The Best Robo-Advisors in the USA for 2021

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There are a myriad of investment options available to citizens of the United States: trusts, bonds, equities, stocks, real estate, mutual funds, and much more. But for new, inexperienced investors, starting can be an overwhelming experience.

That's where robo-advisors come in. Merely a decade old, but well established in America's wealth management market, robo-advisors are helping close the divide between the novice investor and their opportunity to increase their wealth, with the best robo-advisors in the USA among the top available in the world.

Since anyone can start investing, robo-advisors are becoming more commonplace among Americans looking for a hands-off, low-cost approach to investing to help them reach their long-term financial goals.

In this Wealth Rocket guide, we'll detail the best robo-advisors in the USA. You’ll also find reviews, along with educational content to help steer amateur investors (and their finances) in the right direction.

The Best Robo-Advisors in the USA for 2021

Below, you'll find the best robo-advisors in the USA. While the list below includes some of America's best robo-advising platforms, it is important to do your research when shopping for a wealth management platform.

However, most robo-advisors typically act as a catch-all for the average novice investor's needs. You'll want to pay attention mostly to fees when looking through the list below.

1. Best Robo-Advisor in the USA: Betterment

  • Fees: Digital Investing Package: 0.25%* and Premium Investing Package: 0.40%*
  • Minimum Investment: None
  • Minimum Balance: None for Digital Investing Package, $100,000 for Premium Investing Package
  • Portfolio Realancing: Automatic
  • Online Interface: Yes
  • Mobile App: Yes

Betterment is a New York-based robo-advisor in operation since 2008. It is the first robo-advisor to come into existence.

Today, Betterment’s reputation and trustworthiness are well established among many investors in the United States. As of 2021, the financial planning service manages $29 billion in assets for 600,000 American customers.

It’s no surprise, either. Betterment’s pricing provides a low-cost wealth management service accessible to most Americans, with outstanding ease-of-access tailored to new investors.

Betterment offers two Digital Investment and Premium Investment packages: The Digital package, which comes with an annual fee of 0.25%* and no minimum investment, and the Premium package, which charges an annual fee of 0.40%* and requires a minimum balance of $100,000.

Betterment builds custom portfolios on behalf of the investor, tailored to their financial goals. It also offers a Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) portfolio option, which offers portfolios that prioritize sustainability. The financial service has evolved beyond a robo-advisor since its humble beginnings.

Betterment now provides additional spending and saving options, such as a no-fee checking and saving account.

*Rates current as of July 2021

2. Best Robo-Advisor for Fees: Wealthfront

  • Fees: 0.25%*
  • Minimum Investment: $500
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Portfolio Rebalancing: Automatic
  • Online Interface: Yes
  • Mobile App: Yes

Wealthfront is a financial management platform operating out of Palo Alto, California. In operation since 2008, it is one of the first robo-advisors to go into business in the United States.

As of 2020, Wealthfront manages over $15.8 billion in assets for 400,000 customers. (Imagine finding that between couch cushions next time you’re looking for change for the vending machine!)

This digital wealth management platform helps passive investors build investment portfolios that cater to specific goals, such as retirement, education planning, home-ownership, and more.

The service also provides tax-loss harvesting for all investment accounts, with no minimum account requirement.

Wealthfront touts a 0.25%* advisory fee, said to be lower than a quarter of its competition. Additional fees charged from your investment earnings range between 0.06%* to 0.17%*, depending on how much you have invested.

For example, if you invest $1,000, Wealthfront will charge you $0.25* per month in advisory fees and about $0.07*.

Wealthfront also offers several additional spending, saving, investing, and borrowing products or services. One of its most popular products is its free checking account, which comes with no fees and unlimited transfers, and compatibility with applications such as Venmo, Cash App, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal.

For those looking to keep all of their banking and investing products under one roof, Wealthfront is definitely a worthy option.

Keep in mind that there is a minimum investment requirement of $500 to open a Wealthfront account.

*Rates current as of July 2021

3. Best Robo-Advisor for High Investment Balances: Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

  • Fees: 0.25%*
  • Minimum Investment: $5,000 for Intelligent Portfolio, $25,000 for Premium Portfolio
  • Minimum Balance: $5,000 for Intelligent Portfolio, $25,000 for Premium Portfolio
  • Portfolio Rebalancing: Automatic
  • Online Interface: Yes
  • Mobile App: Yes

Charles Schwab is a heavyweight in America’s financial market. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, Charles Schwab is the 11th largest bank in the United States, currently managing over $3 trillion in assets.

The bank and asset management firm offers a robo-advising service called Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. It provides various low-cost ETF portfolios, with investing options suitable for retirement, education planning, home purchase, and more.

Charles Schwab offers two investing tiers: Intelligent and Premium.

Intelligent Portfolios come with no advisory fees or commissions, with the exception of a management expense ratio of 0.11%*.

Premium Portfolios charge a flat rate of $30* each month, with access to certified financial planners. This package comes with a one-time advisory fee of $300 and requires a minimum deposit of $25,000.

Tax-loss harvesting is available for portfolios with a balance of $50,000 or more.

Both accounts come with free automatic rebalancing and 24/7 customer service to all of its customers.

As you can probably tell, Charles Schwab Intelligent Portfolios is best suited for investors who have larger sums of money and who are a little more familiar with investing.

If you have a large amount of money to invest, Charles Schwab might be a suitable option for you.

*Rates current as of July 2021

4. Best Robo-Advisor for Beginners: SoFi Wealth

  • Fees: None
  • Minimum Investment: $5
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Portfolio Rebalancing: Automatic
  • Mobile App: Yes
  • Online Interface: Yes

SoFi (Social Finance) is a financial service based in San Francisco, California. When it opened its doors in 2011, SoFi issued student loans.

Today, SoFi provides an impressive line of low-fee financial products, including SoFi Automated Investing, its robo-advisor.

As of 2021, the wealth management firm has over $12 billion in assets under management.

SoFi Wealth is an accessible and user-friendly wealth platform for investors seeking a hands-off investing experience.

Custom portfolios are pre-built on behalf of clients after they’ve answered a brief questionnaire assessing the purpose of their saving goals and diversified according to their risk tolerance.

SoFi charges no management fees, with a low-cost fee expense ratio starting at 0.25%*.

Plus, at no additional charge, SoFi provides access to a dedicated team of financial advisors.

A minimum investment of $5.00* is required to open a SoFi Wealth investing account. There is an account closing fee of $75*, however.

*Rates current as of July 2021

5. Best Robo-Advisor for IRA Investing: Ellevest

  • Fees: $1, $3, $9
  • Minimum Investment: None
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Portfolio Rebalancing: Automatic
  • Mobile App: Yes
  • Online Interface: Yes

Ellevest is a New York-based investing platform that takes a unique approach to automated wealth management in big ways. Founded in 2014, Ellevest’s approach to financial management is created for women by women and focuses on closing the gender divide in the investing space.

According to Ellevest, women typically retire with 1/3 less than their male counterparts, which is why it dedicates its services to women, though anyone can join.

Anyone is welcome to use the platform, and their pricing is suitable for those looking to keep their expenses low and their returns high.

Ellevest’s wealth management platform provides low-cost investing and banking solutions that make the platform incredibly appealing to all investors.

Their robo-advising service comes at three tiers with flat-rate pricing, monthly pricing of $1, $5, and $9. Ellevest includes an MER that spans anywhere between 0.05%* to 0.19%*. There are no minimum investment requirements to start investing with Ellevest.

These pricing tiers all offer different solutions, such as access to workshops and dedicated financial planners with additional features exclusive to Ellevest. Higher pricing tiers offer retirement planning and multi-goal investing.

In 2020, Ellevest won the title of Best Robo-Advisor for IRA Investing from Nerdwallet.com.

*Rates current as of July 2021

6. Best Value Robo-Advisor: Acorns Invest

  • Fees: $1* to $5*
  • Minimum Investment: None
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Portfolio Rebalancing: Automatic
  • Mobile App: Yes
  • Online Interface: Yes

Acorns is a financial technology company operating out of Irving, California. They provide a vast array of financial products, such as spending and saving accounts and various self-directed and automated investing options. As of 2020, the fintech company managed approximately $3 billion for 8.2 million investors.

As a full-fledged financial institution, Acorns provides various exciting products, including a robo-advising service known as Acorn Invest.

Acorn Invest offers investing options such as assets and diversified portfolios. They also provide Socially Responsible Investing portfolios.

Pricing with Acorns comes at a tiered, flat rate, with monthly fees ranging between $1 and $5 each month.

Depending on the plan the investor choose, each tier provides a different variety of tools and options.

Acorn Invest offers Lite pricing at $1* per month, which comes with a taxable account and basic features.

The Personal pricing plan, at $3* per month, offers investors guidance for retirement planning.

Family, the most expensive tier, at $5* per month, offers investment management options for children and includes the perks mentioned previously.

Acorn Invest customers also have access to a financial advisor team who can provide portfolio analysis and help steer new customers in the right direction.

There is no minimum investment required to start investing with Acorns.

*Rates current as of July 2021

7. Best Robo-Advisor for Large Deposits: Personal Capital

  • Fees: 0.49%* to 0.89%*
  • Minimum Investment: $100,000
  • Minimum Balance: None
  • Portfolio Rebalancing: Automatic
  • Mobile App: Yes
  • Online Interface: Yes

Personal Capital is a wealth management organization and robo-advisor based in Redwood Shores, California.

As of February 2021, the firm manages around $7 billion in assets for 24,200 customers.

What makes Personal Capital shine is the full access to investment and financial planning tools that they provide customers, including retirement planning, net worth analysis, investing fee analysis, and more.

Personal Capital offers various investment options for people looking to invest large sums of money, with Private and Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) options available.

Fees are higher than regular robo-advisors, sitting at 0.49%* to 0.89%*, but comes with a dedicated portfolio manager.

Furthermore, the minimum investment required to open a Personal Capital account is $100,000.

Investing over $200,000 into an account will come with two financial advisors.

*Rates current as of July 2021

What is a Robo-Advisor?

A robo-advisor is a wealth management platform that uses a computer-driven algorithm to invest on behalf of its clients. It has nothing to do with Robocop, unfortunately. Not the reboot, nor the original.

Robo-advisors create portfolios on behalf of investors according to their financial goals and risk capacity.

Financial goals typically include saving for a down payment, saving for education, and retirement, among many other life goals.

Risk Capacity illustrates a person's ability to handle losses. Most, if not all, robo-advisors will allow customers to set their risk capacity when signing up and building a portfolio.

Robo-Advisors invest in low-cost Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), which act as a basket of different securities and investments, such as stocks and bonds.

Unlike (human) financial advisors, robo-advisors do not come with active management by one individual, leading to lower annual fees. This makes robo-advisors a cost-effective option for beginners or passive investors.

Robo-advisors offer investment solutions that are customer-focused and cost-effective, without the investing jargon. They really have something for everybody.

How to Choose a Robo-Advisor

There are a few aspects to consider before pursuing any of the choices for best robo-advisors that are listed above, so don't jump the gun!

Considering that, you, the investor, will likely invest over several years or throughout an entire lifetime, finding the right robo-advisor can save you time and money.

Here’s what to consider when choosing a robo-advisor.

1. Fees

Fees come with almost anything and make up the most important part of any purchasing decision. Robo-advisors are no different. After all, fees stand between the investor and the maximization of their investment return.

Fortunately for Americans, robo-advisors are generally very affordable. In the United States, robo-advisors come with two types of fees: management fees and brokerage fees.

A Management Expense Ratio (MER) is a percentile paid to the manager of the ETF portfolio, while the brokerage fees are the cost paid to the robo-advisor for providing the service.

Some robo-advisors charge a flat brokerage fee to manage a portfolio. Depending on the amount invested, this might be the more cost-effective option but may omit some features.

Since robo-advisors have little overhead, they're able to undercut the high cost of financial advisors. Additionally, the wealth management space is competitive, which permits plenty of low-cost options. That said, it pays to compare.

2. Minimum Investment Requirements

A minimum investment is often (but not always) required to open an account with a robo-advisor. It is the lowest amount that a customer is required to invest when opening an account.

New investors will quickly learn whether they can open an account with or without a minimum investment.

In some cases, minimum investments can be as low as $1. In other cases, they can equal the GOP of a small country. We're kidding, but it’s important to determine the minimum investment required of you before you sign up with any robo-advisor.

3. Accessibility

Robo-advisors are undoubtedly ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and finance, with all providing online and mobile access to their services.

However, some robo-advisors might not be able to accommodate both. Consider online and mobile access, and if the latter supports iOS or Android.

4. Customer Support

As a new and inexperienced investor, access to customer support is crucial when shopping for a robo-advisor.

Most digital advisors offer telephone, e-mail, or online chat to their customers. You may also want to consider if the robo-investing service provides access to financial planners or financial advisors.

While services like these go against what robo-advisors are about, they are becoming more commonplace as additional services are provided.

While seldom, some robo-advising services might even provide in-person consulting.

5. Promotions

In this emerging and highly competitive space, there is no shortage of robo-advisor promotions.Wealth management services are brimming with sign-up offers ready to earn customers’ business.

Often, promotions include free trading or consultations, discounts on pricing, or additional perks.The most common, however, is usually free management for the first year or up to a certain balance.

Our Final Thoughts

Robo-advisors are suitable for beginner investors who don’t know much about self-directed investing. Wealth management platforms help bridge this gap by creating an accessible means to investing, since robo-advisors invest in stocks, bonds, and other investments on your behalf.

Portfolios are pre-built to fit their specific investing goals with immense accuracy, with the investment decisions made on behalf of the investor.

Novices don’t need much to get started, either. All robo-investing platforms facilitate online registration, with many omitting a minimum investment requirement. That means anyone can start investing immediately.

Likewise, the sign-up process is catered to beginners. Robo-advisors ask new investors a series of questions that pertain to their unique financial situation and long-term investing goals.

The wealth management service builds a portfolio according to their risk tolerance, which determines how much they’ll risk. And, unlike stocks, robo-advisors require little monitoring and decision-making on behalf of the client, making them a great low-cost investment option for beginners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. robo-advisors are worth it. Generally speaking, robo-advisors are incredibly affordable and easy to use. They're best suited for those who aren't incredibly familiar with self-directed investing and better for those who prefer to let someone else do the heavy lifting and decision making.

Yes is the short answer. Robo-advisors are safe. Investments in a robo-advisor are protected with insurance that comes included at no cost to the investor. However, investing comes with its own risk, regardless of the platform that you're using. That means robo-advisors are safe to use but still susceptible to changes in the market.

Do robo-advisors beat the market? It depends. Since robo-advisors replicate the market, it is difficult to outperform them, as this report by Vanguard illustrates.