Stockpile is an online brokerage account designed for parents who want to give their children a leg up in personal finance.
By opening a custodial account for a child or teen, parents can help kids learn the ropes and also invite friends and family to purchase gift cards for stocks as presents at birthdays, holidays, graduations and other special occasions.
Stockpile offers both individual and custodial taxable accounts, but we do not find the individual account to be worth consideration for adults, even beginners. While a key draw for Stockpile previously was its lack of fees, it moved to a paid membership structure in Aug. 2022, with monthly memberships now starting at $4.95.
Even beginners would be better served with a platform like Robinhood or Acorns. The true value of Stockpile lies in the custodial taxable account, often an afterthought at other brokerages but the real differentiator for Stockpile.
Stockpile gift cards
Crypto trading offered
Stockpile Review: Fees and Features
So is a Stockpile brokerage account right for you? We’ve detailed fees and features (or, in many cases, the lack of features) for Stockpile below to help you make your choice.
Stockpile at a Glance
Membership: $4.95 a month; $0 trading fees
Limited stocks, EFTs
Real-time crypto trading
For adults and minors
Ability to pick stocks
Only takes minutes
Start with as low as $1
Allowance or birthday
With mobile app
For iOS and android
No direct support
Registered with SEC
FINRA and SIPC member
Stockpile has $0 trading fees and charges no commissions; that means no basic trading fee to buy stock. Even better, when you purchase a gift card for an account holder, what you pay is what they get. That is, if you buy a $100 gift card, there are no hidden fees. Every cent goes to the gift card recipient, and you aren’t charged additional fees.
There is no minimum account balance requirement, nor is there a fee for account inactivity. However, Stockpile does currently have a $75 transfer-out fee. If your child does not intend to carry their custodial account into adulthood (and we don’t recommend it when there are so many other options on the market), be prepared for that cost.
Stockpile Account Types
Account types are very limited at Stockpile: You can open an individual taxable account and/or a custodial taxable account. There are no retirement accounts (no IRAs or 401(k)s); these are an industry standard at most other online brokerages.
You also cannot open a certificate of deposit (CD), money market account, checking account, savings account, 529 or trust with Stockpile.
Stockpile Investment Offerings
Stocks and ETFs (exchange-traded funds) are Stockpile’s bread and butter. As is typical with niche services like this, even these options are limited. Stockpile advertises that it has more than 4,000 popular stocks and ETFs, and you can request that they add specific stocks to the list. However, Stockpile will not add any stocks under $3.
And while you can trade stocks and ETFs with Stockpile, that’s about where the train stops. You can trade ADRs (American Depository Receipts), but Stockpile does not allow you to trade options, bonds, futures or mutual funds.
Last year, Stockpile did launch real-time cryptocurrency investing, a feature previously missing from its offerings.
Stockpile Gift Cards
Stockpile CEO Avi Lele started Stockpile because he wanted to purchase stocks for his nieces and nephews at Christmas (fun uncle, eh?) but had no easy way of doing so. Stockpile is his solution, and it actually is a pretty neat perk, especially for adults who typically give 30-year bonds that earn next to nothing as gifts to newborns or graduates.
When you purchase a gift card for someone with a custodial account, you can select from predetermined values—$25, $50, $100 or $200—or enter in a custom dollar amount. You can also make it a generic stock gift card, allowing the recipient to research and choose their own, or you can select from a number of best-selling stocks, like Google, Facebook, Nike, Snapchat, Disney, Tesla and Apple.
Recipients can choose to use the gift card for the stock indicated on the card or instead invest in their own selection. But again, custodial taxable accounts require adult approval via a separate login, so a parent will have to greenlight that decision.
When purchasing the gift card, you have the option to email, text or print. You can also add an optional gift message.
The money used to purchase the gift card is not immediately invested. Instead, the face value of the card is stagnant until the recipient redeems the money in an account and uses it to buy their first stock.
Previously, Stockpile charged a credit or debit card fee for purchasing a gift card. There is no longer a fee when you buy stock gift cards for someone.
Easy Account Setup
A highlight of Stockpile and other digital-first brokerages like it is that setting up an account is easy. It takes minutes online or via the smartphone app. You can then wait for your external bank account to be linked or start trading immediately using your debit card.
A big pro of Stockpile is that it allows you to purchase fractional shares. You can get started investing in big-name expensive stocks, like Apple stock or Google stock, with as little as $1. This makes trading more attainable for kids and teens working with allowance and birthday money.
Because Stockpile is targeted at beginners, its website has a fair share of educational content for getting started. You’ll find it in the main navigation of the Stockpile website, labeled Beginner’s Guide. You can also get investment tips within the smartphone app.
That said, for its niche market, we would expect more helpful educational content to be served up in the app than users actually get.
Stockpile Mobile App
As an online brokerage, we’d expect Stockpile to offer a top-notch mobile app, and it does not disappoint. The app is easy to use, and it’s tailored to its target audience of digital-native users.
At the time of publication, the Stockpile smartphone app has a 4.7 star rating on the Apple App Store based on 56,000+ reviews and a 3.6star rating on Google Play based on nearly 9,000reviews.
For added security, you can enable two-factor authentication for your account. Parents and children have separate logins to their custodial accounts, enabling parents to prevent accidental trades or poorly informed purchase decisions by minors.
While Stockpile is an app-based brokerage, the online platform (i.e., the website) offers much of the same functionality as the app.
Stockpile Customer Service
A big drawback of Stockpile is its lack of customer service option. There is no phone number to call when you need assistance, nor is there a live chat option on the Stockpile website.
Instead, you must rely on the Stockpile customer service email address: email@example.com. You can also try reaching customer support via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Stockpile is a legitimate brokerage registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Every account is insured up to $500,000 (including $250,000in cash) through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).
What is not insured through SIPC, however, is unclaimed balances on gift cards. If Stockpile goes belly up and you still have funds on a gift card, that money is now worthless. It is important for Stockpile users to redeem gift cards as soon as they receive them.
Lack of Features
While Stockpile has a few compelling features, especially for custodial taxable accounts, it is just as noteworthy for the features it lacks. Stockpile does not offer portfolio optimization or dividend reinvestment, nor does it offer order routing options or best price guarantee. You also cannot do any active trading (trading in real time); instead, all trades are done at the end of the day and at the end-of-the-day price.
Even the educational content is targeted at rudimentary beginners. Beginners with some sense of the stock market would do better with the content offered via brokerages like Fidelity or Charles Schwab, if not Robinhood. Those brokerages offer simple tools for keeping up with the news and doing basic stock research; Stockpile does not offer these resources.
Pros and Cons About Stockpile
If our Stockpile review of fees and features still has you undecided, you can weigh the pros and cons of opening a Stockpile brokerage account for you or a child before making a final decision.
Stockpile allows you to purchase stock for children and teens via stock gift cards for brands and companies they’ll instantly recognize.
The educational content on the Stockpile website and in the mobile app is targeted at true beginners.
The Stockpile app is easy to use and offers two-factor authentication.
Parents get a separate login for custodial accounts, which allows them to ultimately approve or reject the child’s trades.
Stockpile allows you to purchase fractional shares.
Stockpile does not charge commissions.
Previously free to use, Stockpile now charges a $4.95 monthly membership fee.
Stockpile only offers individual and custodial taxable accounts. You cannot open any retirement accounts.
Investment offerings are limited to just over 4,000 stocks and ETFs. There is no option to trade options, bonds, futures or mutual funds.
If you purchase a gift card that someone has not yet redeemed and Stockpile goes under, you will be out that money.
There are not enough flashy features to make Stockpile worth using for adults; the entire platform is truly geared toward children and teens.
Direct customer support is not offered. Instead, customer service is relegated to an email address; there are no options to call or live chat with a support agent.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Stockpile
Still have questions about what Stockpile offers and if it’s right for you? We’ve compiled answers to the most common questions our readers are asking; see if we’ve answered yours.
Stockpile is safe. It is a legitimate online brokerage that is registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Stockpile insures accounts through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).
Stockpile also offers two-factor authentication on accounts. Parents manage custodial accounts for their children via a separate login.
Stockpile does not charge trading fees or commissions. Transfer-out fees are $75.
While both Robinhood and Stockpile are similar in their intent, Stockpile is much more rudimentary, and largely geared toward children who are at the very beginning of their investment journeys.
If you are invested through Stockpile in a stock that pays dividends, you will receive that dividend. Because Stockpile allows fractional shares, you may receive a fraction of a dividend, depending how you are invested.
You can purchase a Stockpile gift card at https://www.stockpile.com/gift/egift-card. You’ll just need a credit or debit card to fund the purchase. As of 2021, you cannot purchase a physical gift card; all gift cards are emailed, texted or printed (on paper). There is no longer a credit debit card fee associated with this purchase.
You can purchase stock gift cards for those with a Stockpile account at $25, $50, $100 and $200 values or for a custom dollar amount. You have the option to select a specific stock (though the gift card recipient can change the stock) or allow the recipient to make the decision on their own. Gift cards maintain their face value until the recipient actively redeems the money.
Is Stockpile Right for You?
We do not recommend Stockpile for adult investors, even at the beginner level. However, if you are a parent or guardian who wants to get your kid started in the realm of trading stocks, Stockpile is one the industry’s best options for custodial taxable accounts. With fractional shares, stock gift cards and a parental approval requirement for all trades, Stockpile is great for kids and teens.
If you are not looking to open an account for a minor but want an investment account that prioritizes education for novices, consider platforms like Robinhood, Betterment, M1 Finance, Acorns or Ally Invest.
The Penny Hoarder also offers a wealth of investing content that can likely get you where you want to be faster than an account with Stockpile. Check out some of our educational content:
Investing for Beginners
Investing in Stocks Even When You’re Low on Cash
Timothy Moore covers bank accounts and investing for The Penny Hoarder from his home base in Cincinnati. He has worked in editing and graphic design for a marketing agency, a global research firm and a major print publication. He covers a variety of other topics, including insurance, taxes, retirement and budgeting and has worked in the field since 2012. Contributor Sean Cudahy contributed to this post.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.