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Sofi vs. Acorns

Two investing platforms for beginners, but one is free and the other comes with monthly fees.

SoFi and Acorns offer automated investment strategies and are designed for those who want to build a nest egg. You don’t need advanced knowledge to start investing, and you can start off with a smaller account. And that’s where the similarities end between these two companies.

Which one is better?

  • Choose SoFi if you want control over your investments and don’t want to pay a management fee.
  • Choose Acorns if you’re a set-it-and-forget-it type of investor and don’t mind the cost.

Active investors who want to choose their investments and pay no management or equity trading fees might be better off with SoFi. You get to trade stocks, ETFs and even a few cryptocurrencies. Plus, you can even buy IPO stocks at IPO prices — a perk that not many trading platforms offer. If you want SoFi to manage your investment account, you can get that too without a management fee.

Acorns, on the other hand, is a simple investing platform with only five automated portfolios to choose from. There are no stocks, options or crypto. Depending on your investment goals, there are three subscription models: one for starting an investment account, a second for starting a retirement account and a third where you can add investment accounts for your kids.

One of Acorns’ main strengths is the round-up feature. You can link your credit card or use the Acorns debit card, and every time you buy something, Acorns will automatically deposit your spare change into your investment account. For example, if you buy groceries for $49.23, Acorns will charge you $50 total and add the $0.77 difference into your investment account. Consider this a piggy bank that grows over time.

How do SoFi and Acorns compare?

SoFiAcorns
Benefits
  • Automated investment without a management fee. SoFi will manage your portfolio automatically without any management fees.
  • Commission-free stocks. You can trade stocks fee-free. This is a nice perk because some brokers charge a fee for trading shares.
  • IPO stocks. SoFi gives you a chance to buy IPO stocks at IPO prices. This is a rare perk even among larger brokers.
  • Multiple investment options. You can invest in stocks, ETFs and cryptocurrencies.
  • Automated investing. Acorns offers five automated portfolios. Based on your risk tolerance, you can choose one and every time you deposit more money, it will be automatically placed in that portfolio.
  • Round-up feature. Every time you make a purchase with a linked credit card or debit card, Acorns will automatically transfer your change into your investment account.
  • Kids’ investment accounts. You can open a custodial account for your kids, but it costs $5 a month.
Drawbacks
  • No options trading. SoFi doesn’t offer options contracts for trading.
  • Crypto trading fees. Buying or selling comes with a flat 1.25% fee. And you can’t transfer your crypto to an external wallet.
  • Limited investment options. You can’t buy or sell individual stocks, ETFs, options or crypto.
  • Maintenance fees. Each of the three subscription models comes with monthly maintenance fees of $1, $3 and $5.
Tools and research
  • Access to financial advisors. Get access to financial advisors who can help you set investment goals and reach them at no additional cost.
  • Automated investing. You can actively trade and invest, but you don’t have to. SoFi can automatically manage your investments.
  • Acorns Grow. Acorns Grow is a finance blog that can help you learn more about investing.
  • Money basics. Similar to Acorns Grow, you get access to hundreds of articles to educate yourself on various financial topics.
Reputation and customer reviews
  • Reviews are mostly positive.
  • Customers praise the customer service, and they like that SoFi offers additional financial services aside from investing.
  • Customers complain about the identity verification process and how long it took. But not every customer had this issue.
  • Reviews are mostly negative.
  • Customers praise the round-up feature.
  • Customers complain about poor customer service. Some customers complained about having difficulties withdrawing their funds.

How to grow your SoFi and Acorns investments with credit cards

Because both SoFi and Acorns provide other financial services, you can grow your investments every time you make a purchase. Here’s how it works: SoFi offers the SoFi Credit Card, which lets you earn 2 points per dollar spent on everything you buy. When you redeem your points into an eligible SoFi investment account, each point is worth 1 cent. This turns your 2x points into 2% back. If you spend $20,000 each year with this credit card, you’d earn $400 back into your investment account.

Acorns, on the other hand, offers a checking account and a debit card. Using the debit card, you would invest all your rounded-up change back into your investment account. Plus, you can earn up to 10% back at eligible merchants, which also goes into your investment account. But unlike the SoFi card where you know you can earn up to 2% back on all purchases, the Acorns debit card offers no guarantees because it depends on whether a particular merchant participates in the program.

Bottom line

Both SoFi and Acorns are great for beginner investors who want to take a passive approach toward investing. With the help of automated investment systems, both platforms can take care of your funds. But if you want to take an active role and buy stocks, ETFs or a few cryptocurrencies, SoFi is the better choice.

If you’re not sure whether these two are a good fit for your needs, compare other automated trading systems. Those who want to actively participate in the market and choose their own stocks or crypto may want to compare brokers.

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