Trying to decide whether to invest with Stash vs. Robinhood? Both of these online brokerages make it easy for new investors to get started in the stock market with their easy-to-use apps. But that’s really where the similarities end.
Let’s take a closer look at what each of these popular investment apps offers, how much they cost, and who they’re best for.
Table of Contents
Stash vs. Robinhood: The Basics
Stash and Robinhood offer very different investment experiences. Stash is a subscription-based app that wants to help new investors grow their knowledge and their portfolio. In comparison, Robinhood is a commission-free trading app for hands-on investors interested in advanced features like cryptocurrency, options, and margin lending.
Stash is a micro-investing app that charges tiered, monthly subscription fees for its services. It’s a simple investment app that you can use to open a taxable brokerage account, retirement account, or custodial accounts.
Through Stash, investors can invest in micro (or fractional) shares of ETFs and stocks. The ETFs are all thematically branded, making it easier to find investments you might be interested in. And besides self-directed investments, you can also use Stash to build a portfolio for you based on your financial goals.
Stash also has a banking1 feature that comes with a Stash Stock-Back® Card, which you can earn pieces of stock in the companies you shop at2.
Overall, Stash is a straightforward investment app for new investors. It has some sweet tools to help you get the most of your experience, like a retirement calculator, educational content, and a dividend reinvestment program (DRIP).
Robinhood was one of the first online brokerages to offer commission-free trades on stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency. Many other brokerages have adopted its business model, but Robinhood was still one of the first.
Robinhood is known for its super clean and straightforward mobile trading app with customizable alerts and candlestick charting. And for a $5 monthly fee, Robinhood will give you Morningstar Research Reports and NASDAQ Level II Market Data.
Investors like Robinhood because it’s so simple. They only offer taxable brokerage accounts (no retirement accounts), but Robinhood dramatically cuts traditional investing costs. You can trade cryptocurrency and options, and access margin lending on Robinhood is another major draw for more experienced investors.
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Stash vs. Robinhood: Fees
One of the most significant differences between Stash and Robinhood is the cost. Stash charges a flat monthly fee, while Robinhood is free for most investors. Let’s see the breakdown of their costs:
Stash app fees
Stash has two different monthly subscriptions:
- Growth: $3/month. This account includes a personal investment account, unlimited trades, an online banking account1 that comes with the Stock-Back® card2, financial education, plus a tax-advantaged retirement account and a discretionary-managed account called a Smart Portfolio.
- Stash+: $9/month. Includes everything in Growth plus custodial accounts for up to two children. You’ll receive a monthly market insights report and a Stash debit card with 2x Stock-Back.4
Aside from the monthly subscription fee, Stash does not charge an annual or inactivity fee. However, there is a $75 outgoing transfer fee if you want to move your shares from Stash to another brokerage.
The average expense ratio on ETFs is about 0.25%, but there are no additional investment fees for stocks.
There are no Robinhood monthly fees, and no commission or annual fees. Most investors will get a lot out of the free version of Robinhood, but for more active investors, you can pay $5/month for Robinhood Gold. Gold comes with Morningstar and NASDAQ Level II market data, margin lending, and access to larger instant deposits.
There are other administrative and regulatory fees you’ll come across with Robinhood, and these are pretty standard across brokerage. Some of these fees include:
- Outgoing transfers from Robinhood to another brokerage: $75
- Paper statements: $5
- Paper confirms: $2
- Regulatory trading fees: $22.10 per $1,000,000 of principal
- Trading activity fees (TAF): $0.000119 per share (equity sells) and $0.002 per contract (options sells)
Robinhood also charges 5% yearly interest for margin lending after the first $1,000 of margin you use.
Stash vs. Robinhood: Top Features
Both of these brokerage apps have a list of unique features, which highlight just how different these two apps are.
Stash’s standout features
Thematic and mission-driven investments
You can invest in stocks and ETFs with Stash, but Stash has renamed all of its ETFs so you can find them by theme. These are existing ETFs, just rebranded with new names, like:
- American Innovators (U.S. based tech companies) is the Stash name for Vanguard Information Technology ETF, ticker symbol VGT
- Clean & Green (companies with clean and renewable energy) is the Stash name for the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF, ticker symbol ICLN
- Women Who Lead (female focused companies, leadership and charitable work) is the Stash name for SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF, ticker symbol SHE
- All That Glitters (precious metals) is the Stash name for Aberdeen Standard Physical Precious Metals Basket Shares ETF, ticker symbol GLTR
- Do the Right Thing (companies who focus on positive environmental, social, and/or governance impact) is the Stash name for iShares MSCI USA ESG Select Fund, ticker symbol SUSA
If you’re interested in socially responsible investing (SRI), Stash makes it easy to find companies that align with your social, environmental, and governance beliefs. It’s not a full-blown SRI strategy, but you can begin to curate a portfolio that aligns with your beliefs.
Read my full Stash investment app review here to learn more.
While you can select your investments with Stash, it also offers some features to automate the process for anyone who wants to make it easier. You can set up one-time or recurring investments for specific stock and ETFs.
Stash also offers round-ups, where you link a debit card to your account, and Stash rounds up your purchases to the next dollar amount. Once you hit $5 or more from your round-ups, Stash moves that money to your personal investment account balance for you to invest. You can also use Set Schedule to set up recurring weekly or monthly deposits into your investment account.
Stash’s dividend reinvestment program (DRIP) automatically reinvests dividends you earn on specific investments. You have to opt into the program, and if you don’t, your Stash dividends will go to your account for you to choose how they’re invested. Remember, not all stocks pay out dividends. And there’s no guarantee any stock will pay dividends in a quarter or year. Dividends may be subject to additional taxes, and are considered taxable income. Please refer to the IRS for additional information.
This is a newer feature, and it means Stash has entered the realm of discretionary managed portfolios. Stash’s Smart Portfolios are available in the Stash Growth and Stash+ subscription plans. The portfolios are tailored to your risk assessment and automatically rebalanced on a quarterly basis if your portfolio drifts 5% or more to stay within your target asset allocation.
Self-directed investments for new investors
Stash wants to demystify the investing experience, starting with what exactly you’re investing in. Each of Stash’s more than 3,000 ETFs and stocks has a succinct description of the investment, how risky it is, ticker symbol, and price. ETF descriptions also include expense ratio and all of the investment’s holdings.
You can dig even deeper by clicking on a link to the investment’s website. And if there are any terms you don’t understand, Stash has question marks next to different terms to learn more. Stash also provides a diversification analysis feature on your account that can help you see how over or underweight in other asset classes you may be, and then Stash makes recommendations.
Retirement and custodial accounts
Stash offers traditional and Roth IRAs in the Growth account ($3/month) and custodial accounts for kids in the Stash+ account ($9/month). This is one area where Stash is dramatically different from Robinhood because Robinhood only offers individual brokerage accounts.
All Stash subscription plans are eligible for Stash online banking — an online debit account with no overdraft, minimum balance, or hidden fees. You can access over 19,000 fee-free ATMs with the Stash Stock-Back® Card.
The Stock-Back® Card rewards you in pieces of stock for shopping at certain retailers,2 which could be an alternative to earning rewards points or miles for travel.
Compared to Robinhood, Stash has much stronger customer service options. There’s in-app and email support, but users can also contact Stash via phone for help.
Robinhood’s Standout Features
Robinhood offers stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency trade, and all are commission-free. Crypto and options trades are a major draw for Robinhood, but overall, it’s still missing some of the investments you can find with a brokerage like Webull or TD Ameritrade.
Individual brokerage accounts
Robinhood only offers individual brokerage accounts, so it’s probably not going to be where you do all of your investing. You can use another brokerage for retirement savings, and many investors hold accounts with multiple brokerages.
For $5/month, you can upgrade to Robinhood Gold, which is a premium account option that comes with professional-level research through Morningstar and Level II Market Data. Gold lets you access larger instant deposits, and you can start margin lending.
Read more in my full Robinhood app review here.
Trading on margin
In simple terms, margin is a loan you take to invest, and it’s not something a brand new investor should try. But if you feel confident in your skills, Robinhood supports margin lending. You need to have at least $2,000 in your account and Robinhood Gold account. There are no fees on the first $1,000 of margin, but there’s a 2.5% yearly interest on margin beyond that.
Cash management account
Robinhood now offers an FDIC-insured high-yield savings account currently earning 0.30% APY. It’s free to open a cash management account through Robinhood, and there aren’t any overdraft, transfer, or ATM fees at over 75,000 ATMs nationwide.
The real benefit of this account is that uninvested cash can earn interest while you’re deciding when and where to invest.
Dividend reinvestment program
Like Stash, Robinhood offers a dividend reinvestment program (DRIP) on eligible, dividend-earning stocks and ETFs. Both investment apps can offer DRIP because they offer fractional shares. It’s a way to put smaller amounts of money to use, and you can diversify your portfolio faster that way.
Who Is Stash Best For?
Stash may be best for new investors who want some control over their investments and want to learn more about how the stock market works. Stash lets you self-direct investments, or you can invest with their Smart Portfolio feature. The app is very user-friendly and focuses on educating investors so they know exactly what’s going on in their portfolio.
Stash might not be best option for cost-conscious investors because of its monthly subscription fees. A fee of $3/month may not sound high, but it’s expensive when you compare that to other robo-advisors like Betterment or Wealthfront, which charge a percentage of assets under management.
Who Is Robinhood Best For?
Robinhood is best for active traders, or those who want to get more hands-on with their investment. The app is sleek and simple, and the trading platform isn’t as advanced as Webull, so it’s more user-friendly when you’re first starting out. Plus, Robinhood has features you won’t find with Stash, namely crypto, options trading, and margin lending. I don’t recommend those for newbie investors, but Robinhood gives you that choice as you learn more.
Robinhood isn’t going to be an ideal brokerage if you want a retirement account or managed portfolio. It’s also taken some heat recently because of how it make money, and I encourage you to read about that here if you want to learn more.
Stash vs. Robinhood: The Final Word
It’s difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison with Stash and Robinhood because they are so different. You really have to think about what you want in an investment app to decide which one is right for you.
Stash lets you self-direct investments in stocks and ETFs, and it now offers the option for discretionary managed portfolios, called Smart Portfolios, which is a great way to start investing. Stash wants new investors to learn about the process as they go, and it’s a solid choice if the monthly subscription fee doesn’t bother you. Stash also offers new users a $5 bonus after you deposit at least $5 into your Personal Portfolio when you sign up for a Stash account via this link.
Robinhood is for hands-on investors that want access to alternative investments like cryptocurrency, plus it does margin lending and options. Robinhood is free, but it lacks retirement accounts.
Take some time to consider what you want, but don’t waste too much time if you haven’t started investing yet. It’s one of the best ways to save for retirement and gain long-term wealth.