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A financial service that rounds up your purchases and turns the extra change into investments.
Investments are an essential part of a sound financial plan, but it can be hard to figure out where and when to begin. Acorns is a micro-investing tool that offers a unique way to grow your wealth by allocating your virtual spare change to stocks and fixed income securities in a personalized investment portfolio.
Consider Acorns if you’re new to investing and want your investments managed for you.
Look elsewhere if you’re an experienced trader seeking a brokerage account.
Peter Carleton is a writer that covers banking and investing, breaking down what you need to know about where you put your money. When Peter's not thinking about cutting-edge banking apps and robo-advisors, he runs a creative agency and spends his spare time cooking or reading.
Beyond its core robo-advisor service available through the Invest account, Acorns also offers retirement accounts, checking accounts and custodial accounts for kids.
Acorns Invest is an investment account equipped with a robo-advisor. Its Round-Up feature rounds transactions up to the nearest dollar and invests the difference. Acorn selects the appropriate investment portfolio for you based on your answers to questions about your risk tolerance and investment goals.
Acorns Later is a tax-advantaged retirement account. Just like the Invest account, contributions are allocated based on long-term investment goals and risk tolerance. When you sign up, Acorns recommends the IRA and portfolio it believes best suits your investment needs. Traditional, Roth and SEP IRAs are available.
Acorns Spend is an FDIC-insured checking account equipped with a Visa debit card. It offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, digital direct deposit and free bank-to-bank transfers. It has no minimum balance requirement and rounds up your purchases to help you invest extra cash on everyday spending.
Acorns Early is a UTMA/UGMA custodial account for kids. Invested funds can be used for anything that benefits your child, and they gain access to the account when they reach adulthood. Recurring investments start at $5 daily, weekly or monthly and there are no contribution limits.
How does the Invest account work?
At the core of the Acorns investment platform is a micro-investing tool that rounds your purchases up to the nearest dollar and invests the difference. When you open an individual investment or retirement account, select from one of five portfolio options based on your risk tolerance and investment goals. The platform utilizes a “set it and forget it” approach that helps passive investors to build a portfolio without the pressure or complexity of stock trading through a brokerage account.
Here’s how the Acorn Invest account works:
Choose an investment option. Select from one of five investment portfolios, each consisting of a mix of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) quoted on the S&P 500 or Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Make purchases. Take advantage of its Round-Ups feature: anytime you make a purchase, your transaction is rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference is added to your Acorn account to be invested.
Withdraw or deposit at will. Help your account grow by setting up recurring deposits.
Monitor your account. Watch as your spare change rolls into your investments and Acorns rebalances your ETFs according to market fluctuations.
Crunching the numbers: How much can you save using Acorns Round-Ups feature?
How exactly does Acorns help you save? Let’s break down the numbers for a week’s worth of transactions.
Let’s say you routinely make three transactions during the workday — your morning coffee costs $2.25, your transit fare is $3.75 and your lunch typically costs $12.50. Round up these three transactions and you’ve got an extra $1.50 per day. Multiply that by five workdays a week and you’ve got $7.50 to spare.
Acorns takes this $7.50 and invests it. And while $7.50 a week might not seem like much, it adds up to $390 a year — before factoring in any capital gains from your investments. The more purchases you make throughout the week, the more you’ll invest.
How much does Acorns cost?
For a monthly fee, Acorns investors can sign up for one of three subscription tiers based on their account needs and investment preferences. Each tier builds on the offerings of the tier below it.
Round-Ups automated investing
Bonus investments from Acorns’ Found Money partners
Access to the Acorns personal finance blog
Everything from the Lite subscription tier, plus:
Automatic portfolio rebalancing
Metal Visa debit card
10% bonus Found Money investments on eligible debit purchases
Everything from the Personal subscription tier, plus:
Automated recurring investments
Exclusive bonus investment opportunities
Family financial advice
What portfolios are available?
Acorn offers five portfolio options, ranging from conservative to aggressive:
Conservative. A mix of assets balanced between short-term government and corporate bonds.
Moderately Conservative. A portfolio that balances a majority of its assets between government bonds, corporate bonds and large corporate stocks.
Moderate. A mix of large corporate stocks, government bonds, corporate bonds, international stocks and small company stocks.
Moderately Aggressive. A portfolio that buys into the same assets as the Moderate portfolio with a heavier weight of large corporate stocks and small company stocks.
Aggressive. A portfolio that heavily invests in large corporate stocks, small company stocks and international stocks.
What are the benefits of Acorns?
While there are a handful of micro-investing tools out there, Acorns is one of the more popular ones for a number of reasons in addition to its bank-level security and general ease of investing:
Portfolio options. Choose from five diversified portfolios constructed by industry experts under the guidance of Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. Harry Markowitz.
Flexibility. You can withdraw and deposit money whenever you wish, and there are no limits to the number of withdrawals and deposits you can make.
Fractional investing. One of the most powerful benefits of Acorns is that you can allocate your money to fractional interests in ETF units.
Convenience. Get started with Acorns in minutes and manage your account from your computer or mobile phone.
Low fees. Compared to many of its competitors, Acorns charges low fees. Plus, it’s free for four years if you’re a college student.
Free debit card. An Acorns Spend account comes with a free metal debit card and unlimited ATM fee reimbursements.
Compare with other robo-advisors
What should I watch out for?
Acorns’ hands-off approach to investing makes it a strong choice for young people and beginner investors, but there are a few potential drawbacks to watch out for:
Lack of asset options. Your money is invested in pre-selected ETFs, meaning you won’t get to choose the stocks, bonds and other assets you invest in.
Market volatility. While some round-up services keep your money safe in a savings account, your investment portfolio with Acorns could be subject to fluctuations in value.
Customer reviews and complaints
Customer reviews of Acorns are generally negative. As of October 2020, it lacks Better Business Bureau accreditation and receives an F rating for failing to respond to its complaints. It receives 1.2 out of 5 stars based on the feedback of five customers and has 11 BBB complaints to its name. Things on Trustpilot aren’t much better: Acorns receives a TrustScore of 2.7 out of 5 based on seven customer reviews. Customers largely complain of withdrawal delays and difficulty reaching Acorns’ support by phone.
Redditors have mixed opinions of the platform. Some say they enjoy Acorns’ hands-off service for investments they don’t need to actively manage. Others criticize Acorns’ high fees and suggest the platform is only beneficial for investors with portfolios over $1,000 to offset the ongoing cost of the service.
How do I get started with Acorns?
No matter which subscription tier you’re interested in, the signup process starts on the Acorns homepage:
Go to Acorns’ website and click Get Started.
Select the subscription tier you’d like to apply for and click Sign Up Today.
Enter your email, create a password, review the terms and conditions and click Create Account.
Link your debit or credit card for the Round-Ups feature.
Connect or create a funding account that will invest your allocated money.
Add more about yourself and adjust your investment preferences for a better user experience.
In order to sign up for an Acorns account, you’ll need to meet a few eligibility requirements:
US citizen and resident
Valid Social Security number or Tax ID number
Valid bank account or credit card
Over the age of 18
When you sign up for an account, you’ll be asked for the following information:
First and last name
Online banking information
Social Security number or Tax ID number
Occupation and earnings
How do I contact Acorns?
The financial service offers dedicated support through email and phone at 855-739-2859 weekdays between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST. You can also contact the team through their Twitter, @Acorns.
I’ve signed up, now what?
Now that your account is set up, you’re ready to start investing. Here’s how to get the most out of your Acorns account:
Adjust your investment preferences. Make sure your money is being invested according to your risk tolerance, financial goals and other preferences.
Monitor your progress. Log in to your account or open the mobile app to manage your account and monitor progress as your investment grows.
Set up recurring deposits. Set up recurring deposits on the mobile app or website to help your account grow faster.
Make purchases. Making purchases from your Spend account will contribute more money to your portfolio, helping you reach your financial goals sooner.
Speak with your accountant or financial advisor. If you need investment or tax advice, consider speaking with your accountant or financial advisor.
If you’re interested in investing but don’t know where to start, Acorns might be right for you. This low-cost micro-investment service rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the spare change in a personalized portfolio. It might not be the right service if you’re looking for a more hands-on approach to investing, so compare your options before moving forward to find a product that suits your needs.
Frequently asked questions
Acorns operates in the cloud and your account and investments are safe even if you delete the app or get a new phone or device. Automatic Round-Ups and recurring deposits will still be processed even if the Acorns app is not currently installed.
Acorns automatically rebalances your portfolio as you invest. Every time you deposit or withdraw funds, it adjusts the proportions of ETFs purchased to move your account toward its target portfolio allocation.
It also does periodic reviews and rebalances your portfolio whenever the percentage holding of one or more ETFs fluctuates 5% above or below its target allocation. Acorns sells overrepresented ETFs and uses the proceeds to buy underrepresented ETFs to bring your portfolio toward its target allocation.
Rebalancing also occurs whenever you request to change your portfolio. It adjusts the allocation of each fund to match the new risk profile. This rebalancing occurs within a few business days of a portfolio change request.
The five, six or seven ETFs that make up your portfolio pay dividends and distributions on varying schedules – for more detailed information on the ETFs and their dividend schedules, please refer to the prospectus of each individual ETF, which will be found on their websites.
You can monitor your spending through the app, allowing you to spot investment opportunities. To access this, you’ll need to provide your online banking login information. However, this information is not stored and is not viewable by Acorns — it’s only used to import your spending activity. This will not enable money to be transferred from your bank account.
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