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Robo-advisors are an increasingly popular service for investors looking for a simple, approachable way to strategically manage their money. But how do you find the best robo-advisors when new robos consistently come onto the market?

MagnifyMoney is here to help. We’ve evaluated multiple robo-advisors on a wide range of criteria that we feel matters most to you. These criteria include fees, minimum investment, portfolio and investment options and more.

After crunching the numbers, our choice for best overall robo-advisor in August is Betterment.

Comparing the best robo-advisors

Robo-advisor Minimum opening deposit Annual management fee Access to financial advisor
Betterment $10 0.25% (0.40% for premium) Yes, as part of premium services or for a separate cost
Wealthfront $500 0.25% Yes
SoFi $1 None Yes
SigFig $2,000 None up to $10,000; 0.25% for above $10,000 Yes, as part of premium services
Ally Invest $100 None with cash managed portfolio, otherwise 0.30% No
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios $5,000 None Yes, as part of premium services
Ellevest $0 Three tiers of services with monthly / annual subscriptions Yes, for a separate cost

Best overall: Betterment

Betterment Holdings Inc. Minimum deposit: $0 for Digital, $100,000 for Premium
Annual management fee: 0.25% for Digital, 0.40% for Premium

Betterment is a well-established robo-advisor platform that provides two tiers of services. The Digital package has no minimum balance requirement and a lower management fee; meanwhile, the Premium package has a higher minimum balance requirement, but offers unlimited access to certified financial planners — a benefit that would otherwise come at an additional cost.

Betterment is a strong choice if you’d prefer to set your goals and have a robo do the rest: Betterment automatically rebalances your portfolio, reinvests dividends and uses tax loss harvesting to minimize tax burdens if you open a taxable investment account. There’s a solid degree of flexibility, as Betterment allows you to adjust your portfolio based on your time horizon and risk tolerance.

Account types offered:

  • Individual and joint taxable accounts
  • Trust accounts
  • Traditional individual retirement arrangements (IRAs)
  • Roth IRAs
  • Simplified employee pension (SEP) IRAs
  • Inherited IRAs

Portfolio options: Betterment offers portfolios focused on exchange traded funds (ETFs), in addition to all-cash and all-bond options and flexible portfolios that allow you to adjust your asset allocation.

Bottom line: Betterment’s management fee (0.25% for most customers) is about average for robo-advisors, and the platform should be a strong consideration if you’re looking to get started with your first robo-advisor.

Read our full Betterment review.

Best for goal tracking: Wealthfront

Wealthfront Advisers LLC Minimum deposit: $500
Annual management fee: 0.25%

Setting goals is one of the most important parts of financial planning, and Wealthfront’s robo-advisor platform offers a considerable amount of detail in crafting your financial future. By detailing your goals around retirement, home ownership, college expenses or travel planning, Wealthfront factors in plenty of data points to determine appropriate investing targets. Wealthfront also illustrates the trade-offs of certain goal-setting, saving and investment strategies.

Wealthfront automates its platform heavily, although there is the option to talk to a product specialist if you have technical questions. There are some standard features to their portfolio management, including tax-loss harvesting and the ability to customize portfolios manually. Unlike many other automated investing platforms, Wealthfront allows you to invest in cryptocurrency through unit investment trusts (UITs).

Account types offered:

  • Individual and joint taxable accounts
  • Trust accounts
  • 529 savings plans
  • Traditional IRAs
  • Roth IRAs
  • SEP IRAs

Portfolio options: Wealthfront provides clients with recommended and customized portfolios based on customer preference — and it offers more types of asset classes than most other robo-advisors.

Bottom line: Even though most customers won’t use Wealthfront’s tools for high net worth individuals, it’s still a great platform if you’d like a comprehensive view of your financial goals.

Read our full Wealthfront review.

Best for beginners: SoFi

SoFi Securities LLC Minimum deposit: $1
Annual management fee: None

SoFi is a financial institution that offers many forms of traditional banking services, including mortgages and other lending, but it’s not a bank or a credit union — it works by connecting members to those entities. Its SoFi Automated Investing platform is a free robo-advisor brokerage account.

That free management compensates for some of SoFi’s drawbacks — namely its lack of tax-loss harvesting and the limited number of recommended portfolios available. However, SoFi does offer free access to financial professionals.

Account types offered:

  • Individual and joint taxable accounts
  • Traditional IRAs
  • Roth IRAs
  • SEP IRAs

Portfolio options: SoFi measures risk tolerance and recommends one of five ETF-focused portfolio types accordingly.

Bottom line: Because of its low fees — the expense ratio on investments and taxes on dividends are the only costs for members — and as a straightforward platform, SoFi is a solid choice if you’re a newer investor.

Read our full SoFi review.

Best for established investors: SigFig

SigFig Wealth Management, LLC Minimum deposit: $2,000
Annual management fee: None up to $10,000; 0.25% on balances above $10,000

Unlike many other robo-advisors, SigFig actually holds its money with different brokerage firms, including TD Ameritrade, Fidelity and Charles Schwab. It’s a financial service that uses robo-advisor technology to help optimize your asset allocation strategy, and can aggregate information from existing accounts at those brokerages.

SigFig has no management fees for balances under $10,000, but there’s a relatively high minimum in order to get started with a new account: $2,000. Unlike many other robo-advisors, SigFig doesn’t offer a cash management account for funds that aren’t being invested.

SigFig also gives you access to financial advisors to help further hone your financial goals.

Account types offered:

  • Individual and joint taxable accounts
  • Traditional IRAs
  • Roth IRAs
  • SEP IRAs

Portfolio options: SigFig invests money in nine different asset classes and features ETFs from several brokerage firms, including those with which the money is invested.

Bottom line: If you already have money invested with TD Ameritrade, Fidelity or Charles Schwab, SigFig’s services are easy to incorporate into your investment strategy.

Best for cash-heavy investing: Ally Invest

Ally Financial Inc. Minimum deposit: $100
Annual management fee: None with cash-enhanced portfolio, 0.30% with market-focused portfolio

Ally Bank has expanded into brokerage services, including a robo-advisor platform and some tools for self-directed investment. Ally incentivizes you to hold a significant percentage of your assets (at least 30%) in a cash management account with the bank and rewards you with a 0.00% management fee for doing so; otherwise, their 0.30% management fee is fairly steep among robo-advisors.

Your portfolio will be designed by a human specialist, but implementation is automated. Ally Invest works like most robo-advisors: You’ll information about your goals and preferences, and the algorithms take care of the rest.

Account types offered:

  • Individual, joint and custodial taxable accounts
  • Traditional IRAs
  • Roth IRAs
  • Coverdell education savings accounts

Portfolio options: Ally features four types of portfolios — the core offering (with your choice of conservative to aggressive risk) and three additional portfolios specifically focused on income, taxes and socially responsible investments.

Bottom line: If you’d prefer to hold some of your assets in cash, Ally is a strong choice, offering no management fees for those with a cash management account.

Best for low fees: Schwab Intelligent Portfolios

The Charles Schwab Corporation Minimum deposit: $5,000
Annual management fee: None

Charles Schwab offers a range of financial services, including brokerage accounts, several kinds of investments and banking services. Their robo-advisor platform, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, has a high minimum deposit to open an account, but it also comes with no advisory fees or trading commissions.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios actively manages investments and automatically rebalances them, but doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting on balances under $50,000.

Unless you subscribe to this robo’s premium version, you won’t be able to contact one of Schwab’s financial planners. However, to join the premium option, there’s an opening deposit minimum of $25,000. You’ll also need to pay a one-time planning fee of $300 and a $30 monthly ongoing advisory fee.

Account types offered:

  • Individual and joint taxable accounts
  • Tenants in common, custodial, community property and revocable living trust taxable accounts
  • Traditional IRAs
  • Roth IRAs
  • Inherited IRAs
  • SEP IRAs

Portfolio options: There are three basic investment strategies: global, U.S.-focused and income focused. Schwab Intelligent Portfolios chooses from among 51 ETFs for those portfolios.

Bottom line: Schwab’s many brokerage and investment services make their Intelligent Portfolios an appealing choice if you prefer a robo-advisor, but feel like you may eventually need more comprehensive financial planning services.

Best for women-focused investing: Ellevest

Ellevest Minimum deposit: $0
Annual management fee: $12 for Essential (or $1 per month); $54 for Plus (or $5 per month); $97 for Executive (or $9 per month)

Ellevest focuses its marketing on women, but there’s no gender restrictions to who can join.

There are three tiers of service at Ellevest, each offering progressively more advanced features. The most basic service — Ellevest Essential —- includes access to their robo-advisor services, but Ellevest Plus adds retirement planning and Ellevest Executive adds additional accounts for separate investment goals.

One-on-one sessions with a financial advisor are offered at a fixed cost, but there are progressively higher levels of discounts on these services for each type of membership, culminating at 50% off for Executive members.

Account types offered:

  • Individual taxable accounts
  • Traditional IRAs
  • Roth IRAs
  • SEP IRAs

Portfolio options: Ellevest has investment portfolio options, including Ellevest Core and Ellevest Impact, covering 21 different asset classes. In particular, Impact is geared toward socially responsible investing. Most portfolios are made up of ETFs.

Bottom line: In a space often dominated by men, Ellevest is a refreshing robo-advisor geared toward women investors and anyone who connects with their message.

Other robo-advisors to consider

MagnifyMoney reviewed several other robo-advisors that didn’t quite make our list, but still bear mention as alternatives to the automated investing platforms chosen above. Those robo-advisors are:

How we chose the best robo-advisors

MagnifyMoney evaluated several robo-advisors to compile a list of the best overall robo-advisors. While we’ve noted particular strengths and weaknesses for each platform, they’re judged on the entire suite of services they offer, especially costs to investors and the minimum required deposit to start an account.

MagnifyMoney assessed annual management fees, expense ratios for moderate risk portfolios and other metrics that gauge the comparative costs of robo-advisors, choosing accounts with reasonable costs and fees. In order to provide a list of robo-advisors that are broadly accessible to most investors, MagnifyMoney considered only those with a minimum of at most $10,000 to open an account.

Frequently asked questions

Robo-advisors are a cost effective approach to investing. They’re cheaper than most financial professionals and can help guide those who are new to the world of investing or have standard financial goals.

Robo-advisor performance relative to the market depends on which stock indexes are used as a frame of reference and what kind of risk mitigation approach is chosen by the investor. Some robo-advisors publish detailed information on the returns their portfolios have had over the years.

Yes, robo-advisors can help ensure that your investments are tailored to maximizing return within your risk tolerance. While there are some costs associated with robo-advisors, they’re a valuable service when it comes to structuring your investment portfolio.

The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.

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