Acorns Review: This micro-investing app offers an approachable platform for beginners

Squirrel eating an acorn

10-minute read

Taking the first step into investing may seem daunting. However, some FinTech investment apps are designed with beginners in mind. Many newcomers choose the Acorns app which offers a variety of features, products, and free learning resources.

Acorns is a mobile and web-based app that aims to help you save for the future by rounding off your purchases and investing the difference in low-cost ETFs. The company has been around since 2012 and currently has more than $3 billion in assets under management.

With over 10 millions sign-up, it is certainly proving to be a popular solution for your investment portfolio. Backed by world-class investors, board members, and advisors (including two Nobel Prize-winning economists), they surely have the best in class at the helm!

In addition to the traditional Acorns Investment account, you can also open custodial accounts for your children (Acorns Early), whilst managing your retirement account (Acorns Later) - all linked to your Acorns checking account.

This Acorns review reveals if it offers the right tools to start investing and deeps dive into all its offerings. We also share some screenshots to give you a sneak peek of the Acorns account app.

Americans are struggling to set money aside.

Image Credit: Chartr

The banner ads and some links in this blog post are affiliate links. This means that, if you click on a link and join, I may receive a referral commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own and each company featured is individually selected.

 

What is Acorns?

Acorns is a micro-investing app. One of its key features is how easily it helps you save and invest, by using the spare change from your everyday purchases.

Just bought a coffee for $3.25? Great, you've actually spent $4 because $0.75 has been automatically invested for you by the round-up feature.

Once you open an Acorns personal account, you will be recommended an investment portfolio based on your financial goals; set up your spare change investment, and you're done!

At $3 (Personal) or $5 per month (Family), the Acorns fees are reasonable - we like that too.

Lastly, we share their long-term investing philosophy, by building a diversified portfolio. If you have no time to study it but would like to start investing in the stock market, then an Acorns Invest account would do the job.

How does an Acorns account work?

Even though micro-saving remains the biggest drive behind Acorns, it does far more than invest your spare change round ups.

Once you've linked credit cards and bank account, their system understands your spending patterns and Acorns rounds up each sale to the nearest dollar. Once you've accumulated $5 worth of spare change, this gets automatically invested in one of their expert-built ETF portfolios made of a diversified mix of stocks and bonds - becoming an investor doesn't get much easier than this!

There are a few ways you can use Acorns:

  • The Acorns app, available for free on iOS and Android. You'll need to connect your bank account with this app before you can invest, but it's easy to do so.

  • The Acorns website, where you can set up an investment account and add funds through debit or credit card payments, or wire transfers.

  • A smart account through the Acorns Checking Account, which functions as both an investment vehicle and checking account with no monthly fee (feature included in the Acorns Personal and Acorns Family tiers), no account minimum, and no overdraft fees

Acorns app screenshot 

Is Acorns investment account worth it?

If you've read Top 5 Reasons to Start Investing Today, you understand that the earlier you start investing, the better your chances of high returns are - thanks to the power of compounding.

Acorns Invest is particularly suited to those who are committed to saving and investing for their future, but perhaps don't know where to start. With its approachable platform, you’ll slowly build your personal plan with a reasonable investing timeline.

If you have limited finances, then just open an account and test the round-up feature from everyday purchases. Every little charge creates spare change which is rounded to the nearest dollar. Once it reaches $5, it gets invested in your chosen Acorns portfolio - automatically. It is an excellent option to start with a low account minimum and a simple structure.

If you can afford to commit more money, you will have the possibility to set up automated direct deposit to grow your investment accounts - and your net worth - faster. Either way, you are in control.

 

What is the downside to Acorns?

Acorns is not worth the subscription fee if you need a thorough investment analysis and personal trade decisions. Whilst they invest in solid index funds, this is not an online brokers.

Whilst there are five different Acorns Core portfolios and four Acorns ESG portfolios, they are all composed of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). As great as ETFs are for diversification, this means that you cannot pick and choose individual companies on the stock market to invest in. Instead, you go with the robo advisors' suggestion based on your risk profile.

Related: Why the Stock Market Should Be On Your Radar: A Guide For First-Time Investors

Investors who prefer to build their shares selection themselves will feel restricted by this. Although those with a higher risk tolerance would want to allocate some money to their Bitcoin-linked ETF.

Other robo advisors offer advanced tools or tax loss harvesting for example; these are not available on the Acorns app.

Acorns has a monthly fee for its brokerage account, which may be costly for small accounts.

For people looking for free financial tools and more customization in their stock market investment, consider Personal Capital. They give you a clear path to your financial goals, with the help of their robust technology and financial advisors' expertise, to deliver a truly personalized solution. No robos. Just advisors who listen. Sign up today and get 6 months of free wealth management

 

Is Acorns a good way to make money?

Overall, Acorns offer a great way to invest with little income and build good financial habits. Acorns is suited to anyone who wants to invest but hasn't started yet. It also supports the creation or expansion of your existing pension account.

With Acorns Earn, you can get bonus investments by shopping at thousands of top brands; either through the app or your desktop (Chrome and Safari browser extensions).

Interestingly, you can also find millions of part-time and remote jobs through the app. The aim here is to earn more to save & invest more.

We explore having a side hustle in 10 Easy Ways to Pay Off Debt

Acorns is a financial wellness system that helps you save and invest for the long term. You can get started today with a $20 bonus investment!

Acorns app screenshot

Is Acorns safe?

Acorns is not a bank. However, the funds in their checking accounts are FDIC-insured for up to $250,000. It aims to offer bank-level security with secure servers, fraud protection, 256-bit data encryption, and an all-digital card lock. Acorns legit and safe and uses a third-party custodian and processor.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) protects bank deposits of up to $250,000 per depositor. All FDIC insurances are backed by the full faith and credit of the government of the United States of America, giving you peace of mind that your money is protected.

 

Which Acorns accounts are available?

There are three accounts types, in addition to their banking offering:

    Taxable brokerage account (Acorns Invest)

      This is the starting point for most users when opening an Acorns account, where your spare change round-ups are invested. Once you've chosen your core portfolio (they will recommend one based on your initial answers), the rest is automated. You're investing as you shop. Check back on your investment occasionally, you'd be surprised how small round-ups accumulate; you're creating your own "found money"! Open an account today and get a $20 bonus investment!

      You can easily boost your investment account with the following features:

      1. Automatic Recurring Investments: you can set up recurring deposits to grow your investment accounts faster.

      2. Automatic Portfolio Rebalancing: this helps you stay on track with your long-term goals by having your base portfolio automatically rebalance.

      3. Automatic Dividend Reinvesting: some of your investments will pay dividends. If you are starting small, these would be small too. It is recommended to maximize your returns by reinvesting your dividends, instead of withdrawing them.

        Acorns Early account

          As this is included in the family plan, parents or guardians can open a custodial investment account for each of their children; which works similarly to the adult's account.

          As we cover in the Ebook How To Achieve Your Financial Independence, teaching your kids about money can be fun while giving them vital financial lessons. Acorns makes it as easy as possible with these features:

          1. Acorns Early is a UTMA UGMA custodial account (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act / Uniform Gift to Minors Act). This means that the funds can be used in various ways to directly benefits the child. Unlike 529 plans, which solely aim at saving toward education expenses, UTMA UGMA accounts offer more flexibility. While both investment accounts come with potential tax advantages, they vary; visit irs.gov for more info. 

          2. Smart deposit: you can automatically invest a piece of your paycheck into your child's account. Pick how much to invest, starting at 1%, and change it at any time.

          3. Gift tool: share a link and allow family and friends to easily contribute to your child's account.

          The earlier you begin, the more time that money has a chance to grow. If you can afford it, do not miss the opportunity to give your little ones great found money when they reach adulthood.

          All you need is the child’s name, date of birth, and social security number. Get a free digital copy of their children's book “Grow Your Oak” when you open an account.

          acorns app screenshot

            Acorns Later account

              As with the other Acorns accounts, you can begin saving for your retirement with just $5. By answering a few simple questions, you will get a recommendation on whether you should open a Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, or SEP IRA account that aligns with your long-term goals. 

              You can then set up automatic recurring deposits. Acorns Later portfolios are designed to maximize growth potential and are automatically selected based on your age and timeline to retirement. As you age, your portfolio will adjust accordingly.

                Acorns Checking account

                  Included with the monthly fee, the Acorns checking account works well with the investment accounts, all from the same app. Key benefits include no hidden fees, no account minimum balance fees, and no overdraft fees.

                  You also get a personalized, heavy metal, laser-engraved Acorns Visa debit card. Banking with Acorns unlocks everything you need to save and invest successfully:

                  1. Acorns Spend: using their debit card, your spare change gets invested in real-time, so it has even more time to grow. You can also get bonus investments from top brands when you shop their offers and swipe your debit card with Acorns spend.

                  2. Direct deposit: If you want to make full use of what Acorns offers, the easiest option is to connect directly to your employer or payroll provider.

                  3. Online banking capabilities you expect: mobile check deposits, digital checks, check sending, free transfers

                  4. Emergency Fund: automatically set aside a portion of your income. Everyone should aim to have one. More on this in How Much Cash Should I Have On Hand?

                  Acorns app screenshot

                  Acorns investment portfolios: what's available?

                  There are five Acorns Core portfolios, ranging from conservative to aggressive, and four Acorns ESG portfolios.

                  Each portfolio is composed of exchange-traded funds. An ETF is made of broad holdings of stocks and/or bonds. Depending on your portfolio, you’re invested in a mix of companies, markets, and asset classes such as:

                  • Large, medium, and small company stocks

                  • International stocks & emerging markets

                  • Government bonds

                  • Reals Estate

                  If you choose the conservative portfolio, you will be invested in bonds only (no stocks). While ETFs can be beneficial for diversification, fees are associated with holding these, known as expense ratios. Please read each prospectus carefully before investing.

                  Options for ESG

                  You can invest only in companies rated for their positive impact on Environment, Social, and Governance issues.

                  These ETFs give you access to companies with sustainable investment strategies. Acorns uses iShares to construct ESG portfolios.

                  However, the criteria required to qualify may limit the types and number of investment opportunities available. As a result, the portfolio may underperform others that do not have an ESG focus.

                  Bits of Bitcoin ETF

                  In 2022, Acorns introduced a Bitcoin-linked ETF; up to 5% of your portfolio can be allocated to it.

                  Please note that ProShares Bitcoin Strategy (BITO) invests in Bitcoin futures, not directly in Bitcoin. However, this new Acorns product may be an effective option for gaining indirect exposure to Bitcoin within your entire portfolio.

                  Invest in Bits of Bitcoin with Acorns, plus get a $15 bonus investment!

                   

                  What is the best Acorns portfolio?

                  Acorns offers a variety of different products to suit any investment budget. Generally, choosing what to invest in depends on your risk tolerance and time horizon.

                  When registering, answer the questions as accurately as possible so that the robo advisors suggest the most appropriate portfolio for your financial goals.

                  Acorns does not recommend changing portfolios often, due to our overall passive investment strategy and the potential tax consequences of selling securities in your account. You do have the ability to override the recommendation provided in the app. As a reminder, changing portfolios may cause a taxable event, check with your tax professional for potential impact specific to your situation.

                   

                  How much does Acorns cost?

                  For $3 per month, you can have the Personal Acorns account with a taxable brokerage account, checking account, and retirement account.

                  And for $5 a month, an Acorns Family account includes child custody accounts as well as all features on the Personal accounts tier.

                  Both plans include Acorns Earn to get up to 30% bonus investments from 450+ in-app partner brands.

                  Easily save and invest with Acorns, plus get a $20 bonus investment!

                   

                  Acorns review conclusion

                  Acorns is a great way to save money with round up and invest without the hassle of managing your own portfolio thanks to robo advisors. Setting up Acorns is quick and easy, and you don’t need prior knowledge about investing or finance. Your funds are protected by FDIC insurance.

                  This amazing micro-investment app offers enough portfolios to meet the requirements of many investors and is very easy to navigate. Most will have found money management easier with Acorns.

                  If you are interested in Acorns, give it a try with one linked account and see if it suits you. As I always say, never go ''all-in'' with any financial institution. Once you get familiar with the app and its round up feature, you can gradually increase your investments in the platform. Happy investing!

                   

                  No Financial Advice. This article does not provide financial advice and has been prepared without taking into account any person’s investment objectives, financial situation, risk tolerance, or particular needs. 

                   

                  Top articles from the Blog:

                  Why the Stock Market Should Be On Your Radar: A Guide For First-Time Investors

                  The 50/30/20 rule: how to budget your money more efficiently?

                  What are Alternative Investments?

                  6 Facts Nobody Told You About Crypto Payment

                  Understanding Risk-Free Assets: A Beginner's Guide

                  Top 5 Reasons to Start Investing Today

                  How Much Cash Should I Have On Hand?

                  Is it Really Possible to Retire at 30?

                  Best Personal Finance Podcasts to Listen To

                  Monthly Savings: It's Not as Difficult as You Think

                  Ebookopedia Financial eBooks covers

                  Leave a comment

                  Please note, comments must be approved before they are published