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Trading today doesn’t mean sitting down with a stockbroker. It doesn’t even mean sitting down at your computer. You can trade from your mobile phone with different investment apps, but the most popular is Stash and Robinhood.
Before you jump on board with either one, it’s important to understand Stash vs Robinhood.
While they have many similarities, there are also a few key differences too that may make you lean toward one or the other.
I’ve broken down their features for you below to help you decide which one is right for you and to start investing.
Beginners who are looking for a little handholding, but also want to invest themselves, love Stash. You answer some questions about your risk tolerance and goals (timelines), and Stash provides tailored guidance. It’s like having your own personal advisor in your pocket but at a mere fraction of the cost.
You can invest in individual investments or choose a theme based on your preferences and beliefs.
Stash is more than an investment app, which is why comparing Stash vs Robinhood is important. Stash offers budgeting, banking, and investing all in one app.
>> More: Stash Investing Review
How Does Stash Work?
Stash provides thousands of investment options, including stocks and ETFs. You can invest as much (or as little) as you want.
There is no minimum balance, and you can buy fractional shares. Want to invest in Amazon, but don’t have $3,000+ for one share? No problem – buy a fractional share with what you have, even as little as $1, although I recommend investing more.
Even though Stash is classified as a ‘robo-advisor’ you pick your investments – a computer doesn’t do it for you. You have access to tons of education and even human advice, though.
What I love about Stash is the automated investing. How many times have you thought about investing but never pulled the trigger? Set up automatic transfers and Stash does the rest.
If you aren’t comfortable with automatic transfers, try the round-up program that rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and transfers the ‘spare change’ to your Stash account.
Stash is Best for:
- Beginner Investors
- Young Adults
- College Students
- High School Students
Beginning investors who want to try their hand at investing but aren’t ready to jump all-in without some handholding. You get the advice of a robo-advisor with the freedom to make your own choices.
Typical robo-advisors make the investments for you, sticking you in a specific portfolio. Stash gives you the freedom to make ‘other choices’ while still following the overall guidance of a program.
While comparing Robinhood and Stash, Robinhood is classified as an online stock broker, much like your traditional stockbrokers. Like Stash, you aren’t stuck in a specific portfolio – you are in charge of what you invest in, but Robinhood guides you along the way.
You buy stocks, ETFs, options, or cryptocurrency like you would with a standard stockbroker. You make the decisions and the trades.
Right now, Robinhood only offers a mobile app and a website. You won’t get a ton of features (which is great for beginners), but you also won’t get robust investment research or education.
You have to be all in when choosing Robinhood, or you’ll find yourself wondering ‘what did I just do to myself?’
>> More: Robinhood Review
How Does Robinhood Work?
Robinhood also lets you choose your own investments. Robinhood offers different investment opportunities than Stash, including options and cryptocurrency. But if you are a beginner, I suggest sticking to stocks and ETFs.
Like Stash, Robinhood doesn’t have a minimum balance requirement, and they don’t charge commissions (you’ll still pay the standard FINRA charges though).
You trade as little or as much as you want, and you can invest in fractional shares if you don’t want to put out the big bucks for larger stocks.
If you want access to more robust reporting and research options or want to trade on margin, you’ll need to upgrade to Robinhood Gold which costs $5 a month for the first $1,000 you borrow and 5% of assets under management beyond $1,000.
Robinhood is Best for:
- Beginner Investors
- Young Adults
- Both High School and College Students
If you’re ready for a full-service broker but aren’t’ quite prepared for those hefty stockbroker fees, Robinhood is your best bet. You’ll get the same services just on an app and without any commissions.
Of course, if you’re brave and ready to try stock options or cryptocurrency trades, Robinhood is your only option. Again, don’t jump into that until you’re experienced.
Stash vs Robinhood: How Are They Different?
These simple yet important differences will help you make a simple choice between Robinhood or Stash.
Stash has a monthly subscription fee which if you only invest a small amount, comes out to an insane percentage of assets under management.
Robinhood doesn’t have a monthly fee unless you upgrade to a Gold account, which all brokers charge for borrowing on margin, so it’s nothing extraordinary.
If you want customer support, Stash is your only option as you have access to live advisors. Robinhood only offers email support, and you are lucky if you get an answer in a few days.
Stash limits your investments to stocks and ETFs, which is fine for beginners. If you want something more, ‘adventurous’ Robinhood offers stocks, ETFs, index funds, options, and cryptocurrency.
Robinhood has just 4 asset classes to choose from, and Stash has 32.
>> More: How to Invest $1,000
Stash Unique Features:
- Banking features – All Stash accounts, no matter the subscription level, get access to Stash Banking and the Stock-Back card. Rather than earning cashback on your purchases like most cards, you earn stock back from the company (or a company chosen by Stash) to add to your portfolio.
- Automated investing – Set up your automatic transfers and stop worrying about whether you invested.
- Invest in themes – If you’d rather choose a theme to invest in rather than specific industries or companies, Stash provides this option making it easier to jump in and start investing, while knowing you diversified your investments.
- Personalized advice – If you want to speak to a professional (not a computer), Stash offers the option to get personal investment advice.
Robinhood Unique Features:
- No commissions or fees – You don’t pay an asset under management fee or commission fees for trades.
- Option and cryptocurrency trades – While not suggested for beginners, as you gain experience, you may want to try your hand at these investments.
- Invest on margin – If you want to invest on margin to leverage your investments, Robinhood Gold is your only option between the two.
Commissions and Fees: Which One is Cheaper?
When comparing Robinhood vs Stash, you must consider fees. They can make or break your investment.
Robinhood is cheaper hands down. There are no commission fees or account management fees. You only pay the standard regulation fees.
Stash has a monthly subscription fee. While there aren’t any commissions, you pay the monthly fee whether you trade or to.
Stash has three pricing tiers:
- Beginner – $1/month gets you an individual taxable investment account along with a bank account, and Stock-Back card
- Growth – $3/month includes everything in the Beginner account along with a retirement account
- Stash+ – Includes everything in the accounts above, plus two kids’ investment accounts and 2x Stock-Back rewards.
- Robinhood has ZERO fees.
If you want a Robinhood Gold account to trade on margin, or to have access to more robust education and research, you’ll pay $5 a month.
Want to pick stocks? Read our Motley Fool Review.
Robinhood vs Stash: Pros and Cons
Here is what we like and don’t like about Stash Investing.
- Provides robust educational opportunities which is great for beginners
- You can purchase fractional shares
- No required account minimum
- Offers investment themes to make it easier to choose the right investments
- No investment support
- ETF expense ratios are on the high end
Let’s review the pros and cons of Robinhood and see how it stacks up against Stash.
- $0 commission trades
- You can purchase fractional shares
- You can trade cryptocurrency and options
- Get market updates in real-time
- A very bare-bones app
- No retirement accounts
- No phone support
Safety and Security:
As an investor, you need to consider safety and security. Luckily, both platforms are safe and secure. But remember, no investment is ever guaranteed.
Stash investments are held with Apex Clearing Corporation. All investors are covered by SIPC insurance up to $500,000 in assets, which includes $250,000 coverage for cash.
Stash is also PCI compliant, which ensures they do what they can to protect your information from hackers.
Robinhood is also SIPC insured and is regulated by FINRA and the SEC. Investors are protected should Robinhood fail, again up to $500,000 including $250,000 in cash.
Neither broker nor insurance provided by the broker covers investment losses though. That’s a risk you take. The SIPC insurance only covers losses due to the broker going out of business.
Bottom Line: Stash vs Robinhood
Investing with either Stash or Robinhood is a personal decision. Do you want to be on your own with only a little guidance, or do you want handholding and more personal finance features?
Those are the main differences between Robinhood vs Stash. Look at the features closely and know that neither one requires a minimum balance, so the sooner you start, the better your chances of reaching your long-term financial goals.
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