Stash Invest versus Robinhood: IRA, compare commissions, investing fees, app trading tools, account pros and cons. Which brokerage company is better?

Two Rivals: Robinhood and Stash Invest

Want to get into investing but don’t know where to start? Think you don’t have enough money to start investing? Do you think you need to pay someone to manage your money for you? Well, there are ways you can invest with small amounts of money and manage it all yourself. There are so many free or low-cost investing platforms, it makes it hard to pick and choose between them. Two of the best options are Robin Hood and Stash. Depending on your comfort level with the investing process one might be better than the other, but both are excellent options.

Robin Hood is a more traditional investing platform but started a revolution by offering fee free trading. Historically, brokerages charged a fee for each trade, making it difficult for many new investors to break into the market. Many traditional brokerages have reduced or eliminated their trading fees since then, but Robin Hood still has many loyal followers.

Stash is a newer trading app but does more to educate and incentivize investors. It does charge a monthly maintenance fee, but it is fairly low. Stash has a lot of educational offerings and portfolio management.


Robin Hood Investing


Investment Options

Robin Hood allows investors to buy stocks, bonds, and ETFs. This can be done through the app or the website and is extremely easy to do.

It takes less than 30 seconds to make a trade. It trades in real time, making it an attractive option for day traders. In fact, Robin Hood can be set up for day trading. If you are interested in pattern day trading, you can do that through a Robin Hood Instant or Gold account. You need to have a daily minimum of $25,000 in equity to day trade.

For trading stocks and bonds outside a 24-hour period, Robin Hood is extremely easy to use. Robin Hood only trades whole shares, so if you are interested in fractional shares, there are other platforms out there for you.

Robin Hood does allow cryptocurrency trading, and supports a lot of the more popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The majority of investing options available through Robin Hood are those offered on the New York Stock Exchange, so overseas trading is limited. There are currently ony 250 foreign investing opportunities, with the promise of more to come.

Stash also allows investing in stocks, bonds, and ETFs. The app can be used for fractional share purchases.

The app usually wants you to invest at least $5 in anything you buy, which we think is a good idea. If you only buy $0.50 of a stock, you only get that much of the benefit of owning it.

Stash has a much more limited variety of options for investing compared to Robin Hood. If you are looking for day trading, this is not the app for you. Stash only processes trades 2-3 times a day but does let you buy $5 of Amazon stock. That is only about 0.3% of a share of stock. Is it a better idea to buy a whole share? Yes. But if you only have $5 to invest, that fraction of a share is a great option for you.

Stash started out offering only ETFs but later has expanded to stocks and bonds. It has also recently started offering retirement accounts.

Stash does have one feature, called Auto Stash, that makes it more attractive than Robin Hood. This lets you make a recurring investment in individual stocks, ETFs, or bonds automatically. Unlike some other platforms that just hold it in cash until you make the trades manually, Stash makes investing seamless.


Stash Investing


Account Set Up and Investing Process

Both of these accounts are extremely easy to set up. As long as you can open a bank account, and have one to link to either investing platform, you can set up an account in less than 20 minutes. Connect your bank account and transfer some money and you are ready to go.

Stash gives you a $5 incentive to set up your account. If you set up your Robin Hood account through a referral link, you get a random stock worth anywhere from $4 to $1,000. However, the free stock is almost always comes worth around $4-$5 and most brokers offer better promotions.


Fees

Robin Hood offers fee free trading and no account management fees for the Robin Hood Instant accounts. An Instant account allows you to have instant access to up to $1,000 of funds, as well as extended hour trading. If you want to do margin trading, you need to have at least $2,000 in your account and have a Robin Hood Gold account. Depending on how much you have in your Gold account, there is an increasingly expensive account fee associated with it. It isn’t huge, but it is a consideration. See the website for more information.

Stash offers to manage your basic account for $1 a month. That is $12 a year, irrespective of how much you have in your account. If you only have a few hundred dollars, that is an extremely high cost for money management. However, there are a lot of features that you get for that dollar that might make it worth it to you. As you invest more money, that $1 is a much lower percentage cost. When you get to a $5,000 account balance, the fee is automatically adjusted to a 0.25% fee. Stash’s Retirement account charges a $2 a month management fee, which changes to 0.25% management fee once the account is over $5,000. Taking money out of a retirement account can have tax implications, so make this choice wisely. Additionally, just like Robin Hood, there are no fees for conducting trades. One unusual feature of Stash’s fees is that the monthly management fee is paid out of the connected bank account, not the invested capital. Just remember that when you see an extra $1 or so charge from Stash on a monthly basis.


User Interface

Robin Hood’s user interface is basic, but useable. It takes a little while to get comfortable with, but once you are used to it, navigation is easy. The app shows all of the current ticker information for all stocks you are following, as well as some of the top stocks and cryptocurrencies. Following stocks is easy, just look up the stock by company name or ticker symbol and hit the plus sign. Robin Hood lets you see some limited historical data, as well as any recent articles written about the stock. Some stocks that have multiple reviews also have a buy, hold, or sell indication chart based on expert recommendations. While not always correct, they are based on the assessments of people who’s job it is to understand markets. Robin Hood’s app shows you your account performance as well, and then lets you see the daily performance of each stock or investment you have made through the app. The website lets you see all the same data, just in a slightly different layout.


Robin Hood Investing


Stash’s app is one of the most user friendly out there. It has lots of color and interactive features, making it a great option for new investors. The website is really user friendly too. Stash has a couple of great features that might make it worth the fees. The first is Stash Learn. This feature (free online, even without an account) is a collection of articles that are constantly updated. The Stash Learn articles cover everything from how to start investing, the importance of regular investing over a long period of time, to what dividends are. It’s a great feature for new investors or those who just need a review of certain principles. The other great feature is the Stash Coach. When you first set up your Stash account, you establish your time horizon and risk tolerance. Stash Coach makes recommendations on what to invest in or what to buy to have a balanced and diversified portfolio. While it won’t stop you from making investments that violate your established risk portfolio, a warning from the Stash Coach will pop up to let you know that the investment might shift your portfolio out of balance or to a riskier position. Stash Coach also offers weekly challenge, which could be anything from reading an article about the past week, to buying a minimum of $5 of a recommended investment. You accumulate points and earn ranks in the Coach page. These don’t actually get you any money or reduced fees (right now, there has been talk of reducing fees for challenge completions), but it is a nice positive reinforcement for the investor.


Stash Investing


Dividends, Taxes, and Paperwork

Robin Hood sends you updates on dividends when your investment companies announce their dividends and tracks the timeline for when you will actually get paid. Robin Hood doesn’t reinvest your dividends for you, since you can only buy whole shares. However, you can hold the dividends until you have enough to make another purchase. Robin Hood generates your tax forms for you, which are held on their website under the Account and Documents tabs. All other paperwork is stored in the Documents tab. Robin Hood also sends you any important information from the companies you are invested in, which is great. You as the investor don’t need to hunt down corporate action papers or prospectuses.

Stash doesn’t reinvest dividends automatically either. They do send you emails when stocks or investments send you dividends and hold it in cash until you decide to invest it in something. Since Stash lets you buy fractional shares, it is really easy to reinvest the dividends. All documents are accessible on the website under the Profile and Tax Documents & Statements tab. Tax documents are easy to access and Stash generates them for you with plenty of time to do your taxes.


Promotions

Robinhood: Open account and get one free $3-$6 value stock.

Stash: Get $5 bonus when you open new account.



Client Interaction

Both Robin Hood and Stash have contact information listed on their website and in their apps. They also email you, like I said above, about important information regarding investments and companies. This morning in fact, Robin Hood emailed me about an old investment I had when I tried my hand at day trading that a company had gone through a 1 to 4 reverse stock split. I had no idea what that was, and the email contained all the information I needed to understand what that was.


Robinhood vs Stash Summary

Both of these platforms make investing easy to understand and easy to get into. Stash is probably a better option for new investors due to the Stash Learning and Stash coach. However, if you only have a few hundred dollars to invest, that $12 or 0.25% management fees might eat up all of your gains. Robin Hood is better for those with a little bit of experience but is not difficult to use if you have no experience. The best practice might be to get a Stash account, and use it for 5 months, which translates to free management with the $5 account set up bonus. Once that 5 months is over, move the money to Robin Hood after learning all you can from Stash Learn. You can invest in very similar investments through Robin Hood, provided you can buy whole shares with how much you put aside for investing over those 5 months. Alternatively, you could just read a ton of articles on Stash Learn and just have a Robin Hood account. Or just go with Stash if you like the platform, it is up to you. Getting into investing is extremely easy these days, the hurdles of the past have been broken down by companies like Robin Hood and Stash. It has never been easier to get into investing, and all the information you need to know how to do it and understand it is available for free online. You don’t need to pay an investing guru for a weekend seminar or pay a company a $4.95 trading fee for each trade. Just start educating yourself and put some money away for your future. There are so many great options out there for platforms, with Robin Hood and Stash being two of the best available.



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