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Stash vs. Acorns: Side-by-Side Investing Apps Comparison

Not long ago, I wrote an article really breaking down everything that you might want to know about the Stash app .  As I was writing the article, a lot of the benefits of Stash sounded like a popular app called Acorns, so I really wanted to break down the two different applications and do a comparison, Stash vs. Acorns.

As I mentioned, I recently wrote a really in-depth article about Stash, so I want to focus more on the Acorns app and then do a pros and cons in this article.  So, let’s go!

money apps

I first heard about the app for Acorns when I was watching an episode of Shark Tank and I thought it was a genius idea. 

Essentially what happens is that if you purchase something for $3.20, then Acorns (and Stash) can round up that purchase so it costs $4, and they put that extra $.80 into an account that you can invest in. 

I think it is truly amazing.  You are forcing people to invest that clearly want to invest (because they’ve downloaded the app) but they might not be good at sticking to a budget, so they have no money at the end of the month to invest.

Personally, I didn’t think that it would benefit myself at all, because I am the person that has a very strict budget, and at the end of the month, that leftover money will be redistributed into either savings or investment accounts, so taking out change here and there throughout the month doesn’t really benefit me, because I do that already. 

The person that this really does benefit is the person that thinks whatever is left in their bank account is how much money they have to spend.  And then they literally spend everything that’s in their account. 

So, what do people really get with Acorns, and how much does it cost?  Let’s take a look below:

Acorns Core – $1/month

This is the most basic of options that Acorns has.  Essentially, you’re able to contribute money either with recurring investments or with the Invest the Change option and then you can invest that money.

Acorns Later – $2/month

The main difference here is that you have the ability to invest in an IRA, which I do think is a really big benefit.  An IRA is a fantastic way for you to save money for retirement outside of a 401k that you are potentially familiar with.

Acorns Spend – $3/month

Acorns Spend is a checking account that gives you a debit card and then allows you the ability to save when you use that card and will invest the money back for you immediately.

Personally, if I was a brand-new investor, I would likely go with the Acorns Later because then I get the benefits of the retirement of the account, but I don’t think I actually need the debit card, unless I didn’t have a credit card or a different bank account already setup.

So, Stash vs. Acorns, which is actually better for you?  Well, I’ve broken it down into 4 categories below and will give a quick summary and a ‘winner’ to each:

Investing

Investing here is very broad but given the fact that you’re on an Investing for Beginners website, we have to start here. 

Stash – I counted over 60 ETFs on their website and 200+ individual companies that you can invest in.

Acorns – You can invest in 5 different portfolios that Acorns has put together that are based off your risk tolerance.

With Stash, not only can you invest in individual stocks (which is what we’re all here to learn about, right?) but you can also invest in way more ETFs than what you can with Acorns.  In addition to being able to invest in actual stocks with Stash, you can even invest in fractional shares which is a HUGE benefit to the average investor. 

I will say, the Acorns portfolios are managed by professionals, so that’s the only thing that keeps this from being an even bigger landslide than it already was.

Winner – Stash, in a landslide.

Account Types

For the average investor, the account types are nearly the same.  Both apps offer a basic investing account and an IRA account, but Stash also offers the Custodial Account which allows you to save funds for your children (up to 2) to further their education once they get to age 18.

Winner – Stash, but ever so slightly.

Pricing

The Acorns app offers their three tiers of products from a range of $1 – $2 – $3/month while the Stash offerings are staged at $1 – $3 – $9/month.  The $3 option with Stash is very similar to the $2 option for Acorns in regard to offering an IRA for retirement purposes.  And when comparing the $9 option with Stash, it really makes no sense in my eyes as to why it is such a big jump over the $3 option that they offer. 

Winner – overall, Acorns wins this round in a pretty convincing fashion.

Cash Back

Both Stash and Acorns offer a Cash Back option where the money is then put back into your investment account but at this point, Stash doesn’t offer an online option– so it’s only available if you make a purchase in the store. 

If you’re like me, I would probably say less than half of my purchases are actually made in a store.  In today’s world shopping online is simply more convenient as long as you don’t have to have that item in the next 1-2 days. 

Winner – Acorns wins this somewhat significantly, and the only reason I’m not saying in a landslide is because Stash is reportedly developing the online portion of this program.  Once that is brought on, this is a moot point.

Final Winner – Stash App!

Overall, the higher price is something that I am able to overcome considering the most beneficial option, in my eyes, is the $3 option with Stash vs. a $2 option with Acorns. 

I’ll be honest, I think that I likely could’ve stopped the review after realizing the many different options that you can invest in with Stash and how limited you are with the Acorns app. 

For those of us that are on an investing website, I would have to imagine that you have a very similar sentiment than what I have about this.  In addition to this, I mentioned about the ability to buy fractional shares being so important, and I meant that, but let me explain here. 

If you only are putting in $50/month, it will take you over four months to buy one share of Apple. 

Instead, you can simply buy $50 worth of that stock and then continue to add to your position as you get more money.  Outside of this difference, I think that everything was fairly similar between the two apps and I don’t think that you could really make a wrong decision.

At the end of the day, if you’re reading this article, it’s likely because you either want to find a way to start saving/ investing or find a way to increase your savings/ investing, and I applaud you for that! 

Acorns and Stash are both great options as long as you know the pros and cons of each before you get started.  They alone will not get you rich but are simply another tool in your tool belt to help you on your way to financial independence.