Acorns Review 2023: Pros, Cons, and How It Works

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The Acorns app helps you save and invest your spare change. When you link a credit or debit card, Acorns rounds your purchase up to the nearest dollar and invests the difference. However, the monthly account fees will have an impact on your returns.

Our number one goal at DollarSprout is to help readers improve their financial lives, and we regularly partner with companies that share that same vision. If a purchase or signup is made through one of our Partners’ links, we may receive compensation for the referral. Learn more here.

In this Acorns review, we’re going to show you how Acorns works, what the potential savings and risks are, and help you determine whether Acorns is a smart investment tool for you.

Remember your piggy bank or loose change jar you had as a kid? How you would drop all your nickels, dimes, and quarters in there until it was packed full?

If you’re like me, every time you brought that change in the bank it added up to more cash than you thought.

Acorns wants to take this “out of sight, out of mind” savings strategy to the next level. They round-up your expenses to the nearest dollar, then invest your nickels and dimes for future goals.

Recently, the company added retirement accounts, a debit card account, and a $10 sign-up bonus.

But can this micro-investing strategy really grow your wealth? Let’s take a look.


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$0 per trade

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$1-3 per month

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$0 per trade

Designed for DIY investors Beginner-friendly  Commission-free trading
Easy-to-use mobile app Completely automated Automated rebalancing
No account minimum No account minimum $100 account minimum

Get 1 free stock

$10 sign up bonus

No sign up bonus

What Is Acorns?

Acorns app

Acorns is part spare change jar, part robo-advisor. This app rounds up your purchases on linked credit or debit cards — now with the option to boost those round-ups by 2x, 5x, or even 10x — and invests that money for you.

Acorns offers three levels of service:

Acorns pricing chart

Invest: $1/month

Summary: Round purchases up to the nearest dollar and invest the difference in a taxable account. Add cash to your investments regularly and get kickbacks to boost your investments from purchases at partner retailers.

For $1 per month, this is Acorns’ lowest cost option. To sign-up, you connect your bank account and link any credit and debit cards where you want round-up investments to occur.

Then you select the amount of money you want to contribute to your Acorns investment to get started. There is no minimum, but the app won’t actually begin investing for you until your Round-Up balance equals $5 or more.

Finally, you’ll answer some questions about your financial situation, goals, and risk tolerance. Acorns will use this to recommend one of its five ETF-based investment portfolios. You can override their selection if you want more or less risk in your portfolio.

In addition to your Round-Up investments, you can set recurring investments that occur daily, weekly or monthly. Acorns Found Money service is also partnered with over 200 brands that give you cash back, automatically invested, for purchases.

Note: This account level used to be free for college students for up to 4 years, but Acorns no longer offers this perk.

Invest + Later: $2/month

Summary: Original Acorns plus the ability to invest in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

In 2018, Acorns added retirement investments to their platform. Now you can invest in a Roth, Traditional, or SEP IRA with Acorns. Investments into your Acorns Later account occur the same way as with the original Acorns service.

Invest + Later + Spend: $3/month

Summary: Acorns online checking account with full bank services, FDIC insurance, and the ability to boost your Acorns + Acorns later investments with instant Round-Up and cash back from local retailers.

The most recent addition to the Acorns platform is a digital checking account. Acorns Spend is a full-service checking account allowing digital direct deposit, mobile check deposit and payment, and unlimited fee-reimbursed ATM withdrawals.

Acorns Spend allows for real-time Round-Ups, custom spending strategies to boost your savings, and increased Found Money cash-back with up to 10% invested from local places you regularly visit.

How Does Acorns Work?

Acorns’ investing service, like most robo-advisors, is based on Modern Portfolio Theory created by Dr. Harry Markowitz. It has five optimized portfolios to choose from and automatically rebalances your portfolio and reinvests all dividend payments regularly.

Each Acorns portfolio is made up of ETFs, or Exchange Traded Funds, with exposure across multiple asset classes. These ETFs have internal expenses that equal about 0.10% of your investment over time.

As you add money to your account through Round-Ups or scheduled deposits, Acorns will invest that money for you based on your risk-profile. If you are using the basic Acorns account, this will occur in a taxable investment account.

You can withdraw your money from Acorns at any time, but investment withdrawals can take 5 to 7 business days. And the reality is, you don’t want to use your Acorns savings as a regular source of cash.

Investing is a long-term game. By pulling money from this account for day-to-day expenses and goals, you’ll increase the chance of losing money in the market.

Acorns Review: Frequently Asked Questions

With so many options out there, investors have questions. Here are the top queries we’ve seen around the web that we’d like to cover in our Acorns review.

Are small Round-Up investments enough to matter?

When it comes to saving for your future, every little bit helps.

At the same time, should Round-Up investments be the core part of your investing strategy? No.

But even investing $30 a month at a 7% market return adds up to over $4,900 in 10 years. Put that same amount in an online savings or money market account, and you’re only looking at just under $3,900. And the gap between investing and saving only increases over time. That’s the power of compound growth.

How much does Acorns cost?

Acorns offers three plans:

  • Invest, $1 per month
  • Invest + Later, $2 per month
  • Invest + Later + Spend, $3 per month

For small accounts, the $1 monthly fee is very high and offsets any reasonable potential gain from the investments.

Let’s assume you had 50 Round-Up transactions a month, at an average round up value of $0.40. The Acorns app would invest $20 for you each month but would take 5% of those savings in Acorns fees.

As your account value increased, that percentage would decline. But you would need to have $5,000 invested before Acorns’ fees were as low as Betterment at 0.25%. And Betterment offers those fees with no minimum investment threshold and with access to a retirement account. You would need $10,000 invested in an Acorns IRA to match Betterment’s fees.

What a $1/mo Fee Means for a Taxable Account:

Account Balance Annual Fee
$250 4.80%
$500 2.40%
$750 1.60%
$2,000 0.60%
$5,000 0.24%

Are there risks with investing with Acorns?

As with any investment, performance isn’t guaranteed. Investing has risks which means the value of your portfolio can trend up and down over time. While the S&P 500 has consistently provided returns around 8% annually, year-to-year variations could mean your account loses substantial value — sometimes in excess of 10% or more.

The biggest risk for Acorns users is deciding to stop contributing to your account and keeping it small. Remember, the smaller your account balance remains, the more impact the monthly fee has on your overall account balance.

If you have plans for your money in the next three to five years, opt for a high-interest savings account instead. 

Related: DollarSprout’s Chime Bank Review

Is it okay to invest large sums of money with Acorns?

For hands-off investors with large sums to work with, the flat-rate fee may look attractive. For example: If you have over $10,000 to invest in the Invest + Later membership level and your fees drop to below the levels of top robo-advisor competitors like Betterment and Wealthfront, Acorns appears to be a cost-effective option.

However, I would still not recommend investing large amounts with Acorns. Their investment options aren’t as robust as the bigger players. Portfolios include less diversification across asset types and no ability to customize asset allocation outside the five key portfolios.

In addition, if you are primarily investing in a taxable account (the basic Acorns level), you don’t get tax-loss harvesting to improve long-term returns offered by many competitors.

Finally, you don’t get access to professional financial support with Acorns. Larger robo-advisors provide some access to Certified Financial Planners (CFPs) to answer your burning questions. You might not have any today, but as your portfolio grows or we hit a downturn in the market, it can be a comforting option.

Who is Acorns best for?

Acorns is best for new investors who are looking for a hands-off solution to growing their savings.

Is Acorns Worth It? 

When it comes to round-up investing apps, Acorns is among the best in the business. It’s easy to use, has an excellent education platform for new investors, and simple, straightforward fees.

However, whether the $1-3 monthly fee is a benefit or a detriment really depends on your account balance. If you’re only adding a few dollars a month to your Acorns account, that $1 a month will hinder your investment growth.

$0 Account minimum Need $5 to start investing your funds.
$1 to $5 Monthly Fees Depends on plan you choose.
DollarSprout Rating

The Acorns app is easy to use and perfect for new investors who are learning the ropes. Investors make purchases using a linked card. Acorns rounds up to the nearest dollar and invests the extra change. Users can also set automatic recurring investments on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

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  • Free investing for college students
  • Completely automated
  • No account minimum
  • Higher-tiered plans offer cash back at specific retailers


  • They charge an account fee and other fees for IRAs
  • Limited portfolio options
  • Monthly fee can be a high percentage for those with smaller account balances
Chelsea Brennan

Hi! I'm Chelsea. A personal finance expert, I'm here to bring the knowledge from my Wall Street career to you so you can maximize your investments while earning and saving extra money. I want you to know that money shouldn't be scary and that you can achieve great things!

Andrea van Enter
Andrea van Enter


Is this open for Canadians as well? Also, would this be good for a stay at home mom?


Hey Andrea,

I don’t they’ve gone International yet. It’s apparently been in the works for years but I don’t see where they’ve gone live anywhere outside of the U.S. (I could be wrong here). Finance regulations are probably making the move even harder. It does appear there is a Canadian equivalent, though, named Mylo. I don’t know much about it but it does appear to work in a very similar way!

Todd w Sieverts
Todd w Sieverts

How do I get started. Can you send me an application?

There should be plenty of links in the article you can click to sign up!


If there is a recession what happens to my Acorn account?

Nothing will happen per se — the account will remain in good standing. That said, the value of the assets in your portfolio may decrease. (i.e. you invest $1,000, but the overall stock market drops 15%, you can expect a similar decrease in your portfolio value, depending on your allocation/appetite for risk).


I have two college students 1st and 2nd year and an 8th grader. I want to set up an account that I can invest for them that they will forget even exist until later in life. I don’t have a lot of money but they give me $300.00 each every 5 months or so. I want to receive any options even small monthly investment.

Hey Andrea!

You should look into either a 529 or Coverdell ESA — they’re both tax-sheltered savings accounts that allow you to put aside money for a child’s secondary education later in life — even at $300.00 every 5 months, you can save up quite the nest egg for both children.


Hello, do you know if it still free for college students? I tried to get the student discount and they told me that they “recently stopped offering it”?

Hmm — that’s super disappointing — I looked on their website and in their FAQ section, they’ve deleted two articles that pertained to students (and college students) getting Acorns free for 4 years with a valid .edu address.

I’ll reach out to them and see if we can get an answer either way.

(Equally disappointing is the fact that they seem to be sweeping it under the rug, and did not tell any of their advertising partners (like us) about the move.)

Dionne H.
Dionne H.

What happens to your account info if you choose to discontinue investing?

Acorns will likely be required to keep all of your information on hand for a number of reasons:

1) To issue you tax statements (such as a 1099).
2) To have a record of gains/losses for future tax years depending on when you sell an asset.

As such, it’s reasonable to expect they will encrypt and protect your information as long as they’re in business as required by law.

You can read more about closing your account on this support page.

Hope that helps!

– Ben


I’ve recently signed up and have my Acorns account ready. I’m currently having $20/month added plus my roundups. My question is this: if there’s a certain stock (or stocks) that I’m certain about, and want to get into, can I do that with Acorns or no? Thank you. I also didn’t get my $10 bonus when I registered, any idea how to get that?

Hey Dale — Acorns is a limited trading platform (so you can’t buy individual stocks or bonds). You can read more about it here.

If you signed up through a link in this review, you’ll get a $10 bonus added to your account after you make your first ETF investment.


Hi there. In your opinion what’s the minimum reasonable amount we should start with Acorns in order to actually see money growing (from month one). I am considering the $1 monthly fee plan?

Thank you!

It depends on what you mean as “reasonable”. Assuming Acorns is not your primary method for investing for a moment — and you’re only using the Round-Up feature — let’s assume that the totality of your roundups = $100/mo…you’d have $1,200 in principal + $36.25 in earned interest (~6% annual) for a total of $1,236.25 saved in Year 1.

Now, obviously, interest begins to snowball further on down the road as your balance compounds. It’ll start slow and grow quickly after several years. If you’d like a “set it and forget it” means for investing, this is a pretty simple way to do it. If you don’t have any other sort of investment account, you can consider making deposits at regular intervals to speed up the process.


Does Acorns work with Capital One yet?

It doesn’t look like Capital One has worked out its longstanding issue with Plaid — the fintech service that is most frequently used to connect apps with bank accounts. (Acorns uses Plaid).

Capital One claims Plaid doesn’t meet its security requirements for third-party service providers. Plaid is the largest provider of such services in the world so this is a bit interesting (it sounds like more of an inter-company feud).


Hi! As a 25-year-old finishing up my last two college courses and job searching, what should I be doing for myself? What apps or services I should use? Accounts? The more I read about Acorns, the more I don’t see it helping me much.

Hey Jillian,

Kudos for thinking ahead re: investing for your future. If graduation is soon on the horizon, it’s important to consider what benefits your future employer will offer. If you think it’s likely you’ll end up in an industry where it’s commonplace for employers to offer benefits packages (that contain some sort of investment vehicle), it will likely be in your best interest to utilize that service. Often, but not always, these are tax-advantaged accounts that may come with a cash match (think Traditional/Roth 401ks, 403bs, state/government-sponsored savings plans).

These, generally speaking, are all better options than a brokerage account that you’d find through a service like Acorns Invest. If you’ve reached your plan contribution limits (there’s a yearly cap on how much you can add to your retirement accounts), then you can get additional market exposure through the app (or apps like it).

That said if your employer doesn’t offer a retirement account/benefits package, then Acorns Later might be of interest to you (it achieves the same end-goal of saving for retirement but through an IRA for a modest $3/mo).

(If you just want to invest in the stock market but not for retirement purposes, Acorns Invest will allow you to buys managed ETF portfolios that closely mirror major indexes).

Steve Perez
Steve Perez

I have an Acorns account. I have no knowledge of stocks so I love that I can just round up whatever I spend and deposit $5 weekly to automatically invest and save. I recently received an email stating they’re closing their $1 tier and everyone is automatically bumped to their $3 tier. Is it worth staying with Acorns for that amount or do you recommend I move my money elsewhere?

Hey Steve,

Great question — the answer is, as always, it depends (mostly on your account balance). $3/month is somewhat high if your balance is less than $5,000 (at $5,000, a $3/month fee equates to $36/year — roughly 0.7% of assets under management. Comparable roboadvisers often come in around the .25% range. The fee percentage drops to about .35% as you get closer to $10,000, so the fee structure gets more competitive the higher your blance.

That said, the automated savings component appears to be somewhat attractive, especially if you don’t feel like you would save/invest without it. If that’s the case, it may be worth it to continue on the $3 plan as your balance grows, even if you’re slightly overpaying on fees.


I want to invest for my little one and not have it only restricted to college like the 529 accounts. He’s 5 years old. What’s your recommendation? Would you recommend the Basic Acorn account for the $1 a month fee. I don’t have a lot of money.

Hey Jean —

That’s super thoughtful of you, and that’s a valid concern about the money being tied up in a 529.

(529 plans tax-advantaged status does make them a great vehicle to save for the little one as the money can grow tax-free until they go to school). If you’re certain you’d like to stay away from those, you do have several options.


  • Savings bonds — low risk, low reward (annual fixed rate of 0.10% if issued between May and October of this year).
  • High-yield savings — low risk, low reward (variable-rate, currently around 0.50% at the most generous establishments).
  • CDs — low risk, medium reward (inaccessible during 6 mo-2 year CD period, but much shorter restriction than 529); 0.50%-0.75% for deposits starting at $500+ at most places.
  • Brokerage account (like Acorns) — ~ 5-7% based on historical market averages — this depends on your risk appetite and the understanding that the fund you invest in could theoretically lose money in any given year. You’ll also have to pay income taxes on any amount withdrawn since the account would be in your name (before gifting the rest to your little one).
  • If you’d like to lock in near-guaranteed appreciation, bonds, an online savings account, or CDs offer the safest route.

    If you have a moderate appetite for risk, and anticipate holding for several years in the hopes of growing a sizeable nest egg, then a brokerage account through Acorns is an acceptable vehicle for saving. (It automates the investing process in a hands-off way and you can passively watch as your deposits and investment grows over the year). The monthly fee, soon to be $3/mo, is a bit steep when compared to similar brokers, but the ease-of-use of the platform makes it extremely easy to get started/track your investments.

    Then you can withdraw when ready, pay taxes, and gift the rest to your family (there is a yearly IRS imposed limit of $15,000 in the 2021 tax year, for perspective).



I started a free Acorn account during college and used the rounds up for some time. I stopped doing rounds up but instead opted for a monthly deposit of $25. Just this past month I began to be charged $3 a month. I’m wondering with my reoccurring $25 a month deposits and my account valued at $525 is it worth me keeping it open? I do have more expendable income now so I could increase my contributions or is there something that could be a better option?

Not sure this matters but I do have my portfolio set to “Aggressive”



I currently subscribe to Acorns and have so since 2018. It’s long saving and investing on auto-pilot. Now I’m looking to do investing on my own. I believe the $1 tier was phased out and doesn’t exist anymore. I was checking the date of the article to see if it was perhaps written a while ago. Also, Capital One does now link with Acorns. It’s the account I’ve used to auto-invest monthly and do round-ups.


I seemingly deposit a good bit of money (Round-Ups + weekly deposits) but every time I check my balance is less and less. It doesn’t make sense even with a down market. It makes me angry and annoyed.

We definitely get your concern — but buying dips in the market through dollar cost averaging (what you’re automatically doing) has paid off handsomely for investors for nearly 100 years now. Down markets and the short-term losses that accompany them can be frustrating, but when the market turns around, you’ll have accumulated a diversified portfolio of shares poised to make considerable gains.

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