Robinhood vs. Stash vs. Acorns: Which Investment App Is Best?

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Investment apps have never been more popular. They make investing easier for ordinary people because they remove many of the obstacles to doing so.

With the right app, you don’t need a broker or even a large amount of money. You simply install the app, invest whatever you feel comfortable with, and (hopefully) start earning a return immediately.

If you’d like to try an investment app, Robinhood, Stash, and Acorns are the most obvious options. Each app is popular but for very different reasons.

Which one is right for you?

How Does Robinhood Work?

Robinhood allows you to invest in stocks, options, exchange-traded funds, and cryptocurrency. It allows you to trade these instruments in real-time and without paying a commission fee.

It also allows you to purchase fractions of shares. This means that if you want to invest in a stock with a high share price, you’re not required to buy an entire share to get involved.

The app includes a lot of useful information such as historical price charts, trending stocks, and breaking financial news. It’s therefore particularly popular among day traders.

Download: Robinhood for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

How Does Stash Work?

Stash allows you to invest in stocks, options, and ETFs. It allows fractional investing, but you can only buy and sell stocks at certain times of day.

The primary focus of Stash is teaching users how to build their portfolios. It divides ETFs into easy-to-understand categories. For example, it offers ETFs that are socially responsible and others made up of green energy companies.

It also offers automated Smart Portfolios managed by Stash. In doing so, it gives users a choice of either choosing their own investments or allowing the app to do so.

Stash also has a Round-Up feature. This rounds up all of your purchases to the nearest dollar, and the difference is then invested on your behalf.

The bank card that comes with the app also offers cashback at popular retailers.

Download: Stash for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

How Does Acorns Work?

Acorns is different in that it doesn’t actually allow you to buy individual stocks.

Instead, it asks you various financial questions and then selects a suitable ETF investment for you. Users are given one of five different ETFs depending on their risk appetite.

Rather than offering lots of different stocks, Acorns focuses on helping you save money for investment.

It does this using many of the same features as Stash, such as a Round-Up feature and an optional bank card with cashback.

All of the money that you save with the app is then invested automatically.

Download: Acorns for Android | iOS (Free, subscription available)

Similarities Between Robinhood, Stash, and Acorns

If you search online, you’ll find positive reviews for all three of these apps. They also have a number of features in common.

  • Each app offers ETF investing.
  • Each app allows you to start investing with as little as $5 in your account. This is in comparison to traditional brokerage firms which would often require hefty minimum deposits.
  • Each app allows you to open a free checking account. This is useful if you plan on investing a portion of your weekly income.

Robinhood vs. Stash vs. Acorns

pile of dollars

Any one of these apps can be used to invest money. The difference is that they take a very different approach to helping you get there.

Real-Time Trading

Robinhood is the only app on the list to offer real-time trading. This means that if the market is open, you are free to buy and sell.

Attempting to time the market isn’t always wise, but many investors want the ability to react to breaking news.

If you trade stocks with Stash, you may be required to wait, and Acorns is simply not designed for trading.

Help With Investing

Robinhood expects you to know, or be willing to research, which stocks you want to buy. If you’re new to investing, this can be overwhelming.

Stash helps to educate users, and its Smart Portfolio feature allows you to invest without choosing individual instruments.

Acorns doesn’t require you to know anything about stocks, ideal for people who just want a straightforward way to invest their money.

Monthly Fees

  • Robinhood is the only app that can be used for free. There is a premium version for $5 per month, but the free version places very few limitations.
  • Stash has three tiers, costing $1, $3, or $9 per month.
  • Acorns has two tiers, costing $3, or $9 per month.

Regardless of which app you choose, you don’t need to pay a commission on your investments.

Help With Saving

Stash and Acorns both allow you to link a bank card and invest part of your income automatically.

This means that both apps can help you spend less with the added benefit that anything saved is immediately invested.

Robinhood offers a wide range of deposit options, but it doesn’t help users to save.

Margin Trading

Robinhood offers paid users up to $1,000 in trading margin. This allows you to effectively purchase up to $1,000 of stock and keep any resulting profit. However, if the stock dives, you’re on the hook for the difference between purchase and sale prices, which can incur massive losses if you make the wrong call.

The other apps do not offer this feature. However it’s important to note that margin trading is considered a high-risk strategy and, therefore, not something that most investors should take advantage of.

Robinhood also charges a 2.5% fee for the service.

Which Investment App Is Right for You?

If you’d like to start investing, any one of these apps will help you to do so. Of course, the right choice for you depends largely on your priorities.

If you want complete control over what stocks you buy, Robinhood offers the most freedom. It’s also the only app on the list that’s suitable for day trading.

If you want to learn more about investing, but you would also like occasional recommendations, Stash is designed to achieve both of these aims.

If you want to invest, but you don’t want to choose individual stocks, Acorns might be the better option.


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