Acorns vs Robinhood Review 2021: Which Investing Platform Is Best For You?

The article contains links that if you click, we may receive a commission at no cost to you.

Acorns
  • Save
Acorns makes investing easy by rounding up your spare change.

Overall Rating

Robinhood
  • Save
Robinhood offers a DIY approach with zero trading commissions.

Overall Rating

Adam’s Bottom Line: Acorns and Robinhood appeal to the same demographic of younger investors. If you are looking for a DIY investing approach with truly zero fees, then Robinhood is your best choice. However, if you don’t mind paying a few bucks per month to let others make the investment decisions, then Acorns is the right choice for you.

FeatureAcornsRobinhood
Trading Commissions$0$0
Type of Investment AccountTaxable Brokerage and IRATaxable Brokerage
Fractional Share TradingNoYes
CryptocurrenciesNoYes
Mobile AppYesYes
Margin TradingNoYes
Reoccurring FeesYes, $3 and $5 a month platform feeNo

Who Should Use Robinhood and Acorns?

Robinhood is best for:

  • DIY investors
  • Taxable brokerages
  • Margin trading

Acorns is best for:

  • A hands-off investing approach
  • Retirement accounts
  • Micro-investing

PROS & CONS

Robinhood

PROS CONS
No commissions Only taxable brokerage accounts are available
Access to margin trading No access to in-depth market analysis
Can trade before funds settle in your account No access to fixed income products

Acorns

PROS CONS
Low monthly fees No ability to individually pick stocks
Taxable Accounts or Retirement Accounts No cryptocurrencies
Additional investment contributions through Acorns Earn No margin trading

What Is Acorns?

Acorns is a micro-investing and Robo-advising fintech platform. Acorns is built on the premise to make investing available to individuals who don’t necessarily have the capital to go and purchase large quantities of securities. Their leading service allows investors to opt-in. Acorns automatically rounds up your purchase to the nearest dollar and invests in a portfolio of ETFs across 7,000 stocks and bonds whenever you make a purchase.

Founded in 2012, the company hosts a range of big-name investors such as Jennifer Lopez, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Durant. BlackRock, NBCUniversal, and Paypal are also a few of the institutional investors.

The company currently has 8.2 million customers and $3 billion assets under management (AUM).

What Is Robinhood?

Robinhood’s claim to fame was one of the first brokerages offering commission-free stock trading. By offering zero fees on trades, Robinhood tapped into a whole new market of investors who may have previously shied away from individual investing due to the substantial transaction costs.

The company is publicly traded on the NASDAQ under the ticker: $HOOD, not (HODL) and has 31 million users.

However, the company caught public scrutiny recently because while it was marketing its trading platform as having “zero commissions”, Robinhood generates significant revenue from payment for order flow. Payment for order flow means Robinhood gets paid a small commission for routing trades to different executing parties. A start-up, All of Us Financial offers customers a rebate on the income earned on payment from order flow.

Acorns Round-Up Explained

If you to were opt-in for Acorns round-up, transactions made with your Acorns Visa, debit, or another linked card will be automatically rounded up to the nearest dollar and invested once the rounded-up total reaches $5.

But, until you hit the $5 threshold, the round-ups are set aside and will be automatically invested later. In addition, there are round-up multipliers – you can adjust your rounds up to be 2x, 3x, or even 10x, the rounded amount to magnify your investing.

According to Acorns, the average Acorns user invests more than $30 a month through Round-Ups!

Acorns and Robinhood: Investment Options

Winner: Robinhood

Robinhood offers a robust option of investment options while Acorns only allows you to simply invest a “type” of a portfolio.

Robinhood

Robinhood allows trading in the following asset classes:

  • U.S. Exchange-Listed Stocks and ETFs
  • Options Contracts for U.S. Exchange-Listed Stocks and ETFs
  • ADRs for over 650 Globally-Listed Companies
  • Crypto such as bitcoin and six other cryptocurrencies

Robinhood does not allow trading in the following asset classes:

  • Mutual Funds
  • Bonds
  • Closed-end funds
  • Foreign-domiciled stocks

Acorns

Acorns Core

Acorns offers 5 different investment portfolios in its Core account – Conservative, Moderately Conservative, Moderate, Moderately Aggressive, and Aggressive. The portfolios are comprised of various ETFs, but you don’t have the option to pick individual stocks or bonds, only the level of aggressiveness in your portfolio.

The type of portfolio you select will determine the composition of your portfolio. For example, a sample conservative portfolio will likely contain bond ETFs such as:

iShares Short Treasury Bond – SHV

SPDR Bloomberg Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill – BIL

Goldman Sachs Access Treasury 0-1 Year – GBIL

JPMorgan Ultra-Short Income – JPST

iShares Ultra Short-Term Bond – ICSH

You can find the full list of investment options on Acorn’s website.

Acorns
  • Save
Acorns Core Portfolio Composition

Acorns ESG

Acorns recently released a set of ESG portfolios (environmental, social, and governance.) The sustainable portfolios are made of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). Acorns offers 4 types of ESG portfolios – Moderately Conservative, Moderate, Moderately Aggressive, and Aggressive.

Please note, if you are aIf you are an exiting Acorns user and want to invest in an ESG portfolio, you will need to sell your core portfolio holdings, which may trigger a taxable event. This won’t apply to new users.

Acorns
  • Save
Acorns ESG Portfolio Composition.

Types of Accounts

Robinhood

Robinhood keeps it simple by offering just two types of accounts, let’s take a look at each.

Robinhood Instant

Robinhood instant is your standard taxable brokerage account with $0 monthly fees and is the type of account most Robinhood users have. With a Robinhood Instant account, you have access to the following features:

Instant Access To Unsettled Funds. A standard Robinhood account, offers you access up to $1,000 in unsettled funds. This means you can use your unsettled funds to trade right away instead of waiting 3-5 days for the funds to settle.

Unlike a Gold account, Robinhood instant account does not grant users access to margin trading, advanced research, and advanced market data.

Robinhood Gold

Robinhood Gold is a more advanced account than Robinhood Instant. With a Robinhood GOLD account, you have access to margin trading, larger access to unsettled funds, third-party market research, and Level II market data from Nasdaq.

A Robinhood Gold account is $5 per month.

Margin Trading. Your first $1,000 of margin is included. For amounts over $1,000, you’ll pay 2.5% yearly interest. Your interest is calculated daily and charged to your account at the end of each billing cycle. It’s important to note that your margin rate is subject to change Robinhood’s terms and conditions.

Instant Access To Unsettled Funds. With a Robinhood Gold account, you have instant access to funds transferred in excess of $1,000. In other words, instead of waiting a few days for your money to settle, you can use your cash right away to start trading.

With a standard Robinhood account, you have access up to $1,000 in unsettled funds.

Third-party Market Research. Gold members have unlimited access to Morningstar’s premium research reports. There are approximately 1,700 stocks that have research updated regularly.

Level II Market Data. With Level II access, Gold members can view Level II Market Data. Members can view market data that shows multiple bid/ask prices from Nasdaq. With this type of information, investors can better understand the demand for a security and availability.

Acorns

Acorns offers 3 types of accounts – Invest, Early, and Later.

Invest. Is a taxable brokerage account like Robinhood’s account. If you were to opt-in, an Invest account automatically invests your rounded-up funds into a portfolio of ETFs based on your designated risk tolerance. Acorns will automatically rebalance your portfolio. Furthermore, with an Acorns Invest account, you have the option to round up purchases to the nearest dollar or 2x, 3x, or 10x the amount, and Acorns will automatically invest that amount for you.

Later. Is a retirement account, specifically an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). With a later account, Acorns automatically selects the right type of account based on your long-term goals. You can make contributions to a Later account on a one-time or reoccurring basis. Round-ups are not available in an Acorns Later account.

Early. Is a custodial account opened on behalf of your children, either a UGMA or UTMA account (Uniform Gift to Minors Act or Uniform Transfers to Minors). Acorns Early works like your Acorns Invest and Later accounts, you can invest with as little as $5 into a wide range of ETFs. Round-ups are also not available with an Early account.

Acorns and Robinhood Fees

Winner: Tie

Robinhood charges zero commission for trading and no reoccurring or maintenance fees for its Instant Account. However, the Gold Account is $5 a month, which grants users access to advanced features. At the same time, Acorns has an unavoidable $3 or $5 monthly fee.

Robinhood

Robinhood does not charge any trading commission fees with its Instant account. Furthermore, they do not charge you any fees to open, maintain, or transfer funds to your account with a standard brokerage account.

However, with a Gold account, there is a $5 monthly fee in addition to margin fees if you use that service.

Cost for 30 days
$1,000 of margin, $5

Margin over $1,000, 2.5% (subject to change per Robinhood)

Other Fees (Instant and Gold Account):

ACATs (Outgoing): $75

Domestic overnight check delivery: $20

Paper Statements: $5

Paper Confirms: $2

Acorns

Acorns does not charge any transaction fees, and there are no minimums to open an account. However, the company has a 2 tier flat fee structure. Let’s look below:

Acorns Personal – $3/month

With all-in-one investment, retirement, and checking, a complete financial wellness system. Plus, a metal debit card, bonus investments, and money advice.

Acorns Family – $5/month

Unlimited investment accounts for children. Plus personal investment, retirement, and checking accounts, bonus investments, and money advice. If you open an Acorns Early account, you can only select the Acorns Family pricing tier.

Other Fees

There is $50 per ETF to transfer your positions to another broker.

Additional Services & Features

Winner: Tie

Robinhood offers users access to IPOs at the IPO price and fractional share trading and cash management. While Acorn’s Earn program and unique $1,500 referral bonus program make it too tough to call a winner.

Robinhood

IPO Access

Robinhood offers individual investors public access to upcoming IPOs. This means everyday investors like you and me can purchase securities at the IPO price. IPO access was once only available to the ultra-wealthy and institutional investors.

Fractional Share Trading

You can invest in 5,000 stocks and ETFs by purchasing fractional shares starting at $1, or as little as 0.000001 shares. Most popular fractional shares include Apple, Tesla, Amazon, and certain over-the-counter and American depositary receipt stocks. 

Cash Management

Robinhood cash management enables you to earn interest on your swept cash. You will also get a debit card issued by Sutton Bank. You can use your debit card to buy groceries, pay bills, send checks, and more. Your cash earns a 0.30% annual percentage yield through Robinhood’s network of bank programs.

Acorns

Acorns Earn. With Acorns Earn, when a user makes a purchase at one of Acorn’s 350 brand partners, the brand partner will automatically invest a set amount or percentage directly into your investment account. The Acorn’s Earn account also offers a Chrome plug-in that makes earning simple when you are shopping online.

Popular partner brands include Apple, Macy’s, Nike, Walmart, Warby Parker, to name a few.

Referral Bonus. Existing Acorns customers and the referred person each get $5 invested. Also, as of October 21st, Acorns is offering a special $1,500 referral bonus if you refer 7 friends.

Acorns Spend. With Acorns Spend, you have access to all the traditional features of a standard checking account including a debit card and ATM access. There is no minimum balance or overdraft fees, plus access to 55,000 ATMs globally.

Mobile Experience

Winner: Acorns

The Robinhood app is extremely easy to use and user-friendly. In fact, the company was in hot water for making it too easy for users to trade by having enticing features such as confetti after a trade is executed and free stock. You can’t win, can you? However, the Robinhood app does have a lower rating than Acorns in both the Apple and Google Play stores, so Acorns takes the ribbon here.

Robinhood

Apple Store Rating 4.1 Stars out of 5

Google Play Store Rating: 3.8 out of 5

Acorns

Apple Store Rating 4.7 Stars out of 5

Google Play Store Rating 4.3 out of 5

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copy link