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Stash 2022 Review: Hands-On Investing for Beginners

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Stash is a personal finance app designed to make investing easy for beginners. The app offers three account types and customers can invest in ETFs, fractional shares, and single stocks. Its fractional share offering means you can start investing with $5 or less. Keep reading our in-depth Stash review to learn more about the robo-advisor to determine if it's right for you.

Ratings Methodology
Bottom Line

Stash has an easy to understand fee structure as well as a low barrier to entry to start investing. It's has tools that are great for beginners and even comes with a debit card.

Fees:

$1-$9 monthly

Account Minimum:

$0

Full Stash Invest review

This stock broker is a good fit for: Anyone new to investing who wants an app to guide them through the process.

Pros

  • Fractional shares
  • Start investing with as little as $1
  • Feature-rich Stash app
  • Stash banking

Cons

  • Account fees
  • No automatic portfolio management

How Stash investing works

Stash investing is an online investing platform and money management app that allows you to invest in ETFs and individual stocks. It also lets you buy fractional stock shares. Stash isn't a traditional robo-advisor since it doesn't automatically invest or manage your account. Instead, it curates investment options and offers recommendations based on your desired risk level.

Stash's model differs from its competitors. Instead of commission fees, customers pay a monthly subscription fee based on three account levels:

  • Stash Beginner: $1/month ($12 annually)
  • Stash Growth: $3/month ($36 annually)
  • Stash+: $9/month ($108 annually)

Stash Beginner is the entry-level account. Stash Growth and Stash+ are premium accounts that offer more account features and benefits. All three accounts come with an attached online bank account, and a complimentary debit card called a Stock-Back® Card.

It's easy to open an account. When you first join, you'll be asked some questions about your financial goals and other information. Then, you'll choose one of three account types and add cash to your Stash account. Once your account is funded, you can start investing.

Top perks

Fractional shares

Instead of waiting until you've saved enough to purchase whole shares, Stash lets you buy fractional shares at a lower cost. Fractional shares are an increasingly popular robo-advisor investment option.

Low barrier to entry

Stash accounts start at just $1 a month, and you can start investing for $5 or less. Stash's mission is to simplify investing for its customers and low costs are just one of the ways it does that.

Investing tools

Stash comes with access to several tools that allow you to automate your investing and savings. The feature-rich Stash app is highly rated and will help beginner investors build a diversified portfolio.

Retirement accounts

Select Stash accounts have access to Roth and Traditional IRAs. You'll need to upgrade beyond Stash Beginner to access its retirement options.

Stash debit card

All Stash accounts come with the Stock-Back® Card, which lets you earn stock on debit card purchases with well-known brands. You can use it fee-free at any ATM within Stash's network. Stash banking features include mobile check deposits and automatic bill payments. There are no minimum balance requirements or account fees for this FDIC-insured online account. Plus, you can make instant transfers to your investment portfolio from your Stash bank account.

Custodial accounts

Stash+ account holders can set up custodial brokerage accounts for children, who can access the funds when they're old enough. Stash banking is also included with custodial accounts.

Stash App

Stash offers both mobile and web-based account management. Stash app reviews are mostly positive, with the mobile app receiving 4.7 stars out of 5 rating in the Apple App Store and 4.1 stars out of 5 on Google Play. The app includes Stash's trading platform, which isn't as robust as some of its competitors. It's easy to use, but may not provide as much research as you'd like on available funds. However, the app lets you manage your Stash banking account and make instant transfers directly from anywhere in the world.

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What could be improved

Subscription fees

Stash uses a monthly subscription model, with fees ranging from $1 to $9 a month. Price is an important consideration when opening a brokerage account. For smaller accounts, monthly fees may end up higher than the percentage charged by other robo-advisors.

Portfolio management

Stash provides a space to invest online, and customers need to do their own account management. Stash offers a curated list of stocks and ETFs but doesn't provide the tax-loss harvesting or automatic rebalancing services you'll find with other robo-advisors.

Alternatives to consider

If you want to put your investments on cruise control: Betterment might be a better fit. Betterment was one of the first brokerage firms to offer robo-advisor services. You don't have to choose how to invest your money -- Betterment does the work for you based on the investment goals you provide. Unlike Stash, Betterment also handles account rebalancing.

If you want a full-featured broker: TD Ameritrade offers nearly every common investment vehicle and account type under the sun. The broker also has $0 commissions for online stock and ETF trades, plus offers access to an array of no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

Commissions and fees

Stash customers can make unlimited commission-free trades. Instead, you'll pay a monthly fee for your Stash account. One dollar a month for a basic account may not seem like much, but converted into a percentage, it's a considerable chunk of your money -- unless you carry a large portfolio. Traditional robo-advisors might charge a management fee of around 0.25%, which works out cheaper than $12 a year.

You'll still pay fees on individual ETFs, which Stash builds into the prices you see. You may have to do some research to find out how much the fees come to.

Like other best brokers for beginners, Stash has a low barrier to entry with lower fees than you'd find at many bigger brokerage firms.

Research offerings

Stash Invest doesn't have more advanced research tools offered by other brokerage firms and some robo-advisors. Instead, Stash uses your initial questionnaire to recommend investments based on your risk tolerance. You can choose to follow their advice or go on your own. You may need to go outside of Stash if you want more detailed research on individual stocks and ETFs.

Stash vs. Robinhood

Robinhood and Stash both provide easy-to-use platforms targeted at beginning investors. And both brokers aim to break the mold by enabling ordinary people to buy stocks and shares. Robinhood offers a more robust investment platform, with stocks, options, ETFs, margin accounts, and even cryptocurrency.

If you want to use a margin account to increase your purchasing power, unfortunately, it's not an option with Stash Invest. This is unlikely to affect long-term investors who use funds from their cash account to buy investments. Keep in mind you'll need to upgrade to a paid Robinhood Gold account to access margin trading. Gold accounts start at $5 a month.

Neither robo-advisor comes with access to mutual funds or individual bonds, although bonds are available as part of ETFs. IRAs are available as part of the upgraded Stash Growth and Stash Plus membership levels. Robinhood only offers taxable brokerage accounts.

We mentioned Stash banking earlier. Robinhood's cash management account might be even better. Like Stash, customers get a free debit card and access to fee-free ATMs across the U.S. Robinhood accounts are also FDIC insured up to $1.25 million through partner banks.

Where the cash management accounts differ is in how they reward customers. Robinhood's cash management account is interest-bearing, earning competitive rates to rival some savings accounts. Robinhood rewards its customers for saving money, while Stash rewards debit card spending instead.

Robinhood and Stash Invest are both good picks for new investors or individuals looking for a solid low-cost broker. The best choice for you depends on your investment and banking needs.

This brokerage is right for you if:

  • You want to pick out your own investments. Stash lets customers manage their own investments. It only provides basic guidance based on investing goals shared when setting up an account.
  • You don't care about advanced research. Stash customers have access to its Learning Center full of investing guides and other educational articles. However, it doesn't provide access to valuable research tools like some other robo-advisors.
  • You want access to fractional shares of stocks. The ability to buy fractional shares means you can start investing in your favorite stocks. You don't need to have enough money to pay for an entire share.
  • You plan to keep a large portfolio. Keeping a sizable investment portfolio with Stash might be the only way to justify its monthly account fees.
  • You are looking for a solid cash management account. Stash banking rivals many online checking accounts. It also gives you the ability to move money quickly into your investment account.

RELATED: See The Ascent's complete comparison of Stash vs Robinhood.

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