Best Robo-Advisors for Investing

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated September 24, 2021

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best robo advisors
September 24, 2021

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

If you’d like to participate in automated investing, Robo advisors allow you to do this without setting a time to meet with a financial advisor at your bank. Not all robo advisors are the same, however. Choose wisely based on your desired features and knowledge about the financial world and online investment sites. Continue reading to learn more about the best robo financial advisors so you can make the best decision.

Best Robo-Advisors

RankInvestment CompanyBest ForSTL Rating
1M1 FinanceOverall Investing★★★★★
2BettermentAutomated portfolio★★★★★
3AcornsInvesting App★★★★★
4PublicStock trading★★★★
5Personal CapitalLarge investments★★★★

Best Robo-Advisors

RankInvestment CompanySTL Rating
1M1 Finance★★★★★
5Personal Capital★★★★

Work with Betterment advisors to decide on a goal and create a plan to help get you there. When you first open an account with Betterment, experts work with you to help you figure out your next steps. If you’re planning to buy a home or want to save for retirement, you can plan for these major life changes. Getting started is as easy as opening an account and making that first deposit.

Betterment Review

Betterment website

Betterment Review image
  • Best For: Automated Investing. Betterment is the lazy man’s best friend and is also great for anyone just starting out since it automates trading for you. All you do is fund your account and answer questions about the types of investments you want, and Betterment will do all the heavy lifting for you. You can sign up for Betterment here.
  • Price: The benefit of Betterment is there are no complicated fees, just a percentage charged depending on how much you’ve invested. It’s 0.25 percent annually, no minimum required. For the premium service you must invest at least $100,000, the fee for this is 0.40 percent annually.
  • Features: Since Betterment is an automated service, it doesn’t offer a lot of options when it comes to investing. Its main platform invests in both stock and bond ETFs to create your portfolio. You can also set up various forms of IRAs through Betterment, which will then tailor your investments based on your goals.
  • Other highlights: You can currently get a year of free management, all dependent on the amount you invest. If you invest between $15,000-$999,999 you’ll receive one month for free, If you invest, $100,000-$249,000 you’ll receive 6 months of free management, and if you invest anything over $250,000 you will get an entire year of free management. 
  • Customer Service: Since Betterment does all the heavy lifting for you, of course there are going to be questions, which Betterment is more than capable of answering. You can also get financial planning advice via Betterment.

Many robo advisors minimize the importance of human advice. After all, the entire point of a robo advisor is to automate investment account management. At Betterment, you can get a bit of both automation and human advice. With three different membership tiers available, you can choose to pay more and get more personalized service. Betterment also offers fractional shares investing. (Check out our best fractional shares investing reviews to learn more about fractional shares.) If having access to experts and someone to walk you through the complexities of investing is important to you, Betterment is one of the best robo advisors out there.

Industry experts routinely hand out 5 stars for Betterment. Affordable, transparent pricing and a whole suite of features and customization options make Betterment a top option for finance experts, but expect to see some negative reviews from the investing public. When a fund doesn’t perform as well as expected or there is a short-term downturn, frustrated investors might write a negative review. There is no such thing as an investment that always goes up, so don’t expect to see constant jumps in your net worth. Instead, look for long-term trends in the upward direction. Here is our own in-depth Betterment review to give you more information about the service.

If you are looking for a more hands-off investment platform and have a hefty balance to invest, Betterment might be the best place to get started. When you make a large investment, you enjoy free management for up to a year. That fee waiver makes trying Betterment a risk-free proposition. That means Betterment is an option for virtually everyone. If you’re planning to eventually retire or build a nest egg to fund activities and boost your income, this platform has great, goal-based planning features that can help.

Getting started with Acorns robo investing is fairly straightforward. All you need to do is link your debit cards and checking account with your Acorns account. Once that’s done, you can set up a variety of methods to start funding your investments. With round-up services, you can have Acorns automatically transfer funds up to the next dollar amount, rounding up all of your purchases. If you don’t like the idea of automatic rounding, you can choose to manually select items for rounding, or opt out of rounding altogether.

Acorns also offers the option to set up automatic withdrawals to fund your investment account. With transfers as low as $5, you can add money weekly, biweekly or monthly.

Acorns Review

Acorns website

Acorns Review image
  • Best For: Automatic investing, people new to investing and those looking to increase their savings but not necessarily make a great deal of money. You can sign up for Acorns here.
  • Price: Depending on the services, Acorns costs $1, $2 or $3 monthly.
  • Features: You link credit cards and bank accounts to the Acorns app, and it automatically invests small sums of money on occasion. You can choose from among five portfolios, each with a different risk-reward ratio.
  • Other Highlights: The platform will rebalance your portfolio as needed and reinvest your dividends. Plus, Acorns lets you turn off the automatic investing function and make manual investments if you prefer.
  • Customer Service: Acorns doesn’t employ financial advisers, but its staff will answer your questions via phone, email or live chat.

The round-up option is what sets Acorns apart from the competition. By automating investing, Acorns essentially automates the process of saving (and earning) money. Any savings you don’t need to think about are more likely to add up. This is part of the reason 401k plans do so well as an investment tool — the money comes out of your paycheck automatically. Acorns takes the same principle and applies it to more than just your retirement savings.

One of the most common complaints about Acorns comes down to the lack of options. Acorns automates the investment process, but it also limits the types of accounts available and only offers a few fund options to choose from when robo investing.

If you’re new to investing and just want to test the waters, Acorns can be a great way to get started. You’re only investing small change and usually buying fractions of shares. That adds up to a very small investment that can help you learn a lot. By watching the market and seeing how your Acorns account performs, you can eventually graduate to a more comprehensive investment management platform, though that doesn’t mean you should cancel your Acorns account. After all, automated transfers make it easy and relatively painless to grow your investment portfolio.

Personal Capital offers automated investing advice, but it works more like a traditional brokerage firm than many other robo investor platforms. A high minimum investment coupled with a comprehensive features list makes Personal Capital full service and full price. Get started by opening an account using the online tool or call customer service to walk you through your options. You can always sign up for the personal finance tools, even if you don’t start an investment account. If you want to set up the investment portion later, you can use the personal finance tools to help you set savings goals and improve your financial health prior to your first investment with Personal Capital.

Personal Capital Review

Personal Capital website

Personal Capital Review image
  • Best For: Wealthy investors. High-value investors get the comprehensive services available through Personal Capital at a reasonable price. You can sign up for Personal Capital here.
  • Price: Annual advisory fees range from 0.49 percent to 0.89 percent, depending on the account balance.
  • Features: Accounts with a minimum of $200,000 enjoy the hands-on service of two account managers, while all account holders can use the available personal finance tools and account teams to manage their accounts.
  • Customer Service: Available through email or via phone. Personal Capital also has members-only contact methods, avoiding the clutter of a public line.

When making a robo advisor comparison, price is often the only real difference. With Personal Capital, features are what really make this personal finance product stand out. This robo investing platform goes beyond simply handling your investments and into real financial planning. You can link all of your accounts to your robo investor and monitor your financial health. A vast library of resources, continued access to human advice when needed and plenty of account options all help make Personal Capital the best option for those that can afford to open an account.

Personal Capital is one of those companies that easily stand at the top of the field. Not only do industry experts routinely give this robo investor the thumbs up, but so do consumers. It enjoys a near 5-star rating on virtually every site where it is mentioned, and even the complaints are more like service suggestions.

If you have $25,000 ready to invest, Personal Capital is an excellent option. The holistic approach to financial health and investing lets you build a long-term plan with your robo financial advisor. That can help you find more money to invest, plan for major purchases and find ways to minimize the tax burden on your investment income. If you don’t have much experience investing or want to start out with a smaller deposit, Personal Capital is not the place to get started.

Getting started with Ally Invest is quick and easy. Simply go onto the company website, fill out an online form and wait for an approval. Most new accounts are approved within a few minutes. Once you have an account opened, you need to fund your account and select your investments. If you want a managed portfolio, you will need to invest a minimum of $100.

Ally Invest Review

Ally Invest Review image
  • Best for: Beginners. Ally Invest makes investing easy and offers a lot of education around the process, so you can make the best decisions when it comes to your money.
  • Price: There are no advisory fees for managed account.
  • Features: Ally Invest offers all the typical investing options, including stocks, options, ETFs, IRAs, mutual funds, bonds, forex and trading on the International Stock Exchange.
  • Other highlights: Ally Invest sets aside a “cash buffer” which is about 30% of your investment, so if the markets suddenly crash, you have cash in the account that is safe from wild fluctuations. It also offers an easy-to-use platform and a mobile app, which are benefits for beginners.
  • Customer service: Ally Invest offers customer service both for technical issues and when you have questions about trading. It has brokers on hand to help with any of your investment questions.

When shopping for a robo advisor to handle your investing, most platforms don’t offer much self-management. They let you select some basic parameters, and then the platform handles the actual investments. With Ally Invest, you have the option of having a self-managed account. That allows you to quickly see what investment strategy is doing the best in current market conditions.

You’ll likely see a lot of positive reviews of Ally Invest, though you might not see as much about its managed account services. For many, Ally Invest is all about self-management, and it offers that service at a price that really can’t be beat. Even the managed services are priced competitively.

One common complaint is that Ally doesn’t offer cryptocurrency trading. That’s actually probably for the best since companies that specialize in cryptocurrency are a better choice. Our best cryptocurrency apps reviews breaks down how these companies operate.

If you want to start working on financial freedom, planning for your retirement or building your personal wealth, Ally Invest is a great place to get started. You can build a portfolio at relatively low cost, and as you grow your investment pool, eventually switch to a managed account. With Ally Invest, you can be as hands on or off as you like, so if you want more options when it comes to investing, Ally Invest should definitely make your list as a robo financial advisor.

You’ll receive continuous automatic balancing adjustments and monitoring services for all of your investment accounts with FutureAdvisor.

FutureAdvisor Review

FutureAdvisor website

FutureAdvisor Review image
  • Best For: FutureAdvisor expertly serves the needs of low-key, hands-off investors at every risk tolerance level. Individuals interested in gradually boosting their account balances using long-term, diversified investments will benefit most from this company’s metered approach.
  • Price: FutureAdvisor charges just 0.125 percent of the managed account totals on a quarterly basis, which equals a total annual fee of 0.5 percent. Trading fees and account closing costs may apply. All of the fees are deducted from taxable accounts first to minimize yearly tax liabilities.
  • Features: The diversified accounts managed by FutureAdvisor may include traditional, Roth, SEP and rollover IRAs, plus taxable individual and joint accounts outside the retirement realm. The employed diversification and tax strategies help minimize risk and expenses to boost the growth of these accounts over the years.
  • Other highlights: FutureAdvisor currently offers new clients three months of free premium access to give individuals time to gauge the benefits of the company’s direct management services. Information about investment account recommendations, 401(k) management and retirement planning remain free for base level accounts.
  • Customer Service: The award-winning team at FutureAdvisor offers comprehensive support and guidance by phone, email and live chat. Team members and software programs provide 24/7 monitoring and balancing of all managed accounts.

When signing up for FutureAdvisor, you will enter your information, including age, income, planned retirement age and risk tolerance level. Using this information, FutureAdvisor will generate a personalized management plan for your investment accounts. Once your profile has been created, you can include retirement and non-retirement accounts in your portfolio. FutureAdvisor will manage IRAs including Roth, traditional, SEP and rollover accounts. Additionally, you are able to include your joint taxable and individual non-retirement accounts in the managed list of entities.

You also have the option to open new accounts with help from the team of financial advisors. A $10,000 initial deposit is required to obtain this service. After creating your account, you can contribute additional small deposits of at least $500 to be added to your investment portfolio.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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