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M1 Finance vs. Acorns

M1 Finance vs Acorns

M1 Finance


  • No fees or commissions
  • No account minimums
  • Easy portfolio management
  • Human advisors available
  • Large number of investment options
  • Lots of supported account types

M1 Finance and Acorns are two investing platforms that appeal to those seeking a simpler way to invest. However, your investing needs will likely be determine the better choice for you.

M1 Finance Overview

M1 Finance started back in 2015 under the guidance of CEO Brian Barnes. With its roots in Chicago, Illinois, the firm now holds over $5 billion in investor assets. Their approach to automated portfolios has made them incredibly popular among investors who have little to no experience in the financial markets.

As mentioned in our M1 Finance review, we believe this platform was a game changer. Based on your future goals, you can select one of their automated portfolios. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to save money for a house or to plan for your retirement, M1 can do it all.

This completely automated service also enables investors to create custom portfolios using the pie investing feature.

Whether you want total control over your investments or whether you want to invest and let it ride, investing with M1 Finance allows you to do that and more.

M1 Finance Details

Account Minimum   $0
Management Fees $0-$125 per year

Account Types
Individual and joint brokerage accounts, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, and Traditional IRA, trust accounts, and custodial accounts

Investment Type
Stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

The M1 platform, whether on desktop on on the M1 Finance app, requires you to meet no account minimums and pay no fees. Although there are some small fees for certain actions, most investors will never pay a cent in fees to M1. There are zero account minimums at any point, so if you only have a small amount to invest you won’t have any problems.

M1 supports a huge number of account types, such as IRAs, individual brokerage accounts, and even custodial accounts. Many investment platforms don’t offer the same variety of supported accounts.

If you’re more confident with investing, you can create ‘pies’. The pie investing system enables you to make your own custom portfolios. Alternatively, let the experts handle your portfolio with the robo-advisor’s M1 expert pies.

These pre-made portfolios contain various stocks and ETFs designed to align with specific goals and levels of risk tolerance.

M1 Finance Fees

M1 Finance has always taken pride in charging no fees to investors. This is why M1 investing is such a game changer as traditional brokerages usually charge commissions, management fees, other trading fees, as well as requiring adherence to various account minimums.

Instead, the platform turns a profit through its separate M1 Spend and M1 Borrow features. These checking accounts and portfolio lines of credit do come with fees, but unless you want to go beyond the standard investing account you’ll never pay any fees.

However, if you’re looking to enhance your investing experience, you do have the option of upgrading to M1 Plus. This is the upgraded M1 investing account and costs $125 per year.

M1 Plus comes with various features, such as a higher ACH limit per day. On balance, the majority of investors will not need the upgraded version of M1.

M1 Finance Pros

  • No fees or commissions
  • No account minimums
  • Simple investing with M1 Pies

M1 Finance Cons

  • Lack of investment options
  • No human financial advisors
  • No tax-loss harvesting

To find out more about how M1 Finance works, check out our in-depth review on M1 Finance.

Acorns Overview

If you have heard just the basics about Acorns, it has likely been introduced as the ideal platform for beginner savers and investors. If you don’t have much to invest, its round-ups are an easy way to set aside a few pennies here and there.

Indeed, Acorns has been around since 2014 and at the time, its round-up feature was a novel concept. While other platforms have since adopted the feature, it still allows you to round up each of your purchases and invest your change.

Acorns also has paid subscription tiers that allow you to add several features, such as an online checking account and retirement accounts.

Acorns is quite a different kind of platform than M1. Still, it can be helpful for those who just want to start investing and need an extra nudge.

Acorns Details

Account Minimum   $0 to open; $5 to invest your money.
Management Fees Monthly fee of $3 or $5 per month.

Account Types
Individual taxable; Roth, traditional, and SEP IRAs; UTMA/UGMA accounts for children.

Investment Type
Portfolio of exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Acorns has changed its service a few times over the years. Today, it offers a lot of the same things as other financial platforms, but it bundles them in its own way.

Keep in mind that Acorns is a fairly basic investing platform for the most part. You can’t buy individual stocks or mutual funds. Instead, your money is invested in ETFs, with a selection from the 22 ETFs Acorns uses. Different risk tolerances have a different selection of ETFs.

However, what Acorns does that is somewhat unique is that, despite not being the most robust investment platform, it attempts to cover all of the bases. Its personal plan gives you access to taxable accounts, IRAs, and a checking account. If you opt for the family plan, you can get access to UTMA/UGMA accounts for children.

As we will cover in the next section, the fees Acorns charges seem low. For smaller portfolio balances, though, they might be higher than you realize.

Acorns FeesVanguard does charge fees, where M1 charges none. Vanguard’s 0.30% management fee is a real killer with an account minimum of $50,000. However, they do favor investors with larger portfolios, and so if you happen to have a portfolio value of more than $25 million, your management fee would be just 0.05%.

Its expense ratios are still at a record low of 0.04%, which is extremely similar to M1 investing. In short, if you’re concerned about fees Vanguard may not be the investment brokerage for you.

Acorns Pros

  • Human/robo-advisors available
  • Large number of investment options
  • Lots of supported account types

Acorns Cons

  • Very high account minimum
  • Management fees
  • Reliance on Vanguard index funds

M1 Finance vs Acorns: Comparison


M1 Finance 


Min. Investment $0 $50,000
Management Fees $0 0.30%
Avg. ETF Expense Ratio $0 (Charged by certain providers) 0.04%
Account Types Individual and joint brokerage accounts, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, and Traditional IRA, Trust accounts, and Custodial accounts Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, 403(b), 401(k), and individual and joint taxable accounts
Tax-Loss Harvesting None Yes
Financial Advisor Fee No financial advisors available Available
Best For Beginners High net-worth investors

M1 Finance vs. Acorns: Which One is Right For You?

Vanguard is the king and M1 Finance is the young pretender. The reality is that both platforms are aimed at different types of investors. Unless you already have a large amount to invest, Vanguard is not an option.

This has long been part of the problem with investing. M1 Finance enables you to get started even if you don’t have a lot of money. You can start with as little as a few dollars and begin crafting your portfolio using the M1 pie system.

Alternatively, you can take advantage of one of their pre-made portfolios.

Vanguard, on the other hand, works directly with you to create the portfolio that’s right for you. There’s an added personal touch that you just don’t find with most conventional robo-advisors, and that’s what high net-worth investors expect to pay for.

Overall, M1 Finance offers a simpler product that works better for the majority of ordinary investors. If you already have a significant amount to invest, you may want to consider using Vanguard’s PAS service. Nevertheless, both companies offer solid options for most investors.

Create Your M1 Finance account and start your portfolio with M1 now.

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