May 17, 2018

Acorns Review: Is It Good?

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Can you really invest with your spare change? Acorns makes it possible by rounding up your purchases to the nearest dollar and investing the spare change. You don't even need to understand investment lingo to get started. Is it too good to be true?

Acorns is an app-based investment vehicle that works by rounding up your spending. You link as many credit cards as you want to your account, and the round-ups accumulate.

Once your round-ups total $5, the money is withdrawn from your linked checking account and invested. All you have to do is link your credit cards and checking account, and choose a portfolio - Acorns does the rest.

Keep reading to see if this investment option is a viable choice for you.

Who Is Acorns Best For?

Ideally, Acorns is for the novice investor - the person who doesn't understand the market or just doesn't have the time to figure it out. Because it's basically an app-based program, it's geared toward millennials, but anyone can use it.

If you are a college student ready to save for the future but don't have access to a 401(k), a person who just can't make saving a regular part of their life, or a potential investor who doesn't have the time or patience to manage their investments, it may be a good choice.

Taking a closer look at Acorns, they truly target college-aged students or those who otherwise might not invest until they start their career. Acorns waives the management fee for college students with a (.edu) email address.

New investors do stand to reap the benefits as well, but they will still pay the service fee. Browsing through the Acorns website, you'll see that the language is very simple, making investing easy for even the novice investor.

What Are the Fees?

If you are not a college student, you'll pay $1 per month for taxable investment accounts and $2 for IRA accounts.

In order to qualify as a college student, you must mark your employment as "student" and use your college email address (.edu) to register to get this great deal.

Is Acorns worth it?

If you are looking for long-term investments with sizeable gains, Acorns might not be the right choice. You certainly aren't going to retire on the returns. But, if you use it as a supplement to your other investments or as a way to get your feet wet in investing, it can be a great way to put a little more money away.

It's a great way for new investors to get into the market without facing the typical minimum investment requirements or high fees that make investing impossible.

How's the App?

A majority of the work you do with Acorns will take place on the app, although they do have a web-based app that you can use as well.

You must be comfortable sharing a great deal of personal information on your phone in order to set up the account. You can also sign up on your PC and then manage your account on your phone after downloading the free app. All information is stored in the cloud, so you can access your account from any device with the app.

The app itself is very user-friendly. You can view the status of your portfolio at any time. It will also show you the projected value of your account based on your current investments, allow you to set up recurring investments, and even change your portfolio with the click of a few buttons. On the app, you can even grow your knowledge of investing or set up an IRA in just minutes.

Is Acorns safe? Your investments with Acorns are protected by the SIPC. This means your investments are protected up to $500,000. This includes up to $250,000 in cash balances as well. They also use SSL encryption and bank-level security. They do not store your bank login credentials and they use multi-factor authentication to help protect you even further.

Reasons We Like Acorns

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  • You don't need a minimum investment to open an account. This can often be a barrier for new investors, as they only have a little money to invest. Acorns doesn't require a minimum to open the account, but you'll need a total of $5 spare change saved to start investing.

  • You can set up an IRA using your spare change. Again, starting up an IRA can be costly. Many brokers require a minimum deposit for IRAs, which is usually even higher than standard taxable accounts. Acorns makes it simple to set up an IRA with your spare change. While it won't make you strike it rich quickly, it gets the ball rolling.

  • The app provides a recommended portfolio based on your data. Once you sign up and provide personal information, such as your age, savings goals, income, and length of time until retirement, Acorns recommends a portfolio that they feel will help you reach your goals. You can accept the recommendation or choose your own.

  • You can choose from one of five portfolio types. Acorns offers portfolios that range from aggressive to conservative, with the difference being the amount of your portfolio that is invested in stocks versus bonds. The more aggressive your portfolio, the more money that gets invested in stocks.

  • You can customize which transactions get included in your round-up. Acorns typically rounds up every purchase to the nearest dollar on your linked credit card. But, if there are only certain purchases you want rounded up, you can pick and choose which transactions get included. It's easy to manage on the app, taking just a few minutes to peruse your purchases and decide which transactions to include.

  • You can magnify your round-up by choosing a multiplier. If you want to make your investments even larger, you can choose to multiply your round-ups by 2, 3, or 10. Acorns allows you to enable or disable the multiplier at any time in the app.

  • There is no fee for withdrawing funds. You can withdraw your funds from Acorns at any time and at no charge. Keep in mind, though, it can take between 3-6 business days to receive the funds in your checking account. The SEC requires a 2-day waiting period after selling an investment, and Acorns sometimes enforces a 5-day waiting period to prevent any fraudulent activity on your account.

  • It takes the complexity out of investing. Investing can be overwhelmingly complicated, making some people avoid it altogether. With Acorns' automated tools and hands-off investment practices, it's easy to start investing without knowing a thing about ETFs, stocks, or bonds.

  • The savings is mindless. Sometimes the hardest part of saving is actually doing it. If you always find things to do with your money other than invest it, the automation of Acorns may be advantageous to you. It's similar to payroll deductions to add to your 401(k). The money is out of sight and out of mind, helping you to reach your investment goals without a second thought.

  • You can invest with "found money." Acorns partners with many big companies, like Apple or Nike, that contribute towards your Acorns deposits when you shop with them. Acorns calls them "Found Money Rewards," and they take between 60 and 120 days to get deposited into your account.

  • You can set up recurring investments. If spare change deposits are not enough for you, setting up recurring investments is simple in the Acorns app. You can choose to set up weekly or monthly deposits that take place automatically to enhance your investments.

Reasons You May Want to Look Elsewhere

  • The fees can be high if you keep a small balance. Even though $1 a month or $12 per year doesn't sound like a lot, if you look at it as a percentage of your investment, it's a hefty fee. If you stick with the $5 minimum investment that first month, it will cost you 20% to use Acorns. Compare that to Wealthfront, another robo-advisor, that charges 0.25% of the assets under management, and Acorns looks very expensive.

  • There are no tax benefits. Acorns does not offer tax loss harvesting or any type of tax assistance, for that matter. The only tax advice you will receive from them is the 1099 they send you in the mail at tax time (if your account activity warranted a 1099).

  • Your investment options are limited. Acorns only offers approximately 7 asset classes, limiting your investment options.

How It Compares

Acorns vs Stash: Acorns and Stash are similar in the fact that they both allow you to start investing with just $5, and they have the same fee structure. Unlike Acorns, though, Stash does not invest for you. They offer recommended "themes," but you must do the actual investing yourself.

Acorns vs Betterment: Acorns and Betterment are both robo-advisors, but the similarities end there. Betterment is better geared towards actual retirement savings than saving your spare change. It's for the investor who is serious about their investments and wants a hands-off approach with the robo-advisor side of it.

 

Acorns

Betterment

 

Benefits and Features

Annual FeeFree for college students for 4 years, $1/month for accounts under $5,000, and .25% per year over $5,000$3/month for accounts under $10,000 with no auto-debit, 0.35% for $10,000 and under with auto-debit, 0.25% for accounts between $10,000 and $100,000, and 0.15% for accounts above $100,000
Minimum Deposit
$0
$0
Phone Support
Yes
Yes
Live Chat Support
No
No
Email Support
Yes
Yes
Human Advisors
No
Yes
Assets Under Management
$528 Million
$10 Billion
Tax Loss Harvesting
No
Yes
Goal Tracker
Yes
Yes
Automatic Deposits
Yes
Yes
Online Platform
Yes
Yes
iPhone App
Yes
Yes
Android App
Yes
Yes
Single Stock Diversification
No
No
Fractional Shares
Yes
Yes
Taxable Accounts
Yes
Yes
401k Plans
No
Yes
IRA Accounts
No
Yes
Roth IRA Accounts
No
Yes
SEP IRA Accounts
No
Yes
Trust Accounts
No
Yes
529 Plans
No
No

Acorns: Pricing information from published website as of 04/04/2018

Betterment: Pricing information from published website as of 04/04/2018

Acorns vs Digit: Acorns and Digit are similar in the fact that they are both savings vehicles. Where Digit differs, though, is it does not invest your money; instead, it saves it in a savings account. Digit does this automatically after evaluating your income and spending habits to determine how much you can save on a regular basis. There is no investment component of their service, though.

Bottom Line

Should you invest with Acorns? The answer really depends on your situation. Should you rely on it as your primary investment vehicle for retirement? You probably shouldn't. Your spare change isn't going to get you very far.

But, if you are the type of person who just doesn't save or who doesn't understand investing, it can be a great way to get started or a great supplement to what you already have going. Why not do something with that spare change, right? It can give you a nice little supplement to your income if you use the service long enough for there to be a return on your small investment.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy financial decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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