June 5, 2021

EarlyBird Review

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EarlyBird is an investment gifting platform for parents who want to invest money in their child's future. Find the pros, cons, and fees in this review.

Overall Score

3.7

Stock Trading

3.0

Mobile App

4.0

Fees

4.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Low fees
  • User-friendly app
  • Real-time projected balance updates
  • Limited portfolio options
  • Fewer tax advantages than 529 plan
  • Can't be accessed until beneficiary is 18

Bottom Line

Simple way to gift stock-trades to children but limited selection

EarlyBird offers an easy way for parents and family to invest in their kids' future.

By creating a low-fee, customized ETF, new parents can set their kids up for financial success.

Use the power of compound interest to help your child buy their first car, save for college, start a business, or pay for their wedding. Let's review EarlyBird's features, fees, and how it compares to other investing apps.

What Is EarlyBird

EarlyBird is a fintech gifting platform founded in 2019 by Jordan Wexler and Caleb Frankel.

It offers Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) accounts using a robo-advisor, similar to Acorns or Stash.

With EarlyBird, parents, friends, and family members can gift money to a child (the "beneficiary") that is invested into a portfolio selected by the account custodian (typically the parent).

Before the child reaches the age of maturity (based on their state of residence), the custodian is solely in charge of the account. Once the child reaches the age of maturity, the account is automatically transferred into their possession.

The company is still in its early stage of development and funding, having received $3.1 million in pre-seed and seed funding as of this writing, according to Crunchbase.[1]

Who is Early Bird Best For

  • Parents of young children who want to set them up for future financial success
  • Adults who want to set up an investment account for a minor without giving the beneficiary control until adulthood
  • Parents who want to give their child more options than the education-only restrictions of a 529 plan

Is EarlyBird legit?
Investments in your EarlyBird account are guaranteed up to $500,000 by the SIPC in the event of default. But this does not protect against a decline in market value of your securities. Your money is held by Apex Clearing Corporation, an SEC-registered broker and FINRA member. Plus, the app uses added safety features such as multi-factor authentication, auto-logouts, ID verification, and 256-bit encryption.

EarlyBird Pros and Cons

Want the quick details? Here are the pros and cons you need to know about EarlyBird's investment gifting.

Pros:

  • Ability to create video messages to accompany gifts
  • Easy and intuitive app experience
  • Real-time projected balance updates
  • Low fees
  • User-friendly

Cons:

  • Limited portfolio options
  • Fewer tax advantages than 529 plans
  • Can't be accessed until the beneficiary reaches 18 or 21

More interested in saving up for school? Find out how 529 plans can be used for private school elementary or high school expenses.

How Does EarlyBird Work?

EarlyBird partners with wealth management experts to offer curated investment accounts for parents.

EarlyBird's portfolios are ETF-based and made up of both securities and bonds. They can also be tailored to your child's age, investment goals, time period, and risk tolerance.

Parents can choose from more conservative ETFs (100% bonds) to more aggressive ETFs (100% equity). You can also make regular contributions to the account to keep it growing and have friends and family make gifts to the account.

EarlyBird makes its money by charging the account holder a small monthly fee and processing fees for contributions made by individuals other than the custodian of the account (full fee breakdown explained below).

EarlyBird Features

EarlyBird's dashboard offers a full view of your current holdings based on day-to-day market changes.

One helpful feature of EarlyBird is the "Projected Balance at 18" tool, directly under your current holdings on the home page of the app (called the Nest).

This shows the estimated amount your child would have in the account if no additional funds were added to the account based on annual investment return projections.

Parents, family and friends also have the opportunity to record personal video messages to accompany each financial gift. After years of contributions, your child will have a personalized archive of videos from the people closest to them.

EarlyBird's Investment Strategies

EarlyBird uses a popular investment vehicle called an exchange traded fund (ETF).

ETFs are a collection of securities, similar to mutual funds, that trade during the day on the open market, similar to stocks.

For example, you can invest in the entire S&P 500 with one fund, instead of individual companies.

Parents can choose from one of five portfolios based on their risk tolerance and the child's age. These range from very conservative (100% bond ETFs) to very aggressive (100% equity ETFs).

How Much Does EarlyBird Cost?

Your first $200 of assets under management (AUM) are free. After that, EarlyBird appears to have recently lowered their monthly service fee.[2]

Their current fee structure is as follows:

  • $1 monthly service fee per month, per child
  • $2 processing fee per contribution by any adult who is not the custodian of the account

EarlyBird App

The EarlyBird app allows you to review and monitor your child's custodial account using a clean and easy-to-use interface.

After setting up your account using the personal information of yourself and your child, the EarlyBird app offers a number of straightforward features, including:

  • View current balance and projected balance at 18
  • Review contributors and invite new contributors
  • View your current recurring deposits
  • Make a one-time deposit
  • View memories (videos)
  • See the individual balances for each child
  • Review your investing strategy

Download: App Store, Google Play

EarlyBird vs. the Alternatives

EarlyBird is the only robo-investor application that is specifically designed to provide custodial accounts for children. However, several alternatives exist within other investing applications, such as Acorns and Stash.

EarlyBird vs Stash
Stash also offers both UGMA and UTMA styles of custodial accounts. But they have a couple advantages over EarlyBird.

For example, you get monthly investing reports and eligibility for up to $10,000 in free life insurance through their partner, Avibra.

However, EarlyBird absolutely takes the cake here due to pricing.

Stash offers three tiers of services: Basic, Growth, and Plus. To gain access to the custodial accounts, you must have their highest-tier option, Plus, which costs $9 per month for the first two custodial accounts.

Compare that to the $1 per month for EarlyBird to gain access to virtually identical services as Stash, plus the ability to record memories and have family and friends gift money into the account directly.

Unless you plan on using the full suite of Stash's features for yourself and your children, EarlyBird could be a good choice.

Read more: Stash Review

EarlyBird vs Acorns
Acorns offers a custodial account called Acorns Early, which is offered through the Acorns Family Plan package. Like Stash, you cannot enroll in Acorns' custodial account by itself.

With Acorns, the beneficiary's account is automatically placed into a very aggressive portfolio allocation (due to the child's age.)

EarlyBird comes out on top once again in pricing, although the margin is narrower. Acorns Family Plan costs $5 per month.

If you're looking purely for a custodial account, EarlyBird has the advantage in this comparison. In addition, given the young age of EarlyBird as a company, their services and features will surely continue to improve in the near future.

Read more: Acorns Review

EarlyBird vs Betterment
Betterment does not offer a custodial account, but rather what is called a "trust account."

Compared to custodial accounts, trust accounts are much more complicated and often require the assistance of an estate attorney.

You can set up individual terms for each individual trust account. There are also revocable and non-revocable trusts, trusts which can only be used for designated purposes, etc.

Unless you have very specific guidelines to attach to your child's investment, you're probably better off with a custodial account.

The Bottom Line

EarlyBird is the only option on the market that is designed specifically around the idea of giving the gift of future financial security to children in a meaningful and personal way. As a result, this service really stands out to me.

As previously mentioned, this is a very young company. The services they offer, features, amount of financial literacy education, and technology will surely improve over time and as they receive more funding and feedback from customers.

If you're looking for an easy and convenient way to save for your child's future, EarlyBird is worth a look.

To start the enrollment process, you can visit their website.

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Paid non-client endorsement. See Apple App Store and Google Play reviews. View important disclosures. 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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