While making money is a never ending challenge for many of us, figuring out what to do with your hard earned cash presents an entirely different set of challenges. The common belief is that we should invest the money we have saved. It is frankly hard to argue against this view. There are clearly a lot of reasons why you should want to invest your money. If invested wisely your current savings can compound substantially over time. Others invest because they have a specific purchase they want to make in the future and doing so can help them afford it. Whatever the reason may be, there’s no getting around the fact that investing can seem complex to those who have little experience with it. This is where apps like Stash and Acorns come into view. Collectively these apps have raised almost $150 million in venture capital and have over 13 million customers. Below is a thorough overview on each app and a comparison of Stash vs Acorns to help you decide which to invest with.

Stash vs Acorns – What are they? Let’s start with Stash

Before dividing into a side by side comparison of Stash vs Acorns, lets dig into what the Stash app is. We’ll provide a more detailed overview of Stash since it is less well known than the Acorns app. Stash is a budgeting and investment app that targets customers that are new to the investing game but also interested in saving. The company emphasizes the simplicity of using the app and bills itself as focused on helping everyday Americans build wealth. The app was designed to make it simple for you to buy and sell stocks and exchange-traded funds primarily. The app provides you with access to a range of budgeting tools and facilities to help you manage investments and receive advice. The app has grown in popularity since its launch in 2015. The app has also received positive reviews with Forbes naming Stash one of its “Best Budgeting Apps of 2021.” The app also maintains a solid 4.7/5 rating from almost 260,000 reviews on the Apple App Store as of this writing.

Stash – The Pros

Stash has several great features and so we’re not surprised the company has 5 million customers. The following are some of the reasons why you might choose this app over its competitors.

1. High-Level Security

Stash uses 256-bit encryption in addition to biometric authentication to ensure your data is kept safe and secure. All of your deposits to a Stash bank account are also insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, with investments via the app protected up to $500,000 thanks to a partnership with Apex Clearing Corporation.

2. Simple Pricing

The app has three price tiers, which means those who just want to test the waters can do so without spending a lot of money. The app also doesn’t charge any commission on your stock trades.

  • Stash Beginner – Users at this level get advice for beginner investing, one brokerage account, banking access through the Stock-Back card and insurance access. The cost for this tier is just $1 per month. This is the most basic tier. 
  • Stash Growth – In addition to all the features of Stash Beginner this tier adds advice for growing personal finances and enhanced investing features. For example, it adds retirement portfolio tools to the feature set. The total cost for this tier is $3 per month. 
  • Stash+ – this tier costs $9 per month. This is most advanced tier currently offered. In addition to all of the features offered by Stash Growth, users get broader financial advice such as market insights. On top of this users also get more extensive investing, banking and insurance features.
3. You Choose Your Level of Involvement

Stash allows you to choose just how involved you want to be with your investing strategy. If you want to have a full DIY portfolio for which you discover and research every investment yourself, you can do that. But if you’d rather have the app makes automatic investments on your behalf, you can do that too. On the other hand if you’re looking for something between these two extremes, it’s also possible to set some parameters and have Stash execute it on your behalf. This flexibility sets Stash apart from many similar investment advisory apps, which typically provide you with no means of choosing your own investments. The app also offers fractional shares and has a low minimum investment requirement, which only adds to the flexibility and feeling of choice that you get with Stash.

Stash – The Cons

Of course, no app is perfect and there are certainly some disadvantages to using Stash:

1. No Human Advice

Perhaps the biggest drawback for Stash is that there is no way to access human advice when you’re examining investments. This does not mean the app offers no advice. Rather, the advice that you receive is generalized and very much an output of the information you provide. If you hope to receive personalized advice based on your investment strategy, you, unfortunately, won’t find it with Stash.

2. Lack of Wealth Management Services

While the app provides a great beginner’s tool for investing, it sometimes feels like it does little to help those who have already accumulated wealth. Stash offers no wealth management services through the app, which means you will need to seek outside advice if your investments start to pay off. Said differently, we suspect that over time some users might “outgrow” Stash and have to move their assets elsewhere. As we think about Stash vs Acorns this is an area where Acorns shines by comparison.

3. No Automatic IRA Management

Though Stash offers several automated features, it does not offer automatic management of your investment retirement account (IRA). This can be frustrating as an automatic IRA would take one more worry off your plate, allowing you to focus on more immediate investment opportunities.

Stash vs Acorns – What About Acorn?

Acorns is a larger, more widely used and older investing app. The app was founded in 2012 and according to Fortune Magazine, had over $3 billion of assets under management in 2020. The company also emphasizes its simplicity and presents itself as a tool to help you save and invest for your future. Initially the company became popular by allowing its users to invest their spare change after making purchases. The company has since broadened its offerings and executed several rounds of investing over the years. Its customer base now exceeds 8 million users. Similar to Stash, the app has received positive reviews with a 4.7/5 rating from almost 780,000 reviews on the Apple App Store as of this writing.

Stash vs. Acorns – A Comparison

There are a lot similarities between the two apps and while Acorns has been around almost twice as long as Stash, Stash has made a lot of progress. The following are some of the key points of difference to consider:

  • Cost Effectiveness – here we think Acorns is superior to Stash. Acorns premium plan costs only $5 a month which is $4 less per month than the Stash+ plan. In addition to this, you don’t need to have any money set aside for investing to open your account with Acorns.
  • Investment Flexibility – for this point, we think Stash is superior to Acorns. Stash provides you with access to individual stocks and allows you to supplement your portfolio using your own investments. If you’re interested in doing research on individual stocks and making bets on individual stocks, Stash is a better option. Acorns does not provide this level of flexibility to its users.
  • Accessibility – on this point we think Acorns is superior to Stash. Acorns has a website that you can use to access your account in addition to an application. Stash also has a website, however, you can only manage your account via the app.
  • Additional Perks – here we think Acorns is superior to Stash. Acorns has a loyalty program where you can earn points to get discounts from over 12,000 brands. Acorns also offers a checking account that is FDIC-insured. By using this account it makes the process of using Acorns that much more seamless.
  • Education and Learning – we think Stash is superior. While both Stash and Acorns have education content on their sites, we think Stash does a better job at educating users.

Stash vs Acorns – Conclusion?

Ultimately, it comes down to what your priorities are from a budgeting and savings standpoint. It also comes down to how knowledgeable you are as an investor. For users that are new to investing but hope to learn more and would like to invest in individual stocks, Stash is better option than Acorns. For users who prefer a more passive approach to saving and investing, Acorns is a better option. As we mentioned earlier, both apps have very impressive reviews on the app store. So while its cliched for us to say this, we truly believe it to be the case: you can’t go wrong with either option!