Reviews January 04, 2023
Written by Colin Dempsey I write about fitness, health, nutrition, fashion, and more. Sometimes I write about these topics well. Other times I write about them really well. Read about our editorial guidelines A former student-journalist and graduate student, Justin has a long history in writing, editing, and publishing. While he loves reading and writing, Justin is also passionate about sports, music, and fitness. Edited on Read about our editorial guidelines
I write about fitness, health, nutrition, fashion, and more. Sometimes I write about these topics well. Other times I write about them really well.
Read about our editorial guidelines
A former student-journalist and graduate student, Justin has a long history in writing, editing, and publishing. While he loves reading and writing, Justin is also passionate about sports, music, and fitness.
Read about our editorial guidelines
Table of Contents
Possessing more than $30 billion in assets, boasting over 730k customers, and inspiring more than 34k Instagram followers, Betterment is one of the most attractive financial advisory companies today.
Why are they so popular? In short, the brand’s portfolios simplify the convoluted investment process while their checking accounts offer low maintenance fees. At the root of it, they want you to keep your money and help you watch it grow.
But how do they do that? In my Betterment review, I will give you all the information necessary to decide whether you want to invest with them. Through it, you’ll learn about the company’s services, charges, what customers say about them, and more.
Betterment was founded in 2010 in New York City as a way to make money easy. Jon Stein and Eli Broverman’s original vision was so inviting that they garnered more than 400 customers in their first 24 hours.
Their services are designed to reduce the mental fatigue and confusion of investing without charging you through the nose for their services. You can save more money by investing with them thanks to their financial advisory services, premade portfolios, and low fees.
The three main strategies Betterment uses to aid users with better money management are:
- Cash Management
- Guided Investing
- Retirement Planning
I’ll review all of these and more below, so keep reading. Let’s get into it.
Betterment App Review
Apps can notoriously be hit or miss depending on how well they’re designed. Thankfully, it seems that Betterment’s app runs smoothly based on what users have written.
As one user wrote: “Betterment makes it easy to save for retirement or any other goal. The individual goals you can create are really nice to see how much you have saved towards each one instead of just having one large pot of money. The iOS app is super simple to use and makes depositing money or seeing performance easy.”
The Betterment app modernizes investment by putting all the functions in the palm of your hand and trimming the fat, making for a seamless experience. With it, you can check your balances and accounts at any moment. You can also see your transactions and deposits to know if everything is still in check.
On top of that, you can use those deposits and transactions straight from the app. Betterment doesn’t confine you to desktop usage, allowing you to work with your investments on your mobile device.
The app is particularly helpful for goal-oriented people because they can track their performance towards their end goal on both long-term and short-term time periods. If you need to change your goals or add new ones then the Betterment App allows you to do just that.
Betterment 401k Review
So how does Betterment help you keep more money in your wallet to help you in the later stages of life? Their features are built to accumulate your money passively.
To do so, Betterment offers four different types of individual retirement accounts:
- Roth Conversion
Every IRA Betterment provides has different tax rates and advantages. The traditional IRA is the simplest of them all, and it’s tax-deductible, so you can use it to supplement your retirement fund.
The Roth IRA account is for the libertarians reading this Betterment review. It’s a tax-free earnings retirement setup that you can withdraw from at any time.
If you’re really independent and ambitious then the SEP is best for you. It’s a retirement account with tax rates geared towards self-employed and/or freelance workers, which is a rarity.
The final IRA account they offer is the Roth conversion, which basically allows you to transfer funds between a traditional account and a Roth account from their app. It’s not so much a dedicated account as much as it is an attractive feature of their app.
Betterment Investing Review
Betterment’s main focus is on investing because that’s the best way to passively expand your income. They provide premade portfolios for newer investors, and I’ll go through those in a second. The thing is, some people want access to Betterment’s features while maintaining control over their portfolio.
That’s not an issue because Betterment offers a flexible portfolio. With this portfolio, you can weigh assets based on your preferences. You can invest more in certain areas while staying away from others.
With that being said, here’s the full list of portfolios Betterment offers on their website:
- Core: a stock-and-bonds-focused portfolio that’s better for long-term investing.
- Innovative Technology: a diverse portfolio with a specific interest in companies that will likely expand in the near future. Bonds are in industries like renewable energy, VR, and blockchain.
- Broad Impact: focuses on socially and environmentally conscious companies with a noted interest in long-term growth.
- Climate Impact: invests in companies with low greenhouse emissions, small carbon footprints, and high interest in green projects.
- Social Impact: invests in companies with noted interests in addressing inequality, minority empowerment, and diversifying employment.
- Goldman Sachs Smart Beta: invests in companies with huge growth potential. It’s low-cost but does come with risk as you’re investing in companies relying on potential.
- BlackRock Target Income: a fully-bond portfolio to keep you safe from the ever-changing stock market.
- Cash Reserve: a cash-only account with a variety of benefits and a 3.20% APY.
- Universe: a crypto-focused portfolio that’s diverse in the market (i.e. invests in decentralized finance and the metaverse among other related industries).
- Sustainable: another crypto-focused portfolio with an interest in assets that are geared towards consuming less energy or building a greener future.
- Metaverse: a deeper dive into the crypto world with a specified portfolio.
- Decentralized Finance: crypto assets that provide banking services like loans and mortgages without centralized financial institutions.
One last thing I want to include in this section of my Betterment review, you don’t have to stick to one portfolio strategy. Betterment allows you to have multiple in your account with different goals, meaning you can build towards retirement with a social impact portfolio while earning more money now with a metaverse portfolio, for example.
How Betterment Works
In this section of my Betterment review, I’ll show you how you can sign up for their services. The first few steps are pretty easy. You’ll enter basic information like your name, email address, and phone number. Note that you must have a US phone number as Betterment does not operate outside of the United States.
After that, you’ll provide Betterment with information pertaining to your annual income. From there, you’ll work with the company to set a solid retirement income goal. This goal will be based on how much you should look to invest each year. Betterment will also tell you how much of the stock/bond split you should maintain to help reach that goal.
You can then select which account type you’d like to make. The options provided are:
- Regular account (taxable)
- Traditional IRA
- Roth IRA
- SEP IRA
After you select your account, you’ll arrive at a list of the features that Betterment offers to help you manage your finances. I’ll detail those features in the next section.
The only thing left to do is answer more questions and set up some security protocols, then you’re set! Betterment’s system is optimized for speed and user experience.
How Betterment Manages Your Money
After following the steps I just outlined, you’ll be prepared for Betterment to take care of your funds. However, you may still be wondering how they manage your money.
The company uses low-cost exchange-traded funds and a risk strategy that adapts to the market. Both of these are governed by Betterment’s robo-advisors, which are algorithms with humans at the helm. This is the case for long-term investments as algorithms are better at predicting future trends than they are accommodating to daily changes.
For daily tasks like spending money and depositing funds, Betterment uses Checking and Cash Reserves. The first is a checking account that accrues no fees (including overdraft and ATM), has cashback rewards at Costco and Adidas, and is insured up to $250K.
I spoke about the cash reserve a bit earlier, but it’s basically a high-yield account that’s up to 15 times higher than the national average.
Other Betterment Features
Now that you’ve learned about all the major features that Betterment offers, let’s look at some of the smaller benefits they provide. These are, for the most part, practical advice for investments. You can book an appointment with one of their financial advisors to talk about college planning, retirement, or crypto investing.
Betterment also offers tax-loss harvesting, which is a fancy way of saying that they automatically lessen the taxes your portfolio accrues. They do so by ditching bonds or stocks that have lost value and replacing them with investments that are similar in nature albeit smaller in size.
This feature is regulated by their robo-advisor which allows Betterment to more quickly adapt to potentially increase taxes on your accounts more.
Betterment Fees and Costs
Regardless of which type of account you open with Betterment, be it Cash, Investing, or Crypto, you’ll have to sign up for either Betterment Digital or Betterment Premium service. This service fee basically covers how much freedom you get with Betterment.
Betterment Digital charges a 0.25% advisory fee and is open to all customers. It doesn’t matter how much is in your account. The same cannot be said for the Betterment Premium, as your balances must equal at least $100k. The advisory fee is higher, sitting at 0.40%, but you get unlimited access to their financial advisors.
While Betterment Premium members can speak with their financial advisors for free, non-premium users will have to pay to schedule a meeting. It costs $299 to book a 45-minute session while an hour-long session costs $399.
If you want to open a basic Betterment Cash account then all you need to do is sign up. It’s free to join and requires a $0 minimum balance. The Betterment Investing program has a 0.25% annual fee and a $0 minimum balance while the Betterment Crypto account has a 1% annual fee but also charges trading expenses.
Who Is Betterment For?
Although Betterment has tools for new and experienced investors, I think they’re better for those newer to investing. Investors who want more freedom may not like Betterment’s confines while beginners will likely appreciate the automated service and helpful advice.
Betterment Reviews: What Do Customers Think?
To give you an idea of what customers think of the brand, I’ve put together a list of Betterment review scores from multiple websites. They present a generally positive consensus of the company and its services. Let’s take a look:
- App Store: 4.7/5 stars, 38k reviews
- Google Play Store: 4.5/5 stars, 10k reviews
- Consumer Affairs: 3.7/5 stars, 420 reviews
- Trustpilot: 2.4/5 stars, 9 reviews
Many positive Betterment reviews came from users have been with the company for years. They kept using the brand for their low overall fees and the efficiency of the auto-investor. Here’s how one long-time investor described their Betterment experience:
“I’ve been using Betterment for over 4 years for all my investing. I chose Betterment because of its ease of use, its automated guidance, and its low fees. I don’t know a ton about picking investments myself, and honestly, I don’t want to spend my time researching or worrying about my investments. Betterment takes care of all of that for me! I just set up automatic deposits on the date of each paycheck, forget about it for a while, and watch my money grow over time.”
Other users said that Betterment was much easier to use than other investing websites. That ease of access is what attracted them in the first place and kept them working with Betterment. As one ConsumerAffiars user wrote:
“I’ve used a few different investment firms, some of the usual suspects that have been decent such as Fidelity but Betterment is by far & away the best place for my money. I only wish Betterment was around 15 years ago. The growth I’ve experienced with my portfolio has been tremendous! The site is user-friendly and the staff is extremely helpful and accessible.”
People who were interested in cryptocurrency were particularly fond of Betterment for their rates and portfolio. One user said:
“Betterment has been an outstanding FinTech solution for me, an excellent place to set up my Roth IRA and other accounts, including Individual Investing, Checking, and more. The fees are reasonable, the website clear and the iOS app also very useful (including face recognition).”
They went on: “I couldn’t be more pleased with the ETF choices made by Betterment; ESG is prioritized, for those who care about putting their money into responsible places.”
One interesting complaint I read in some Betterment reviews was that the company’s customer service left them in a sort of purgatory. NBKC actually holds your checking account via Betterment. Some couldn’t contact NBKC directly since they weren’t direct customers. However, Betterment wasn’t able to answer their questions about their account because they didn’t hold it.
This wasn’t always the case. Based on what I read, the brand was more than willing to help customers work through issues with their checking accounts. However, it’s worth noting that there were some issues that Betterment just couldn’t help because they didn’t own the account.
Is Betterment Legit?
While Betterment seems to be legit, some problems came with the robo-advisors. These problems included customers being locked out of their accounts for “fraudulent activities” that they never committed or being blocked from withdrawing their funds.
I’m able to report that this wasn’t the case with the majority of customers, but it did come up in some reviews.
Is Betterment Worth It?
Betterment is a great investment option for people who want to start investing but don’t know where to begin. Their diverse portfolios are a great guiding tool for people who have an idea of where they want to put their money but don’t know for sure.
Betterment Promotions & Discounts
There weren’t any promotions or discounts running at the time of writing my Betterment review.
How To Get Started On Betterment
You can create a Betterment account on their website, www.betterment.com, or by downloading the app from the Google Play Store or App Store.
Who owns Betterment?
Sarah Levy is the brand’s CEO.
What is Betterment’s Refund Policy?
You can withdraw money from your Betterment account at any time without any extra fees. There aren’t any fees associated with closing an account either.
How to Contact Betterment
I’ll wrap up my Betterment review by telling you how you can contact the brand with any questions. You can speak with them directly through the chat function on their website.
Next, check out some similar reviews you might like:
AmeriSave Mortgage Review
Lemonade Insurance Review
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Can you lose money with Betterment? Yes, as with any investment, your investments with Betterment can lose money. If the market drops, your investment could lose value. Unlike checking or savings account deposits, investments are not FDIC insured, and there is no bank guarantee.Is Betterment really worth it? ›
Our Verdict. One of the original robo-advisors, Betterment has grown its platform over the past decade to include an excellent range of features and tools, including cryptocurrency investing. Its sophisticated and highly functional investing platform earned it Forbes Advisor's choice as the best robo-advisor.What are the requirements for Betterment? ›
All customers must be at least 18 years of age in order to consent to all our agreements. Customers must have a permanent U.S. address, a U.S. Social Security Number or an ITIN, and a checking account from a U.S. bank. *Betterment supports residents in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.How long does it take Betterment to review my information? ›
If the transaction is initiated on the Betterment side, the timeline is 4-5 business days. If initiated from your connected funding account's side, it's 1-2 business days. Who Provides the Market Data?Can you get scammed on Betterment? ›
We are committed to protecting your account from fraud. If you see any unauthorized activity in your account, report it immediately. We'll work with you to address any issues that result from unauthorized use of your Betterment account.Are Betterment fees too high? ›
Bottom Line: Is Betterment Worth the Fee? Betterment's fee for the robo-advisor is fairly low. It's worth it for investors who want to set up their investments and trust they will grow independently. Investors with a lot to invest will appreciate the advanced tools like tax-loss harvesting at such a low price.What happens to my money if Betterment goes out of business? ›
What happens to my money if Betterment goes public, is acquired, or closes? Betterment Securities is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). At a high level, you can think of SIPC as providing protection for funds held in a brokerage account in the event that the brokerage fails.What is the average return on Betterment? ›
Based on the numbers above, Betterment has an average annual investment return of just under 8.8%.Is Betterment good for beginners? ›
Betterment is a robo advisor that is great for beginners, but advanced investors will like its many features as well. It's easy to set up, and you can get access to a human advisor if you need it.How do I avoid Betterment fees? ›
Will I be charged the whole annual fee if I use Betterment for just part of the year? No, you will not. If you withdraw your entire balance before the end of the month or year, you're only charged the fee for the days your money was managed by Betterment.
Vanguard Personal Advisor, most investors will be served best by Betterment. But for those with multi-million dollar portfolios, Vanguard will be the go to platform. While Betterment is the largest and most popular independent robo-advisor in the industry, Vanguard Personal Advisor is the largest robo-advisor of all.How do I verify a Betterment investment? ›
Select 'Set up an account' in the app and scan the barcode that Betterment provides. Make sure the codes start appearing in your authenticator app, then click Next. Enter the code you see on your authenticator app to verify the connection.Does Betterment report to IRS? ›
You will receive a Form 5498, which will be downloadable in your account by May 31st, 2022, if you had made annual or rollover contributions into your Betterment IRA. Direct transfers into your IRA will not be reported, per IRS requirements. You do not need to send the 5498 to the IRS—we will report it for you.How do I get my money out of Betterment? ›
It's your money and is always accessible to you. From a web browser, after logging in to your account, go to "Transfer or Rollover" > "Withdraw." Withdrawals generally take about 4-5 business days to process; funds will automatically be ...Which is better Robinhood vs Betterment? ›
Both Betterment and Robinhood offer relatively low fees and let you start investing without much money, which could be a great way to break into the market. But if you're new to investing, Betterment might be the better choice for you, as its robo-advisor tool builds and rebalances your portfolio on your behalf.Is Betterment better than Charles Schwab? ›
We give Betterment the edge over Schwab Intelligent Portfolios because Betterment offers tax-advantaged investing to all accounts regardless of balance size. Betterment is not a licensed tax advisor. Tax Loss Harvesting+ (TLH+) is not suitable for all investors.What bank owns Betterment? ›
Hassle-free, no-fee checking. Betterment Checking is our mobile-first checking account and Visa® Debit Card for your daily spending. Checking accounts and the Betterment Visa® Debit Card provided and issued by nbkc bank, Member FDIC.How much does it cost to close Betterment account? ›
Are there fees for closing an account? Betterment does not charge trading fees or penalties for closing/deleting accounts. However, for crypto accounts, Betterment's crypto custodian, Gemini, charges a crypto trading and custody fee that fluctuates based on trading volume, up to 0.15% per trade.Is my money insured with Betterment? ›
Your money is FDIC-insured up to $1M with our program banks ($2M for joint accounts).How much money do you need to invest in Betterment? ›
No minimum balance
Unlike many of its competitors, Betterment doesn't require a minimum account balance, making it a good stock broker for beginners. However, you need to deposit at least $10 to start investing. In contrast, many competitors have minimums of $500 or more.
Betterment offers a free online checking account with no hidden fees, a cash back rewards program and free cellphone insurance. It's easy to get started, but you're limited to a maximum of two checking accounts and one debit card.Who should pay Betterment charges? ›
Answers ( 2 ) Betterment charge is a name for this fee. If you want to upgrade from a B Khata certificate to an A Khata certificate, you must pay BBMP Betterment costs. The BBMP Betterment charges must be paid by property owners.Is Acorn or Betterment better? ›
We prefer Betterment over Acorns if you want more portfolio options and are looking to consistently invest money with recurring deposits or through larger lump-sum deposits. It's also superior to Acorns if you want more ESG-friendly portfolios.How does Betterment affect taxes? ›
Any dividends you receive are automatically reinvested by Betterment, and grow tax-deferred until you withdraw. When you withdraw from the account, taxes are generally due at your ordinary income tax rate applicable at that time, both on earnings and on all contribution amounts that were previously deducted.How much interest does Betterment pay? ›
Benefits: Earn a variable rate of 3.75% APY* FDIC insurance covering up to $1,000,000 at our program banks† Access your cash in 1-2 business days No limits on withdrawals No minimum balance No fees on your balance Cash Reserve is only available to clients of ...How much can you withdraw from Betterment? ›
Are there any limits on transactions? Daily ATM Withdrawal Limit: $510 This limit includes any ATM surcharge fees charged by the ATM operator. Remember that we'll reimburse ATM fees at any ATM worldwide, wherever Visa is accepted.Which Betterment portfolio strategy is best? ›
If your goal is short-term, we'll recommend a more conservative portfolio with lower expected returns with less volatility, and if your goal is longer term, we'll likely recommend a more aggressive portfolio with higher expected long-term returns with higher volatility.Does Betterment charge a monthly fee? ›
We do not have fees for accounts with a $0 balance, so you can still keep your account open without penalty. If your total Betterment balance is below $20,000 and you do not have a recurring deposit of $250/mo or more, Betterment charges $4 per month.Does Betterment automatically invest for you? ›
Once you deposit, we automatically invest in the market. No holding accounts or manual steps. Plus, our algorithms continually monitor and manage your portfolio at a fraction of the cost of a traditional advisor.Does Betterment charge transfer fees? ›
Betterment does not charge any fees to transfer out or close your account. There is also no minimum transfer amount nor a limit on the number of transfers you can complete.
Wealthfront: 2023 Comparison. Betterment and Wealthfront both charge 0.25% for digital portfolio management. But Wealthfront also offers digital financial planning tools, while Betterment offers access to financial advisors for an upgraded fee.Is Betterment a good high yield savings account? ›
Betterment Cash Reserve is essentially a high-yield savings account. But unlike most savings accounts, it doesn't limit how many transactions you can make each month. Betterment Cash Reserve pays a high interest rate. You can also create buckets to save for different goals, such as "Travel Account" or "Emergency Fund."How long does Betterment take to deposit? ›
How long do deposits take to invest? Deposits into investing goals generally complete in 1-3 business days. Markets are generally open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but are closed for certain market holidays. Transactions can also be delayed by bank holidays.Why is my IRA losing money 2022? ›
Aside from market volatility, here are some other reasons an IRA might lose money: Interest rate changes: The Federal Reserve has increased interest rates six times so far this year. Rate changes can indirectly affect investments. When the cost of borrowing money goes up, consumer spending tends to decline as a result.Does the IRS know your investments? ›
If you have investment accounts, the IRS can see them in dividend and stock sales reportings through Forms 1099-DIV and 1099-B. If you have an IRA, the IRS will know about it through Form 5498.Does Betterment beat the market? ›
Since the bottom of the stock market in February of 2009, the average Betterment portfolio returned 214.7% – and that is after the exchange-traded fund and Betterment fees. When compared to the average private client investor, Betterment outperformed them by 78.7% in that same period.Can I borrow from my Betterment account? ›
If you apply for a loan, it must meet the terms set out in your plan's loan policy. Typical terms include a maximum loan of up to 50% of your vested account balance (capped at $50,000 and further restricted by loans you had in the last 12 months), and repayment within 5 years.Is it safe to link bank account to Betterment? ›
Connecting a bank account instantly creates a secure, read-only connection with your financial institution through our data partner, Plaid. Betterment does not store your login information and will never share, sell, rent, or trade your information without your approval.Is my money safe with Betterment? ›
Yes. Betterment is a fiduciary company that's registered with the SEC and a member of the FINRA. It hires Certified Financial Planners to give advice. While investments could lose value over time — a risk with all investing — funds in Betterment accounts are protected by SIPC in case of emergencies.What is the average return for Betterment account? ›
Based on the numbers above, Betterment has an average annual investment return of just under 8.8%.
It's your money and is always accessible to you. From a web browser, after logging in to your account, go to "Transfer or Rollover" > "Withdraw." Withdrawals generally take about 4-5 business days to process; funds will automatically be ...Do I need to report Betterment on taxes? ›
Please note that while Betterment is not required to issue you a 1099 if you earned a relatively small amount of income from your account, taxpayers are still required under IRS rules to report and pay taxes on any earned income. Copied!Are Betterment fees high? ›
Betterment Premium charges a 0.40% annual fee and requires a minimum $100,000 balance in exchange for unlimited phone access to a team of certified financial planners. You can also get advice on investments held outside of Betterment from your team of CFPs.How much should I invest in Betterment? ›
No minimum balance. Unlike many of its competitors, Betterment doesn't require a minimum account balance, making it a good stock broker for beginners. However, you need to deposit at least $10 to start investing. In contrast, many competitors have minimums of $500 or more.How much cash should you keep out of investments? ›
Aim for building the fund to three months of expenses, then splitting your savings between a savings account and investments until you have six to eight months' worth tucked away. After that, your savings should go into retirement and other goals—investing in something that earns more than a bank account.Where should I hold my cash when it's not invested? ›
A checking account can help cover daily spending needs, check-writing, and ATM usage. Bank checking accounts are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), an independent agency of the US government, against the loss of up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, based on account ownership type.Do I have to pay taxes on investments if I lose money? ›
If you sold stocks at a profit, you will owe taxes on gains from your stocks. If you sold stocks at a loss, you might get to write off up to $3,000 of those losses. And if you earned dividends or interest, you will have to report those on your tax return as well.