Stash Review - One of the Best Robo Advisors for Beginner Investors
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 beginnersRating: 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.
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 Beginner: $1/month|
Stash Growth: $3/month
0.00% to 0.95%, depending on portfolio and funds selected.
$0 to open account
$5 to invest
Over 3,000 individuals stocks and ETFs in 20 asset classes
Socially responsible investment (SRI) funds available
Investment Account Options
Individual investment accounts
IRA, Roth IRA
Automatic portfolio rebalancing on Stash Growth and Stash+ accounts
Customer Service and Support
Phone, email, and live chat support available Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
Mobile app available
Website is mobile-friendly
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 ($5 minimum to invest).
Bank-grade data protection, 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.
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 a suggested portfolio of ETFs. Users are responsible for manually purchasing the suggested investments to build the portfolio. Stash Beginner also offers access to the Stash checking account and Stock-Back debit card, 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 investments, 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, plus a metal debit card (with 2x Stock-Back rewards), 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 checking account with a rewards debit card, 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 a recommended 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.
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:
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.
Stash lowers the barrier to entry for new investors by allowing users to purchase any investment for as little as $5. It's easy to set up a recurring investment 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 on a quarterly basis, or whenever investments drift too far away from the target asset allocation.
Stash offers a checking account with a rewards debit 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 a metal debit card with 2x rewards on all purchases.
While this sounds like a great way to grow your investments, the reward is a measly 0.125% on purchases, which is lower than most cash back debit and credit cards. But certain companies offer up to a 5% stock-back reward 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 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 ($5 minimum to invest).
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:
- Over 3,000 individual stocks and ETFs to choose from
- No account minimums
- Fractional shares available
- Stock-back rewards debit card
- Large financial education library
- Offers easy ways to save automatically on purchases with Auto-Stash
- High fees for those with low account balances
- No tax-loss harvesting
- No access to human advisors
- Limited account types (IRA, Roth IRA, UTMA)
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 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.
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 investments, 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.
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