Frequently Asked Questions
There’s a lot at work in a Betterment account. Get the answers to the top questions new customers ask us.
Getting to know Betterment
Betterment is an online financial advisor. We help you plan your financial goals and recommend smart investment choices, so that you save time and gain peace of mind, knowing that your money is working for you. We’re a fiduciary, which means we put your interests first.
When you open a Betterment account, we advise you on what your portfolio should include, while giving you control over how much risk you take on. All of our portfolio strategies are globally diversified and built using index-tracking exchange-traded funds (ETFs). We pick the funds for you, making recommendations that control costs and taxes. We also automatically take care of things like portfolio rebalancing, reinvesting dividends, and tax loss harvesting.
When you make a deposit, we invest all of your money automatically, trading fractional shares for you in the background. That means there’s no extra step to turn your cash into investments, and your returns aren’t dragged down by holding extra cash.
Betterment’s online financial advice is available for 0.25% per year with no minimum balance. We call this our Digital plan because you receive our advice online, through email, and through your mobile app. For 0.40% per year, you can also gain over-the-phone access to our team of CFP® professionals and licensed financial experts who can provide in-depth advice on investments outside of Betterment. This Premium plan requires a minimum balance of $100,000. Learn more about our pricing
For balances in excess of $2 million (excluding 401(k) balances through Betterment for Business), the Digital plan charges 0.15% per year and the Premium plan charges 0.30% on the portion of your balance above $2 million. Balances are calculated based on household. If you qualify for part of your balance managed free and have a balance above $2 million, the dollars managed free will be those with the higher fee.
For either plan, we calculate your fee daily so we can accurately account for deposits, withdrawals and market fluctuations that occur. We then total the fees from those daily calculations each quarter, billing you a fraction of the total annual fee. This means that if you withdraw your balance before the end of the quarter, you’re only charged the fee for the days your money was managed by Betterment.
What does the fee get you? It covers the advice you receive, the transactions, trades, transfers, and rebalancing we manage for you, and all other account administration. We do not charge you additional transaction fees to buy and sell securities.
Any fund held in your portfolio at Betterment will assess fund-level fees, called expense ratios, but Betterment aims to keep these costs low, and we receive no part of these fees.
Like Betterment, most robo-advisors use technology to recommend a portfolio and automate the investment process. Betterment doesn't stop there. We’re designed to help you identify your financial goals, choose a portfolio for each of your goals, automate your savings, and keep your taxes and fees low. Then, when you have questions, licensed experts from our Support and Advice teams are ready over the phone, or to refer you to a one-on-one financial advisor.
In other words, Betterment aims to help you answer, “How can I be a smarter, better investor across my finances?” while other robo-advisors only answer “What should my portfolio look like?”
Betterment’s digital advice comes with no minimum balance and low, straightforward fees. Learn more about how we compare to other robo-advisors.
- Betterment SRI, our socially responsible portfolio strategy
- Goldman Sachs Smart Beta, a factor-based portfolio strategy
- BlackRock Target Income portfolios, five different bond portfolios targeting cash income
Read more about Betterment’s portfolio strategy options.
There are two primary ways to move money to Betterment:
- By transferring investments from an account at a different firm, and
- By linking a bank account to make cash deposits.
If you roll over 401(k) or IRA assets to Betterment, your previous provider will typically sell the investments with no tax consequence and transfer the cash value to Betterment. If you wish to transfer investments from a personal brokerage account, you may be eligible for an ACATS transfer, which moves your holdings to Betterment without selling them first.
In addition to transfers, any customer can link their bank account to Betterment to make cash deposits, including regular automatic deposits. To help prevent fraud, Betterment customers can link only one bank account at a time for deposits. You can sync as many bank accounts as you wish to simply see all your assets in one place.
Betterment helps you pursue many different financial goals. One way we do this is by offering different account types that align with your goals. The baseline account type is a personal taxable account. We also offer joint accounts for partners and spouses. For your retirement savings, you can open IRAs, including traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, or SEP IRAs. To help you make plans for your beneficiaries, we also support trust accounts.
You can open any of these account types once you sign up. You can also align each of your accounts to a different investment goal.
There are some account types Betterment does not offer, including: 529 accounts, custodial or minor accounts (e.g., UTMA), health savings accounts, or solo 401(k) plans.
Explore your first goal
This is a great place to start—an emergency fund for life's unplanned hiccups. A safety net is a conservative portfolio.
Whether it's a long way off or just around the corner, we'll help you save for the retirement you deserve.
If you want to invest and build wealth over time, then this is the goal for you. This is an excellent goal type for unknown future needs or money you plan to pass to future generations.