Hiring someone to manage your investments is not for everyone or can afford it. There is a great alternative for these people: robo-advisors.
All you have to do for these handy tools is add money and they’ll manage your investments from there. Robo-advisors are also becoming increasingly popular. By 2025, over 16 million people are expected to register for a robo-advice account.
If you want to join their ranks, the biggest decision you need to make is that Which one to choose from. Robo-advisors are plentiful, and we’ve rounded up the best with the lowest fees and features – and some alternative investment platforms – to help you find the best option for you.
There’s a robo-advisor for everyone, depending on what you’re looking for. However, we find that most people want low fees, easy administration, and high returns. And for you, we recommend these robo-advisors and investment platforms:
- improvement: Best for first time investors.
- M1 finance: Preferably without fees.
- Robin Hood: Best for DIY investment.
- Hide: Best for creative ways to invest more.
- SigFig: Best for highest returns.
Robo Advisor Reviews
It is good to do a thorough research before choosing a robo-advisor. Here’s a quick rundown of our top tips to help you decide if it’s worth following up on.
- Low fees
- Simple, intuitive user interface
- No minimum account, minimum deposit of $ 10
- Advanced tax strategies and options for socially responsible investing (SRI)
- Access to real Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) with premium subscription
- Not a lot of options for customization
There are many reasons we recommend Betterment, especially for newer investors. There are no minimum accounts, although you need to deposit at least $ 10 to get started. Betterment also has a very easy-to-use interface that anyone, including your grandmother, can understand.
The Goal Forecaster is particularly well suited for showing you graphs that break down in real terms what your investment decisions will mean over time. For example, you can see exactly what your expected returns will be over time as you invest more or less each month, or expand or contract your timeline.
These visualization tools are very powerful at keeping you motivated and putting something really abstract – like investing – into real terms that you can understand.
The improvement drives you to preset portfolios. You can make some adjustments, such as: B. how much stocks should be held compared to bonds, or opting for an SRI (Socially Responsible Investing) portfolio. Aside from these minor tweaks, there’s no real way to choose specific investments – although most people who choose Betterment don’t want to do that anyway.
M1 financial report
- No fees
- Easier diversification
- More options for customization
- Can also invest in individual stocks
- No tax loss harvest
- Minimum balance of $ 100 ($ 500 for retirement accounts)
M1 Finance is a unique investment firm that focuses on “pies”, which are pie charts that represent your portfolios for different goals. You can customize your own pies with a mix of ETFs and even individual stocks, which is unique to a robo-advisor. If you’re not ready to take these steps, don’t worry – M1 Finance also has preset “Expert Pies” that can help you choose, a la traditional robo-advisors.
The only downsides to M1 Finance are that there are no tax losses like many other services. Harvesting tax losses depends on buying and selling similar investments to ease your tax burden. However, since your investments are preset, you cannot do that with this platform.
There is also a minimum account of $ 100 ($ 500 if you open an IRA) which isn’t huge, but it might be enough to keep some new investors from getting in.
- High yields
- Access to live investment advisers
- The first $ 10,000 is managed for free. low fees afterwards
- The accounts are managed through TD Ameritrade, Fidelity or Charles Schwab
- Minimum balance of $ 2,000
- The business structure can be confusing
SigFig is a different type of robo-advisor in that it doesn’t hold the investments by itself. Instead, your money will be held with one of three major investment firms: TD Ameritrade, Fidelity, or Charles Schwab. That way, it works like an add-on to your account.
If you already have an account with these companies, all you need to do is link SigFig to it. Otherwise, if you transfer over an existing account or open a new one, SigFig will open a TD Ameritrade account for you, on which all your investments will be made.
The great added value of SigFig is that it produces some of the highest returns of any robo-consultant, according to a 2020 report from Backend Benchmarking. It was also rated Best Robo-Advisor, despite its somewhat confusing build. SigFig also has relatively low fees and unlike other robo-advisors, you can chat with a human investment advisor at any time without signing up for any premium service.
How we found the best robo-advisors
Since a robo-advisor is literally on autopilot, you shouldn’t be paying much for one. That’s why we’ve only considered robo-advisors with the lowest fees. We also looked at robo-advisors with low minimum deposits as they are easily accessible to the average person. Finally, we looked at the number of positive customer reviews each robo-advisor has, as well as the specifics they offer to keep your money growing.
What You Need to Know About Robo-Advisor
Robo-advisors make investing a lot easier, but that doesn’t mean you can leave things on total autopilot. When using robo-advisors, keep the following points in mind:
- You will receive a tax document for your account at the end of the year
- Robo-advisors use questionnaires to guide you to pre-built portfolios
- Robo-advisors use low-cost index funds that track the market instead of beating it
- Many robo-advisors also have access to human advisers in case you have any questions
- Some robo-advisors offer advanced features like Tax Loss Harvesting or Smart Beta.
If you prefer a DIY investment approach …
Robo-advisors are great for people who are into long-term buy-and-hold investing and aren’t too picky about what they’re invested in. If you’re looking to start more advanced investment strategies like stock picking, consider the two alternative investment platforms listed below.
- Free trade
- Minimum balance of $ 1
- Share rewards for signing up and referrals
- Trade stocks, options, ETFs, margins and cryptocurrencies
- Age accounts not available
- The company has been criticized for some of its unsavory business practices
Robinhood has been hugely popular in the news for the past few years. It was founded as a company that democratized investing by offering free trade deals that anyone could take advantage of. It also failed: some people got into trouble because investing was a little also easy, and the company also played a huge role in GameStop / AMC brouhaha in early 2021.
That said, Robinhood is still a great option for people looking to get their feet wet buying and selling individual stocks. One reason it’s so popular is that it offers free shares for signing up for an account and for referring friends. It’s also just a well-designed platform that has lots of educational content for you to study on the go.
- Minimum balance of $ 5
- “Stock-back” rewards debit card
- “Auto-stash” ways to increase your savings
- Expensive for smaller investors
If you want more control over what you invest in and are looking for creative ways to grow your savings, consider Stash. It’s not particularly cheap, ranging from $ 1 to $ 9 per month, which is pretty high for a service aimed at new investors. Many other brokers charge 0.25% annually, which means Stash will be more expensive if you’ve saved less than $ 4,800.
Stash, on the other hand, offers more ways to get you there faster than most robo-advisors. You can of course set up automatic deposits, but there are two other ways to save more.
If you use your bank’s debit card, you can set up Stash to round up your purchases and invest the difference in your Stash investment account. You can also upgrade to Stash’s own debit card, which offers rewards in the form of inventory at the companies you shop with.
Frequently asked questions about robo-advisors
Here is a quick recap of some of the common questions asked about robo-advisors.