Stash Debit Card Review: Big Pull for Micro Investors

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Updated on Monday, February 8, 2021

Fintech startup Stash offers more than just micro-investing opportunities, thanks to its cash management account. Once you have a Stash Invest account, you can access Stash’s debit account and debit card (known as the Stash Stock-Back® Card) powered by Green Dot Bank. There are no monthly maintenance or overdraft fees, and access to over 19,000 Allpoint ATMs nationwide is included. You can even opt to earn Stash Stock-Back™ Rewards on your debit card purchases, similar to cashback rewards.

Read on to learn more about the Stash Stock-Back® Card and its rewards to determine whether it’s the right addition to your financial arsenal.

Stash banking and Stock-Back card features

The Stash banking account is separate from the Stash Invest account, although you can access both using your Stash login. You’ll need to have a Stash Invest account first in order to open a Stash banking account.

The banking account is another place to keep your cash within the app, although it doesn’t earn interest or automatically invest your money. You can open an account without depositing a minimum amount. The cash in the banking portion of Stash is FDIC-insured by Green Dot Bank, so your money is protected.

With the Stash banking account, you can separate your money into different buckets based on your savings and budgeting goals. You also can set up automatic roundups or investment transfers to automate your savings. Even better, Stash allows you to get your paycheck up to two days earlier than most banks when you receive it through direct deposit.

Stash Stock-Back

While you can’t earn interest or invest the funds in your Stash banking account, there is an opportunity to earn rewards through Stash Stock-Back once you have a balance of at least $1. With Stash’s Stock-Back program, you earn 0.125% of each qualifying purchase you make with your Stash debit card at over 11 million retail outlets as a stock reward. Some merchants may even offer bonuses where you can earn up to 5% of each purchase as Stock-Back rewards.

The stock rewards can be in shares of the vendor where you made the purchase, and if the vendor’s stock is listed on the Stash Platform, your reward is in the shares of that company. For example, every time you get Taco Bell and pay with your Stash debit card, you earn a small percentage of YUM! Brands stock. If a vendor’s stock isn’t available on Stash, you’ll earn your Stock-Back reward as shares in Vanguard Total World Stock ETF.

With Stock-Back rewards, customers aren’t really getting full shares — or at least not until they’ve done a lot of spending. Instead, Stash invests small amounts of money in stock by offering users fractional shares. In this category of stock investing, brokerages split shares of stock into smaller parts to help small investors diversify their holdings or gain access to shares with relatively high per-share prices.

The Stock-Back rewards you earn on qualifying debit purchases using your Stash debit card will be added to your Stash Invest account.

Stock-Back® Card fees and fine print

Stash boasts zero hidden fees on its debit account, although there are fees on a few types of transactions, detailed below. However, you won’t face a fee for overdraft/insufficient funds, ACH bank transfers, direct deposits and replacement debit cards.

While there’s no monthly fee to add a Stash banking account, the Stash platform itself costs a monthly fee. Stash Invest accounts cost $1, $3 or $9 per month, depending on the plan you choose.

Stash Debit Account Fees
Out-of-network ATM fee$2.50
Out-of-network ATM balance inquiry fee$0.50
Teller cash withdrawal fee$2.50
Cash deposit feeUp to $5.95, varies by retailer
Foreign transaction fee3% of total transaction amount

Most significantly, you’ll get dinged for using out-of-network ATMs. Plus, since Stash operates entirely online, it also charges a fee for using a bank teller to withdraw cash from your account.

Additionally, you cannot make cash deposits at an ATM. Instead, you must visit participating retailers — including CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, Rite Aid and Walmart — to deposit cash at a cashier. The fee for this service will depend on the retailer, but can reach up to $5.95. Further, you can only deposit up to $2,500 in cash per day.

Stash debit card pros and cons

Pros

  • Wide investment network: With 11 million retail outlets on its platform, Stash provides expansive opportunities to earn fractional shares from places you shop.
  • Easy portfolio diversification: Stash’s fractional investing is an easy way to diversify your portfolio if you’re using your debit card frequently.
  • FDIC-insured: Stash banking balances are FDIC-insured by Green Dot Bank, which keeps your money protected up to the legal limits.
  • Early paycheck deposit: With Stash, you can get your paycheck direct deposited up to two days earlier than you may at other banks, which can help in a pinch.

Cons

  • Monthly fee for Stash Invest: Your micro-investment returns are unlikely to offset the monthly fee that you’ll need to use Stash Invest, which you must be signed up for in order to take advantage of the banking account and debit card.
  • No interest earned: The Stash debit account is not good for growing your money, as it doesn’t earn interest.
  • Unnecessary fees for cash deposits: Stash doesn’t allow free cash deposits, like most checking accounts do. If you expect to make frequent cash deposits, you might want to consider also having a checking account with free deposits if you still want the Stash account.
  • Not as beneficial as other rewards options: Debit card spending can only get you so far, even if there are rewards involved. Credit cards tend to have more robust rewards programs, and they also help build your credit, which is a crucial part of your financial health. You may want to avoid putting too much of your spending on your Stash debit card (or any debit card) if credit cards are available to you instead.

Is Stash banking safe?

Your Stash banking balances are insured by the FDIC, thanks to its partnership with Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC. That means the money you hold in your Stash bank account is protected in case Stash or Green Dot Bank were to go under. Note that once your money is going toward investments, it becomes insured by the SIPC.

Stash also implements several security measures to keep your account, money and information safe. This includes 256-bit encryption, Transport Layer Security (TLS), biometric recognition, session end-timers, log-in thresholds and two-factor authentication. The debit card comes with an EMV chip and a 3-digit security code. You can also lock and unlock your Stash debit card within the Stash app at any time.

And since the Stash debit card is a Visa card, you’re also protected by Visa’s fraud monitoring and zero liability policy. This covers you up to $50 if someone uses your card or PIN without your permission. If this happens, you must report the incident within two business days after learning about it in order to be covered.

How to open the Stock-Back® Card

You’ll need to open a Stash Invest account before you can access the Stash Stock-Back® Card. You can open a Stash account online or in the Stash app. Existing Stash users can find the Bank tab within the app.

You must be at least 18 years old to open a Stash account, although adults can open custodial accounts for minors. You’ll have to provide personal and contact information like your address, Social Security number, a U.S. bank account and identification verification materials.

You should receive your Stash Stock-Back debit card within five to seven business days after depositing funds into your Stash bank account.

Is Stash banking right for you?

A Stash bank account could be good for existing Stash users who don’t already use their credit cards for most purchases. The Stock Back program is a good way to earn fractional stocks, though there are often better rewards that come from using your credit card. You also don’t want to get sucked into using your Stash debit card for purchases you wouldn’t typically make just for the sake of getting fractional shares.

The Stash bank account isn’t a viable replacement for a checking account, either. For one, it doesn’t earn interest, which any good deposit account should. It’s also not entirely free, since you need to pay a monthly fee for Stash Invest and to make cash deposits.

Instead, the account can serve as a go-between from another checking account and your Stash Invest account, making it easier to transfer money to and from your investments.

Alternatives to Stash banking

Stash isn’t the only investment company that offers a bank account. If you’re not sure it’s the right fit, or you simply want to learn about what other options are out there, Acorns and Wealthfront are two other fintechs whose cash management accounts might intrigue you.

 StashAcornsWealthfront
Monthly fee$0 for banking; $1, $3 or $9 for Stash Invest$3 or $5$0 for banking; 0.25% annual fee for investing
Minimum to open$0$0$1
APYN/AN/A0.10%
Early paycheckYesNoYes
Free ATM accessWithin Allpoint networkWithin Allpoint networkWithin Allpoint network subset
FDIC insuredUp to $250,000 through Green Dot BankUp to $250,000 through Lincoln Savings BankUp to $1 million through partner banks

Stash vs. Acorns

Stash and Acorns are quite similar in their respective micro-investing approaches. Acorns rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar and invests that spare change. To take advantage of Acorns Spend, you must sign up for either the $3 or $5 Acorns plan.

One key difference between Acorns Spend and Stash is that Acorns Spend lacks an early paycheck feature. However, Acorns Spend offers up to 10% bonus investments when you shop with your metal Acorns Visa debit card, compared to the maximum 5% that Stash Stock-Back can earn.

Stash vs. Wealthfront

Wealthfront is a strong competitor in the robo-advisor and cash management space, and it’s easy to see why. The Wealthfront Cash Account trumps Stash by earning interest, charging fewer fees and providing up to $1 million in FDIC insurance through partner banks.

Wealthfront may provide a more limited network of ATMs near you compared to Stash or Acorns. Like Stash, though, Wealthfront also offers the ability to deposit cash at participating retailers for a fee of up to $5.95; however, Wealthfront has a slightly higher daily limit of $3,000.

*Fees and rates mentioned in this article are accurate as of the date of publishing.