Updated July 20, 2022

Stash Review: Is It Legit?

Read more about Stash
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Can Stash help make you money? Find out if the investing app is legit and how it compares to apps like Acorns and Robinhood.

Stash

Overall Score

3.8

Annual Fee

3.5

Minimum Deposit

5.0

Customer Service

3.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Guidance for beginners
  • Automatically invest extra funds
  • Fees are high for small balances
  • High ETF expense ratio
  • Limited research

Bottom Line

Good investment app to guide beginners to invest in stocks

Micro-investing seems like it's here to stay.

It's not the same thing as a robo-advisor, though. Those companies manage your funds for you. Stash guides you but does not invest for you. That's up to you.

Stash makes it possible to invest by helping you choose investments and allocations. It spells things out in layman's terms to help you become an investor (assuming that's what you want).

It's not a hands-off approach to investing. Instead, it's a hand-holding approach. Nothing is too complicated in Stash and if it is, they have more help to push you along.

Keep reading to see if Stash is right for you.

How It Works and Who It's Best For

Stash is mainly for the beginning investor. If you are a truly thematic investor who is passionate about investing in certain themes, it could be helpful too, but the fees might scare you away (see below.)

Stash offers more than 400+ stocks and ETFs, the majority of which hold stocks. But they won't overwhelm you with options. Instead, your choices are narrowed down based on your risk level.

COURTESY OF STASH

With Stash Retire, you can save for retirement by opening a traditional or Roth IRA. (Stash doesn't offer IRAs for small businesses or entrepreneurs.)

How To Get Started

  1. You'll answer a series of questions to evaluate your goals, age and risk tolerance.

  2. Once you decide to move forward, you link your bank account to Stash, deposit funds, and begin investing.

  3. Stash then offers approximately 400+ single stocks/companies to choose from. The Stash Coach helps you stay diversified by recommending investments to add to your portfolio.

Is Stash worth it? Stash could be worth it if you've never invested a penny in your lifetime and you have an interest in learning about how it works. Because you are in charge, you have to be able to remove the emotional component of investing from your mind. Stash does a good job of providing you with advice against jumping ship the moment things get bad, though.

If you have experience in investing, however, you'll likely find the advice trivial and the fees too high compared to other investment companies.

What Are the Fees?

Stash offers two flat fee plans. Each is designed to fit a range of financial needs, from dipping your toes into the world of investing to maximizing your financial power with every tool.

Stash's Stock-Back® Rewards program lets you earn pieces of stocks or funds back on qualifying purchases. You'll earn 0.125% Stock-Back rewards on every purchase and up to 5% on purchases with certain merchants each month3.

Stash Growth costs $3 per month1. It includes a personal brokerage account, a retirement account (Roth or Traditional IRA)4, and banking services2.

Stash+ is $9 per month1. It offers access to a personal brokerage account, a retirement account (Roth or Traditional IRA)4, two custodial accounts (UGMA/UTMC) for minors5 (age will depend on account-holder's state), and banking services2, with double Stock-Back® Rewards3.

The App

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Stash is available on Android and iOS devices, as well as online. The app itself is pretty useful. You can get a snapshot of your account and its potential with the click of a few buttons.

As it pertains to actual investments, you can learn what you need to know about a theme in one screen. In layman's terms, you'll learn about the investment, see a graph regarding its risk level, learn the expense ratios, and see the underlying holdings in each ETF. You can also learn about specific companies/stocks.

COURTESY OF STASH

Reasons We Like Stash

  • Stash offers many educational opportunities to help beginners learn how to invest. Stash really caters to beginners, which not many investment companies do. Even those that say they are for beginners don't break the lingo down into layman's terms as well as Stash. The Stash Coach does a good job of guiding new investors through every step of their portfolio and encourages diversification.

  • There are no investment minimums. You don't need to maintain a minimum balance or invest a certain amount of money when using Stash. This makes it accessible to beginning investors who may not have a lot of money to get started.

  • You can buy fractional shares6. If you can't afford a full share of the stock, Stash allows the purchase of fractional shares.

  • You can open a custodial account. If you have children or grandchildren with an interest in investing or you want to start an account for them, you can open a custodial account. You must be 18 years or older to open your own account, so this gives younger investors a chance to get things going.

  • You can invest in "themes." You won't have to choose from unrecognizable names of ETFs (or "tickers") when investing. Instead, you can invest in themes based on specific industries and your own interests. With each theme, you will see the individual ETF options spelled out in layman's terms.

  • Stash names the ETFs based on their theme. Beginning investors often can't decipher the ticker tape language used. Stash changes the names to things like American Innovators or International Leaders. This gives you a better idea of what to expect within the theme. Clicking on the desired theme will give you examples of the holdings within that theme to help you even further.

  • You can see your portfolio's historical performance right in the app. The Stash Coach continually encourages habitual investing or saving to increase your portfolio and future earnings.

    COURTESY OF STASH

  • You can track your progress with Stash's Milestones. Stash sets certain milestones for you and then helps you recognize/celebrate them when they are met. You'll see the milestones when you first sign up and then be congratulated when you meet them. This is another way Stash helps to motivate you to keep investing.

  • Stash can automatically transfer "extra" funds into your investment account. If you opt-in, the Smart Stash option automatically transfers additional funds after monitoring your checking account for a while. If they see a chance to save a little extra money, they transfer it right into your Stash account. They do keep a specific and "safe" cushion in your checking account, though.

  • You can withdraw funds. Stash doesn't charge you to withdraw your funds. You can do so at any time without penalty.

    Note: Funds are not immediately available. If your funds are invested in stocks or ETFs, you must sell the assets before withdrawing your funds. It takes 2 business days to execute an order, as this is an SEC regulation. You must wait 5 business days after selling the assets before you can withdraw the funds.

Reasons You May Want to Look Elsewhere

  • The fees are high for small investors. We discussed this above, but it's worth mentioning again. Small investors (investors with less than $5,000 invested) can pay a large portion of their investments in the fee. $36 a year doesn't sound like a lot, but when you only invest around $100, it takes away from your investment potential.

  • The ETF expense ratio can be high. ETFs within Stash have an average expense ratio of 0.23%. However, that is only the average. Some of Stash's investments have an expense ratio of less than 0.15%, while some are closer to 0.95%.

  • There isn't a lot of opportunity for research. If there's one thing that's important when investing, it's research. Even though Stash is for beginners, they have very little to offer in the way of research. They offer plenty of education, but it's basic terminology rather than true industry research.

Check out our comprehensive guide on best discount brokers for beginners.

Is Stash safe?: Stash is a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Investments are held by Apex Clearing Corporation, a third-party SEC registered broker-dealer and member FINRA/ SIPC.

Apex Clearing is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC)6. This means investments in your account are protected up to $500,000 total (including $250,000 for claims for cash).

For uninvested funds, Stash accounts are enrolled in something called the Apex FDIC-insured Sweep Program. Deposits to the Sweep Program are covered by FDIC up to $250,000 limit per customer. Once the cash is deposited with the participating banks under the Sweep Program, the cash is no longer covered by SIPC.

How it Compares

Stash vs Acorns: Acorns helps you invest "spare change" by rounding up your purchase to the nearest dollar. Once you reach $5, they withdraw the funds from your linked checking account and invest the funds for you. It's a micro-investor and robo-advisor all in one, whereas Stash is a micro-investor, but not a robo-advisor.

Stash vs Robinhood: Investors use Robinhood primarily to trade stocks without paying commissions. Unless you sign up for their Gold subscription, you don't pay any fees. Like Stash, though, they don't manage the investments for you or have robo-advising capacity. It's up to you to choose the investments and do the actual trading; they just guide you along the way.

Stash vs Betterment: Betterment is one of the leading robo-advisors, but with no required minimum, it can be good for beginning investors as well. If you are looking for human advice and a more hands-off approach to investment, Betterment would be a better option.

How To Add Money To Stash

If you've decided Stash is for you, there are several ways to add money to your account.

Most customers will prefer to link their bank accounts. This is free and usually takes a couple of days for the transfer to go through.

Transfer Money From Your Bank Account

  1. On the Home screen, select Link Your Bank Account.
  2. You can choose Instant Verification or Manual Verification. With Instant Verification, you'll input your bank's login details. With Manual Verification, you'll input your bank's routing and account numbers.
  3. Once your bank account is linked, select Transfer. Fill out the details and Confirm. You can transfer up to $300 per day.

A convenient feature of Stash is that you can add money using multiple methods.

Transfer Money Using Other Methods

  1. In-person: You can add money to your Stash Stock-Back card (your debit card) at a participating retailer like Walmart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, or CVS Pharmacy. Some fees apply and you can only add $2,500 per day.
  2. Payment app: You can add money from Venmo, Paypal, or the Cash app. Just add Stash's debit card as a payment method in your payment app. Then transfer your cash balance to Stash. There is a fee for this service.
  3. Direct deposit: You can download the form to give to your employer and follow the directions to Set Up Direct Deposit.

FAQ

What bank does Stash use?
Green Dot Bank is the FDIC-insured bank that Stash uses to safely keep your money.

How old to use Stash?
According to the law, you must be 18 years old to invest in the USA. But a parent can open a custodial account and invest in their child's name. Stash supports custodial accounts.

Is Stash safe to give SSN?
Stash protects your data like your social security number with 256-bit encryption. Your communications are protected with Transport Layer Security (TLS). You can also set up two-factor authentication and biometric recognition for added security.

Does Stash pay dividends?
You can earn dividends in Stash by investing in stocks that pay dividends. These payments will usually go to your Cash Balance. Dividends are typically paid four times a year. If a stock pays dividends, you'll be paid in Stash as well.

Does Stash have index funds?
Stash offers many options for index funds, including the Match The Market ETF (IVV). This fund tracks the S&P 500, a fund tracking America's largest companies.

Does Stash charge to sell?
There are no fees to sell your investments with Stash.

How long does Stash take to deposit?
When withdrawing your funds from Stash, it takes up to 5 business days to receive your money.

How long does it take for Stash to buy?
Stash has 4 trading windows per day — 2 in the morning and 2 in the evening. These windows may vary based on the market conditions. When you make a trade, your trade will be listed as "pending" until the next trading window. Then your trade will be completed.

Can I buy AMC on Stash?
AMC Entertainment (AMC) is available for purchase on Stash. Since Stash offers the option to buy fractional shares, you can invest in AMC with as little as $1.

Bottom Line

Is Stash the choice for you? It depends if you are a true beginner and only have small amounts to invest.

If you really want to get the hang of investing, this can be a great starting point. If you are more of a hands-off investor, this may not the best choice for you as you make all of the decisions and manage the funds. A robo-advisor could be a better option for those looking for a more hands-off approach.

1. You'll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.

2. Debit Account Services provided by and Stash Visa Debit Card issued by Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Investment products and services provided by Stash Investments LLC, not Green Dot Bank, and are Not FDIC Insured, Not Bank Guaranteed, and May Lose Value. In order for a user to be eligible for a Stash debit account, they must also have opened a taxable brokerage account on Stash. Account opening of the debit account is subject to Green Dot Bank approval.

3. Stash Stock-Back® is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot Corporation, Visa U.S.A., or any of their respective affiliates, and none of the foregoing has any responsibility to fulfill any stock rewards earned through this program.

4. Stash does not monitor whether a customer is eligible for a particular type of IRA, or a tax deduction, or if a reduced contribution limit applies to a customer. These are based on a customer's individual circumstances. You should consult with a tax advisor.

5. The adult (or Custodian) who opens the account can manage the money and investments until the minor reaches the "age of majority." That age is usually 18 or 21, depending on the Custodian's state. The money in a custodial account is the property of the minor. Money in a custodial account can be used by the parent or legal guardian, but only to do things that benefit the child.

6. To note, SIPC coverage does not insure against the potential loss of market value..

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.

For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.

Stash

Sign Up and Get $5

  • Sign up, add at least $5 to your account and get a $5 bonus.
  • Invest with fractional shares
  • Get portfolio recommendations
Betterment

Get up to 1 Year Managed Free

New Betterment customers only. Accounts must be funded within 45 days of signup. Terms apply.

Ally Invest Coupon Codes

Get Up to $3,000

Expires 9/30/2022

The minimum qualifying deposit to receive a cash bonus is $10,000. Accounts will be reviewed 60 days after account opening to determine the total qualifying deposit. Corresponding cash bonus will be credited to the account within 10 business days. Once the bonus is credited to the account, the bonus and qualifying deposit (minus any trading losses) is not available for withdrawal for 300 days. If the qualifying deposit is withdrawn, the bonus may be revoked.

Deposit or TransferCash Bonus
$10,000 - $24,999$100
$25,000 - $99,999$250
$100,000 - $249,999$300
$250,000 - $499,999$600
$500,000 - $999,999$1,200
$1,000,000 - $1,999,999$2,000
$2,000,000+$3,000

Donna Tang is a content associate at CreditDonkey, a personal finance comparison and reviews website. Write to Donna Tang at donna.tang@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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