Stash vs. Robinhood vs. Acorns: 2022 Comparison

Which Investment App is Best?

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While virtually every major brokerage offers online and mobile account management, a small crop of brokers take a mobile-first approach, putting most of the power of your investment account on your smartphone. Stash, Robinhood, and Acorns are three leaders in the mobile-first investment landscape.

All three brokers tout low costs and excellent user experience but do they live up to the hype? Let's investigate whether they may be a good fit for your investing needs. Here's our Acorns vs Robinhood vs Stash Invest comprehensive comparison.

Stash vs. Robinhood vs. Acorns: Overview

Investing apps like Stash, Robinhood, and Acorns are accessible and easy to use.  Using these types of investing platforms can help you regularly save money and invest.

These apps also allow you to link your credit and debit cards to make recurring deposits. When you spend, a small amount of money is taken from your account and invested into either ETFs or stocks.

When it comes down to which one is best, it depends on your and your individual goals, as well as your compatibility with the platform's features.

  • Stash is the best for new investors who want to learn and need additional help. It's composed of self-directed and automated features that can help someone get the hang of new procedures.
  • Robinhood is the best for active traders. This is the platform to use if you have more experience and are looking for an option that is low-cost, self-directed, and has ETF and cryptocurrency compatibility.
  • Acorns is the best for individuals who don't want to put much effort into investing. You monitor your account leisurely and don't have to think about it too much. This is a long-term, hands-off strategy.
 Stash Invest ReviewAcorns ReviewRobinhood Review
Rating8.5/108.5/108.5/10
Minimum to Open Account$0$0$0
FeesBeginner Plan: $1/month; Growth Plan: $3/month; Stash+ Plan: $9/month$3 a month for the Personal Plan; $5 a month for the Family plan. No commission fees
Taxable Accounts
ETFs
Socially Responsible Investing
AdviceAutomatedAutomated
Individual Stocks

What is Stash?

Stash is designed with beginner investors in mind. Their system is simple and easy to use. Plus, you can get started for only $5. They support retirement accounts, custodial accounts, and a taxable brokerage account, allowing you to save for any financial goal.

Stash lets you invest in fractional shares, which is a feature that Acorns also offers. You can also invest in stocks and ETFs, but the transactions only get executed during four trading windows per day. This prevents users from having full control over buying and selling, and discourages them from day trading.

If you’re signed up for one of their advanced tiers, you can get access to Stash's Smart Portfolios. These portfolios enable you to diversify into a variety of assets, including crypto. Stash will also rebalance your portfolios and your dividends for you.

Screenshot of Stash Smart portfolios

Stash offers a Stock-Back visa debit card with a Stash banking account that lets you earn stock based on your purchases instead of cashback. 

Fees for Stash range from $1-$9 a month, depending on the tier level. The standard $1/month plan includes a Stock-Back card, access to a Stash personal investment account, and investment advice. 

The plan for $3/month adds the option to set up a traditional or Roth IRA account and personalized retirement advice. The $9/month plan adds an option for a custodial account that lets you invest in your children's future with premium research and tax advice, and  access to the Stash banking account.

Top Features

Some of the key Stash features include:

  • Fractional shares
  • Earn stock back with the Stock-Back card
  • Automatic recurring investments
  • Portfolio analysis and recommendations

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Low minimum deposit amount
  • Stash banking account
  • Educational materials are provided

Cons

  • Trading is only allowed during specific times 
  • May be unfeasible and costly for people who want to invest a small amount each month

What is Robinhood?

Robinhood allows investors to buy and sell cryptocurrency, options, stocks, and ETFs without incurring any commission fees.

When Robinhood first started offering its services, commission-free trading did not exist. But, today, many companies have taken Robinhood's lead to offer commission-free trades, so competition has become more fierce.

Robinhood also allows you to buy fractional shares of an investment, meaning you could buy part of a share. And if you want extra features you can sign up for Robinhood Gold for $5 a month and get access to investment research and margin investing.

Screenshot of Robinhood Gold 

Robinhood does not offer automated portfolio options, automatic rebalancing, or automated investment advisory services like some of the other brokerage apps. Instead, you have to pick which investments you would like to buy and sell and when to make the trades yourself. This might be inconvenient for those who enjoy the recurring system, but it gives you more control over the process.

The company also offers its own Robinhood cash management account, where you can spend, invest, and earn interest on your cash

It's FDIC insured up to $1.25 million through third-party banks and doesn't require a monthly fee or minimum balance. However, you can’t make cash or check deposits and there are no rebates for out-of-network ATM fees. This takes away some of the functionality that would make it feel like a real bank card. 

Top Features

Top features on Robinhood include:

  • Fractional shares
  • Real-time trading
  • Options sharing
  • Robinhood Gold ($5/month) provides access to research and margin trading for a fee

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No minimum deposit or balance required
  • Ability to trade and track cryptocurrencies
  • Trades and transfers are free of cost
  • Gives you a share of free stock just for signing up

Cons

  • No advanced options for trading
  • Doesn't support mutual funds or bonds
  • Only an individual taxable investment account is available
  • Some functions are only available to exclusive users

Further Reading: Robinhood Alternatives

Advertiser DisclosureThis advertisement contains information and materials provided by Robinhood Financial LLC and its affiliates (“Robinhood”) and Investor Junkie, a third party not affiliated with Robinhood. All investments involve risk, and the past performance of a security or financial product does not guarantee future results or returns. Securities offered through Robinhood Financial LLC and Robinhood Securities LLC, which are members of FINRA and SIPC. Investor Junkie is not a member of FINRA or SIPC.”

What is Acorns?

Acorns emphasizes the ease and accessibility of micro-investing apps by allowing investors to choose from one of five ETF investment portfolios. They rebalance the portfolios for you to help maintain your target asset allocation.

If you want to keep all of your finances in one app while putting minimal effort into how and when you save, Acorns is the best option. There are multiple investment features available, but they're not free. 

One of the most helpful features that come with your Acorns account is its round-up feature, which works by linking a payment card to its service. 

The app then rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar amount and uses the differences to work towards an investment. Once your spare change reaches $5, it gets put into your account. You can also set up automatic recurring investments aside from the round-up feature.

Acorns invests your money based on the portfolio you choose when setting up your account-these range from Conservative to Aggressive. They also recently launched ESG investments.

Screenshot of Acorns ESG investing

Acorns charges $3 or $5 a month, depending on the features you would like to use. The Personal Plan for $3/month includes the ability to invest using an IRA, known as Acorns Later, and gives you access to a checking account, known as Acorns Spend. The Family Plan is $5/month and adds the feature to use a custodial account to invest for your children.

Top Features

Acorns has a number of features including:

  • Round-ups
  • Fractional shares
  • Automated recurring investments
  • Automatic rebalancing

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Recurring investments are accessible for all users
  • Automatic rebalancing
  • ESG funds
  • Variety of functions for a bigger range of goals
  • No surprise fees
  • Protected by bank-level security

Cons

  • Fees can be costly if you don’t make frequent purchases
  • Not feasible for contributing to retirement accounts or for other bigger goals like buying a house

Which Investing App is the Best – Stash, Robinhood, or Acorns?

All three apps are similar when it comes down to the basics of their investment process. None require a minimum investment and all have a taxable account. 

Acorns and Stash are the most alike in terms of functionality. They both have a monthly fee for the advice services and automatic round-up features they offer.  Acorns could be a good starting point for users who feel like they need to get used to a more hands-off system. 

Stash, meanwhile, is great for users who want more features but still want a hands-off approach. Stash offers stock rewards on the Stock-Back card, which is useful for avid credit and debit card users. 

Robinhood is best for users who want to actively invest in stocks, ETFs or crypto. It's also a good option if you're looking to avoid paying any monthly fees.

Bottom Line

Investment apps have evolved with the ever-changing world of technology. You no longer have to visit a stockbroker to invest in stocks. Stash, Acorns and Robinhood are some of the top investing apps available today. Depending on your individual needs, any of the three apps could be a good fit for you and your financial goals.

Disclaimer - 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.

¹For securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares start at $0.05.

²Debit Account Services provided by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC and Stash Visa Debit Card issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC. pursuant to a license from VISA U.S.A. Inc. Investment products and services provided by Stash Investments LLC, not Green Dot Bank, and are Not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value.” because the article mentions the debit card.

³You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.

⁴Other fees apply to the debit account. Please see Deposit Account Agreement for details.

⁵Stock-Back® is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot Corporation, Visa U.S.A, or any of their respective affiliates, and none of the foregoing has any responsibility to fulfill any stock rewards earned through this program.

Eric Rosenberg

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager and corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to take his online side hustle full time. He has in-depth experience writing about banking, credit cards, investing and other financial topics and is an avid travel hacker. When away from the keyboard, Eric enjoys exploring the world, flying small airplanes, discovering new craft beers and spending time with his wife and little girls.

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19 Comments

  1. Surprised no one mentioned stash’s limited choice for stocks. You can only pick from pre-selected picks made by stash. Idk if other platforms are similar.

  2. I would really consider checking out MyWallSt as an alternative to all of these! Their stock picks are superior and long-term investing mindset is something that needs to be highlighted! Also the app is so clean and easy to use in my opinion.

  3. What a disappointment. I’m what most would consider extremely knowledgeable; owned, managed and consulted to 10’s of brokerages, managed portfolios, and developed structured products. I thought Acorns was a great way to get my young son to start saving/investing until I read Acorns offers only 3 options, probably low, moderate and high risk ETF’s. If they’re offering Fractional shares the brokerage either already owns or has to buy one share so you can have a fraction. Eventually a group of investors will buy/own the share and the brokerage will have to buy another.
    Two important items not mentioned; analysis and margin. Do any of the firms noted offer margin lending and if so what are the rates? Do any offer comparative financial analysis (comparative P/E) or technical analysis (charts and graphs with modifiable parameters)? How can one invest or trade without knowledge? Or are we supposed to study the managers alpha and portfolio‘s beta coefficient compared to others. Unless of course it an ETF, then it’s about the fee. LIGHT BULB- if you can only buy an ETF and Acorn or the other only offers ETF’s look at the management fee of the ETF- that’s where they earn a % of AUM (assets under management). Compare their fee to a similar ETF and my guess is, you’ll find free trading only into an ETF that the company is the manager. The other way they earn fees is from margin lending. If they extend credit they’re making money on the debit interest.

  4. Can you start off with one company and after awhile switch? I am new to investing. I am thinking about stash for now then go to Robinhood.
    Or can I use both?

  5. Hey, are there any mobile investing apps or options that you would consider socially responsible? Also, are there any ETFs that are very strict in their social responsibility, and environmental factors that you know of?

  6. Mostly accurate, however, if you aren’t willing to invest enough money where $1 to $2 a month is affordable, then you are probably not going to generate anything substantial. At $5 investment a week, the costs of $2 a month would have been covered had you invested in the S&P 500. It takes money to make money, $5 a week isn’t going to cut it, for me at least. I use all three, in addition to an Ameritrade account that I have had for years. They all serve a purpose, with Acorns being by far the least desired option, unless you are completely a rookie and want to get started while you begin to do some research on how to invest, but don’t want to sink money into individual stocks or ETFs yet. They offer I think 3 choices of investments to put your money into. 3.

    Moving on to Robinhood. As was discussed, FREE! Great for buying stocks and options, and even some crypto if you are into that and don’t want to pay Coinbase’s ridiculous fees buying and selling crypto coins. Overall the layout is good, and it has more individual stocks than Stash has to choose from when looking at things you want to invest in. The drawback, like with Ameritrade, is that you must buy full shares. So, for a newbie who wants some Google, Amazon, Netflix, Apple, etc, you are looking at hundreds or over a thousand dollars to gamble on a single share. Not going to happen. Which brings me to…

    Stash. While you touched on it barely in your article, the PRIMARY benefit for me is that I can buy fractional shares. I can invest $5 in Google if that is all I can afford and get in on the game like people with big cash can, wherever I may be in my current financial state. The ETF’s they have created are cool to guide you in your interests, and they offer more learning modules in easy to understand ways than any of the others hands down.

    Ameritrade now has commission free trades (as of writing this 1/15/20) and the most comprehensive selection of stocks and ETFs, mutual funds, and options trading than any of the mobile app versions, as I am sure the other big brokers do as well. It is far more intimidating and requires a lot more getting used to, but if you have advanced strategies, like wanting a certain number of shares to be sold or bought when a price is triggered, and then have another order auto triggered if other conditions are met, these types of services will be the best fit for you as your portfolio grows or you should consult with wealth managers to help educate you or act as a watchdog in your interest for a percentage of your portfolio.

    So, if I were to recommend one for most, would be Stash. Go through the modules and learn about the market and investing basics. If you absolutely can’t manage

    1. Thank you. This was extremely helpful. I was leaning towards getting noth Robinhood and Stash but will just go with Stash since I am not obligated to buy whole shares. I’ve been doing my research and saw that word (fractional shares) and didn’t know what it really meant until I looked up the cost one share of Nike and Amazon and they range from $90 per share to over $200 a share! That is no way an app for beginners like me who have absolutely no idea of what we are doing. I really hate that Acorns doesn’t offer fractional shares because I really like that they allow you to invest your spare change. I’ll be going with Stash, thanks to you.

      1. Stocks that will win you the biggest profit are typically running between 5 and 20 per share. Just food for thought. The big boys once they hit a certain point tend to earn slower than stocks for comapnies poised to grow enormously after the bubble. You could probably find great opportunities on both stash and Robin hood. I’m averaging about 20% increases on stash. Getting ready to start using Robin Hood also because stash is missing some real potential gainers.

    2. Jason, so if you had to liquidate your Stash acct( not the retirement one) I know they have to sell your fractional stock purchases and then give you what’s left, is that correct?!

  7. Hey Eric, I’m new to investing as is not having any experience at all. I want the long term gains but also want to learn how to invest in stocks etc. Would Robin hood be the best fit for me? I had Acorn a couple of years back and got discouraged by the monthly fee.

    1. you can have recurring payment from a bank account. The amount I believe is up to you. So even %$ a month to Stash is a start

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