Not all platforms offer micro-investing — so we’ve done the digging to bring you four micro-investing apps: each with something unique to bring to the table. But is this style of investing right for you? It all boils down to your investment goals.
Micro-investing involves taking small trickles of cash and rolling that money into an investment portfolio. Most micro-investing apps are straightforward and easy to use, making this strategy a practical pick for new investors who want to get started with small dollar amounts.
- Micro-investing is simple enough for beginners but powerful enough to support long-term gains.
- Many micro-investing apps offer simple interfaces for easy navigation.
- Sign up with just $1 since most micro-investing apps don’t enforce minimum deposit requirements.
- Robo-advisors can pick your investments for you so you don’t need to pick your portfolio.
Take a dive into our guide on robo-advisors
Micro-investing usually takes some time to pick up steam since you typically invest smaller amounts than the average investor. With this in mind, micro-investing is well-suited to younger investors with the time horizons needed to help micro-investing work its magic.
Keep an eye on fees, though. If you’re only investing a small amount per month, even a modest fee can seriously eat into your returns. For example, if you only invest $5 per month, but the app you’ve picked has a $2.50 monthly service fee, that’s half of your monthly deposit gone — and you may be better off sticking to a high-yield savings account.
Bonafide fee-free investing is pretty much impossible to find. So if you plan to start micro-investing, prepare to pay the odd fee or two. Here’s what to look for in the fine print:
- Management fees — $1 to $5 monthly
You may need to pay an ongoing monthly or annual fee to keep your account open.
- Advisory fee — 0.25% to 0.50%
If you decide to try out a robo-advisor service, prepare to pay an ongoing management fee.
- Account transfer fees — $50 to $75
When moving investments from one platform or account to another, be ready to encounter a transfer fee.
Micro-investing is the new kid on the block — at least as far as investment strategies are concerned. And because it’s so new, not all platforms are equipped to offer it. But there are a few apps that offer micro-investing — each with its own unique set of features to consider.
Learn more about how we picked these four micro-investing apps.
Best for free automated investing
Like Robinhood, SoFi® offers a fractional share feature it dubs Stock Bits. As the name implies, it lets you invest in 'bits' of shares you might not be able to afford otherwise (we're looking at you, Tesla). And like Robinhood, SoFi doesn't charge any commissions on stocks, exchange-traded funds or cryptocurrencies.
But what sets SoFi apart from Robinhood is its access to automated investing. That's right: SoFi's got a robo-advisor. And it's free. So if you're not up to picking your own investments, check out SoFi's automated investing service and have your portfolio assembled and rebalanced for you.
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|Stock trade fee||$0|
|Signup bonus||Get up to $1,000 in stock |
when you fund a new account within 30 days
Best for no-maintenance investing
Acorns rounds up your daily purchases to the next dollar and invests the difference into your portfolio. The best part? Acorns picks and maintains your portfolio for you based on how you answer its financial questionnaire when you sign up. And the cost? A flat $1 per month for its services.
There are no minimum account balances, and deposits and withdrawals are free. All you need to do to get started is link a bank account and provide valid ID.
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|Stock trade fee||$0|
|Signup bonus||Get a $20 bonus |
when you set up an account and make your first recurring investment (min. $5)
Best for value-based investors
Instead of rounding up your spending, Stash uses a feature called Smart-Stash to analyze your income and spending patterns. Then, it automatically pulls money into your investment account. From there, you decide whether you’d like to invest in individual stocks or choose a theme-based portfolio.
The minimum deposit to open a Stash account is only $5 and — like Acorns — it charges a flat $1 monthly fee for its service.
|Stock trade fee||$0|
|Signup bonus||$5 |
when you add at least $5 to your Invest account
Best for beginner-friendly active trading
Robinhood is a solid beginner-friendly option and offers commission-free trades. Plus, it lets you invest any amount into stocks or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), plus major cryptocurrencies.
Once linked to your bank account, take advantage of a limited number of instant deposits, and there are no fees for swapping stocks, ETFs, options or cryptocurrencies. Of the apps on this list, Robinhood offers the most freedom, so if you’re ready to pick your own portfolio from scratch, this could be the broker for you.
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|Stock trade fee||$0|
|Signup bonus||Get a free stock |
when you successfully sign up and link your bank account.
How I picked these apps
When choosing the best platforms, I considered a number of factors, including fees, user interface, available securities and investor feedback. But some categories weighed more heavily into my decision than others. For example: micro-investing is well-suited for beginners. So ease of use and an intuitive, beginner-friendly interface were especially important as I narrowed down my list of top micro-investing apps.
Ready to put your pennies to work? Here’s how to get started:
- Compare brokerages. Not all investment platforms offer micro-investing, and the ones that do have varying account options and features. Before you open an account, explore your brokerage options by comparing features, fees and customer feedback.
- Open an account. Once you’ve found a brokerage you like, open an account. Most platforms offer online applications, but be prepared to supply your personal information, including your Social Security number and government-issued ID.
- Fund your account. To fund your new account, you’ll need to link an existing bank account and indicate how much you’d like to transfer.
- Set automated investments. Most micro-investing platforms rely on automated transfers or spare change round-ups. Indicate how often you’d like to transfer funds or what limits you’d like to impose on how your transactions are handled.
- Monitor your investments. Log in to your brokerage account to track your investment performance.
Many micro-investing platforms offer a quick and simple way to link your bank account, acting like an electronic piggy bank for your spare change.
- It’s convenient. Micro-investing requires minimal input on your part. In some cases, the entire process is automated, and you can start building an investment balance without having to do much legwork.
- Establish a savings habit. Micro-investing can help create positive, life-long saving habits. It’s an effective way for anyone to start investing their money, no matter their budget.
- Minimal investment required. You don’t need a huge bank balance to take advantage of a micro-investing platform. Start by investing your spare change and watch your balance grow over time.
- No need for expertise. The money in your investment fund can be balanced in a diversified ETF portfolio based on your financial goals and risk appetite.
Like any investment, there’s no guarantee you’ll make money. In fact, you may end up losing money. Outside the risk of loss, here some other things to consider before you sign up:
- Fees. You may need to pay management fees, commission fees or account fees. And fees can eat into profits.
- Easy to forget. Platforms that help automate your investment experience can be subject to neglect — the process is so seamlessly hands-free that you may forget to check in on your investments.
Micro-investing is a practical way to break into the market as a first-time investor. But it has its limits and may not be for everyone. If you’re on the fence about this strategy — whether investing feels too risky or you’re concerned micro-investing won’t take you far enough — consider the following micro-investing alternatives:
- Open a high-yield savings account. If you’re not ready to invest, explore your high-yield savings account options. A savings account will be more familiar territory than an investment account for many. And some accounts — like Chime — offer the same round-ups feature employed by brokerages like Acorns and Stash.
- Commit to 401(k) contributions. Maybe you have access to a 401(k) through your employer and don’t want to open a secondary account. If that’s the case, consider ramping up your 401(k) contributions. Every penny helps — especially if your employer offers contribution matching.
- Open an IRA. If you don’t have a 401(k) and still want to tuck away some funds towards retirement, an individual retirement account may be your best bet. IRAs offer solid tax advantages, and you can contribute as much — or as little — as you’d like.
You don’t need a secret hoard of cash to get started investing. Thanks to micro-investing features like round-ups and fractional shares, you can invest with ease using pretty much any amount you’d like.
But each micro-investing app operates differently, so compare your options by features and fees to find the right fit for your finances. And if you’re not sure where to start, check out our guide to the world of investments.
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