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Stash vs. Acorns 2023: Micro-Investing App Battle

Both, Stash and Acorns are good investing apps for beginner investors looking for a hands-off approach.

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Stash and Acorns are both passive-investing platforms through which retail investors can build their portfolios. The main difference between the two is that Acorns is a robo-advisor and Stash facilitates fractional share purchases and helps investors diversify their holdings adequately.

With roughly 10 million users combined, these two platforms have been disrupting the asset management industry in the United States for more than five years and you can use the following review to compare them before you pick the one that you’ll go with.

Stash vs. Acorns: Overview

Although Stash and Acorns both offer a low-cost passive investing service, these investing apps are different in how they assist customers in portfolio building.

Stash Logo Stash Acorns Acorns
Our Rating
3.8
3.8/5
4.0
4.0/5
In A Nutshell Stash is a subscription-based investment platform that offers fractional shares and ETFs for investors in the United States, with no hidden fees. Stash offers two plans with monthly fees starting at just $3. Acorns can be categorized as a one-stop-shop for all things personal finance. They offer a wide variety of financial products related to banking, retirement planning, and investment management for as low as $1 per month.
Our Review Full Stash Review Full Acorns Review

About Stash

Stash was founded in 2015 as an alternative to traditional asset managers, who charged high fees for investors who had a small account balance.

The firm currently serves approximately five million customers in the United States by providing them with access to taxable and tax-deferred accounts, fractional shares, and zero-commission trades to build their portfolios.

Read our full Stash review to learn more.

What is Stash App
Source: Stash

See Also: What are Dividends: Become a Dividend Aristocrat

About Acorns

Launched in 2012, Acorns is considered an automated passive investing platform through which investors can build a portfolio without having to commit any time to doing so. This is achieved through the combination of complex algorithms and a time-tested investing strategy to set up a portfolio for them.

In a similar way to Stash, Acorns also offers both taxable and tax-deferred accounts along with five different portfolio choices for virtually any type of investor regardless of their age, risk tolerance, or income.

Both of these firms charge a monthly subscription to provide their services but their prices and features are different.

Check out our full Acorns review to learn more.

Stash vs. Acorns: Main Features

The following is an overview that covers the main features offered by each of these providers including their investing, banking, and retirement solutions.

Stash Logo Stash Acorns Acorns
Account Minimum No minimum Investment 1 (*Subscription fees apply, see below for more details) $0
Fees $3 per month (Stash Growth) and $9 per month (Stash+) $1 per month (Lite), $3 per month (Personal) and $5 per month (Family)
Investment Types Stocks and ETFs Stocks and ETFs
Account Types Individual Taxable, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and Custodial Account Individual Taxable, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA and Custodial Account
Platforms Mobile (iOS and Android) Mobile (iOS and Android)
Promotions Get a $5 welcome bonus Get $5 when you sign up
Tax-Loss Harvesting
Fractional Shares
Banking Features
Rebalancing
Socially Responsible Investing
Access to Financial Advice
Individual Stocks
Best For DIY Passive Investors Passive Investors

Stash

Stash provides its services through two different subscription plans that give users access to various features offered by the firm.

The Stash Growth plan gives investors access to the firm’s passive investing platform and thousands of US-listed stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). 

These instruments can be purchased without add-on commission fees and the user will also get access to comprehensive financial advice and educational resources.

Additionally, investors will receive a Stock-Back® debit card2 after opening a bank account3 provided by the firm. Through the firm’s rewards program, users are entitled to receive compensation in the form of fractional shares for any purchases they make at all participating stores4.

The Stash Growth users have also the possibility of opening or rolling over an individual retirement account (IRA) or a Roth IRA, both of which are tax-deferred accounts.

Moreover, Growth users will also have access to personalized advice from a qualified Stash team member who can help them in planning for their retirement.

Finally, the premium plan, called Stash+, goes one step further by enabling users to open two investment accounts for their kids while doubling5 the rewards generated by the company’s Stock-Back® debit card.

It is important to note that fractional shares can be bought for as little as $1 with this provider while its banking products are offered by Green Dot Bank. All accounts are FDIC-insured6 and withdrawals are free if they are made by using one of the 19,000 ATMs7 within their network.

Main Features Overview

  • Two subscription plans to choose from: Each plan provides users with access to the different features offered by Stash.
  • No add-on commission fees: Stash users can enjoy buying and selling the instruments within their portfolios without incurring any charges.
  • Fractional shares: Investors can build diversified portfolios regardless of the balance on their accounts by using fractional shares.
  • Comprehensive financial advice and educational resources: These resources can be quite helpful in areas such as portfolio design, risk management, and others.
  • Low-cost banking solution: Stash also offers FDIC-insured bank accounts through Green Dot Bank5 and the Stock-Back® card2 allows the holder to receive rewards in the form of stocks.
  • Investment guidance: Stash’s main goal is to make investing accessible to everyone. Through the setup process, the app asks new account holders some questions to determine their goals and risk tolerance. The app then selects a few ETFs that would make sense for the investor’s particular situation.
  • Custodial accounts: Investors can use these accounts to save up and invest for their kids’ future by using the same strategies and platform they will use for their retirement or taxable investment accounts.
  • Smart Portfolio: A new feature offered by Stash to help users build long-term wealth and diversify their investment portfolios. Stash will create and managed a fully diversified portfolio based on the user’s financial risk profile, time horizon, and goals. Stash will automatically rebalance your portfolio if the asset allocation deviates by more than 5% from the original asset mix.

Acorns

Acorns provides an automated passive-investing service, also known as a robo-advisor, which relies on algorithms to determine the most suitable portfolios for each investor based on their income, job situation, risk tolerance, and financial goals.

The firm’s investing service relies on a time-tested investing methodology backed by Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) along with the use of low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to build, maintain, and rebalance its client’s portfolios efficiently.

Currently, Acorns offers a selection of five different portfolios going from Conservative (100% bonds) to Aggressive (100% stocks) and each investor will get a recommendation on which of the portfolios is the most suitable for their particular situation upon answering a set of questions.

Same as with Stash, investors pay a monthly subscription fee to use the company’s services with three different plans to choose from: Lite, Personal, and Family. 

Each of these plans gives the user access to the different features offered by the company, which include banking, retirement, and cash management solutions.

The firm’s retirement planning feature, known as Acorns Later, gives Personal and Family users the possibility of opening an IRA, Roth IRA, SEP-IRA, or roll over their current 401(k), to be administered by the robo-advisor.

Meanwhile, the company also offers a banking product called Acorns Spend, which consists of an FDIC-insured savings account provided by Lincoln Savings Bank that comes with a tungsten metal Visa™ debit card and generates zero fees for holders.

Other programs include Acorns Early, which provides custodial accounts for children–also managed by the robo-advisor–and Acorns Earn, a rewards program that entitles Acorns’ users to receive rewards in the form of stocks for making purchases within a network of more than 350 different affiliated brands and vendors.

Main Features Overview

  • Inexpensive automated passive-investing service: Acorns’ subscription-based service gives investors the possibility of having their portfolios managed professionally without having to pay hefty fees.
  • Round-ups: Users can link their Acorns’ debit card or third-party card to enjoy this feature, which consists of depositing the change left over after a disbursement is made into the investment account once the amount reaches $5.
  • Customized portfolios for each type of investor: The five portfolios offered by Acorns cover virtually all types of investors that exist based on their financial goals and risk tolerance.
  • Banking and retirement solutions: Acorns Spend (banking) is a cheap bank account that entitles the holder to rewards from a network of vendors while Acorns Later (retirement) provides retirement planning services through a portfolio management solution that relies on the firm’s robo-advisor.
  • Competitive subscription fees: Acorns plans are cheaper than those offered by Stash, with the basic plan (Lite) starting at $1 per month while the premium package (Family) costs $4 per month.
Acorns vs Stash
Source: Acorns

See Also: Robinhood vs. Acorns: Which Investing App is Best?

Stash vs. Acorns: Investment Options

Both Stash and Acorns are considered passive-investing long-term platforms, which means that they are not designed for self-directed day traders or high-frequency traders.

Stash

Different from Acorns, Stash’s platform does not provide any kind of advice with regards to which securities users should pick for their individual portfolios.

That said, Stash does offer the possibility of buying and selling thousands of US-listed stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) either directly or through fractional shares.

Fractional shares entitle the holder to a portion of the underlying stock.

Acorns

Acorns’ portfolios are built by using low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that hold a basket of instruments of a certain asset class.

Acorns does not allow its users to place individual trades or build their portfolios on their own.

Stash vs. Acorns: Account Types

Both of these providers offer the possibility of opening taxable and tax-deferred accounts, which makes them a very appealing alternative for passive investors.

Stash

Stash currently offers the following types of accounts:

  • Individual taxable accounts
  • Joint taxable accounts
  • Online debit accounts8
  • IRA & Roth IRA
  • Custodial account

Acorns

Acorns currently supports the following types of accounts for its investors:

  • Individual taxable account
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • SEP IRA
  • Custodial account

Stash vs. Acorns: Sign Up Bonuses and Promotions

Stash and Acorns offer two forms of rewards: sign-up bonuses and referral bonuses.

Stash

Users can enjoy a $5 Welcome Bonus by signing up with Stash through the link provided below. 

Additionally, there is an extra $5 reward for getting your friends to join Stash as well9.

Stash vs Acorns
Source: Stash

See Also: What is Micro Investing? Is It the Best Way to Start Investing?

Acorns

Users can get up to $10 in rewards from Acorns by opening an account with this provider through the link provided below.

Additionally, this provider also offers rewards for getting your friends to join the platform.

Stash vs. Acorns: Fees & Pricing

In terms of pricing, Acorns beats Stash as its subscription fees are lower for the premium tier.

Stash

  • Stash Growth: $3 per month, allows users to open or rollover a retirement account while giving them access to personalized financial advice from the firm’s team.
  • Stash+: $9 per month, gives users access to all the features mentioned above along with the possibility of opening two investment accounts for their kids and twice the rewards they would normally obtain through the Stock-Back® debit card.

Acorns

  • Acorns Lite: $1 per month, gives users access to the firm’s robo-advisor along with the rewards program.
  • Acorns Personal: $3 per month, allows users to open a retirement account along with the firm’s banking solutions (savings and checking accounts).
  • Acorns Family: $4 per month, gives users access to all the programs offered by Acorns including the ones mentioned above and the Early program for custodial accounts.
Acorns App
Source: Acorns

See Also: What is an Exchange Traded Fund ‘ETF’: Everything You Need to Know

Stash vs. Acorns: What We Like (Pros)

Between these two, Stash is perhaps the one that offers less of an edge compared to other providers. Acorns, on the other hand, has a lot to offer for a relatively low price.

Stash

  • US-based, regulated investing platform
  • More than five million users are currently being served.
  • Access to thousands of US-listed stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) either directly or through fractional shares
  • No add-on commission fees
  • Comprehensive financial advice and educational resources for both basic and premium users
  • The firm’s custodial accounts are a great tool for family planning
  • Stock-Back® rewards are an interesting way of progressively building up the account’s balance

Acorns

  • US-based regulated investing firm
  • Over $1 billion in assets under management and more than 5 million users
  • Acorns’ robo-advisor eliminates the effort of building a portfolio from scratch
  • Time-tested investing methodology that yields positive results with little volatility over long holding periods
  • Vast network of affiliated brands that offer rewards for each purchase made
  • The round-up feature allows investors to save seemingly small amounts of money that can turn into interesting sums once invested over time
  • Pricing structure is highly competitive for investors whose portfolio is valued above $10,000

Stash vs. Acorns: What We Don’t Like (Cons)

With the good also comes the bad. Make sure you check out where both Stash and Acorns fall short.

Stash

  • Stash is a self-directed investing platform, which creates the burden of having to build a portfolio from scratch for individuals who are commonly not professionally trained to do so.
  • Acorns services are cheaper while they provide the added benefit of having a robo-advisor build the portfolio.

Acorns

  • The company does not allow any form of self-directed investing or trading.
  • Acorns services can be expensive compared to rivals like Betterment if the investor has a portfolio balance lower than $10,000.
Acorns vs Stash
Source: Acorns

See Also: What Are Stocks & Why They Should Be Part of Your Financial Plan

Stash vs. Acorns: Security

Both Stash and Acorns come equipped with standard security features you would expect from reputable online brokers.

Stash

Stash is a heavily-regulated US investing platform. The firm’s operations are overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). 

Additionally, Stash is a member of SIPC, 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.spic.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.

Finally, Stash banking products are offered by the Green Dot Bank, a financial institution that is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Acorns

Acorns is also a US-based highly regulated institution overseen by FINRA and the SEC while they are also members of SIPC, which means the accounts enjoy the same $500,000 coverage.

On the other hand, the bank accounts offered by Acorns are provided by the Lincoln Savings Bank, a financial institution that is also a member of the FDIC, which means that clients also enjoy the $250,000 of coverage provided to the accounts.

Stash vs. Acorns: Platform and App

Both Stash and Acorns’ platforms are designed with beginner investors in mind. 

They are considered to be very user-friendly and they have a set of features that allow users to track their progress toward their financial goals while also allowing them to check their account balance and the status of their accounts.

Stash

Stash offers a web-based platform and a mobile app supported by both Android and iOS devices.

The app was given a 4.1-star rating in Google’s Play Store by a total of 51,594 users. The app also received a 4.7-star rating on Apple’s App Store from more than 205,000 users as of January 2022.

What are fractional shares
Source: Stash

See Also: What is a Mutual Fund: Does it Belong in Your Investment Portfolio?

Acorns

Acorns also offers both a web-based version and a mobile app for both Android and iOS devices.

The iOS version was granted 4.7 stars in Apple’s App Store with over 666,000 opinions submitted by users, while the Android version has received a 4.4 stars rating in Google’s Play Store with more than 132,000 votes.

Who Is Stash For?

Stash is an interesting alternative for people who prefer to be in charge of their investments, as they offer no add-on commission fees and portfolio management features that are very useful for passive, long-term investors.

On the other hand, having access to fractional shares allows users to build a broadly diversified portfolio that includes high-priced stocks that would otherwise be out of reach.

Meanwhile, the firm’s banking products and rewards program are very interesting from a cash management perspective as users can benefit from the Stock-Back® feature to keep building their account balance over time.

Other features, such as custodial accounts and retirement planning, are also interesting from a family planning perspective.

In A Nutshell

  • Minimum Investment: No investment minimum1 (*Subscription fees apply, see below)
  • Fees: $3 per month (Growth) and $9 per month (Stash+)
  • Promotion: $5 welcome bonus

on Stash’s website

Who Is Acorns For?

Acorns is a great alternative for investors who prefer to let professionals handle their investments as the robo-advisor can quickly choose which portfolio fits the client’s goals and risk tolerance best.

Meanwhile, the company’s low subscription fees compared to Stash makes it a great pick for passive investors as long as they don’t want to get involved in the process of building the portfolio.

Finally, Acorns’ rewards program has incorporated some of the most widely recognized brands and vendors and investors can benefit from the offers they push through the platform in the form of stock-based or even cash rewards in some cases.

In A Nutshell

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $1 per month (Lite), $3 per month (Personal) and $5 per month (Family)
  • Promotion: $5 sign up bonus

on Acorns’ website

Final Thoughts

Stash and Acorns are both passive investing platforms through which individuals in the United States can build their wealth and retirement portfolios thanks to innovative products and services like fractional shares and automated portfolio builders–a.k.a. robo-advisors.

However, although they both offer similar services, their pricing structure and the way they handle investments (one self-directed and the other automated) make them very different animals, and investors should be aware of these differences before deciding which of them to go with.


“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.

3 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.

4 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.

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

6 Debit Account Services provided by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC. Investment products and services provided by Stash Investments LLC, not Green Dot Bank, and are Not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value. 

7 Fee-free ATM access applied to in-network ATMs only. For out-of-network ATMs and bank tellers a $2.50 fee will apply, plus any additional fee that the ATM owner or bank may charge.

8 Bank Account Services provided by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC.

9 Please review the Referral T&Cs. To participate and receive cash bonuses or stock rewards, you must: (i) open a taxable brokerage account (“Personal Portfolio”) that’s in good standing. (ii) send a referral invitation to a friend and (iii) your friend must complete the account opening process for a Qualifying New Account. Your referee friend must (i) complete the process of opening an account by using the special designated referral link from your invitation (ii) link a funding account (e.g. an external bank account), and (iii) initiate a minimum deposit of at least one cent ($0.01) into their Account. This Program is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot Corporation, Visa U.S.A. Inc., or any of their respective affiliates, and none of the foregoing has any responsibility to fulfill any funds earned through this program.

“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.

“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.

*Offer is subject to T&Cs.** You must complete within the specific time period included in this offer: (i) successfully complete (or already have completed, or re-apply for and complete) the registration process of opening an individual taxable brokerage account (“Personal Portfolio”), (ii) link a funding source to your account; AND (iii) deposit at least $5 from your funding source into your Personal Portfolio. *T&Cs

Stash Subscription fee starts at $3/ month. You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the Custodian. Please see the Advisory Agreement for details. Other fees apply to the bank account. Please see the Deposit Account Agreement.

Clients may incur ancillary fees charged by Stash and/or its custodian that are not included in the monthly subscription fee.

A “Smart Portfolio” is a Discretionary Managed account whereby Stash has full authority to manage. “Smart” is only available in Growth ($3) and/or premium ($9).

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.

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.


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