Acorns Review 2019 – Is The Acorns App Worth It?
There has been a lot written about Acorns, since it came onto the scene as an iOS App in 2014. Fast forward 5 years and there is now a lot of competition for your money in the App Investing space, see out post on Best Investing Apps For Beginners.
There are a stack of investment apps available for the casual and professional investor to choose from. One of the most popular Apps for casual investors is Acorns, but Is The Acorns App Worth It? Read our detailed review below to find out.
While virtually every major brokerage offers online and mobile account management, a small crop of brokers took a mobile-first approach, putting most of the power of your investment account on your smartphone. Acorns is one of the leaders in the mobile-first investment landscape.
Acorns offers low cost investing and a great user experience, but is it a good fit for your investing needs and can you really make money?
Let’s take a look.
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What Makes Acorns Good For Beginners?
The Acorns app is very easy to use, which is perfect for new investors who are learning the ropes. Users’ everyday purchases are rounded up and the change is invested, which makes investing a daily habit. Acorns is free for college students and people under age 24.
- No investing knowledge needed
- Free investing for college students
- Completely automated
- No investment minimum
- $5 sign-up bonus
- Account fee and other fees for IRAs
- Limited portfolio options
- Monthly fee can be a high percentage on smaller account balances
- Taxable investment accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Checking account with debit card
Acorns has modernized the old-school practice of saving loose change, combining a robo-advisor with an automated savings tool. Acorns charges $1 a month for a taxable investment account, $2 a month to add on an individual retirement account, or $3 a month for an Acorns checking account, called Acorns Spend. Acorns is free for four years for college students with a valid .edu email address.
In order to use Acorns, you need to link a valid account to the app. Once linked, Acorns works by rounding up your purchases on linked credit or debit cards, then putting the rounded up difference computer-managed investment portfolio. A simple, hands-off way to invest your spare change.
For example, if you buy a cup of coffee for $4.50, Acorns will round this up to $5.00, investing the $0.50 difference automatically, without you even noticing.
Free Management For College Students
Acorns makes it easy to save, without even having to think about it, or have to actually do any proper budget saving.
While Acorns is for everyone, they particularly are targeting the younger market, by offering college students free management fees for up to four years. If this is you and you stick at it, you could end up with a nice sum of money at the end of four years, for doing nothing more than linking your account to the app and let it round up and invest for you.
Many people don’t have the discipline to save, which can result in many years of poor finances and pain when trying to get ahead. Acorns takes away the pain of saving, by automating the process.
For many people, saving is easier, if they don’t have to think about it.
As we said before, Acorns works by rounding up your purchases on linked credit or debit cards, then putting the rounded up difference computer-managed investment portfolio. You can connect as many cards as you want, though all roundups are taken from a single linked checking account.
With each purchase, Acorns rounds up to the nearest $1 and gives you the option to transfer that change into an investment portfolio. You can do that either automatically, so every purchase is rounded up and the change transferred, or manually, by going through recent purchases on the app and selecting which roundups to transfer.
While the roundup feature is at the core of Acorns’ platform, you can also invest lump sums manually or set up recurring deposits on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Lump-sum transfers can be as small as $5.
Acorns Spend Account & Found Money
Acorns also offer their own ‘Spend’ account, which is an online checking account and debit card (made out of tungsten). Acorns Spend provides real-time roundups to your investment or retirement account, mobile check deposits, free ATMs (or reimbursed ATM fees), and requires no minimum balance.
There’s no minimum to open an account, but the service requires a $5 balance to start investing in one of Acorn’s five pre-built portfolios.
Acorns ‘Found Money’ is a great way to get money back when you shop; even better, this cash back goes directly into your account, although it can take 60 – 120 days for it to arrive in there.
To provide this money back feature, Acorns has partnered with more than 350 companies, including Apple, Hulu, Amazon and Airbnb. When you make a purchase with any one of these partners, using a card linked to an active Acorns account. In most cases, you get the cash back automatically, without an additional step.
The Acorns website is great for new investors, who can learn more about investing and finances. Part of the educational resources come from Acorns’ Grow Magazine, an online personal finance site geared toward millennials with advice about side gigs, credit card debt, student loans and other financial topics. Grow content is also integrated in the Acorns app.
As stated previously, Acorns provides college students free management fees for up to four years; outside this offer, Acorns has 3 different levels of fees.
- Acorns Core – $1 a month for a taxable investment accounts
- Acorns Later – $2 a month for an IRA account
- Acorns Spend – $3 a month for a checking account with a debit card and free investment account
While these fees may not seem that high, if you are not rounding up enough investment money each month, you can pretty much eat away all your investment savings.
What Acorns’ fees look like as a percentage of assets under management.
|Account Balance||Acorns||Acorns Later|
How Acorns Fees Compare
As a percentage, Acorns’ fees can be high, when compared to other Investing Apps. As an example, Wealthfront and Betterment charge just 0.25% and offer additional benefits, such as tax assistance, better user interfaces and more diversified portfolios.
Like other robo-advisors, Acorns bases its personalised investing strategy based around the users specific criteria, considering age, goals, income and investment time to recommend one of five portfolios. The range from conservative to aggressive. You can accept that recommendation or choose a different portfolio that takes more or less risk.
Acorns portfolios are smaller than the average robo-advisor portfolio, made up of low-cost iShares and Vanguard exchange-traded funds that cover just five to seven asset classes, depending on the portfolio: real estate, large-cap stocks (domestic and international), small-cap stocks, emerging markets, and corporate and government bonds.
Is It Risky Investing With Acorns?
As with gambling, investing does come with some risk which means the value of your portfolio can trend up and down over time. While the S&P 500 has consistently provided returns around 8% annually, year-to-year variations could mean your account loses substantial value — sometimes in excess of 10% or more.
While you can make short term gains with investing, this is not the purpose of these of Investing Apps and Acorns is no different.
As to the question of whether Acorns is risky, the answer is that Acorns is not a scam and is as secure as any Investing App in this market.
Can You Invest Large Sums With Acorns?
Yes you can, the real question, is, should you?
Acorns flat fees look pretty good on paper, but when you delve into it, they are not as good as they appear; for example, if you are primarily investing in a taxable account (the basic Acorns level), you don’t get tax-loss harvesting to improve long-term returns offered by many competitors.
Unlike some Acorns competitors, there is no professional financial support to provide investment advice, a feature that comes in very handy when you are investing larger sums of money.
Acorns App Review Summary
While this post has highlighted some of the weaknesses and deficiencies of Acorns, as an overall assessment of whether the App is worth it, the answer is Yes. Acorns is one of the best Investing Apps available for the specific purpose of investing your spare change. It’s easy to use, has an excellent education platform for new investors, and a simple, straightforward fee structure.
If you spend and round up regularly, you will be surprised at how quickly you start to build a nice investment balance, without even thinking about it.
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