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Investing

Acorns review: This micro-investing app offers an approachable platform for beginners

Acorns rounds up your spare change to get you started investing automatically.

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Sutthipong Kongtrakool

For those just embarking on their investing journey, entering the stock market can be a daunting process. But a number of fintech investing apps have beginner-friendly features such as no account minimum, educational resources and simplified interfaces which can make the transition into investing much less intimidating. Many newcomers may opt for Acorns, which has many of these features.

Acorns is an app designed specifically for novice investors looking to get their feet wet in the stock market. It offers access to its robo-advisor platform, tax-advantaged IRAs for retirement, plus a checking account. Its main micro-investing feature allows budding investors to start small by investing the spare change from their everyday purchases.

For example, when you purchase a coffee for $3.75, Acorns rounds up to the nearest dollar and invests the spare $0.25 cents into the market. The idea with micro-investing is that over time your contributions will add up. It's a good strategy for newbies who want to dip their toe into the investing pool before diving all in.

Below, Select reviews the investment options, features and fees of Acorns to help you decide if this platform is the right fit for you.

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Acorns review

Acorns

  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. No minimum required to open an account, $5 minimum to start investing

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. Monthly plans include: Personal ($3 per month) and Family ($5 per month)

  • Bonus

    None

  • Investment vehicles

    Robo-advisor: Acorns Invest IRA: Acorns Later includes Traditional, Roth, SEP IRAs, 401(k) Rollover Investment accounts for kids: Acorns Early

  • Investment options

    Diversified ETFs which include more than 7,000 stocks & bonds

  • Educational resources

Terms apply.

Pros

  • $0 minimum deposit to open an account
  • Invests your spare change from everyday purchases
  • Customizes users' portfolios around their financial goals, timeline and risk tolerance
  • Automatically rebalances portfolio
  • Offers Acorns Sustainable Portfolios for ESG investing
  • Access to educational articles and videos to learn about investing

Cons

  • Monthly fee can be steep if you're not investing much
  • Investment options are limited

Investment options

Acorns acts as a robo-advisor that invests your spare change — and any other contributions you make — into a selection of about 25 low-cost, diversified ETFs (which include more than 7,000 stocks and bonds). Users can fund their accounts with manual deposits, automatic recurring deposits and Acorns' Round-Ups®, which are added from the rounded dollar purchases on your linked credit and debit cards once they reach $5.

The ETFs are selected for you by Acorns after you complete a survey about your financial goals, investing timeline and risk tolerance. Factors like your age, income and net worth are all taken into account when creating your portfolio. ETFs in your Acorns portfolio could include ones like the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF, which mirrors the popular S&P500 stock index, or iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF which provides broad exposure to U.S. investment-grade bonds.

Investors, however, cannot currently buy or sell individual stocks through Acorns, although the company plans on launching this feature in 2022. If you ever want to break out of the training wheels and start trading on your own, consider a free stock trading platform such as Charles Schwab, Vanguard or Robinhood.

In addition to Acorns Invest, a taxable brokerage account, there is also Acorns Later, which allows you to open and manage a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA and/or a 401(k) Rollover. Acorns Early is offered as an investment account for kids.

Features

Acorns stands out for its hands-off managed portfolio and Round-Ups feature that automatically helps you grow your money in the market. Acorns will automatically rebalance your portfolio for you to keep your investments on track. Round-Ups makes it easy to put investing on autopilot, and because your contributions can be so small with this tool, it makes investing accessible for almost anyone.

You can even opt to create an ESG portfolio which will be composed of ETFs that provide exposure to more sustainable companies.

Acorns also provides a checking account which has many of the features of a traditional bank account including, direct deposit, mobile check deposit, a debit card and fee-free withdrawal from over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs around the world.

If you're set on really learning the ropes of the stock market, Acorns offers custom financial literacy content on the go. Its educational resources include a “Money Basics” blog and Grow + CNBC website.

The Acorns app is available to download for free in both the App Store (for iOS), where it has 4.7/5 stars, and on Google Play (for Android), where it has 4.6/5 stars at the time this article was written.

Fees

Acorns offers two membership tiers:

  1. Personal plan for $3 per month that includes a checking account, investment account and retirement account.
  2. Family plan for $5 per month that includes the three accounts you get with the Personal plan, plus additional investment accounts for your children.

While the app touts an affordable investing option for newbies, the monthly fee can eat up a big chunk of your returns if you're only putting away a few dollars each month. To really take advantage, set up a larger recurring deposit into your Acorns investment account that's in addition to any spare change that gets swept up.

Investing platforms like Robinhood and don't charge any fees for trading stocks or a monthly fee to maintain a basic account, but they don't have a robo-advisor service. SoFi offers its own robo-advisor through its SoFi Automated Investing service and does not charge any management fees, plus, you can open a cash management account with them for no fee as well.

Bottom line

For those who want to invest their money but don't know where to start, Acorns is an approachable platform for beginners. It has a simple interface and a micro-investing feature that goes to work every time you make a purchase. Plus, your investments will be safe in low-cost, diversified funds.

If you're looking for something a bit less entry level, consider a robo-advisor like Betterment. It's a solid choice for those who still want to be hands-off with their investments, though more advanced investors have the option to customize through flexible portfolios.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast are investors in Acorns.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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