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Investing

The best robo-advisor for investors who want to be hands-off

Betterment has no minimums, a low annual account fee and offers access to human advisors.

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Investing on your own can be intimidating, but a robo-advisor can be an affordable way to get started.

Robo-advisors are exactly what they sound like: robots. They use computer algorithms and data to build and manage investment portfolios for their users. When you open an account, you'll complete a brief questionnaire about your goals, timeline and risk level, and from there on out you don't have to lift another finger. Robo-advisors will even rebalance your portfolio for you as the market changes.

Betterment was one of the first robo-advising platforms on the market, and it has long had a good reputation as an automated investing platform. Select ranked it as the "best overall" on our list of the best robo-advisors for a few reasons: There's no minimum balance required, and the annual account fee is a low 0.25% of your fund balance. Plus, even though it's an automated service, users can get access to a real-life financial advisor. (Read more on our methodology for selecting the best robo-advisors.)

Below, we review the Betterment platform to give you all the details on its investment options, features and fees so you can decide if it is right for your money.

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Betterment review

Betterment

On Betterment's secure site
  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. For Betterment Digital Investing, $0 minimum balance; Premium Investing requires a $100,000 minimum balance

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. For Betterment Digital Investing, 0.25% of your fund balance as an annual account fee; Premium Investing has a 0.40% annual fee

  • Bonus

    Up to one year of free management service with a qualifying deposit within 45 days of signup. Valid only for new individual investment accounts with Betterment LLC

  • Investment vehicles

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash

  • Educational resources

    Betterment RetireGuide™ helps users plan for retirement

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • $0 minimum deposit
  • No trade or transfer fees
  • Good for automated investing
  • Customizes users' portfolios around their financial goals, timeline and risk tolerance
  • Users can assign specific investing goals (short- and long-term) to each portfolio and invest using different strategies (less and more risk)
  • Quick and easy to set up account
  • Able to sync external retirement accounts to your Betterment retirement goal so all your accounts are in one place
  • Premium plan users get unlimited access to a financial advisor (otherwise, one-time advisor consultations cost a fee ranging from $199 to $299)
  • Advanced features include automatic rebalancing, tax-saving strategies and socially responsible investing
  • Betterment RetireGuide™ helps users plan for retirement

Cons

  • 0.25% annual account fee
  • 0.40% annual account fee for upgraded premium plan
  • Premium plan requires $100,000 minimum balance

Betterment investment options

The Betterment Portfolio is made up of low-cost, diversified ETFs, which is key to maintaining low risk when you invest in the market. More advanced investors, however, have the option to customize through Betterment's flexible portfolios.

Betterment's customers can also invest in traditional, Roth or SEP IRAs, plus Betterment offers a 401(k) for employers.

Many Betterment reviews mention the platform's user-friendly financial dashboard that helps you keep track of your investments and historical performance. Users can also connect other external bank accounts so they can see all their financials in one place.

Features

Betterment offers a little of everything when it comes to robo-advisors. On top of customizing a portfolio for you, Betterment's advanced features include automatic rebalancing, tax-saving strategies and socially responsible investing.

For the automatic-rebalancing feature, Betterment will adjust your portfolio whenever you make a deposit, withdraw funds or change your target allocation. Betterment's algorithms will also check your portfolio drifts (how far you are from your target allocation) once per day and rebalance if necessary so you can rest assured that your investments are getting full attention.

Tax-saving strategies are available to all users and include tax-loss harvesting, where Betterment will automatically sell holdings experiencing a loss to help offset your taxes. Betterment also provides a "tax impact preview" tool that lets you see how much you might have to pay in taxes before withdrawing funds.

Plus, Betterment's free app has solid reviews. It is available to download for free in both the App Store (for iOS), where it has 4.8/5 stars, and on Google Play (for Android), where is has 4.7/5 stars at the time this article was written.

Betterment does not offer customers the ability to buy and sell individual stocks, so those looking to trade as well will need to pair it with another platform like Robinhood or Webull. (Check out Select's list of the best investing apps for more info.)

Fees

There is no minimum balance required to invest with Betterment, and the annual account fee is a low 0.25% of your fund balance. So, if you have $5,000 invested with Betterment, you'll pay just $12.50.

Investors with a balance of $100,000 can upgrade to the premium plan, which gives you unlimited access to real-life financial advisors for an annual fee of 0.40% of your fund balance.

If you don't have that much cash invested, you can pay for one-time advisor consultations, which cost a fee ranging from $199 to $299.

Those who sign up for a new Betterment account can take advantage of a welcome bonus: up to one year of free management service with a qualifying deposit within 45 days of signup (valid only for new individual investment accounts with Betterment).

Bottom line

When it comes to robo-advisors, Betterment is an obvious choice for many. Investors get the customized portfolio, plus automated rebalancing, tax-saving strategies and access to a human advisor when they need one.

While Betterment is good for any type of investor, women may want to also consider Ellevest. Ellevest will create and manage a personalized investment portfolio for you, but it stands out because its platform's algorithms considers important realities of women's lives, such as pay gaps, career breaks and longer life expectancy, so women can get a true sense of where they stand financially.

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Our methodology

To determine which robo-advisors offer the best services for investors, Select reviewed 22 different platforms. We then narrowed down our top picks by considering the following factors:

  • Account minimums
  • Account, advisory, trading and fund fees
  • Investment vehicles offered
  • Selection of investments
  • Educational tools and resources
  • Customer support
  • Sign-up bonuses

After reviewing the above features, we based our recommendations on platforms offering the lowest fees, the widest range of investment options, usability and any unique features like access to a human advisor. We also looked into each company's customer support structure and app reviews.

Your investment earnings through a robo-advisor are subject to fluctuations of the market. Your earnings also depends on any associated fees and the contributions you make to your account. There are no guarantees you'll earn a certain rate of return or current investment options will always be available. To determine the best approach for your specific investment goals, speaking with a reputable fiduciary investment advisor is recommended.

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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