• Account minimum: ★★★★★ 5/5
  • Portfolio options and customization: ★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Management fees: ★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Financial planning packages: ★★★★★ 5/5
  • Goal-based saving: ★★★★★ 5/5
  • High-yield cash account: ★★★★★ 5/5
  • Two-Way Sweep: ★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Retirement planning: ★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Charitable giving options: ★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Customer support options: ★★★★☆ 4/5

2022 Betterment Review [How It Works, Pricing, Ease of Use & More]

Fact-checked
  • Account minimum: ★★★★★ 5/5
  • Portfolio options and customization: ★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Management fees: ★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Financial planning packages: ★★★★★ 5/5
  • Goal-based saving: ★★★★★ 5/5
  • High-yield cash account: ★★★★★ 5/5
  • Two-Way Sweep: ★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Retirement planning: ★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Charitable giving options: ★★★★☆ 4/5
  • Customer support options: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Best For

Those looking to get started in long-term financial planning.

STRENGTHS

  • Single, all-inclusive account fee
  • A free-for-life plan
  • High-yield cash account

WEAKNESSES

  • Fee may be higher than competitors’
  • One-on-one financial planning sessions are relatively expensive

Are you looking to start saving for your next car, house, or even build retirement savings? Betterment is an auto-advisor service that offers a range of investment portfolios and goal-based saving tools on a user-friendly platform. In this Betterment review, we’ll cover what it is, how it works, its pricing, ease of use, and more.

What Is Betterment Investing and How Does It Work?

Founded in 2008, Betterment is one of the first robo-advisors of its kind, especially when it comes to achieving mass appeal. And, it’s easy to see why with its broad range of investment management features packed into one accessible and intuitive platform.

Betterment assesses your risk tolerance, goals, and financial profile to advise investing in a diversified portfolio mix of low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds. Betterment can be used to invest or save for almost any purpose, e.g. for a college fund, buying a house, retirement fund, etc. Based on your unique situation, it will automatically recommend personalized portfolio options.

To augment its automated investment advice, Betterment also offers professional one-on-one financial advice to Premium members or at extra cost. In this in-depth review of Betterment, we’ll cover all of these features in detail.

Main Features

I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed with Betterment’s range of investing and saving services. The platform helps you navigate the wide variety of tools at your disposal by offering customized investment advice based on your unique goals and circumstances. In fact, Betterment Robo advisors are apparently based on Nobel-prize winning research.

The best part is that Betterment’s portfolios are in-depth and flexible enough to cater to a wide user base with widely different goals and means.

Account minimum

Betterment doesn’t require you to maintain a minimum account balance to use the platform. The only exception is that you must have a minimum account balance of $100,000 to qualify for Betterment Premium. However, there is a minimum $10 deposit amount that you can make at any time. You can use both the Checking or Digital Investing plans without any minimum requirements.

Portfolio options and customization

I was surprised when researching for my Betterment portfolio review by the range and depth of the portfolio options offered by Betterment. Betterment’s portfolios mostly consist of ETFs, although it also offers its fair share of stocks and bonds. Betterment will generate a tailor-made portfolio for you depending on your age, income, and your saving goals (e.g. how many returns you wish to see by what point in time).

Management fees

The good news is that Betterment follows a flat-rate management fee schedule based on your chosen package. This means that you’ll only pay a single account management fee that covers all your management and transaction costs. The fees are calculated based on the average daily balance of assets under management, assessed monthly.

Financial planning packages

Betterment offers one-on-one financial advice services delivered by Certified Financial Planners (CFPs©). Digital Investing customers can pay a once-off fee for a range of services, such as the 45-minute Getting Started package or the financial, retirement, college, or marriage planning sessions. Premium users get unlimited financial planning support for free. However, the high costs are one of the cons I discovered in my Betterment fees review.

Goal-based saving

One of Betterment’s most convenient and attractive features is its goal-based saving. Basically, you can tell Betterment how much you need to save by what time and for what purpose. Betterment will then automatically generate a custom portfolio for you. You can have multiple goals at any time and save for them independently under a single overall portfolio.

High-yield cash account

You can also save money on the Betterment platform via cash accounts. This money can be transferred between accounts and withdrawn (takes 1-2 days). You can also divide your cash into multiple stash savings accounts to save up for various purposes simultaneously. Your money won’t be just sitting there but can earn up to 0.10% in variable APY, tracking the Federal Fund Rate. I found this to be a super-convenient added-value feature often mentioned in the typical Betterment savings account review.

Two-way Sweep

If you opt for this feature, Betterment will run a daily cash scan of your linked bank account. Based on your profile, it will automatically pull money from your bank account to your Betterment Cash Reserve if it feels like you have too much cash sitting around. Likewise, it can automatically top up your bank account from your Cash Reserve if it feels you’re running low. You can set target amounts and limits if you want more control over how much money can be transferred between your accounts.

Retirement planning

Betterment’s automated retirement planning takes into account factors such as your age, ZIP code, income, and more to deliver tailored advice on how to best save for retirements, such as a 401(k) and Roth IRAs. You can also sit down with a CFP who’ll help you with one-on-one personalized advice. The fact that you can have it both ways is one of the biggest benefits I found in this Betterment retirement review.

Charitable giving options

In a review of Betterment smart saver capabilities, I found their tax-efficient donations and socially responsible portfolio options to be one of its most interesting facets. However, Betterment offers advice on how to donate tax-efficiently based on the maturity and size of your investments and how much you want to give. They also claim to not take a cent from your donations but to give 100% to their partner charities.

Ease of Use

Betterment offers accessibility and ease of use. The basic process of signing up goes something like this:

  1. Go to the website and click any of the “Get Started” buttons.
  2. Provide your email address.
  3. Enter a secure password:
  4. Provide your first and last names:
  5. Provide your US phone number.
  6. Accepts the T&Cs and User Agreements.

That’s all you need to do to create an account and access your user dashboard.

However, you will need to take some extra steps before you can really start to use the platform. These include:

  1. Verify your contact details and identity.
  2. Provide your Social Security number.
  3. Link a bank account.

You can immediately request automated investment advice or speak to any of their financial advisors. Betterment gives you suggestions on what to do from the get-go, making it easier to get started. It’s no surprise that user-friendliness is a prominent highlight across Betterment reviews.

All-in-all it’s an incredibly straightforward and streamlined service and sets the bar high for usability in the digital investment space.

Plans & Pricing

The good news is that you don’t have to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee to use Betterment. Instead, they charge an annual fee based on your total account balance and chosen plan. This fee is similar to the management fees charged by traditional investment brokers or fund managers.

Each higher-tier plan comes with additional features and services and includes everything in the lower-tier packages. In the table below, you’ll find a review of Betterment pricing plans:

Plan Minimum Balance Price Services & Features Personal Financial Advice
No-fee ~ $0
  • No-fee checking account and Visa debit card
  • Reimbursed ATM fees
  • FDIC-insured balances
  • Cash reserve
  • Financial goal setting, advice, and planning tools
  • Feedback on external accounts
At additional cost
Digital Investing ~ 0.25% annual fee
  • Personalized, low-cost investing portfolios
  • Socially-responsible investing
  • More account choices, e.g. IRAs and trusts
  • Automatic investing, like automatic rebalancing and dividend reinvestment
  • Add additional checking and cash reserves
  • Tax-saving strategies
At additional cost
Premium Investing $100,000 0.40% annual fee
  • In-depth, personalized investment advice for external investments
Unlimited, free Priority Advisor Access

With the No-fee or Digital Investing plans, you can still access real financial advisors to provide personalized planning services. However, they will come at an additional once-off cost per session, whereas with the Premium Investing plan you can make unlimited use of them for free.

Customer Support

Betterment customer reviews are somewhat mixed with a 3.1/5 rating on Trustpilot and 3.9/5 on ConsumerAffairs. Most users complain that the support is sometimes slow and provides copy-paste answers. That said, Betterment’s CFPs and personalized financial services are excellent and really revolutionize the possibilities of using this platform.

Betterment Alternatives

Betterment is not your only option when it comes to easy and cost-effective digital investing. Here are some top alternatives you may want to consider:

Win Lose Who it’s best for
Betterment vs Acorns

Read our full review of Acorns here

Low, flat-rate monthly subscription on all the pricing plans. Acorns features fewer investment classes and tax strategies for investment. Best for individuals looking to invest small amounts of money using a simpler alternative.
Betterment vs Personal Capital

Read our full review of Personal Capital here

Affordable advisor access offering a wider range of personalized financial advice. Has a higher minimum account balance than Betterment. Individuals in higher asset classes who want more personalized investment advice.
Robinhood vs Betterment

Read our full review of Robinhood here

Robinhood is the only commission-free service for active traders in various commodities. It doesn’t offer the same level of advice and guidance for goal-based saving as Betterment. For those who want a zero-fee service for active stock trading and investing.

Betterment offers a wide variety of asset classes and auto-optimization strategies without incurring high expenses. Its portfolio diversification is impressive, but it can also be used as a simple budgeting tool for free. Financial advice is there when you need it, and its robo-advisors are second to none.

Where Betterment Dominates

  • A free-for-life plan
  • Single, all-inclusive account fee
  • High-yield cash account
  • Personalized financial planning and investment management with something for everyone

Where Betterment Falls Short

  • Its balance-based account fee may be higher than competitors’ flat-rate ones
  • One-on-one financial planning sessions are relatively expensive

Betterment is best used by those looking to get started in long-term financial planning and investment using a diverse and convenient set of financial tools.

Betterment Review Conclusion: Is Betterment Worth It?

Yes, definitely. With a free-for-life plan as well as low-cost account fees for more serious investors, we couldn’t find any reason to include in our Betterment review why not to consider this platform. It’s also one of the few platforms that delve both into automated Robo-advisors and personalized financial planning/advice with many useful features for a wide spectrum of users.

FAQ

Is Betterment Safe?

Yes! Betterment is a fiduciary company that’s registered with the SEC and is a member of the FINRA. Account balances are FDIC-insured and protected by the SPIC in the case of emergencies. Personalized financial advice is also provided by Certified Financial Planners.

How does Betterment work?

Betterment is a financial planning and investing platform with various goal-based saving tools. Users register with the platform and link a bank account to transfer money to Betterment. They can then use a range of tools or even advice from CFPs to set up a range of investing and saving instruments.

How much should I invest in Betterment?

This is entirely dependent on your financial profile and goals. Betterment itself will provide investment management advice according to your goals, such as how much you aim to save and by when. However, there are no minimum deposit and account balance restrictions.

How to reach Betterment customer support?

In this Betterment review, we uncovered a number of support options with variable availability. However, they can be reached via live chat and email with call-based one-on-one financial planning services.

ABOUT AUTHOR

I learned a lot about finance after working for a digital marketing company specializing in investing and trading stocks, forex, etc. After that, I got exposed to other verticals such as wealth management and personal finance, which further improved my understanding of the financial world.