Investments

What Is Stash App

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 9 minute read

It’s possible to find low-cost brokerages, mobile-first personal finance apps, and Robo-advisor investing platforms. It seems like every week there’s a brand new personal finance solution, like a minimalist automated savings software, an innovative brokerage platform for first-time investors with lower net worths, or a novel strategy for tax-advantaged retirement savings.

Is there really a place for another? The team behind Stash obviously feels that way, and they make a strong argument for it with their product. The Stash app is an automated Robo-advisor that combines the low-cost ease of online banking with the do-it-yourself investment freedom of a DIY platform.

An Assessment of Stash

When compared to similar apps, how does Stash fare in terms of automating saving and investing? Let’s see how M1 Finance stacks up against Wealthfront in a head-to-head comparison.

StashM1 FinanceWealthfront
Account TypesDebit account8Taxable BrokerageIRA1UGMA/UTMA2SpendInvestBorrowSpendInvestBorrow
Fees$3 to $9 per month$0 to $125 per year0.25% AUM (Invest)
RewardsUp to 2x Stock-Back4Up to 1% cash back and 1.30% APY2.55% APY

Plans, Prices, and Features for Stash

Stash has wide appeal, but it really comes into its own for middle-class couples and families looking for a streamlined way to handle their finances. Although there is a wide selection of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to pick from and minimal investment requirements, this is not the best option for high-net-worth individuals or those with only a small amount of money to invest.

Both the Growth and Stash+ programs are available through Stash. Different combinations of characteristics and abilities are available for each.

The monthly plan cost, often known as the wrap fee, is a bundle of regular fees levied by investing platforms, such as advising and transaction fees, for taxable brokerage accounts. Stash may levy an extra advising fee for retirement accounts based on the total value of the assets in those accounts.

Account holders’ net growth or earnings may be impacted by fees that aren’t included in the wrap charge, such as those that are factored into the expense ratios of the securities. There may be additional costs involved in some instances.

1. Stash Growth

The Growth strategy includes resources for both short-term budgeting and long-term savings and investment goals. For the low, low price of $3 per month3, it provides a plethora of features useful to singles and married people who have pooled their resources.

Some of the components of development are:

Individual Retirement Account

The foundation of Stash is Stash Invest, a personal investing account brokerage that charges no commissions or transaction fees but is subject to taxation.

Stash allows users to invest as little as $1 in particular stocks, either in full or fractional share increments. Large and mid-cap companies that are included in market indexes like the S&P 500, NASDAQ 100, and Dow 30 make up the bulk of these stocks.

For individuals interested in diversifying their portfolios, Stash Invest provides access to dozens of third-party exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that follow various market segments, indices, and regions. 

These ETFs have fees (included in their cost ratios) that Stash cannot alter, but the vast majority of them are competitively priced. And they can assist you in putting together a diversified investment portfolio with an asset allocation that is suitable for your level of risk aversion. Stash is an investment app that works on both iOS and Android.

Payable Account 8

The Stash Banking account is free to open for all Stash personal investing account holders and includes no overdraft8, monthly maintenance, or minimum balance fees9, as well as no fees for direct deposits, in-network ATM balance checks, or lost card replacements. 

Users who opt for direct deposit will have their pay available to them up to two days earlier than those who don’t. The Stash debit account is FDIC-insured and gives you access to 19,000+ fee-free ATMs across the United States5.

Stock-Back Debit Card

Every Stash customer receives a debit card that may be used at any merchant that accepts Visa. Stash offers an optional Stock-Back program4 wherein customers can earn fractional shares of stock on all qualifying purchases if they choose to participate. 

If you make a buy on Amazon, for instance, you’ll receive Amazon stock as a reward. If the company’s stock isn’t traded publicly, the Stash platform will use an ETF of your choice to fulfill the stock reward.

Remember that the Stash debit card is not a credit card and has no interest or fees associated with it.

Auto-Stash

Managing your Stash investments manually need not be a full-time job thanks to Auto-Stash, a suite of automated saving and investing tools. You can plan ahead for automatic stock market investing by organizing periodic transfers.

Every time you make a transaction with your debit card, the Round-Up function will save the spare change (rounded up to the nearest dollar) for savings or investments.

Stash’s Smart-Stash function, meanwhile, secretly puts away nominal amounts of spare change whenever the app determines that you have the financial flexibility to do so. This may help you save time and effort in the planning and calculating stages of your budget.

The Avibra Life Insurance Company

Avibra provides $1,000 in no-cost life insurance as part of the Stash Growth plan.

Accounts for Investing in Retirement

Those who are saving for retirement can open a regular IRA or a Roth IRA with Stash Invest at this fee.

There are yearly contribution limits and withdrawal restrictions imposed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for these accounts, and there may be an additional management fee based on a percentage of assets. 

For all intents and purposes, they are interchangeable with Stash’s taxable investment account and can be used to build diversified portfolios.

Smart Portfolio

Smart Portfolio is a managed investment service offered to Stash Growth users at no additional cost. Smart Portfolio is an automated investment service that will manage your money for you based on proprietary research and your input about risk tolerance and investing goals. 

All you have to do is deposit money and Smart Portfolio will take care of the rest. Every quarter, Smart Portfolio will rebalance your investments if they have deviated by more than 5% from their intended allocation.

2. Stash+

Stash+ is a premium plan that bundles all Stash features into one higher-priced package. For users with substantial investable assets of over When compared with other automated money management tools, $30,000 is a reasonable price. However, the $9 monthly fee is somewhat high, especially for newcomers.

The Stash+ plan has everything the Growth plan does, plus:

Custodial Accounts for Up to Two Children (UGMA/UTMA)

With Stash, you can set up two separate custodial investment accounts for minor children (called “UTMA” and “UGMA,” respectively). Stash, the adult investment platform, offers a similar taxable investment account that may be used for custodial accounts. 

They’re fantastic for educating kids about saving and investing at any age, and they’re more flexible than tax-advantaged school savings accounts.

You have jurisdiction over any accounts where minors are the intended beneficiaries. When a beneficiary reaches legal adulthood, they become the sole owner of the account and are free to make any withdrawals they like. 

Read up on the UTMA/UGMA rules in your state and the IRS’s position on federal income tax before deciding to open a custodial account (UGMA/UTMA) with Stash.

Debit Card Made of Metal with Double Stock-Back

Holders of the Stash+ plan will receive a sleek metal debit card that will earn double the Stock-Back4 earnings on all qualifying purchases.

Report on Monthly Market Insights

Monthly, Stash+ users receive an exclusive market newsletter. The purpose of this report is to keep sophisticated investors informed of market trends and investment advice.

Additional Life Insurance from Avibra

Included in the Stash+ plan at no extra cost is a $10,000 life insurance policy from Avibra.

Additional Fees

You may be subject to additional charges as a Stash user beyond the monthly subscription fee. 

Some examples of Stash’s extra costs are as follows:

  • Paper statements
  • Paper trade confirmations
  • Paper prospectuses
  • Outgoing account transfers
  • Paper checks

Most charges are either one-time only such as when transferring funds between accounts or are negotiable like when customers opt out of receiving paper statements if they alter their behavior.

When compared to other reloadable prepaid debit cards, the costs associated with the Stash card are quite reasonable. Green Dot, Stash’s debit card provider, may impose account fees, however, over which Stash has no say. 

In this category are items such as:

  • Out-of-network ATM withdrawal and balance inquiry fees
  • Teller cash withdrawal fees
  • Cash deposit fees
  • Foreign transaction fees

Pros of Stash

These are just a few of the many advantages of using Stash to manage your finances.

1. Fair Management Fees for the Majority of Investors

Stash’s management fees are competitive with other Robo-advisors and bargain brokers. Because of the flat rate that is charged regardless of the account balance, Stash encourages new customers to jump in with both feet rather than only testing the waters with a small amount of money. Stash could be a good choice if you have $20,000 or more to invest all at once.

2. Rewards from the Stock-Back Program for Regular Debit Card Transactions

Stash’s voluntary Stock-Back program4 may be riskier than a standard cash-back program, but it also offers a greater potential reward by enabling you to increase the stakes on the implicit faith you invest in every merchant with whom you transact. This makes you more than simply a customer, but also a potential investor in the businesses you support.

3. No Additional Trading Commissions

Stash doesn’t tack on any hidden fees for buying stocks or ETFs. That is a significant benefit compared to popular discount brokerages, many of which still charge for stock trading on a per-transaction basis.

4. More ETFs Available Than Some Competitor Platforms

There are a few dozen ETFs available on Stash, ranging from specialized options for a particular industry to diversified global market index funds. 

That’s a plus compared to some Robo-advisor platforms, which may only spread your money around among a few funds based on your estimated risk tolerance, a formulaic approach that may not be in your best interest.

5. Child Custodial Accounts (UGMA/UTMA)

Holders of the Stash+ plan can set up two separate custodial accounts (UGMA/UTMA) for their minor children. Stash may be the solution you’ve been looking for if you’ve been trying to locate a family-friendly online investment service.

Cons of Stash

Keep these cons in mind before committing to Stash.

1. No Free Trial Period

When signing up with Stash, there is no opportunity to test out the service for free. Wrap fees and other account-related charges begin accruing the month your account is opened. Starting with the Growth plan will lessen the blow if you can make do with the reduced set of features.

2. A Progressive Fee Structure

Stash plans are regressive since they demand fixed monthly fees rather than a percentage of AUM. This means that they appropriate a larger percentage of the resources available from investors with fewer assets.

3. A Few Value-Added Services and Tools for Serious Do-It-Yourself Investors

Stash lacks the sophisticated analytical and market research tools provided by full-service brokerages. Stash+ subscribers receive a monthly insights newsletter in addition to a basic “How to Invest” introduction and a good blog covering the fundamentals of personal finance and investing. 

However, beyond that, Stash’s understanding is limited. DIY investors and day traders who rely on these materials will be sorely disappointed.

4. No Self-Employed Investors or Business Owners May Participate in Qualified Plans

Stash does not provide any solutions tailored to business owners or self-employed investors who are saving for retirement. You can’t open a solo 401(k), SEP IRA, or SIMPLE IRA retirement account here, for instance — only traditional and Roth IRAs, whose tax advantages are suboptimal for higher-income business owners and sole proprietors.

5. Strictly Limited Number of Individual Stocks

The number of stocks listed on Stash is very tiny compared to the total number of equities on the U.S. market, but it does feature many popular blue chips and growth possibilities. Stash’s selection is lacking for do-it-yourself investors who want to conduct extensive studies on each holding in pursuit of chances that others may overlook.

Bottom Line

For the average customer with a middle income, the banking and investment software Stash can likely function as a one-stop shop for all of their financial management needs.

Customers with few assets should look elsewhere because of the flat fees charged. In addition, more experienced investors may find that more robust investment platforms better meet their needs. Stash is an app that everyone else should check out.

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