Investing app Acorns now has a checking account that funnels 'extra' money into investments

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This post was reviewed and updated on March 2, 2021.

You may already know Acorns for its investment account (Acorns Invest) and its IRA (Acorns Later). Acorns Spend is the company’s third account to help customers invest: a checking account created in partnership with Lincoln Savings Bank.

Acorns is primarily known for micro-investing. By linking debit cards from external bank accounts to your Acorns Invest and Later accounts, Acorns rounds your debit card purchases up to the nearest dollar. Once your round-ups reach $5, Acorns invests the money.

Acorns Spend makes micro-investing smoother by giving you a debit card connected to the Spend account. Now your round-ups are invested in real time, so you don’t have to wait until your spare change reaches the $5 mark. You can also enroll in Smart Deposit. When you set up direct deposits with your Acorns Spend Account, select a percentage of your paycheck for Acorns to automatically invest.

This checking account is a good option for current Acorns members who want to make their auto-investing strategy more convenient. 

The bottom line: You may like Acorns Spend if you want to automatically save and invest spare change from your regular purchases.

Your round-ups are invested in real time

Previously, Acorns members were able to link Acorns Invest and Later accounts to external bank accounts and debit cards. When you swiped your debit card, Acorns rounded the purchase up to the nearest dollar. Through this process, Acorns invested your round-ups once they totaled $5. 

With Acorns Spend, you can still invest round-ups, and the process is simpler and more beneficial to you. Instead of waiting for your round-ups to hit the $5 mark before investing, Acorns invests your spare change automatically when you use the Spend debit card.

“The Spend card allows us to do it in real time because the bank account and the investment account are both with us,” Noah Kerner, CEO of Acorns, tells Insider.

By investing your money sooner, you start building compound interest (or interest that accumulates on both the principal balance and the interest) earlier. 

“Let’s say you make five transactions a day,” Kerner says. “Because it’s happening per transaction and happening in real time rather than every couple of days, you benefit from the increased frequency with compounding.”

It comes with other Acorns accounts

Your Acorns Spend Account is linked to an Invest and Later account. All three accounts are meant to work together to help you invest and save for the future.

“When we talk about a financial wellness system, the concept of these products working together this way, that’s really what the vision of Acorns is,” Kerner says.

You receive unlimited ATM fee reimbursements

Acorns does not have an ATM network, but it doesn’t charge you a fee for using an ATM.

Use your Acorns Spend debit card at any ATM that accepts Visa cards. If the provider that owns the ATM charges a fee, Acorns will reimburse you. You’ll receive your ATM refunds at the end of the month.

There are no foreign transaction fees

If you use your Acorns Spend debit card abroad, Acorns will not charge you a foreign transaction fee.

There are no overdraft fees

Many banks charge a fee when you overdraw from your checking account. Acorns Spend does not penalize you for overdrawing. Instead, it simply pauses your ability to make purchases until you have funds in your account again. 

Automatically invest a percentage of your direct deposit

Acorns has a Smart Deposit feature that helps you invest. 

“If you use Acorns Spend as your direct deposit account and your paycheck comes into Acorns Spend, we will automatically allocate a percentage of your paycheck as soon as it hits your account into your retirement and investment accounts,” Kerner says.

By default, Smart Deposit will put 10% of your direct deposits into your Acorns Invest and Later accounts, but you have the ability to change the percentage.

You can deposit and send checks digitally

Acorns makes it easy for you to deposit and send checks digitally. When you receive a paper check, take a picture of the check to deposit it with your phone.

If you need to send a check, enter the information into your Acorns Spend Account, and the company will send the person the check for you. This way, you don’t have to order or keep track of paper checks.

You get a tungsten metal debit card

The Acorns Spend Account comes with a tungsten metal debit card.

“You get this tungsten metal debit card that has never been available to the mainstream before,” Kerner says. “All of these higher-end cards have always been reserved for people who make a lot of money or the sort of select few.”

You’ll pay $3 per month

Although Acorns Spend doesn’t come with ATM, foreign transaction, or overdraft fees, it does include a $3 monthly fee.

On the bright side, Acorns Spend includes access to Invest and Later accounts. Acorns charges $1 per month for an Invest account and $2 per month for an Invest and Later account. If you already use (and pay for) these products, you might not mind bumping that fee up to $3 per month to add the Acorns Spend Account.

If you only invest with Acorns Spend by signing up for automatic round-ups that invest only cents at a time, the $3 fee could take up a decent chunk of your investments. But if you also set up Smart Deposit to invest larger sums, $3 per month may not seem like such a big deal.

There are no joint accounts

With many banks, you can set up a joint checking account with a partner or family member. However, you don’t have the ability to do this with Acorns Spend yet.

There’s no ATM network

Yes, Acorns reimburses all ATM fees charged by ATM providers at the end of the month.

However, if you use ATMs frequently, then you may find it annoying that Acorns doesn’t have an ATM network with machines you can use for free. Other banks have an ATM network so you can access a machine without being charged a fee.

There are no physical locations

Acorns operates entirely online. If you prefer speaking to your banker face-to-face, it might not be the best fit.

Acorns Spend is a checking account from investing company Acorns, created in partnership with Lincoln Savings Bank. When you sign up for an Acorns Spend Account, your account is automatically tied to an Acorns Invest and Acorns Later account.

The checking account comes with a tungsten metal debit card. When you make a purchase with the card, Acorns rounds your purchase up to the nearest dollar and invests your round-ups.

You could simply link your debit card from an external account to your Acorns Invest and Later accounts, and Acorns will invest your round-ups once they total up to $5. But with an Acorns Spend Account, round-ups are invested in real time, so you can start earning

compound interest

Acorns also comes with a program called Earn Found Money. Shop with an Acorns partner (partners include Airbnb, Lyft, and Walmart), and it will invest up to 10% of your purchase with your Acorns account. 

You can sign up for Smart Deposit with Acorns Spend. When you set up direct deposits into your Acorns Spend account, the company will automatically transfer a certain percentage into your Invest and Later accounts. This can help you save and invest more quickly.

Acorns charges $1 per month for Acorns Invest, $2 per month for Acorns Invest and Acorns Later, and $3 per month when you add Acorns Spend to the mix.

The money in your Acorns Spend Account is FDIC insured for up to $250,000.

Acorns Spend vs. Betterment Checking

Acorns and Betterment are both online platforms that focus on helping customers invest. Unlike Acorns Spend, your Betterment Checking account will not help you invest through Betterment — instead, it’s designed to be a more traditional checking account.

However, Betterment does have a feature called the two-way sweep, which determines how much extra money you have in your Betterment Checking account and moves it to your Betterment Cash Reserve account (a type of savings account) so it can earn interest.

Neither Acorns nor Betterment has an ATM network, but they both offer unlimited ATM reimbursements. The main difference is that Betterment refunds an ATM fee almost instantly, while Acorns pays back all your fees at the end of the month.

Unlike Acorns, Betterment Checking is free to use. Your decision between an Acorns Spend Account and Betterment Checking Account will probably come down to whether you want a traditional checking account or one that helps you invest.

Acorns Spend vs. Stash

Like Acorns, Stash is an online micro-investing company that has created a checking account to help users invest smarter. 

A Stash bank account offers Stock-Back rewards. If you make a purchase at Amazon, for example, then Stash invests 0.125% of your purchase in a fraction of an Amazon stock. If you spend money with a company that doesn’t have a partnership with Stash, then Stash invests in an ETF related to the industry you spent money with.

You can access a Stash bank account for $1 per month, or upgrade to $3 or $9 per month plans to access more features.

Acorns does not have an ATM network, but it offers unlimited reimbursements for ATM fees. Stash does have in-network ATMs, but the company charges $2.50 when you use an out-of-network ATM. (Plus, you’ll pay whatever the ATM provider charges.) 

If you think you’ll use ATMs a lot, you might prefer Acorns Spend. But Stash will front you the money from your paycheck, allowing you to “receive” it two days early, so if you want faster access to your funds, you may choose Stash.