Advertiser Disclosure
X

Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card and banking offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies and banks from which MoneyCrashers.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they appear on category pages. MoneyCrashers.com does not include all banks, credit card companies or all available credit card offers, although best efforts are made to include a comprehensive list of offers regardless of compensation. Advertiser partners include American Express, Chase, U.S. Bank, and Barclaycard, among others.

  • Date

By

Dig Deeper

Become a Money Crasher!
Join our community.

Stash Review – An App That Makes Investing Easy

At a Glance
Stash Logo
4.2 / 5
Rating

Sign Up

Stash

  • Account Types: Debit account8, taxable brokerage, tax-advantaged retirement investing1, custodial accounts (UGMA/UTMA)2
  • Plans: Beginner ($1 per month)3; Growth ($3 per month)3 ; Stash+ ($9 per month)3
  • Bonuses: Up to 2x Stock-Back4 on eligible debit card transactions
  • Additional Fees: Fees may apply for paper documents, outgoing account transfers, and other account actions
  • Minimum Deposit Requirements: No investing minimums.

There are plenty of low-cost brokerages, mobile-first personal finance apps, and robo-advisor investing platforms out there. Every week, it seems, there’s a new personal finance solution, whether it’s a lightweight automated savings app, mold-breaking brokerage platform for low-asset investors, or new approach to tax-advantaged retirement investing.

Does the world really need another?

The folks behind Stash apparently think so, and their product makes a convincing case for it. Stash merges the convenience of online banking and DIY investing with the mostly reasonable fee structure of an automated robo-advisor.

Though it has broad appeal, Stash really shines for middle-income couples and families looking for a single money management platform without lots of added baggage. Despite a nice lineup of ETFs and low investing minimums, it’s not ideal for sophisticated investors or those with meager investable assets.

If you’re less than satisfied with your current bank, brokerage, or both, Stash is worth a closer look. Read on for more about its features, advantages, drawbacks, and overall suitability for spenders and savers.

Plans & Features

Stash offers three plans: Beginner, Growth, and Stash+. Each has its own mix of features and capabilities.

For taxable brokerage accounts, the monthly plan fee, or Wrap Fee, bundles common fees charged by investing platforms, including advisory and transaction fees. For retirement accounts, Stash may charge an additional advisory fee based on the value of client assets under management. Fees incorporated into securities’ expense ratios, if applicable, aren’t bundled into the Wrap Fee and may reduce account holders’ net growth, earnings, or both. Ancillary fees may apply in certain situations.

1. Beginner

The Beginner plan is ideal for new Stash users who aren’t sure the platform is right for them. It’s a great way to get your feet wet without spending too much. Beginner costs $1 per month.3

Beginner’s key features include:

  • Personal Investing Account. Stash is built around a taxable personal investing (brokerage) account with no commissions or transaction fees. Starting with an initial investment of as little as $1, you can purchase whole or fractional shares of individual stocks on Stash. Most of these stocks are mid- and large-cap firms listed in the Dow 30, NASDAQ 100, and S&P 500 market indexes. Stash also offers a couple dozen third-party ETFs that track specific market sectors, entire indexes, or geographic regions. Although these ETFs charge fees (bundled into their expense ratios) that Stash can’t control, most are reasonably priced.
  • Debit Account8. All Stash personal investing account holders are eligible to open a Stash Banking account with no overdraft8, monthly maintenance, or minimum balance fees9, and no direct deposit, in-network ATM balance check, or lost card replacement fees. Users who set up a direct deposit can get access to their paycheck up to two days early10. The Stash debit account is FDIC-insured and includes access to 19,000+ fee-free U.S. ATMs.5
  • Debit Card With Stock-Back. Each Stash debit account comes with a debit card you can use online and at physical points of sale. If you opt in to Stash’s optional Stock-Back program4, you can earn fractional shares of stock on every eligible purchase. If publicly-traded stock of the merchant is not available on the Stash Platform, the stock reward will be in an ETF of your choice.  For instance, purchases made through Amazon earn Amazon stock.
  • Auto-Stash. Auto-Stash is a bundle of automated saving and investing products that may reduce the time required to manage your Stash investments.6 The scheduling feature allows you to set recurring transfers ahead of automatic market investments. The Round-Up feature rounds every debit purchase to the nearest dollar and sets aside the difference for future investments. And the Smart-Stash feature automatically saves small sums when Stash’s software thinks you can afford it.

2. Growth

The Growth plan offers tools for day-to-day money management and longer-term investing. For $3 per month3, it offers a wider range of features geared toward individuals and couples who’ve merged their finances.

Growth includes all of the features of the Beginner plan, plus:

  • Retirement Investing Accounts. Stash offers two tax-advantaged retirement investing accounts1: a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA. These accounts are subject to annual IRS contribution limits and withdrawal restrictions, and they may incur an additional management fee assessed as a percentage of the assets under management. Otherwise, they’re functionally equivalent to Stash’s taxable investing account.

3. Stash+

Stash+ is a premium plan that bundles all Stash features into one higher-priced package. For users with substantial investable assets of over $30,000, it’s not a bad deal compared with other automated wealth management platforms. But, at $9 per month, it’s a steep price for beginners.

Stash+ includes all of the features of the Growth plan, plus:

  • Custodial Accounts (UGMA/UTMA) for Up To Two Kids. Stash lets you open up to two UTMA/UGMA custodial investing accounts2 for minor children. Custodial accounts work just like Stash’s taxable investing account for adults. Because they’re more versatile than tax-advantaged education savings accounts, they’re great for teaching kids to save and invest at any age. You control accounts with minor beneficiaries. Once the beneficiaries reach the age of majority, they assume account ownership and can use the funds as they see fit. Before opening a custodial account (UGMA/UTMA) with Stash, check your state’s UTMA/UGMA regulations and IRS guidance on federal income tax liability.
  • Metal Debit Card With 2x Stock-Back. Stash+ plan holders receive a classy metal debit card that earns twice the Stock-Back4 on every eligible transaction.
  • Monthly Market Insights Report. Stash produces a monthly market newsletter exclusively for Stash+ users. It’s designed to keep savvy investors abreast of market developments and investing strategies.

Additional Fees

Monthly plan fees aren’t the only fees you may incur as a Stash user. Stash’s ancillary charges include fees for:

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

Most fees apply only in one-off situations, such as account transfers, or can be avoided by changing customer preferences — for instance, by declining paper communications.

The Stash debit card has relatively low fees for a reloadable prepaid debit card. However, Stash’s debit card issuer, Green Dot, may charge account fees that Stash can’t control. These include:

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

Advantages

These are among the top reasons to consider managing your money with Stash.

  1. Reasonable Management Fees for Most Investors. Stash’s management fees are reasonable by the standards of the discount brokerage and robo-advisor industries. Because Stash plans charge flat monthly fees, rather than a percentage of the assets under management, these fees are regressive. In other words, they take a proportionally higher share of low-asset investors’ funds. This fee structure incentivizes new account holders to bring serious money to the table, not merely to dip their toes into Stash’s waters. If you have $20,000 or more to invest at once, you’ll may make out well with Stash.
  2. Stock-Back Program Rewards Everyday Debit Card Transactions. It may be riskier than a traditional cash back program, but Stash’s opt-in Stock-Back program4 also has a higher upside: It empowers you to double down on the implicit trust you place in every merchant you do business with. That may help you make more thoughtful purchasing decisions. For instance, if you want to fight climate change, perhaps you’ll think twice about swiping your Stash debit card at your neighborhood BP station.
  3. No Add-on Trading Commissions3. Stash doesn’t charge add-on trading commissions on individual stock or ETF purchases. That’s a big advantage over popular “discount” brokerages, many of which still charge for individual stock trades.
  4. Wider Range of ETFs Than Some Competing Platforms. Stash has a few dozen ETFs in its database, from industry-specific products to broad-based global market index funds. That’s an advantage over true robo-advisor platforms, some of which simply allocate investors’ money across a handful of funds based on reported risk tolerance — a cookie-cutter approach that may not serve investors’ best interests.
  5. Custodial Accounts (UGMA/UTMA) for Kids. Stash+ plan holders can open up to two custodial accounts (UGMA/UTMA) for minor children. If you’ve been searching in vain for an investing platform that serves your entire family, you may find it in Stash.

Disadvantages

Weigh these disadvantages carefully before choosing Stash.

  1. No Free Trial Period. Stash has no free trial option for new account holders. From the first month your account is open, you’ll be on the hook for the monthly Wrap Fee, plus any ancillary fees your account activity may incur. If you can tolerate the limited range of features, you can mitigate the hit by starting with the Beginner plan.
  2. Few Value-Added Tools and Services for Serious DIY Investors. Stash doesn’t offer the sorts of high-powered market research and analytic tools available at full-service brokerages. It has a rudimentary How to Invest primer, a decent blog covering basic personal finance and investing concepts, and a monthly insights newsletter for Stash+ plan holders. But beyond that, Stash’s knowledge base is pretty thin. If you’re a serious DIY investor or day trader, these resources won’t cut it for you.
  3. No Qualified Plans for Business Owners or Self-Employed Investors. Stash doesn’t offer specialized retirement investing options for business owners or self-employed investors. You can’t open a solo 401(k), SEP IRA, or SIMPLE retirement account here, for instance — only traditional and Roth IRAs, whose tax advantages are suboptimal for higher-income business owners and sole proprietors.
  4. Limited Selection of Individual Stocks. While Stash’s stock database includes plenty of well-known blue-chip stocks and growth plays, it’s a small fraction of all U.S. market listings. For DIY investors who prefer to carefully research every single holding for opportunities others might miss, Stash’s selection leaves much to be desired.

Final Word

Stash is a user-friendly banking and investing app that, for the typical middle-income consumer, can plausibly serve as an all-in-one money management tool. Due to its flat-fee pricing, it’s not great for very low-asset customers. And sophisticated investors may prefer investing platforms with more choice, features, and firepower. For everyone else, Stash is worth a closer look.

Do you use Stash to manage and invest your money? What do you think of it?

This material is not intended as investment advice and is not meant to suggest that any securities are suitable investments for any particular investor. Investment advice is only provided to Stash customers. All investments are subject to risk and may lose value.
1 Stash does not monitor whether a customer is eligible for a particular type of IRA or a tax deduction or if a reduced contribution limit applies to a customer. These are based on a customer’s individual circumstances. You should consult with a tax advisor.
2 The adult (or Custodian) who opens the account can manage the money and investments until the minor reaches the “age of majority.” That age is usually 18 or 21, depending on the Custodian’s state. The money in a custodial account is the property of the minor. Money in a custodial account can be used by the parent or legal guardian, but only to do things that benefit the child.
3 You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.
4 Stash Stock-BackⓇ is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank, Green Dot Corporation, Visa U.S.A., or any of their respective affiliates, and none of the foregoing have any responsibility to fulfill any stock rewards earned through this program.
5 Fee-free ATM access applied to in-network ATMs only. For out-of-network ATMs and bank tellers, a $2.50 fee will apply, plus any additional fee that the ATM owner or bank may charge.
6 The recurring transfers feature is offered by Stash Investments LLC and is not sponsored or endorsed by Green Dot Bank.
7 Bank Account Services are provided by, and Stash Visa Debit Card is issued by, Green Dot Bank, Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. Investment products and services are provided by Stash Investments LLC, not Green Dot Bank, and are not FDIC-insured, not bank guaranteed, and may lose value. In order for a user to be eligible for a Stash debit account, they must also have opened a taxable brokerage account on Stash. Account opening of the debit account is subject to Green Dot Bank approval.
8 Transaction is declined and no fee is charged.
9 Other fees apply to the bank account. Please see Deposit Account Agreement for details.
10 Early access to your direct deposit depends on deposit verification and when Green Dot Bank gets notice from your employer, and may vary from pay period to pay period.
Money Crashers is a paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. Investment advisory services are offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser.

Verdict
Stash Logo
4.2 / 5
Rating

Sign Up

Stash

Stash is a one-stop banking and investing platform that’s simultaneously DIY-friendly and relatively hands-off. It works best for reasonably confident investors looking to build custom portfolios from more than 1,800 ETFs and stocks. Fees are reasonable for investors with substantial investable assets.

Stash is ideal for consumers impatient with traditional banks who have a penchant for low-cost investing. Its debit product is fine for those without complex banking needs. Its investing platform works best for unfussy investors who don’t need powerful analytic tools or a vast trove of securities to choose from. Just don’t confuse Stash with a full-service bank or brokerage; it’s neither.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Next Up on
Money Crashers

Tax Deadline Calculator

What Happens If You Miss the Tax Deadline? – Penalties for Filing Late

If you missed the tax deadline, you're likely very concerned about fees, penalties, and how to file your taxes late. The good news is that it can happen to anyone, for a variety of reasons, and you can still get back on track. Here is some advice for doing just that, whether you’re owed a refund or you owe tax to the IRS.
Blockfi Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card

BlockFi Bitcoin Rewards Credit Card – Review

The BlockFi Bitcoin Rewards Visa Credit Card is an innovative rewards card that’s great for moderate to heavy spenders seeking exposure to the Bitcoin market. This card earns Bitcoin instead of cash-back rewards or travel points; read on to learn about this rewards card and whether it’s a good fit for you.

Popular on
Money Crashers

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

See why 218,388 people subscribe to our newsletter.

What Do You Want To Do
With Your Money?

Make
Money

Explore

Protect
Money

Explore

Save
Money

Explore

Borrow
Money

Explore

Manage
Money

Explore

Invest
Money

Explore