Robo-advisor fees: Who is the cheapest right now?

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Looking for an easy way to invest your money that leverages the latest in artificial intelligence and algorithm-driven portfolio management to deliver solid returns and low fees?

Welcome to the world of robo-advising!

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Comparing your choices among robo-advisors

Some 10 years ago, the first robo-advisor services arrived on the scene, utilizing AI and algorithms to build out portfolios — typically using ultra low-cost exchange traded-funds — to give you an alternative to paying big bucks for financial guidance.

Robo-advising is something that typically appeals to the millennial set, who don’t seek as much face-to-face interaction with financial professionals as Baby Boomers or Generation X might.

In an effort to appeal to a wider demographic than just 20-somethings, many robo-advisors offer a hybrid model that includes input from a human advisor in addition to an algorithm.

As a general rule, these hybrid flavors are premium services that come with extra fees.

If you want to look strictly at the entry-level robo-advisor options that don’t include the human touch, these are some of the big players in the field and how much they charge to manage your money:

Name Minimum investment to get started Annual fees Average costs of underlying investments
Rebalance $100,000 0.50% 0.15%
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services $50,000 0.30% 0.08%
Schwab Intelligent Portfolios $5,000 0.00% 0.14%
Fidelity Go $5,000 0.35% 0.37%
SigFig $2,000 0.25% 0.12%
Betterment $0 0.25% 0.10%
Wealth Simple $0 0.50% 0.12%
Ellevest $0 0.25% 0.06% to 0.16%

Money expert Clark Howard has long said that if you’re just starting out or are younger in life, a robo-advisory firm is a reasonable way for you to get financial guidance and direction on the cheap.

But later in life, after you’ve built up substantial assets, he also says there’s no substitute for a well-trained and educated human being like a fee-only financial planner.


A fee-only financial planner can provide invaluable guidance for when you’ve amassed a sizeable portfolio and it’s getting closer to when you’re going to spend it!

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