January 13, 2021

Acorns App Fees

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Want to invest and save using the Acorns app? Read this review before you sign up to find out if the fees are worth it.

No doubt, Acorns is a cool product.

Started in 2012, the app makes it easy to save by rounding up spare change from everyday purchases. And Acorns' automated portfolios let you start investing without knowing a thing about ETFs, stocks, bonds, or real estate.

For individuals who wouldn't save or invest on their own, Acorns can be a real game-changer.

But is the app worth all the hype? Keep reading to learn more about Acorns' fees and how they compare to other investing apps (like Betterment, Stash, and Robinhood).

How Much Does Acorns Cost?

Acorns has three tiers. Depending on the plan you choose, fees range from $1-$5 per month:

  1. Acorns Lite: $1 per month
    The most basic plan lets you round up purchases and invest your spare change. You can also earn bonus investments from over 350 Found Money partners.

    • Acorns Invest (investment account with round-ups)
    • Acorns Found Money (retailers contribute a portion of purchases to investment account)

  2. Acorns Personal: $3 per month
    You get investment, retirement, and checking services, all in one place.

    • Acorns Invest
    • Acorns Found Money
    • Acorns Later IRA (retirement account with tax advantages)
    • Acorns Spend (checking account with debit card and ATM access)

  3. Acorns Family: $5 per month
    You get every feature from Lite + Personal, and you can invest for your children.

    • Acorns Invest
    • Acorns Found Money
    • Acorns Later IRA
    • Acorns Spend
    • Acorns Early (flexible investment accounts for your kids)

Are Acorns fees reasonable?
Acorns' flat fees only make sense if you have a large balance.

For the $1/month basic plan, $12/year is 12% of $100. That's much higher than robo-advisors, like Betterment, that charge 0.25% annually and have more robust features.

With $5,000 in your balance, the $12/year fee breaks down to 0.24% of your account value. In this scenario, Acorns is a much better deal.

Acorns' cost is very straightforward. Stick around to find out how the app works and what's included under each plan.

How Does Acorns Work?

Acorns is a micro-investing app that rounds up daily purchases and automatically invests the spare change for you. For example, if lunch costs $9.50, then Acorns will round up to $10 and invest the difference ($.50).

The app creates customized investment portfolios based on your goals and risk tolerance. Portfolios range from conservative (mostly bonds) to aggressive (all stocks and real estate).

Acorns invests in seven asset classes:

  • Large Company Stocks
  • Small Company Stocks
  • Emerging Markets
  • Developed Markets
  • Government Bonds
  • Corporate Bonds
  • Real Estate

To give your savings a boost, you should take advantage of the Round-ups Multiplier feature.

Round-ups are multiplied by the amount of your choice (2x, 3x, 10x) on each transaction. If your purchase is $4.75, the difference invested would normally be $0.25. However, with a multiplier set to 2x, you can round up $0.50 instead. This will accelerate your savings at a much faster rate.

Features and Benefits

Acorns offers five main services:

  • Acorns Invest: Invest your spare change ($5 minimum to start). Note, this is a taxable account. The app will invest your cash into a diversified portfolio with over 7,000 stocks and bonds. Plus, it'll automatically rebalance your portfolio and reinvest dividends for you.

  • Acorns Later: Plan for retirement with a Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and/or SEP IRA. As you get closer to retirement age, Acorns will modify your investment portfolio to more conservative holdings on your behalf.

    Note, IRA accounts do not support round-ups. You will need to set up recurring contributions.

  • Acorns Spend: Keep your banking and investing all under one app with the FDIC-insured checking account. You get direct deposit, mobile check deposits, online bill pay, and a metal debit card. Plus, members have access to 55,000+ fee-free ATMs around the world, and there are no overdraft fees.

  • Acorns Earn (Found Money): Earn extra money when you shop with Acorns' 350+ retail partners. You must connect your credit or debit card to your Acorns account before shopping. Then retailers will give back a percentage of your purchase into your investment account.

  • Acorns Early: Set up an investment account (UTMA/UGMA) in your child's name. The minimum to start is $5 and you can withdraw money from the account at any time without penalty if the money is used to benefit the child.

Acorns' simplicity is popular with tons of young adults, but it might not be right for you. Here's the #1 determining factor for whether or not you should download the app.

Is Acorns Worth It?

Acorns is not worth it if you keep a small balance. The basic plan costs $1 per month. So, if your account value is only $5, 20% of it will be eaten up in fees.

The app is a good option as long as you don't just rely on investing your spare change. Adding up dimes and pennies is a start, but it won't dramatically change your financial situation.

If you struggle with saving and investing, Acorns is a safe and secure platform to start building good financial habits. Be sure to set up recurring automatic contributions to your account and you'll see a bigger nest egg.

Remember, the more money you put into your account, the more worthwhile the app is.

Acorns lowers the barrier of entry for new investors with little money. But there are many downsides to watch out for. Let's take a deeper dive into the good and the bad.

What We Like About Acorns

This app is great for young adults who don't already have investment or retirement accounts. Plus, it can help make saving and investing a regular (and hands-off) part of your life.

Pros:

  1. Completely automated saving and investing
  2. Only $5 minimum to start investing
  3. Able to retroactively round up purchases you made before signing up
  4. Can set up retirement plan with spare change
  5. No fee for withdrawing funds from Acorns account (can take between 3-6 business days to receive the funds in your account)
  6. Invest with "Found Money" (rewards may take 3-4 months to get deposited into your Acorns account)
  7. Easy to set up recurring deposits from a bank account to enhance investments

What We Dislike About Acorns

For experienced investors, Acorns is much too simple and the services don't justify the cost.

Cons:

  1. Fees are high if you keep a small balance
  2. Lacks robust investing features like tax loss harvesting (or any type of tax assistance)
  3. Limited investment options (Acorns has about 7 asset classes to choose from, whereas some investing services spread the asset allocation over 10+ classes)

Should You Save and Invest with Acorns?

There are a lot of great investing apps out there. Is Acorns the right one for you?

Here's what to consider…

Betterment

If you have more money to invest but don't want to manage it, choose a robust robo-adviser like Betterment.

Unlike Acorns, Betterment has tax strategies like tax loss harvesting for reducing taxable income. This feature increases after-tax returns by offsetting capital gains with capital losses.

Pros:

  • No minimum investment
  • Many customized portfolios
  • Automatically invest extra funds

Cons:

  • Limited investment options
  • High fees for large investors

Fees:

  • Digital Plan: 0.25% annual fee
    Includes automated portfolio management, automatic rebalance, tax loss harvesting and sync external accounts.

  • Premium Plan (over $100,000): 0.40% annual fee
    Includes unlimited access to certified financial experts and guidance on investments outside of Betterment.

Stash

If you want to figure out the stock market with some guidance, choose Stash.

Unlike Acorns, Stash is not a robo-advisor. The app helps you choose investments (based on goals and risk tolerance) but does not manage your portfolio for you.

Pros:

  • $1 to invest
  • Guidance to beginners
  • Automatically invest extra funds

Cons:

  • Fees are high for small balances
  • High ETF expense ratio
  • Limited research

Fees:

  • Stash Beginner: $1 per month
    Includes access to personal brokerage and banking services (with Stash debit card and Stock-Back Rewards).

  • Stash Growth: $3 per month
    Includes personal brokerage account, retirement account (Roth or Traditional IRA) and banking services.

  • Stash+: $9 per month
    Includes access to a personal brokerage account, retirement account (Roth or Traditional IRA), two custodial accounts (UGMA/UTMC) for minors (age depends on account holder's state), and banking services with double Stock-Back Rewards.

Robinhood

If you want to manage everything yourself and avoid commission fees, choose Robinhood.

Unlike Acorns, the app is a self-directed brokerage account with no guidance at all. You must be willing to do independent research with this platform. Currently, you can trade stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies.

Pros:

  • Commission-free trades
  • No minimum
  • Extended trading hours

Cons:

  • No IRAs
  • Limited research
  • No mutual funds and bonds

There are no trading commission fees, account maintenance fee, inactivity fee, bank transfer fee (incoming or outgoing), or account transfer fee (incoming).

Fees:

  • $75 account transfer fee (outgoing)
  • $9 returned check, ACH, wire, and recall/stop payments
  • $25 domestic wire
  • $50 international wire
  • $5 paper statements

Bottom Line

You have more choices than ever for investing. Spare change apps like Acorns are good for dipping your toes into investing, but robust robo-advisors like Betterment offer more investment strategies. Online brokers like Robinhood also let you trade without any commission fees.

The most important thing to note is that Acorn's flat fees will take a huge cut out of small balances. With the $1/month plan, you need to have at least $5,000 in your account for the app to be cheaper than robo-advisors like Betterment.

If you've been putting off investing, Acorns can be a great way to passively grow your money without having to think about it. Just keep in mind how much money you have to invest and whether you want to automate your investments or manage them yourself.

Write to Amber K at amber@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website 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. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

CreditDonkey is a paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

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