If you’re new to the online trading scene you will undoubtedly have come across thousands of brokers, all offering different features and products. Choosing the right trading platform is crucial.
In this Acorns vs Robinhood comparison, we examine everything from fees and commissions to mobile apps and safety. Read on to find out which online broker is right for you!
In This Guide
Launched in 2012, Acorns is a US-based broker that is regulated by top financial authorities including the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
Acorns is not a traditional brokerage firm, instead, it specializes in automated trading and micro-investments. Acorns offer five different investment portfolios which are designed to maximize returns depending on your risk tolerance and your trading goals.
In addition to no account minimums, Acorns does not charge commission. Instead, this online broker offers a trading experience and service that is completely automated and driven by algorithms.
And is Robinhood legit? Robinhood is also a US-based broker that was founded in 2013 and offers a bunch of investment options. In terms of the fundamentals, this online investment platform is regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.
Robinhood provides access to stock, ETF, options, and crypto trading. As well as commission-free ETF and US stock trading, this broker has low non-trading fees and even offers an automated trading service called ‘Recurring Investments’. The popularity of low-cost trading is growing as more new investors enter the trading scene. As such, Robinhood offers fractional shares which means you can buy individual stocks with as little as $1.
When you set up a profile with Acorns app, its algorithm will recommend an investment portfolio based on the goals and information you enter. An Acorns portfolio is made to maximize any potential returns depending on your level of risk tolerance.
Your funds are then invested automatically into twelve separate ETFs. These exchange-traded funds cover bonds, stocks, and other assets.
With Acorns there are two ways to invest your money:
The ETFs that Acorns offers are as follows:
Robinhood allows you to buy and sell financial instruments including stocks, options, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies. For traders with a preference in digital currency trading, you will be pleased to find out that Robinhood offers 7 different cryptos thus giving you access to the likes of commission-free Ethereum trading. Other cryptos include:
Robinhood provides roughly 5,000 ETFs and stocks which are mostly listed on the top stock exchanges in the United States. You can also gain access to some international stock markets which are provided via American Depositary Receipts.
When it comes to options trading, you are limited to just stock and stock index options which are only available for major stocks.
With Acorns, you can choose between 3 different subscription options depending on your trading objectives and financial needs.
To summarize, Acorns offers standard investment accounts, retirement accounts, checking accounts, and investment accounts for kids.
Opening an Acorns account is fully digital and simple. There are no minimum deposits required to open an account with Acorns, however, to start investing you need to fund your brokerage account with the Round-ups feature or with a one-time investment of $5. Acorns also gives you the option to use Recurring Investments which start at $5 and you can set the frequency to daily, weekly or monthly.
Let’s turn our focus to Robinhood now. When you sign up with Robinhood by default you open a Robinhood Instant account. There is no minimum deposit required to open an Instant account but you can upgrade to a Robinhood Gold account at any time with a $2,000 minimum deposit and a $5 monthly fee. It’s worth noting here that retirement (IRA) accounts are not provided with this broker.
When it comes to day trading, you are restricted to three-day trades per week, by Pattern Day Trading regulations, with instant and gold accounts. If you have an account balance lower than $25,000 and execute more than 3 day trades your account will be barred for 90 days. Despite there being no such limits when using a Cash Account, day trading is practically redundant as you will have to wait at least 3 days for settlement after you have sold securities to use any profits.
As we have already mentioned, Acorns provides three separate subscription tiers to suit your trading and financial goals. Acorns Lite has a $1 monthly subscription fee, Acorns Personal has a $3 per month fee and Acorns Family has a $5 per month subscription fee.
Acorns Invest offers an automated trading service that invests your spare change allowing you to invest in 5 different ETF portfolios for as little as $5. Your investments are diversified across thousands of ETF stocks and bonds, and in terms of rebalancing, this is also automated depending on your trading goals and risk threshold.
If you use an Acorns Spend account, which is a checking account, you have the ability to save, invest and make returns while spending money. There is no overdraft limit or minimum balance fees, and you also get access to Allpoint ATMs.
Account management fees are fees that an advisor or robo-advisory service charges to manage your investment account. Acorns charges a linear rate as opposed to a percentage of the assets. Fixed rates are typically beneficial for traders with large account balances.
For example, let’s say that you open an Acorns Lite account with a $1 per month account management fee. If you have an account balance of $100 this management fee becomes 12% of your annual management fees. On the flip side, if you have an account balance of $10,000 this $1 per month subscription fee becomes 0.12% of your annual management fees.
There is no minimum deposit to open an Acorns account, but you need at least $5 to start investing in one of the five pre-built ETF investment portfolios. If you want to transfer your investments to another brokerage firm, there is a $50 per exchange-traded fund charge. This is something you need to keep in mind because if you have ten ETFs and you want to transfer them to another broker you will incur a hefty $500 transfer fee.
Robinhood offers commission-free stock, ETF, options, and crypto trading. In terms of non-trading fees, these are also very low. For instance, there are no inactivity, deposit, or withdrawal fees.
Transferring securities from your Robinhood Financial account to alternative brokers can be done through the Automated Customer Account Transfers Service otherwise known as ACATS. You have the option to transfer all or a portion of your securities in either a full or partial ACAT transfer. There is a $75 fee when using ACATS to transfer securities.
When it comes to margin trading with Robinhood you will need a minimum deposit of $2,000 and there is a 2.5% APY charge.
Personal – $3 per month
Family – $5 per month
Opening an account is simple, fully digital, and can be completed in a matter of minutes. Navigating your way around both trading platforms is simple and easy as well.
As with most robo-advisory services, Acorns makes the whole trading process automatic, giving the user access to a passive and hands-off way of investing. When you sign up with Acorns you will be asked to provide your age, financial and trading objectives, risk tolerance, total earnings, and time horizon.
Based on that data Acorns then recommends one of five investment portfolios ranging from aggressive, which is made up of 55% large company stocks, to conservative which is made up of 80% short-term government bonds and ultra-short-term corporate bonds.
Robinhood offers a fully-fledged web trading platform that is very user-friendly and simple. This is evident from the very first moment you land on the page with a well-designed layout and good search functionality. On the downside, you cannot customize charts and the trading dashboard which some advanced traders may find annoying.
The search functions provide relevant results allowing you to find exactly what you are looking for 100% of the time. Furthermore, if you click on a stock you can gain access to related tags by clicking on the collections button. By tapping on a tag, Robinhood will present stocks with the same tag which is a useful feature if you wanted to compare similar stocks.
Robinhood also makes placing an order type, such as market orders and stop-loss orders, very easy. You can also set a range of price alerts and push notifications for different events from earnings announcements to price movements.
Both Acorns and Robinhood allow you to invest via a mobile investment app. These are compatible with both Apple and Android devices, allowing you to stay in the loop regardless of where you may be.
Acorns, which is now home to more than 8 million users, offers a mobile trading app that is very similar to the web platform. You can invest your spare change with the Round-ups feature, invest for your children using Acorns Early (a UTMA/UGMA investment account), and widen your trading knowledge with custom financial content provided by CNBC and the broker itself, all from the comfort of your own mobile device.
Robinhood provides a mobile trading app that closely reflects the functionality and user experience of the web trading platform. It uses a two-step authentication login process which is great for logging in and out securely.
In terms of functionality, when using the Robinhood app you can search for your favourite stocks, cryptos, and other assets using the search bar, and, if you have a Gold account you can access Nasdaq level II market data in real-time, and other research tools such as trading ideas from Morningstar, all from your mobile device.
As both brokers are targeted towards beginner traders they both provide a range of educational materials.
Acorns provides content that it creates in-house as well as from third-party providers including CNBC. Simply, click on the ‘Education’ tab at the top of the screen and choose between ‘Money Basics’ and ‘Grow Magazine’. Both these educational resources offer relevant information to help you build your understanding of investing and online trading.
The same can be said for Robinhood. To access the educational materials, simply click on the Learn tab at the top of the page and choose between investing basics, a library of content, and ‘Snacks’. With ‘investing basics’ and ‘library’ you can access everything you need to build your online trading knowledge. The ‘Snacks’ feature is a daily newsletter covering all the key financial news for the day. All you need to do is enter your email and click subscribe.
When it comes to trading ideas, Robinhood offers analyst ratings of various securities to help you make informed trading decisions. These analyst ratings reveal how many experts rate the assets as hold, sell or buy.
If you are interested in fundamental analysis and data then you can access some basic metrics including price-earnings ratios, market cap, and dividend yield. Robinhood also offers fractional shares which means that you can invest in some ETFs and stocks that are valued at thousands of dollars per share with just $1.
Investing in fractional shares is a great way to maximize your portfolio diversification without spending large amounts of money on expensive shares.
A demo account, otherwise referred to as a paper trading account, gives you the ability to trade with virtual funds. Therefore, demo accounts give you a realistic online trading experience without the added risk of losing your money.
During our research, we found that both brokers do not offer demo accounts.
Acorns Spend is a checking account that was developed with Lincoln Savings Bank. After opening an Acorns Spend account your account is linked to an Invest or Later account with the broker.
When it comes to depositing cash you can do so by depositing funds into your connected primary checking account and then you can transfer the funds directly to your Acorns Spend account.
With an Acorns Spend checking account there are no account fees and you have access to tens of thousands of fee-free ATMs. You can also transfer funds to your Spend checking account from a PayPal e-wallet.
Withdrawing money from your Acorns checking account can take between 3 and 5 working days due to the settlement period of 2 days.
In terms of Robinhood’s payment options, your funds arrive instantly when using the instant deposit feature. Alternatively, you can expect funds to arrive in your account after 4 to 5 business days. However, there are some limitations: if you are using an Instant account you are allowed to deposit any sum up to $1,000 straightaway, whereas Gold account holders are limited to a $50,000 instant deposit. You can only deposit funds via bank transfers as credit cards, debit cards, and e-wallets are not supported payment methods. If you want to withdraw funds from your account, you will be happy to hear that there are no fees for ACH withdrawals, but it can take 3 business days to process.
Acorns customer support can be reached by submitting a request or accessing the Acorns Support virtual assistant.
When it comes to submitting a request, you have to choose from a list of potential issues and then fill in your contact details such as email address and phone number. It usually takes 1 business day to receive a response and the answers are relevant and straight to the point.
It’s the same story when you go to Robinhood as well. Customer services can only be reached via email by submitting a request. After you have chosen a topic and given a brief description of your query you can expect an answer within one business day.
Overall, Robinhood is better suited to beginners with little trading experience who want to trade US shares and ETFs without paying a penny in commission. If you’d like to see how Robinhood does when pinned against other top brokers be sure to check out these comparison reviews as well!
With regards to safety and regulation, both brokers are regulated by top financial authorities including the US SEC and FINRA.
Robinhood and Acorns are members of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation which protects client funds up to $500,000 including $250,000 for cash claims.
In terms of protection, it’s important to note here that Robinhood Crypto LLC is not a member of the Financial Industry Regulation Authority and therefore its clients are not covered by the US investor protection scheme.
Throughout this Robinhood vs Acorns comparison, we have found that both Robinhood and Acorns are tailored for new investors who have just started to test the waters of the online trading scene. Both offer low-cost access to trading and investing, from automated investment portfolios and fractional shares to zero-commission trading.
Both brokers are home to millions of traders and are regulated by top-tier financial authorities. If you’ve enjoyed this broker comparison so far then check out our M1 Finance vs Robinhood review as well.
However, we recommend taking a look at the best social trading platform in 2021 – eToro. In short, eToro has more than 20 million active traders and is regulated by the UK’s FCA, ASIC, and CySEC. In terms of automated trading, if you’re searching for the best copy trading platform then eToro is your safest bet.
Open an eToro Account
67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider.
This online trading platform offers a range of financial products. It also provides a fully developed forex trading facility that covers tons of major, minor and exotic currency pairs.
All in all, if you are looking for an all-round great copy trading platform with 100% commission-free trading then eToro is our number one recommended broker for 2021.
Copy trading gives you the ability to mimic the investment portfolio and ongoing trades of advanced investors with the click of a button. In other words, this is a hands-off approach to online investing – as the experienced trader of your choice will decide which instruments to buy and which to sell.
Having said this, you determine the amount you wish to invest in copying another trader, and you can close your positions at any time. Moreover, you can even make money by allowing other investors, on the social trading platform, to copy your trading decisions.
While all the brokers in question are worth considering, we found that the best platform for online trading in 2021 is eToro!
Start Copy Trading With eToro
67% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
The answer to this depends on the type of trader you are. If you are looking for a passive investing strategy then Acorns is the broker for you because it offers five pre-designed investment portfolios ranging from conservative to aggressive. On the other hand, if you want to have the option of using automated trading as well as manually buying and selling assets such as Bitcoin and stocks then Robinhood is a great choice. With zero-commission trades, you can even trade on margin and if day trading is your thing then you can do that also with Robinhood. However, if you’re looking for a top-rated broker that offers social and copy trading features, and 100% zero-commission trading all from the comfort of your own home then eToro is by far the best option.
Simply put, Acorns is a robo-advisor; this means that algorithms and high-tech software create and manage your portfolio of investments. One of the most attractive elements of robo-advisors is that they are cost-effective. After you have answered some questions regarding your trading goals and risk tolerance, Acorns will recommend one of its 5 pre-built investment portfolios. The fully automated trading service automatically invests your spare change on a regular basis into a diversified portfolio of ETFs. Subscription fees vary depending on the type of account you choose.
Founded in 2012, Acorns is a US-based robo-advisor that offers 5 different investment portfolios covering 7,000+ ETFs. Acorns is regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and is a member of FINRA. This broker offers commission-free automatic trading with the click of a button.
Closing your Acorns account can be done on both the web trading platform and the Acorns app. All you have to do is log in and tap on the menu at the top left-hand side of the screen. Then click on ‘settings’, ‘my subscription’, ‘close account’, ‘cancel subscription’. After this you need to follow the directions to close and liquidate the account.
Acorns makes revenue from its monthly subscription fees and annual management fees for accounts with balances greater than $5,000.
Dassos Troullides is an experienced finance writer who specializes in CFD, stock, and crypto trading. In particular, Dassos is skilled at breaking down complex financial topics to help new and advanced investors make better trading decisions. Dassos has also written for BuyShares as well as TradingPlatforms.
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