Our Comprehensive Stash App Review: Will This App Really Make Investing Easier?
For many of us, investing might seem inaccessible.
If we’re trying to scrape up money for rent each month, how can we afford to invest? Or maybe we do have a little bit of savings established… but why risk it? Plus: How the heck do you start investing?
More and more microinvesting apps are popping up to help people who are new to investing — and we’re kind of stoked. These apps aim to make investing more inclusive and less intimidating.
The Stash app lets you start investing with as little as $5. Plus, it doesn’t throw you in with the wolves of Wall Street. It walks you through each step, cushioning the intimidation factor for new investors.
Trying to decide whether to use Stash for investing? To help you make the best choice, we’ve reviewed the app ourselves.
- What Is Stash?
- How Does Stash Invest Work?
- More Stash Features
- Is Stash Safe?
- Stash’s Fees
- Pros and Cons
- How Stash’s App Stacks Up
Stash is a microinvesting app — an investment app that lets you put small amounts of money into the stock market. It uses technology called robo-advisors to personally tailor a portfolio to your interests and the fluctuations of the market.
Here’s a little more information about the company from its LinkedIn page:
|Headquarters: New York, New York||Co-founders: Brandon Krieg and Ed Robinson|
|Industry: Financial Services||Company Type: Privately Held|
|Year Founded: 2015||Number of employees: 201-500|
TL;DR: Here are the basics of using Stash.
|Fees||$1 per month for accounts under $5,000 ; 0.25% per year for balances $5,000+|
|Mobile Access||iPhone app, Android app, U.S. only|
|Withdrawal Rules||Withdraw up to $10,000 a day, as long as the funds have been in your Stash account for at least five days|
|Cancellation Policy||If you want to cancel a transaction, you must do so in the app. You can only cancel pending transactions.|
Good fit? Let’s look a little more closely.
How to Sign up
Signing up with Stash is simple. Visit its website or download the app.
Hey, pssttt… when you sign up through The Penny Hoarder, you’ll receive a $5 bonus after your first investment.
Once you sign up, connect your bank account and answer a few questions, which will help Stash determine your risk tolerance: conservative, moderate or aggressive.
Once that’s all set, take a moment to get familiar with the app.
Tap “Learn” on the bottom toolbar, and you’ll gain access to Stash’s investor’s guide. This addresses frequently asked questions, including what exactly you’re investing in, how to choose your first investment and which investments are worth adding to the mix.
Investing With Stash
Stash lets you buy stocks and ETFs, or exchange-traded funds, a bundle of stocks that have something in common.
With ETFs, your money goes toward a fund, which invests in those bundled stocks. Because you don’t have to buy stocks yourself, you can purchase fractional shares, pieces of stocks, so you can own a piece of pricy stocks like Apple, even with your $5 investment.
To get started with your first investment, go into your Stash account, and tap “Invest.” This section showcases your investment options, the various managed portfolios at your disposal. Categories include:
- “I Believe,” which allows you to invest in causes you believe in.
- “I Want,” which breaks portfolios down by products and services.
- “I Like,” which features interests, like travel.
- “Companies,” which lets you pick and choose companies you want to invest in.
If you find a portfolio that piques your interest, read its brief overview, peep the risk level and see a list of the top company holdings. Tap over to the performance section for a visual of how the portfolio has performed in the past.
Take some time perusing these portfolios. It’s actually kind of fun and exciting, and it’s nice to know exactly where you’re investing your money.
Once you choose the portfolios you’d like to invest in, select “Add to Portfolio.” You’ll be prompted to determine how much you want to invest.
You can opt for a feature called Auto-Stash to set an amount you’d like to funnel into the investment each week or each month. Start with as little as $5.
Once you’ve got some money tucked into your chosen ETFs, you can check in to see how it’s doing by looking at your portfolio. Your Stash investment portfolio breaks down your total portfolio value, as well as the total return.
Above is a new account we’ve just set up. The total return will illuminate how much money you’ve made, if applicable. Image is for illustrative purposes only.
If you want even more insight into your investing portfolios and habits, check in with your Stash coach, an automated investment adviser, who you’ll find when you tap “Home.”
The coach offers investing suggestions and hands out points when you’ve completed a task that betters your portfolio. Whether you take these actions it advises is up to you.
How to Withdraw Money From Stash Invest
To take money out of your Stash account, you have to sell shares of the stocks you’ve invested in.
To sell investments in the app:
- Select the investment you want to sell.
- Click “Sell.”
- Select either “Sell” to sell a portion or “Sell All” to sell the entire amount.
- To sell a portion, enter the amount you want to sell, then hit “Next.”
- Select “Confirm Changes.”
You can set investments to sell anytime in the app, and Stash will actually sell your investments on the next business day when the market is open. The amount you get from the sale depends on the value of your investment during that selling window.
After a sale, the SEC requires Stash to hold your earnings for two business days. Then it will release your money into your Cash Balance.
You can withdraw money from your Cash Balance to a linked bank account anytime.
Invest, Stash’s personal investment account, is its flagship feature. However, the app has expanded since its inception. Now Stash also offers more ways to make and save money.
If you’re less keen on investing and more focused on saving, you can use Stash’s Smart-Save feature. It’ll help you build your savings and earn a little bit of interest.
To set up Smart-Save: If you already have a Stash account, log in. Under the “Home” tab, scroll down to find “Smart-Save.”
When you opt in to the feature, Stash will start saving your money automatically, based on your spending habits and income. It’ll only save what you can afford, and if your bank account dips below $100 — or any higher amount you set — it’ll stop withdrawing.
You can get daily alerts via text to see exactly how much you’ve saved. You can turn off Smart-Save at any time.
The Smart-Save feature is not a savings account offered by a bank. Funds are added to your Cash Balance, which is connected to the checking account linked to your Stash Invest account.
If you want to invest in real estate but don’t necessarily have a large chunk of change to put down, you can invest smaller quantities in real estate investment trusts (REITs).
Kind of like mutual funds for the stock market, REITs are funds pooled together from thousands of investors to invest in one property.
Stash’s real estate feature makes investing in REITs super simple. Simply log into your Stash account (or sign up here) and start exploring your options.
Stash Retire is the app’s retirement investing option. Through Stash, you can open a traditional or Roth IRA to save for retirement through microinvestments. You can fund your retirement account the same ways you can fund a Stash Invest account.
You can open a custodial account for up to two kids under age 18, whether you’re their parent or not.
You’ll fund custodial accounts the same ways you fund a personal Stash Invest account. When the kid turns 18, they get to take control of the account and continue to invest or withdraw the money.
Stash lets you earn free stock investments while you shop.
You’ll get a Stash debit card if you open a Stash banking account, which is managed through Green Dot Bank. The account is meant to act like a brokerage account to hold money you’ll invest through Stash, but it’s robust enough to be your primary checking account.
When you use your Stash Visa debit card at participating brands, you’ll earn Stock-Back rewards, free pieces of stocks related to your purchase. For example, if you shop at Walmart, you’ll earn Walmart stock.
Yes, Stash is legitimate, and no, it’s not a scam.
Major consumer complaints seem to have stemmed from user error — accounts not being properly shut down.
Remember: You can’t just delete the app from your phone and expect to get your money back and for the monthly payments to stop. Follow the directions to properly close an account.
If you have any questions the Stash FAQ page can’t answer, the company’s customer service team is pretty good about returning emails and phone calls.
Stash is also safe for your money. When you create an account, you’ll sign up with your username and create a password. You’ll also create a four-digit security code, which you’ll be required to enter each time you open the app. You can set up thumbprint access, too.
Stash offers three subscription plans that charge a monthly flat fee. Choose a plan based on which Stash features you want to access.
Stash Invest costs $1 per month.
Stash doesn’t pocket commission or take a percentage of your earnings when you buy stocks — just the subscription fee. When you invest in ETFs, you’ll pay an annual fee called an “expense ratio,” which varies among funds but is typically about less than half a percent.
If you want to add retirement and banking — including Stock-Back debit card rewards — you’ll pay a $3 monthly fee.
You have to be a Stash+ member for $9 per month to add custodial investment accounts. Stash+ members also get a fancy metal debit card and earn double Stock-Back rewards.
With any app or platform, you’ll find it has its own pros and cons. Here are a few of Stash’s pros and cons:
- You’re able to start investing with as little as $5.
- It offers ETFs broken down by category, so you’re able to see exactly what types of companies you’re investing in, and you can make decisions based on your beliefs. The app provides information on each ETF, including its past performance.
- Stash makes investing less intimidating. It walks you through the process, and if there’s ever a term you don’t understand, chances are, Stash’ll explain it.
- The Auto-Stash feature helps you automatically invest as little as $5 each week or month. This helps set your finances to autopilot, so you don’t have to actively deposit money into your account.
- Penny Hoarders get an extra $5 when you sign up through this link and fund your first investment.
- You can also open a retirement account and checking account, and it’ll all be on the same platform. No need to check 10 different apps to keep tabs on your money.
- It costs between $1 to $9 per month to use. When you compare that to your returns, it might not be worth it. Do note, though, you can get that $5 bonus when you sign up, which is like getting five months of Stash Invest free.
- Stash doesn’t send email or push notification updates on your investment account balance. Trust us: We’re not big fans of getting bombarded with these, but when you have money in an account, it’s nice to keep tabs on it. It’s easy to forget about the money in Stash unless you’ve built a habit of checking the app.
- As with all investing, there’s risk. Even though you’re investing small amounts of money, you’re still playing with the volatility of the stock market, so it’s possible you could lose money.
If you’re the type of person who wants to study various products before committing to just one, we don’t blame you. Here’s how Stash stacks up against some of the best investment apps on the market:
|Stash||Acorns (Read our full Acorns review.)||Robinhood|
|Claim to Fame||Start investing with as little as $5; allows for automation||Rounds purchases to the nearest dollar and invests the change||Invest in the stock market and ETFs for free|
|Fee||$1–$9/month for accounts under $5,000||$1/month for accounts under $5,000||A few tiny regulatory trading fees — otherwise, it’s free.|
|Promotions||$5 bonus through The Penny Hoarder after your first investment||$5 sign-up bonus through The Penny Hoarder||n/a|
|Required Starting Balance||$0||$5||$0|
For a detailed look at two popular apps, check out our head-to-head comparison of Acorns vs. Stash.
Think Stash could be the perfect way to ease yourself into the investing pond? Get started and claim that $5 bonus after your first investment.
Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
This article contains general information and explains options you may have, but it is not intended to be investment advice or a personal recommendation. We can't personalize articles for our readers, so your situation may vary from the one discussed here. Please seek a licensed professional for tax advice, legal advice, financial planning advice or investment advice.