Acorns Checking Review: Saving And Investing Made Easy
Acorns Checking offers a checking account with built-in money management features, including Round-Ups, automatic investing and saving, and fee rebates at more than 55,000 ATMs.
Saving and investing are both important, but moving all that money around can be exhausting. It’s something I often put off for a later day, and then completely forget to do.
That’s why I like Acorns Checking. With Acorns’ Smart Deposit feature, money from each paycheck is automatically distributed as you designate. Some can go into your retirement fund, while some can go into your investment portfolio. The rest hangs out in checking, ready for you to spend.
That’s only one of the many features that make Acorns Checking worth checking out. Let’s dive in together!
What is Acorns Checking?
Acorns Checking grew out of the traditional version of Acorns. Originally, Acorns was a much simpler app that offered just Save and Invest options.
Since then, Acorns has evolved into an all-in-one, robust mobile banking app that lets you manage your savings, checking, and investments all in one place.
Acorns Checking is the checking account side of Acorns, offering a heavy-metal debit card and all the features (and much more) of your usual checking account.
Everything is managed entirely online, so you won’t find any physical branches, but for those who value mobile banking, Acorns has a lot to offer!
How does Acorns Checking work?
To get started with Acorns Checking, go to the Acorns site and click “Get started.”
Choose a username and password to start setting up an Acorns account.
The next step is to link your bank account. This will allow you to move money into your account.
Most major banks are listed, and you can easily search the list by inputting the first letters of your bank account. If you’d prefer to get your account set up now and link to your bank later, simply click “Skip” in the upper right-hand corner of the screen.
Next, you’ll be asked to enter some personal information in order to set up your Acorns account.
Acorns will also need your contact information for the account.
You’ll need to verify the phone number you provided. You’ll also get an email asking you to upload a photo of your driver’s license, passport, or another form of a government-issued ID to finalize setting up your account.
Once you have your Acorns Checking account, you can move money from your bank account to your new Acorns account and set up direct deposit.
Pricing for Acorns Checking
Acorns Checking requires a paid monthly subscription, but you’ll need to choose a plan that includes the features you want. For Checking, you’ll need to at least have an Acorns Personal account. Here’s the breakdown of Acorns pricing:
Acorns Personal Acorns Family
Price $3 a month $5 a month
Investing Yes Yes
Retirement savings Yes Yes
Checking Yes Yes
Early (Checking for kids) No Yes
Acorns Checking features
You have plenty of options when it comes to checking accounts, but Acorns Checking has a few features that set them apart from the competition.
Full suite of checking features
You’ll get all the modern features you expect from a checking account, including:
- Mobile check deposit.
- Check sending.
- Funds transfers between accounts.
- Account monitoring.
You can also easily move money to your investments or retirement savings directly in the app, or with a couple of taps on the screen, set up Round-Ups and recurring deposits, and manage Smart Deposit.
With other platforms, your paycheck drops into your checking account and stays there until you spend it or transfer it elsewhere. But Acorns offers Smart Deposit, allowing you to set up your direct deposits to distribute to your other accounts. On payday, your check will automatically split between Checking, Retire, and Invest in the amounts you designate ahead of time.
Direct deposit customer incentive
Acorns is giving customers additional reasons to sign up for an account. All you have to do is set up direct deposit and wait through two deposits. Once the second deposit has posted, you’ll get a bonus of $75 dropped into your checking account!
As you’re shifting money into your Acorns Invest account, you’ll have the option to participate in Acorns’ ESG Invest, which stands for environmental, social, and governance. This feature lets you invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) dedicated to companies that meet standards related to eco-friendliness, social responsibility, and ethics.
Rewards when you spend
Acorns members have access to a Chrome browser extension that helps you earn points while you spend. You can also earn points by looking for a job or inviting friends. More than 12,000 partners participate in this program, so chances are, you’ll be earning rewards for activities you’d be doing anyway.
Automatic fee negotiation
Earlier this year, Acorns acquired Harvest, a service that helps customers get out of debt. Harvest is now one of the services you’ll get as an Acorns accountholder. Harvest uses the latest technology to identify areas where you can lower bank and credit card fees, then it negotiates on your behalf.
Path to $1,000,000 sweepstakes
Through Dec. 15, 2021, Acorns customers can enter to win $1 million. You earn entries in the sweepstakes by rounding up purchases, setting up recurring investments, and reaching balance milestones. The sweepstakes offers a fun incentive to save and invest.
Set money aside for children
What’s so great about Acorns is how intertwined all of their services are. In addition to Acorns Checking, if you have children, Acorns Early is also a great way to start setting money aside for the future. In just minutes, you can set up an investing account and create recurring transfers via your Checking account to make sure it grows. You can even set up separate accounts for each child.
With Acorns Checking, you can round up every purchase to the nearest dollar, with the extra change going toward your investments. The Round-Up feature applies whether you use your Acorns Visa Debit Card or another card that’s linked to your Acorns account.
Custom-engraved heavy-metal debit card
When you set up a checking account, you expect a debit card, but the Acorns Visa Debit Card isn’t your ordinary plastic card. It’s made of tungsten metal with a matte green finish. Best of all, your signature is custom engraved onto the surface. No more trying to sign the back with a pen that smudges no matter how long you wait for it to dry.
As your money goes into your investment account, you’ll want to make sure your portfolio is set up to get the best results. Acorns helps with that by providing smart portfolios. Designed by experts, these portfolios are made to fit your unique investment goals.
Fee-free ATM withdrawals
Sometimes you need a little cash. You don’t have to worry about ATM fees with Acorns Checking. Acorns will reimburse your ATM fees at more than 55,000 ATM locations around the country and even outside the U.S.
My experience researching Acorns Checking
The first thing that strikes me about Acorns Checking is how simple and straightforward the mobile interface is. At a glance, you can see your current balance. You can also easily transfer funds, deposit a check, or find an ATM directly from that screen.
The best thing, in my opinion, about Acorns is how easy it is to get started investing. There’s even a sweepstakes that incentivizes accountholders to round up and set up recurring investments. With so many helpful tools, it’s easy to see how I’d be able to start building a portfolio quickly.
The best thing about Acorns Checking is the Smart Deposit feature. I’ve heard “pay yourself first” from many experts over the years. The problem with that is that when there are so many bills to pay, it can be easy to put off saving and investing for later. With Smart Deposit, the money never goes into my checking account so I don’t miss it. Meanwhile, my savings and investments are growing in the background.
Who is Acorns Checking best for?
Those with recurring deposits
Acorns Checking’s features work for everyone, but they’re ideal for those who have a regular income that can be direct deposited. If you own your own business or freelance, you can still get plenty out of the platform, but regular direct deposits will help you with the Smart Deposit feature.
Families with young children
Once you have children, it becomes even more important to save and invest. Acorns Checking helps with that, but there’s also Acorns Early, which lets you set up a dedicated account to set money aside for each child.
Who shouldn’t use Acorns Checking?
Consumers who like in-person banking
Acorns Checking works great for the many consumers who like mobile banking. If you prefer to go to a brick-and-mortar location and interact with a human teller, Acorns Checking might not provide your ideal banking experience.
Those seeking fee-free banking
Acorns Checking has plenty of features you won’t get with other checking options, but you can easily find checking accounts that come without fees. If you’re looking for standard checking options and don’t plan to take advantage of the investment and savings features, the fees might not be worth it.
Pros & cons
- Automatic saving and investing — With Smart Deposit, Round-Ups, and recurring transfers, you can automatically fund your portfolio and retirement savings.
- All-in-one banking — With Acorns Checking, you can easily connect to the rest of Acorns' features and manage your money all from one place.
- Rewards for spending — When you spend online or look for a job, you’ll build rewards for doing the things you would have likely done anyway.
- Unlimited ATM fee rebates — You’ll get fee rebates at more than 55,000 ATM locations.
- Monthly fees — You can find fee-free checking accounts, but Acorns’ advanced features and fee-free ATM withdrawals can make the fee worth it.
- Automatic portfolios — Those who like to build their own portfolios might not like the Smart Portfolios setup of Acorns.
Acorns Checking vs. competitors
Acorns Checking Chime LendingClub Bank
Pricing $3-$5 per month Free Rewards checking: Free; Tailored checking: $10 per month for balances less than $5,000; Essential checking: $9 per month
ATM fees Fees rebated at 55,000+ ATMs No-fee transactions at 60,000+ ATMs Unlimited ATM rebates
Automatic investing Both recurring investments and automatic deposits from your paycheck are available Automatic savings only N/A
Rewards Rewards for spending with more than 12,000 partners N/A Unlimited 1% cash back on debit card purchases and 1.5% back on select purchases
Unique features Smart Deposit, round-ups, automatic investing for kids $200 overdraft coverage, on savings, early access to paycheck ATM fee rebates, cash back rewards, up to 0.15% APY, unlimited cash back on purchases
Although Chime doesn’t offer investing, you can set up automated savings. Your savings account will earn 2.00% APY.7 But like Acorns Checking, Chime rewards you for direct deposit. Once you’ve established that you have a dependable direct deposit, Chime will cover up to $200 in overdrafts on your Chime Visa® Debit Card* with no fees or penalties.5
With Chime, you’ll save on fees.2 There’s no monthly maintenance fee or overdraft penalties, and Chime even lets you spend internationally without paying a foreign transaction fee. But Chime does limit your fee-free ATM withdrawals to the more than 60,000 ATMs in its network.6 Acorns rebates fees at more than 55,000 ATMs. As long as you have an in-network ATM near your home, this might still be a better deal because of the other fee savings.
* Banking services and debit card provided by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
2 There’s no fee for the Chime Savings Account. Cash withdrawal and Third-party fees may apply to Chime Checking Accounts. You must have a Chime Checking Account to open a Chime Savings Account.
5 Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Checking Account each month. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member's Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime's discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won't cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.
6 Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees may apply except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven, or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.
7 The Annual Percentage Yield ("APY") for the Chime Savings Account is variable and may change at any time. The disclosed APY is effective as of November 17, 2022. No minimum balance required. Must have $0.01 in savings to earn interest.
When it comes to ATM fee reimbursement, it’s hard to beat LendingClub Rewards Checking. No matter where you use your ATM card, LendingClub covers the fees. But if you don’t want to wait for the rebate at the end of each month, you can make your cash withdrawals at one of more than 325,000 in-network ATMs without paying any fees at all.
But that’s not the best news when it comes to LendingClub. When you use your LendingClub debit card, you get 1% unlimited cash back!
Banking has been redefined in the era of mobile lending. Acorns Checking is a prime example of that, with features that make it easy to set money aside for retirement and build an investment portfolio. Once you’ve set up your account, you can make saving and investing automatic, freeing you up to focus on budgeting the funds going into your Checking account.