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Best Robo-Advisors of 2022

Learn which robo-advisor is best for your investment needs

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Robo-advisors are digital investment management applications. Using a website or mobile app, most robo-advisors ask new users a few questions about their age, investment goals, and risk tolerance. Based on the results, they are assigned to a professionally designed portfolio based on your objectives and needs.

The best robo-advisors stand out from the rest with easy-to-use investment platforms, portfolios made up of high-quality investments and low fees. Here’s a closer look at the best robo-advisors based on our objective evaluation criteria.

Best Robo-Advisors of 2022

Best Overall : Wealthfront


Wealthfront

Wealthfront

  • Minimum Deposit: $500
  • Fees: 0.25% annual advisory fee
  • Key Features: Curated portfolios, no-cost access to human help
Why We Chose It

Wealthfront is our pick for best overall robo-advisor and best robo-advisor for goal planning. It offers a unique mix of fully automated investing and curated portfolios, where you can choose to invest in a specific area, and Wealthfront picks the underlying investments.

UBS announced its acquisition of Wealthfront in January 2022.

For balances of at least $100,000, you get access to Wealthfront’s US Direct Indexing feature that allows for tax-loss harvesting at the individual stock level. For balances of $500,000 or more, you get access to Wealthfront’s Smart Beta program designed to build you your own portfolio of stocks based on five factors to optimize how your money is invested.

Investment accounts require a 0.25% annual fee, which is charged monthly. There are no other commissions or fees charged by Wealthfront, though the ETFs and mutual funds in your portfolio may set their own fees. For taxable accounts, automated tax-loss harvesting improves returns an average of 1.8%, according to Wealthfront, which would be more than enough to cover the annual fee.

Pros
  • Automated tax-loss harvesting for all accounts

  • Multiple account types including taxable, retirement, and 529 college savings

Cons
  • 0.25% annual advisory fee is higher than some competitors

  • Minimum balance required to get started

  • No individual stock investments and no fractional shares

  • Advanced features require minimum balances of $100,000 or $500,000



Best for Beginners and Cash Management : Betterment


Betterment logo
  • Minimum Deposit: $0
  • Fees: Starting at 0.25%
  • Key Features: Simple automated investing, low-fee banking
Why We Chose It

Betterment is one of the first automated investment services and registered with the SEC in 2009. Betterment is suitable for beginners to investing and those who want to take an entirely hands-off approach to their investment management. Basic accounts have no minimum required deposit and charge a competitive 0.25% annual fee. You can also upgrade to an account with full financial advising with a $100,000 minimum balance and 0.40% yearly fee.

In addition to the flagship automated investment accounts, investors can choose several specific responsible investment themes or take more control with flexible portfolios where you can make adjustments according to your investment goals. Retirement accounts are available, and taxable accounts have an automatic tax-loss harvesting feature. While the complete financial advising account is more expensive and requires a significant minimum investment, the digital account and banking options are more affordable and have lower requirements.

Pros
  • Easy automated investing with little background

  • No-fee checking account and savings account alternative

  • Competitive fee and no minimum for introductory-level account

  • Support for multiple types of investment accounts

Cons
  • 0.25% fee is higher than some competitors

  • Inactivity fee may apply to accounts with less than $20 with no activity for more than 90 days

  • No professional investment advice available

Best for Low Costs and Advanced Investors : M1 Finance


M1 Finance

M1 Finance

  • Minimum Deposit: $100 ($500 for retirement accounts)
  • Fees: No fees for typical investment activity
  • Key Features: No fees, portfolio pie charts
Why We Chose It

We chose M1 Finance as best for low costs because most common investing activities are all free. You won’t pay a fee as long as your account has at least $20 or has had activity at least every 90 days.

For more advanced investors, the flexible Pie portfolio system allows for fine-tuning and control over investments. M1 displays assets from each account using pie charts called Pies. Each Pie can have up to 100 different investments called Slices. M1 has more than 6,000 stocks and ETFs from the top U.S. stock exchanges, but, like most robo-advisors, it doesn’t offer mutual funds, options trading, or cryptocurrencies. M1 automatically works to keep your portfolio in line with your Pie target percentages.

Newer investors can use pre-built Expert Pies, which are professionally designed portfolios for specific investment goals. However, M1 does not provide access to a financial advisor or investment advice.

Pros
  • No fees for typical investing activity

  • Choice between pre-built or customized portfolios

  • Intuitive investing process with “Pies” representing your portfolio

Cons

  • Fees apply for some less common activity

  • Inactivity fee may apply to accounts with less than $20 with no activity for more than 90 days

  • No professional investment advice available


Best for Mobile : E*TRADE Core Portfolios


ETrade logo

 ETrade logo

  • Minimum Deposit: $500
  • Fees: Starting at 0.30%
  • Key Features: Portfolio customization
Why We Chose It

Core Portfolios is a robo-advising platform from E*TRADE that offers suggested portfolios based on your answers to questions during the set-up process. More advanced investors may appreciate the options to customize your portfolio, including with socially responsible investments (SRIs) or ETFs.

Morgan Stanley completed its acquisition of E*TRADE in Oct. 2020.

E*TRADE Core Portfolios, with a 0.30% annual fee, is a little more expensive than some competitors. One very useful feature that E*TRADE Core Portfolios offers is semi-annual automatic rebalancing to align the portfolio with the investor’s target asset allocation.

While there is no automated tax-loss harvesting, E*TRADE uses municipal bond ETFs to help reduce taxes. E*TRADE is a full-service investment platform where you can easily manage all of your banking and investments with one mobile app.

Pros
  • Fully managed portfolios with options for customizations

  • Automated rebalancing and tax-efficient strategy

  • User-friendly mobile app

Cons
  • Fees start at 0.30%

  • No automated tax-loss harvesting

Best for Portfolio Construction and Socially Responsible Investing : Interactive Advisors


Interactive Advisors
  • Minimum Deposit: $100
  • Fees: 0.08% to 1.5%
  • Key Features: Themed portfolios, socially responsible portfolios
Why We Chose It

Founded in 2010, Interactive Advisors began using its current name in 2019, changing from Interactive Brokers Group. To invest with Interactive Advisors, you’d need a minimum of $100. While the broker does not charge trading commissions, you can expect to pay asset-based management fees ranging from 0.08% to 1.5%. You can choose from conservative to aggressive automated Asset Allocation Portfolios, which require a 0.12% annual fee.

Interactive Advisors offers over 75 portfolios focus on a wide range of themes and focus areas. Themes include investments by risk, business sector, socially responsible, index, and financial metrics, among others. Socially responsible investing themes include water, ocean life, racial equality, mindful business models, land health, LGBTQ inclusion, gender equality, fair labor, and ethical leadership.

In addition to portfolios managed by Interactive Advisors, you can pick professionally managed portfolios from partners like Franklin Templeton, Greenwich Wealth Management, Lakeland Wealth Management, State Street Global Advisors, WisdomTree, and others.

Pros
  • Choose from 75+ portfolios

  • Socially responsible portfolios available

  • Fees start at a low 0.08%

Cons
  • Some portfolios charge as much as 1.5%

  • No automated tax-loss harvesting

Best for Portfolio Management : Personal Capital


Personal Capital

Personal Capital

  • Minimum Deposit: $100,000
  • Fees: 0.89% for up to $1 million
  • Key Features: Human advisor, free investment analysis tools
Why We Chose It

Personal Capital, founded in 2009, provides investment management service that is a hybrid of robo-advising and human advising. Rather than do everything yourself with a computer, you start with Personal Capital on the phone with a human financial advisor who will help you create a custom plan for your goals. You can always call your advisor for help if you’re a Personal Capital client.

Personal Capital offers three tiers of service with the lowest tier requiring a minimum investment of $100,000. When you invest $200,000 or more, you get a team of two dedicated financial advisors to work with and regular reviews. Investment greater than $1 million would unlock access to more features.

Fees start at 0.89% and decrease for portfolios over $1 million. With robo-advising built-in, Personal Capital also offers tax-loss harvesting, automatic rebalancing, socially responsible portfolios, and other features.

Even if you’re not investing with Personal Capital, the financial tools can be useful. The free Personal Capital app analyzes your investments and spending across all banks, investment accounts, credit cards, and other loans to give you a complete picture of your money and detailed information about your portfolio allocation and fees.

Pros
  • Free financial management app for anyone to use

  • Access to human financial advising with all accounts

  • Robo-advising features including tax-loss harvesting

Cons
  • Minimum $100,000 starting balance for investment management

  • 0.89% annual fee for accounts up to $1 million

Best for Education : Merrill Guided Investing


Merrill Edge Guided Investing
  • Minimum Deposit: $1,000
  • Fees: 0.45%
  • Key Features: Benefits for high balances across Merrill and Bank of America
Why We Chose It

Merrill Guided Investing is the robo-advising product offered by Merrill Lynch. Its online platform requires a $1,000 minimum to get started, which is fairly low compared to other options. However, its 0.45% annual fee is higher than most competitors for similar features.

Merrill Guided Investing features an extensive education section that helps round out your investment knowledge and skills for the future. It offers resources on a range of topics for beginning to advanced investors. Other benefits include the fact that it’s part of the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. If you have a combined balance of at least $20,000 across all accounts, you qualify for discounts and benefits, including a savings of 0.05% to 0.15% for guided investing.

You can access advisors at any time, but you have to upgrade to a more expensive account for full one-on-one investment support year-round. Investment choices include socially responsible portfolios and your portfolios will get automated rebalancing.

Pros
  • Excellent education options

  • Discounts available for balances starting at $20,000

  • Access to human advisors

Cons
  • Fees start at 0.45%

  • Higher 0.85% fee for year-round advising

Final Verdict

A robo-advisor is an excellent choice for someone who doesn’t know a lot about investing or wants to take advantage of automated rebalancing for a low fee. You’ll find robo-advisors suited for a range of investor needs, from active investing to retirement savings. Consider reviewing your investment goals with a professional advisor before enrolling. Make sure you understand the risks and costs before signing up for a new account.

Compare the Best Robo-Advisors

Company Account Minimum Fees Key Features
Wealthfront
Best Overall
$500 0.25% Curated portfolios, no-cost access to human help
Betterment
Best for Beginners and Cash Management
$0 0.25% Simple automated investing, low-fee banking
M1 Finance
Best for Low Costs and Advanced Investors
$100 No recurring fees No fees, portfolio “Pies”
E*Trade Core Portfolios
Best for Mobile
$500 0.30% Portfolio customization, 24/7 support
Interactive Brokers
Best for Portfolio Construction and Socially Responsible Investing
$100 0.08% to 1.5% Themed portfolios, socially responsible portfolios
Personal Capital
Best Portfolio Management
$100,000 0.89% Human advisor, free investment analysis tools
Merrill Guided Investing
Best for Education
$1,000 0.45% Benefits for high balances across Merrill and Bank of America

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does a Robo-Advisor Work?

Robo-advisor computer-automated investment manager. Most robo-advisors begin with questions about your investment goals, age, and risk tolerance and use that information to assign you a portfolio of investments. The advising program then assigns a portfolio or allows you to customize a portfolio to your specific needs and criteria. Some robo-advisors offer access to human advisors for additional assistance, while others are entirely self-service investment products.

How Much Money Do I Need to Use a Robo-Advisor?

The lowest cost robo-advisor we reviewed for this list does not require any specific minimum opening balance. You could start with as little as $10 or $20 with some robo-advising accounts. Others require a higher starting balance, as much as $100,000 in some cases. Depending on your starting investment balance, you may pick one advisor over another due to minimum balance requirements.

How Do You Choose the Best Robo-Advisor?

Robo-advisors tend to offer similar features, so it’s essential to focus on the differences when picking an account. The most important features to consider are pricing, available investments, portfolio allocation, and accessibility to human assistance.

High investment fees can take a considerable chunk out of your investments in the long term, so many investors prioritize lower fees. Also, consider your own investing experience when picking a robo-advisor.

Are Robo-Advisors Safe to Use?

Robo-advisors are generally safe to use. Professionally-designed portfolios from robo-advisors are based on the work of a team of investment experts who have researched and carefully chosen portfolio allocations. 

Remember, however, that all investments come with risks. Even the best robo-advisors can’t predict how the market will perform.

Methodology

We are dedicated to providing readers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. Our reviews are the result of months of evaluating all aspects of an online broker’s platform, including the user experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on its platforms, costs and fees, security, the mobile experience, and customer service. A rating scale was established based on the criteria, collecting thousands of data points that were weighed into a scoring system.

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