Stash Review: Pros, Cons, and How It Compares to Other Micro Investing Apps

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A recent Bankrate survey found that about one in five Americans don’t save anything. At all.

Most people know they should be saving, but many struggle to get started. They don’t know how much they can afford to save, what kind of account to save in, or where to invest. 

When you invest, you risk losing some of your money. But you take a risk by not investing, too. Money in your savings account loses value thanks to inflation, so investing is essential to making sure you have enough money in the future.

Stash is an app that aims to make investing easier, simpler, and more fun. You can get started with just $1 and add to your balance over time. You can also choose to invest in the industries that you’re interested in, which gives you more incentive to keep up on your investments.

What is Stash?

$1 Account Minimum
$1-9/mo Monthly Fees Beginner: $1/mo, Growth: $3/mo, STASH+: $9/mo
DollarSprout Rating

Stash is a simple investing app that makes it easy to start putting money to work, even if you’re only looking to invest a small amount of money. Stash allows you to invest money online by letting you choose from thousands of stocks or ETFs. It specializes in simplifying finances and socially responsible investing.

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Pros:

  • Start investing with as little as $1
  • Choose from 1,800 investment themes and single stocks
  • Support for taxable and tax-advantaged accounts
  • Full access to educational content
  • Personalized investment coaching

Cons:

  • Comes with a monthly fee for investing your money
  • Can only purchase securities from a set list of ETFs and stocks.
  • Missing features, like tax-loss harvesting, offered by robo-advisors

Account Types:

  • Taxable accounts
  • IRAs
  • Custodial accounts

Stash can be used as an app (for both iPhone and Android devices) or on a desktop. It aims to simplify investing and make it more transparent for the average user.

The app originally launched in October of 2015 and it has grown quickly in the past few years. Since its launch, Stash has amassed more than 4 million users and added support for online banking, retirement, and custodial accounts.

Stash app homepage
Source: Stash

Is Stash Secure?

Stash is a secure and reputable app. It has a 3.9 rating on Trustpilot with more than 400 reviews and was named as one of “The Most Innovative Fintech Companies In 2019” by Forbes

Stash uses 256k bit encryption, and customers have to use a username, password, and PIN to log in. You can also require biometric/fingerprint access for your app for further protection.  

Even if Stash goes bankrupt, your investments will be safe and will still belong to you.

The investments in your Stash account are covered by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). This means Stash has to follow federal regulations that protect the investor. Investments are held by Apex Clearing Corporation, a third-party SEC registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/SIPC.5

SIPC protection covers up to $500,000 of any brokerage. This means the investments in your account are protected up to $500,000 total (including $250,000 for claims for cash). For more details, visit the SIPC website.

For uninvested funds, a Stash account is enrolled in something called the Apex FDIC-insured Sweep Program. Deposits to the Sweep Program are covered by FDIC insurance, up to $250,000 limit per customer at each FDIC-insured bank that participates in the Sweep Program.

Once the cash is deposited with the participating banks under the Sweep Program, the cash will no longer be covered by the SIPC.

Stash Investing Review: How It Works

Stash is an easy-to-use investment app perfect for beginners. Here’s what you get when you create a Stash account.

 

You’ll have to answer some questions to set up your investment account. First, Stash will ask how much investing experience you have. Next, it will ask what kind of investor you consider yourself, ranging from conservative to aggressive.

Finally, Stash will need to know how long you want to invest your money. If you’re saving for a down payment on a house, you can choose the “soon” or “very soon” options. If you’re saving for retirement, you’ll probably choose the “not for a while (5+ years)” option.

Other questions include:

  • How do you file your taxes?
  • What is your household income this year?
  • What’s your employment status?
  • Where do you work?
  • How did your household’s total spending compare to your total income?
  • What kind of emergency fund do you have?
  • How confident do you feel about reaching your long-term financial goals?
  • Are you saving for retirement?
  • What’s your estimated net worth?

After you fill out the Stash questionnaire, you’ll see the option to join Stash as a paying member. 

Based on your answers to the questionnaire, Stash will show you a list of investment options. These options are broken down into three broad categories: conservative, moderate, and aggressive.

Choose the best option that matches your future goals. In general, if you’re young, you may want to choose aggressive because you can afford to take more risks with your investments.

If you’re less than 10 years away from retirement, you’ll probably want to take a more conservative approach.

The categories correspond to the expected risk-reward ratio of each investment and how risk-averse you are. Once you select the style of investment you want, you can choose from themes that focus on specific sectors, such as technology or clean energy.

After you’ve set up your account and chosen your investments, the next step is to actually add money to your account. After your initial deposit, you can continue to add money at your convenience.

Stash makes saving fun with a variety of savings goals and milestones to work toward. If you start with only $5 in your account, Stash might challenge you to get your balance to $50 or $100. When you meet that goal, Stash will come up with a new one.

Stash also places a major emphasis on financial education. When you view your current balance and your goals, Stash will show how your money might grow over the next five or 10 years and how changing your savings patterns will influence your earnings.

Related: How to Start Investing with $100

Fractional shares

Like some other investing apps, Stash lets customers buy fractional shares.

Fractional shares are when investors can buy part of a stock or fund. This is what allows investors to buy stocks like Amazon or Apple starting at just 5 cents, even though one share of Amazon costs more than $3,000 and one share of Apple costs $450.

Auto Stash

Stash has an automatic investing feature known as Auto Stash. This process helps you save money automatically on a recurring basis. You decide how much to save, what account to pull from, what to invest in, and then Stash takes care of the rest.

Stash also offers a round-up feature, where it rounds up your transactions and then invests the cumulative funds. So if you make a purchase with a linked account for $9.50, Stash will round your transaction up to $10 and invest the $0.50 difference. You need to have at least $5 in your total round-up account before Stash will transfer it to your investment account.

However, it will only be transferred to the cash portion of your investment account. You’ll have to make sure those funds are invested the way you want.    

Stash also offers automatic savings transfers, known as Smart Stash.2 The app analyzes your spending habits and then transfers money in increments of $5, $10, or $25. You can decide the maximum amount for Stash to transfer and turn Smart Stash off or on at any time.

Available Investments

Stash has a wide variety of stocks and ETFs from reputable companies such as Vanguard, Charles Schwab, and iShares.6

One thing that Stash does differently is that they rename their stocks and ETFs to simplify investing for consumers. For example, the Vanguard fund VTI is also known as the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund.

Stash refers to it as “Stocks Nationwide” to reflect how it holds stocks such as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook.

This system may be confusing for experienced investors, but it’s useful for those just getting started or who want a simple investing experience. 

Stash investing fees

The Stash app has three subscription plan options for $1, $3, or $9 per month.5 Each plan offers its own unique features. All three options are available to all customers, regardless of their account balance.

Here’s a quick glance at Stash’s fee structure:

stash pricing
Source: Stash

However, these aren’t the only fees you’ll pay. Stash invests your money in Exchange Traded Funds, or ETFs, which hold a variety of stocks and bonds. ETFs also charge management fees, which can range from .05% to 1% or more of your balance per year.

The ETFs that Stash offers charge fees between .20% and .40%, so you could wind up paying .5% or more of your balance each year to use the service. While that may seem minuscule, these fees can add up and eat into your investment returns over time.

In comparison, these are relatively low fees, and you’ll have to pay them if you use another type of investment company or robo advisor.

Additional Stash Features

In addition to providing a simplified, easy way to invest, Stash offers custodial, retirement, and rewards-earning bank accounts.

Banking

Once you become a Stash member, you get access to Stash Banking, their bank account program that has no monthly account fees, no overdraft fees, and no minimum balance requirement.

The account also comes with a debit card, free mobile check deposit, bill pay, and access to an ATM network.

When you create a bank account with Stash and set up direct deposit from your employer, you can get access to your money up to two days before it actually hits your account.

You’ll also earn rewards on certain purchases, which you can then redeem for shares of stock. For example, if you buy lunch at McDonald’s, you can earn cash back that then buys you shares of McDonald’s stock. 

Retirement

If you’re thinking about saving for the long run, you might want to take advantage of Stash’s retirement accounts.3 This feature offers the same investment services that the standard Stash Invest service does, but instead of putting the money in a taxable brokerage account, you’ll open and contribute to a retirement account.

stash retire
Source: Stash

You can open either a Traditional or Roth IRA through Stash and use them to save for the future.¹ Like any other IRA, you can’t take withdrawals until you turn 59½ without incurring a penalty. Roth IRA contributions, but not earnings, can be withdrawn penalty-free at any time.7

Related: 401(k) vs. IRA: Pros, Cons, and Key Differences

Custodial

As a parent, opening a custodial account like the ones offered through Stash can help teach your kids about saving and investing from an early age and give them a leg up later in life.

A custodial account is an account you open in your child’s name that you manage. It’s included in the Stash+ membership level, which costs $9 a month.5

Parents can invest in the same individual stocks and ETFs that are available on the Stash platform. The money in a custodial account can be used for education expenses, buying a car, or traveling. 

Upsides to Investing with Stash

Stash comes with a few perks that set it apart from competitors, including a beginner-friendly platform and free stock giveaways.

Good for beginners. Stash was designed with beginner investors in mind. While it’s a great way for people to get started, and it offers valuable educational tools, its fee structure and inability to take full control of your investments make it a poor choice for people with more money to commit or a desire to be more hands-on.

Stash is great if you’re a recent grad or interested in building a portfolio but don’t have a lot of funds currently.

Free stock giveaways. Stash hosts regular Stock Parties, where you can earn free stock shares. These stock parties are held at the same time every week. You log in during that time and earn free stocks. Financial coach Anthony Kirlew of Fiscally Sound recommends setting an alarm on your phone so you don’t miss these parties.  

High ratings. Stash has a 4.1 score from the Google Play Store and a 4.7 score from the App Store. Reviewers say the app is easy to use and encourages them to save more. They also say the app makes investing seem more possible because of its low barrier to entry.

Reasonable fees. Stash has relatively low fees and few minimum requirements. “Some might say the monthly fee is a downside,” Kirlew said, “However I am on the Beginner Plan which only costs $1 per month, and I earn at least that much in free stock (from the stock parties), so I am ok with the fee.”

Earn stock back rewards. If you have a debit card with Stash, you can earn stock as a reward for shopping at certain retailers. This is similar to how you’d earn cash back with a credit card, but this lets you earn stocks in different companies like Nike, Starbucks, and Lowe’s.

Downsides to Investing with Stash

Though Stash’s pros, in many cases, outweigh the cons, the app does come with some downsides you should consider.

stash account types
Source: Stash

Poor customer service. Some users complain that Stash has poor customer service. For example, one user said that Stash promised a $30 bonus if he deposited money into his account, but the bonus never showed up.

High expense ratios. Other reports say that Stash’s expense ratios, which is a fee charged by Stash for managing the investments, are high compared to robo advisors. 

Limited investing options. Stash is also limited in its investing features and options. They don’t have tax-loss harvesting and automatic rebalancing — two things that competing robo advisors offer. “For those who want help managing their portfolios, Stash might not be a good choice,” said investing expert Miranda Marquit. “You can get some guidance in choosing your investments, but there isn’t portfolio management.”

If you’re serious about investing for retirement, check out a robo advisor instead or hire a financial planner to create a custom plan. 

High fees. While the monthly fees may seem small, they can actually encompass a large part of your portfolio if you’re not investing that much. 

$1 Account Minimum
$1-9/mo Monthly Fees Beginner: $1/mo, Growth: $3/mo, STASH+: $9/mo
DollarSprout Rating

Stash is a simple investing app that makes it easy to start putting money to work, even if you’re only looking to invest a small amount of money. Stash allows you to invest money online by letting you choose from thousands of stocks or ETFs. It specializes in simplifying finances and socially responsible investing.

Show Hide more

Pros:

  • Start investing with as little as $1
  • Choose from 1,800 investment themes and single stocks
  • Support for taxable and tax-advantaged accounts
  • Full access to educational content
  • Personalized investment coaching

Cons:

  • Comes with a monthly fee for investing your money
  • Can only purchase securities from a set list of ETFs and stocks.
  • Missing features, like tax-loss harvesting, offered by robo-advisors

Account Types:

  • Taxable accounts
  • IRAs
  • Custodial accounts

Apps Like Stash

If you’re not sure that Stash is a good fit for you, you can try out other saving and investing apps. There are several Stash alternatives that have good reviews and low fees.

Acorns

Stash and Acorns both provide a decent opportunity for brand new investors to build a portfolio. 

Acorns has a round-up feature, similar to Stash, where the app will round up your transactions to the nearest dollar and invest the difference. Customers can also receive an Acorns debit card that makes automatic transfers from your checking to your investment account when you spend.

Like Stash, Acorns has affordable pricing. The subscription costs $1, $3, or $5 a month, depending on the plan you choose.

Related: Acorns Review: Pros, Cons, and How It Stacks Up to Other Apps

Qapital

Qapital is an app that helps you save for goals like buying a house, going on vacation, or building an emergency fund.

When you open a Qapital account, you’ll decide what your goal is and how much to save for it. Then you can set up savings rules to help you reach your goal.

These rules include round-ups on your transactions and transferring money every time you get a cup of coffee, post on Facebook, or reach a Fitbit goal.

They also have a Qapital Invest account where you can invest in low-cost ETFs if you want to save for retirement. 

Related: Qapital Review: Pricing, FAQs, and Opinions

Digit

If you’re just interested in an automatic savings app and don’t need the investing component, try Digit. 

Digit analyzes your spending and transfers money from your checking account to your Digit account. You can create different savings goals and save for multiple at once.

The money that Digit saves for you is FDIC-insured up to $250,000, like a regular savings account. Unlike a savings account, however, Digit costs $5 a month.

Related: Digit Review: The App That Helps You Reach Your Savings Goal Every Time

Stash Review Summary: Who Should Use This App?

Overall, Stash is an adequate service that does a good job of helping new investors. It falls short of being a great app for everyone as more advanced investors will want to take a hands-on approach that simply isn’t possible with the services that Stash provides.

A major bonus, especially for new and young investors, is that you can start investing with Stash with just $1.


1 Debit Account Services provided by and Stash Visa Debit Card issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Investment products and services provided by Stash Investments LLC, not Green Dot Bank, and are Not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value. In order for a user to be eligible for a Stash debit account, they must also have opened a taxable brokerage account on Stash. Account opening of the debit account is subject to Green Dot Bank approval.

2 The recurring transfers feature is offered by Stash Investments LLC and is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank.

3 Stash does not monitor whether a customer is eligible for a particular type of IRA, or a tax deduction, or if a reduced contribution limit applies to a customer. These are based on a customer’s individual circumstances. You should consult with a tax advisor.

4 You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.

5 For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

6 Before investing in any exchange-traded fund, consider your investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses.

7 All earnings are tax free at age 59½ or older, assuming your first contribution was more than 5 years prior.

This material is not intended as investment advice and is not meant to suggest that any securities are suitable investments for any particular investor. Investment advice is only provided to Stash customers. All investments are subject to risk and may lose value.

Dollar Sprout is a paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser.

Author
TJ Porter

TJ Porter has in-depth experience in reviewing financial products such as savings accounts, credit cards, and brokerages, writing how-tos, and answering financial questions. He has also contributed to publications and companies such as My Bank Tracker, CardCruncher, and Echo Fox. He aims to provide actionable advice that can help readers better their financial lives. In his spare time, TJ enjoys thinking up new ways to optimize my own finances, in addition to cooking, reading, playing games (of the board and video variety), soccer, ultimate frisbee, and hockey.

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