Are you a Millennial or Gen-Xer that has contemplated investing but doesn’t know where to begin? Micro-investing apps are a way to get your feet wet and are designed to encourage the younger generation to start investing.
If you are new to or know little about micro-investing, this guide will give you the information you need to get started. It will cover the best micro-investing apps for Millennials and everything you should know about micro-investing including what it is, how it works, and how to choose an app.
Overview of the best micro-investing apps for Millennials
App Best for
Acorns Best overall
Robinhood Individual stock picking
Betterment Hands-off investing
Stash Debit card purchases
Public Social investing
SoFi Invest CFP access
Stockpile Investing for kids
This is one of the first and most popular micro-investing apps around. Account portfolios range from conservative to aggressive. This app will recommend portfolios based on your age, the risk you are willing to take, and what age you anticipate you will retire. Acorns takes the hassle out of investing by providing a micro-investing service. With one click, you can get started with any amount and automatically invest it according to your risk tolerance level–no more worrying about saving up money for each separate investment.
And if that’s not enough, Acorns also rewards its customers while shopping at partner stores through their Found Money program; they offer cash back without all the work because you’ll have an extra boost in your portfolio every time you shop online or offline. Acorns makes it easy for anyone to start investing – even kids. You can open accounts on behalf of those under 18 years old and build them up as parents monitor progress from afar via their family plan option.
Acorns has some really fun and interactive educational resources for those who are new to micro-investing, too. No minimum deposit is needed, so you can start investing with just $5. You’ll also get a referral bonus when you refer someone else or find a job offer — Acorns will match your investments up to the first year in which they work there. In other words, it’s free money.
The fees for micro-investing with Acorns are based on the level of account that you sign up for. The monthly fees can be as low as $3 per month or as high as $5 per month. You can choose between Personal and Family account levels:
- Personal – $3 per month gives you the benefits from personal services such as a checking account with a debit card and no account fees or ATM fees and the ability to earn up to 10% bonus investments.
- Family – $5 a month, and the entire family can invest. You can add any number of kids with no extra fees and access exclusive offers, in addition to the benefits from the Personal account type.
You can sign up for this micro-investing app through their website or by downloading their app on a device that uses iOS or Android operating systems. As with other micro-investing apps, you provide information about yourself, create a username and password, pick the type of account you want to sign up for, fund your account, and begin investing. One drawback of Acorns is that fees can add up for a low-balance account (the relative expense ratio gets smaller as you invest more), and transferring to another provider will cost $50 per ETF.
Robinhood is a micro-investing app that lets you buy and sell stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies with zero trading fees. It’s the best place to start investing online because it’s the only free investment app on the market.
Robinhood was created by a couple of engineers who wanted to make stock trading more accessible for everyone. They had no idea that their little side project would eventually become one of America’s most popular financial apps.
The app is available for iOS or Android devices as well as through a web browser. To sign up for an account, you must be 18, with a valid ID to pass the company’s Know Your Customer (KYC) process. Robinhood also provides $3 – $225 in free stock when you sign up through their mobile app on iOS or Android device or their website.
Robinhood does not offer multiple account types to choose from but doesn’t charge any commission fees. Hence, trades are always at a flat rate of $0 per trade, making it a viable option for newer investors. Note that if you decide to transfer out of Robinhood, you’ll pay $75 – otherwise, there are no fees.
Learn more about Robinhood or read our full review.
This app is designed for hands-off Millennial investors. Betterment works similar to other apps, with multiple portfolio options and automatic rebalancing of your portfolio. Betterment is a low-cost, automated investing service that takes care of everything for you. You can invest with as little as $25 and get the help of a financial advisor when you want it. It’s a robo-advisor that offers many different types of investments including index funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) so your money will be diversified across multiple asset classes to reduce risk.
Betterment was founded in 2008 by Jon Stein who wanted to make investing easy and accessible for everyone. He created an automated system where users could set up their account, choose what type of portfolio they wanted, and then let Betterment take care of the rest – automatically rebalancing every day to keep things evened out.
There are two types of Betterment accounts:
- Betterment Digital – 0.25% annually of assets managed featuring no minimum requirements, with the option to purchase a financial advisor package. You receive free automatic rebalancing of your portfolio when it drifts 3% or higher.
- Betterment Premium – 0.40% annually of assets managed, and you must maintain a balance of $100,000. In addition to Betterment Digital features, you receive unlimited access to certified financial planners by phone or email.
You can purchase a consultation with financial advisors with packages ranging from $199 to $299 for individuals with a Betterment Premium account.
Betterment makes it easy to get started with your investing. Signing up is quick and accessible through the mobile app or web-based browser, you can link an account for deposits via bank transfer, wire transfers are also available but not recommended due to fees (for example $25 on top of any other charges).
Once signed up Betterment will set up a portfolio that reflects your goals based on questions asked when signing in such as what level of risk do I want? Based on these responses they’ll design a personalized investment plan just for you.
This micro-investing app allows you to invest and reach financial goals with a spouse, partner, or friend. Unlike other micro-investing apps, the focus is placed on low-cost ETFs instead of micro shares. Funding your account is done through recurring or one-time deposits, and you need $100 in your account to begin investing, though you can start an investment account with $5.
Twine was founded with the mission of making small, smart investments in people’s futures. They’re a micro-investing company that allows you to set up financial goals and an expected timeframe for these goals so they can reach them quicker than if it were on your own.
To do this, Twine has created three portfolio types: conservative, aggressive and moderate; which are designed specifically based on how much money is needed when investing as well as what time frame someone needs their goal met by.
There are two ways to get started: one being merely setting up a user account online or through an iPhone app (iOS). You can also invite another person to invest alongside you via email invitation – meaning not only will both of your funds grow together but Twine will help you reach your goals faster.
Twine micro-investment accounts are charged either $0.25 per month for every $500 invested or 0.60% annually with no minimum.
The process of signing up is similar to other apps. You provide your information, set a financial goal, invite someone else to invest with you, and begin funding and investing while monitoring your progress along the way.
On the downside, the mobile app is only for iOS operating systems only. It is more costly than other micro-investing apps and lacks the features that most of these apps offer, such as funding options and the option of fractional shares.
Stash makes it easy and affordable for anyone to utilize and open an account. With Stash, you have more freedom and flexibility than other micro-investing apps.
Stash lets you invest in as little or much as you want and pick the companies, organizations, or causes that you trust. As your holdings grow, so does your potential to invest in what you believe in.
Stash eliminates any fees, commissions, or transaction charges–and they’re always working on adding more stocks to their portfolio for even more possibilities. With the new Stock-Back debit card featuring rewards in stocks opposed to store credit points (which can be converted into cash), it’s just a smarter way to use money every day.
There are two tiers of accounts with Stash:
- Stash Growth – $3 a month gives you access to the benefits of Stash Beginner plus Smart portfolio and additional personal features. Smart Portfolio is a Stash feature that builds a custom portfolio for you based on research and risk level.
- Stash+ – $9 a month allows you to enjoy the benefits of Stash Growth with bonuses. You can open accounts for your kids (max two kids), receive $10,000 in life insurance, and access additional and exclusive Stock-Back card bonuses.
There are three options you can choose from to add money to your Stash account.
- Set recurring deposits to your Stash account.
- Round-up purchases are made with your linked debit card, and the difference is invested.
- Smart-Stash is a feature where your spending and earnings are analyzed, and money is stashed based on this information. You can then set transfer amounts to $5, $10, or $25 max.
The signup process is easy and straight-forward. You answer a few questions, pick a plan, add money to your account, sign up for the banking services offered to receive the Stock-Back debit card, and begin investing. You have the option to create and track your goals using the Stash app.
One minor drawback is the fees, as with any micro-investing app, are the biggest drawback of Stash. The subscription fees per month can add up if you have a low balance. The annual average expense ratio is roughly .25%.
Public is the easiest way to invest. You can invest in stocks, ETFs, and crypto-all in one place with any company and get their take on new money, wrapping up your earnings neatly at monthly intervals so that you don’t have to worry about throwing away all of your cash on material things.
It’s like an investment buffet where all of your favorite individual stocks are united in one easy-to-manage account with no minimum balance requirements and commission fees. All you need is a slice of Public, some greasy fries (tip not included), and the best TV binge ever.
You only pay fees when purchasing shares. There are no membership levels, no account fees, and you can begin using your account when you sign up.
The signup process is easy and convenient. You can sign up through the mobile app available from the Apple Store or Google Play Store.
The biggest drawback of the app is the risk of following advice from strangers about strategy and investing.
SoFi (social finance) is a financial planning company formed in 2011 and offers various products, including micro-investing. SoFi allows you to trade online through their app when you want and what you want. This micro-investing app is designed for Millennials looking for a lot of perks.
SoFi Invest is perfect for newbies who want to be hands off without sacrificing returns. You’ll still have plenty of options though – if you’re more adventurous and want control, go ahead and customize how your fund performs by adjusting frequency, risk tolerance, investment view, holdings duration, and cash flow strategy.
With this money-saving feature the only thing that will cost you is an ACAT transfer fee when transferring outside funds into your share class account through an ACH bank-to-bank or wire payment method – seriously easy stuff for any price-sensitive investor out there.
There are no account or asset management fees, and you do not need a minimum account balance to get started.
There are two options for signing up with SoFi Investing:
- SoFi Active Investing – Allows you to control what you invest in based on your preferences, including the risk level you are comfortable with. You have access to a community of micro investors like yourself, certified financial planners, and other valuable resources at no cost.
- SoFi Automated Investing – This is a more hands-off approach allowing you to use an automated platform to build and manage your portfolio. You receive the same perks offered with SoFi Active without investing time in researching and managing your portfolio.
You can sign up for SoFi Investing using a desktop or their mobile app. You will be asked for basic information. The signup process, including creating your account and scheduling a deposit, takes about 2-5 minutes to complete. It takes 1-2 business days for funds from your deposit to post to your account after your account is approved.
On the downside, SoFi does not offer tax-loss harvesting, and it has a limited track record compared to other micro-investing providers.
This is a micro-investing app designed for young beginner investors who need something simple to get started with investing. You can access this app through a web-based browser or a device using iOS or Android operating systems.
It’s a great option for kids who want to get started early with their own investing or do so on behalf of others as well. When you’re ready to buy the gift that every investor loves, they offer physical stocks in addition to gift cards plus support from their customer service team if you need any assistance along the way.
There are different ways to fund a Stockpile account, link your bank account, and redeem a gift card. You can connect your checking account to move money in and out of your Stockpile account free of charge or use your debit card for a 1.5% convenience fee. If you use your debit card to fund your account, it is done instantly. Using your checking account takes 3-5 business days.
Gift cards cost $2.99 for the first stock. Additional stocks are $.99 each. Purchasing gift cards with credit or debit have an additional fee of 3% of the gift card’s value. Physical plastic cards cost an additional fee ranging from $4.95 – $7.95, depending on the card’s value.
The cost to trade on Stockpile is $0.99 per buying/selling trade. There are no annual or account management fees associated with the account.
The process for opening a Stockpile micro-investing brokerage account is simple. You create an account by providing basic information, fund your account, and begin choosing from the available stocks and ETFs.
Despite the user-friendly interface and simplicity of this app, there are drawbacks. This includes limited account and investment options and minimal tools available to analyze and research stocks.
Summary of the best micro-investing apps for Millennials
App Minimum to start Unique features
Acorns $0 Family plan includes a checking account, retirement account, and custodial accounts for children
Robinhood $0 Invest in cryptocurrency
Betterment $0 Tax-loss harvesting
Twine $0 Shared savings and investment goals for couples
Stash $0 Get “stock-back” on debit card purchases
Public $0 Follow and engage with others a la social media, only with investments
SoFi Invest $0 Ability to connect with Certified Financial Planners
Stockpile $0 Buy stocks with any dollar amount
How we came up with our list of the best micro-investing apps for Millennials
When we were looking for apps to include on this list, there were a few things we wanted to focus on. Before you decide on an app, you need to compare different brokerages and what they have to offer. That said, we looked at apps that had strong reviews, were easy to navigate, and most of all, had little to no fees, including:
- Withdrawal fees.
- Cancellation fees.
- Transaction or investment fees.
- Account opening fees.
- Monthly or annual fees.
- Expense ratio fees.
You want to make sure that you know the actual cost of micro-investing apps and how fees are charged. This includes a flat rate or percentage of transactions.
What is a micro-investing app?
Micro-investing is a way to invest without needing a lot of money to get started. These apps are designed to get the younger generation involved with investing and overcome barriers that prevent Millennials from investing. The funds placed in these accounts are used to invest in fractional shares or ETFs.
Depending on the micro-investing app you select, you can link your debit card and have purchases that you make with the card rounded up to the next dollar then deposited into your account. You can also have automatic transfers of a specific amount placed in the account. A few apps will monitor and analyze your spending and earnings and set money aside that can be transferred to your account to purchase micro shares of ETFs or fractional shares of stock.
Why should you use a micro-investing app?
Micro-investing is a new platform when it comes to investing. However, it is gaining popularity among Millennials that don’t have a lot of money to invest. The main feature of this type of platform can invest micro amounts of cash. Other features are considered bonuses.
Here are other benefits of micro-investing:
- Automated process including rebalancing portfolio and transfers of funds to a portfolio account.
- Minimal management fees.
- No minimum requirements to begin investing.
- Some providers have an option for purchasing fractional shares.
- Most apps allow you to manage your account from an iOS or Android device.
Why shouldn’t you use a micro-investing app?
If you’re a more advanced investor and you want more control over the individual stocks you invest in, a micro-investing app may not be the right option for you. Micro-investing apps are designed to make investing easy and accessible to newer investors (or investors who don’t want to deal with the hassle). That often comes at the cost of lacking some features more advanced investors would enjoy – like stock charts and the ability to do intense analysis.
Most important features of a micro-investing app
When you’re looking for an excellent micro-investing app, there a few key features you need to be aware of:
The first thing you’ll notice when you download the app is the number of customer reviews and how well the app is rated. It helps to look through what other customers are saying about the app before you decide on one. For example, some apps get buggy with new versions or newer phones.
The last thing you want when you’re trying to simplify your investing experience is a cluttered interface that makes investing confusing. Look at the screenshots of the app. Download it to play around with it. Watch videos of it on YouTube. Get a sense as to whether it will be easy for you to use before deciding.
Little to no cost
Most micro-investing apps make their money in ways that aren’t hitting you. Meaning, they might not pay an interest rate on your balance (and instead take that for themselves), or they might collect interchange fees when you use your debit card. Either way, micro-investing apps shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg, so be sure to understand the pricing structure before you sign up.
Determining which app is best for you depends on what features are more important to you. All of the apps mentioned in this guide are designed for Millennials and younger generations to build long-term wealth with minimal fees and small investment amounts. However, they can be used by anyone, regardless of age and expertise, looking for a way to build their savings to invest in the future.