Online brokers are plentiful, but most limit their focus to investing only. M1 Finance and Stash, on the other hand, combine stock investing with critical banking services to serve as holistic financial platforms. Both M1 Finance and Stash enable you to invest in thousands of stocks and ETFs while also equipping you with a checking account and debit card.
However, there are important differences between these two platforms, such as how the investing process works. We’ll compare M1 Finance vs. Stash so you can decide which service is right for you.
About M1 Finance And Stash
M1 Finance launched in 2015 to help users – in particular, Millennials – manage their money between banking and investing. The platform emphasizes flexibility, giving clients the freedom to build custom investments while also making it easy to get started with expert-curated portfolios. M1 Finance now has over 500,000 users and more than $2 billion in assets under management.
Stash was also founded in 2015 with similar goals in mind. The platform also enables users to invest in individual stocks and ETFs while offering integrated bank accounts. Stash has over 5 million users and around $1.8 billion in assets under management.
Both M1 Finance and Stash offer individual and joint investing accounts, traditional and Roth IRAs, and trust accounts to invest on behalf of your children.
M1 Finance vs. Stash: What Can You Invest In?
M1 Finance and Stash both enable you to invest in stocks and ETFs. The two platforms offer a very wide selection: M1 Finance has more than 6,000 stocks and funds, while Stash has around 1,800 stocks and funds. Most of the stocks available are for US companies, although ETFs offer access to international and emerging markets. You can invest in fractional shares of any stock or ETF with both platforms.
One of the big differences between M1 Finance and Stash is in their curated funds. M1 Finance offers nearly 100 expert-curated portfolios, which are meant to stand on their own as fully diversified investments. These can be paired with any individual stocks or ETFs for customization.
Stash, on the other hand, offers dozens of thematic ETFs in categories such as video gaming, social responsibility, and artificial intelligence. You can find highly diversified ETFs that can serve as one-click portfolios on Stash, but these were not curated specifically by Stash, and there are only four of them to choose from.
M1 Finance vs. Stash: Auto-investing Features
Once you’ve set up your portfolio, M1 Finance, and Stash are designed to help you automatically invest and stay on track over time. While you can easily make changes to your portfolios, both services offer tools so that, to a large extent, you never need to log into your account to grow your investment.
To start, both platforms allow you to set up recurring investments from your checking account. The money is automatically invested in the stocks and ETFs that are already in your portfolio, so your investments grow without changing over time.
M1 Finance uses new funds to boost underperforming stocks in your portfolio, helping you rebalance without selling off assets. However, this approach also means that you’re putting money into underperforming assets, which is less than ideal. Stash simply invests your money proportionally and then rebalances your portfolio once specific boundaries are reached.
Stash also offers roundups if you use the platform’s checking account and debit card. Say you spend $0.70 on a purchase. Stash will automatically round the total to $1 and deposit the $0.30 difference in your investing account for investment. Stash also has a ‘smart’ feature that monitors your checking account balance and automatically transfers money to your investing account when you spend less than average.
M1 Finance vs. Stash: Banking Integration
Part of what sets M1 Finance apart from other brokers is the fact that they integrate banking services with your investing account.
Both platforms offer fee-free checking accounts and debit cards. M1 Finance offers 1% cashback on debit card purchases and 1% APY on your account balance if you sign up for a Plus subscription. Stash has a unique reward system for its debit card, which gives you 0.125% back in stock from the company where you made a purchase. If you make a purchase at a company that’s not publicly listed, you can put the rewards towards any stock of your choice.
One of the most intriguing things about M1 Finance is that this platform allows you to borrow money against your investment account – something that very few brokers allow. You can borrow 35% of your account’s value with no paperwork and no credit check, and use the money for anything you want. M1 Finance charges 3.5% interest rates for free users or 2% for Plus clients. Be very cautious around this feature, though, as it’s similar to buying stocks on margin. Parts of your portfolio could be sold off to cover your loan if your account value falls, even if you’re making payments on time.
M1 Finance vs. Stash: Pricing And Plans
M1 Finance offers two plans: M1 Basic and M1 Plus. The M1 Basic account is completely free, with no hidden fees or commissions. An M1 Plus subscription costs $125 per year and includes banking benefits like 1% cashback on debit card purchases and a reduced interest rate for loans.
Stash has three plans: Beginner, Growth, and Stash+. The Beginner plan costs $1 per month and gives you access to all of Stash, but you can only open a standard investing account. The Growth plan costs $3 per month and enables you to open an IRA. The Stash+ plan costs $9 per month and allows you to open trust accounts for your children, plus includes bonuses when you use your debit card at partner stores.
Which Service Is Better?
On the whole, we think M1 Finance is a better choice for most investors than Stash. M1 Finance has a wider selection of stocks and ETFs to invest in, plus professionally crafted portfolios to help you get started. Keeping your portfolio balanced with M1 Finance is also simpler since the platform doesn’t sell off assets – which can have unintended tax consequences – to keep your portfolio on track. Perhaps most important, an M1 Basic account is free, whereas a Stash Beginner account costs $1 per month.
In terms of banking features, M1 Finance and Stash are closely matched. M1 Finance’s 1% cashback reward is better than Stash’s 0.125% stock-back reward, both because you get more back and because cash can be invested in anything you want. M1 Finance’s option to borrow against your account also opens a lot of financial possibilities, although you should be very careful when taking out a loan against your savings.
M1 Finance And Stash Alternatives
Wealthfront and Betterment each charge a 0.50% annual fee to invest in one of their managed portfolios, while M1 Finance gives you access to curated portfolios for free. M1 Finance also gives you a huge degree of freedom to customize your portfolio, whereas you’re limited to the ready-made options with Wealthfront and Betterment.
Conclusion: M1 Finance vs. Stash
M1 Finance and Stash both offer highly flexible brokerage accounts that integrate banking services to manage your entire financial well-being. While there’s plenty to like about Stash, we think M1 Finance is a stronger service overall. M1 Finance offers a wider range of stocks and funds, a better banking rewards program, and a fee-free account option. Still undecided? Check out our full review of M1 Finance here and our full review of Stash here to learn more about each option.