EarlyBird is a gifting app that lets you and other contributors invest in your child’s future, but there are taxes and fees to consider.
If you’re looking for ways to save for a child’s education, EarlyBird is a brand-new investing option. This gifting app lets you create an investing account for a child. You, family and friends can contribute to the account, and contributors are encouraged to record short videos to complement their gifts. But the costs and fees can be higher than other brokerage investment accounts.
Stock trade fee
Minimum deposit to open
$3 per month
What's in this guide?
- How does EarlyBird work?
- How do I sign up for EarlyBird?
- How much does EarlyBird cost?
- EarlyBird Investment Strategy
- Is EarlyBird legit?
- EarlyBird user reviews
- Who is EarlyBird best for?
- EarlyBird’s tax implications
- How easy is it to use?
- What tools does EarlyBird provide?
- Compare with other robo-advisors
- Bottom line
- Frequently asked questions
How does EarlyBird work?
When you download the EarlyBird app, you create a custodial account for a minor. As the custodian, you manage and monitor the account. You can choose from five model portfolios based on factors like your risk tolerance and your child’s age. From there, you or anyone else can make contributions of any amount toward the account.
According to EarlyBird’s official website, you can encourage friends and family to donate toward the account by sending them invites. Others can send contributions by downloading the app to create a basic account, selecting a number off their contacts list and sending a dollar amount. Recipients are notified via SMS.
This account is a Uniform Gift Act for Minors Account (UGMA). So once the child turns the age of maturity, which is 18 or 21 depending on your state, the assets in the account become the beneficiary’s property. Your child can withdraw funds or continue to invest in EarlyBird as an ordinary brokerage account.
At this point, the child can also roll over assets into an IRA or 401(k) plan.
How do I sign up for EarlyBird?
To open an account with EarlyBird, follow these steps.
- Download the iPhone app from the Apple store, or visit the EarlyBird website to request a download link.
- Enter your mobile phone number, name and email address.
- Create a passcode.
- Enter your address, date of birth and Social Security number.
- Provide the child’s legal name and Social Security number.
- Answer a few questions to get an investment portfolio recommendation or select one of the model portfolio options.
- Connect a bank account.
- Invest your funds.
- Invite family and friends.
How much does EarlyBird cost?
There’s no setup fee to open an EarlyBird account. EarlyBird doesn’t charge a management fee on the first $200 of assets in the account. Afterward, however, there’s a $3 monthly management fee for your first child and a $1 monthly fee on each additional child’s account.
Friends or family making donations would be charged a $2 processing fee per gift.
These fees can be quite steep considering popular brokerage accounts like Betterment or Wealthfront charge a 0.25% annual management fee for their basic services. And these aren’t restricted by UGMA rules.
EarlyBird Investment Strategy
EarlyBird recommends one of five model portfolios based on factors like your risk tolerance, financial circumstances, child’s age and investment goals. These diversified portfolios are built using exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in stocks, bonds and other securities. The asset allocation of these portfolios can range from conservative (100% bond ETFs) to aggressive (100% equity ETFs). To view each portfolio’s asset allocation, you need to download the EarlyBird app.
EarlyBird takes a similar investing approach as the SoFi and the Chase You Invest robo-advisor offerings.
According to the EarlyBird website, it partners with wealth management and financial planning experts to craft these portfolios. These are reviewed and rebalanced quarterly. But you don’t get regular access to human financial advisors.
Is EarlyBird legit?
The EarlyBird app is part of EarlyBird Central Inc., an investment advisor registered with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). It’s not listed by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but the company was just founded in 2019.
However, it has many features to protect its customers.
EarlyBird uses 256-bit encryption to protect your personal information. It’s also a registered investment advisor (RIA), which means it’s legally bound to perform in your best interest.
Money in your account is held at Apex Clearing Corporation, which is an SEC registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA. It’s also part of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). This means your account is insured up to $500,000 if the organization holds your funds if it goes under. SIPC helps you restore assets in your account if a liquidation process begins but doesn’t protect the value of any security.
EarlyBird user reviews
The EarlyBird app has been around for only about a month as of January 2021, so there aren’t many user reviews available online. But the few we did find were overwhelmingly positive. The EarlyBird app had a rating of 4.7/5 stars on the Apple store at the time of writing.
Reviews on the Apple store praised EarlyBird for quick set-up, seamless linking to banking apps and ease of fund transfers.
Who is EarlyBird best for?
EarlyBird is best for parents, grandparents or anyone who wants to invest in a child’s future. It’s a simple way to set up an UGMA account, while encouraging family and friends to donate to a child’s investment account. EarlyBird encourages donors to record short videos to accompany their donations, so it can be a very unique app for those that want to personalize their gifts.
But you should be aware of the rules and restrictions governing UGMA accounts.
Still, there are certain pockets of individuals who will find EarlyBird useful, including:
- New parents who want to invest in their child’s future as early as possible.
- Parents who want something to complement their children’s 529 college savings plans.
- Adults who want to set up custodial accounts for minors without relinquishing control until these minors reach the age of maturity.
EarlyBird’s tax implications
Because EarlyBird lets you open an UGMA account, it’s governed by certain tax rules set by the IRS. Here are some general taxation guidelines.
- Up to $1,050 in earnings is tax-free.
- The next $1,050 is taxable at the child’s tax rate.
- Any earnings that are more than $2,100 are taxed at the parent’s rate.
In general, UGMA accounts don’t offer as many tax advantages as 529 college savings plans. But your child can use UGMA money penalty-free on virtually anything once they reach the age of maturity.
EarlyBird announced it plans to enter the 529 plan game soon. Still, other apps like Stash and Acorns allow you to open UGMA accounts. So compare your options.
How easy is it to use?
The EarlyBird app offers a sleek interface that lets you monitor your child’s account. And it lets you send invites to potential contributors.
However, EarlyBird is a new app that launched in December 2020. So user reviews are difficult to come by at the moment.
What tools does EarlyBird provide?
EarlyBird has a built-in feature that shows you projected investment growth when the child reaches age 18, based on predetermined investment returns. You can also view your portfolio’s asset allocation.
Donors can view profiles of whom they’ve invested in as well as upcoming special occasions such as birthdays.
Until your child reaches age 5, you control the app entirely. But once your child reaches age 6, you can show your child the app in a view-only mode so they can see how the account grows. At age 13, the child can download the app and use it alongside their parent or custodian.
Compare with other robo-advisors
EarlyBird is a useful app for people interested in opening a custodial investment account for a child. Its interactive features let you invite friends and family to donate, so funds can grow substantially over time. But make sure you know how UGMAs work. And compare your options to other brokerage platforms that let you open custodial accounts as well.