Acorns vs Stash: Which Investing App is Right for You?

    by Benjamin Aronson
Updated May 5, 2021

Stash and Acorns are two super easy, straight forward apps on the market that make investing simple and fun. Both of these apps allow you to start investing with very little money down.

This article is here to shine the light on these two apps while figuring out what is best for your style of investing. We broke down the main essentials of these two apps. Hope you enjoy, let’s dive in!

So why are these even good investing apps?

Picking an investing app can be a little overwhelming. With all the options, you can easily get lost. But don’t worry, we’re going to break it down and explain why Acorns and Stash are such great apps to start your investing journey.

Both Acorns and Stash are Micro-Investing apps. What that means is that they both allow you to get up and running with very little money down. You can start investing with as little as $5! Both apps are user-friendly and easy to operate. If you are someone who wants to invest in the stock market but you don’t know exactly where to begin, one of these two apps is a great place to get started! The Acorns and Stash apps are available on both Android and IOS devices.

Investment Platforms Compared

Let’s start with Acorns

At this moment Acorns offers 5 pre-build diversified portfolios that you can choose to invest from:

  1. Conservative
  2. Moderately Conservative
  3. Moderate
  4. Moderately aggressive
  5. Aggressive

The portfolios are straight forward and each investor determines which style suits his/her approach.

Based on the portfolio that you choose there are a mix of Large Capital stocks, Small Capital stocks, Real Estate, Emerging Markets, Government Bonds and Corporate Bonds.

Moving Over to Stash

Stash has many more investment options (ability to purchase individual ETF and stocks) giving the investor a more hands-on approach to single out which assets are right for you. They even offer you the ability to buy fractional shares.

Fractional shares are just a “fancy” way of saying purchasing a fraction of a stock without buying the full share.

Platform Summary

With the Acorn app, you are limited to your investment possibilities. You can pick between 1 of 5 diversified portfolios that they pre-build for you making the investing process simple.

Stash gives you the ability to pick the stocks and ETFs of your liking, making the portfolio resemble the exact style of the investor.

Auto-Investing Tools Under the Microscope

This section is about the different tools Acorns and Stash offer investors to “passively” add funds to their portfolio and grow investments.

Acorns offers 3 unique auto-investing tools to start automating your investing

  1. Round-Ups
  2. Recurring Deposits 
  3. Investing Cashback

Round-Ups

By connecting your credit card to the app, Acorns will round up your daily purchases to the nearest dollar. Once $5 is saved Acorns will automatically relocate your spare change into your portfolio. Of course, you can manually add large sums of money to your portfolio as you wish.

Recurring Deposits 

This is a super cool tool that allows you to set up a recurring deposit on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. These deposits can be as small as $5.

The recurring deposit reduces your level of risk because you are consistently contributing small amounts of money, therefore you don’t have to worry about “timing the market” or “getting in at the right second”. You can pause and resume this feature are you wish.

Investing Cashback

Acorns gives you the ability to not only earn cashback, but actually invest that cashback that you earned into your portfolio. This is in their Found Money portal. I will talk about cashback and found money further into the article.

Stash has a handful of cool auto investing tools as well;

  1. Set Schedule
  2. Roundups
  3. Smart Stash

Set Schedule

Set schedule is very similar to Acorns recurring deposit feature. Essentially it works just the same, giving you the option to automate your contributions into your account on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.

The set schedule is a great feature that drives you to add regular contributions to your investments without even thinking about it!

Roundups

Again, similar to Acorns roundup tool, this feature lets you invest the spare change from your everyday purchases. Just link a bank account to Stash and every time you use your debit card associated with your linked bank account, Stash will round up your purchases and sweep the spare change into your account for you to invest.

Smart Stash

Smart stash is a tool that analyzes your spending and earning habits to save small amounts of money for you on the days when you have the cash to spare.

Auto Investing Tool Summary

As you can see, the automation tools available for both apps are fairly similar. These tools build healthy investing habits that get you closer to a stronger portfolio. Another reason why I love these tools is that I can “passively” invest funds which will ultimately increase my future yield.

Now I want to hop over to the Cashback Portals, a feature available in both apps.

Cashback Portal

Acorns and Stash offer different ways to earn cashback and even add that money towards investing!

So who has a better Cashback Portal? Let’s check it out!

Investing Cashback with Acorns

Acorns has a cashback portal which is called the Found money portal as mentioned earlier.  They developed 2 easy ways to earn and invest money from your everyday purchases without having to worry about it.

  1. Using the Local Found Money portal you can earn up to 10% cashback at local restaurants or retailers.
  2. Acorns, in addition, will invest 1%-10%, or a set amount, of your online purchases back into your portfolio. They have partnered with hundreds of major retailers that are available on their Found Money portal.

Cash Back with Stash

Stash also with a cashback portal, allows investors cashback in 2 different ways.

  1. You can earn up to 10% cashback at local restaurants or retailers. If you wish, you can add up to 3 credit/debit cards to your Stash account.
  2. Using your Stash debit card, you can earn “Stock Back” in major companies that are collaborated with Stash. This includes earning fractional shares with available retailers.

Both apps offer built-in cashback portals. This helps you earn and invest cashback in your portfolio.

What Account Types do Acorn and Stash Offer?

The Account types offered on both apps are fairly similar. They both have a Standard Investing Account, Retirement Account and a Mobile Banking account but stash has one additional account option.

Let’s start off with Acorn:

  • Acorns Core- This is Acorns Standard investing account, meaning you can withdraw funds at any time without restriction or penalty.
  • Acorns Later- Acorns offers a retirement account with tax advantages including several IRA (Individual Retirement Accounts):
    • SEP IRA
    • Traditional IRA
    • Roth IRA

Acorns Later account can be opened with as little as $5.

  • Acorns Spend-This is Acorns Mobile Banking account. There are no monthly fees, no startup fees, and no minimum balance requirement. You also receive an Acorns VISA debit card which earns cashback.

As I said before Stash has very similar accounts, plus one more that Acorn does not:

  • Stash Invest- Stash offers a Standard investing account similar to Acron. You can withdraw funds at any time because this is a non-retirement account.
  • Stash Retire- Stash offers a retirement account with Roth and Traditional IRAs. All you need is $5 to start.
  • Stash Banking- Stash offers a Mobile Banking account with no monthly fees, no startup fees, and no minimum balance requirement. Stash also includes a Stash VISA debit card that you can use for your daily purchases and earn cashback.
  • Custodial- An account for young investors under 18. Parents or adult family members can open accounts and once the minors turn 18 the money and account belongs to them!

Pricing and Fees

There are no fees to buy or sell any assets for both apps, but they do have a fixed monthly fee which can be as low as $1 depending on the account.

Let’s take a look at Acorns pricing:

  • Acorns Core account- Standard investing account.
    • 1$ per month on account balances up to $1,000,000
    • FREE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS! Free up to 4 years and all you need is a valid .edu email address.
  • Acorns Core account plus Acorns Later- Standard investing account plus Retirement account.
  • 2$ per month.
  • Acorns Core account plus Acorns Later plus Acorns Spend- Standard investing account plus Retirement account plus mobile banking.
    • 3$ per month.

Below is the Pricing breakdown for Stash:

  • Stash Beginner-  Standard investing account.
    • $1 per month on balances up to $5000.
    • Over $5,000, a fixed yearly fee of 0.25% ( that’s a $12.50 a year on a balance of $5,001)
  • Stash Growth – Standard investing account plus Retirement account.
    • $3 per month.
    • A Stash retirement account is totally free for investors under 25.
  • Stash +   –Standard investing account plus Retirement account plus 2 Custodial Accounts, and extras
    • $9 per month
  • Mobile Banking Account
    • No monthly fees

Is it Safe to Invest with These Apps?

Yes, because you asked, ill explain. Acron and Stash are both members of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).

They are both SIPS insured against brokerage failure. SIPC insurance is investor protection for investment brokerages. Now unlike a bank’s FDIC insurance, SIPC does not protect against the decline in value of your securities. Investments in the stock market are subject to fluctuations in market value.

SIPC also protects against the loss of cash and securities– such as stocks and bonds – held by a customer at a financially-troubled SIPC-member brokerage firm. SIPC works to restore to customers their securities and cash that are in their accounts when any potential brokerage firm liquidation begins.

Securities in member’s accounts are protected up to $500,000, including up to $250,000 in cash.

Pros and Cons: Acorns

Pros:

Ideal for a novice investor

  • You can choose from one of their pre-built portfolios without being overwhelmed with all of the stock options.
  • Super easy terminology and user-friendly

Perfect for College Students 

  • Acorns standard investing account is FREE FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS up to 4 years (with a valid .edu)

Enormous value out of a single investing app

  • There are several tools to automate your investing, forming a great habit.
  • The Cashback portal is ahead of their game with an impressive list of retailers.

Cons:

Not built for active stock traders 

  • More geared towards long term investing

No individual stocks

  • Currently cannot  invest in individual stocks
  • Cannot customize your investment beyond 5 pre-build portfolios

Pros and Cons: Stash

Pros:

Ideal for new investors who want a little more control

  • All you need is $5 to start investing
  • Choose out of hundreds of stocks and ETF giving you more customization

Ability to invest in Fractional Shares

  • You can invest in very expensive stocks, there are no limits
  • Invest in a much lower amount of any stock that Stash offers

Young adults who pay close atteint to their retirement

  • Stash offers a FREE retirement account for any investor under 25 years of age

Cons:

Not as simplified as Acorns

  • Don’t get me wrong, Stash is easy to use, but if you want a hands-off approach, that will be more difficult because you do pick your stocks, whereas in Acorns you pick 1 of 5 portfolios.

Not built for active stock trading 

  • Similar in Acorn, Stash is More geared towards long term investing

Which App is Right for you?

At the end of the day, you really can’t go wrong with either one of these apps. They both allow you to get started with as little as $5, they both are user-friendly and they both offer several automated investing tools to help you automate your investing and encourage positive investing habits for the future.

So, are you in club Acorns or club Stash? Let us know!

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