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.