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- Micro-investing app Stash is best for beginners who want automatic investing options with freedom to choose their investments.
- With fractional share investing, Stash subscribers can invest in thousands of stocks and funds at any dollar amount.
- Stash’s monthly fees start at $1, which may be higher than fees charged by other apps and robo-advisors for small balances.
- Click here to open an account with Stash Invest »
Is Stash right for you?
Stash is best for beginner investors who want help investing more each month.
Investment options don’t do you any good if you aren’t able to find money in your budget each month to invest. Stash offers tools like Set Schedule, Round Ups, and Smart-Stash to help find extra cash and invest it. Stash also offers a suite of tools to help you determine your risk tolerance, open a retirement savings or custodial account, and invest in fractional shares or ETFs (more on these features below).
Stash offers guidance for beginning investors, but doesn’t manage investments for them.
Some people may have the discipline to put aside money each month for investing, but would like help with deciding how to invest those funds. If this is you, you may benefit more from an automated advisor like Betterment or Wealthfront. While they can’t match Stash’s automatic savings tools, they offer wealth management services, including features like automatic rebalancing and tax-loss harvesting.
Finally, if fractional share investing is your main goal, it’s important to point out that you can do that for free with several online brokerages, including Robinhood, Charles Schwab, and TD Ameritrade. And each of these brokers offer robust trading platforms that are more conducive for active traders.
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Stash pros and cons
How does Stash compare to other investment platforms?
Stash vs Acorns
Stash’s main competitor is Acorns, which also offers round-ups, recurring investments, and fractional share investing.
If you’re looking to do your banking and investing with the same company, Stash may not the cheapest investment app on the market, but is the cheaper of the two. It includes banking in its $1-per-month plan, while you must be an Acorns Personal customer ($3 per month) to open an Acorns Spend checking account.
If you’re only looking to invest (and do your banking elsewhere), Stash has the slight edge because it offers more flexibility. Stash account holders can invest in hundreds of individual stocks and ETFs. With Acorns, your investment choices are limited to five ETF portfolios.
If you’re looking to open a custodial account for your kids, Acorns will be the more affordable choice. Custodial accounts are included in the Acorns Family plan, which costs $5 per month. Stash, meanwhile, restricts custodial account access to subscribers on its $9-per-month month Stash+ plan.
Ways to invest with Stash
Stash is a micro-investing platform that offers a wide variety of individual stock and ETF investment choices. Fractional share investing, starting at 1 cent, is available for each of the investments on Stash’s platform.
Stash offers “themed” ETFs, with names like “Blue Chips” and “Delicious Dividends,” that make it easy to understand what types of securities are bundled in the fund. Finally, Stash offers “Portfolio Builder” ETF portfolios, which are built to match each investor’s specific risk level.
The platform also allows you to automatically reinvest any dividends you earn. You can use this feature for any of your Stash investing, retirement, or custodial accounts.
Individual share prices of some stocks can be very expensive. For example, at the time of this writing, one share of Apple stock would cost you over $100. And you’d need over $3,200 to buy one share of Amazon.
But with Stash, you can buy little pieces of these companies, called fractional shares, at any dollar amount. Fractional share investing is a great option for investors who don’t have loads of money to invest but still want to own top stocks and ETFs.
While $1 is the minimum fee required to open an account with Stash, you can invest in even smaller increments once your account is up and running. For investments that cost less than $1,000 per share you can invest as little as 1 cent, while 5 cents is the minimum for investments trading above $1,000.
Automatic investing tools
Being able to start investing with as little as $1 is great. But you still need to find a way to carve out space in your budget to save that $1, $50, or however much you hope to invest per month. Thankfully, Stash can help with that too.
All Stash subscribers are given access to a suite of automatic saving and investing tools called Auto-Stash. Here’s what Auto-Stash includes:
- Set Schedule: Save and invest automatically according to a recurring schedule
- Round-Ups: Link a debit card to save and invest your spare change from each transaction
- Smart-Stash: Let Stash analyze your spending habits and transfer “extra” money automatically
Each of these tools is designed to help you save more each day and month. You can choose to move these funds to your cash balance until you’re ready to invest them. Or you can choose to immediately invest your savings in an investment you already own in your portfolio.
Stash’s Portfolio Builder is similar to a robo-advisor, offering investors a predetermined diversified portfolio that matches your risk profile, but it does not actively manage these portfolios as a robo-advisor would.
To start with Portfolio Builder, Stash will ask you to identify your risk tolerance. You’ll be given three options: Conservative, Moderate, or Aggressive. Regardless of your risk level, your money will be invested in the following six ETFs:
- Match the Market (IVV)
- Happy Medium (IJH)
- Up and Coming (VWO)
- Small but Mighty (VB)
- Foreign Heavyweights (IEFA)
- Broad USD Bonds (IUSB)
Your risk level will determine how your money is allocated to these funds. If you’re an aggressive investor, you may have greater exposure to the Up and Coming ETF and limited exposure to the Broad USD Bonds ETF. And the opposite may be true for those with a conservative investment profile.
Using Portfolio Builder is also a great way to limit your investment expenses. The average expense ratio on the six funds listed above is 0.06%.
Retirement and custodial accounts
Stash offers both Traditional and Roth IRA accounts, and you can use Stash to open custodial investment accounts for kids.
Unlike 529 plans, custodial accounts don’t have to be used towards education expenses. And you can contribute up to $15,000 per year ($30,000 per year for a married couple) to your child’s account without having to pay any gift tax. Note that custodial accounts can affect a student’s financial-aid eligibility.
You’ll need to be at least a Stash Growth subscriber to open a retirement account, while custodial accounts are only available to Stash+ subscribers.
How much does it cost to invest with Stash?
Stash offers three plans (Beginner, Growth, and Stash+), which each charge a flat monthly rate. Beginner subscribers pay $1 per month. The Growth plan is three times more expensive at $3 per month. And the cost triples again with Stash+ to $9 per month.
The only major difference between these plans is that you need to be at least a Growth subscriber to open a retirement account. And only Stash+ subscribers can access custodial accounts. Stash+ subscribers also get a metal debit card with 2x Stock-Back rewards, but this would only benefit those who also bank with Stash.
Stash’s flat-fee pricing model means that investors with smaller accounts will pay more as a percentage of total invested assets. For example, at $1 per month, Beginner subscribers pay $12 per year. On a $500 account, that would represent a whopping 2.4% advisory fee.
By comparison, many robo-advisors start their annual advisory fees at around 0.25%. And, of course, you could avoid advisory fees altogether by opening an account with a discount broker and buying your stocks, ETFs, or mutual funds on your own.
However, Stash’s flat pricing model becomes more attractive as account size grows. With $10,000 invested, for example, the advisory fee for Beginner subscribers drops to 0.12%.
How to open an investing account with Stash
For starters, Stash will ask you to provide an email address and password.
Later, it will ask for your mobile number so that it can send a code to your phone to verify your identity. You’ll also need to provide your mailing address and Social Security number.
During the application process, Stash will also ask you a few questions about your current investing goals and risk tolerance.
You’ll also need to tell Stash how soon you plan to use your invested funds. You’ll have three choices:
- Very soon (within one year)
- In a few years (two to five years)
- Not for awhile (five-plus years)
Your answers to these types of questions will help Stash decide which types of investments to recommend. You’ll also need to select a subscription plan and payment type. You can pay for your subscription with a card, but you’ll need to link a bank account to make transfers for investing.
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