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Acorns vs. Stash: Which Micro-Investing App Is Right for You?

Considering getting proactive with your finances to start saving and investing more? Finding the right platform is a crucial step.

October 3, 2022

This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or investment advice. Always consult with a professional financial or investment advisor before making investment decisions.

If you’re just starting into investing, you may have heard of robo-advisors and micro-investing apps. This investment choice uses automation and tailored suggestions to simplify the process. The debate of Acorns vs. Stash may arise when comparing the top names in the game.

Both apps have a loyal following and similar features, but there are also some crucial differences. To help compare them, we’ll run through the plans, investment types, fees, features and more so you know what you’re getting into.

Acorns vs. Stash: How do they compare?

Acorns and Stash are two micro-investing apps that allow you to make small, consistent investments to grow your account balance over time. Below, we’ll take a look at both apps and see how each one stacks up in the following:

  • Account minimums

  • Account types and plans

  • Fees

  • Investment types

  • Features


Since launching in 2012, Acorns has become one of the best-known investing apps. It has been downloaded millions of times and has received investment from the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Ashton Kutcher

Let’s break down what it has to offer.

Account minimum

Technically, you only need $0 to open an account with Acorns, but you need to deposit $5 if you want to start investing.

Account types and plans 

Acorns offer two plans. Both Acorns accounts allow you to open retirement accounts and cash management accounts (an alternative to checking accounts that many micro-investing apps provide).

The first plan is its basic personal account, which costs $3 per month. With this, you can open a traditional, Roth, rollover or SEP IRA, a cash management account and an investing account.

Alternatively, you can open a family account for $5 per month, giving you everything the personal account offers and custodial accounts for children.

This is competitive pricing but can become expensive if you only invest small amounts of money. For instance, investing $100 and paying $36 per year for a personal account works out to an annual fee of 3.6% — whereas if you invest $1,000, you’d be paying just 0.36%.

Other fees

The monthly fee isn’t the only cost you’ll encounter when signing up for a micro-investing app; there are also trading fees.

If you open an investing account, you should consider the fund’s expense ratios. These aren’t decided directly by Acorns but demonstrate a cost that comes with the funds (selected by Acorns). 

Among the cheapest is Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VOO), which has an expense ratio of just 0.03%. However, the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO) has a much higher ratio of 0.95%.

Moving your portfolio to another broker costs $50 per ETF.

Investment types

Acorns is mostly driven by funds curated by robo-advisors. Depending on your risk tolerance (e.g., conservative vs. aggressive), the app recommends one of five pre-selected portfolios containing various exchange-traded funds (ETFs). It also offers four sustainable portfolios with ESG funds.

There are 22 ETFs in total, as well as real estate investment trusts (REITs), bonds and Bitcoin. However, you have to choose one of Acorns’ pre-selected portfolios, and your only choice is whether to invest up to 5% of your portfolio in bitcoin.


The stand-out features of Acorns’ cash management account include mobile check deposits and the option to receive direct deposits two days earlier. 

You’ll also be able to opt for round-ups, which means that when you spend money with your debit or credit card, the app automatically rounds up the purchase to the nearest dollar and invests the spare change. For instance, if you spend $3.49, you’d invest $0.51.

The accounts are FDIC-insured, and you’ll have access to more than 55,000 fee-free ATMs, making the accounts competitive with traditional bank accounts.

It also has basic planning tools to help you learn more about investing and the ability to control investments on the go through the Acorns app on Android and Apple.


Founded in 2015, Stash is a newer platform and hasn’t earned quite the same profile as Acorns (although it has more downloads on the Android store as of August 2022). However, it has been well-received and quickly a competitor to Acorns.

Stash offers similar features to Acorns, so let’s closely examine what differentiates the two platforms.

Account minimum

As with Acorns, you can open your account on Stash with $0. However, if you want to use its Smart Portfolio feature (for automated investing), you will need to deposit $5.

Account types and plans 

Stash’s plans are similar to Acorns, offering a mixture of cash management and retirement accounts:

  • Stash Growth offers an online bank account with a Stock-Backdebit card, a small life insurance policy,  and the ability to open three different investing accounts (i.e., a Personal Portfolio, a Smart Portfolio or a Retirement Portfolio). It costs $3 per month.

  • Stash+ offers everything from the Stash Growth and includes custodial accounts, double bonuses on the Stock Backdebit card, market insights, advice about family finances and a larger life insurance policy. It costs $9 per month.

Other fees

As with Acorns, it’s not just the management fee you need to consider when weighing the costs but also any additional fees.

The expense ratios start at 0.03%, and many are available for less than 0.06%. The highest is 0.95%. Stash doesn’t set these prices; the funds set them. The range is similar to what you see from Acorns.

To move to another broker, Stash charges $75 per account.

Investment types

Stash is a better choice for DIY investors thanks to its extensive selection of investment options. You can pick your own ETFs and individual stocks instead of just choosing a ready-made portfolio. There are more than 3,800 individual stocks and 90 ETFs to choose from.

It also has managed portfolios. There are three to choose between, depending on your risk preferences, compared to the five on Acorns.

Finally, Stash offers cryptocurrency (in the form of Bitcoin) and fractional shares. However, there are no REITs or commodities, and while there are socially responsible ETFs, they’re only available if taking the DIY approach.


Stash’s cash management accounts offer the option to receive direct deposits up to two days early, to deposit mobile checks and make recurring transfers. Plus, it has round-ups from purchases, investing and business content for education and its flagship Stock Back card (similar to a cashback card, but you get stocks instead of cash).

And just like Acorns, Stash is FDIC-insured, gives you access to fee-free ATMs and has convenient Android and Apple apps.

Micro-Investing: Is it right for you?

Regardless of which app sounds better for you, it doesn’t necessarily mean micro-investing is the right choice. Depending on your financial and investment goals, you might be better off going down a different route. Here’s what to consider. 

Pros of micro-investing

Suppose you’ve sorted out the basics of your finances, such as paying off debt and building an emergency fund. In that case, micro-investing can be a helpful way to ensure you’re also putting aside something for your future.

If you struggle to save, the round-up and automation features are a great way to increase the amount you’re putting aside. New investors may also benefit from the educational content the apps provide and the ready-built portfolios created by robo-advisors. This way, a lack of knowledge about the stock market isn’t a big barrier.

Plus, it’s helpful to access everything through a mobile app, which makes investing more accessible. 

Cons of micro-investing

However, not everyone matches the criteria above. It doesn’t make as much sense to opt for micro-investing if you’re already knowledgeable about investing and don’t need a robo-advisor to help you build a portfolio. Rather, you’re likely to find you’re paying for a platform that limits flexibility by not letting you choose your investments.

Also, although the clear pricing of these apps is intuitive, it isn’t always as low-cost as it may seem if you’re only investing tiny amounts.

Keep in mind, as with any form of investing, there is risk involved. So it’s best to speak with a financial advisor.


Make the right choice for you

Overall, Acorns is a good choice for those struggling to save who might need extra support in the form of curated portfolios. Meanwhile, those looking to take a DIY approach may prefer Stash due to the greater control you’ll have on what you invest in. 

Ultimately, you might decide that neither Acorns or Stash is the best investment option for you and that you’d prefer a more traditional investing platform — or avoid investing altogether.

You can speak with a financial professional to help you decide which path is right for you. And, for more personal finance tips and information, subscribe to Tally's† newsletter.

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