Betterment Investing Review 0.25% - 0.40%

Summary

A detailed Betterment Review from a firsthand user experience.  Discover what Betterment's competitive advantages are, who is best suited to use Betterment, Betterment's pros and cons, and alternative investing options. 

Overall
3.8
  • User-Friendly
    (5)
  • Portfolio Options
    (3)
  • Customer Service
    (3)
  • Price
    (4)
  • Access To Financial Advice
    (5)
  • Educational Content
    (3)

Pros

  • Access to Financial Advisors
  • Customized investment portfolios
  • High interest savings accounts
  • No fees checking accounts

Cons

  • Limited choice of investments
  • Sub-par customer service
  • No educational content
Sending
User Review
0 (0 votes)

Betterment first launched just before the 2008 financial crisis and now manages billions of dollars with their modern robo advisor platform. Jon Stein, Betterment founder and CEO built the investment platform to make saving and investing easier and more simple for consumers to manage.

Perhaps you've felt the anxiety of thinking about saving for retirement, or even investing in the stock market due to the hundreds of different options and strategies available. Well, Betterment was built to solve this problem, and make saving, investing and retirement planning easy and automatic.

From general investing, to savings accounts with nearly 20 times the interest rates offered by traditional banks, and even checking accounts and retirement planning, Betterment provides a holistic platform to help consumers approach investing with guided help in a cost effective way. Here's a detailed Betterment review including how it works, what the pros and cons are, who the platform best suits and potential alternative options.

A Review Of The Betterment Investing App

Product Description: Betterment provides an investment account for individual investing, retirement savings, and even educational savings accounts. Furthermore, they provide high interest rate savings account and a convenient checking account to have all your money in one place. The investment accounts provide a customized investment portfolio based on your response to some basic questions about your money goals. This is also referred to as a “Robo Advisor.”

Features & Benefits: Many aren't sure what to do next with their money, and Betterment helps solve that problem. Their platform gathers large amounts of data from its users and builds a customized investment portfolio for each user automatically with their portfolio algorithms. This takes the hassle of worrying what to invest in, and puts it in the hands of trusted experts and proven investing strategies. Furthermore, their savings accounts provide higher interest rates than the majority of traditional bank savings accounts, usually around 2.21% APY (as of this writing).

Pricing Details: Betterment is free for savings and checking accounts, and their robo advisor investing accounts charge only 0.25% of your balance per year, or about $25 per year per $10,000 invested. Should you want added premium services and access to unlimited help from their available advisers, you can purchase the premium plan at just 0.40% of your invested balance per year, or about $40 per year per $10,000 invested.

Why Invest With Betterment?

Why would anyone want to use Betterment as their investment broker of choice over a traditional discount broker such as Fidelity, Vanguard or TD Ameritrade? Or perhaps you're wondering why Betterment over other robo advisor apps and micro investing services such as Acorns, Stash or Wealthfront?

Perhaps the biggest competitive advantage provided by betterment is the direct access to expert financial advisers through there different advisor packages available. The three advisor packages available are:

  • Betterment Advice Package
  • Betterment Premium
  • Betterment Advisor Network

Betterment Advice Package

Any investment account with Betterment can purchase an advice package for $199 – $299 that provides access to a one to one phone call with an expert advisor, along with a customized action plan for your money and added educational content.

Betterment Premium

For a slightly higher yearly fee of 0.40% of your invested balance, Betterment Premium members get unlimited access to a financial advisor by phone or email for quick answers to investment questions or advice. Furthermore, this service also requires $100,000 minimum balance in your betterment account, and is their biggest competitive advantage among other robo advisors and financial advisors combined.

Betterment Advisor Network

Some investors might prefer to have a dedicated local financial advisor they can trust and meet with in person. Betterment Advisor Network provides you with a trusted partner financial advisor firm in your area that has been vetted by Betterment, providing you peace of mind that you can trust who you're working with. This service cost varies depending on the firm you work with, but runs between 0.80% of your invested balance and 1.50% of your invested balance. Most firms require a minimum of $100,000 to invest.

Other Benefits of Investing With Betterment

Aside from their access to trusted financial advisors and advice, Betterment provides access to high interest bearing savings accounts for those wanting a better return than most traditional bank savings accounts. As of this writing, their “Betterment Everyday Savings” account has a current interest rate of 2.21% APY.

Lastly, Betterment Everyday Checking is a free checking account that has zero fees and zero minimum balances. They also reimburse all ATM fees at all ATM's worldwide.

Who Is Betterment For?

Jon Stein, Founder of Betterment, stated on NPR podcast “How I Built This” that their ideal client is individuals with at least $100,000 of investable assets. This makes sense, seeing that their best advisor packages require $100,000 balances to begin with. However, they keep options open for individuals with less money to invest, but that still seek a customized robo advisor that provides expert portfolios for your invested money.

If you're an individual with at least $100,000 to invest but aren't sure where to start, then Betterment is a prime option for you to begin with. Should you have just a few bucks to save every week and are working to break $1,000 of investable assets, then you're probably best searching for a different robo advisor outside of Betterment.

Where Betterment Falls Short

Although it may be intentional efforts on Betterment, their platform falls short for providing options at fair prices for individuals with less money to invest. Sure, those with high amounts of money and little knowledge about investing may have a need for expert advice, but the same is true for those who have any money to invest at all. In fact, that's a major reason many don't get involved investing in the stock market because they don't have the expert advice and help necessary.

To add to that, Betterment may benefit even more by providing additional investment options outside of their robo advisor portfolios. There are investors who seek totally passive approach to investing and these are the ones that benefit most from robo advisor services. There are also investors who like to manage their own portfolios and invest in their own chosen stocks. There are also those who may wish to have a mix of the two approaches to investing. Betterment provides a service to just one of these three types of investors, and that is the investor who seeks investment advice and a passive management strategy.

Is Betterment Investing Safe?

When dealing with your hard earned money, one can't help but ask whether the institution managing their money is trusted and safe, or if it's another ponzi scheme in the works. However, keep in mind Betterment was built to fix the common frustrations that traditional investment options provided, and one of those is transparency.

There are different types of investment bank institutions, and Betterment chose to be structured as a “Registered Investment Advisor” which means they are bound by the law to only give you advice that is in your best interest, and not theirs. This is also known as a “fiduciary.”

Furthermore, their investing accounts are registered with and backed by the SIPC, and their banking accounts are FDIC insured. Is Betterment Investing safe? With these facts in mind, its safe to say your money is safe when investing with Betterment.

The Bottom Line…

Personally, I've used betterment for a while and can say their platform is about as simple as it gets, and their advice and access to advisors are second to none. With their goal being to make investing and managing your money as easy as possible, I believe they are building something that is paving the way for high net worth individuals who seek to invest their money at a low cost, yet with expert advice and proven strategies, and a passive investment management approach.

Alternatives To Betterment Investing

While Betterment caters most to those with at least $100,000 to invest who seek advice to trusted advisors and passive management, some may not yet fall into that category of investing. For alternative options, consider the following:

  • Acorns: Best for investors who have a tight budget, but want to invest in the stock market.
  • M1 Finance: Best for investors who seek free investment options, and both passive and active investment managed portfolios. Invest in individual stocks, and expert made portfolios, it's your choice!
  • Stash Invest: Best for investors seeking to learn how the stock market works, and invest their money by themselves with great educational content and multiple investment options.
  • Stockpile: Best for investors who wish to invest in fractional shares of individual stock companies, with low trade commissions of just $0.99 per trade.

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