Yuck: Acorns increasing fee to $3 per month

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Acorns is a micro investing / robo-investing app that we write about from time to time because they occasionally have great referral offers that can make the account temporarily worthwhile. Stephen wrote a post earlier this week about the current offer to get $310 with 2 referrals, so if you’re playing in a 2-player household you’d need your partner and one other person in order to earn $310, which is a really easy bonus. But as I noted in the post Acorns: Low-hanging fruit, but does it grow?, the $1 monthly fee and graphs and charts that lack detail has made Acorns a relatively poor value since you can buy the same Vanguard ETFs through apps like Robinhood, SoFi, or Webull with no monthly fee and a lot more control / information. Things are getting even worse on the fee front: Acorns has just sent out an email notifying account holders that the monthly fee will increase to $3 per month starting on September 21st. At that price, the account really isn’t worth keeping after you scoop up whatever referral bonus you’re after.

Again, the key here is that the investment funds you get through Acorns are widely available through other investing apps and brokerages that have no monthly or annual fee. There is no sense in paying $36 per year for what you can do for $0 per year through other apps.

The key value-add that Acorns provides is automatically rounding up your card purchases (Acorns will track your credit or debit card purchases and automatically “round up” your transactions by investing the “change” to get you to the next whole-dollar amount). I just can’t see paying $3 every month for the convenience of investing fifty cents at a time. It’s hard to see enough upside to justify that. These are the bullet points they advertise, but I don’t find them to be worth $3 per month.

The same could already be said about the $1 monthly fee. In my case, I’ve kept my Acorns account because I got a big referral bonus a couple of years ago and a bunch of cash back through the “Found Money” offers on one temporary great deal. I figured that the money I came out ahead on those two deals covered my $1 monthly fee for quite a while and by being subscribed I’ve stayed up to date and able to share deals with readers when they run their referral bonuses.

But at $3 per month, I’m probably out as I’ve probably just about tapped out the friends and family who I’m going to refer and I’m not going to pay three bucks a month hoping that they come out with some monster offer and I happen to be positioned to refer the people necessary. This announcement may give me the kick in the butt to find two family members to refer for this week’s $310 bonus to cash out one more big win from Acorns before I leave.

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EdC

The roundups are all that really interest me. Are there any alternatives to Acorns when it comes to the roundup feature?

EdC

Gee thanks. :-p
I was fine paying $1 for it (and may continue to do so), but was interested if the gang here knew of any alternatives.

Michael

It is remarkable that economic hardship might bring some relief, yet $3 a month is excessive for micro-investing regardless of what the customer’s financial situation may be. You provided a simple, yet a little pricey, method of investing at $1 a month. Bumping it up to $3 is ridiculous, especially when the average balances are under $500. Even when saving $25 a week, close to 3% is siphoned out of our accounts to cover your new fees, and this excludes the management fees of the mutual funds. Apparently the simpler accounts aren’t a wise choice for micro investors. I’ll be cashing out soon, looking for an alternative to Acorn.

Derrick Tennant

If you just ask to stay at $1 they instantly honor it : )

Robert Bradley Meyer

But for how long though?

anthonyjh21

Might have something to do with going public via SPAC. Probably want to boost revenue numbers for quarterly earnings reports.

Bill

I hate to be a jerk, but why in good conscience would you refer family to something you are not fond of yourself to make a few hundred bucks? Totally understand if you are sharing the referral bonus with them.

Tommyboy

Yep, got my notification email today and planning to liquidate my account next week. Been with them since 2017. Definitely better options out there for no fee.