Our Comprehensive Stash Review: Will This App Really Make Investing Easier?

Irina Bilka counts tips and factors bills, Tampa Fla, on November 3th, 2017
Carmen Mandato/The Penny Hoarder


For many of us, investing might seem like an inaccessible personal finance move.

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 appearing on the personal finance market — and we’re kind of stoked. These apps aim to make investing more inclusive and less intimidating.

Take Stash, for example. It allows you to 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.

Want to know whether downloading Stash and striking up an investing account is the right money move for you? To help you make the best choice, we’ve reviewed the app ourselves.

The Penny Hoarder’s Comprehensive Stash Review

Stash is a microinvesting app. That means you’re able to invest small amounts of money into a personally tailored portfolio.

Here’s a little more information about the company itself 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: 51 to 200

So How Does Stash Invest Work?

Before getting started, let’s go over some housekeeping basics to make sure you’re on board.

Minimum Investment $5
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 Before canceling, sell your investments. This takes about two business days.

Good fit?

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.

Now that you’ve signed up, connect your bank account and answer a few questions, which will help Stash determine your risk profile: 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 (hint: exchange-traded funds, or ETFs), how to choose your first investment and which investments are worth adding to the mix.

stash screenshot

Now that you’ve tapped through the guide, you should be feeling a little more comfortable.

Go ahead, and tap “Invest.” This section showcases the various portfolios at your disposal. Categories include:

  • “I Believe,” which allows you to invest in causes you might believe in.
  • “I Want,” which breaks portfolios down by products and services.
  • “I Like,” which features specific interests, like travel.
  • “Companies,” which lets you pick and choose specific 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. At this point, you can opt in for a feature called Auto-Stash. This allows you to set how much 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 portfolio breaks down your total portfolio value, as well as the total return.

stash screenshot
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 purpose only.

If you want even more insight into your investing portfolios and habits, check in with your Stash coach, 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. Of course, whether you take these actions is up to you.

More Stash Features

Stash’s micro-investing platform is its mainstay feature. However, the app has expanded since its inception, offering more ways to make and save money.

Let us outline a few:

  • Smart-Save: If you’re less keen on investing and more focused on saving, you can choose to use Stash’s Smart-Save feature. It’ll help you build your savings and earn a little bit of interest.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 your income. It’ll only save what you can afford, and if your bank account dips below $100 — or any higher amount you select — 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.Please note, the Smart-Save feature is not a savings account offered by a bank. Smart-Save is a feature that may be turned on and connected to the checking account that is linked to your Stash Invest account.
  • Real Estate: If you want to invest in real estate but don’t necessarily have a large sum of change to put down, you can invest smaller quantities in real estate investment trusts (REITs). These are funds pooled together from thousands of investors to invest in one property, like a mutual fund.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.
  • Retire allows you to open a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. These options give you a break on taxes. If you’re interested, read more about IRA accounts first.
  • Stash also offers custodial accounts, which are investing accounts you can open for anyone under 18.

Is Stash Safe?

Moving on… Is Stash legit? Is Stash a scam?

Yes, the platform is legitimate, and no, it’s not a scam.

Check out its rating on Better Business Bureau: an A-.

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. After all, you’re investing your money, so 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 Fees: How Much Does It Cost?

Stash costs $1 per month for accounts with balances under $5,000. When your balance reaches $5,000 or more, you’ll instead pay a 0.25% fee each year. That’s a quarter of 1%, by the way, so you’d pay $12.50 a year for a balance of $5,000.

Stash doesn’t pocket commission or take a percentage of your earnings — just those fees.

Pros and Cons

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:

Pros:

  • 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 a $5 bonus when you sign up through this link and deposit your first $5.
  • You can also save or open a retirement account, and it’ll all be on the same platform. No need to check 10 different apps to keep tabs on your money.

Cons:

  • It costs $1 per month to use for balances under $5,000. Yes, that costs less than a coffee — or even a gumball nowadays. But 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 free.
  • Stash doesn’t send email or push notification updates on your balance. Trust us: We’re not big fans of getting bombarded with these either, 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 very possible you could lose money.

Stash App Comparison

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 similar microinvesting apps:

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/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 sign-up bonus through The Penny Hoarder $5 sign-up bonus through The Penny Hoarder n/a
Required Starting Balance $5 $5 $0
Minimum Balances $0 $0 $0


Think Stash could be the perfect way to ease yourself into the investing pond? 
Get started and claim that $5 bonus.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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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.