Robinhood vs Acorns vs M1 Finance – Compare the 3 Best Investment Apps
Choosing an investment app can be a challenge. With micro investing apps popping up regularly and robo-advisor apps offering broad services, how can you choose the best investing app or robo-advisory app for you from among the top three – Robinhood, Acorns, or M1 Finance?
Readers have asked:
- Is Acorns better than Robinhood?
- What’s the difference between Acorns and Robinhood?
- Is M1 Finance better than Acorns?
This article will answer those questions and many more.
Discover how to invest smarter, with this comparison of the top 3 investing apps: Robinhood vs Acorns vs M1 Finance.
But first, before we drill into the comparison, you need to decide what type of investor you are.
- Do you want help picking your investments and managing your account?
- Are you a do-it-yourself investor and want the best investment app?
- Are you a small investor seeking a way to get into the stock market with your spare change?
By answering these questions first, your decision about whether to choose Acorns vs Robinhood vs M1 Finance will be much easier.
*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.
We’ll compare each robo-advisor app by features so you can decide which ones are most important to you. Then the decision between Robinhood or Acorns or M1 Finance will be much easier.
|Overview||Free stock, crypto, ETF trading platform.||Invest spare change into ETFs for low fee.||Invest in stocks, ETFs and crypto with free management.|
|Fee Structure||No commissions or management fees. $5 per month for Robinhood Gold.||$3/month-Personal|
|No commissions or management fees. $95 for M1 Plus.|
|Top Features||Extended-hours trading. Great investing content.||Spare change automatically invested.||1000's of investments and pre-made portfolios.|
|Free Services||Commission-free trading||Promos||Commission-free trading and rebalancing.|
|Contact & Investing Advice||24/7 Live chat and phone call back, email.||Email or phone, 6:00 AM – 5:00 PM PT weekdays.||Email or phone, weekdays.|
|Investment Funds||Stocks, options, ETFs and cryptocurrencies.||ETFs from Vanguard, Blackrock, and iShares.||Stocks, bond funds, ETFs, and pre-made portfolios (pies).|
|Accounts||Individual taxable account. Cash account with debit card. Roth and Traditional IRA with 1% match.||Individual taxable account. IRA, and checking with debit card. Custodial accounts - with Family Plan.||Single and joint taxable brokerage. Roth, traditional, rollover, SEP IRA. Trust. Checking with debit card.|
|Promotions||Ongoing free investment management.||Sign up here.||Ongoing free investment management.|
Robinhood vs. Acorns vs. M1 Finance Overview
Robinhood, Acorns, and M1 Finance each enables investment in exchange traded funds. M1 Finance and Robinhood also offer individual stock investing, and M1 Finance has an in-depth crypto platform. While only Robinhood provides options.
Both Robinhood and M1 Finance are free, for their basic services.
While Robinhood, Acorns and M1 Finance have integrated banking and debit cards, only M1 Finance and Robinhood offer high yields.
That’s where the similarities among the three investment apps ends. Next, is an overview of each of the platforms.
M1 Finance is a customizable robo-advisor that makes it easy for investors to curate their investment portfolios. This free robo-advisor offers pre-made portfolios for those who want to go with a simpler option; however, investors who want full control of their investments will find that M1 Finance offers over 6,000 stocks and diversified ETFs (exchange traded funds). M1 crypto also enables you to invest in digital coins.
M1 Finance will rebalance your investment mix back to your preferred allocation.
M1 Finance also offers lending for low rates. The M1 Finance Owners card offers up to 10% cash back with several brands.
Acorns is both a micro-savings app, and a robo-advisor investment platform all in one.
The Acorns app enables you to save money by collecting what it refers to as virtual spare change. It does this by rounding up your purchases to even numbers, and then moving the change into your investment account. You can round up to the nearest dollar or 10x your round up.
The round ups are then invested in professionally managed portfolios of funds that represent thousands of individual securities.
Robinhood offers free trading services designed to help you get started investing immediately, whether you’re new to the game or an experienced investor. Robinhood is fully customizable; investors can choose from thousands of investment options including stocks, funds, options, and cryptocurrency.
The Robinhood IRA offers a 1% match.
Trading hours are now available 24/7.
Visit the websites now:
Robinhood vs. Acorns vs. M1 Finance Top Features
By understanding what type of investment platform you want the choice between Robinhood, Acorns and M1 Finance will be easy.
Robinhood is best for stock market investors or traders. With access to stocks, funds, cryptocurrency and options, beginner to advanced investors can benefit from Robinhood.
- Simple and intuitive app for Android or iOS.
- Cryptocurrency and options trading available (only available at Robinhood).
- 24/7 trading.
- Robinhood IRA with 1% match.
- Ability to upgrade to Gold for more features.
Acorns is best for the new investor without much investment experience or cash. Acorns helps you get started by converting your change into more money for retirement and other goals. After graduating from Acorns, you might try M1 Finance.
- Checking account and debit card
- Acorns round-ups automatically invests the difference between your purchase amount a a dollar. So if your coffee is $2.25, $.75 automatically goes into your acorns account, to be invested when the total reaches $5.00. Can increase round ups to invest more.
- Acorns Found Money enables certain shopping partners to add money to your investment account.
- Acorns Later helps you save for retirement.
- Your Acorns investments are directed to a managed investment account in line with your risk tolerance; conservative through aggressive.
- Account rebalancing-back to your desired investment mix and risk level.
M1 Finance is like the best of both worlds. You can invest in individual stocks and funds or managed portfolios from basic stock and bond fund mixes to a hedge fund replica portfolios and more.
- Pre-built portfolios for retirement, socially responsible investing, income, and more.
- Customizable – pick your own stocks and funds.
- Account rebalancing back to your preferred mix of investments.
- Multiple account types.
- M1 Spend – cash management.
- M1 Borrow – low interest rate loans.
Robinhood vs. Acorns vs. M1 Finance – Who Benefits?
M1 Finance is an ideal robo-advisor for those seeking both pre-made investment portfolios and the ability to choose their own stocks and ETFs. This robo-advisor allows you to buy individual stocks and funds. Like Wealthfront, M1 Finance also offers loans and a high yield cash account, through partner banks.
M1 Finance Investment Pies – Pre-made Portfolios
- Investment rebalancing.
- Free investing and management.
- Managed portfolios like socially responsible, income, or retirement.
- A variety of account types including investment, retirement, business and trust.
- The opportunity to pick and choose from over 6,000 stocks, funds and crypto.
Acorns is ideal for the new investor, short on cash who want’s to begin dipping her toes into the investment markets. She understands that investing is a sound way to build wealth for goals like retirement, college, or a new home, but doesn’t know where to begin.
Acorns is a good investment platform if:
- You want a spare change app that automatically invests in the financial markets.
- You want help saving for retirement with a small amount of money.
- You want access to a bitcoin ETF
- You want low-fee investment selection, rebalancing, and management.
Click to start building wealth now with Acorns:
Robinhood is designed for the DIY investor who wants free trading throughout the day and after hours. Robinhood is the only app in this comparison that isn’t a robo-advisor and doesn’t offer investment management. Although investors ask, ‘Is Acorns better than Robinhood?’ the better question might be which investment app is best for you?
Robinhood is best for an investor with some experience and wants to manage his or her own investment portfolio.
Robinhood is a good investment platform if:-
- You want to invest in stocks, funds, options, and cryptocurrency.
- You’re seeking after hours trading.
- You’re comfortable managing your own investments.
- You’re seeking an IRA with a 1% match.
Robinhood vs. Acorns vs. M1 Finance – Deep Dive
Fees and Minimums
M1 Finance and Robinhood are both free for their basic services.
M1 Finance is free and does not charge trading or commission fees. The minimum to start investing with M1 Finance is only $100. This puts M1 Finance on the low end of minimums for robo-advisors, bested only by those who boast no minimum investment requirement.
M1 Plus charges $95 per year – with 3 months free promo – for investors seeking lower borrowing costs, two daily trading windows, instead of one, and a super charged checking account. The M1 Plus account offers a high yield checking account and a debit card with 1% cash back. Finally, M1 Plus customers get 4 ATM withdrawal fees reimbursed per month.
Robinhood Instant, the basic account type, is also free.
Robinhood Gold, the premium service costs $5 per month and is available to investors who want more features. Robinhood Gold members get research from Morningstar and larger instant deposits than those available in with the Instant account. With Robinhood Gold, if you use more than $1,000 of margin, you’ll pay low interest rates on the amount you use above $1,000.
Acorns Personal costs $3 per month. Personal includes an investment, retirement and checking account with debit card, bonus investments, money tips and more.
Acorns Family costs $5 per month and includes individual, kids, retirement, and checking accounts along with exclusive offers.
This is where there’s broad distinction between Acorns, Robinhood and M1 Finance.
Acorns populates your investment portfolio from among 22 ETFs spanning various asset classes:
- Large company stocks
- Small company stocks
- International large company stocks
- Socially responsible stocks
- Socially responsible bonds
- Government bonds
- Corporate bonds
- Real estate stocks
- Bitcoin ETF
These asset classes are diversified and appropriate for an investor looking for a pre-made investment portfolio. If you want to invest in individual stocks, then consider Robinhood or M1 Finance.
M1 Finance Investments
If you want to create your own combination of investments (or investment pies) you can choose from 4,325+ stocks and/or 1999+ funds and a variety of digital cryptocurrency coins. M1 Finance also offers a stock screener to help you construct your own investment portfolio.
M1 Finance also offers more than 30 pre-made investment portfolios, also called M1 Finance Pies:
- General Investing – perfect for well-balanced investments that match up with your risk level (like a typical robo-advisor).
- Socially Responsible Investing.
- Hedge Fund.
- Industries and Sectors.
- Just Stocks and Bonds.
- Other Strategies.
The M1 Finance investments are ideal for the investor that wants to choose their own investments and have them rebalanced automatically. Another advantage of the M1 Finance app is the opportunity to choose pre-made portfolios.
Robinhood offers the greatest number of investments among the three investment apps. Robinhood is designed for the individual investor who wants to buy and sell securities, options, and crypto.
Robinhood offers thousands of investments including:
The difference between Acorns and Robinhood is that Acorns is a beginner investment platform that invests for you. While Robinhood is a DIY investment app for active and experienced investors.
While M1 Finance is like a combination of the two and suitable for both beginner and advanced investors. (I have an account with M1 Finance myself!)
Robinhood, Acorns and M1 Finance all offer email and phone customer service. Only Robinhood provides 24/7 live chat and phone call backs. As with many finance apps, each platform offers comprehensive FAQ and search assistance.
M1 Finance offers onboarding assistance by phone, especially helpful when learning a new online investment tool.
M1 employs top level security. Your data isn’t stored on any device and all information is encrypted in transit between your computer and M1 as well as on the M1 servers. Your money is insured by SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) against loss of cash and securities from a brokers failure. It does not protect against normal investment price declines.
M1 Spend and M1 Plus accounts are further insured through Lincoln Savings Bank.
The website and app are secured with 256-bit encryption. Only you and Acorns can access your personal and financial data. Like M1 Finance and Robinhood, securities in your Acorns Invest and Later accounts are protected up to $500,000 against broker failure. Similar to a bank account, deposits in your Acorns Spend account are insured by the FDIC up to $250,000.
Stocks and options (not cryptocurrency) are protected up to $500,000 against company failure, not investment losses. Similar to most large financial firms, Robinhood has purchased additional SIPC insurance.
Your account is protected by the high level BCrypt hashing algorithm and never stored in plain text. Sensitive details are encrypted before stored. The apps use TLS protocol ad banking credentials are only accessed once, during initial set up.
All FDIC and SIPC insurance protect against corporate bankruptcy and failure, not against normal investment losses, due to changing asset prices. Be aware that stock, ETF and crypto prices are volatile and go up and down. There is no insurance to protect against this type of volatility.
M1 Finance offers borrowing, for any reason, with an account balance of $5,000 or more. Borrowers can access up to 40% of their account value. Margin rates vary, based upon market interest rates.
Robinhood Gold members have access to borrowing, also called margin. Users can borrow up to $1,000 with no interest charge, after which interest is charged. Typically, users can borrow up to the amount of cash and securities held in the account. The money must be used for investing. Each investment has a specific amount eligible to be bought on margin with borrowed money.
Acorns doesn’t offer margin or borrowing.
Acorns vs. Robinhood vs. M1 Finance Wrap up
If you’ve made it this far, then you probably realize that each of these investment apps is best for a specific type of investors. So, your decision should be easy when deciding which investment app to use.
M1 Finance is best for investors who want pre-made investment portfolios and also have the option to pick and choose individual stocks and funds. Investors seeking a variety of investment accounts should consider M1. M1 Investors appreciate the rebalancing feature, too. The newly updated M1 Finance app is an added bonus! Borrowing, lending, and high yield cash account, make M1 Finance a comprehensive financial platform.
Acorns is a good investment tool for the newbie with a small amount of cash to invest. New investors will appreciate Acorns automated round up investing and found money features as well as the retirement investing option. The Acorns robo-advisor investment management is best for the new investor, college student, or anyone seeking to get into the financial markets with a small amount of money. That said, it’s tough to build a substantial amount of money with tiny amounts. So, if you’re using Acorns, consider opening and funding an IRA and add additional funds to invest in your Acorns account.
Robinhood is designed for the investor who wants to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrency. It’s not specifically a day trading app but as a handy way to buy and sell securities for zero commissions. We suggest Robinhood for intermediate and experienced investors, as investing in the financial markets is risky and requires a level of knowledge and education. IRA investors should consider the Robinhood IRA with 1% cash match.
Is Acorns better than Robinhood?
Acorns isn’t better than Robinhood, it’s different. Each investing app is appropriate for a specific type of investor. Robinhood is a platform for you to invest in stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency. While, Acorns rounds up spare change, invests in ETFs in line with your goals and risk tolerance, and manages those investments for you.
What’s the difference between Acorns and Robinhood?
Acorns is a robo-advisor investment manager where your extra cash is automatically invested. While Robinhood is a portal to buy and sell financial securities. Robinhood doesn’t creates portfolios in the Robinhood IRA, but doesn’t manage or rebalance them.
Is M1 Finance better than Acorns?
M1 vs Acorns depends on the type of investor. M1 is better for investors that want a more comprehensive platform than Acorns with access to individual stocks, funds and crypto. M1 is good for those who want their investments rebalanced and managed. M1 is also good for borrowers. Acorns is best for new investors with a small amount of cash.
Each of these investment apps, has its pros and cons. The best investment app for you is the one that best meets your budget, investment knowledge and individual needs.
- M1 Finance Review
- Acorns Review
- Wealthfront vs Acorns
- M1 Finance vs Robinhood Comparison
- M1 Finance vs. Wealthfront vs. Betterment – Robo-Advisor Comparison
- Best Robo-Advisor Investing Apps
- Stash vs Robinhood vs Acorns
- SoFi vs Robinhood
- Betterment vs Acorns
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.