Welcome to the world of app-based Investing 101, made for newbies who wouldn’t know an ETF from ET himself.
Today we are comparing two apps that make the act of saving money as simple and painless as possible. Our first contestant is Acorns, which is the spare change round up investing app. Then we have the rival Qapital, an IFTTT logic based money saving/investing app.
Qapital is a banking app offering a full menu of services, while Acorns is an online robo advisor that lets you micro-invest with pennies. Literally.
Years ago, investing was reserved for the high net worth individuals who had thousands of dollars to invest in the stock market. Today, there are countless investing apps that allow you to invest with little to no fees.
Both Acorns and Qapital offer some features above and beyond the average app, so both charge a subscription fee for the service.
Although both have their merits, in a pinch, if we were forced to choose, we’d go with Acorns. They are very user-friendly and have lower membership fees.Qapital charges anywhere from $3 to $12 per month. Acorns, on the other hand, charges $1 to $3 per month. Both of these apps are designed for people who have difficulty saving and investing money.
However, the most important part is keeping more of your money invested and paying less in fees.
It is also worth mentioning that you need to be in the $6 a month plan in order to invest with Qapital. The basic plan only allows for saving. Acorns is an investing app at its core, and you can invest with any of the plans ranging from $1 to $3 per month.
What Is Qapital?
Qapital has its roots in basic mathematics. But don't worry, you don't need to be a math wiz. They do the hard work for you. They do not have a "one size fits all" approach to saving money.
Instead, they offer many different methods for saving money. The idea behind these methods is that Qapital is saving money for you in small chunks at a time. In fact, you might not even know that you are saving money!
Consider the following:
If you deposit $20 each week for 10 years, you could have $14,369 with an investment growing at a rate of 7% a year, as compared to $10,400 on a traditional savings account. (This calculation is based on weekly contributions with zero withdrawals).
This is the power of not only saving your money, but also investing your money.
Qapital is a full-service fin tech app that has successfully guided hundreds of thousands of users to stow away an average of $1,500 to $5,000 a year.
According to company reps, Qapital “empowers people to maximize their happiness by saving, spending and investing with their goals in mind.”
How Does Qapital Work?
The Qapital Spending Account, which links to the Qapital Visa Debit Card, is a checking account in your name with a participating bank, designed to help you track your weekly and monthly spending habits. It can also keep track of certain spending categories, and this can be useful when combined with the IFTTT logic.
For example, you can tell Qapital to "move $1 to savings every time you go to Starbucks."
Good news: there are no account setup or overdraft fees.
More good news: you have unlimited immediate transfers to and from your Qapital Goals account, and you can set up direct deposit to pour money into your spending account.
Once you have that spending account set up, you will answer a handful of questions designed to gauge which portfolio fits you best for your investments.
The Qapital Invest account was created to help members obtain longer-term goals, such as buying a first home, taking a trip to Tahiti, or anything else you can come up with. Your money is held in an Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) portfolio based on the risk level you are can handle without losing sleep because you’re so worried.
Qapital touts the importance of diversifying, which is spreading money across a variety of different investments so that one plunging stock or bond can be offset by a thriving ETF.
Your earned dividends will be distributed depending on the schedules of each individual fund. For the 12 ETFs in Qapital portfolios, each stock fund has quarterly distributions, and each bond fund sends dividends monthly.
Read this carefully, because this is important: All dividends you receive will be automatically reinvested.
We say “bravo” to Qapital for this policy. It makes far more financial sense to keep putting your money back to work for you, rather than – gasp – pocketing your earned dividends and spending it.
Reinvesting also gives you the massive benefit of compounding, which perpetually increases the value of your assets. It’s also a great way to set yourself up for long-term growth.
Brief History Of Qapital
Way back in 2009, an engaged couple, both budding entrepreneurs, George Friedman, and Katherine Salisbury were trying to save up for their wedding, a vacation, a piano, and also to have a rainy-day fund.
According to Qapital press, the couple opened 13 accounts but found them all lacking flexibility, practicality and motivational tools.
While working at a Scandinavian bank, Friedman met Erik Akertin, who in time became co-founder and CTO for Qapital. Their mission? To prove that you can manage everyday expenses without skimping, while still having the foresight to invest wisely for longer-term goals. And also…to give people a “harmonious app” for “money confidence.”
Hmmm. We’ll leave the harmonizing to you because our singing voices tend to be pitchy.
All of the plans come with the following features:
- You can create as many savings goals as you want.
- IFTTT logic can be used to automate your savings.
- Unlimited transfers.
- FDIC insured accounts.
Basic members pay $3 per month and save an average of $1,500 annually.
Complete members pay $6 per month, saving an average of $4,300.
As an added benefit, Complete members also get the Spending tools offered by Qapital. This includes a debit card, the Payday Divvy feature and the Spending Sweet Spot feature. You also have access to Qapital Invest in this tier.
And finally, join the Master membership for $12 a month and see an average of $5,000 a year saved.
This plan comes with all of the features mentioned so far, as well as Money Missions and access to the latest and greatest features. These money missions turn saving money into a game. For example, one of these missions could be to "prep your meals for the week ahead."
Rules, Rules, Rules!
In a sea of user-friendly apps, there are a lot of steps to follow to make Qapital part of your life.
Their list of “rules” is meant to make saving and investing flexible and straightforward, but you have to take several actions to get them started.
Here is a partial list of saving “rules”:
- The 52 Week Rule: Save $1 week 1, $2 week 2, etc. Do this every week for a year, and you can save $1,378.00
- The Spend Less Rule: Funnels money towards your goals when you come in under your budget at a specified merchant.
- Round-Up Rule: Every time you make a purchase with a linked account, Qapital will round up your purchase to a whole number, with the loose change sent to your goals account.
- The Set & Forget Rule: You determine a set amount of money that goes towards your goals daily, weekly, or monthly.
There is, however, an intelligent trigger for saving money called the “IFTTT” rule (we don’t know what that stands for, and to some degree don’t care!)
This kicks in savings activity based on what’s happening on social media sites. For example, you can save every time Jennifer Lopez tweets, the Yankees win, or a record snowstorm hits the Midwest. Go ahead. Go crazy.
Company info tells us Qapital employs behavioral science as an integral part of its foundation, making it enjoyable, rather than a dreaded chore, to save and invest without breaking a budget.
Can stay within a budget, spending wisely and investing smartly be fun? We agree with Qapital and say, absolutely, it can be.
What Is Acorns?
Acorns is an online robo advisor that allows you to start your portfolio with spare change, actually activated by spending money.
When you buy those windshield wipers or frosted donut or day pass to the YMCA, the platform rounds up your purchases to the next dollar, then funnels it into your Acorns portfolio. Acorns offers 5 different investment portfolios that hold low fee index funds. These portfolios range from conservative for the faint of heart to aggressive for those who want to maximize risk and potential returns.
At what cost, you may ask. No, not the wipers. The Acorns platform. You can join for a monthly fee of $1 for Acorns Core, the primary offering. If you want to unlock some additional features, like retirement accounts, you will need to upgrade to one of the $2 or $3 per month plans. More on this later.
How Does Acorns Work?
Acorns Core makes micro-investing possible for as little as one cent. Buy something for 99 cents, and Acorns will round it up to $1, with that extra coin tossed into your investment account.
This real loose change comes from any purchases made from a linked debit or credit card or even your PayPal wallet.
Once your round-ups total a paltry $5, the money is rolling from your linked checking account into investments, where it will gain momentum like a downhill snowball. There are no minimums and zero commission fees, and a field of experts watch over your investments like sheepherders in the night.
One key difference between Acorns and Qapital is that Acorns is an investing app. Qapital is a banking app, however they also offer investing. Acorns does not give you the option to keep your money on the sidelines in a savings account. Instead, they invest that money.
Investing Your Savings
Talk about diversifying: Acorns Core spreads your wealth around more than 7,000 stocks and bonds. No one-shot wonders here!
You speed up the process by making one-time investments from small savings. If you’re really organized, you can schedule weekly or monthly transfers from your bank account into your Acorns investments.
Start off by pondering your financial future, specifically, where you want to use all that newfound money. Acorns will ask you to choose among these options:
- Long term investment
- Short term investment
- Major purchase
Acorns will settle you into one of 5 investment portfolios based on your “risk tolerance.” Basically, do you like to ride the rollercoaster or prefer the carousel? Either way, you’re moving along, but there are more ups-and-downs on the coaster.
There is no individual stock purchasing or custom portfolios here. You have to pick one of the prebuilt portfolios.
Other Useful Features
Acorns Earn is a long list of retail partners that will earmark an extra 5 to 10 percent of your transaction in cash back to your Acorns brokerage account. They include Dollar Shave Club, Groupon, Sephora, DirecTV, Expedia, Nike, Warby Parker and a whole long list of other cool places where you’re probably already shopping.
Acorns Spend, a debit card for a checking account with Acorns built-in, is a beneficial addition to the mix. The account has no minimum balance requirement, no overdraft fees, and unlimited free or fee-reimbursed ATMs nationwide.
But wait, there’s more! Acorns Later offer Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) recommended to you by experts, based on your goals, employment and income, then keep you posted on how you’re doing. (Let us insert here our hearty endorsement of IRAs because they let you save money without all the tax complications of other investments).
Jump into Acorns Grow, where you’ll have online access to a vast variety of tutorials and other educational content. This will help you grow your investment know-how and sound like one of the brilliant guys.
If you want to go all in and sign up for Acorns Core, Acorns Later and Acorns Spend, it will cost you an astonishingly affordable $3 per month.
Get accustomed to the term “micro-investing” because this may just be the wave of the future, happening now. We say, jump on that train before it pulls out of the station.
The Verdict: Qapital vs. Acorns
Both Qapital and Acorns are offering a similar saving and investing type service to users. They are both empowering small investors and allowing them to get their feet wet with investing, without feeling the pain of saving!
At their cores, Qapital is a banking app while Acorns is an investing app. Qapital is designed to make goal based saving as easy and painless as possible. For those who are interested, they do offer investing. Acorns is designed for not only saving money but also investing it for your long term goals in one of their 5 portfolios.
Overall, we have to give the crown to Acorns for being less expensive.Acorns flat out charges you less money. For a long time, Qapital was completely free. Recently, they began charging anywhere from $3 to $12 a month for the service. Acorns charges $1 to $3 per month. If you want access to the Qapital investing feature, you need to be on the $6 per month plan. Acorns allows you to invest with the $1 per month plan.
While these fees seem small, it still means less of your hard earned money is invested. We think you should keep your money where it belongs, in your investment account!
Not a fan of fees? Check out these fee free investing apps.
Beyond that, these apps are offering very similar features. They both allow you to automatically save and invest your money. What it comes down to is the fees as well as the features offered by each. If you are solely looking to save money without investing it, Qapital is going to be a better option. This is because this app is designed to do exactly that.
Acorns saves and invests your money, they do not offer strictly a savings account.