Investing your hard-earned money can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to the game.
But thanks to a slew of new mobile investment tools, the market is no longer reserved only for the stock-savvy and the ultra-rich.
If you follow the news, you probably know about Robinhood, which was the investing app of choice for the people on Reddit who recently went on a frenzy buying up stock in the video game store GameStop.
But Robinhood doesn’t have the mobile investing field all to itself. Rivals Stash and Acorns are two other apps that make it easy for you to play the market, no matter how little experience — or cash — you have at your disposal.
All three options boast low fees and a simple, streamlined experience, but which one is best suited for your unique investing needs?
Here’s a breakdown of what Stash, Acorns and Robinhood each bring to the table — to help you decide.
Here’s the lowdown on Robinhood: It’s an easy-to-use, full-service brokerage app that provides free investment accounts with no commissions or trading fees.
The Robinhood app lets you buy and trade stocks, options, ETFs and even cryptocurrencies, so you’ll have a wide range of investment options no matter what you’re passionate about.
Robinhood supports fractional trading, which means you have the chance to own a piece of an industry-leading company like Apple or Tesla without having to drop hundreds (or possibly thousands) on a full share.
You can also set up the app to deliver customized news and notifications based on your preferences, allowing you to easily keep tabs on your assets and expand your financial know-how.
As an added bonus, when you sign up for Robinhood you’ll automatically get a free stock added to your account. It works on a lottery system, so if you’re lucky the stock you get could be for a top brand like Visa, Microsoft or even Facebook.
Stash is an intuitive mobile platform designed to make investing quick and stress-free for beginners.
After you answer a few questions about your risk tolerance, Stash will give you personalized suggestions on which stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to add to your portfolio — a bit like a robo-advisor.
You’ll also have the option to choose stocks and ETFs on your own using Stash’s handy investment synopses and risk breakdowns.
If you don’t have a lot of cash to play around with, Stash allows you to invest in fractional shares of big-name companies for $5 or less.
A Stash Beginner subscription costs just $1 per month and comes with all the tools you need to start investing.
For $3 per month you can get a Stash Growth subscription, which includes everything offered with Stash Beginner, as well as a retirement account (your choice of a Roth or traditional IRA) and tax benefits for retirement investing.
Stash+ is Stash’s premium option, which gives you access to everything Stash has to offer, as well as investing accounts for your kids and additional perks and bonuses, for $9 per month.
Acorns is an automated micro-investing tool that helps new investors play the market without having to worry about the complicated aspects of trading, like what to buy and when to sell.
In under five minutes you can set up a diversified portfolio based on your risk tolerance and start investing immediately using round-ups on your credit and debit cards.
Whenever you make a purchase using the card that’s linked to your account, Acorns will round it up to the nearest dollar and invest the leftover change.
You can also set up automated recurring investments to help your portfolio grow faster, and get extra cash invested when you shop at one of Acorns’ partner brands.
An Acorns Lite account costs $1 per month and comes with all the features mentioned above.
For $3 per month you can get Acorns Personal, which also includes a retirement account, a checking account and personalized money advice, along with all the basic features.
If you have kids, you can get Acorns Family for $5 per month, which allows you to add multiple children to your Personal account and scores you exclusive bonus investments and family-oriented financial advice.
How Stash, Acorns, and Robinhood are similar
Although each app comes with its own unique features, there are a few ways in which Stash, Acorns and Robinhood are similar.
Phone-friendly, web ready: All three apps are designed for use with your Apple or Android mobile device, but can also be accessed via your computer browser.
No minimum investment: None of the three apps requires a minimum investment to open an account.
Taxable accounts: All three offer taxable investing accounts.
Exchange-traded funds: All three allow you to invest in ETFs.
Stash’s unique features
Stash is the only one of the three apps that offers Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) portfolios, which means that you can avoid investing in stocks and companies that don’t align with your personal beliefs.
Stash is also the app that provides the best opportunity to learn as you go — you’ll receive guidance while building your portfolio, but you’ll also have the option to make your own decisions about what you want to buy or sell.
Acorns’ unique features
Acorns’ main draw is the fact that it’s fully automated — you can invest as much or as little as you’d like without ever having to worry about the complexities of the market.
The round-up feature ensures that none of your spare change will go to waste, and the ability to set up automatic recurring investments allows for a totally hands-off approach to growing your money.
Robinhood’s unique features
Robinhood is the only one of the three apps that offers a free basic account with no trading fees. It also has the widest range of investment options available, and allows you to pick and choose individual stocks, options, ETFs and cryptocurrencies based on your own interests.
The trade-off is that, of the three apps, Robinhood provides the least amount of guidance for new investors, so there may be a steep learning curve if you’re just starting out.
When it comes to user support, only Stash offers customer service via both phone and email.
Acorns and Robinhood provide customer service exclusively via email.
Safety and security
Stash, Acorns and Robinhood all use cutting-edge security and encryption technologies to keep your personal data — and your money — safe.
Additionally, with all three apps your account is protected up to $500,000 by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).
Which one is the best investment app?
Overall, Stash, Acorns and Robinhood are all solid investment apps, and the one that’s right for you will depend largely upon your needs.
If you’re a new investor looking to learn more about how the market works while you build your portfolio, Stash is your best bet.
If you’re more interested in a “set it and forget it” model of investing and prefer not to be bothered with the inner-workings of your portfolio, Acorns is the way to go.
And if you already have a knowledge of basic investing principles and just want a low-cost way to buy and sell stocks, options, ETFs and cryptocurrencies, Robinhood is an excellent choice.