The 4 Best Micro-Investing Apps of 2023
Best for Hands-on Investors
- Customizable portfolio
- Easy to use
Best for Free Investing
- Access to advisors
- No monthly fees
Best for Beginning Investors
- Spare change round-ups
- Earn Money feature
Best for Investors Seeking a Community
- Connect with others
- Great education tools
Micro-investing apps can be a great way to get your money in the stock market — even if you’re tight on cash or have little to no investing experience.
But not all investing apps are created equal.
Micro-investing works by consistently allocating small sums of money to an investment portfolio. It sounds simple, but each app has different fees, features and flexibility.
If you’re interested in starting small, check out our list of the best micro-investing apps of 2023 to compare your options side-by-side and find one that works for you.
Best Micro-Investing Apps of 2023
These four micro-investing apps rose to the top of our list.
Micro-Investing Apps Features
Stash: Best Micro-Investing App for Hands-On Investors
- Both DIY and automated investing
- Access to an IRA
- Comes with a bank account
Stash gives users the option to choose how involved they want to be with their portfolio.
While the app features many of the same perks as Acorns — including round-ups, recurring deposits and the option to open an IRA — it also lets you tweak your portfolio with more than 3,000 ETFs and individual stocks.
In October 2022, Stash also introduced a selection of eight cryptocurrencies investors can purchase, including bitcoin and ethereum. Users with Stash Growth accounts are charged a 1% fee per crypto transaction and Stash+ users pay a 0.8% fee per transaction.
If you prefer a more hands-off approach, Stash offers that too with its $3 a month Stash Growth account that functions much like a robo-advisor. Stash+ is the app’s $9 a month option. You’ll get access to two custodial accounts for kids, a higher reward with Stash’s Stock-Back Card and access to $10,000 worth of life insurance.
All Stash accounts include a bank account with no overdraft fees or minimum balance requirements. (It doesn’t earn any interest either.) You can also create goals by separating your cash into spaces for specific purposes, like buying a home.
For a full run down of fees and services, check out our complete Stash App review.
SoFi Invest: Best Free Micro-Investing App
- Access to financial advisors
- Passive or active portfolio options
SoFi Invest eliminates annual account fees, monthly charges and trading fees for users while still offering a $0 account minimum.
While SoFi doesn’t charge an annual or monthly fee, you’ll still pay expense ratios on ETFs and mutual funds. This is standard for any brokerage account. However, SoFi (and most micro-investing apps) offers a broad range of ETFs and mutual funds with very low expense ratios.
You can choose either an actively managed account for a more hands-on investing experience, or an automated portfolio for passive investing.
You can also opt for a retirement savings account, including a traditional, Roth or SEP IRA. Each of these accounts can be either passively or actively managed.
What makes SoFi unique from other micro-investing apps is you can chat with a financial advisor over the phone or on video at no extra cost. These certified financial professionals act as fiduciaries, meaning they’ll put your financial interests first and won’t try to sell you anything.
For a full run down of fees and services, check out our complete Sofi review.
Acorns: Best Micro-Investing App for Beginners
- Round-Up feature for spare change
- Access to Acorns Checking
- Diversified portfolios
Acorns works as a robo-advisor by recommending one of five pre-made portfolios based on your age, financial goals and risk tolerance. Portfolios range from conservative to aggressive. You can choose a different portfolio if you disagree with the algorithm, but you can’t pick your own individual investments.
Acorns’ portfolios are comprised of low-cost exchange traded funds (ETFs), which bundle different stocks and/or bonds into a single share. Acorns — like all micro-investing apps — buys fractional shares of ETFs so you don’t have to save up hundreds of dollars to start investing.
The app lets you invest your spare change through its Round-Up feature. After linking a debit card to the app, your purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the difference is invested into your portfolio.
You can also enable recurring transfers from your savings or checking account on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. You can set up this feature in addition to spare change round-ups to grow your money even faster.
Another unique feature is Acorns Earn, which allows users to generate “found money” by shopping with one of the app’s 350 business partners. For example, you can get 25 cents invested on each GrubHub order or 5% invested on each Groupon order.
If you’re interested in socially responsible investing, Acorns offers Sustainable Portfolios, which the company says are “designed to provide exposure to more sustainable companies, while aiming to perform on par with a traditional portfolio.”
Acorns offers two pricing options: A $3 monthly fee for its Personal account or $5 a month for its Family account.
The Personal account includes access to an individual retirement account (IRA) and a checking account. The Family account includes all the features of the $3 account, plus you can add multiple custodian accounts for your children.
For a full run down of fees and services, check out our complete Acorns review.
Public: Best Micro-Investment App for Social Butterflies
- Social media-like community
- Cryptocurrency available
- No monthly or annual fees
Public is an app built on the idea of growing a social investing community.
All portfolios are public by default, so you can track other users’ stock portfolios (and they can track yours). However, the app will never show how much money users invested, lost or gained on any individual stock.
The app has a large community forum where users can offer trading advice and ask questions about stocks. This can be attractive to beginning investors because it provides additional information, feedback and insight from more experienced traders.
Building on its social media-like interface, Public compiles a custom feed for your profile, populated with stocks that match your interests, recent IPO announcements, upcoming earnings reports and more.
Like other apps, Public lets you buy fractional shares of stocks and ETFs (called “slices” on Public) so you can invest with as little as $5.
Public doesn’t offer an automated portfolio like most of its competitors. Instead, it organizes stocks into user-friendly categories called “themes.” For example, there’s an American Made theme that includes U.S.-based companies and an eCommerce theme with companies like Amazon, eBay and Shopify.
These themes provide diversification, but not in the same way as broad-based ETF portfolios offered by apps like SoFi and Stash.
However, Public does a great job teaching you about investing as you go. You can tap on key terms to learn simple definitions and see “safety labels” on riskier investments, like companies that recently filed for bankruptcy.
Like SoFi, Public doesn’t charge any monthly or annual fees, and offers commission-free trading. You can also buy and sell a limited number of cryptocurrency coins within the app.
Users pay a maximum fee between $0.49 to $6.29 for crypto purchases of $500 or less, and a 1.25% fee for crypto orders of $500 or more.
One major drawback with Public is you can’t set up recurring transfers or deposits to the app from your bank.
For a full run down of fees and services, check out our complete Public review.
Features of the Best Micro-Investing Apps
What should you look for in an investing app? Here are a few key features offered by the best micro platforms.
Easy to Use
These apps eliminate the blocky and confusing clutter of some traditional brokerage accounts. Their simple interfaces make them super easy to use and understand, even if you have zero investing experience.
Low Minimum Investments
Micro-investing apps get you in the market with as little as $5. They do so by purchasing fractional shares of ETFs and other assets — which isn’t an option at some traditional brokerage firms. This gets you invested quickly, even if you can’t afford an entire share at first. It’s also free to create an account, and most apps don’t carry account minimums.
Diversified Investment Portfolios
Even experienced investors struggle with asset allocation and diversification. If you’re just starting out, using an app that creates a diversified portfolio for you is a plus. Automatically generated portfolios eliminate much of the stress and guesswork new investors face.
The best investing apps provide a host of educational resources and investment advice for beginners, including articles, videos and podcasts. While most micro-investing apps don’t offer access to a professional financial advisor, these free educational tools are a helpful way to boost your personal finance knowledge.
Nearly every app lets you set up recurring transfers from your bank account. For example, you can set your Stash app to automatically transfer $20 a week to your portfolio. Setting up recurring transfers makes investing second-nature and helps grow your money even faster.
Other Banking Services
Some micro-investing apps offer other services in addition to their brokerage accounts, including access to a savings and/or checking account, an IRA and custodian accounts. You might pay more for these services, but the cost may be worth it depending on your goals.
Pros and Cons of Using a Micro-Investing App
Micro-investing apps offer several advantages, but they’re not for everyone. It’s important to understand the pros and cons before putting your money into any investing app.
- Around-the-clock access. You can quickly and easily monitor your account on the company’s website or mobile app.
- Fractional shares get you invested quickly. Stocks and ETFs can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars a share, but fractional shares get you invested with whatever amount you can afford.
- Account minimums are lower than some traditional brokerage accounts. Most micro-investing apps feature $0 minimum balance requirements so you can begin investing with just a few dollars.
- They’re safe. Just like a traditional brokerage account, micro-investing platforms must register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commision. Savings and checking accounts are FDIC insured.
- Fees are high for accounts with low balances. Apps like Acorns and Stash advertise low fees, but getting charged $36 a year for a brokerage account isn’t a great deal.
- You’ll miss out on retirement plan tax perks — or pay more. Most of these apps offer retirement accounts, but you’ll usually pay more if you opt for an IRA.
- Your investment choices may be limited. You may or may not be able to handpick the investments inside your portfolio.
- They probably won’t help you meet your retirement goals. Retirement is expensive, and making tiny contributions to an app isn’t likely to amass the nest egg you need to comfortably retire.
Recapping the Best Micro-Investing Apps
- Stash: Best for Hands-On Investors
- SoFi Invest: Best for Free Investing
- Acorns: Best for New Investors
- Public: Best for Investors Seeking a Community
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Micro-Investing Apps
We’ve rounded up the answers to the most common questions about micro-investing apps to help you decide if they are a good fit with your investment strategies and goals.
Micro-investing apps are programs that let you contribute small sums of money — as little as a few dollars — to a brokerage account. By connecting a debit card, these apps can consistently invest your money into a portfolio of ETFs or fractional shares of individual stocks.
You won't get rich quick from investing in Acorns or any micro-investing app. The app’s fees are actually rather high if you have a low account balance. However, using an app like Acorns can be a good introduction to the stock market if you’re new to investing or you struggle with saving money.
For new investors, using an investment app with a robo-advisor might be a good idea. A robo-advisor is an online broker that uses algorithms and advanced software to automatically invest money and manage your portfolio.
After creating your account, you answer a brief questionnaire to assess your risk tolerance and financial goals. The app then selects a pre-made portfolio, so you don't have to choose any investments yourself.
Stash, SoFi Invest and Acorns each offer a robo-advisor feature. The popular Public App does not.
Rachel Christian is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder. Contributor Whitney Hansen updated this report.