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It’s so easy to put off saving until tomorrow. Articles about the retirement crisis in America seem to be published once a week, but Americans as a whole still don’t do enough to fund investment accounts. Like most of life’s big undertakings, the first step is the most difficult. If you only have a couple hundred dollars (or less) to invest, you might think you’ll struggle to build a diverse portfolio, even with ETFs.
Micro investing apps solve that problem. These companies want to get a younger generation into the investment world, even if they can only afford to put away leftover change from a coffee run. There’s no gimmick, no sales pitch and no promise of beating the market. The primary goal is helping you take that first step.
The Best Micro Investing Apps
You’ll find the best micro investing apps below, based on affordability, low minimum account balances, and portfolio variety.
- Newer investors looking to leave the heavy pulling to a robo-advisor
- Regular debit card users who want to save change automatically
- Families building wealth
- Prepping for future investing
Acorns is one of the most prominent names in the micro investing world. The company has been gaining steam since it was founded in 2012.
The company has two ways for users to invest: you can link your bank account and deposit money the old-fashioned way or you can link your debit or credit card and contribute by rounding up purchases. If you turn on the “round-up” feature and buy a cheesesteak for $6.75, you’ll pay $7 and the extra quarter will go into your Acorns portfolio.
There are three different pricing tiers, but they don’t charge a percentage of assets unless you have over $1 million. You only need $5 to open an account.
- $1 per month for standard Acorns Core
- $2 per month for Acorns Later with IRA accounts and extra features
- $3 per month for Acorns Later + Spend with all extra features plus a checking account
Their mobile app is available on iOS and Android.
- $0 for Personal Portfolio, Investment Account (Taxable Brokerage Account) and Bank Account
- $1 for IRA and Custodial Accounts
2. Stash Invest
Stash has a huge selection of investment options, including individual stocks like 3M, Bank of America, Netflix and more. You only need $1 to get started and you can make deposits straight from your external bank account.
With Stash, you have more control over the investment process and can choose from a broader selection of 3,000+ stocks and ETFs. In addition, Stash also provides access to a robust banking service where users can get their pay up to 2 days early1. and Stock-BackⓇ rewards2 as well as retirement and custodial accounts (UGMA/UTMA), which makes Stash a one-stop shop for money management.
The Stash App is available both on iOS and Android.
UNest is billed as a convenient and simple college savings micro-investment tool. You can tailor the account to meet your child’s needs as not all children plan to attend college. Use the age of your child and what you believe their future goals are to save properly.
A Regular account allows you to set up a fund, choose from several different investment options and accept gifts from friends or family. The Family account allows you to manage savings for up to 5 children along with the perks that come with an UNest account.
UNest accounts are sharable, meaning you can send the link to anyone and ask them to contribute. You also earn rewards when you shop with UNest partners, including Old Navy, DoorDash and Nike.
Set up your account, pay the tiny monthly fee and arrange for automatic deposits into the account. UNest takes care of the rest, and you can withdraw at any time with the tax advantages provided by a UTMA.
EarlyBird allows you to create an investment/savings account for your kids, including the tax advantages you need when passing the money on to your children. The primary mission is to save money for college, helping you share the account with anyone who wants to contribute. You can set up your account for the number of children in the family, and you can easily manage the account from your desktop or the app. Set up the account to investment aggressively or conservatively. You also have the option to create memories to share with your kids when you hand the account (and the money) over to them
Benzinga users get their first $15 free when they sign up with EarlyBird and create a new account. Starting an account like this today gives you several years to plan for your child’s future. One child may attend college, another might study a vocation and still more may require training and certifications to continue on an established career path, and EarlyBird makes all that possible.
When you use MoneyLion, you can do a lot more than invest on the micro level. On the one hand, you can use MoneyLion to manage your money like a traditional bank account. You can also use the account to get paid early, for a cash advance or take out a credit builder loan. On the other hand, you can enter the crypto market.
MoneyLion Crypto recently opened for anyone who wants to invest in this burgeoning market. You can buy Bitcoin and Ethereum with a MoneyLion Crypto account. Aside from buying, selling or holding your tokens, you also use Crypto Round-Ups to add to your holdings with every purchase. This is a simple way to build on your account and invest passively without spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on your assets.
What are Micro Investing Apps?
One of the biggest barriers to building a portfolio is the cost of getting started. Look at the share price on some of the hottest tech stocks right now. Facebook, Netflix, and Tesla are all over $100 per share and if you want to add Google and Amazon That’s the price of a Caribbean vacation. Because shares are expensive and commissions often high, many young people shun traditional brokerage firms. If it’s so expensive to start, why bother?
That changed when companies like Acorns and Stash entered the picture. Using a simple “set it and forget it” approach, they encourage customers to save an extra buck every now and then for investing in fractional shares.
Say you spend $1.50 per day on a coffee from your local corner store. You can round up the purchase and deposit the extra change into an investment account. Fifty cents isn’t enough to build a portfolio, but if you save 50 cents every single day for a year, that’s $182.50 annually. Still small potatoes, sure, but what if you also round up a $71 grocery bill to $75? And turn a $95 cable/internet bill into $100? These small increments can add up to hundreds of extra dollars saved each year.
Who Should Use Micro Investing Apps?
Micro investing apps have two main selling points: low costs and low (or non-existent) account minimums. You don’t need a lot of money or investing knowledge to get started, so the most common users of micro investing apps are:
- Young investors without access to much capital.
- Inexperienced investors who don’t want to pay commissions or deposit a lot of money right away.
- Hands-off investors who want to automate saving into a brokerage account.
- Investors who want to develop good habits like dollar-cost averaging and resist the urge to overtrade.
You don’t necessarily need to be a millennial to fit the micro investing profile, but millennials are the ones flocking to these platforms. These companies have rolled out terrific mobile apps, each built to simplify and automate the investment process.
Things to Look for in a Micro Investing App
If micro investing sounds like something that fits your style and budget, you’ll need to select a company that matches your long-term goals. Not all micro investing platforms are the same. Some build their own portfolios and others invest in established ETFs and mutual funds. The best ones all have a few common attributes:
- Affordability: Even though these companies invest small increments of money, there’s still a cost of doing business. Find a company that offers the level of service you’re looking for at a competitive price. What’s the point of paying high fees if you’re only investing a few dollars at a time?
- Low minimum account balances: Avoiding high account minimums is a must. If you need a lot of money to get started, you’re probably better off with a traditional brokerage.
- Portfolio variety: Diversification is more than a buzzword. The best micro investing apps want to help you reach your investing goals by providing a wide array of options.
Benzinga used specific criteria to determine the top micro investing apps. Each company may have different attributes, but you’ll definitely notice a pattern among our highest ranked apps.
Micro investing apps are great platforms for inexperienced investors to get a taste of trading without putting down huge sums of money.
However, you should have realistic expectations about how these apps build wealth. Saving a couple extra dollars each week isn’t going to make you rich. When using these apps, keep in mind they were made to be stepping stones toward more serious investing./plac
Frequently Asked Questions
What is micro investing?
Micro investing allows you to automatically contribute small amounts of money into the market by purchasing fractional shares.
What are some excellent micro investing apps?
Benzinga recommends Stash Invest, Acorns and StockPile.
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