Stockpile Review 2023 – Should You Give the Gift of Stocks?
Stockpile is an online stockbroker with a bit of an unusual twist. That’s because — in addition to letting its users buy and sell stocks like a regular brokerage — the service also sells gift cards that can be used toward the purchase of stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
Commissions & Fees - 4
Customer Service - 8
Ease of Use - 8
Tools & Resources - 5
Investment Options - 3
Account Options - 3
CEO Avi Lele created this unique service. The story goes that he was looking to buy Christmas presents for his nieces and nephews. He wanted to give them something more substantial and longer-lasting than toys. He thought that stocks would be a good idea but found the process too frustrating and pricey. He gave up on that effort and bought some toys anyway.
But the idea never left his mind. And that’s how Stockpile came to be. Individual stocks can be too expensive and cumbersome to purchase one share at a time. So Stockpile offers gift cards toward the purchase of stock to help young investors buy their first shares.
|Investment Types||Stocks, OTC/Penny Stocks, ETFs, Mutual Funds, Bonds, Options, Forex, Cryptocurrencies, Futures|
|Broker Assisted Trade||N/A|
|Customer Service||Phone: M-F 9A-6P ET; Email|
How Does Stockpile Work?
By offering small amounts of stocks — commonly referred to as “fractional shares” —
and making investing in household-name companies accessible to a broad audience, Stockpile fills the gap left by Loyal3, which shut down unexpectedly in May 2017.
There are two parts to Stockpile's gift card program. The first is buying the gift cards, and the second takes place when the recipient exchanges the card for stock.
Buying Stockpile Gift Cards
Stockpile gift cards are available towards the purchase of stock in hundreds of well-known companies like:
- Berkshire Hathaway
- The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust
The variety of companies is enough to get kids excited about investing, and there's over 1,000 companies to choose from. The cards are issued by Stockpile Gifts, Inc., and can be purchased either as e-gifts or as physical gift cards. They have no expiration date so that they can be redeemed at any time.
When you’re on the Stockpile website, click “Buy” at the top of the page. This takes you to the stock selection page.
Once there, you can check the stocks that you want to purchase gift cards for. After choosing the stocks, click “Next” at the bottom, and you’ll be brought to the Choose Amount page. That’s where you select the dollar amount you want on the gift card.
Now you select the amount of the card: $25, $50, $100, $200, or another amount. Once you’ve done that, click “Next” and you’re brought to the recipient page. Here, you provide the recipient’s name and email address and also add your name as the giver. You can also leave an optional gift message. Once you have completed the page, you can click the “Checkout” button.
At the checkout page, you have the option to pay by credit card, debit card, or PayPal. You can also buy physical gift cards in some stores. These include major retailers, such as Kmart, Kroger, Lowe’s, and Toys“R”Us. (Check availability at specific stores, as not all stores in the same chain will carry the cards.)
Redeeming Stockpile Gift Cards
As easy as it is to purchase a Stockpile gift card, redeeming it for actual stock isn’t nearly as simple.
In order to redeem a gift card, the recipient must open a brokerage account with Stockpile. Since the recipient is often not of legal age, the parents will have to open a custodial account in his name. Since the gift cards never expire, the recipient could simply wait until he turns 18 to open an account. But that may be far in the future. In the intervening years, the gift card may be lost or forgotten. Or the company may even go out of business or discontinue the program.
Anyone can purchase a Stockpile gift card. But only U.S. citizens and residents can open a Stockpile brokerage account and redeem the cards for stock. Fortunately, if the recipient can’t redeem the gift card for stock or chooses not to, the card can be swapped for a retailer gift card. The gift card can also be used to purchase a stock other than the one actually listed on the card.
The brokerage account is held through Stockpile Investments, Inc., a registered broker-dealer, FINRA member and SIPC participant. All trades are settled and cleared through Apex Clearing Corporation, which is also a member of both FINRA and SIPC.
The account requires no minimum balance, but Stockpile is switching to a monthly paid membership model that costs $4.95 per month (more on that below). One other important point is that the gift recipient is likely to use the gift card to purchase fractional shares. They can hold the shares with Stockpile, but fractional shares cannot be transferred to another broker.
In addition to the purchase of cards, the Stockpile website also has some excellent educational material. The material is presented in simple terms that can be easily understood by an investment novice or even a child.
Stockpile Pricing & Fees
In late 2021, Stockpile went fee-free and doesn't charge commission for stock and ETF trades. However, as of July 15th, 2022, you need to pay for a Stockpile monthly membership to use the platform. There are currently two plans available:
- Monthly Stockpile Membership: $4.95 per month ($59.40 per year)
- Lifetime Membership: $19.95 (available for a limited time)
The announcement of switching to a paid membership structure isn't great news for Stockpile. This is because paying almost $60 per year is a massive fee for very small accounts, which might be what your child has.
The paid membership does have some perks, like granting up to five investing accounts and one adult investing account under one plan. Premium members will also be able to invest in additional cryptocurrencies when Stockpile supports this. However, most online brokers and trading apps like Robinhood and Public don't charge commissions, so the fact you have to pay for Stockpile isn't very competitive.
Other potential Stockpile fees include:
- Outgoing Cash Transfer (Domestic Wire): $25
- Account Transfer To Another Brokerage: $75
This account transfer fee is another massive downside of Stockpile. When your kid comes of age and wants to move their custodial account to another broker where they're in control, expect a $75 fee.
Stockpile is a popular option for giving stocks as a gift. And it's an easy-to-use app if you're trying to encourage your kid to take an interest in investing and to learn more about how stocks and ETFs work. The fact you can invest in crypto through a Bitcoin ETF is also a selling point.
However, now that Stockpile is switching to a paid membership model, it's not the best choice for every parent. Plus, you can always open a custodial account for your child with an online broker instead of using Stockpile. And many commission-free online brokers also have more investing options and educational resources than Stockpile does.
Ally Invest is an excellent choice for parents since it offers a custodial account and has a direct investing option as well as a robo-advisor service. Plus, it lets you invest in mutual funds and bonds as well as offering commission-free stock and ETF trades.
TD Ameritrade and E*TRADE are similar options that are more comprehensive investing platforms than Stockpile. You can also explore options like opening a 529 plan to help your child save for future education expenses, which is a plus. Similarly, UNest makes it easy to invest in your child's future and uses a UTMA account, which is more flexible than a 529 plan.
How Does Stockpile Stack Up?
There are two services going on with Stockpile: the brokerage service and the stock gift card service.
As a broker, Stockpile is very bare-bones. In this case, it's much like Robinhood which is geared toward Millennials and offers none of the tools and extra services other stockbrokers provide. Also, like Robinhood, you can invest only in stocks and ETFs — there are no mutual funds or options to be found.
At the end of the day, the stock gift card service is Stockpile’s main hook. It's not a competitive standalone broker, but this isn't the point of the service. The main benefit is to provide the recipient with a gift that is longer lasting than a toy. If the recipient uses the gift card to purchase a fractional share of stock, it could become a gift that continues to grow as the years pass. Just be careful since monthly fees can be very expensive for small portfolios.
Like other apps geared toward young people — such as microsavings services Acorns or Stash — Stockpile may not provide the functionalities that more sophisticated investors are looking for. But it certainly serves its purpose for newbies looking for a relatively uncomplicated way to get started investing.
Pros & Cons
It’s hard to say if Stockpile is a stock gift card service with a brokerage service, or if it’s a brokerage service with a stock gift card service (the company definitely emphasizes the former!).
The stock gift card service is an innovative idea because it allows you to buy gift cards for a flat dollar amount which can be used to purchase stock, including fractional shares. And if you want to get your kids excited about investing, Stockpile can definitely help out.
However, this brokerage is really a limited brokerage service, since the accounts and investments available are limited, as are the investment tools provided. But commission-free trading and fractional shares let you or your child invest with little money, and a stock gift card is certainly the type of gift that can keep on giving.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.
Run far away from Stockpile! My stock suddenly disappeared and when I questioned them, they told me my account was up for escheatment and it was taken over by the state. Even though I have been active on my account and my 3 kids’ accounts. I was never notified that this was about to happen. Their customer service stopped replying, no phone number to call. And now I have no idea where my money went or how to get it back. There is no record of it with the state. I lost over $200.
Thanks for sharing.
I was about to try Stockpile for my daughter. I ran into a Snafu, where the user is not authorized to access the account. I sent an email and went to the stockpile user center for assistance. Two days have gone by with no response. I decided to look them up on Facebook and send a message that way. Finally, I received an update on my issue. I am going to investigate further to see if there is another way to teach my children. However, I love the concept. of Stockpile. I am just leary with their customer service and response times.
You can get fractional shares from other brokers with zero fees. If you decide to give your business to Stockpile, you’re simply setting your money on fire.
I dont see why anyone would use stockpile, they are the only brokerage account that still charges $ for buying and selling lol. Also if you buy a share and it goes up and you want to take a profit it takes a day to execute so you can lose money. I recommend robinhood as it’s a simple and friendly platform with NO FEES and if you want to buy a stock it executes immediately. Only kept stockpile because it automatically reinvests dividends and had fractional shares but robinhood has rolled out them features so I will be moving exclusively to robinhood. I do not see stockpile growing and improving unless they adapt with the industry.
I won’t recommend this site to any one. They sold the stocks in higher price and deposited less amount and it consistently happening . Stockpile not only make money on transaction but also make money while selling . The transction time is slow. When I hit sold it should be same amount and sold but the time it takes it sell in sell money also deposit lesser money.
I am switching to Robin hood or will explore better service.
I join the brokerage a little over a year ago. I am a long term buy and hold type of guy. What i love about STOCKPILE is that i get free DRIPS. I have 16000 in the market currently at 500$ in dividends. I follow PPC IAN on Youtube and other investors for my small account to grow. But with the fractional shares and DRIPS i can see a bright future.
Secondly, i open up 2 custodial accounts one for my parents… SIGH… my father is 59 no ROTH or 401k set up so i figure in 6-10 years with the stocks i believe and pick i can fund their retirement and hopefully they gift it to me when they… well you know.
And the other custodial account is for my Nephew , I want him to be off right with financial en-devours, he looks up to me so i figure being cool uncle Matt i help him out.
Yes on somethings from this pros and cons do add up if you set up account correctly and do ample research you should be fine. There is always a risk. Personally i would not use this as a day trading app because what i experience in the first couple of months of getting it. The trades are at the end of the market day so you have no say-so on price like Robinhood or other apps and accounts. Say i buy XYZ at 7:11 am C. for 45.75$ a share. This would not be completed the end of the Market Day, vise versa for selling a stock. Might shoot up or go down, so you may loose allot or gain allot.
Helping something better or a better tomorrow should be a Slo-gin somewhere in there.
Disclose: I am not a licence or financial guru, i just invest with the knowledge i learn over the 10 + years i been study markets, stocks, bonds exc.. If you have any questions i will try to help.
Hello Matthew, My question is what is a DRIPS I am a stockpile investor too and I been with them for just a little over a year myself. But I’m not seeing much of a return yet unless I need to invest more money. can you explain this to me and help me to better understand what I’m doing or need to do!
A DRIP is a dividend reinvestment. In the Stockpile app you can go into account settings and turn it on or off. If turned on any cash dividends paid out by the company will be used to buy more shares free of charge. If turned off the money will show up in your account. I keep it on because I don’t want the small dividends I get to be used for the $0.99 trade fee later. Hope this helps. If you have the app there is a full explanation in the account settings.
Question: was it simple to transfer money from StockPile back into your bank account? Appears from the reviews people had issues and others with the site locking up on them.
I too like Stockpile for fractional share purchases and DRIPS. I only use Stockpile for a handful of long term blue chip stock and ETF purchasing with dividend reinvestment. I do use an entirely different brokerage for my more active trading as well as for trading those volatile type of stocks. That’s a very nice gesture on your part in helping your parents and nephew to invest in the stock market. Stockpile is good, safe, and easy for that sort of trading. To teach investing and help to get them started in the market I use Stockpile for my very young nieces and nephews. If you go into Stockpile with the knowledge of what can and cannot be done it can be a quite useful tool indeed for a specific investing style. So, for the reasons I’ve explained I like Stockpile! Matthew, I find your comment to be very helpful and accurate regarding Stockpile’s simplistic approach to investing. Your efforts will be greatly helpful to your parents! There are lots of people out there who avoid investing in stocks simply because they don’t understand it. Many folks are unfortunately intimidated merely due to lack of knowledge regarding stock market investing. Thanks and may everyone enjoy great returns on their investments!!!
Trading Fee is more like a con. Many brokers offer commission-free trading.
Well I just joined and wanted to put fifty on my account after my initial 300 but now it is still showing me a zero balance yet has two vharges on my bank for 52 .. no customer service on the app and really rethinking using this since my husband i want to invest but dont need this kind of hassle! Very agravated.. semmed to be a refreshingly easy app
Are there other stock apps geared for kids that may be better then stockpile? Want to try stockpile but really looking for something a little better. Need to get my child started in something he can look after also on his own, understand, and keep up with when I can’t. He’s very interested and I just want to get him started on the right track.
My daughter received a stockpile card as a gift. We converted it to a target gift card that states there is $50 on the card. However, when we try to redeem it, it states there is 0 balance. I have contacted Stockpile via email several times. They return each email approximately 1 week later stating the same message: “Thanks for reaching out to us.
We apologize for the delay in responding to your email during our busy season.
I wanted to reach out to see if your questions have been addressed. If not, please let us know.
In sum, it appears as though this is an automated message and there is no customer support. I would NOT buy these cards.
I had the same thing happen. I like the idea of Stockpile but the customer service is lacking. It is a good idea for kids, beginners and those who do not want the hassle of technical and fundamental analysis and just purchase build slowly. Stockpile really needs to be better about servicing their customers.
I thought I was the only one. I can’t get them to unlock my account . I put in but can’t get in. SMH
I have had an account with Stockpile.com for just over a year. I’ve sent money directly from a bank account every couple of months and purchased 4-5 different stocks each time. Recently I began selling the first batch of stocks I purchased. My account was unceremoniously locked. A week later when it was unlocked, the money from selling the stocks was “unavailable” to me. several days later, the account became unceremoniously locked again. It’s now 19 calendar days since I sold my first shares and I’m still waiting for the account to be unlocked again. I haven’t had a response to my online inquiries for over a week. Quickly soured on the whole thing.
An update on my issue with Stockpile.com: it’s now 44 calendar days since selling my first shares. The last time I was able to see my account balance, that money was still “unavailable” cash. I say the last time because my account is currently locked for the third time now–this time for almost a week.
I received an email from “Hazel” a week ago that read thus: “Please provide us with your physical and mailing address as we only have a PO Box on record. Our Clearing firm is requiring that we have both on record.” After emailing that right back to them, nothing happened until I received another email yesterday from “George” that read thus: “Please provide us with your physical and mailing address as we only have a PO Box on record. Our Clearing firm is requiring that we have both on record.” ‘Nuff said.
Thanks for sharing your story, it’s really changed my thoughts on using this app. Hope you got everything sorted out!
Do you close your account? If so did you lose any money?