Stash is an online, mobile-optimized brokerage that facilitates investments in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as well as individual Stocks. It allows users to start with a low opening investment ($5) and carries relatively low account fees of $1 to $2 per month or 0.25% of assets under management, depending on the type of account you open and the balance it carries.
Stash is marketed toward beginning investors who may not have much capital to invest upfront or aren’t sure where to start. It offers a host of educational materials and programs, such as Stash Coach, to help users learn more about investing as they go, and it groups asset options into themed funds based on specified issues and concepts. (For example, you might choose a fund whose participants are working toward a greener world or who support equality in the workplace.)
However, the app’s ease of use and quick-start accessibility are counterbalanced by a relatively small suite of features and functionality, especially compared to full-service brokerages.
Who should consider Stash?
As a user-friendly robo-advisor with low minimum opening requirements, Stash is built primarily for new investors who may not be very familiar with the stock market. The program allows you to open an account with as little as $5, automate future deposits to boost growth and learn more about asset allocation (and investment in general) as you go. You’ll also be able to specify your account type and allocate your funds based on your goals and values.
Stash carries relatively low management fees, especially for those who carry account balances of at least $5,000. However, it doesn’t offer all the functionality or customizability you might find with a larger brokerage. Users must choose from a relatively short list of investment account types: personal taxable accounts, Roth IRA or Traditional IRAs, and custodial accounts.
Stash fees and features
|Amount minimum to open account|
|Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)|
|Tax loss harvesting|
|Offers fractional shares|
|Ease of use|
|Mobile app||iOS, Android|
|Customer support||Phone, Email|
Strengths of Stash
If you’re looking to get started with investing as quickly and painlessly as possible, Stash’s user-friendly interface and low minimum opening requirement make it easy — even if you don’t know much about the market.
- Low startup investment requirement: You can get started with Stash with a minimum investment of only $5, which may make investing accessible to those without much discretionary cash on hand. Furthermore, account management fees are only 0.25% for those with $5,000 or more in their Stash accounts or a flat $1 per month for accounts with less than $5,000. Retirement accounts are $2 per month, but they’re free for users under the age of 25.
- Ease of use and educational opportunities: Stash offers a clean, simple, user-friendly interface on its browser and app versions, and apps are available for both Android and iOS. Participating in themed funds allows you to confidently invest in your values without doing heavy manual research. User tools like Stash Coach and a comprehensive Q&A make it easy to wrap your head around new investing concepts.
- Automation: The best way to take advantage of the power of compound interest is to keep, well, stashing away what you can — even if it’s only a little bit. Stash makes this process simple with its automatic deposits, which can be as low as $5 and scheduled to occur on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis.
- Customer service is easily accessible: While Stash’s searchable Q&A hosts a heap of great content that may be able to help you find answers to your questions on your own, you also can easily reach out to a customer service agent for personalized assistance. Both a telephone number (800-205-5164) and an email address ([email protected]) are listed, and you can expect the team to respond to your issue within 24 business hours. (Author’s note: I sent a test email to customer service on a Saturday afternoon and received a reply within an hour.)
Drawbacks of Stash
Although Stash offers a lot of attractive features — especially for those new to investing — the platform does have a couple of limitations that may give advanced savers pause.
- Relatively few account options: Stash offers a variety of investment account options, including Individual taxable accounts and retirement accounts (Roth IRA and Traditional IRA). Stash also offers custodial accounts to help parents save for their children’s education. However, Stash does not offer 529 Plans or more advanced retirement options like solo 401(k)s, SEP IRAs or SIMPLE IRAs. Freelancers, entrepreneurs and parents hoping to take advantage of the unique tax benefits of a 529 might want to consider a more advanced brokerage for access to these investment accounts.
- High fee ratio on low-balance accounts: Although Stash charges a flat rate of just $1 per month (or $2 for retirement accounts), its seemingly low fees are actually pricier for those with low account balances. For instance, if you’re investing only $5 per week (or $20 per month), that $1 fee represents 5% of your assets under management. Of course, investing more will essentially lower this figure. For example, if you stay at the same investment rate of $5 per week, you’ll have stashed $260 in a year’s time ($5 x 52 calendar weeks = $260), which means the $1 fee is less than 1% of your assets under management, not counting interest, and will continue to diminish with time.
Is Stash safe?
Like any investment, your Stash account carries some risk. Market volatility can lead to losses as well as gains. With that being said, there are still plenty of reasons to feel confident in Stash’s ability to manage your assets.
Stash has more than $400 million in assets under management and is trusted by over 2 million Americans. It’s listed as a registered investment advisor with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and funds managed by Stash are held by a third-party custodian — Apex Clearing — which is an SIPC member and regulated by FINRA.
For new investors hoping to get started as quickly and easily as possible, Stash offers a fairly customizable and eminently user-friendly option. There are, however, other options worth considering, including the following:
- Acorns offers a similar model to Stash but allows users to link their main spending account and round up transactions, investing the spare change.
- Betterment offers a similarly user-friendly, mobile-optimized experience but gives users access to professional financial planning and portfolio management.
Finally, full-service brokerages like Charles Schwab and Merrill Lynch or discount brokerages like TD Ameritrade may allow investors more specific control over their portfolios in addition to providing professional financial advice and services. However, these accounts generally carry higher fees and are less straightforward to open and manage.