Acorns review

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This financial app rounds up your purchases and turns the extra change into investments.

Acorns rounds up purchases made with a linked debit card and moves the spare change into investments it hand-picks on your behalf. Better yet: Acorns watches over your investments to make sure they stay balanced and in line with your unique financial goals.

  • 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.

What we think of Acorns

Let’s say you’re new to investing and you don’t know where to start. And let’s say you want an investment portfolio but aren’t totally sure what a portfolio is — or how to go about building one. Enter Acorns: a straightforward investment app that offers simple, automated investments. And while it may not be for everyone — namely: active traders — it’s a practical fit for anyone breaking into the investments game and looking for some beginner-friendly guardrails.

Acorns asks you about your financial goals when you sign up and uses your answers to put together investments on your behalf. Plus, its flat-rate pricing is predictable and easy to understand — just a straight-up monthly fee of $1 to $5 depending on your service tier. You can also get started with as little as $5.

Its Round-Up feature is the epitome of set-it-and-forget-it investing. If you link your debit card to your Acorns account, it rounds up purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the difference.

But while Acorns has a solid resume, it isn’t for everyone. It’s a practical service for newbies who want their investments managed for them, but traders looking to build a portfolio from scratch or take charge of the buying and selling process will want to look elsewhere.

What investments does Acorns offer?

Acorns is best known for its Invest account, which invests spare change collected from your purchases. And while it also offers checking accounts, its other investment products include retirement accounts and custodial accounts for kids.

Invest

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.

Later

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.

Early

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.

Who is Acorns best for?

Acorns is best for new investors or those who prefer a hands-off approach to their portfolio. The Acorns app will handle your investments and create a diversified portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) — collections of stocks — on your behalf. The ETFs it recommends are unique to your financial circumstances and investment goals.

While most robo-advisors charge a percentage of assets under management, Acorns charges a flat monthly fee, which can quickly cut into your profits if you’re only investing spare change. Investors with a higher account balance of at least $5,000 would pay an advisory fee closer to the industry average.

Fees and costs

For a monthly fee, investors can sign up for the Acorns app through one of three subscription tiers based on their account needs and investment preferences. Each tier builds on the offerings of the tier below it.

Monthly feeAccountsFeatures
Lite$1
  • Investment account
  • Round-Ups automated investing
  • Bonus investments from Acorns’ Found Money partners
  • Access to the Acorns personal finance blog
Personal$3
  • Investment account
  • Retirement account
  • Checking account
Everything from the Lite subscription tier, plus:
  • Tax-advantaged investing
  • Automatic portfolio rebalancing
  • Metal Visa debit card
  • 10% bonus Found Money investments on eligible debit purchases
Family$5
  • Investment account
  • Retirement account
  • Checking account
  • Custodial account
Everything from the Personal subscription tier, plus:
  • Automated recurring investments
  • Exclusive bonus investment opportunities
  • Family financial advice

How do I sign up?

No matter which subscription tier you’re interested in, the signup process starts on the Acorns homepage:

  1. Go to Acorns’ website and select Get Started.
  2. Select the subscription tier you’d like to apply for and select Sign Up Today.
  3. Enter your email, create a password, review the terms and conditions and select Create Account.
  4. Link your debit or credit card for the Round-Ups feature.
  5. Connect or create a funding account that will invest your allocated money.
  6. Add more about yourself and adjust your investment preferences for a better user experience.

Eligibility

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
  • State-issued ID

Required information

When you sign up for an account, you’ll be asked for the following information:

  • Email address
  • First and last name
  • Online banking information
  • Address
  • Social Security number or Tax ID number
  • Financial goals
  • Occupation and earnings

What portfolios are available?

When you sign up for Acorns, you select from one of five portfolios. The options are based on your risk tolerance: essentially, how conservative or aggressive you’d like your investments to be.

Investors who prefer less risk are going to be more comfortable with conservative to moderate portfolios. These portfolios tend to be safer — meaning, your investments are less likely to lose money — but the gains typically are lower.

Alternatively, investors prepared to take chances on their investments may select a more aggressive portfolio. These portfolios invest in riskier stocks that can quickly shoot up, but may lose money just as quick.

Here’s a rundown of the five choices avaulable to you:

  • Conservative. This type of portfolio invests in a mix of assets balanced between short-term government and corporate bonds. Bonds are steady, fixed-income investments similar to loans: investors pay into the bond and receive their investment back with interest once the bond term is up.
  • Moderately Conservative. This portfolio contains government bonds, corporate bonds and large corporate stocks: stocks from major companies with a solid track record that have grown at a steady pace for years.
  • Moderate. This portfolio holds a mix of large corporate stocks, government bonds, corporate bonds, international stocks and small company stocks.
  • Moderately Aggressive. This portfolio buys into the same assets as the Moderate portfolio with a heavier weight of large corporate stocks and small company stocks.
  • Aggressive. This portfolio heavily invests in large corporate stocks, small company stocks and international stocks.

Acorns Sustainable Portfolios

In addition to its portfolios arranged by risk tolerance, Acorns also offers ESG-oriented portfolios, which are portfolios with a special focus on environmental, social and governance issues. These portfolios are made up of ETFs that follow companies committed to managing social, environmental and governance risks.

Acorns Sustainable Portfolios are equipped to handle a spectrum of risk tolerances and allow you to select from moderately conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive and aggressive portfolio options. Unfortunately, no conservative option exists for these sustainable portfolios.

How does Acorns choose which ETFs to include in its sustainable portfolios? Good question. It bases its picks on the Morgan Stanley Corporate International (MSCI) ESG ratings, which are ratings from CCC to AAA assigned to companies based on their exposure to ESG risks.

While Acorns doesn’t explicitly state the rating criteria required for an ETF to be included, it takes these MSCI ratings into account when crafting its sustainable portfolio options.

Pros and cons

Acorns offers bank-level security and beginner-friendly investing but isn’t for everyone. Carefully consider its strengths and drawbacks before you open an account.

  • 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 the website or app.
  • 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.
  • Minimum investment amount. You’ll need at least $5 in your account to start investing.
  • 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.
  • No tax-loss harvesting. Acorns doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting: a feature that strategically sells down investments at a loss to help investors save on capital gains taxes. This feature tends to be more impactful the larger your portfolio, so it may not be a major drawback for new investors.
  • 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.

Is Acorns legit?

Yes. Acorns Advisers is a registered investment advisor with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Acorns Securities, an SEC-registered broker-dealer, offers its brokerage services and is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). And as members of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), the securities in your account are insured up to $500,000.

Acorns reviews and complaints

Acorns reviews are mixed. As of May 2021, it lacks Better Business Bureau (BBB) accreditation and receives an F rating for failing to respond to 25 complaints. It receives 1.14 out of 5 stars based on the feedback of seven customers and has 23 BBB complaints to its name. Things on Trustpilot aren’t much better: Acorns receives a TrustScore of 2.6 out of 5 based on 15 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.

The good news? The Acorns app receives high marks from both Android and Apple users. The app scores 4.4 out of 5 after 146,602 reviews on Google Play and even better in the Apple App Store: 4.8 out of 5 after 729,900 reviews. Feedback indicates the app is simple and intuitive — a solid place for new investors to get their feet wet. But some complaints have surfaced citing verification errors during the signup process.

How do I contact Acorns support?

The financial service offers dedicated support by:

  • Email. Send an email through its Contact us form.
  • Phone. Call 855-739-2859 weekdays between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT.
  • Social media. Reach out on Twitter using its handle @Acorns.

Alternatives to Acorns

Not sure Acorns is the right fit? It’s certainly not for everyone, and there are numerous Acorns alternatives to consider.

If you’re not into Acorns’ flat-rate subscription tiers, consider a platform that charges a percentage-based fee, like Betterment. Or opt for a platform that doesn’t have any management fees at all, like SoFi.

Maybe you’ve got a sizable enough portfolio that tax-loss harvesting is an important factor in your investment strategy — and the fact that Acorns doesn’t offer it is a dealbreaker. If that’s the case, opt for a platform that offers tax-loss harvesting, like Wealthfront.

Or maybe you’re interested in learning more about self-directed trades. A platform like M1 Finance gives you more control over your investments by letting you select your portfolio holdings. And if one day you see yourself executing self-directed trades, platforms like Fidelity offer both automated and self-directed accounts that can be managed from a single platform.

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Disclaimer: The value of any investment can go up or down depending on news, trends and market conditions. We are not investment advisers, so do your own due diligence to understand the risks before you invest.

Bottom line

If you’re interested in investing but don’t know where to start, the Acorns app 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.

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