Acorns Review (2021): Best Investing App for Beginners

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Acorns is a micro-investing app designed to help people grow their financial dreams. While the app excels as the best investment app for beginners, Acorns can work for investors at any level. This tool is especially powerful because there are multiple ways that it keeps your investments working behind the scenes.

You can set up the round-up feature, which means that Acorns will collect spare change from purchases that you make using linked cards. Once that spare change totals $5, that money is invested into your account. Of course, you can also set up recurring contributions.

Acorns allows you to invest in a variety of ways, including traditional taxable investment accounts and retirement accounts, such as Roth IRAs. As an added benefit, Acorns can also help you start investing on behalf of your children.

Acorns Review Summary

  • Acorns is one of the best investment apps for beginners.
  • Acorns popularized micro-investing with their round-up feature.
  • Acorns is a robo-advisor that creates an expert portfolio based on your unique needs or allows you to customize your options.
  • Acorns offers three different low-cost tiers of service, depending on the types of Acorns investments you need.
  • Acorns supports Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs, as well as UTMA/UGMA and checking accounts.

Acorns Pros & Cons

Investing apps make it easy to get started investing, and Acorns allows anyone to get started with just pennies! That’s right. Acorns is a robo-advisor that specializes in micro-investing. This allows users to invest with just the leftover change from everyday purchases, in addition to the more traditional recurring contributions.

Here are the pros and cons to Acorns:


  • Automates the investing process
  • Versatile account options to help you save and invest for any stage of life
  • Shares educational resources and financial planning tools
  • Remains one of the best investing apps for beginners after being on the scene for nearly a decade!


  • Monthly cost seems low but can be significant until users have a more sizeable balance
  • Fewer asset classes than other robo-advisors
  • Only offers UTMA/UGMA option, not a 529 plan, for kids’ savings.

How Does Acorns Work?

Acorns is an micro-investing app that allows you to invest your spare change. Once your spare change adds up to $5, Acorns will start to invest your money in a diversified ETF portfolio featuring over 7,000 stocks and bonds.

You can also make recurring contributions to supercharge your investment accounts.

Worried that you won’t know where to invest? When you open your account, Acorns will work with you to determine a best-fit portfolio based on your income, risk tolerance, and goals.

What stood out most to us in this Acorns app review is that there’s sure to be an Acorns investments option that is right for you.

Let’s explore some of the different ways Acorns can help you grow your money.

Acorns Invest

Acorns Invest is a micro-investing account. It functions like a typical taxable investing account. So what makes it micro? It specializes in taking small amounts of money (like round-ups from credit card purchases) and allowing you to invest.

Your money is invested in a portfolio made up of a combination of stocks and bonds in ETFs that match your investing profile, risk tolerance, and goals.

Acorns Later

Acorns Later is an account your future self will thank you for. You can use Acorns Later to set up a Roth, traditional, or SEP IRA. Depending on your preference, your retirement account can be funded through round-ups or you can set up automatic transfers.

As you get closer to retirement, Acorns will rebalance your portfolio so that it is a bit more conservative. While no investments are guaranteed, a more conservative portfolio means that funds are more likely to be available when you need them.

Acorns Spend

Looking to combine your investing and banking needs with a single company? Acorns can help! Acorns Spend is a checking account that you can also set up. The account is linked to a Visa debit card, which can also be used for investment round-ups if you’d like.

Out of all the investment apps we’ve reviewed, the Acorns Spend debit card comes with one of the largest fee-free ATM networks in the United States. Card holders can access over 55,000 ATMs at no additional cost.

Acorns Early

Many families wonder how they can give their children a head start. Acorns Early can help with that. This account allows you to invest on behalf of your children through a UTMA or UGMA account.

Set up the account however you would like. You can make automatic transfers or simply move money into the account on special occasions. You can even use the round-up feature to add spare change to their account every time you shop.

How Do I Open an Acorns Account?

Are you ready to give Acorns a try? Opening an Acorns account is a quick and simple process. In fact, Acorns believes you can start growing your oak in about five minutes.

Step 1 – Create an Acorns account name and password. Click the “Get Started” button to create your log-in information.

Step 2 – Get connected. Link your existing bank accounts, as well as any debit and/or credit cards, to your Acorns account. By doing this, you will be able to invest in lump sums or using the round-up feature.

Step 3 – Answer honestly. Acorns will ask you a series of questions intended to help them get to know you better as an investor.

Step 4 – Review their recommendations. You will get a portfolio recommendation based on your questionnaire answers and leading economic theory. You can either accept their portfolio recommendation or make customizations.

Step 5 – Get ready to invest. Once you’re happy with your portfolio options, you can schedule recurring deposits or activate the round-up option. Then, Acorns will get to work on growing your money thanks to the many Acorns investments options.

Acorns App Features and Benefits

For a single app, Acorns is packed with features and benefits. Let’s get to know some of these features that will help set you up for investing success.

Purchase Round Ups

Purchase Round Ups is what makes Acorns a micro-investing app. When you set up your Acorns account, you choose which debit and credit cards you want to link. Then, if you give Acorns permission to do so, it will start rounding up your purchases to the next dollar and investing the spare change on your behalf.

Acorns Invest Spare Change

Recurring Investments

In addition to their purchase round ups, Acorns also allows users to make recurring investments. It’s another way that you can make money moves behind the scenes without any extra thought or effort. Set up your recurring investment to coincide with your paycheck or any other schedule that fits your financial plan.

Acorns Earn & Found Money

Acorns Earn and Found money is another unique part of Acorns. Earn is similar to websites like Rakuten in that it rewards you for shopping at their partner retailers. When you make a purchase at one of these retailers, you get a deposit of “found money” into your account. Deposits can take up to 90 days.

Money Basics

Another feature of Acorns is their Money Basics section of the website and app. This section is designed to help you grow your money and your knowledge by solidifying your understanding of the most foundational financial concepts.

Sample topics include:

  • What are stocks?
  • What are dividends?
  • What is micro-investing?

With a solid understanding of these money basics, you will be able to better understand the app and how Acorns puts your money to work.

Acorns Grow

In partnership with CNBC, Acorns Grow delivers online education to make you a more informed investor. Think of this as a level up from their Money Basics series. Acorns Grow articles are written for everyone–no fancy financial jargon included!

Topics include:

  • Saving
  • Investing
  • Earning
  • Spending
  • Borrowing

Acorns Investment Methodology

Acorns understands that investors typically use two approaches when it comes to setting investment goals. They either tend to look for ways to minimize risk or ways to maximize growth. To extend this idea more, it is helpful to understand a bit about modern portfolio theory. This theory explores the minimum level of risk needed to see an expected return.

But you don’t have to be an expert to craft your own portfolio. Instead, robo-advisors like Acorns use modern portfolio theory to help tailor portfolios that have been crafted to their clients’ needs.

In fact, Acorns has several portfolio options to choose from. These options include:

  • Conservative
  • Moderately conservative
  • Moderate
  • Moderately aggressive
  • Aggressive

Their conservative portfolio is a mixture of bonds, including government and corporate bond funds. On the opposite end of the risk tolerance spectrum is the aggressive portfolio, which is made up of large, medium, small, and international stock fund options.

ESG Investing with Acorns

In addition to their core portfolio options, Acorns also now features sustainable portfolios. They also vary by risk tolerance. Additionally, these portfolio options keep a closer eye on exactly what you are investing in. If you want your money to be even greener, a sustainable portfolio might be right for you.

ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance. Those are three main factors that are analyzed. Then, based on the ESG findings, more sustainable portfolio options are born. That means that the companies tend to be more sustainable (big oil is out, for example!) while still performing similarly to their core options.

Acorns Fees & Plans

One of the biggest battles investors have to fight is against fees. Investing can absolutely grow wealth, but fees can chomp away at it. That’s why it’s crucial to always understand how fees are structured with your investment accounts.

Let’s explore exactly what Acorns costs.

Acorns Lite

Are you new to investing? Maybe you currently invest but want to give micro-investing a try. Acorns Lite is perfect for you. This plan costs $1 per month and allows users to take advantage of the Acorns Invest account.

You will be able to:

  • Round up your purchases with linked cards to micro invest
  • Set recurring investments
  • Earn bonuses from Found Money partners
  • Access all of their financial resources and planning tools

Acorns Personal

Acorns Personal is a level up from Acorns Lite. In addition to opening an Acorns Invest account, users on this plan can also open a checking account and a retirement account.

For $3 per month, you can enjoy all the benefits of Acorns Lite, plus:

  • Set up a retirement account, like a Roth IRA
  • Open a checking account
  • Access over 55,000 fee-free ATMs globally

Acorns Family

Do you want to take full advantage of everything Acorns offers? An Acorns Family plan gives users full access to Acorns Invest, Acorns Later, Acorns Spend, and Acorns early. Think of it as an all-in-one family financial planning platform.

For $5 per month, you can enjoy all the benefits of Acorns Personal, plus:

  • Open an investment account for your kids
  • Get financial advice tailored specifically to family and kids’ needs

You also want to note that these fees are the fees associated with each tier of plans available through Acorns. When you set up your account, you will also want to view the expense ratio associated with your investments.

Acorns App FAQ

With a seemingly limitless number of fintech apps, it makes sense that users really want their questions answered before they click download. That’s why we’ve rounded up the most common questions people have about Acorns and tracked down comprehensive answers for you.

Here’s the scoop on Acorns FAQ.

Is the Acorns App Safe?

Yes, the Acorns app is safe. Of course, now is a great time to remind you what that means. All investments carry the risk of loss. That’s one of the major differences between investment accounts and savings accounts. However, your data is secure with Acorns.

Some of the security features that Acorns uses include:

  • SSL encryption
  • Account alerts
  • Bank-level security
  • Automatic logouts
  • ID verification

Additionally, if you have an Acorns Spend account, your money is FDIC insured up to $250,000. This safeguards your money in the event of a bank failure.

Acorns offers a similar kind of protection for your Acorns Invest and Acorns Later accounts. That money is SIPC protected up to $500,000 in the event that your brokerage (that’s Acorns!) fails. SIPC protection does not guard against stock market losses.

Does Acorns Require a Credit Check to Sign Up?

If the prospect of a credit check is stopping you from signing up for Acorns, you can move full speed ahead. There are no credit checks required to join Acorns Spend.

You do have to have a verified Acorns account, though. You verify your funding source by linking your Acorns account to another account. Then, two small (think pennies!) deposits are made. Once you report the amounts correctly, the deposits are reversed.

How Much Do I Need To Invest With Acorns?

It costs nothing to open an Acorns account. To get started investing, you need at least $5. Acorns does offer a round-up option that will collect your spare change from various purchases, setting that money aside until it can be invested in at least $5 increments.

Does Acorns Have a Roth IRA?

Yes! Acorns does offer investors the option of opening a Roth IRA using the Acorns Later platform. You can also choose a traditional IRA or SEP IRA, depending on your goals, income sources, adjusted gross income, and other factors.

Bottom Line: Is Acorns Worth It?

Absolutely! Acorns is worth it, especially if you are someone who needs some encouragement to take the initial plunge into investing. The app becomes even more worthwhile as your account balances grow. That’s because the monthly fee for using the tool represents less and less of a percentage of your money as your account grows.

We love Acorns for its ability to put us on autopilot with investing. Set up automatic transfers, let Acorns round up when you shop, or do a combination of these things. Before long, your investment balance will start to grow and you’ll be headed farther down the path to your financial goals.

Acorns Alternatives

Still not convinced Acorns is right for you? Don’t worry, it’s not for everyone, and there are other great apps to help you start investing and growing your wealth. Here’s a few Acorns alternatives to choose from:


Betterment is another big name in the robo-advisor world. Like Acorns, Betterment is not a stock trading app. But if you are someone who is looking to hit your investment goals with a hands-off style, Betterment shines.

Additionally, Betterment is also another option for people looking to invest in a socially responsible manner. Investors can choose between traditional portfolio options and ones that are focused on more sustainable companies as well.

Betterment’s low fees are on par with other investing apps and there is no account minimum required to get started.


Robinhood is equally famous and infamous in the investing app world. While not all the press surrounding Robinhood has been positive, it is another investing app worth exploring.

If you are looking for a low-fee stock trading app, it’s hard to beat Robinhood. You can buy and sell stocks for free at market prices. There are also no trading fees for investors who want to trade cryptocurrency.

M1 Finance

Are you looking for a more versatile investing platform? M1 Finance might be the tool for you. While beginner investors can certainly use the app, advanced investors will also love it. M1 Finance stands out from all stock trading apps because of its versatility.

Like other investing apps, you can use M1 Finance to invest, borrow, and spend. It also offers opportunities for self-directed investing and features fractional shares. There are no monthly fees and M1 Finance only requires $100 to get started.

Check out our full M1 Finance review for more details.

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

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