Getting your foot into the investing door can feel daunting, especially if you haven’t done it before or think you need thousands of dollars to get started. However, the rise of micro-investing apps is helping to make investing feel more accessible, especially for millennials.
Did you know?
- 1 in 5 investors use micro-investing apps
- 22% intend to start using digital investing platforms in the next 12 months
In this guide, we look at what micro-investing is, how it works, the pros and cons, as well as the micro-investing apps available in Australia.
What is micro-investing?
Micro-investing (also known as spare change investing) is where you invest small amounts of money, typically on a regular basis. The premise is that every little bit of money invested over time could build up to a sizable nest egg. It also allows you to potentially earn more savings than if it was sitting in a bank account.
The increasing appeal of micro-investing apps is that it aims to make investing more accessible, especially for beginner and younger investors, by removing the traditional barriers. Typically, it requires a minimum of $500 and brokerage fees of $10 to $30 to get into the sharemarket. However, with micro-investing apps, you can start investing with as little as $5 and most are automated so you can ‘set and forget’. It can be an ideal way for beginner investors to get into the investing world without needing a large amount of capital or knowledge.
How does micro-investing work?
The increasing appeal of micro-investing is they’re generally quick and easy to use as it’s done through a mobile-based app or platform. It typically takes minutes to download the app, set up an account, link to your bank account, and then you’re good to go.
While these apps may vary in their approach, most of them invest your money towards exchange-traded funds (ETFs). This helps spread your money across different companies and reduce your risk.
Different apps offer different ways of investing your money but the most common are round-ups or recurring payments. For example, the Raiz app rounds up your transactions to the nearest dollar. So, let’s say you buy a $4.50 coffee, it will round up to $5.00 and the 50 cents will then be invested.
Are there any fees?
If you choose to micro-invest, it’s important to take fees into consideration as they can have a considerable impact on your returns. The types of fees a micro-investing app may charge include: brokerage fees, subscription or management fees, withdrawal fees, account opening fees, and cancellation fees. Generally, fees are either a flat fee or based on a percentage of the account balance.
While micro-investing apps fees are small, they can still eat into your returns or savings. Make sure to weigh up whether the amount you’re investing and the expected returns is enough to outweigh the fees involved.
The pros and cons of micro-investing
Whether micro-investing is the right option for you or not depends on a few factors. To help you decide, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of micro-investing:
- Great for beginner investors: Micro-investing helps lower the barriers for beginner investors who lack the amount of capital or knowledge that is often required to get into traditional investing.
- Low or no deposit required: With micro-investing, you don’t need a big chunk of money to get started. Some apps require as little as $5 to opt in or, in some cases, don’t require a deposit at all. This can be a great way to kickstart your savings even if you have a limited income.
- Easy-to-use: To get started, it generally takes only minutes to download a micro-investing app and set up an account. Plus, most micro-investing apps are automated where you can set up recurring payments and spare change round-ups.
- Access a diverse portfolio: Micro-investing apps can allow you to access a diverse ETF portfolio — this means your money is spread out and helps reduce the negative impact on your investment.
- Build good financial habits and literacy: While micro-investing won’t give you huge returns, it can be a great way to start building solid financial habits. They can help people (especially those who start at a young age) develop long-term saving habits. It can also set you up to be ready for more traditional investing in the future. Plus, micro-investing can help users learn more about investing such as the terminology and how to choose stocks.
- Fees: It’s important to keep in mind that micro-investing apps can come with fees such as management, brokerage, and account keeping fees. As you’d be likely investing small amounts, it’s worth weighing up the returns against the cost of fees.
- Less chance of high returns: While micro-investing can be a great way to build a saving habit, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive high returns. If you’re a seasoned investor, it might be worth investing through a fund manager or broker for a better chance of high returns.
- Risk: A downside to micro-investing (and with any type of investing) is that you might lose the amount you invest. While micro-investing typically involves small amounts of money, it doesn’t mean there isn’t any risk involved.
- Longer time frame: As mentioned earlier, micro-investing isn’t likely to generate high returns so it can take a while to build up a sizable amount of money. This is why micro-investing may be more suited to a younger demographic.
Micro-investing apps in Australia
Luckily for those wanting to get their foot in the investing door, there are a bunch of micro-investment apps to choose from in Australia. This is thanks to the evolution of fintech which has paved the way for the rise of investment apps and lowered the entry barrier into investing.
Below, we give a rundown of the popular micro-investing apps available in Australia including how they work and the fees involved:
Minimum investment: $5
Costs & Fees:
- $2.50 per month for accounts under $10,000
- 0.275% per year for accounts over $10,000 or more
- No deposit or withdrawal fees
Popular among millennials, Raiz (formerly Acorns) is a micro-investing mobile app that invests your money into a diversified portfolio of ASX-listed exchange-traded funds (ETFs). There are six diversified portfolios with different levels of risk you can choose from — conservative, moderately conservative, moderate, moderately aggressive, aggressive, and emerald (Raiz’s ethical investment fund).
There are three ways you can invest with Raiz — round-ups, recurring payments, and lump sums. Their round-up feature lets you invest the leftover change from your everyday transactions. Alternatively, you can set up recurring daily, weekly, or monthly payments, or lump sum instalments.
Minimum investment: $0
Costs & Fees:
- No fees for balances less than $5,000
- 0.05% p.a. for balances $5,000 or more (Spaceship Origin)
- 0.10% p.a. for balances $5,000 or more (Spaceship Universe)
- 0.10% p.a. for balances $5,000 or more (Spaceship Earth)
- No deposit, withdrawal, brokerage, or exit fees
Spaceship Voyager is a robo-advice platform that allows you to invest small amounts of money into an investment portfolio without having to pay a financial advisor. There are three portfolios you can choose from — Spaceship Origin Portfolio, Spaceship Universe Portfolio, and Spaceship Earth Portfolio.
The Spaceship Origin Portfolio is an index fund that invests in 200 of the world’s largest companies including Apple, Amazon, and Johnson & Johnson. The Spaceship Universe Portfolio is a managed fund that invests in companies chosen by the Spaceship Voyager team. These companies meet their ‘Where the world is going’ criteria including Spotify, Microsoft, and Tesla. The Spaceship Earth Portfolio invests in companies that have a positive impact on people and the planet including Atlassian, Lululemon, Shopify, and Starbucks.
Minimum investment: $50
Costs & Fees:
- $2 brokerage fee per trade for amounts less than $1,000
- 0.2% of trade value for amounts $1,000 or more
- No account keeping or withdrawal fees
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (CBA) micro-investment app CommSec Pocket allows you to invest small amounts of money into the stock market. Traditionally, to invest in the stock market, it would require a minimum of $500. However, CommSec Pocket allows you to get started investing with as little as $50.
With CommSec Pocket, there are seven themed ETF investment options you can choose from: Aussie Top 200, Global 100, Emerging Markets, Aussie Dividends, Tech Savvy, Sustainability Leaders, and Health Wise. CommSec Pocket allows you to invest either through one-off or regular monthly or fortnightly payments.
NODDLE is a consolidated online resource, we are not financial advisors. We work with a range of industry professionals and compliance check our articles to ensure factual accuracy. However, we do not provide professional financial advice. Consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information and ideas presented in this article relate to your unique circumstances.
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