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Betterment and Ellevest are familiar companies within the robo-advisor industry. Both digital investment advisors are built around modern portfolio theory and offer planning tools to help you realize your financial goals. The most obvious difference is that Ellevest’s platform is designed specifically with women in mind and makes adjustments to its model based on factors like a longer life expectancy, career breaks, and pay gaps. While Betterment and Ellevest may seem similar at first glance, a deeper look finds some key differences that will help in deciding which one is a better fit for your investing needs.

  • Account Minimum: $0 for Plus, or Executive, $1,000,000 for Private Wealth
  • Fees: $5 or $9 monthly subscription fee, depending on level of membership chosen
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Pros & Cons

  • Financial planning directed toward the goals and specific needs of women

  • Flat-fee structure benefits mid- to high-level investors (those with at least $50,000)

  • Access to the highest level of benefits at the Executive membership level for a set fee, regardless of the account balance

  • Goal planning and account options are dependent upon the selected membership level

  • Customer service is limited to online chat or social media contact

  • Account Minimum: $0, $10 minimum to start investing
  • Fees: 0.25% (annual) for investing plan accounts with at least $20,000 or at least $250 per month in recurring account deposits. Otherwise, the fee is $4/month. An additional 0.15% (annual) fee on accounts with at least $100,000 in assets provides account holders with unlimited access to certified financial planners. This additional fee is applied to assets in the investment and cryptocurrency accounts, but not cash accounts. For accounts with at least $2 million, there is a fee discount of 0.10%.
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Pros & Cons

  • Our top choice in both the best for beginners and best for cash management categories

  • Multi-goal planning options available to all investors, regardless of account type

  • External accounts can be linked and synchronized to your Betterment dashboard for a full financial picture

  • Live, human customer service available five days a week

  • Low fees, no account minimum, and more account features

  • ideal choice for beginner investors

  • Does not invest in REIT ETFs

Ellevest vs. Betterment: Account Setup

Both Betterment and Ellevest have similar experiences regarding account setup. With both companies, the investor can easily open an account online by entering in personal information and answering a series of questions about risk tolerance, time horizon, financial goals, and more. Based on the investor’s answers, a portfolio is put together to meet those goals. 

There is one major difference between the two companies in terms of account setup–live customer service. If an investor needs to ask questions about setting up their account, Betterment does offer live customer service via phone, five days a week. Ellevest does not offer any sort of live customer service option. Existing and potential clients must either reach out to the company via social media or submit the question through the website and wait for an email response. 

Account setup is quick at either digital investment advisor, but we give Betterment the edge in this category for providing live customer service agents by phone.

Ellevest vs. Betterment: Goal Planning

Investor goal-planning capabilities are vastly different between these two digital investment advisors. Betterment allows you to select goal planning in five general areas: retirement, retirement income, safety net, general investing, and major purchases (house, education, other). External accounts can also be connected to your Betterment Investing or Premium account, making it easy to get an overall picture of your financial situation.

In contrast, Ellevest's three membership levels offer differing levels of goal planning for investors. An Essential membership account will give you access to a basic investing account, for a single goal. Plus membership level adds the additional financial goal of retirement planning. Multi-goal investing, such as retirement, college, vacation, or saving up to buy a home, can only be accessed at an Executive membership account.

A quick analysis of the goal planning capabilities for investors shows that Betterment offers a higher level of benefit for the associated account fees. Betterment offers multi-goal investing options to all investors, starting at the Investing account level. Ellevest does not offer this option until the Executive membership level, which is $9 per month. On an account of $5,000, at Ellevest, you would pay $108 for the year, whereas, at Betterment, you would only pay $12.50 for the same level of benefit during the same time period.

Ellevest vs. Betterment: Account Services

Both Betterment and Ellevest offer similar basic account services, such as easily setting up direct deposit, transferring money from a linked external account, and effortlessly accessing cash through ATM or debit cards. That said, there are a couple of differences, and depending on your personal needs or preferences that could make a difference. 

Betterment offers clients the ability to open a joint account, while Ellevest does not offer that option at this time. However, Ellevest does a very unique roundup program. The program is something that investors must choose to enroll in, as it is not automatic. Once you are enrolled though, you are able to round up every transaction to the next dollar. By doing this, the additional charge above and beyond the transaction amount will go directly into your Ellevest Save account. The money can stay in the savings account or be transferred to an investment account.

Cash Management

While both companies offer interest on cash and debit cards to easily access and spend, Betterment offers clients a few extras that Ellevest does not. Betterment and Ellevest limit clients to withdrawals to $510/day from ATMs. Betterment doesn’t charge ATM fees, either domestically or internationally. Ellevest offers reimbursement of domestic ATM fees, but only if the client’s account has received a payroll direct deposit to the account within 30 days of transaction settlement. Last, Betterment also offers a traditional checking account with the ability to write physical checks, whereas Ellevest does not.

When it comes to cash management, Betterment has the edge over Ellevest. 

Cash Reserve is only available to clients of Betterment LLC, which is not a bank, and cash transfers to program banks are conducted through the clients’ brokerage accounts at Betterment Securities. 

Checking accounts and the Betterment Visa Debit Card provided and issued by nbkc bank, Member FDIC. Checking made available through Betterment Financial LLC. Neither Betterment Financial LLC, nor any of its affiliates, is a bank. Betterment Financial LLC reimburses ATM fees and the Visa® 1% foreign transaction fee worldwide, everywhere Visa is accepted.

Ellevest vs. Betterment: Portfolio Construction

Similar types of investment products and asset classes are offered at both companies, with one notable difference: real estate investment trusts (REITs). To be clear, REITs are not offered as outright investments with either company. However, Ellevest explicitly offers exposure to U.S. real estate through REIT ETFs in both the Digital and Premium investment portfolios. While Betterment does not invest in REIT ETFs, they do give their investors some exposure to real estate within their larger equities ETF options. 

An additional difference to consider within the portfolio offerings is the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) offerings. While both companies offer ESG options, Ellevest directs its ESG investments towards creating constructive social impact by advancing women.

Betterment has also acquired Makara, which allows cryptocurrency portfolios to be added to the asset types.

Overall, we found Betterment and Ellevest are evenly matched in a head-to-head comparison of the types of investments that are available within each account. However, the recent introduction of cryptocurrency gives Betterment the edge.  

Ellevest and Betterment both offer basic taxable and retirement accounts. 

Betterment account types:

Ellevest account types:

  • Individual taxable accounts
  • Traditional IRA accounts
  • Roth IRA accounts
  • Savings accounts with debit card

One key difference is that Betterment offers joint accounts, while Ellevest does not. Another notable distinction is that Ellevest does not offer a traditional checking account with its banking services. You have access to a savings account with a debit card, but no paper checks. Betterment offers both debit cards and checks with banking accounts. Overall, Betterment offers a larger choice of account types.

Available Assets
  Betterment Ellevest 
Individual Stocks  No  No 
Mutual Funds  No  Yes 
Fixed Income  Yes, but only in ETFs Yes, but only in ETFs 
REITs  No  Yes, but only in ETFs 
Socially Responsible or ESG Options  Yes Yes 
ETFs  Yes  Yes 
Non-Proprietary ETFs  Yes  Yes 
Forex  No  No 
Crypto  Yes No 

Portfolio Customization

While Ellevest is limited to changing risk levels on goals or switching portfolios in terms of customization, Betterment does offer more in this area. While Betterment strongly encourages you to stick with the set portfolios, it has a Flexible Portfolios option where you can tweak any Betterment portfolio by playing with the weightings and thus push it beyond the usual risk tolerances. If you are looking for customization, Betterment has the edge. 

Ellevest vs. Betterment: Portfolio Management

Portfolio management is another area where the companies differ greatly. Two of the biggest differences deal with automatic portfolio rebalancing and external account synchronization. At Betterment, client portfolios are automatically rebalanced when the portfolio drifts 3% from the goal target allocation. At Ellevest, investor portfolios are automatically rebalanced, however, there is no set time when that occurs. 

More importantly, investors with Betterment are able to link their external accounts to their Betterment accounts and get a clear picture of their overall financial situation. Betterment’s platform even has the ability to make recommendations and offer guidance based on the client’s overall financial picture. Ellevest does not offer external account synchronization. 

Tax-Advantaged Investing

Betterment offers automated tax-loss harvesting for all client accounts at no additional cost. This allows investors to realize a loss by replacing an ETF trading at a loss with a comparable ETF that maintains the same exposure while offsetting gains in other areas of the portfolio to reduce taxable income. 

Ellevest does not offer tax-loss harvesting, specifically, but does implement tax minimization strategies. These strategies include investing in securities that might cost you less in taxes, such as tax-efficient municipal bonds, in the accounts that are taxable right now as well as including securities that might cause you to incur more taxes, such as corporate and government bonds, in tax-deferred retirement accounts if available. 

Betterment is not a licensed tax advisor. Tax Loss Harvesting+ (TLH+) is not suitable for all investors. Read more at and consider your personal circumstances before deciding whether to utilize Betterment’s TLH+ feature. Investing involves risk. Performance not guarantee.

Ellevest vs. Betterment: Key Portfolio Management Features

  Betterment Ellevest 
Automatic Rebalancing When portfolio drifts from target Periodically, no set parameters
Reporting Features  Dashboard allows investors to see the overall financial picture. Nudge emails are sent to keep clients engaged.  Account information is accessible by logging into your Ellevest account; however, members can sign up for a newsletter which is delivered via email three times a week. 
Tax-Loss Harvesting  Yes  No, tax minimization strategies are used 
External Account Syncing/Consolidation  Yes; once external accounts are linked, Betterment’s platform allows for recommendations and goal planning based on your entire financial picture  No, not available at this time

Ellevest vs. Betterment: Security

Both Betterment and Ellevest offer standard security features. Both use encryption to keep personal account information safe, have 2-factor authentication, and have network security in place to keep your online account as safe as possible. Both firms hold Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) coverage of $500,00. One difference is that Betterment offers biometric entry, including fingerprint and facial recognition, while Ellevest does not offer this feature. Overall, however, both Ellevest and Betterment are up to standard, so it is a toss-up in terms of security. 

Ellevest vs. Betterment: User Experience


Both Betterment and Ellevest offer desktop dashboards that make it easy to view your account activity, goals, and portfolio performance. Betterment, however, offers investors the ability to connect outside accounts, which enables users to monitor all of their finances in one consolidated platform. Ellevest does not offer external account synchronization. So the desktop experience is easy to manage, but it is simply a snapshot of the Ellevest account.

Mobile App 

Both Ellevest and Betterment offer all the desktop features through their respective mobile apps. Betterment users have experienced some issues with linking accounts and fund transfers via mobile, and Ellevest does not have all account features optimized for mobile, in particular, when logging on from an iPad.

Ellevest vs. Betterment: Customer Service

Both Betterment and Ellevest have comparable solid FAQs. The two digital investment advisors also offer phone consultations with a financial advisor for an additional fee and have automated online chat sections for existing and prospective clients to ask questions and find answers. 

The differentiating factor here is access to answers. Betterment offers live customer service, via phone call, five days each week to answer questions or help resolve issues. This is available to prospective investors, as well as current clients. Ellevest clients do not have access to a live representative at all and must wait for an email response. 

  Betterment Ellevest 
Phone contact available Yes, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday No
Pre-funding phone consultation with certified advisor  Yes, available for an additional fee for Investing plan members. Included for Premium members.  Yes, available for an additional fee.
Online chat available  Yes, both existing and prospective clients can ask questions in the online chat 24/7. Pre-scripted answers are given that closely relate to your question. Yes, both existing and prospective clients can ask questions in the online chat 24/7. Pre-scripted answers are given that closely relate to your question. If you still need help, a contact box populates to fill out to receive an email response.
Website FAQ section  Yes, most basic questions are answered in a clear, concise manner.  Yes, most basic questions are answered in a clear, concise manner.

Ellevest vs. Betterment: Fees

A head-to-head comparison of fees is a bit tricky between Betterment and Ellevest for the simple fact that the companies offer different fee structures: Betterment offers a 0.25% annual fee or $4 per month for Investing accounts under $20K and a 0.40% fee for Premium clients. Ellevest offers a flat rate based on the selected membership level rather than a percentage of assets under management (AUM)

Category Betterment  Ellevest 
Management fees for $5,000 account $48 (Investing) $12 (Essential) $60 (Plus) $108 (Executive)
Management fees for $25,000 account $62.50 (Investing)  $12 (Essential) $60 (Plus) $108 (Executive) 
Management fees for $50,000 account  $125 (Investing)  $12 (Essential) $60 (Plus) $108 (Executive) 
Management fees for $100,000 account  $400 (Premium - Optional)  $250 (Investing) $12 (Essential) $60 (Plus) $108 (Executive) 
Termination fees  $0  $0 
Expense ratios  0.09% average (as of March 28, 2022) Range from 0.05% to 0.26% 
Mutual funds N/A  Range from 0.05% to 0.26% 

With a $5,000 account balance, you would have higher fees for an investing account at Betterment ($48) than an Essential membership at Ellevest ($12). If an investor had several financial goals that they wanted to plan for, however, their fee would remain the same at Betterment ($48) while they would need to increase to an Executive membership level with Ellevest ($108). The higher the account balance is, the higher the fees become with Betterment, while Ellevest becomes a more attractive option. If you had $50,000 in your account, Ellevest would still be $108 at the Executive level, but Betterment would cost $125 even at the investing account level. 

Given the differing approaches to fees, there is no clear winner. Betterment offers more for the money, particularly to lower balance accounts, while Ellevest gains in value as your account balance goes up. 

Final Verdict

Choosing between Betterment and Ellevest comes down to a couple of main factors. Specifically, how much you are looking to invest and what type of options you want with your account. If you have more than $50,000 to put in an automated portfolio, then Ellevest can offer the most account options with the Executive membership flat fee. This fee will not increase, no matter how much your account grows. Ellevest also has a unique approach in that it is a company founded by women and created specifically for the investing needs of women. This approach adds some unique elements to the portfolios that will not necessarily be accessible through Betterment, such as adjusting portfolios to reflect longer life expectancy and career gaps. 

However, if you are just starting out and don’t have that much to invest, Betterment can offer account options and benefits comparable to Ellevest’s highest membership level at a much lower cost to the investor because the fee structure is based on a small percentage (0.25%) of the account balance. If you are looking to be able to synchronize external accounts to see your overall financial picture and value access to live customer service, then Betterment is the best choice. Accounts at Betterment also allow for joint ownership, which can be an important factor depending on your situation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Services do Ellevest and Betterment Offer?

Betterment and Ellevest are digital investment advisors in the robo-advisor industry. Both offer similar basic account services, like money transfers, debit cards, and ATM access. However, Betterment offers clients the ability to open a joint account, while Ellevest doesn't, and Ellevest has a unique roundup program, which Betterment does not.

How Do Ellevest and Betterment Work?

Ellevest and Betterment automatically balance an investor's portfolio and make decisions based on your basic information and investing goals. As digital investment advisors, the companies offer planning tools and are generally cheaper than a financial advisor.

Who Should Use Ellevest vs. Betterment?

It depends on what your specific investment needs and goals are. Each company has specific advantages. Ellevest offers the most account options with the Executive membership flat fee and Betterment has multi-goal planning options available to all investors, regardless of account type.


Our mission at Investopedia is to provide investors with reviews and ratings of robo-advisors that are comprehensive and unbiased. Our team of researchers and expert writers, led by Michael Sacchitello, spent months evaluating all aspects of a robo-advisor’s platform, including the account setup process, goal planning tools, account service options, portfolio construction offerings, portfolio management, mobile and desktop user experience, educational content, fees, and security. As part of this evaluation, we extract critical data points that are weighted by our quantitative model that produces a powerful star-scoring system.

With the individual investor in mind, we’ve designed a comprehensive ranking methodology to find the best overall robo-advisors and the best robo-advisors across nine key categories. Each advisor is then scored across multiple variables to rate performance in every applicable category. The score for the overall award is a weighted average of the categories.

The above material and content should not be considered to be a recommendation. Investing in digital assets is highly speculative and volatile, and only suitable for investors who are able to bear the risk of potential loss and experience sharp drawdowns. Digital assets are not legal tender and are not backed by the U.S. government. Digital assets are not subject to FDIC insurance or SIPC protections.

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