There are plenty of online brokers that you can use to invest for retirement and shorter-term goals. Many investors are happy with Betterment since it automates the investing process.
However, you may prefer alternatives to Betterment so that you have more hands-on control over your portfolio. Avoiding annual advisory fees and getting exposure to more assets is also possible.
Whether you want a self-directed platform or a fully-managed robo-advisor, these investing apps can help you achieve your passive income goals.
What are the Best Alternatives to Betterment?
While Betterment makes it easy to start investing, its fees and inability to invest in individual stocks can be frustrating.
As a preview, these are some of the best Betterment alternatives:
Here’s an in-depth look at the top Betterment competitors that provide more flexibility and make investing easy.
If you want several free financial tracking tools, Empower (formerly known as Personal Capital) is an excellent option. This platform connects with your banking and investment accounts to sync your transactions and track your net worth.
The financial planning tools it offers include:
- Budgets: Create a monthly spending target to save more money.
- Education costs: See how much you should save to pay for your child’s tuition.
- Investment checkup: Review your asset allocation, portfolio risk, and fund fees.
- Retirement planner: Estimate your target retirement date and monthly income.
This budgeting tool can help you make a basic spending plan. It is sufficient when you already have a handle on your finances and are ready to grow your net worth.
The platform also excels at real-time investment tracking as it monitors your existing brokerage and workplace retirement accounts. However, the free version doesn’t let you invest through Empower.
Instead, you need at least $100,000 to invest in a managed account with a personalized investment plan. Your initial portfolio holds index ETFs, and you can start investing in individual stocks once your portfolio exceeds $200,000.
Your account also includes access to a financial advisor who will likely have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. The advisor can assist with retirement planning and provide insights to help you manage your financial situation.
You can read our guide about the best Empower alternatives to compare online money management software to other options.
How Much Does Empower Cost?
Empower’s budgeting and investment analysis tools are free, and you won’t pay any fees for the life of your membership.
There is a $100,000 minimum portfolio balance to enroll in the wealth management service and start investing. You’ll receive a free initial financial advisor consultation, but the annual advisory fee is 0.89 percent for the first $1 million under management.
Higher balances pay a reduced fee.
Read our Empower review to learn more.
2. M1 Finance
Consider M1 Finance if you want automated investment management tools that can add stocks and ETFs as you wish. You can choose your asset allocation for each position within your taxable and retirement accounts.
This service doesn’t charge any service fees, making it an excellent replacement for Betterment. However, you won’t have access to advisory services or tax-loss harvesting.
M1 Finance offers many “expert pies.” These are premade portfolios for a specific investment strategy.
Some of the options include:
- Risk tolerance (i.e., conservative, moderate, aggressive)
- Target retirement date
- Stock-to-bond mix
- Industry sectors
- Hedge fund portfolios
- ESG investing
It’s possible to choose an index fund portfolio that is risk-tolerance based with an asset allocation similar to Betterment but without the advisory fee.
Experienced investors can effortlessly add fractional shares of most stocks and ETFs that trade on the U.S. stock market to a portfolio holding an expert pie. Alternatively, your entire portfolio can hold individual positions if you prefer this investment strategy.
The minimum initial deposit is $100 for taxable accounts and $500 for retirement accounts. Subsequent investments have a $25 minimum.
All trades execute when the stock market opens.
The investing app utilizes dynamic rebalancing, and your new allocations will buy shares of the most under-allocated positions first. To avoid taxable events, it won’t sell any shares unless you request a manual rebalance.
You can also open an online checking account and a high-yield savings account to earn passive income. Upgrading to the premium M1 Plus offers higher yields on your deposits.
How Much Does M1 Finance Cost?
It’s free to invest and use entry-level money management services. The initial account balances must be at least $100 (taxable) and $500 (traditional and Roth IRA) to make your first trade.
To access an afternoon trading window and better interest rates on the banking products, you need to upgrade to M1 Plus. Annual membership costs $125 after a three-month free trial.
Read our M1 Finance review to learn more.
Single-family rental homes are a proven and consistent way to earn recurring income. Finding an investment property can be more accessible through Roofstock, which lists rental homes for sale nationwide.
You may consider this service to find properties outside your market that might be too expensive or aren’t friendly for landlords. This service is unique because Betterment doesn’t provide direct access to real estate.
Each listing includes gross yield and cap rate estimates to predict your return on investment. You can also research the property history and needed repairs.
A downside is that investors must purchase an entire property. You may want to consider a crowdfunded real estate investing service if you don’t have this much capital available.
This platform only offers fractional investing to accredited investors through its Roofstock One service. If you’re eligible for this service, the minimum investment is $5,000.
Unfortunately, Roofstock doesn’t offer stocks or funds and is exclusively for real estate investors.
How Much Does Roofstock Cost?
It’s free to browse listings, but the purchase price varies by property. The most affordable listings start at $80,000 and usually max out at around $330,000.
Most listings are between $150,000 to $250,000.
Read our Roofstock review to learn more.
Acorns are one of the most similar investing apps to Betterment since all investing occurs through an auto-managed portfolio. You can access your portfolio through the mobile app or the online website.
When creating your account, it recommends an asset allocation based on your appetite for risk. For example, recent college graduates may have aggressive portfolios that primarily invest in stocks.
This hands-on approach is helpful for new investors who don’t have the expertise or desire to manage their own portfolios. It’s possible to open a taxable or a retirement investment account and invest small amounts of money.
Your portfolio options include:
- Traditional stock and bond index funds
- ESG funds
- Bitcoin-linked fund
The minimum investment is $5, and you can link a bank account to fund your transfer. It’s also easy to schedule recurring deposits by enabling spending roundups.
When roundups are active, the service automatically rounds all new transactions to the next dollar and invests the extra amount once the balance reaches $5.
There is even an online shopping portal to earn up to 30 percent in investing rewards when you make qualifying purchases. You can even open banking accounts and child investment accounts.
However, you should consider a free budgeting app to make a spending plan since Acorns doesn’t provide personal finance tools or financial advisor access.
How Much Do Acorns Cost?
An individual plan costs $3 per month, and family plans cost $5 monthly. This monthly fee is affordable but can be more expensive on small account balances than the percentage-based fee that Betterment charges.
Both plans offer the same access to automated investment management tools and financial accounts, but the family plan lets you open an investment account for spouses and children.
Read our Acorns review to learn more.
Investing your money through Robinhood is worth it if you want to self-manage your investment account. It’s easy to build a diversified portfolio since the minimum investment is $1 for stocks and ETFs. Better yet, you can buy fractional shares.
The online brokerage has no monthly fees or trading commissions and offers taxable and retirement accounts. It also offers crypto investing, and you can make monthly deposits into an interest-bearing cash management account to save for short-term goals.
This service is easy to use, but critics say it is too easy for first-time investors since there are minimal education and portfolio-building tools. For example, it won’t recommend a model portfolio like a robo-advisor will, and you can trade stock options almost effortlessly.
Consequently, you may consider these alternatives to Robinhood to find a brokerage with more research and planning tools.
How Much Does Robinhood Cost?
It’s free to trade stocks and funds on Robinhood, and the minimum investment is $1.
An optional Robinhood Gold service is free for the first 30 days and costs $5 monthly if you remain enrolled. The premium benefits include:
- Level II market data
- Morningstar ratings
- Larger instant deposits
- Earning a higher rate on your uninvested cash
Read our Robinhood review to learn more.
Self-directed investors will find SoFi Investing to be one of the best free Betterment alternatives. There are no account fees, trading fees, or account minimums for taxable or retirement accounts.
You can buy partial stock shares by investing as little as $5 at once. It’s even possible to trade options and cryptocurrency if you have an aggressive risk tolerance and are an experienced investor.
In addition to investing in individual stocks and ETFs, you can purchase SoFi-managed ETFs that don’t charge management fees. These funds specialize in specific themes, including weekly dividends, S&P 500 companies, Web 3, and clean energy.
It’s possible to access your portfolio through the SoFi app or website.
In addition to the investing services, this personal finance platform offers several products to achieve your other financial goals. For example, you can speak with a financial advisor about saving for retirement.
Your SoFi membership includes credit insights, career coaching, and the ability to earn rewards points that you can redeem for fractional stock shares.
The platform is also a lender for home, personal, and student loans when you need to borrow money.
How Much Does SoFi Cost?
A SoFi Investing account is free to open and has zero balance requirements. You can buy or sell stocks commission-free with a $5 minimum investment, but options trades incur fees.
Beginner investors comparing apps similar to Betterment may find Stash to be the best option. This service lets you open self-directed and management accounts through taxable and retirement accounts.
It’s possible to open an individual or family plan by paying a flat monthly fee.
During enrollment, you will answer several questions to receive a suggested asset allocation if you want a managed portfolio of stocks, bonds, and crypto. The automated Smart Portfolio requires a minimum $5 initial investment. Plus, you can schedule monthly deposits.
If you’re comfortable managing your own portfolio, you can create a separate account to self-manage through fractional investing. The investing app can provide personalized insights and educational resources to improve your investing skills.
Stash is also a budgeting and saving app as you can open an online banking account. This account can receive direct deposits and make purchases with the Stock-Back Card.
The Stock-Back Card is a rewards debit card. It lets you earn bonus stock shares of the company you shop at when using the card.
Unfortunately, this service doesn’t offer financial advisor access like Betterment.
How Much Does Stash Cost?
The entry-level Stash Growth plan for individuals costs $3 per month.
Families and couples can consider Stash+ for $9 monthly. This plan includes two custodial accounts for children, additional investing insights, and up to one percent back in investing rewards for Stock-Back purchases.
Read our Stash review to learn more.
Choosing a platform to grow your wealth can be overwhelming. There are many choices, and you want to select one that meets your needs without paying too much.
We chose these Betterment alternatives because they offer many similar features but with potentially more account management flexibility and competitive prices.
The comparison factors include:
- Account types: Do the platform offer taxable and retirement accounts? Can you manage your own portfolio, or is automated investing the only option?
- Investment options: Can you invest in more than index fund ETFs? Many offer individual stocks, ESG-focused funds, and alternative assets like real estate.
- Personal finance tools: Are additional money management features available, like federally-insured bank accounts, budgeting tools, personalized insights, and financial planner access?
- Ease of use: Is it easy to set up an investing account and use the additional features? Do financial planning tools offer many functions, like creating a budget, downloading transactions, or speaking with an advisor?
- Pricing: Are the fees affordable and competitive with other apps like Betterment? Are the premium benefits worth the cost?
- Bank-level security: Can you protect your accounts with practices like two-factor authentication (2FA)?
Whether you invest through Betterment or use one of the above alternatives, start by comparing the account types, investment options, and potential fees. Consider your short-term and long-term goals to find the best match after researching your options.
There are many investing apps that can help you build a diversified portfolio of index funds, individual stocks, or real estate. Most have minimal or low fees.
These services might provide hands-on guidance and allow you to customize your asset allocation to fit your investment strategy more than Betterment. Consider your goals, then choose the platform offering features that will help you reach those goals.
What do you look for when choosing a broker or financial advisor?
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