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Investing is not just for the wealthy. In fact, investing can be started with just a few pennies. Acorns is a new type of investing app that allows users to round up debit or credit card purchases and invest the spare change into low-cost ETFs.

Acorns started as a simple investing app, and has grown into a complete robo-advisory service, with the ability to invest in well-diversified ETF portfolios. With access to IRAs and even investing accounts for kids, Acorns is perfect for beginner investors who want to automate and simplify investing with little money to start. Acorns also makes our list of best robo advisors.

Acorns Overview

Features

Details

Account Fees

Personal: $3 per month, includes investment account, IRA, and checking account

Family: $5 per month includes everything in Personal plus kids’ investment account

Expense Ratios

0.03 - 0.34%

Account Minimums

$0 to open, $5 to start investing

Investment Options

Access to 22 ETFs in seven asset classes

Investment Account Options

Taxable brokers accounts

IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA

UTMA/UGMA accounts

Portfolio Construction

Automatic portfolio rebalancing on all accounts.

Tax Strategy

Not available

Customer Service and Support

Phone and email support, 6am to 7pm PST, seven days a week

Mobile Compatibility

Mobile app available

Website is mobile-friendly

Account Setup

Simple account setup, all done online or through mobile app.

Sign up for free with your email address, provide personal information, answer a few questions, and fund the account (no minimum balance required, but $5 needed to make an investment).

Security

Bank-grade data protection, 256-bit AES encryption, two-factor authentication.

Ease of access

Mobile app for full account management, website offers help center.

What is Acorns?

Acorns is a mobile investing app and robo-advisor that helps users save and invest their spare change. It also offers recurring investment options that allow users to invest at regular intervals of their choosing (daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly). Acorns offers a range of low-cost exchange traded funds (ETFs) to build investment portfolios for users, ranging from conservative to aggressive.

Acorns offers a user-friendly app, making it easy to sign up and connect your bank account to get started. Acorns also offers its own bank account with a debit card and reimbursed ATM fees.

How Acorns Works

Acorns is a robo-advisory service that allows users to deposit small amounts by rounding up purchases made from a linked checking account. Once the rounded up change amounts to $5 or more, Acorns invests those funds into an investment portfolio that is selected by the user during onboarding. Acorns also gives users the ability to set up a recurring investment into the portfolio as well.

Acorns offers a selection of over 20 ETFs from reputable companies like Vanguard and iShares, and builds pre-selected portfolios based on a customer’s risk tolerance (conservative to aggressive).

Acorns offers individual brokerage accounts, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), and investing accounts for kids. It also has its own checking account with a linked debit card, allowing users to manage their money completely within the Acorns platform.

Main Features

Acorns is most famous for its “round-up” investing feature, but also offers a few other features that are common in other robo-advisory services. Here are a few of the best features available on the Acorns platform:

Automated Micro-Investing

Acorns pioneered the idea of rounding up the change from your daily purchases to start investing with very small, hardly-noticeable amounts. After $5-worth of change has been rounded up and transferred into the Acorns account, the funds will be invested.

Acorns tracks your spending through linked debit or credit cards, and rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar, transferring the extra funds into your investment account. Though you can connect as many accounts or credit cards as you want, the rounded-up investments are transferred from a single linked checking account.

Acorns also offers the ability to set a recurring transfer from your checking account, giving users the ability to invest daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly into the investment account.

Acorns Earn (Rewards)

Acorns has partnered with over 12,000 online retailers that offer cash back type bonuses when you use a linked card to make a purchase. Acorns even developed a Chrome extension that allows users to earn bonuses while shopping online.

Once a user makes a qualified purchase, the cash back bonus is then deposited into a user’s account and invested, just like their spare change. This is a convenient way to take your cash back and turn it directly into investing dollars.

Acorns Spend (Checking Account)

Acorns offers a fee-free checking account with access to fee-free ATMs across the U.S. (or ATM reimbursements when using out-of-network ATMs). This account is a full-features digital checking account with mobile deposit, check sending, and direct deposit, as well as real-time round-up transfers to your investment account.

This account also comes with an all-metal (tungsten, actually) debit card with chip-and-pin technology, as well as up to $250,000 in FDIC deposit insurance.

Acorns Early (UTMA/UGMA Kids’ Investing Account)

Acorns offers investing accounts for kids as part of its Family plan. This allows parents to open and invest into a UTMA/UGMA custodial investing account for their children These accounts are designed to allow parents or guardians to transfer assets to a child, and act as the manager of the account.

Note: UTMA/UGMA accounts may reduce a child’s eligibility for financial aid, such as student loans or grants. We recommend consulting with a financial professional before opening a custodial account for your child.


Acorns Early custodial accounts offer the same robo-advisory investments, including pre-built portfolios and automatic rebalancing. Accounts are transferable to the child once they are 18 years of age.

Who Acorns is Best for

Acorns is designed for beginner investors who want a simple way to start investing with very little money. Users who prefer all-digital banking and investing will enjoy Acorn’s mobile-first approach to their platform, as well as the gamification of investing by rounding up purchases and offering cash back for shopping. Acorns helps build the habit of automated investing, which allows users to start investing toward retirement and other goals with less effort.

That being said, Acorns monthly fees may end up being much higher than other robo-advisors if you don’t have a lot invested. For example, if you only have $500 invested, the $3/month fee ends up costing $36 per year. This amounts to a 7.2% annual fee, which is far higher than other top-rated robo-advisory services that charge 0.35% (or less).

Overall, Acorns is a great starting point for those who are hesitant to start investing, and offers a simple platform and great online education to help new investors feel more comfortable.

Is Acorns Legit?

Acorns is a legit investing app and robo-advisory service that operates as an SEC registered investment advisor (RIA). Acorns also offers consumer protection in the form of SIPC and FDIC insurance for its investment and bank accounts.

The simple-to-use mobile app and round-up investing feature helps reluctant investors start investing, which is a huge win, even if Acorns charges higher fees than some robo-advisory services. Acorns also offers access to broad-based ETFs and a selection of investment portfolios for building a diversified investment strategy.

How to Get Started

To open an account with Acorns, you must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. resident with a valid Social Security number. You can sign up for a free account online or through the mobile app, where you can select the account subscription you want (Personal or Family) and set your round-up preferences.

Acorns then asks for personal information such as full name, address, and social security number to open the account. Finally, Acorns asks a series of questions to determine your risk tolerance and will recommend pre-built portfolio options, ranging from conservative to aggressive.

After you select a portfolio, you can link a checking account and any cards that you want to include for the round-up of purchases.

Acorns will even give you a $10 sign-up bonus to help get you started. Get the $10 bonus here.

Pros and Cons

Here are a few things we love about the Acorns app, and a few things it could improve:

Pros

  • Round-up feature to invest spare change
  • Invest cash back rewards through Acorns Earn Chrome extension
  • Access to over 20 low-cost ETFs
  • Customer service available 7 days a week

Cons

  • Flat monthly fee (Overall fee higher than other robo-advisory services for those with lower account balances)
  • Limited options for portfolio customization
  • No tax-loss harvesting

Acorns Alternatives

Acorns is a great way for new investors to wade into the pool if investing toward retirement and other large financial goals, but it may not be the best fit for everyone. Here are a few alternatives to Acorns that may offer more of what you’re looking for:

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services

For those who want direct access to a financial advisor, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services is a great low-cost option. While the minimum deposit is steep ($50,000), the cost is much lower than most human advisor options at just 0.30% of assets under management (AUM). With access to Vanguard’s extremely low-cost funds and a team of licensed financial advisors, Vanguard is one of our favorite hybrid robo-advisory services available.

RELATED: Vanguard Personal Advisors Review

Fidelity Go

Fidelity is one of the largest and most trusted investment firms in the U.S., and its robo-advisory services offer free management of investments for those with $10,000 or less invested. In addition, Fidelity offers its own mutual funds that have a 0.00% expense ratio, helping save new investors money in fees. Fidelity Go also offers a simple-to-use mobile app and 24/7 customer service.

Betterment

Betterment is one of the oldest robo-advisory services, offering automated investment management with a wide range of features, including tax-loss harvesting and socially-responsible investment portfolios. Betterment allows investors to start with as little as $100, and has a low annual management fee of 0.25%.

RELATED: Betterment Robo Advisor Review

Summary

Acorns is a simple-to-use app that helps new investors put their spare change to use. With no account minimums, cash back rewards investing, and a user education library, Acorns is a great starting point for those who are looking to invest for the first time. Acorns also offers a checking account with an attached debit card, and the ability to open investing accounts for kids, making it a one-stop shop for most financial service needs.

Acorns fees are higher than other robo-advisory services for those with lower account balances, but that being said, Acorns is helping people begin investing who might otherwise feel overwhelmed with the process.

RELATED: The 13 Best Robo Advisors

References:

https://support.acorns.com/hc/en-us/articles/360052528474-What-is-a-Prospectus-
https://www.fdic.gov/resources/deposit-insurance/financial-products-insured/index.html
https://www.acorns.com/support/signing-up/who-can-sign-up-for-an-account/

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Rachel Siegel, CFA
Rachel Siegel, CFA
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Rachel Siegel, CFA is one of the nation's leading experts at ensuring the accuracy of financial and economic text. Her prestigious background includes over 10 years creating professional financial certification exams and another 20 years of college-level teaching.