Stash Rating:   Stash Rating

Review of Stash investing app: micro investing robo advisor firm fees and commissions, pros and cons, minimum requirements and promotion offer for opening a new online account or IRA with the discount stock broker.

Overview of Stash App

Stash is a new brokerage firm that is designed for beginners who have little to no knowledge about securities markets. While it does attempt to make investing easy, there are some downsides. Let’s take a look.

Range of Investments

Stash Investments Rating

Stash offers its customers stocks and ETF’s. This is a very small selection compared to industry standards. Additionally, “stocks” in this case does not include penny stocks or over-the-counter stocks. What’s more, some major US-listed stocks aren’t available. We couldn’t find American Electric Power (AEP), which has a market cap of more than $40 billion. Furthermore, some ETF’s are also absent. SPY, an index fund that tracks the S&P 500 and one of the largest ETF’s in the world, is oddly absent.

On top of these disappointments, there are no cryptocurrencies, option contracts, mutual funds, bonds, warrants, forex, futures, or contracts for difference.

Stash Fees and Method of Investing

Stash Fees Rating

Stash offers three investment plans, each of which charges a monthly fee. The first is the beginner plan. This one is just $1 per month for accounts under $5,000. Accounts larger than $5,000 pay 0.25% per year.

The basic package offers a deposit account (and an ATM card) linked to the brokerage account. A unique program called Stock-Back™ is part of the dual-account package. Fractional shares are earned in a stock for making purchases with the debit card. For example, if you make a purchase at McDonald’s using the debit card, a fraction of a share of MCD will be deposited into the brokerage account.

The next package is the growth account, which carries a $3 monthly fee. At this price, Stash offers both taxable and retirement accounts. Only Roth and Traditional IRA’s are available. There are no SIMPLE, SEP, Inherited, or other types. All of the beginner plan’s features are included at the second tier.

The third and final tier is Stash+. This one costs $9 per month, but offers custodial accounts (UTMA/UGMA) for up to two children. Another perk is a metal debit card that earns twice the number of Stock-Back™ fractional shares as the other two plans. A final benefit of the Stash+ plan is a monthly market report that provides analysis and commentary on a range of financial issues. Stash+ comes with all the perks of the first two plans.

In all three accounts, a limited selection of stocks and ETF’s are available for purchase. There is a $5 minimum on each purchase. Although most stocks and ETF’s trade above this price, Stash customers get to buy fractional shares. And this means it’s possible to buy less than 1 share. There are no commissions.


Stash ETFs


When we opened our trial account, a minimum deposit of $10 was required. The company has a $75 ACAT out fee.

Cash Management Features

Stash Management Rating

As already mentioned, Stash offers a bank account and a Visa debit card. These features are offered in conjunction with Green Dot Bank, which is a member of the FDIC. Purchases with the card anywhere Visa is accepted earn 0.125% in shares of a diversified ETF. At a location that has stock available for purchase on the Stash platform (such as Walmart), the rebate increases to 5%.

Stash’s banking features have no fees, other than the monthly charge mentioned above. There are no overdraft fees, a rarity. Nearly 20,000 ATM’s nationwide are fee-free for Stash clients.

On the downside, if a cash machine is out of network, Stash does charge $2.50 on top of whatever the ATM operator charges. Stash charges 3% for transactions in a foreign currency. And checks are not available.

Customer Support

Stash Customer Rating

Stash unfortunately is riding a new wave of cutting customer services in order to cut costs. On its website, we could not find a company phone number. We also looked for a chat service, but couldn’t find that, either. At least not in human form. There is an automated chat service that is able to answer some questions. During our testing of it, the software wasn’t very accurate.

There is a Q&A section on the Stash website that will answer many questions new customers have. There are no branch locations, and not much of a self-service section on the website, either.

Trading Software

Stash Trading Rating

Stash’s website is user-friendly and clutter-free. However, there aren’t a lot of powerful self-directed trading tools. There is no trade bar or browser platform. And forget about a desktop program.


Stash Portfolio Builder


There are two primary ways to invest on the Stash website: using the company’s Portfolio Builder or on your own, selecting whatever stocks and ETF’s are available. For the first option, Stash will recommend an ETF portfolio based on risk level. This isn’t a very comprehensive investment method by any stretch of the imagination.


Stash Portfolio


On the positive side, it is possible to edit Stash’s recommendation by increasing or decreasing the amount allocated to a fund. It’s also possible to delete a holding or add an ETF or stock to the portfolio. If adjusting a portfolio causes it to decrease or increase in risk, Stash has an icon that notifies the user of this event.

The other option is to browse through Stash’s equity and ETF offerings, and purchase investments. For stocks, it’s possible to search by company name, ticker symbol, or industry. Three variables makes for a very small search engine. For funds, it’s possible to search by themes (such as bonds or missions and causes), ticker symbol, or underlying securities. The fund families we found on Stash’s platform include Vanguard, iShares, and SPDR.


Stash Investments


For both stocks and ETF’s, it’s possible to make a one-time purchase, or setup automatic purchases. Funds can come from a cash position in Stash or from an external bank account.

Mobile Platform

Stash App Rating

Stash has a mobile app that’s easy to navigate. Touch ID is integrated, but mobile check deposit is missing. The platform offers most of the same features found on the website. This includes signing up for the company’s cash management features, investing in stocks and ETF’s, and enrolling in one of the company’s auto-invest features.

Auto Investing

Stash Investing Rating

Stash has several methods to auto invest. It’s possible to set up recurring deposits weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly. Another option is the round-up service, where Stash will round up debit card transactions and deposit the difference. Finally, Smart-Stash is a program where Stash’s computer algorithm will detect excess money in a linked bank account and transfer an amount underneath a predetermined maximum.


Stash Automatic Investing


Financial Education and Security Research

Stash Investments Rating

A large selection of learning materials is hosted at learn.stashinvest.com. We found articles that cover a wide range of topics, such as the basics of a P/E ratio, the trade war between China and the US, global bonds, and the power of compounding. While this may sound like an extensive list, the articles are rather short; and we didn’t see any videos, webinars, infographics, self-guided courses, or other materials that can easily be found at other brokerage firms.

The mobile app has the same learning section with the same articles. In other areas of the Stash world (such as on an Auto-Stash tab on the mobile app) we found videos that describe how to invest on Stash.


Stash Education


Comparison

Stash Comparison

Stockpile offers purchases of fractional shares of stocks and ETF’s. Each transaction on the website costs $0.99. It’s also possible to make purchases through gift cards. Fees are higher for this route ($3 to $8 plus a credit or debit card surcharge).

Another place to buy fractional shares of stocks and ETF’s is at M1 Finance. Like Stash, there are no commissions; but unlike Stash, M1 Finance doesn’t charge a monthly membership fee. Moreover, we found all US-listed stocks and ETF’s at M1. SPY, for example, is available for trading at M1.

Recommendation

Although Stash is designed in large part for beginner investors, some features that new traders need, such as customer service and learning materials, aren’t the best we’ve seen. We would send new traders to TD Ameritrade or perhaps Ally Invest. They have large numbers of commission-free funds (including mutual funds), 24/7 customer support, excellent learning materials, and only charge $4.95 for stock trades.

For long-term investing and IRA’s, we also don’t recommend Stash. TD Ameritrade or USAA would be better choices.

Obviously, we can’t recommend Stash for mutual funds. Firstrade would be a good pick.

For small accounts, we think a broker like Ally Invest that doesn’t charge monthly fees would be a better route to take.

Stash Invest Review Judgment

Stash has tried but mostly failed to impress. Fractional shares and debit cards aren’t enough to make a brokerage firm, and even these can be found elsewhere.

Stash Invest reviewed by TopRatedFirms.com Rating: 2.5


M1 Finance


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