Updated March 23, 2022

Best Micro Investing App

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Micro investing apps allow anyone to invest in stocks with a few dollars. Learn about the best apps for beginners, like Acorns, Robinhood and Stash.

These days, almost all barriers to the stock market have been removed.

Micro investing apps let you buy stocks with just a few bucks. Better yet, you don't need any previous experience.

In this guide, find a list of the best micro investment apps for beginners. Plus, learn the pros and cons, and what returns you can expect from micro investing.

Can you make money from micro-investing? Micro investing won't make you rich. But micro investing apps are a great way for beginners to take the first step into the world of investing. If you don't have a ton of capital to invest, start small and increase your contributions as you earn more.

What are Micro Investing Apps?

Micro investing apps are platforms that allow you to invest very small amounts of money. These apps are ideal for beginners without a lot of capital. It's also less risky since you don't need to commit a lot of money.

Unlike traditional investing where you decide how many shares to buy, micro investing lets you buy a fraction of a share. So, instead of needing $3,000 for one share of Amazon stock, you can invest just $5 and own a tiny piece of the company.

Micro investing apps are usually designed with beginner investors in mind. They have simple interfaces that even those with no investing experience can figure out.

Have you used a micro-investing app before?

Best Micro Investing Apps for Beginners

The micro investing apps on our list are all easy to use for beginners and support fractional shares. Each one is a little different and has its own unique features. Read on.

All these micro investing platforms are members of SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation). This protects your investments up to $500,000 per account should the company go out of business.[1]

Acorns: Best Spare Change Investing App

Acorns is the original spare change robo investment app. There is no minimum deposit.

You link your debit and credit cards and Acorns will automatically round up the change from your purchases. Once you reach $5, the roundups will be automatically invested.

Acorns is a robo advisor. It will create a portfolio for you based on your age, investment goals, and risk tolerance. After that, it handles all the portfolio management, including automatic rebalancing.

Your money is invested in ETFs (exchange traded funds). These are collections of stocks (possibly even several hundred) in one fund. This means every dollar you invest is diversified across hundreds of companies.

Acorns also has a unique Found Money feature. This lets you earn extra money in your investing account when you shop with Acorn's 300+ partners.

Best for:
Those who have trouble saving money on their own. It's also good if you just want the app to handle everything.

Cost:[2]

  • $3/mo for Acorns Personal (includes personal taxable account, IRA, and checking account)
  • $5/mo for Acorns Family (includes everything in Personal plus investment accounts for kids)

$3 every month (or $36 per year) might seem low, but it's high if you don't have much money. If you only have $30 in the account, $3 is 10%. But once you have a higher balance, the fee just becomes a small fraction.

Robinhood: Best for DIY Investing

When Robinhood came onto the scene in 2013, it shook up the investing world by offering completely commission-free trades. You can invest in stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies with no trading fees.

There is no minimum investment to get started. You can purchase fractional shares with as little as just $1.

Robinhood is a completely DIY brokerage platform, meaning you can't rely on guidance from the app. You should know what you want to invest in.

The mobile app is very basic, so it's easy to understand for beginners (even if you've never traded before). But for more advanced investors, you'll most likely find that the research and tools are not enough.

Robinhood only offers individual taxable accounts, but no retirement account options.

Best for:
Someone comfortable with trading and managing their own portfolios. It's also a good choice for new investors who want to try out trading options and crypto.

Cost:
The basic account is free. There are no trading fees. It also offers a premium Robinhood Gold account for $5 per month, which offers margin trading.[3]

Stash: Best for Learning About Investing

If you want a little bit of investment advice, check out Stash Invest. You can start investing with $5, and fractional shares are available from just 1 cent.

Stash starts by asking some questions about your goals, risk tolerance, and interests. Then the app will give you investment recommendations that match your needs.

You still have full control to choose what you want to invest in, but Stash can help you build a personalized portfolio from scratch. However, managing your portfolio is still your own responsibility.

Stash also has a round-up feature. In addition, it can analyze your bank account and automatically set aside extra savings for you in your cash balance. You can then invest them when you want.

Best for:
Those learning how to invest independently and want a little bit of guidance.

Cost:
$1 per month for a taxable account; $3 per month for a retirement plan; and $9 per month to add investment accounts for your kids.[4] There are no trading commissions.

You can also add a Stash banking account with any plan option. This includes a Stock-Back debit card that rewards you with stocks when you shop at participating companies.

Public: Best Social Investing

Public is one of the newer micro investment apps on the scene. Public combines a mobile brokerage platform with social media.

Public organizes stocks into themes, so you can just choose the categories you're interested in. Themes include things like Women in Charge, Growing Diversity, Green Power, Cannabiz, and tons more. This lets you easily search for companies and causes that you care about.

Public stands out for its social aspect. You can follow other users, see their portfolios, and join chats and ask questions. This allows you to get inspiration and learn from thousands of fellow investors in the community.

There is no minimum investment to get started. You can invest in stocks starting with $5.[5]

Best for:
Beginners who enjoy the social aspect of investing.

Cost:
Free. Public charges no account fees or trading commission fees.[6]

For more experienced investors, Public supports short selling. This is one of the ways Public makes money.[7]

M1 Finance: Best Hybrid DIY + Robo Investing

M1 Finance has a very interesting concept. You create your own investment portfolio and M1 will do the trading and managing for you. This gives you total control over your investments, but none of the work.

The minimum investment is $100 ($500 for an IRA account). After that, you can continue to add deposits in any amounts of at least $10.

M1 portfolios work a little differently than other micro investing apps. Each portfolio is called a "Pie", which can contain up to 100 slices (i.e., investments). This gives you a visual representation of your portfolio.

For example, if you want 10% of your investment to be in Apple, set Apple as 10% of your Pie. If you fund $100, M1 will use $10 of that to purchase Apple stocks.

Whenever you add funds or edit your Pie, M1 will automatically buy and sell investments for you. It'll also rebalance your portfolio when your Pie drifts from your original allocation. This is usually a time-consuming task to do yourself. But with M1, you can just rebalance with one click.

If you're not sure what to invest in, M1 also offers 80+ prebuilt portfolios created by their experts.

Best for:
Those who want a say in their investments, but don't want to manage their own portfolios.

Cost:
Free with no trading fees. There is also a premium M1+ account that costs $125 per year. This gives you benefits like an extra afternoon trading window, cashback on debit card purchases, and a lower borrow rate.[8]

Betterment: Best Micro Investing Robo Advisor

Betterment is one of the most popular robo advisors for hands-off investing. There is no account minimum to get started.

You can set up multiple investment accounts for different goals, such as for retirement, a large purchase, or an emergency fund. Each goal will have a different investment strategy based on the risk level.

It supports fractional shares so that every dollar you fund will be invested. Like other robo advisors, your investments are held in low-cost ETFs.

Betterment also automatically rebalances your portfolio. And it offers tax-loss harvesting to all users, which is a strategy that reduces how much you pay in taxes.

Best for:
Long-term investors who want to be completely hands-off.

Cost:
0.25% annual management fee for the basic Betterment Digital account (for every $1,000, the fee is $2.50); and 0.4% for the Betterment Premium account, which includes access to human financial advisors. This is optional for account balances $100,000+.[9]

Stockpile: Best for Teens

Stockpile lets you invest in fractional shares of over 1,000 stocks and ETFs starting with $5. There are no account minimums.

The big difference with Stockpile is that it's the only micro investing app that allows you to buy stock gift cards. You can buy a gift card starting with just a value of $1.

You might even give this to your kid or teen to help finance their future. You can also open a custodial brokerage account for your kids. They can monitor their investment account and place stock trades (with your permission, of course).

Best for:
Giving kids and teens a head start in investing.

Cost:
Stockpile offers completely fee-free trading, account funding, and gifting.[10]

Can You Get Rich From Micro Investing?

If you're just investing your loose change sporadically, you're not likely to become rich. Investing micro amounts will also give you micro returns.

But that said, investing any dollar amount is better than nothing at all. Earning some returns will still give you more growth than if your money just sat in a bank account.

To really build a nest egg for your future, you'd need to invest larger amounts of money. The sooner you start investing, the more time you have for your money to grow.

For example, if you start investing at age 25, you need to invest $3,500 per year to reach $1 million by age 65 (assuming 8% annual return). But if you start at 35, you'd need to invest $8,000 per year to become a millionaire by retirement age.

What are you saving and investing for?

Pros and Cons of Micro Investing

Looking for a quick takeaway? Review these pros and cons to decide if micro-investing apps are right for you.

Pros

  • Low entry: Beginners can get started investing with very little money. Most have no account minimum.

  • Less risky: You don't need to risk too much of your money, unlike investing large sums.

  • Create diversification: With fractional shares, you can buy stocks in more companies. For example, if you have $50, you can pick ten different stocks to invest in with $5 each. This also reduces risk.

  • Easy to use: Micro investing apps have a simple interface and are intuitive for beginners. Many will even guide you to choose investments or include mini-lessons.

  • Banking included: A lot of these apps include a free banking account. Usually, they don't charge any service fees. This is a great option if you want banking and investing under one roof.

Cons

  • Limited investment options: Most micro investing apps are mainly focused on ETFs. Some will also let you choose individual stocks. But you won't find products like mutual funds.

  • Limited customer service: A lot of these apps only provide email assistance. Some may not even have phone access.

Bottom Line: Are Micro Investing Apps Worth It?

With micro investing apps, not having enough money is no longer an excuse not to invest. Now everyone can invest, no matter how small your budget.

If micro investing can get you started, then it's worthwhile. As you gain more experience, you can decide if you want to move to a more advanced investing platform.

Just know that micro investing small amounts won't make you rich. As you earn more, be sure to increase your contributions so you can reach your goals.

Would you ever try an investing app?

References

  1. ^ SIPC. What SIPC Protects, Retrieved 3/8/2022
  2. ^ Acorns Pricing, Retrieved 10/4/2021
  3. ^ Robinhood Gold, Retrieved 11/28/2020
  4. ^ Stash Subscription Plan Pricing, Retrieved 11/28/2020
  5. ^ Public. What is the Minimum Amount I Need to Invest?, Retrieved 3/8/2022
  6. ^ Public Features, Retrieved 11/28/2020
  7. ^ Public. How does Public make money?, Retrieved 3/8/2022
  8. ^ Upgrade to M1 Plus, Retrieved 11/28/2020
  9. ^ Betterment Pricing Plans, Retrieved 11/28/2020
  10. ^ Stockpile Fees, Retrieved 1/3/2022

Jeremy Harshman is a protector of art and writing at CreditDonkey, a personal finance comparison and reviews website. Write to Jeremy Harshman at jeremy.harshman@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

Paid non-client endorsement. See Apple App Store and Google Play reviews. View important disclosures. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.

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