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If you’re reading this, you likely know about Acorns. It’s a micro-investing and micro-saving app that rounds up your purchases and invests your spare change. The app is great for beginners looking to start investing money for the first time in an easy way. But maybe you want an investing app at a lower cost point with more features.

In that case, what Acorns alternatives do you have available?

This article will answer that question by listing other investment apps like Acorns, as well as provide insight into some apps with debit card and bank account access. These accounts are ideal for beginning investors who want to invest their money but don’t have much income or savings yet!

(For reference, we include lots of useful information about Acorns after the Acorns alternatives covered next.)

Best Acorns Alternatives—Our Top Picks


Best Stock Trading App for Beginners
 
4.5
4.2
Commission-free trading. Robinhood Gold: Free 30-day trial, then $5/mo.
Basic: Commission-free trading. Premium: $10/mo.
Best Stock Trading App for Beginners
4.5
Commission-free trading. Robinhood Gold: Free 30-day trial, then $5/mo.
4.2
Basic: Commission-free trading. Premium: $10/mo.

 

1. Robinhood (Best Simple Stock Trading App for Beginners)


robinhood signup new2

  • Available: Web, mobile app (Apple iOS, Android)
  • Price: Free trades
  • Sign up here

Robinhood is a pioneer of commission-free trading, jumping into the investing public’s consciousness in 2013 when they rolled out commission-free trading. They remain a standout option for cost-minded investors thanks to their continued $0 commissions on stocks, ETFs, and options, as well as for its fractional trading, which allows people to invest with as little as $1.

More importantly, though, Robinhood has evolved from a bare-bones app appealing to mostly beginner investors to a fuller-featured account suitable for a wider range of experience levels.

For instance, Robinhood now offers individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and Roth IRAs via Robinhood Retirement. Functionally, it comes up short compared to many other IRA providers because of its investment options. It offers just stocks and ETFs; like with its brokerage account, mutual funds aren’t available. Options aren’t currently available, though Robinhood has explicitly stated that options will be made available soon.

However, Robinhood Retirement still stands out from the pack because it’s the only IRA provider that offers matching funds. If you open up an IRA with Robinhood Retirement, Robinhood will match 1% of any IRA transfers, 401(k) rollovers, and annual contributions to your account—and 3% if you pay for the Robinhood Gold service ($5 per month)—typically almost immediately after you make your contribution. Better still: Any matches made on annual contributions don’t count toward your contribution limit.

(Friendly message from your WealthUp tax expert: The reason the IRA match doesn’t count toward your annual IRA contribution limit is because Robinhood treats it as interest income in your IRA.)

Sign up for a Robinhood brokerage account or Robinhood retirement account today.

 

2. Public.com (Best Free Investment App for Beginners Interested in Alternatives)


public signup

  • Price: Free trades
  • Sign up here

Public.com is a commission-free micro investing app that targets Millennials and Gen-Zers who have attuned their senses to social media. This price point compares favorably with Acorns: free is free and Acorns isn’t free. While the company previously followed the lead of apps like Robinhood with monetizing Payment for Order Flow (PFOF), or receiving kickbacks from clearinghouses for routing trades to them, they’ve recently abandoned this practice.

Instead, they now rely on other revenue streams as well as a “tipping” system. This places this beginner investment app firmly on the side of retail investors and not pledging allegiance to Wall Street clearinghouses.

Why is Public.com a Good Investment App for Beginners?

What Public.com is really about is making investing like an investing social network, where members can own fractional shares of stocks and ETFs, follow popular creators, and share ideas within a community of investors.

What Public.com aims to do above all else is make the stock market an inclusive and educational place, with social features that make it easy to collaborate as you build your confidence as an investor—for free (i.e., no management fee). For younger investors who want to align their investing with their social preferences, as well as keep good company to socialize and learn from others, Public.com might be the app for you.

For those interested in starting to trade on Public.com, the online brokerage platform for beginners offers a free signup bonus if you make an initial deposit. Further, you can share your special link with others and gift them free stocks (fractional shares) as well. If this sounds like an interesting investment app, open an account and make an initial deposit to see if the app meets your social and investing needs. Public has no account minimum requirements or minimum balance required to maintain.

Read more in our Public.com investing app review.

 

3. Fidelity Youth™ Account (Best Free Debit Card With Teen Investing)


Fidelity Youth Account app signup

  • Available: Sign up here
  • Price: No account fees, no account minimum, no trading commissions*
  • Platforms: Web, mobile app (Apple iOS, Android)
  • Promotion: Teens get $501 on Fidelity® when they download the Fidelity Youth™ app and activate their Youth Account; parents get $100 when they fund a new account

Is your teen interested in jumpstarting their financial future? Do you want them to build smart money habits along the way?

Of course you do! Learning early about saving, spending and investing can pay off big when you start on the right foot. And one tool that can help your teen get that jump is the Fidelity Youth™ Account—an account owned by teens 13 to 17 that’s designed to help them start their money journey. They can start investing by buying most U.S. stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and Fidelity mutual funds for as little as $1!⁴

Your teen will also get a free debit card with no subscription fees, no account fees³, no minimum balances, and no domestic ATM fees⁵. And they can use this free debit card for teens to manage their cash and spend it whenever they need.

Controls parents want and need

A parent or guardian must have or open a brokerage account with Fidelity® to open a Fidelity Youth™ Account. For new Fidelity® customers, opening an account is easy, and there are no minimums and no account fees.

If your teen has an interest in learning about investing and taking their first steps toward building their financial journey, you should consider downloading the Fidelity Youth™ app and opening a Fidelity Youth™ Account. The account comes custom-built for their needs, which will help them become financially independent and start investing for their future.

Read more in our Fidelity Youth™ Account review.

 

4. Betterment (Best for Automation and Tax-Loss Harvesting)


betterment sign up

  • Available via desktop, Apple iOS and Google Android.
  • Price: 0.25% Management Fee (AUM)
  • Sign up here

You can use the Betterment robo-advisor platform to buy fractional shares of ETF index funds like the S&P 500 in taxable accounts as well as individual retirement plans. The Acorns alternative does not allow you to invest in individual stocks but will automatically place deposits into fractional bits of index fund ETFs aligned with your portfolio objectives.

The features of this platform make the micro-investing app most suitable to investors looking to diversify instantly as they make contributions to their accounts. Instead of Acorns’ fixed monthly fee model, this service charges an all-encompassing 0.25% assets under management fee but can justify this expense in taxable brokerage accounts through its tax-loss harvesting feature.

Lowering your taxable income through their tax-loss harvesting feature is one of the products that justifies the 0.25% AUM fee for holdings in a taxable account. It works by selling losses to lock in short-term capital losses and lowers your taxable income while taking your proceeds and placing them into a similar investment. This lowers your taxable income or other capital gains and quickly covers the 0.25% annual AUM fee.

Further, based on your intended financial goal, the company provides investment advice by tailoring your portfolios to accomplish these goals.

Betterment led the way for robo-advisor services and micro-investing apps, growing from a small business to what now represents a significant book of business. Using them has become a popular choice for people looking to invest toward specific goals without the need for any investing experience for a reasonable fee.

 

What Is Acorns?


The Acorns app first started by introducing the novel idea of “Round-ups”, which work by taking purchases you’ve made on a credit card or debit card linked to your Acorns account and topping them up to the nearest dollar.

This money then gets swept into a robo-advisor-managed investment portfolio which automatically invests them into stock market index funds on your behalf based on how much risk you feel comfortable bearing.

This useful saving feature has enabled the service’s users to save $30 extra per month on average on top of their routine contributions made into the account—something that can grow from the tiniest of acorns into the mightiest of oaks—if you keep watering it with additional contributions.

Acorns includes three membership tiers, each with a monthly management fee:

Acorns Personal ($3 per month):

  • Acorns Invest: Index fund investing capabilities through “Round-ups” and account contributions
  • Acorns Later: Offers tax-advantaged investment options like individual retirement accounts (IRAs)
  • Acorns Checking: This service acts as your bank account, offering free withdrawals at over 55,000 ATMs nationwide, no account fees and the ability to earn up to 10% in bonus investments

Acorns Personal Plus ($5 per month):

  • Everything in Acorns Personal (Acorns Invest, Later, and Checking), plus Premium Education, which are live onboarding sessions covering account setup, Round-Ups, setting up recurring investments, and more; Emergency Fund; and a 25% bonus on Acorns Earn rewards (up to $200 per month).

Acorns Premium ($9 per month):

Everything in Personal Plus, plus Acorns Early, which allows you to open a custodial investment account for your child so you can begin investing for them while they’re a minor; custom portfolios that allow you to hold individual stocks; live Q&As with financial experts; a 50% match on Acorns Earn rewards (up to $200 per month); $10,000 in life insurance; even the ability to set up a will for free.

As a note for any Acorns investors who joined prior to a plan change made effective in May 2020, your account may still reside under the pricing structure available at the time. Unless you have changed your plan, you have been grandfathered in on your plan at that time.

The primary difference between that plan menu and the one available now is the removal of the $1 per month Acorns Lite tier (as of September 2021) and the $2 per month subscription offering fewer products at the time (only Invest and Later, not Acorns Spend or Checking).

You can remain in place on the $2-per-month tier or upgrade to the $3-per-month Personal to add Acorns Checking.

How Does Acorns Work?


Acorns provides money tools to look after the financial best interests of up-and-coming, beginner investors through micro-investing, banking, retirement saving and investment accounts for kids. They’ve simplified many of these products to make them accessible to everyone without the intimidating task of figuring it out yourself.

The service works as a robo-advisor to place your Round-ups, recurring contributions and one-time contributions into age, income, risk tolerance and time horizon-appropriate exchanged traded funds (ETFs).

Your investment portfolio can invest in exchange traded funds, or investment vehicles which invest in multiple underlying securities as opposed to a single stock or bond, which focus on large company stocks, small company stocks, international stocks, corporate bonds and government bonds and more. You can answer basic questions about yourself and the goals you have for opening this Acorns account to put your investments into assets which align with your needs.

And not only does this robo-advisor service invest your money, this platform offers you the ability to do so in small amounts over time. Investing small amounts regularly in a diversified portfolio gives your money a chance to grow long-term. When the market is up, you get a chance to watch your money ride the high. When the market dips—and it will—you can invest at lower prices, and stick with it for potential gains over time. Set it, forget it, and let spare change change your future!

As we’ll discuss later in this Acorns alternatives article, you’ll also want to consider whether this makes the most sense for your money or if you should also consider contributing more to your account to overcome the monthly fees charged by the service. Once you open your account, you can tap into our automated tools like Round-ups and Recurring Investments to save and invest every day. To jumpstart your contributions, the service offers multiple products like Found Money, Earn, and Round-ups to build a diversified portfolio quicker.

Learn more in our Acorns review.

 

What Are the Best Apps Like Acorns?


In truth, no one app serves every individual person’s needs the same. Some investors choose to follow a more active approach while others would rather a set-it-and-forget style. While I espouse the latter more so on this site, I don’t necessarily think investing in individual stocks is a bad approach when using stock analysis and research to guide your decision-making.

In fact, stock picking services like the Motley Fool’s Rule Breakers and Stock Advisor have shown tremendous outperformance over the last two decades and really represent a significant value for investors looking to rely on others for making stock picks. Some stock newsletters may even want to practice a more active form of trading and get vetted stock alerts sent directly to their phones to take advantage of market movements.

As long as you account for your risk preferences and level of commitment to following the market, your investment choices will depend on you. No matter your investing style, when you want to get started investing, you want to look for micro investment apps that provide the functionality you want without feeling overwhelmed. Therefore, the best stock trading app for you depends on your experience, investing goals, and desired level of educational support.

Beginners benefit from micro investing platforms that have the least amount of fees, low-cost investment options, educational resources and the ability to build a diversified portfolio in alignment with your financial goals. They want all of this without getting lost in distraction if they can’t make sense of the information provided. The adage of “keep it simple, stupid” usually applies, especially at the start.

Apps that provide a one stop shop for managing your personal finances often act as a great starting point. This means including your banking, spending and investing needs. As you develop a better understanding of the market, you’ll want to extend your investing reach into new areas and see if other investing styles suit your needs. Your app should accommodate these growing needs.

With that in mind, this list of the best micro investing apps looks to offer simplified investing experiences at the start but ones which can still serve your needs as you grow your investing knowledge. I try to highlight free apps where possible because investing your money shouldn’t come with charges unless the service provides other value-added products for managing your money. Descriptions of each app follow the table above.

What is Micro-Investing?


It’s hard to fight the math behind investing in small amounts consistently over time. If you can start investing as little as $100 per week (or 10% of your paycheck) by your early 30s and grow these contributions over time, you’re very likely to hit the millionaire mark by retirement. Yet, not enough people do.

Over 100 million adults in the United States don’t have an investment account, leading them toward an uncertain financial future. Many choose to deposit money into a savings account instead. The interest earned in these bank accounts will not make a significant dent in your retirement preparation like investing can. Investing is more powerful than leaving cash in a savings account.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be in that number. With a simple approach you can easily get started by following these investing principles:

  • keep it simple
  • keep investing
  • keep portfolios diversified
  • commit to your financial health

What are Micro-Investing Apps?


Investing scares many when it really shouldn’t. While it might be hard to get started investing, it is tougher to retire without any money. In the last decade, many services work to make investing easy and affordable. These micro investing sites simplify your investing experience and can put you in a great position for a secure retirement.

The right time to invest is now and it all starts with a simple download of a micro investing, robo-advisor app like Acorns or its alternatives. But don’t let that investing term scare you. A robo-investing app takes your deposits and automatically invests them in a diversified portfolio. This personalized solution simplifies investing and earns you far more than you would by leaving cash in a savings account.

By investing $100 per week over 40 years, you can grow your investments to $1.5 million by retirement. Doing so requires consistent contributions into your micro stock trading robo-investor app and allowing compounding interest to do the heavy lifting. For example, the average diversified portfolio earns 8% on average. That means the 8% you might earn this year will then have 8% earned on it the next year and the next, and so on.

While your actual returns will vary year to year, this should show why getting started as early as possible makes the biggest difference. If you want to take the first step towards a secure retirement, that means taking action today. Start by downloading a micro investing app, opening an account and setting up your recurring deposits.

Is Micro Investing a Good Idea?


Plenty of people deride micro investing because they only see it as rounding up your Starbucks purchases to the nearest dollar for the rest of your life. They reason this will only get you a small amount of money over long periods of time. While not entirely untrue, especially after accounting for the fees of some investing platforms, micro investing doesn’t need to stop at Round-ups, Stock Backs or whatever the branded term is for topping up purchases on a linked debit or credit card.

Instead, as you age, you should try to aim for making recurring deposits into your account as your compensation rises. This can be from side hustles, investing in real estate, investing in the best passive income ideas, or simply building up your career. No one expects you to invest half your paycheck each pay period when you start working. It takes time to build financial security and an investment portfolio.

What micro investment apps help is to establish the habit of knowing your purchases also result in something more important: saving for your future. As your financial resources grow, you can contribute more and more to your account, building your wealth.

Enough derision about micro investing only producing micro results.

Instead, consider micro investment apps as part of your investment strategy that ties into other long haul decisions you make about saving for retirement. Investing for the long term requires dedication, persistence and work over time considerable amounts of time.

You might start small with a micro investment app while simultaneously starting to save through your employer’s retirement plan, your own individual retirement account (IRA), building an emergency fund, saving for a house down payment and paying off any costly debt you have. Combined, all of these small steps add up to something big. As is often said, “the sum is more than the whole of its parts.” In totality, all these small efforts add up and move the needle in the right direction.

Micro investing as its own shouldn’t be the sole factor driving your retirement savings or for any other goal you have. It should be a tool you add to your arsenal to accelerate your wealth building.

As a side note: If you have kids who earn income, consider helping them out now by opening a Roth IRA for kids. This will let them lock in low tax rates while they’re young and allow compounding to grow their wealth more than any major contributions later in life ever could.


Terms and Conditions for Fidelity Youth™ Account

The Fidelity Youth™ Account can only be opened by a parent/guardian. Account eligibility limited to teens aged 13-17.

* $0.00 commission applies to online U.S. equity trades and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in a Fidelity retail account only for Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC retail clients. Sell orders are subject to an activity assessment fee (from $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of principal). Other exclusions and conditions may apply. See Fidelity.com/commissions for details. Employee equity compensation transactions and accounts managed by advisors or intermediaries through Fidelity Institutional® are subject to different commission schedules.

¹ Limited Time Offer. Terms Apply. Before opening a Fidelity Youth™ Account, you should carefully read the account agreement and ensure that you fully understand your responsibilities to monitor and supervise your teen’s activity in the account.

² The Fidelity Youth™ app is free to download. Fees associated with your account positions or transacting in your account apply.

³ Zero account minimums and zero account fees apply to retail brokerage accounts only. Expenses charged by investments (e.g., funds, managed accounts, and certain HSAs) and commissions, interest charges, or other expenses for transactions may still apply. See Fidelity.com/commissions for further details.

⁴ Fractional share quantities can be entered out to 3 decimal places (.001) as long as the value of the order is at least $0.01. Dollar-based trades can be entered out to 2 decimal places (e.g. $250.00).

⁵ Your Youth Account will automatically be reimbursed for all ATM fees charged by other institutions while using the Fidelity® Debit Card at any ATM displaying the Visa®, Plus®, or Star® logos. The reimbursement will be credited to the account the same day the ATM fee is debited. Please note, for foreign transactions, there may be a 1% fee included in the amount charged to your account. The Fidelity® Debit Card is issued by PNC Bank, N.A., and the debit card program is administered by BNY Mellon Investment Servicing Trust Company. These entities are not affiliated with each other, and Fidelity is not affiliated with PNC Bank or BNY Mellon. Visa is a registered trademark of Visa International Service Association, and is used by PNC Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.

⁶ Venmo is a service of PayPal, Inc. Fidelity Investments and PayPal are independent entities and are not legally affiliated. Use a Venmo or PayPal account may be subject to their terms and conditions, including age requirements. 

Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC, 900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917

About the Author

Riley Adams is the Founder and CEO of WealthUp (previously Young and the Invested). He is a licensed CPA who worked at Google as a Senior Financial Analyst overseeing advertising incentive programs for the company’s largest advertising partners and agencies. Previously, he worked as a utility regulatory strategy analyst at Entergy Corporation for six years in New Orleans.

His work has appeared in major publications like Kiplinger, MarketWatch, MSN, TurboTax, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, The Globe and Mail, and CNBC’s Acorns. Riley currently holds areas of expertise in investing, taxes, real estate, cryptocurrencies and personal finance where he has been cited as an authoritative source in outlets like CNBC, Time, NBC News, APM’s Marketplace, HuffPost, Business Insider, Slate, NerdWallet, Investopedia, The Balance and Fast Company.

Riley holds a Masters of Science in Applied Economics and Demography from Pennsylvania State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Finance from Centenary College of Louisiana.