Acorns is a low-cost investment and financial services provider, headquartered in Irvine, California. Acorns is a reputable company and is registered, authorized, and regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
My Acorns review will take a closer look at their products, fees, and additional services and I hope this review will help you decide if this app is the right fit for you and your financial goals.
Who is Acorns suitable for?
Acorns is particularly suitable for those starting to save, regardless of their age.
An Acorns account really does make saving much easier, as all you need to do is link your bank account and the Round-Ups feature takes care of the rest. The Acorns app is available for for iOS and Android devices and makes investing easy. Best of all since its launch, the company has expanded its offering and now also offers investment accounts, custodial accounts, retirement IRA products, checking account services, and of course savings accounts.
What helps set it apart from its competitors and fintech rivals is its emphasis on ease of use and accessibility. An Acorns account helps people from all walks of life to save for the future. If the thought of opening a retirement account seemed like something for other people; or if an investment portfolio is unattainable for you, then Acorns has got you covered.
For those wanting to start investing, I would also recommend Acorns for its range of features, such as the robo advisor and user-optimized mobile app, which make the process much easier.
Lastly, I believe it would be a good fit for those wanting to take a hands-off approach to investment, as the automated Acorns portfolio management tool helps you concentrate on the big picture and avoid the busy-body micromanagement of your holdings.
- Simplified saving thanks to the Round-Ups® feature
- Easy-to-use app
- Selection of automated investment portfolio options
- Fees can be high
- No tax-loss harvesting
- Limited investment options
Who is Acorns?
Acorns is a privately owned American fintech and financial services provider. Co-founded by father and son duo, Walter Wemple Cruttenden III and Jeffrey James Cruttenden in 2012. According to Fortune’s Impact 20 list for 2020, the company has 8.2 million customers and manages assets worth about $3 billion.
The idea behind the company was to offer customers the ability to save by means of micro-investments and passive saving. Simply put, the Round-UpsⓇ features mean that every time you buy something, the transaction is rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the change is invested into a linked Acorns investment account.
One of the things that sets Acorns apart from other Fintech companies is its commitment to incremental and low-cost saving. Acorns, like its closest competitor, Robinhood, is looking to democratize wealth and bring the stock market to the masses.
From small acorns, mighty oaks do grow, and Acorns’ holistic attitude to saving is a refreshing and innovative take on wealth creation and retirement saving. But the company was set up to help young people and others, usually ignored by traditional banks and brokers, overcome the difficulties they face in saving.
As I already mentioned, the company was set up by a father and son team, with Cruttenden senior boasting over two decades of senior-level experience in the financial sector, and junior a Magna Cum Laude in math and IT hot-shot. Sure, a pop-and-son team makes for good headlines, but the fact is the two of them had a vision and the skills needed to make it succeed. And with over $507 million secured in funding in a little over a decade, this little acorn is growing into a mighty oak.
Who owns Acorns?
Acorns is a privately owned fintech unicorn, valued at over $1.9 billion, the company is a privately held entity with major corporate investors such as BlackRock, Bain Capital, and Rakuten as significant stakeholders. The company has also attracted a number of high-profile private investors such as Ashton Kutcher, Dany Garcia, and Dwayne Johnson, who are also on board.
Plans were afoot to go public, but pandemic market turmoils have put thoughts of an IPO on hold.
Accounts and products available
There are two types of account available to customers, both of which will charge you a flat monthly fee, namely:
- Acorns personal account
- Acorns family account
The Acorns personal plan is the cheaper of the two; offering customers an investment account, an IRA account, a neat cash-back shopping program, and a checking account.
The Acorns family plan provides you with access to the same products as the Acorns personal plan but it also grants access to Acorns Early UTMA/UGMA (Uniform Transfer/Gift to Minors Account) investment accounts. These are essentially investment accounts for kids.
The Acorns personal tier account provides access to the following products:
- Found Money
The Acorns Invest is a taxable investment account. Investments are made by robo advisor into exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The exact nature and level of investment are based on an analysis of your risk tolerance and financial goals. Your investment account may be funded by Round-Ups®, recurring deposits, or on-demand deposits. You can also fund your investing account with recurring contributions, which can be as low as $5 a month.
Acorns Found Money is an online marketplace that offers cash back on purchases. Over 250+ top brands are partners, including Expedia, Apple, Nike, and Walmart. The cashback earned is automatically deposited into your Acorns Invest account.
Acorns Later is a tax-advantaged individual retirement account (IRA). As with the Acorns Invest account the retirement accounts investment portfolio consists of ETFs. Your Acorns retirement account will make automated investments, with the robo advisor basing its decisions on a risk tolerance analysis of your goals and needs.
Acorns Spend is a checking account. The Acorns checking account comes with a debit card and is a low-cost alternative to a traditional bank account. With your Acorns Spend account you have no account minimum fees and also receive unlimited ATM fee reimbursements.
The Acorns family account provides access to all of the above products as well as Acorns Early.
Acorns Early is a UTMA/UGMA account. These are investment accounts for kids, and as with any custodial account, are transferred to the minor once they reach adulthood. As with the Acorns Invest account, you can start investing with as little as $5 into a diversified portfolio of ETFs.
Acorns Fees and Charges
The Acorns account fees and pricing structure consist of a flat monthly fee.
- Personal Account: $3 a month
- Family Account: $5 a month
A flat rate fee is really useful as it takes out some of the guesswork when it comes to budgeting and planning your finances. Also, Acorns does not charge transaction fees, overdraft fees, maintenance fees, commissions, or fees based on assets for accounts under $1 million.
But a word of warning; depending on your account balance, these Acorns fees can be quite high. Put simply, for small account balances that flat rate fee will start to take a bigger bite out of your savings.
Services and Tools
Acorns stands out with its commitment to demystifying the investment and savings process and its dedication to democratizing wealth creation. As I already mentioned in my Acorns Review, the Round-Ups® tool is extremely clever and helps encourage saving in even the most disorganized of individuals. It is here that Acorns’ worth really shows.
The Acorns app is consistently rated as one of the easiest to get to grips with and its intuitive user experience really does stand out. That said, although it is a very streamlined experience, other functions and tools are somewhat lacking. For example, the planning tools available with Acorns accounts are slightly minimalistic.
One of the standout features offered by Acorns is the Acorns Portfolio. This is the investment portfolio of low cost ETFs that is created for you, based on the answers you provided regarding your financial goals, risk tolerance, and time-frame. Investing is handled by robo-advisors who will invest a portion of your money into the portfolio. The portfolios perform well and have a compound annual growth rate of 13%, for aggressive portfolios. In my opinion this is a pretty decent return for such a relatively low cost and hassle free investment.
In addition, Acorns offers no tax-loss harvesting strategy, something that most of its competitors do provide. Lastly, I should mention that there is no human advisor on hand to help answer any questions you may have. As such be warned, you are on your own when trading, and any decisions you make, even for custodial accounts, will be entirely down to you.
How to open an account with Acorns
To open an account with Acorns you need to be a United States resident, have a valid social security number, and be at least 18 years of age.
You can open an account in six easy steps.
- Download the Acorns app, or sign up via the web page.
- Provide a valid email address and create an account password.
- Link your bank account.
- Provide your name, social security number, phone number, and address.
- Provide answers to a series of personalized security questions.
- Answer a series of questions in order to determine the best investment strategy for your Acorns investing account.
Deposit and Withdrawal process
You can deposit money into your Acorns checking account in four different ways:
- Direct deposit
- Recurring deposit
- One-time deposit
- Mobile check deposit
Setting up a direct deposit, recurring deposit, or one-time deposit is easy to do and can be done quickly and safely from inside the app, or web page.
You can also deposit a check using your phone’s camera, and again the process is simple and entirely in-app.
No matter the method you choose, the process is simple and funds should take no more than three working days to appear in your account.
The process for withdrawing funds is simple and can be done either in-app or by logging in via the browser. To make a withdrawal, you will need to issue a withdrawal request. You will then be asked to enter the dollar amount you wish to withdraw and also confirm the bank from which you will be making the withdrawal. Please note that it can take 3-6 business days for withdrawals to transfer to your primary checking account.
Acorns Customer Support
Unlike a lot of similar low-cost providers, the customer service support offered by Acorns is pretty decent.
Customer support is available 24/7 via the live chat function in-app, or using the website.
You can also submit an email support request on their website
If you prefer to talk to a customer service agent, then you can call a staffed phone line available from 5 am-7 pm PST, 7 days a week, on the following number, 855-739-2859.
With its hands-off approach to investing, it’s perhaps not that surprising to see that the research tools available to investors are lacking. This is a little disappointing since it’s all well and good having an investment account, but if you can’t research the markets, you can’t stay ahead of the curve.
In fairness to Acorns, the long questionnaire filled in by customers at the start, which is used to determine portfolio recommendations, was created by Nobel-prize-winning modern portfolio theory guru Harry Markowitz. So perhaps another way to look at it is that most of the meaningful research needed to invest successfully has already been done for you.
It’s no surprise to learn that on top of its sleek and easy-to-use cellphone app, it also provides customers with a good mix of educational resources. Great for those just starting to get to grips with the stock market.
The “Money Basics” blog and learning resources provide an easy-to-navigate guide to the markets and trading principles. Designed to be informative and to the point, these resources will soon have you up to speed and on top of market terminologies and concepts.
As well as this, users can also take advantage of the Acorns Learn website, which consists of a series of videos, articles, and tips for investors both experienced and new. Topics such as investing, retirement planning, and borrowing are examined in detail, whilst useful tools such as compound interest calculators are on hand to provide a handy “pit-stop” for financial advice and planning.
Can you trust Acorns?
Acorns is fully compliant with all relevant US legislation and as such is registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
As a member of the SIPC, investments are protected up to $500,000 (including $250,000 for claims for cash).
Also, I should mention that all Acorns Checking Accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) up to at least $250,000 per depositor, per ownership category.
Is Acorns safe?
When it comes to the safety of user accounts Acorns uses SSL encryption. This is 256-bit level encryption and ensures that your personal and financial information is kept safe and secure. This is on top of the bank-level security featuring multiple safeguards to help prevent unauthorized access to your account.
Lastly, in case of any unusual activity on your account, you will be issued with an automated alert to help deal with any possible fraud.
Acorns Useful Information
You might find the following information useful in my Acorns Review.
How to contact Acorns
There are three ways to contact Acorns:
- The easiest way to contact Acorns is through their In-App Chat.
- You can also call from 5 am-7 pm PST, 7 days a week, on the following number: 855-739-2859.
How to withdraw funds from Acorns
You can withdraw money from your Acorns account by submitting a withdrawal request from your account, either on the website or via the app.
What is the downside to Acorns?
The only real downside I can see is the high fee for smaller account balances. Also, the “spare change” attitude to investing can be a bit limiting.
Is Acorns legit and safe?
Acorns is a safe and legitimate broker and financial service provider. On that front, I have no concerns, and neither should you.
Is Acorns worth using?
Yes, Acorns is worth it, especially if you are new to saving. You will find that your everyday purchases via your linked account will soon grow into a portfolio.
Is Acorns a good way to make money?
Yes, Acorns is a good way to make money. But as much as it encourages good financial habits, you may come to find its range of services too small for you.