Stash Review: Is it an Ideal Investment App for Beginners?
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Traditional investment brokers make it difficult for new investors to begin putting their money into the stock market.
Some charge hefty trade commissions, others have required minimum balances, and most only allow you to purchase whole shares of stock, meaning you can’t purchase a fraction of a share. This means that if you want to invest in Amazon or Tesla, you need over $1,000 to invest because the price for one share is in the thousands!
That’s why companies like Stash were created. They make it easy for new investors to start investing in the stock market without prior investing experience, regardless of your budget to begin, and serve as an easy guide to help you along the way.
Stash charges a small monthly fee but also has multiple options available not offered elsewhere. Is it worth the cost? Or are there better alternatives for new investors?
We’ll discuss the answers to these questions along with a detailed Stash review. We’ll look at the features and benefits, where Stash falls short, and who might benefit from using the Stash app.
What is Stash and How Does it Work?
Stash is a modern investing app that “unites investing, banking, saving, and learning into one seamless experience.” The app could be summed up as a beginner-friendly investing and savings app that helps you grow your knowledge and money.
Some unique features offered by Stash are the ability to invest in individual stocks with as little as $1, expert guidance on the next steps to grow your financial profile, access to expert-created Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), and even options to open a retirement account or custodial account for your children.
Other features available through Stash are their unique Stock-Back program, Stash Coach, and additional benefits for setting up direct deposit to your Stash Spend account.
There are three different pricing plans available on Stash that each come with additional features. The three packages available are Beginner, Growth, and Stash+ packages. The pricing and benefits available with each package are as follows:
- Beginner – $1 per month: This package comes with a basic investing account, a spending account, and access to free financial educational material.
- Growth – $3 per month: The Growth package gives you access to everything in the Beginner package plus a retirement account and additional tax benefits for retirement investing.
- Stash+ – $9 per month: Stash+ gives you access to everything in the Growth package plus up to two investing accounts for kids, a metal debit card with 2x Stock-Back, and monthly market insights and reports.
How does this pricing compare to the competition and alternative options? For some, it may be pricy, but for others, it may be cheap (depending on your account balances). We’ll discuss more details toward the end of the article.
With Stash being a beginner-friendly investing app, they have zero minimum balances to open an account, and zero minimum balances to maintain your account open status. Furthermore, you can even invest in the stock market with an account balance of even just $1. This removes some of the common barriers that have prevented beginners from investing in the past.
Available Account Types
Stash has multiple different investment accounts available, depending on the package you decide to purchase. Among the available account types are:
- Stash Spend: An account that is a regular checking account with additional cashback features for shopping at retail partners. This is included in all of the Stash monthly packages.
- Individual Investment Account: A basic investment account that allows you to invest in stocks, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), and even bonds. This account is included in all stash packages.
- Retirement Accounts: You can open a Roth IRA or a Traditional IRA to begin saving for retirement. Roth IRA’s qualified distributions will be tax-free, and Traditional IRA’s grow tax-deferred. Stash will help you determine which account is best for you. These accounts are available in the Growth and Stash+ packages, meaning you’ll need to spend at least $3 per month.
- Custodial Accounts: These accounts are also called Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts and Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) accounts. They are unique accounts that allow adults to open for children with additional tax benefits. Stash will also help you determine which type of account you should open. These accounts are only available via the Stash+ package ($9 per month).
Stash Features & Benefits
Why should someone consider investing with Stash? What makes them different than other competing investing apps? Below is a list of the features and benefits offered by Stash that sets them apart from the rest.
The benefit of investing with modern investing apps like Stash is the ability to purchase shares of your favorite publicly-traded companies based on dollar amounts rather than share amounts. If one share of Amazon costs over $2,000, you can still buy a fraction of a share by investing just $5. This is referred to as fractional shares investing, a modern feature not available through all investment accounts (although some competitors, like Robinhood, also offer fractional share investing).
They also provide access to invest in ETFs which trade like stocks do, allowing you to purchase fractional shares of ETFs that may be more expensive in price per share. If you’re an investor with a limited budget, then fractional shares investing is a must.
Multiple Investing Options
Stash provides multiple investment options to choose from. You can invest in individual companies or ETFs. What’s more, is that you can narrow down which ETFs you wish to invest in by different categories. Common ETF categories include:
- Broad Market
- Diversified Mixes
- Global Exposure
- Goods & Services
- Missions & Causes
- Technology & Innovation
- Thematic (investing in funds that include companies contributing to a particular movement such as “green energy” for example)
The available ETF categories are especially helpful for beginners, or any investor for that matter, because it helps you to create a more customized portfolio. You can narrow your ETF search by category rather than worrying about choosing from one list of hundreds of funds.
One of the most unique features available on Stash is its Stock-Back program. Stock-Back is much like a traditional cashback program that lets you get free cashback when shopping at the program’s partnered retailers.
Stock-Back works the same way with slight variation. When you use your Stash Spend debit card to shop at Walmart for example, you get automatic cash back in the form of Walmart stock deposited into your investment account.
Any publicly-traded company that you shop at will give you stock back in the form of shares of that company’s stock. If the store you shop at isn’t a publicly-traded company, then you get stock back in Stash’s “broad market” ETF fund.
Get Paid Early
Another unique feature not offered by many is the ability to get your paycheck up to two days early. How? By setting up direct deposit to your Stash Spend account, you can select to have your paycheck given to you two days early!
This is helpful for people living on a tight budget and for anyone who encounters unexpected financial expenses and other related financial emergencies.
Other Unique Banking Features
Stash Spend has multiple other features aside from its Stock-Back program and the ability to get paid early. These make their bank checking account a compelling option. Other unique banking features with Stash Spend are:
- No Overdraft Fees: No more worrying about an expense coming through your account that you forgot about, causing your account to overdraft with an additional fee! Stash Spend has no overdraft fees or any other hidden fees.
- Bill Pay: You can set up your recurring bills to be paid automatically each month.
- Banking Insights: Stash learns about your spending patterns, and gives you customized banking and budgeting insights to help improve your finances.
- Split Cash Into Customized Spaces: Ever wish you could categorize all your money in your checking account? Stash lets you create different categories within your checking account to set budgets for each category. This makes it easier and more convenient to budget your money.
- E-Wallet: Your debit card is also available on the Stash app allowing you to pay on the go without the need for a physical debit card. All the details are available on the app.
Stash Learn & Stash Coach
Learn is Stash’s free educational blog that teaches you all the basics of investing and finances. It also features popular news articles on money and the stock markets. Other material available on Stash Learn include popular lifestyle finance topics like retirement, parenting, marriage, travel, career, and income.
The Stash App has a coach that encourages you to get to the next milestone such as reaching a certain account balance, reading about different stock market topics, and setting up automatic savings and deposits. You get points for each milestone you complete, encouraging you to grow your money.
The single most important reason we need to invest in the stock market is to save for retirement. How do we carefully plan for and calculate how much we need in order to retire comfortably?
Stash provides you access to a free retirement calculator that gives you a customized projection of how much you need to save compared to how much you are saving on average.
The calculation will show you how much you’re on track to have based on current savings rates, and how much you should have when you retire with a suggested savings amount to work towards.
Where Stash Falls Short
A few things to consider before deciding whether Stash is a good fit for you, keep in mind the two following areas where Stash falls short. Although the shortfalls are minimal, they are significant enough that it may alter your decision.
(Potentially) High Fees
While Stash aims to help create a beginner-friendly investment environment, it comes at an extremely high price for investors with small balances. The entry-level price of $1 per month isn’t much, but to put it into perspective for investors with a small balance, it’s much higher than average broker costs which range from $0 to just 0.25% of your account balance per year.
The annual cost of $12 per year ($1 per month) would equate to the average 0.25% annual fee if your Stash investment account had a balance of $4,800. If you have the Stash Growth package, you’d need at least a total balance of $14,400 for the $36 per year ($3 per month) to equate to a 0.25% fee. If you have Stash+ then you need $43,200 for the $108 per year fee ($9 per month) to equate a 0.25% annual rate.
When put into perspective for investors with small balances, Stash is a very pricy investing app when compared to the investment market as a whole.
The situation with fees is much different if you maintain a high balance with Stash. The flat monthly fee may wind up being a bargain compared to other options that would charge a percentage of your balance.
Limited Investment Tools
When investing in individual stocks, you will at least want the basic research tools to make sure you are making logical investment decisions. Stash offers nothing more than the growth chart with different time frames, year to date growth percentages, latest dividend payments, the latest company price, and a brief explanation about the company to help you analyze investments.
An app that lets you invest with fractional shares into individual stocks should have much more info about each company, more charting tools, and analyst opinions, along with basic fundamental analysis tools to enable its users to make more informed decisions.
Some competitors like Webull offer much more in terms of analysis and research tools that can be used to make more informed investment decisions.
Who is Stash Best Suited For?
There is a large market out there of people who want to invest in the stock market, but don’t know how, where to start, and have a limited budget to start. Investing apps like Stash aim to solve this problem by providing a user-friendly app tailored to beginner investors with no account minimums.
With that said, Stash is best suited for individuals with the following needs and characteristics:
- Small budget to allocate towards investing
- Those who want cashback in the form of stock from daily purchases
- Multiple investment options and funds to choose from
- Those who want to invest with fractional shares
- Those seeking to learn the basics of the stock market
- If this sounds like you, then Stash may be a great option for you to start investing in the stock market.
Stash has some very compelling strengths and there is a large audience of beginner investors that could benefit from using Stash. However, the flat fee structure is a significant concern for any user who would not be managing a significant balance. Although no competitor offers the exact features and benefits of Stash, those who would maintain a small balance might want to consider other options, such as M1 Finance.
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