Is Acorns Safe? – Acorns Review
Is Acorns worth it? There certainly are many app-based investment services currently, though our Acorns review will explain why it may be worth a second look.
Spare change has been getting lost from purchase to purchase as long as we can remember. It falls out of our pockets, litters our car and even gets consumed by the living room couch. The way we pay has been rapidly innovating and now many of us find ourselves paying with our cards much more frequently than cash.
Although you may be reducing how much spare change you physically have, Acorns offers an option for your “digital” spare change.
Among the plethora of millennial targeted investment services, many favor Acorns as their first step into investing.
What Is Acorns?
Acorns was founded by a father and son team in Newport Beach, CA in February, 2012. The goal of the service is to remove any intimidation from the investing process and offer an easy starting point for new investors.
Using the Acorns iPhone or Android app, users can employ intuitive investment strategies that focus on forming long-lasting investment habits. Acorns was made with millennials in mind, providing a mobile app interface and easy-to-use investment service. However, this service is great for anyone who has difficulty saving, isn’t an investor or just doesn’t want to put in the work of investing themselves.
How Does Acorns Work
Acorns investing utilizes a robo-advisor technology that employs the ideology of investing your spare change by rounding up all purchases you make with your debit/credit cards and immediately investing that change into an investment portfolio.
The process of rounding purchases up the to nearest dollar and investing the left over change, is labeled “round-ups” by Acorns. For example, if I were to pay $29.25 to fill up my gas tank, Acorns would round that purchase up to $30 and invest the remaining $.75 into an investment portfolio.
After downloading the Acorns app, you’re asked to create a profile that asks a variety of questions to formulate your ideal investment portfolio. You are then asked to link your bank account(s) and debit/credit cards. After that, you are presented with a variety of customization options. You will choose how much you’d like to round-up by and your investment portfolio choice. There are 5 investment portfolios to choose from and they range from conservative (bonds and cash) to aggressive (equities). The service then begins monitoring your purchases and rounding up those amounts. When spare change accumulates to $5, it invests it for you (this amount can be customized).
- Automated Investing – round up purchases and invest that change automatically
- Add in recurring daily, weekly or monthly investments
- Place one-time additions to your account
- Smart Portfolios – choose from 5 different portfolios that were created with the help of Nobel Prize-winning economist, Harry Markowitz
- Link Unlimited Cards – link any and all of your debit and credit cards for round ups
- Transfer Anytime – invest or withdraw anytime
- Found Money – shop with Found Money partners, such as Apple, and they will automatically invest incentive cash back into your account
- Grow Magazine – a personal finance magazine written to expand money knowledge
- Security – user data is secured with 256-bit encryption and that data is never stored on your device
- Referrals – Acorns will add to your account when you get your friends to join
Pricing for the service is fairly competitive, comparative to other services in the market. Acorns fees for the service are as follows:
- Account under $5,000 – $1 per month
- Accounts of $5,000 or more – 0.25% annually
- College students – free for up to four years with a valid .edu email address
To offer perspective, competitor services such as Betterment’s Digital plan costs 0.25% annually from the start whereas Personal Capital has a minimum balance of $25,000 and charges 0.89% for the first $1 million. The spectrum of investment services is very wide and there’s a unique solution for every need (some investment needs are more expensive than others). For new investors, Acorns offers advantageous and competitive pricing.
Steps to Get Started
- Download the Acorns app
- Available for both Android and iOS
- Set up an account
- Answer the necessary questions in the signup process. These questions are personal and meant to craft the best portfolio for your situation.
- Connect bank accounts and credit/debit cards
- Ease of connecting your bank account really depends on what bank you use. Although the process is easier for some banks, overall it’s a simple procedure.
- Customizations and portfolio choice
- Select how much you’d like to round up by (typically just to the next dollar)
- The 5 portfolio options are as follows:
- Moderately Conservative
- Moderately Aggressive
- These portfolios were created with ETFs from investment management companies like Vanguard, Pimco and BlackRock
- Using the service
- Begin making purchases and automatically investing the “round-ups”
- Make one-time or recurring additions to your account
- Download the Acorns app
Pros and Cons of Acorns
- The fees for the service are reasonable. $1 per month for accounts under $5,000 and 0.25% annually for accounts $5,000 and over. These fees are minimal for investors just starting, yet when those investments build, they are rewarded with a “reasonable” permanently fixed rate. Better yet, college students, which make up a large portion of the target customer base, are free for four years. This is certainly a great perk for novice investors without a consistent income.
- Offered benefits like Found Money, give great opportunities to build your account. When making purchases with partnered companies such as Apple, DirectTV or Nike (to name a few), you are rewarded with cashback that’s invested into your account from that purchase.
- Offering up a variety of educational material, such as their Grow Magazine, it’s clear Acorns is passionate about making their customers more financially informed.
- With no minimum investment, Acorns can be joined without any intimidation.
- Certainly the biggest “pro” is the actual investment service. The round-up and investment process is fully automated, allowing the user to grow their portfolio without even thinking about it.
- The entire user experience is straightforward and easy. The app is user friendly and offers complete control and account reporting.
- Only offering taxable accounts is certainly a limitation. Whereas other robo-advisors allows IRA and 401(k) options, Acorns is limited to earning money in a taxable account. Although that’s great for side investments, most of our contributions should be directed towards financing retirement.
- By only offering 5 portfolio options, the investment procedure is simplified, but this becomes a limitation because as investors gain experience, they may be interested in more customized portfolios. These portfolios are also limited in that they cover less asset classes than competing robo-advisor portfolios.
Public Perception (Other Acorns Reviews)
Since the start of Acorns in 2012, it has garnered generally positive feedback in various Acorns reviews. As we've discussed in our Acorns review, many praise the app’s simplicity and ease of use. They also appreciate how it’s great for encouraging first time investors by making the investing process incredibly easy.
Though, many of these Acorns reviews do discuss the service’s limitations. One is that there are only a few portfolio options. Customization of the current portfolio choices is something yearned for by more experienced investors. Another complaint is that it only utilizes taxable accounts. Those investing for their retirement may look elsewhere for this reason alone. Overall, the public perception is positive and with mostly 4/5 star reviews, it’s clear this service is appreciated.
When analyzing similar services that target millennials, the primary competitors are Stash Invest and Digit.
The Stash app utilizes a similarly easy-to-use interface but it doesn’t actually doing any auto-investing for you. The user gets to choose their own portfolio and add funds accordingly. The Stash portfolio options are significantly higher than the 5 choices Acorns offers. Stash offers the first month free but after that they charge the same fees of $1 per month under $5,000 and 0.25% for $5,000 and over. Check out our Stash Invest Review for more.
Digit works much differently in that it analyzes your spending patterns and automatically pulls out cash to save from your bank account based on that info. Therefore, Digit is simply saving that money for you, for free albeit, with no interest. Digit certainly has the advantage as it’s free to use, but it isn’t actually investing anything. It’s great if you’re just looking to save money, but for investing, Acorns is the way to go.
Should You Get Acorns?
Whether or not you should get the Acorns investment app really comes down to your particular situation. If you are a first time/novice investor looking to get started, Acorns is a great choice. Every aspect from the signing up to interacting with the app is intuitive. It’s particularly great for college students as they typically aren’t dealing with a lot of money to invest and it’s free for 4 years with an .edu email address.
Though for experienced investors looking for a variety of investment portfolio choices and account options, Acorns may not be a the right fit. Though, it can be advantageous to anyone looking to begin small investments in taxable accounts.
Well, is Acorns legit? From everything I've discussed in this Acorns app review, I'd have to say that it's an innovative service that can turn anyone into an investor. Acorns is worth a look simply for the benefits the service offers and as it takes a micro investing approach, you aren’t making life changing financial decisions.
Click here to try out Acorns.