March 18, 2024

Robinhood vs Acorns vs Webull

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Robinhood, Acorns, and Webull can all help you invest your money. But which one is best for you? Read on to find out.

Robinhood, Acorns, and Webull are all popular trading apps, but each one caters to a different type of investor.

Do you like choosing your investments, and doing your own research, or do you want to be hands-off?

This detailed comparison will help you choose which aligns best with your trading style and goals.



How do you make your investment decisions?

Who Each Is Best For

  • Robinhood is best for investors who are just starting out or don't have a lot of capital to invest. You can trade stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies with as little as $1.

  • Acorns is a robo-advisor that's best for hands-off investors. For a monthly subscription fee, the platform will do all the hard work and invest for you.

  • Webull is best for active traders and experienced investors who like to do in-depth research. The platform is known for its advanced charting and technical analysis tools.

What is your primary goal for investing?

What All Three Offer

  • Commission-free trading
  • No minimum deposits to open an account
  • Fractional shares
  • High-performing mobile apps

How They're Different

  • Robinhood and Acorns are more tailored towards beginners, while Webull is better for experienced investors.

  • Robinhood and Webull are DIY investing apps. Acorns is a robo-investor that offers automated investing.

  • Acorns has a monthly fee, while Robinhood and Webull are completely free to start using.

  • Acorns only lets you invest in pre-built portfolios of ETFs and certain individual stocks. The other two let you choose your own stocks, options, and ETFs.

Why Choose Robinhood?

Robinhood offers 100% commission-free trading. You can invest in stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies for as low as $1. This makes it perfect for new investors who want to start with small amounts.

Fun fact: Robinhood was actually the first trading app to offer 100% commission-free trades.[1] This is something many trading platforms followed soon after.

Robinhood also offers the only IRA that matches your contributions.[2] This gives you a nice little boost to your retirement savings.

For more experienced investors, they have a premium account called Robinhood Gold at $5/month. With it, you get lower margin rates, more advanced research tools, and an even higher percentage match on your IRA contributions.

Robinhood has over 20 million users. The app is very beginner-friendly and highly-rated on both Google Play and App Store.

Drawbacks:
The biggest drawback of Robinhood is that its research isn't the most extensive.

You get access to professional research from Morningstar with Robinhood Gold, but you'll need to pay their monthly fee for that. Even then, it's not as extensive as Webull's array of tools.

One thing to note is that Robinhood has a history of controversy, such as freezing the purchasing of certain stocks during the GameStop fiasco. For that, they were fined $70 million.[3]

Pros + Cons:

  • Very beginner-friendly
  • Invest from $1
  • IRA match
  • Past controversial issues
  • Limited research tools

Why Choose Acorns?

Acorns is a robo-advisor that's perfect for hands-off investors. From picking investments to balancing your portfolio, the platform does all the heavy lifting for you.

A robo-advisor is an online, automated investing service. Using algorithms, they select investments for you and automatically manage/monitor your account with software. These can automate complicated tasks like rebalancing and tax strategizing to give you better returns.

You can link your credit/debit cards, and Acorns will round up your purchases and invest the change.[4] As soon as the spare change amounts to $5, it gets invested into an expert-built portfolio of ETFs.

As soon as you sign up, Acorns will recommend diversified portfolios. From there, you can pick one depending on how aggressive you want to be.

Drawbacks:
Investment options are more limited. The automated investing account only invests in ETFs. You can buy individual stocks if you have the Premium plan, but the choices are limited to larger companies.

If you're looking for big returns, Acorns likely won't be aggressive enough for you. Even the most aggressive options may still be on the more conservative side for many.

Being an aggressive investor could mean maximizing returns, but it also means higher risk. Before engaging in high-risk trades, make sure to assess your risk tolerance and financial goals first.

Pros + Cons:

  • Hands-off investing
  • Invest with spare change
  • Just $5 to start investing
  • Monthly fee
  • Limited tradable assets
  • Trading strategies aren't aggressive enough

Do people really make money with Acorns?
Yes. Because of how safe and conservative the investment options are on Acorns, people have made money. However, returns on Acorns are seen in the long-term compared to the active trading options seen on Robinhood or Webull.

Why Choose Webull?

Webull is for more advanced, active traders. It offers commission-free trades on stocks, ETFs, and options.[5]

On top of that, they offer widely praised advanced charting tools and stock screeners. They also have great technical analysis tools to help you make your investment decisions.

Webull has features for different types of traders:

  • For day traders: Perform up to 3 day trades in a five-trading day period (unlimited for those with $25,000 or more in account balance).[6]

  • For margin traders: Get access to margin trading at no extra cost and up to 4x buying power (you need at least $2,000 to qualify).[7]

  • For short sellers: Short selling is supported on Webull.

Webull is also the only platform among the three that offers a paper trading account. You get unlimited virtual cash and real-time market data, so you can test your strategies before committing real money.

Drawbacks:
If you're a complete beginner, you may find all the research tools overwhelming. All the charts and screeners and could scare you away from trading completely.

Pros + Cons:

  • Advanced research tools
  • No trading fees
  • Fractional shares from $5
  • Free practice account
  • Can be overwhelming for beginners
  • No mutual funds, forex, or futures

Is Webull better than Robinhood?
Webull is better for more experienced traders while Robinhood caters to beginners. While both allow you to trade similar assets, Webull has more advanced research and analysis tools compared to Robinhood.

Direct Comparison

To give you a better idea of which platform will suit your trading style, here's a direct comparison between Robinhood, Acorns, and Webull.

How do Robinhood, Acorns, and Webull make their money?
Robinhood and Webull make their money through methods like payment for order flow (PFOF), margin interest, and income from uninvested cash.

On top of that, Robinhood has membership fees for Robinhood Gold and interchange fees from their cash card account. Acorns, on the other hand, earns all their money via subscription fees.

What feature is most important to you in an investing app?

Fees

All three platforms have no account minimums and offer commission-free trading.

Robinhood and Webull have no fees to maintain your account, while Acorns has a monthly fee since it's a robo-advisor. The fees are:[8]

  • Acorns Personal ($3/mo) - includes personal taxable account, IRA, and checking account
  • Acorns Personal Plus ($5/mo) - includes everything in Personal, emergency fund, and 25% match on rewards
  • Acorns Premium ($9/mo) - includes everything in Personal Plus, investment accounts for kids, 50% match on rewards, custom portfolio, Trust & Will, $10K Life Insurance, and free GoHenry account

Robinhood also has an optional Premium account called Robinhood Gold that costs $5/month. This gives you interest on uninvested cash, access to margin trading at a lower margin interest rate, and professional research from Morningstar.

Be sure to check out the full breakdown of Robinhood's fees and Webull's fees. Acorns fees are all baked into their monthly subscription fee.

Minimum Investment

There is no minimum to open an account with all three platforms. And they all offer fractional shares so you can get started with just dollars.

Robinhood offers fractional shares from $1, while Webull lets you invest starting as low as $5.[9]

Acorns requires an initial investment of $5. If you're investing your spare change through their Round-Ups feature, the total needs to equal to $5 before it gets invested.[10]

If you open a checking account with Acorns and use the Acorns Visa™ debit card, there's no waiting until your spare change amounts to $5. With this account, you can have the round-ups invested in real-time.

Ease of Use

Acorns is easiest to use since it's completely hands-off. They do everything for you—from picking the investments to managing your portfolio. With recurring deposits and spare change round-ups, you can literally "invest without thinking."

If you want to invest yourself, Robinhood is great for beginner investors. They have an incredibly intuitive user interface that allows anyone to just pick it up and start trading.

Since Webull is more geared toward active traders, it has a steeper learning curve. They offer more comprehensive research tools that could be overwhelming for beginners. But there is a free paper trading account for practice.

Tradable Assets

RobinhoodAcornsWebull
Stocks
ETFs
Options-
Cryptocurrency--
Mutual funds---
Bonds---

Robinhood and Webull let you choose your own stocks, ETFs, and options. Robinhood even offers cryptocurrencies. However, they don't offer mutual funds, bonds, futures, or forex.

Acorns, on the other hand, is a robo-advisor. This means that you're only investing in ETFs from prebuilt portfolios. You can see what's included in the portfolios, but the only choice you have is how aggressive you want to be.

In mid-2023, Acorns introduced Custom Portfolios, which allows Premium subscribers to choose individual stocks.[11] However, the stocks are limited to large companies in the U.S.

Is it better to invest in Robinhood or Acorns?
Acorns is better for hands-off, passive investors, while Robinhood is better for DIY investors. Acorns is also better for longer-term investors, while Robinhood is better for active traders. Both trading apps are very beginner-friendly.

Account Types

RobinhoodAcornsWebull
Individual taxable account
Joint account---
Traditional IRA
Roth IRA
Margin account-
529 College Savings---
Account for minors--
Checking account--
Paper trading account--

Robinhood offers a unique IRA that matches a percentage of your contributions. The match is even higher for those with a Gold membership.

For experienced investors looking to trade on margin, Webull may be best. From the get-go, you have access to margin trading with up to 4x buying power.

Acorns is more of an all-in-one type of platform. Not only can you create an investing account, but you can also create a checking account. They also offer an account for minors, which means your whole family can invest with Acorns.[12]

Cash account (or Individual Taxable account) vs. Margin account
A margin account lets you borrow money against the value of your securities. A cash account, on the other hand, only allows you to use the money you have on hand for investing. Both are the primary types of accounts on most brokerages.


Trading Process

Robinhood and Webull are DIY apps where you do the trading yourself. You choose which security you want and how much of it you want to buy. From there, you execute the orders yourself using the order type you want.

Robinhood only provides the basic types of orders, making it better suited for those with simpler investment strategies.

Webull, on the other hand, provides more advanced conditional orders. These give experienced investors more control over their trades to mitigate risk.

Available order types on Robinhood and Webull
Order TypeRobinhoodWebull
Market order
Limit order
Stop limit
Stop loss
Trailing stop loss
Trailing stop limit-
One-triggers-the-other (OTO)-
One-cancels-the-other (OCO)-
One-triggers-an-OCO (OTOCO)-

With Acorns, there's no need to fill out any order forms to invest. The platform automatically invests in ETFs for you. You just choose your risk level, and Acorns will do all the heavy lifting for you.

If you have a Premium plan, you can invest in an individual stock or ETF from their list. However, it's worth noting that these purchases are not in real-time.

When you decide to buy an individual stock, Acorns will buy it on your behalf 1-3 business days after your next cash investment.

Buying and selling individual stocks and ETFs on Acorns are not instant. They make a single purchase for the total number of shares during their daily trade windows. This means that these are more ideal for long-term investors instead of day traders.

Educational And Research Tools

Webull has the most extensive research tools, while Acorns doesn't offer any. Here's how they break down:

Robinhood
Because it's made with beginners in mind, Robinhood only has the basic research tools like:

  • Side-by-side stock comparisons and stock filters
  • Real-time market updates on stocks in your watch list
  • Candlestick charts with 5 indicators
  • Prices paid by Robinhood investors (per share)

If you have a Gold account, you'll get access to professional research from Morningstar. These include in-depth stock research reports, covering over 1,700 stocks, and are frequently updated.

Each report from Morningstar covers professional analysis and ratings on a company's:
  • Business strategy - Initiatives a company takes to create value
  • Economic moat - Ability to maintain an edge over its competitors
  • Fair market value - The price the company would sell for on an open market
  • Risk - Probability of losing parts or all investments in the company
  • Leadership -The people behind the company, specifically management

Acorns
Because Acorns is a robo-advisor, there's no need for you to do in-depth research. Other than their Learn section, there aren't many research tools at your disposal.

If you're a Premium member, you get quarterly in-depth analysis of markets and economic climate reports. But that's pretty much it.

Webull
Webull has the most advanced research and charting tools that help you make informed investment decisions. This includes:

  • Real-time market quotes
  • Price alerts (for stocks on your watchlist)
  • Stock screeners
  • Market data from 5 categories and 100+ exchanges
  • 50 technical indicators
  • Analyst ratings
  • Video replay (for historical stock price action)

Webull has the most extensive resource library. Their learn section offers educational resources like webinars, tutorials, and articles that span a wide range of topics.

Is Webull better than Robinhood?
If you need advanced research tools or a paper trading account to practice with, Webull is a better option. If you're just starting out, Robinhood's user-friendly interface may be more suited for you.

Security/Compliance

Robinhood, Acorns, and Webull are all SIPC-insured. This means up to $500,000 (including a $250,000 cash limit) is insured in case the brokerage fails. [13]

These platforms also have supplemental coverage for amounts that exceed SIPC limits. Robinhood uses Lloyd's of London while Webull uses Apex Clearing.

All three platforms also have data encryption, security protocols, and two-factor authentication (2FA), all of which protect your private and personal data.

In terms of compliance, all three platforms have regulatory oversight. They all also comply with KYC/AML laws.

What is KYC/AML?
Know Your Customer (KYC) refers to checks that companies make to ensure that their customers are who they say they are and aren't a risk to the business. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) refers to the steps that companies take to prevent criminals from transferring funds that came from illicit activity.

Customer Support

All three platforms have available customer support to help you with any concerns or questions you may have:

  • Robinhood: 24/7 via live chat and phone[14]

  • Acorns: 24/7 via live chat and email; Phone available from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm (PST), 7 days a week[15]

  • Webull: 24/7 via email and phone[16]

Mobile App

Here's a quick overview of their ratings on the mobile app stores:

RobinhoodAcornsWebull
Google Play4.1/5 stars
(475,000+ ratings)
4.6/5 stars
(280,000+ ratings)
4.3/5 stars
(189,000+ ratings)
App Store4.2/5 stars
(4.1+ million ratings)
4.7/5 stars
(893,000+ ratings)
4.7/5 stars
(297,000+ ratings)

In terms of customer feedback, here are some comments from their app store reviews:

Robinhood

"As a beginner, I found this app super easy to use and the tutorials helped out where I needed clarity." - Sean, 5/5 stars on the Google Play store (September 17, 2023)

"After having this app for over 4 years, it has come a long way and is a really good app for normal people to invest what they can." - Jody, 4/5 stars on the Google Play store (September 16, 2023)

Acorns

"Excited to watch my change really add up to something!" - Amanda, 5/5 stars on the Google Play store (September 19, 2023)

"Great app if you want to save for a nest egg and don't know how to go about it. Just set your parameters and forget about it and Acorns will do the rest and keep you informed every step of the way." - Joel, 5/5 stars on the Google Play store (September 17, 2023)

Webull

"I'm impressed with the level of feature/functions on trades, the low fees for options, the charting tools and indicators, and the many other settings that make accessing important information quick." - Uncast Shadow, 4/5 stars on the Apple App Store (August 31, 2023)

"It took me a bit to learn the ins and outs of the app but it's easy to use, no nonsense, and straightforward." - Esdras, 4/5 stars on the Google Play store (September 15, 2023)

Bottom Line

The best platform for you will heavily depend on the type of investor you want to be.

Robinhood is best for beginner DIY investors just starting out, while Webull is good for experienced, active traders who depend on research.

And if you don't want to pick your own investments or manage your own portfolio at all, Acorns is great for passive investors.

References

  1. ^ TechCrunch. Robinhood App Will Offer Zero-Commission Stock Trades Thanks To $3M Seed From Index and A16Z, Retrieved 10/16/2023
  2. ^ Robinhood. IRA match FAQ, Retrieved 10/16/2023
  3. ^ FINRA. FINRA Orders Record Financial Penalties Against Robinhood Financial LLC, Retrieved 02/05/2024
  4. ^ Acorns. What Are Real-Time Round-Ups, Retrieved 11/11/2023
  5. ^ Webull. What Are The Trading Fees On Webull? Are You Commission Free?, Retrieved 10/30/2023
  6. ^ Webull. What's The Difference Between Margin And Cash Account?, Retrieved 10/30/2023
  7. ^ Webull. Margin Trading, Retrieved 10/30/2023
  8. ^ Acorns. Acorns Subscriptions, Retrieved 12/09/2023
  9. ^ Webull. Fractional Shares, Retrieved 11/11/2023
  10. ^ Acorns. Is there a minimum investment required to open an account?, Retrieved 10/16/2023
  11. ^ Acorns. New Custom Portfolios: Choose Your Acorns Investments, Retrieved 10/16/2023
  12. ^ Acorns. How Does Acorns Early Work?, Retrieved 11/11/2023
  13. ^ SIPC. Investor Protection, Retrieved 10/16/2023
  14. ^ Robinhood. How to contact support, Retrieved 11/16/2023
  15. ^ Acorns. Acorns Contact Information, Retrieved 12/09/2023
  16. ^ Webull. How to File an Inquiry?, Retrieved 11/16/2023

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Robinhood vs Acorns vs Webull

March 18, 2024 - Tips
Robinhood, Acorns, and Webull can all help you invest your money. But which one is best for you? Read on to find out.

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