Acorns vs. Stash: What is the Best Investing App in 2022?

Acorns and Stash are beginner-friendly investing apps that can help you grow your wealth by rounding up your change and investing it. Keep reading to learn which one you should choose.

SustainFi   Updated January 5th, 2022

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At a glance

  • Acorns and Stash are both investing and saving apps for beginners, though their approach to investing is different. While Acorns will invest your money for you, Stash is best if you want to invest in stocks or ETFs on your own
  • Best for hands-off investors: Acorns. Acorns helps you save and invest your spare change. You can fully outsource your investments to Acorns
  • Best for sustainable or socially responsible investing: Acorns. The apps lets you invest in sustainable or ESG portfolios made up of low-cost ETFs
  • Best for beginners who want to choose their own investments: Stash. The app gives you more control of how you want to invest, letting you pick from a selection of around 4,000 stocks or ETFs. A robo-advisor option is also available, though it is more limited

Keep reading to learn more.

Minimum investment

$5

Minimum investment

$0 ($5 to start investing)

Commissions and fees

$1 - $9 / month

Commissions and fees

$3 - $5 / month

Investing options

Pick from 4,000 stocks and ETFs

Investing options

Acorns will choose a portfolio for you

Sustainable investing

You can pick stocks or ETFs

Sustainable investing

Yes (ESG Portfolios)

Round up your change

Yes

Round up your change

Yes

Better Business Bureau Rating

F

Better Business Bureau Rating

A

What is Acorns?

Acorns is a robo-advisor that lets you invest spare change from everyday purchases in diversified portfolios made up of ETFs. The company was launched in 2014 by the father and son duo, Walter and Jeff Cruttenden, to make investing accessible to everyone. Acorns has since expanded to retirement and checking accounts that come with a debit card. They even offer investment accounts for children.

The robo-advisor grew its assets under management from $3 billion in 2020 to $4.7 billion in 2021. It has over 9 million users.

Acorns has no minimum balance, and it can make investing and saving easy if you usually forget to save. But Acorns will charge you $3 or $5 a month for their services.

Because Acorns is aimed at beginners, it doesn’t let you pick individual stocks or funds. Instead, it invests your cash in one of five portfolios, from conservative to aggressive, which are selected based on how much risk you want to take. You can choose the conventional portfolio or the socially responsible version, which picks funds that invest in companies with better environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores.

🔔 Read the full review of Acorns (ESG Portfolios).

What is Stash Invest?

Stash is a personal finance app that makes investing easy for beginners. Wall Street veterans Brandon Krieg and Ed Robinson started Stash in 2015 with the mission of making investing inclusive and accessible to ordinary Americans. As of 2020, Stash grew to over five million customers and $2.5 billion in assets under management.

In addition to making investing easy, Stash offers a bank account with a Stock Back Card (which gives you cash back in stocks). Stash Invest also has a robo-advisor, Smart Portfolios.

🔔 Read the full review of Stash.

Acorns vs. Stash: Account types

Acorns supports many account types:

  • Individual and joint taxable investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts, including traditional, SEP, and Roth IRAs, plus rollover IRAs
  • Custodial (UTMA/UGMA) accounts for kids (Acorns Family members only)

Stash supports the following account types, though their robo-advisor only works with individual investment accounts:

  • Taxable personal investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts for traditional and Roth IRAs (Stash Growth and Stash+ members only)
  • Custodial accounts for kids (Stash+ members only)

💰 The winner: Acorns, which supports more account types, such as joint investment accounts and SEP IRAs. Also, Stash Smart Portfolios are limited to individual investment accounts.

Acorns vs. Stash: Minimum investment

Acorns has no minimum to open an account, but it will start investing your money when your balance hits $5.

Stash has a $5 minimum investment.

💰 The winner: Tie.

Acorns vs. Stash: Commissions and fees

Acorns has two membership plans that cost $3 or $5 a month. As of September 2021, Acorns Lite ($1/month) is no longer offered. The two plans offered today are:

  • Acorns Personal ($3/month) includes personal investment, retirement, and checking accounts plus a metal debit card
  • Acorns Family ($5/month) includes all the Personal features plus Acorns Early, which adds investment accounts for kids

Stash charges $1-$9/month for membership. There are three membership plans:

  • Stash Beginner ($1/month) includes a personal investment account, a debit card that earns stock back, and $1,000 worth of life insurance coverage through Avibra
  • Stash Growth ($3/month) adds a Roth or Traditional IRA to the Beginner features; the robo-advisor Smart Portfolios is also included
  • Stash+ ($9/month) comes with all the Beginner and Growth features, plus a stock back card that earns double stock, investment accounts for kids, a monthly market insights report, and $10,000 of life insurance coverage through Avibra

💰 The winner: Tie. Although Stash has a $1 / month tier, the main benefit you get with that is a brokerage account. Yet nearly all brokerage accounts these days are free, and you can get one from M1 Finance or Public with no monthly fee. Smart Portfolios are not included in the $1 / month tier.

Acorns vs Stash: Banking

Acorns Spend. Acorns offers no-monthly-fee, no-minimum-balance checking accounts that come with a metal Visa debit card. The card gives you free access to over 55,000 in-network ATMs. Your account is FDIC-insured for up to $250,000 and includes fraud protection, direct deposit, and mobile check deposit options.

Acorns Earn lets you earn bonus investments when you shop with over 350 brands like Apple, Chewy, and Sephora. However, there is no interest on the cash in your account, which is a major drawback. 

Stash offers checking accounts with a debit card through a partnership with Green Dot Bank. If you set up a direct deposit, you have the option to get your paycheck two days early, too. And you can make instant transfers between your checking and investing accounts.

Stock Back Rewards. Stash accounts come with a Stock Back rewards card, which also gives you free access to 19,000 Allpoint ATMs. When you spend money at places like Amazon that have stocks listed on the platform, you get 0.125% back in stock in the companies where you make purchases. Stash+ members get 0.25% back. If the place where you spend money doesn’t have a publicly listed stock, you can choose what stock or ETF to get. 

💰 The winner: Neither. Although both Stash and Acorns let you earn rewards, neither pays an APY, and there are better rewards options out there. If you are looking for a banking option with a high APY, check out Aspiration or Quontic. If you are looking for high stock back rewards, check out the stock back rewards card from M1 Finance, which lets you earn up to 10%.

Acorns vs. Stash: Available investments

Acorns is a robo-advisor, meaning that it invests your money using Modern Portfolio Theory. When you sign up, you answer a few questions about your investment goals and timeline. Based on your answers, Acorns will determine your risk tolerance and suggest a diversified portfolio made up of ETFs. (ETFs are diversified holdings of stocks and bonds. They frequently replicate an index such as the S&P 500). There are five levels of risks, and you choose between a conventional and a socially responsible option.

Stash gives you the choice between picking your own investments from a selection of around 4,000 stocks and funds or using their robo-advisor, Smart Portfolios. Smart Portfolios are only available to Stash Growth and Stash+ customers. However, Smart Portfolios don’t offer as many options as Acorns, for instance, there is no sustainable or ESG option. Further, the robo-advisor is only available for individual brokerage accounts.

💰 The winner: Tie. Although Stash lets you choose between investing on your own and their robo-advisor, the robo-advisor doesn’t have as many options as Acorns and it’s only available for certain plans and account types.

Acorns vs. Stash: Socially responsible investing

Acorns sustainable / ESG portfolios invest in several environmental, social, and governance (ESG) funds from iShares, a large ETF provider. Read the full review of the Acorns ESG Portfolio.

Stash robo-advisor, Smart Portfolios, doesn’t have a sustainable option, though you can pick your own thematic ESG funds, for example, from their Missions & Causes line-up, which suggests six options. However, that line-up won’t be enough to build a balanced sustainable portfolio.

💰 The winner: Acorns. Acorns offers an automated sustainable portfolio made up of funds with high environmental, social, and governance scores.

Acorns vs. Stash: Roundups

Both Acorns and Stash let you round up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invest them once they hit $5.

Here is how roundups work. Link any card to your Acorns or Stash account or use the card that comes with your account. When you buy something with your linked card, Acorns/Stash rounds up your transaction to the nearest dollar and invests the change into your Invest account portfolio. For example, if you buy a latte for $4.49, your transaction gets rounded up to $5 and $0.51 goes into your account.

According to Acorns, the average user invests over $30 a month through roundups. It’s a great way to save because you don’t have to decide to put more money in your investment account.

💰 The winner: Tie.

Acorns vs. Stash: Margin lending

Neither app lets you borrow against the value of your investments. But if you are looking for a margin loan, you can check out M1 Finance.

💰 The winner: None.

Acorns vs. Stash: Automatic rebalancing

Automatic rebalancing is when a robo-advisor buys or sells investments to get to your optimal asset allocation, like 80% stocks and 20% bonds. Sometimes when one asset class, like stocks, does much better than another one, like bonds, your portfolio may “drift” and become riskier (or less risky) than it should be. Automatic rebalancing solves that.

Acorns automatically rebalances your portfolio as you invest.

There is no rebalancing with Stash if you build your own portfolio. Stash Smart Portfolios does offer quarterly rebalancing if your portfolio deviates from the optimal allocation by 5%.

💰 The winner: Tie.

💰 Is Acorns or Stash better for you?

Best for hands-off and socially responsible investors: Acorns. Acorns Invest is a great option for beginners, especially those struggling to save. Acorns will create a custom ETF portfolio to suit your needs like retirement goals and help you save by rounding up and investing your change. The Acorns ESG Portfolio is a good start for socially responsible investors.

Best for beginners who want to choose their own investments: Stash. Stash lets you round up your change and invest it in a selection of around 4,000 stocks and ETFs of your choice.

🔔 Want to compare more options? Check out this list of the top 10 investing apps.

Compare:

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