roth IRA, UTMA/UGMA)

Stash Alternatives

Stash offers a unique way to invest toward retirement and other financial goals, but it’s not the best option for everyone. Beginner investors will benefit from Stash’s investment education and simple sign-up process, but here are a few alternatives for those who want different features than Stash offers:

SoFi Automated Investing

SoFi offers fee-free management of user portfolios, as well as access to financial advisors and career coaches at no additional cost. With automatic investments, automatic rebalancing, and a wide selection of low-cost ETFs available, SoFi is great for beginners who want financial advice and automated investing.

Vanguard Digital Advisor

For those who value simplicity, Vanguard’s Digital Advisor services offer personalized portfolio construction and automatic rebalancing for a 0.15% annual fee. Portfolios are built using Vanguard’s extremely low-cost ETFs, covering U.S. and foreign stock and bond markets. Vanguard Digital Advisor is a great option to gain global market exposure without a complicated portfolio.

RELATED: Vanguard Digital Advisor Review

Acorns

Acorns is an investment app that also allows users to round up purchases to the nearest dollar, and invest the difference. It has expanded into a full robo-advisory service, with automatic portfolio rebalancing and a wide range of ETFs in several asset classes. Acorns is similar to Stash in that it charges a flat monthly rate for most portfolios, but also offers UTMA/UGMA accounts and retirement accounts for $5/month instead of Stash’s $9/month.

RELATED: Stash vs Acorns: Which Investing Service Is Better for You?

Summary 

Stash is a great way for new investors to learn how to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks and ETFs. Stash Growth and Stash+ users gain access to retirement account investments, as well as automatic rebalancing and recurring investments4, making it a great "set-it-and-forget-it" way to invest.

That being said, fees are high compared to other robo-advisory services for smaller portfolio balances, as fees are changed as a flat rate, instead of a percentage of the total portfolio balance. Its fees are lower though for larger account balances. Also keep in mind Stash offers limited account types so it may not be best for those who are self-employed or want to open a 529 college fund. 

Overall, Stash helps new investors get over their fear of investing, and start building wealth through easy-to-understand tools. This makes it a great tool for those who are just getting started.

Visit this link to open a Stash account today.

References:

https://www.stash.com/invest
https://www.sipc.org/for-investors/what-sipc-protects
https://learn.stash.com/auto-stash-round-ups

 

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.

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

2 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.

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

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

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.

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Highlights
  • Focused on investor education
  • Offers personalized portfolio recommendations
  • Easy to use
  • No investing account minimums1
Visit Stash
Start Today
 
Sign up and get $20 of free stock immediately when you fund your account.
Highlights
  • Focused on investor education
  • Offers personalized portfolio recommendations
  • Easy to use
  • No investing account minimums1
Visit Stash

Editorial Disclosure

All of the opinions expressed herein are the author's alone, and not those of any bank, brokerage, credit card issuer, lender, insurance company, outside financial institution, or any other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post or any other third parties.