Stash Invest Review


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Are you looking for an easy way to invest a small amount of money?

Your only investing option isn’t using a broker that requires you to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars at a time.

Stash Invest helps new and experienced investors invest in stocks and ETFs with investing as little as $5 per trade. This Stash Invest review will help you decide if this is the best investing app for your money.

4
Overall Rating

Summary

Stash Invest makes it easy to start investing with only $5. You can invest in individual stocks, index ETFs and thematic ETFs. This isn’t a good option if you don’t want to pay a monthly account fee or need a “hands-off” managed account.

  • Low minimums

    4.5

  • Monthly fees

    3.5

  • Investment options

    4

Pros

  • Low start-up costs
  • Fractional shares option

Cons

  • Monthly fee
  • No robo-advisors

How Does Stash Invest Work?

Stash Invest is a micro-investing app offering taxable and retirement investment accounts. It’s possible to invest as little as $5 per trade and buy fractional shares of your favorite company stocks and ETFs.

For example, if you stock costs $100 but you only have $5 to invest, you can buy a partial share. Other brokers may require you to buy whole shares meaning you need $100 to invest in this instance.

Besides stocks and index ETFs, Stash offers thematic ETFs that focus on certain market sectors and social values like cybersecurity and clean energy.

However, Stash Invest costs $1, $3 or $9 per month. This is the only fee that Stash Invest charges.

There are no trade commissions to buy or sell investments. Nor is there a monthly fee if you choose to use the Stash Invest banking features.

Stash Invest also offers an online banking account with a rewards debit card. This checking account is available with all three monthly plan options.

How to Fund a Stash Invest Account

There are three different ways to fund your Stash investing account:

  • One-time or recurring contributions
  • Rounding up debit card purchases to the next dollar
  • Cash rewards from online purchases

No matter how you fund your account, Stash invests your cash balance when it reaches $5.

Investment Strategy

Unlike robo-advisors that automatically choose your investments, Stash requires you to pick which ETFs and stocks to invest in.

Stash offers a library of learning resources that help teach investors investing basics.

To be clear, you will need to invest more than your spare change to save for retirement. You will need to eventually invest hundreds of dollars each month into a 401k to achieve your long-term financial goals.

Micro-investing apps like Stash are a good way to either start investing as these small amounts help increase your net worth.

Trading Windows

Stash Invest doesn’t let you buy or sell on demand at the current market price.

There are four daily trading windows. Two are in the morning and two are in the afternoon.

When you’re ready to place a trade, Stash executes the order at the next window.

Fractional Investing

Possibly the most notable difference between micro-investing apps like Stash and traditional brokerages like Vanguard is fractional investing.

The number of investing apps that charge trade commissions to buy stocks is slim.

Most online brokerages require you to buy full shares of individual stocks and ETFs. If you can’t buy a full share, your money sits uninvested until you can.

Stash lets you buy a partial share when you can’t invest the full amount with a $5 minimum investment. This is one of the lowest minimum investments for investing apps.

Fractional investing makes it easier to maintain a diversified portfolio when you only invest a few dollars at a time.

Buying partial shares also means you can invest regularly to begin earning passive income that can exceed how much you earn by earning bank account interest until you can afford to invest.

For transparency, brokerages like Vanguard offer fractional investing with index mutual funds. But you may need to meet the relatively high investment minimums to buy shares.

For example: Vanguard may require a $3000 minimum initial investment. Recurring investments can then be made in $1 increments after you open a position.

Fidelity offers fractional share investing when buying stock with using its mobile app. But investors must purchase whole shares when using the Fidelity web platform.

Account Types

Stash offers these investment accounts:

Each Stash plan comes with an online banking account. Using this account is optional but it’s possible to earn investing rewards.

The custodial investing accounts are only available with the premium Stash+ monthly plan.

Smart Portfolio

Recently, Stash added a new featured called Smart Portfolio. It allows users to build long-term, diversified portfolios which Stash fully manages. With Smart Portfolio, you do not have to worry about which stocks to invest in.

Those using Smart Portfolio will receive a “smart mix” based on trusted financial research, ultimately crafting a diversified personalized portfolio.

This portfolio will be based on the your financial risk level you provide during onboarding. As you add or remove cash, Stash automatically moves you closer to your idea “smart mix”.

Stash will automatically rebalance your portfolio if it drifts too far out of the balance (greater than 5%).

The Smart Portfolio is available for those that use the Stash Growth and Plus subscription plan which starts at $3/month or $9/month.

How Much Does Stash Cost?

You pay a flat monthly account fee:

  • Beginner: $1 per month
  • Growth: $3 per month
  • Stash+: $9 per month

Stash offers unlimited monthly trades with each plan. What’s different between each plan is the type of investment account access.

ETF fund fees apply. However, you pay this expense ratio no matter which stock brokerage you invest with.

While these fees are reasonable, they can be expensive if you don’t invest a lot of cash each month.

Choosing the right plan can include your investing needs and how much you plan on investing each month.

Below is a brief overview of each plan and its unique features.

Stash Beginner

The entry-level Stash Beginner plan costs $1 per month.

This plan includes these benefits:

  • Taxable brokerage account
  • Banking account
  • Stock-Back Card (debit card)
  • Saving tools

As the cheapest plan, Stash Beginner is the cheapest way to start investing using Stash. However, you cannot invest in a tax-advantaged retirement account with this plan.

If you make purchases with the Stock-Back Card, Stash can provide partial stock shares for the merchants that you shop at.

Another unique benefit is $1,000 of group term life insurance offered by Avibra.

Stash Growth

The mid-level Stash Growth plan costs $3 per month and includes access to retirement accounts.

It’s possible to invest using a taxable and retirement account at the same time.

This plan is better if you want to save for retirement. Stash also provides basic personalized retirement advice similar to a retirement calculator.

Speaking with a financial planner can be a better option if you want hands-on retirement planning advice or want to retire early.

Stash+

The highest-level Stash+ plan costs $9 per month.

This plan includes these deluxe features:

  • Custodial investing accounts
  • Exclusive Stock-Back Card offers for bonus cash back
  • 2x stock back on card purchases
  • Monthly stock market insights report (i.e., premium research)

Parents can open two taxable custodial accounts for each child under age 18. Each extra account is $1 per month.

The child takes possession of the account at either age 18 or 21 years, depending on the state.

Investment Options

The Stash investment options may be the deciding factor for most people. The investment options are similar to most microinvesting apps.

Stash is a self-directed investing app where you choose what to invest in.

If you want a fully automated investing app that picks your investments for you, Stash isn’t a good option.

You have three different investment options:

  • Individual stocks: Directly invest in specific companies like Amazon or Nike
  • Index ETF: Holds multiple companies in an index like the S&P 500
  • Thematic ETFs: Invests in a specific market sector like healthcare or banking

You may like Stash because you also have the option to invest in stocks and ETFs.

At first, you may start with index ETFs to build a diversified portfolio. In the future, you can buy stocks and thematic ETFs to get more exposure to certain industry sectors.

Having all your investments in one place makes it easier to maintain a diversified portfolio. As you invest, remember to keep your risk tolerance and investing goals in mind.

One downside to investing in individual stocks and thematic ETFs is these two products are more volatile than index ETFs.

Regardless of which ETFs or stocks you invest in, Stash fills all buy and sell orders in their morning and afternoon trading windows.

Index ETFs

Stash offers several stock and bond index ETFs from iShares and Vanguard that track the broad market like the S&P 500, emerging markets and developed global markets.

You may choose to invest in index ETFs first to instantly attain a diversified portfolio.

Individual Stocks

It’s possible to invest in approximately 3,400 widely-known companies like Amazon, Walmart and ExxonMobil.

You can also invest in newer companies including Spotify and Pinterest.

Thematic ETFs

The third investment option is thematic ETFs. These ETFs either focus on a certain market sector or companies that might certain environment, social and governance (ESG) standards.

All of these ETFs are available on other brokerages although they may require you to buy full shares.

A few quick examples of thematic ETFs Stash offers include:

  • Do The Right Thing (ETF Symbol: SUSA) Invests in 250 companies with high environmental, social and governance scores
  • Gamers FTW (ETF Symbol: GAMR) Holds stocks of companies that create or use video games from around the world
  • Women Who Lead (ETF Symbol: SHE) Invests in companies with women in high-level leadership roles
  • Young Money (ETF Symbol: MILN) Focuses on companies that Millennials use

Of the approximate 110 ETFs that Stash offers, most of them are thematic ETFs.

It’s important to understand the investment strategy and risks as these portfolios are not guaranteed to earn passive income each year.

Research Tools

Stash has minimal research tools beyond a basic stock price chart and company profile. Investors will need to use a stock screener to perform in-depth research to buy stocks.

If you only plan on buying index funds, the lack of research tools is not a big drawback.

Banking

Stash also offers a free FDIC-insured online checking account and debit card with any investment account. Green Dot powers the Stash Investing banking account.

This can be a good option if you want to keep your cash and investments at one place.

There are no overdraft fees or a required minimum balance.

Here are some of the reasons why you might use the Stash Invest checking account.

Fee-Free ATM Access

You also have access to 19,000 fee-free ATMs in the Allpoint network.

Some of the national stores with in-network ATMs include:

  • Costco
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Kroger
  • Walgreens
  • Walmart

Non-network ATMs have a $2.50 withdrawal fee. Balance inquiries cost $0.50 each.

Stock-Back Spending Roundups

One way Stash makes investing easy is with their “Stock-Back” spending roundups. You will need a Stash Stock Back debit card if you want to invest using spending roundups.

For instance, Stash deducts $5 from your account when you make a $4.60 purchase and invests the extra 40 cents in the company stock you made the purchase at.

Amazon purchases mean you get Amazon stock, Apple purchases yield Apple stock.

But a purchase at a local restaurant will invest your roundup into an index ETF.

That index ETF is the Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (ETF Symbol: VT). This ETF is an index fund that invests in the U.S. and global companies with a low 0.08% annual expense ratio.

At this time, Stash only rounds up purchases from the Stash-issued debit card.

These shopping rewards can offset the monthly fee if you make regular card purchases.

You will need to use Acorns if you want to invest spending roundups from your current credit or debit card.

Another reason to consider the Acorns spending roundups is that the entire amount invests in index ETFs and not individual stocks that may not match your investing goals.   

Education

Stash mentions that 85% of their members are beginner investors. Their “Stash Learn” resources include these tools:

  • Articles
  • Guides
  • Podcasts

These learning tools can help inexperienced investors learn how to invest.

Learning investing basics is a good idea before starting to invest but not necessary.

The interactive “Stash Coach” tool that helps walk you through the account setup process to help you make your first investment. Stash can recommend some investment ideas.

Stash doesn’t provide any hands-on human advisor access.

Here is a closer look at the Stash Invest educational tools which are better than most free investing apps.

Stash Learn

Most articles take five minutes or less to read and cover basic investing and money management topics.

All of the educational content focuses on these three investing principles:

  • Invest for the long-term
  • Invest regularly
  • Diversify

During the onboarding process, Stash will ask you a variety of questions to help determine your investing goals.

Stash then provides curated articles and investment suggestions that can help you become a better investor.

Stash Coach

Most online brokerages offer basic educational content similar to the Stash Learn platform. What makes Stash different than other investing apps is their interactive Stash Coach tool.

Stash Coach uses goals and weekly challenges to help you learn about investing and develop investing habits. DIY investing can feel intimidating because new investors may not know what to do after opening an account.

Although Stash doesn’t tell you what to invest in, Stash Coach can help you explore potential investing themes that help you gain exposure to the various market sectors.

Is Stash Invest Worth It?

Stash can be a good investing app for new investors that only want to invest small amounts of money at a time. The $5 investment minimum is better than many investing apps.

Being able to have an investing and banking account at the same place is nice. The Stock Back rewards debit card can be a fun incentive to invest more cash each month.

However, the monthly fee can still be expensive if you only invest a few dollars each month. It’s more difficult for your investment gains to be higher than your account fees.

If you can meet the investment minimums for commission-free ETFs and mutual funds, it’s possible to invest in the same funds at another broker and avoid the monthly account fee.

The educational tools that Stash offers are good too for learning investing basics. But the research tools are insufficient for experienced investors wanting to buy company stocks.

You may avoid Stash if you want to avoid the monthly fee or want an automated robo-advisor to mange your account.

Pros and Cons of Stash

Pros

  • Can buy fractional shares of stocks and ETFs
  • Unlimited monthly trades for one flat fee
  • $5 to investment minimum
  • Taxable, retirement and custodian accounts available
  • Spending roundups and banking accounts

Stash Invest can be a good option when you are comfortable picking your own investments.

The fractional investing makes investing affordable when you might only be able to invest $100 or less at a time.  

Cons

  • Monthly fee
  • Can only trade stocks during trading windows
  • No managed “robo-advisor” accounts
  • Only Stash debit card earns Stock Back rewards   

Most people will avoid Stash because of its monthly fee. Having to pick your own investments is another notable downside.

Stash Invest Reviews from Actual Customers

Are you still wanting to know more about Stash Invest?

Two actual Stash users share their investing experiences below:

Andrew Herrig states, “Stash is a good option for someone just getting started with investing and needs guidance on how to allocate their portfolio and help in determining their risk tolerance.”

He now uses his investing knowledge to invest in index funds at a traditional brokerage that doesn’t charge a monthly fee.

Kristin Stones has been using Stash for two years and appreciates the simplicity of being able to invest small dollar amounts at a time. Investing her small change prevents Kristin from making frivolous purchases.

She invests in both ETFs and individual stocks with Stash. Because she only needs to invest $5 at a time, she is able to gain investing experience without risking large amounts of money.

In both cases, Andrew and Kristin both acknowledge can be a good way to start investing when you have minimal knowledge and money.

As your portfolio grows in value, switching to a regular brokerage can be cheaper because you don’t pay monthly account fees or index funds with lower management fees.

You may also consider using Stash as a secondary investing account. Your employer-sponsored 401k or a similar retirement plan might be your primary investment account.

Stash can be an affordable way to use your spare change to earn passive income. Perhaps you may use this cash to invest in riskier stocks and thematic ETFs that you don’t want to hold large positions in.  

Alternatives to Stash Invest

Stash Invest is a legit investing app but it’s not the best option for every investor. You might prefer these options instead.

Acorns

Acorns is the most identical alternative. You can make investments in $5 increments.

They offer taxable and retirement accounts, fee-free checking and spending roundups with a flat $1, $3 or $5 monthly fee.

The two main differences are Acorns only offers index ETFs and they automatically manage your portfolio.     

Betterment

Investors wanting a fully-automated investing experience may like Betterment. You only need $1 to start investing in a basket of stock and bond index ETFs.

Betterment handles the entire investing process and automatically rebalances your portfolio. The entry-level Digital plan costs 0.25% annually.

You can customize your investment portfolio allocation to a small degree. Also, Betterment offers add-on financial planning sessions at an extra costs.

Plus, Betterment offers some banking options including a spending account and a high-yield cash account. Both accounts are free.

M1 Finance

Are you ready for a 100% free investing app? M1 Finance doesn’t charge trade fees or account management fees. You only pay fund fees for any ETFs you invest in.

It’s possible to invest in almost every individual stock and ETF that trades on the U.S. stock exchanges.

M1 also offers premade portfolios that copy robo-advisor strategies and other investing themes.

Like Stash Invest, M1 Finance lets you trade fractional shares.

One downside compared to Stash Invest is that you need at least $100 to open a taxable account and a $500 initial deposit for retirement accounts.

Subsequent investments only require a $25 balance.

Summary

One of the best investing habits you can practice is investing small amounts of money on a routine basis.

Both beginner and experienced investors can appreciate Stash Invest’s low monthly fees and only needing $5 to invest.

Investors who prefer having a managed account or who can afford to buy whole shares of stocks and ETFs may prefer to use another broker that provides more flexibility.