Many of us are looking for ways to make more money and start smart money habits. Acorns investment app can help you save small amounts of money.
Each time you buy something at a store or online, Acorns can invest your spare change. It’s also possible to earn shopping rewards to invest “free money” as well. Instead of spending your extra cash on a one-time purchase, you can earn passive income.
This Acorns investment app review can help you decide if this is the best app to help you save for an upcoming purchase, retirement or your child’s college education.
Acorns lets you invest as little as $5 at a time into an index fund portfolio. You can find money to invest by rounding up your payment card purchase or shopping online with over 300 retailers. All Acorns plans have a monthly fee of up to $5 that may deter some who want a free investing app.
Minimum to invest
- FDIC insured
- $5 minimum investment
- No trade fees
- Monthly plan fee
- Limited investment options
- No tax-loss harvesting
In This Article
- How Acorns Works
- Investing With Acorns
- Extra Features
- Is Acorns Safe and Legit?
- Who Should Use Acorns?
- Positives and Negatives
How Acorns Works
Acorns is a micro-investing app that can round up your debit card and credit card purchases to the nearest dollar. Once your cash balance reaches $5, Acorns invests your cash into an index fund portfolio in a taxable or retirement account.
In addition to rounding up your purchases, you can also earn cash rewards from online purchases or transfer cash from a linked bank account.
While the main reason to join Acorns is to invest and earn passive income, you can also open a checking account that gives you access to over 55,000 fee-free ATMs.
Who Can Join?
- You must be at least 18 years old and a US resident to join Acorns.
- Parents can also open custodial accounts for their children under age 18.
It’s possible to open these investment accounts with Acorns:
- Individual taxable account
- Traditional IRA
- Roth IRA
- Custodial account (UTMA/UGMA)
The minimum initial deposit for any of these accounts is $5 to start investing.
Depending on which monthly plan you choose, you can also open an Acorns Spend checking account. This checking account has several benefits and can make it easier to invest often.
Acorns doesn’t offer joint investment or checking accounts. Spouses will need to create their own Acorns account to get a taxable account or an IRA.
When joining Acorns, you pick one of three monthly plans depending on which account options you want. The monthly plan fee is either $1, $3 or $5.
While there isn’t a free plan option, the monthly plan fee is the only fee the Acorns charges. You won’t pay trade fees when buying stock or account service fees with a checking account.
Below are the account options that each plan tier offers.
Acorns Lite costs $1 per month and is the most basic plan. You can open a taxable investment account but don’t have access to the IRA or checking account.
The other two plans offer retirement accounts and checking accounts.
The mid-tier Acorns Personal costs $3 per month. You can open both taxable and retirement investment accounts. This tier also offers the Acorns Spend checking account.
The Acorns Family plan costs $5 per month. It includes all of the Personal plan features, plus a custodial investment account for children.
It’s possible to open multiple custodial accounts if you have several children, and you continue to pay a flat $5 monthly plan fee.
Investing With Acorns
Acorns is a robo-advisor that automatically rebalances your portfolio. You pick your investment strategy during the signup process, and Acorns invests in several different stock and bond index ETFs.
Acorns offers five index ETF portfolios built around a specific risk tolerance level using the Modern Portfolio Theory. This investment strategy is similar to most robo-advisors.
Investing in as many US and global asset classes as possible can help reduce your downside risk as you have a diversified portfolio.
Each portfolio holds a variation of US and international stock and bond index ETFs from Vanguard and Blackrock. Index ETFs have low fees and are an easy way to diversify.
Conservative portfolios focus on investing in bonds while the aggressive portfolios hold more stocks. You might choose different portfolios if you have other investing goals.
Acorns will recommend a portfolio when you open your investing account. You can go with their recommendation or choose a different portfolio.
Acorns portfolio options and their target asset allocation:
- Short-term government bonds (20%)
- Ultra short-term corporate bonds (40%)
- Ultra short-term government bonds (20%)
This risk-averse portfolio only holds bonds and can be a good option if you’re near retirement or want to earn a fixed income.
- Large company stocks (24%)
- Medium company stocks (4%)
- International company stocks (12%)
- Government and corporate bonds (60%)
The Moderately Conservative portfolio holds 40% stocks and 60% bonds.
- Large company stocks (35%)
- Medium company stocks (5%)
- Small company stocks (2%)
- International company stocks (18%)
- Government and corporate bonds (40%)
You can hold 60% stocks and 40% bonds with the Moderate portfolio option. This portfolio can be a good option when you want to avoid risk. However, you still have a healthy exposure to stocks that have several years until you plan on accessing your cash.
- Large company stocks (47%)
- Medium company stocks (6%)
- Small company stocks (3%)
- International company stocks (24%)
- Government and corporate bonds (20%)
This portfolio has 80% stocks and 20% bonds and can be the best option for most young investors in their 20s and early 30s.
- Large company stocks (55%)
- Medium company stocks (10%)
- Small company stocks (5%)
- International company stocks (30%)
The youngest of investors might consider the Aggressive portfolio that only holds stocks. This asset mix can be the most volatile as stocks are inherently riskier than bonds.
One benefit of using Acorns is its automated portfolio rebalancing feature. Each time you invest, Acorns buys fractional shares of the ETFs that are under allocation.
Acorns doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting and won’t sell any assets to minimize your tax bill. Also, Acorns doesn’t sell the portion of a position that drifts above its asset allocation to trigger a potential tax event.
You will need to keep investing new money to maintain a balanced portfolio.
After choosing your Acorns portfolio, the next step is funding your account and start investing. Acorns gives you the option of linking a debit card or credit card and rounding up the purchase amount to the next dollar.
For example, a $3.45 purchase rounds up to $4.00, and Acorns invests the extra 55 cents.
Once your round-up balance reaches $5, Acorns transfers the money from your linked bank account to your investment account. This process repeats unless you pause round-ups.
It’s also possible to multiply your round-up amount by up to ten times. Boosting your round-up amount can help you invest more cash and makes it easier to offset the monthly plan fee.
Another exciting way to earn extra cash is by shopping online on the Found Money shopping portal. This portal lets you earn rewards that Acorns invests for you at over 300 stores. Most merchants award between 1% and 2% back, yet some stores offer a higher rate or a fixed dollar amount.
You can access Found Money from the Acorns website, mobile app or Google Chrome extension.
It can take between 90 and 120 days for your rewards to deposit into your account. This waiting period is similar to most shopping apps so that the merchant can verify the purchase.
It’s also possible to schedule recurring transfers from your bank account to Acorns. These transfers can be in addition to the purchase round-ups and Found Money shopping rewards.
However, if you’re not in a financial position to do routine transfers, you can schedule one-time transfers. So when there’s extra money in your bank account, for example, you could invest $100 at a time.
You might decide to start with an Acorns taxable account using the $1 monthly Acorns Lite plan. Here are some of the other platform features you may enjoy too.
Acorns Later are the traditional IRA and Roth IRA account types. You can open an IRA with the Personal or Family monthly plan.
You can only open one type of IRA with Acorns Later. Acorns will recommend which IRA type is best for your age and financial goals.
Acorns will also recommend a model portfolio by considering your current age and how many years until you reach the “retirement age” of 59 ½ years.
As you approach retirement age, Acorns can suggest a more conservative portfolio.
The minimum investment for either IRA is $5, like the other investment accounts. Your IRA investment portfolio can be different than what you pick for your taxable account.
You might choose one with more stocks as you pay fewer taxes on potential growth.
While you won’t retire on your Acorns Later savings, setting aside your cash for retirement can help you earn the most compound interest for your money.
Most micro-investing apps don’t offer a children’s investment account option, yet Acorns does. Parents or legal guardians can open a separate account for each child.
You can also open an account for children that you don’t take care of but want to help kids make money. You will need the child’s name, address and Social Security number to open a custodial account.
While minors cannot open an account, parents can open an Acorns Early investment account for their children. This custodial account is a Uniform Gift to Minors Act or Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UGMA/UTMA) account.
Parents or legal guardians can transfer the account to their child when they become an adult. In most states, that’s once they reach age 18 and 25. The funds do not need to be used for education expenses exclusively, like a 529 plan.
Under current tax rules, UGMA/UGTA withdrawals can be tax-free for the child beneficiary.
All Acorns Early accounts invest in the aggressive model portfolio that holds 100% stocks. This portfolio can have the most risk but also the most long-term growth potential.
As it can be decades before children access this cash, there can be plenty of time for the balance to recover from a short-term market correction.
Parents can transfer account ownership to their children when they reach adulthood.
Acorns also offer an online checking account known as Acorns Spend. This feature is optional but complimentary with the Personal and Family monthly plans.
There is no minimum initial deposit or balance requirement.
You can enjoy these account benefits:
- Over 55,000 fee-free ATMs
- Up to 10% bonus investments on select card purchases
- Can receive direct deposit
- FDIC-insured up to $250,000
- No overdraft fee
It’s possible to transfer funds to your PayPal wallet if you need to send money to friends. Acorns doesn’t support other money transfer apps, including Zelle, at this time.
There’s also a Smart Deposit tool that can automatically set aside cash into a savings fund. You may appreciate this tool as it can keep your savings separate from your spending money.
Acorns has an Android and Apple mobile app. You can access your investment and checking accounts using this app.
It’s possible to track your portfolio performance, project your future portfolio growth by adjusting your contribution amount and read learning resources.
The app has been in use since 2014, making Acorns one of the oldest micro-investing platforms.
New investors will find some learning resources to learn how to invest in the “Money Basics” section. There are many short articles about investing, retirement and taxes.
You may enjoy the digital magazine Grow as well. There are money-related articles that highlight everyday topics, including saving money, investing and earning money. Plus, you can read financial success stories from others.
The free magazine also syndicates financial and investing news from CNBC. Most articles are a quick read and can help you prepare your financial future.
Notably, Acorns has more educational material than most micro-investing apps.
Is Acorns Safe and Legit?
Yes, Acorns investment app is a legit investing app. Acorns invests in index ETFs that you can buy from most online brokerages.
Many robo-advisors hold the same funds in their portfolios. Any stock or bond index ETF is subject to normal market risk.
If Acorns goes out of business, your investment accounts are insured up to $500,000. Also, the Acorns Spend checking account has up to $250,000 in FDIC Insurance through Lincoln Savings Bank.
Acorns has a 4.4 out of 5 stars rating with Google Play and 4.7 out of 5 stars with the Apple App Store.
Who Should Use Acorns?
Acorns is a good option if you want to invest small amounts of money instead of spending it on unnecessary purchases. Also, make sure that you invest enough to offset the monthly fee.
As you can invest with each card purchase, you might be able to invest more than you imagine.
Acorns will rebalance your portfolio, which also makes investing effortless if you don’t have the time or desire or manage your portfolio.
If you want to avoid stock market risk, you might consider Digit. This micro-savings app is similar to Acorns but saves small amounts of cash into a savings account.
Positives and Negatives
- Can invest purchase round-ups
- Automatic rebalancing
- Invests in index ETFs
- Retirement and custodial accounts are available
- Online checking account
- Monthly fee
- Cannot buy individual stocks or ETFs
- No tax-loss harvesting
Acorns investment app allows you to easily invest with as little as $5 at a time. You won’t get rich, but you can save money in a taxable or retirement account.
However, you must decide if the monthly fee is worth it.