Betterment vs. Ellevest—Which Robo-Advisor is Best for You?

Betterment vs Ellevest logos

Most robo-advisors are created to benefit a wide range of people. Some robo-advisors, however, are specialists: they tailor their services toward a specific clientele base. Many people wonder, when does it make sense to go with a niche robo-advisor? Will the general robo-advisor meet my unique needs?

Today, we are comparing the for-everyone robo-advisor, Betterment, with the more specialized, female-focused robo-advisor, Ellevest. Both Ellevest and Betterment are excellent robo-advisor financial managers with many planning, saving, investing, and advising features.

This Ellevest vs. Betterment Review will arm you with the needed information to decide which investment manager is best for you.

*This article contains affiliate links to help pay for this website. That said, our reviews are held to the highest standards of honesty.

Ellevest vs. Betterment—Overview

Both robo-advisors offer a wealth of services at various price points, making them customizable and accessible to a range of clients. However, these robo-advisors also have several distinctions.

What is Betterment?

Betterment has been in business since 2010, and holds a steady third place for assets under management. This places Betterment above all other independently-owned robo-advisors; only Schwab and Vanguard robo-advisors have more AUM.

Betterment is designed to work for any type of investor, from beginner to advanced. Betterment uses a goals-based model for determining portfolio allocations, so it is customizable for young first-time homebuyers and those approaching retirement alike. In addition to helping clients target their goals, Betterment also employs a host of investment strategies, ranging from more “hands-off,” passive investments and actively managed accounts like smart-beta investing and socially responsible portfolios.

Their financial planning options make Betterment appropriate for the investor seeking regular Certified Financial Planner guidance to the newbie who wants to make sure her investing is on the right track.

Betterment recently introduced Betterment Checking and Cash Reserve with high return cash management features including no fee ATMs.

What is Ellevest?

Ellevest is a robo-advisor and money membership designed for and by women. While people of all gender identities are more than welcome to invest with Ellevest, the robo-advisor is built to “close the gender money gap” that women tend to face. This robo-advisor recognizes the unique financial and career challenges many women encounter: lost time and income due to childbearing and rearing, lower wages than their male counterparts, and an industry that has traditionally been built and maintained for and by men.

In keeping with the idea that women already have enough challenges, Ellevest is designed to make investing simple and thorough. Client goals and risk are assessed along with market forecasting to create diverse and comprehensive portfolios.

Although both Betterment and Ellevest offer financial advisor access, Ellevest also provides career consultants for its clients. Both platforms charge reasonable fees for financial advice.

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Top Features

FeaturesBettermentEllevest
OverviewGoals-based digital investment manager with access to financial advisors and cash management.Automated investment management robo-advisor and money membership that invests specifically with the needs and challenges of women in mind. Offers financial and career advisors for a discounted fee.
Minimum Investment AmountNo minimum for Betterment Digital.
$100,000 minimum for Betterment Premium.
No minimum investment amount for the Ellevest Money Membership.
$1,000,000 minimum for Private Wealth Management.
Free ServicesFree portfolio review. Access to educational resources.Free access to Ellevest Magazine with articles and videos tailored for women’s financial concerns, email courses, live workshops with CFP’s and Executive Coaches.
Fee StructureDigital-0.25%  AUM
Premium-0.40% AUM

Essential - $1 per month

Plus - $5 per month

Executive - $9 per month

Top FeaturesDigital and hybrid investment management with financial advisors. All investors can text with financial advisors. Socially-responsible, income and smart beta portfolios. Tax loss harvesting. Cash management.Personalized digital investment plan. Discounted fees for sessions with financial and career coaches. No-fee debit card with round up feature.**
Investment FundsLow fee exchange traded funds from diverse asset classes including inflation protected bond and value stock ETFs.21 low-cost, commission-free ETFs primarily from Vanguard. Other fund providers include Barclays, Nuveen, iShares, Charles Schwab and Van Eck.
Accounts AvailableSingle and joint taxable brokerage. Roth, traditional, rollover and SEP IRA. Trust.Taxable brokerage accounts, Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs. Spend and save cash account with debit card.
Contact & Investing AdvicePhone support M-F. Email and text support 7 days per week. Financial advisor access available at various levels.Chat, email, phone, text, Instagram Direct Message and Facebook Messenger during regular business hours. Financial and career coaching for discounted fees. 
PromotionsFree Betterment investment management promotionVisit Ellevest
Get your first month free with code "roboadvisorpros"

Betterment Top Features

  • Smart Beta, socially responsible, and income investment options
  • Financial advisors available for all plans
  • Tax-loss harvesting
  • High yield cash management, banking services, and fee-free debit card
  • Multiple goal investing at all levels.

Ellevest Top Features

  • Female-focused platform
  • Financial planners and career consultants for discounted fees
  • Impact investing
  • Claims to offer more realistic future projections, including taxes, down markets and more
  • Round ups available to boost investment dollars through the banking feature which includes a debit card**

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Who Benefits

Winner: Both Betterment and Ellevest are replete with features and picking an overall winner for “Who Benefits?” boils down to what you’re looking for. We like both platforms – a lot – and are comfortable recommending either, depending upon your personal situation.

Minimum Balance

Investors who want to start off slowly with no minimum balance requirement will benefit from both Betterment and Ellevest. Both robo-advisors offer affordable Digital portfolio options to clients regardless of how much money the clients have to invest. This is great news for users who want to try out robo-advisors or may not have much money available for a large up-front deposit.

Goals

At the basic digital level, Betterment offers the opportunity for multiple goals including retirement. This is a significant positive in Betterment’s court, as many investors want the option of investing for multiple goals.

The Ellevest Plus plan includes two goals – build wealth and retirement. The Executive includes multi-goal investing in addition like saving for a home or saving for kids. While the Ellevest Essential level only offers one goal, which could be a disadvantage for the bare bones level.

Fees

Betterment charges an affordable 0.25% AUM management fee.

While Ellevest offers low subscription based pricing ranging from $1 to $9 per month at the Executive level. We consider both Ellevest and Betterment low management fee robo-advisors, making them a tie for low minimums and fees.

The $9 Ellevest Executive level – which offers the most flexibility costs $9 per month which is higher than Betterment’s 0.25% AUM for small accounts. Once your account value surpasses $43,200, the Ellevest $9 monthly fee matches or is lower than the comparable 0.25% AUM management fee charged by Betterment.

Financial Advisors

Both Betterment and Ellevest offer access to Certified Financial Planners.

If you’re seeking career guidance, you’ll have to go with Ellevest.

Ellevest and Betterment Each Offer Many Benefits

Women will, of course, benefit most from using Ellevest. The platform is designed to take their needs into consideration as portfolios are generated and managed. However, anyone who wants to tailor their investments to support women-led businesses and communities will also like Ellevest’s impact investing options.

If you’re seeking a broader array of investment funds, you might lean towards Ellevest, with 21 diverse ETFs versus, Betterment’s 14 funds. Although greater number of funds doesn’t necessarily mean better returns.

In the “Who Benefits” match up, the portfolios have subtle distinctions, which, depending upon your needs will lead you to choose one over the other.

ellevest mobile

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Fees and Minimums

Winner: It’s a tie.

Betterment Fees and Minimums

Betterment offers two portfolio options. At both portfolio levels, Betterment also offers reduced fees for accounts valued over $2 million.  If you don’t need regular access to financial planners, Betterment has a la carte one-on-one financial planning sessions available as well. You can sign up for a consult on a variety of topics like college planning or whether to buy a home or not.

Betterment Digital:

  • No minimum investment requirement
  • Betterment fee: .25% AUM
  • Fee for accounts valued over $2 million – .15% AUM

Betterment Premium:

  • $100,000 minimum investment
  • Betterment Premium fee: .40% AUM
  • Fee for accounts valued over $2 million – .30% AUM

Betterment Financial Consultations (available at per session charge for Betterment Digital clients):

  • A la carte financial planning advice
  • One-to-one consultations
  • Starting at $99

Take a look around the Betterment site. Sign up now for the free investment management promotion.

Ellevest Fees and Minimums

Ellevest has three subscription levels, plus extra services for wealthier investors.

FeaturesEssential - $1 per monthPlus - $5 per monthExecutive - $9 per month

Investing

X

X

X

Learning

X

X

X

Banking

X

X

X

Coaching Access

X - 20% off

X - 30% off

X - 50% off

Retirement

X

X

Multi-Goal Investing

X

Ellevest vs. Betterment—Top Features Deep Dive

Which robo-advisor best fits your needs: Ellevest vs. Betterment? If you are still unclear, this deep dive may help illustrate some more important differences.

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Human Financial Planners

Winner: It’s a tie.

If your assets surpass $100,000 and you have a complex financial situation you might opt for Betterment Premium. Although, depending upon the value of your assets, Ellevests 50% discount on financial advisor access might make the $9 per month Executive option suitable.

Ultimately, both robo-advisors offer access to human financial planners, although they do so with varying degrees of access.

Betterment

Betterment has the most accessible human financial planners, offering clients the ability to text with advisors regardless of account value. This is a very valuable offering, as many robo-advisors charge more than the basic 0.25% AUM fee for investors to communicate with live financial advisors. Although, for one-on-one financial planner meetings, clients must either purchase an a la carte session or pay the .40% management fee for unlimited sessions at the Betterment Premium level.

Betterment Premium also requires a $100,000 minimum investment amount.

Ellevest

While the membership pricing does not include access to financial advisors, it does include the Ellevest Concerge Team to help with all aspects of the platform, and rollovers for retirement accounts.

But investors can schedule meetings with financial advisors and career coaches at discounted fees. The discount varies based upon the membership level. The discounts range from 20% off at the Basic Level to 50% off at the Executive level.

We like this approach as you only pay for the services that you need.

In fact, anyone can schedule a meeting with the advisors for the retail fee.

betterment mobile dashboard

Ellevest App vs. Betterment App

Winner: Betterment

The Ellevest app is only available for Apple products at the iOS store.

An android app will be available soon. In the meantime you can visit Ellevest.com using Google Chrome on your Android device. You can perform all of the same activities – and more.

The Betterment app is available for both android and iOS platforms. The Betterment app was recently redesigned and turned into a hub for your financial life, said Caleb Rotach, Betterment’s product manager. Not only does the app help you manage your financial life, but focuses on your life goals as well.

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Tax-Loss Harvesting

Winner: Betterment

Like many robo-advisors on the market, Betterment offers tax-loss harvesting on their portfolios. This is quickly becoming standard for many robos, though not all have followed suit yet.

While Ellevest does not specifically offer tax-loss harvesting, they do boast a tax-minimization strategy that functions in a similar way. This includes diversifying taxable and non-taxable accounts within your portfolio and, whenever possible, minimizing taxable gains while maximizing taxable losses.

Please be aware that tax-loss harvesting only applies to taxable accounts.

Betterment vs. Ellevest—Investments

Winner: It’s a tie. Both platforms offer a wide range of diverse investments.

As this Betterment Review vs. Ellevest Review demonstrates, both are committed to providing clients with good investment options. While Betterment’s are certainly well-rounded, Ellevest offers a more diverse pool of stocks, bonds, and other investment funds.

If you’re seeking cash management then both offer a cash account. Although Betterment Cash Reserve offers higher interest rates while Ellevest offers round ups.

Betterment Investments

  • US Small-cap stocks
  • US Mid-cap stocks
  • US Large-cap stocks
  • International Emerging Market stocks and bonds
  • International Developed Market stocks and bonds
  • High Quality bonds
  • Municipal bonds
  • Inflation-Protected bonds
  • High-yield corporate bonds
  • Short-term treasury bonds
  • Short-term investment-grade bonds

Betterment also offers smart beta portfolios, income portfolios and socially responsible options, for investors seeking broader investment styles.

Ellevest Investments

  • US Large Cap Value
  • US Mid Cap
  • US Small Cap
  • US Small Cap Value
  • International Developed markets
  • International Emerging Markets
  • International Total Bond
  • US Dollar Emerging Market Bond
  • Local Currency Emerging Markets Bonds
  • US Total Bond
  • US Short Term Bond
  • US Mid Cap Value
  • High Yield Bond
  • US TIPS (treasury inflation protected) Bond
  • US High Yield Municipal Bond
  • US Short Term Municipal Bond
  • US Municipal Bond
  • FDIC Cash
  • US REIT – Real Estate Fund
  • International REIT – Real Estate Fund

Ellevest investing has thousands of unique portfolios, that are tailored to women’s specific goals and timelines. Like Betterment, the Ellvest Impact Portfolios are good for those seeking to invest with their values.

In the Ellevest Investments vs Betterment Investments competition, the best choice depends upon your personal preferences. We believe both platforms offer sufficient funds for adequate diversification.

Ellevest vs. Betterment – Account Types

Winner: This was a close one, but Betterment wins with the addition of trust accounts.

Ellevest account types:

  • Individual and joint taxable investment accounts.
  • Traditional and Roth IRAs
  • SEP IRAs for business owners

Betterment account types:

  • Individual and joint taxable investment accounts.
  • Traditional, Roth, and rollover IRAs
  • SEP IRAs for business owners
  • Trust accounts

FAQ

Can I lose money with Betterment?

Whenever you invest in stock or bond funds, there is the possibility of losses. While cash investments maintain a stable value.
But, the benefit of investing in financial markets is that for long-term investing (more than five to seven years) is that the returns tend to be significantly higher. Historical stock market returns have averaged roughly 9% annually over the last 100 years while bond investments have averaged about 5%.
Although, there is no guarantee that past returns will repeat in the future and it’s typical that in the short term your investments might lose money.

Should I use Ellevest?

The Ellevest robo-advisor might be a good choice for investment management for you. Whether you should choose Betterment or Ellevest for your investing depends upon your personal financial situation. This review should help you decide.

Is Betterment the Best?

There is no one best robo-advisor. The best investment manager is the one that fits your own needs.
We like both Ellevest and Betterment and provide non-biased information to help you make the best investment decision for you.

Ellevest vs. Betterment—Which is Best? Takeaway

Deciding who wins in the Betterment vs. Ellevest faceoff is harder than it looks.

Both robo-advisors try to minimize clients’ taxable losses through tax-loss harvesting or tax-minimization strategies. They also seek to provide affordable account management.

Both Ellevest and Betterment offer affordable financial advisor access.

For that reason, both robo-advisors are strong contenders for any investor, regardless of income level or experience with investing.

Bonus: Best Robo-Advisors for Women

However, the two robo-advisors start to diverge when it comes to other key features.

Only Ellevest offers career coaches. Although this may or may not be an ongoing need for you.

Betterment has more to offer in terms of access to human financial planners with its ability to text financial advisors at the Betterment Digital level.

Betterment offers unlimited financial advisor access. This comes at the Premium level with the $100,000 minimum investment amount and 0.40% expense ratio.

While Ellevest Private Wealth Management clients can expect the royal treatment in terms of human account management, the account requires a minimum of $1 million in investments and does not disclose its account management fees.

For banking services and a high yield cash account under one roof, Betterment is a sound choice.

For round ups, the Ellevest debit card might be appropriate for the small investor.**

Ultimately, determine which features are most important to you and invest accordingly. We believe that both Betterment and Ellevest are sound robo-advisors.

Get free account management when you sign up for Betterment.

Read the complete Betterment Review

Read the complete Ellevest Review

More Comparison Articles

Updated-October 1, 2020


Disclosure: Please note that this article may contain affiliate links which 
means that – at zero cost to you – I might earn a commission if you sign up or buy through the affiliate link. That said, I never recommend anything I don’t  believe is valuable.

*Banking products and services are provided by Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to license by Mastercard International.

**If you opt in to the Roundup Program for debit card purchases, each settled (i.e. fully completed) purchase transaction made with your Ellevest Debit Card will be rounded up to the nearest whole U.S. dollar. The Roundup amount will be transferred from your Spend account to your Save account. Foreign purchases are rounded up to the nearest whole dollar after the purchase is converted to U.S. dollars. ATM withdrawals and transactions in whole US dollars, e.g. $20.00 are excluded from the Roundup program. If, at the time of settlement of a purchase, your Ellevest Spend Account has insufficient available funds to cover the full amount of the Roundup transfer, the Roundup Transfer will not be made.

If a purchase is canceled or reversed for any reason (including disputes), the corresponding Roundup Transfer will not be reversed.  You can opt out of the Roundup Program at any time.

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