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Betterment advertised a 2.69 savings account promotion guaranteed until the end of the year, yet they dropped the rate a week later to 2.43. Why did they advertise the rate as "guaranteed" through the end of the year if it would fluctuate. Totally misleading. I am assuming somewhere in the fine print, during the account opening process there was some small print explaining that the word guaranteed does not actually mean guaranteed - like when President Clinton said "It depends on what your definition of "is" is." What a SCAM.
I've used several different investing platforms in the past and Betterment is hands down the most confusing one I've seen. There is very little (almost nothing) online regarding learning to use the platform. I suppose if your goal is that you'd like your portfolio to be 100% robo-invested, then this might not be a problem for you. However, if you're looking to robo-invest some assets but still manually invest on occasion, then Betterment is not worth the hype.
So-so performance on my portfolio, they made less than 9% on an aggressive (90% stocks) setting in a good financial year (2017). The worst part is they sent incorrect documents to the IRS claiming I had taken a distribution on an IRA. The customer service rep was also really rude when I enquired about this and asked me to consult a tax person. My CPA said it's their mistake. Won't be using them again.
I called CS for an explanation as to why my balance was different on 3 pages (overview, holdings, and performance). The activity page revealed no changes with credits or debits so it was not clear. After being told I'd be placed on a brief hold so they could obtain more information, the CS person came back after 6+ minutes and told me they didn't know the answer but would email me later. Seriously? Didn't know and couldn't obtain the answer over that hold time? This is the third issue with their website design and lack of information provided in a clear and concise manner by its functionality that customer support/service employees could not answer or resolve.
I tested their approach by putting in a static amount of money in and not touching it for the last 4 years. I had a reasonably aggressive investment mix geared toward stocks with some bonds. The S&P was up quite a bit during that time. My returns with them were not-5% annualized-pretty marginal. Yes, they may have low fees but then that may not matter if they have low returns. Further when I attempted to roll out my IRA balance the process was beyond horrible. It took over 6 weeks of back and forth, back and forth! It was like we were back in the paper days, not electronic. By comparison, I did the same type of rollover with Fidelity and it took 3 days-all electronically-no phone calls, no e-mails whatsoever.
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I don't have a 401k at work so I needed to do something to prepare for retirement. After a bit of research I thought Betterment was a good choice. A few months later, I decided that I need more advice than what I am currently receiving (plus my lack of knowledge). On March 25th, my new financial advisor submitted the paperwork to get my funds transferred to their company. I have received several emails saying my funds are being transferred, then a couple days later I get an email saying the transaction could not be processed. When I call to speak to a live person I get the "all is good" speech. Then again I get an email saying there's a problem. THIS HAS HAPPENED 4 TIMES! It has now been over a month and I still have not received my funds. If you decided to go with Betterment, prepare yourself for a lengthy withdrawal or transfer process.
I have had my Betterment account for the better part of 4 years. Today, with yet another stock market decline, I have learned this one very important fact: Betterment is not a robo advisor as we'd like to think. Here's what they actually do: They invest your money in a few ETFs, collect the dividends, and then sit on their hands and ride the waves of the stock market. They do absolutely nothing to protect what gains you may have earned. That is not a robo advisor. That's just a basic hedge fund. You and I can both do that but without the fees. They're trash and a complete scam. In 4 years, I am in the negative earnings category thanks to them doing nothing. That means all dividends earned are gone. And I've lost money to their fees. Again... A COMPLETE SCAM!
Like somebody said earlier, they are a mafia. You can easily join, but you won't leave. I submitted every single document they requested. They took over a month to do a simple transfer. I've dealt with other bigger brokerage companies doing the same transfers from my late husband's accounts and it was a smooth process. Not with Betterment. I had to jump hoops and go back and forth with them a million times for simple stuff. The kicker is when their "Estate" expert gave me a wrong information and tried to argue with me. I asked for agreement as to where she was getting her opinion/"robo" answer from, and as I thought, she did not have anything to back her "suggestion" which was wrong to my situation. I'm glad, I'm not their customer. Awful experience, stay away if you can.
I signed up for a promo for a t-shirt = never got it. I called and emailed. They lied. I signed up for airline miles. It took a LOT to get them! They promise, but don't deliver. Also not great results for 1/4 percent. I closed acct after a few months. Disappointing. Great website. GUI however.
I've had two accounts invested with Betterment for more than a year. Both were mostly invested in stock ETFs and both generated returns far below their comparable benchmarks. The service is very easy to use and the website on a computer and mobile apps are well designed. But there are much better alternatives, including high yield money market accounts, that provide far superior returns.
Betterment expert review by Barbara Friedberg
Betterment is an automated investment service that helps consumers set and reach investment goals. The Betterment portfolios offer globally diversified investment portfolios with the greatest returns for the lowest risk levels. They offer retirement and traditional investment brokerage accounts.
Easy sign-up process: The sign-up takes an average of five minutes and begins with three simple questions; age, retired or not, and annual income.
Goal based investing: The investor selects/prioritizes one or all three goals; safety net, retirement and/or general investing. Every choice concludes with links to additional information.
Optimized portfolio: The company optimizes their exchange traded fund (ETF) investment portfolios based upon modern portfolio research and offers the greatest returns for the investors indicated risk tolerance level.
Low fees: Consumers can start with as little as a $100 monthly auto-deposit. The fee structure begins at 0.35 percent for the auto-deposit of $100 per month until the account value reaches $10,000. The AUM fee drops to 0.25 percent for accounts valued between $10,001 and $99,999. All accounts over $100,000 pay 0.15 percent management fee.
Special highlights: The RetirementGuide Calculator tool indicates how much the user must save to meet their retirement spending goals. The SmartDeposit feature automatically transfers excess bank account funds into the Betterment account.
Portfolio features: Wealthfront offers portfolio rebalancing, tax efficient exchange traded portfolios and tax-loss harvesting.
No outside accounts: All assets are held by the Betterment portfolio custodian and must be transferred to the firm.
Best for: New and experienced investors seeking low fee, diversified and automated investment management.
Betterment questions and answers
- What’s the most common misconception consumers have about your industry?
- Most people have the misconception that investing has to be complicated and confusing. It makes sense that people would feel that way because, historically, traditional financial services have not offered elegant and easy-to-use platforms for managing investments. Now, utilizing intuitive design and automated tools, Betterment has created a smarter investing experience that has been designed to help provide customers with the best-expected net investor returns for retirement planning, building wealth, and other savings goals.
- How has your industry changed in the last 5 to 10 years?
- Automated investment services, which offer sophisticated ways to simplify and automate your portfolio and investing strategy, are engineering an inevitable transformation of the entire financial landscape. Why? New technology helps disrupt and streamline stale, inefficient models, rewarding customers with better, smarter solutions.
The creation and popularity of index-tracking ETFs have been essential to our success as an automated investment service, as is cloud-computing, like Amazon Web Services. ETFs allow us to put together incredibly low-cost, liquid portfolios and improve tax efficiency—while cloud-computing allows our engineers to build, model, and test new trading platforms in cost- and time-efficient ways.
All of these benefits are then passed on to customers through lower costs, optimized investment vehicles, and a seamless user experience. This is the new era for investing that improves the way all Americans can grow their money—and increases the likelihood that they will not only reach their financial goals, but also be happier because they can spend more time doing the things they enjoy.
- What problem is Betterment trying to solve?
- At Betterment, we’re helping people answer the question: “What should I do with my money?” Our pursuit is to create the perfect automated investing service, helping people to better manage, protect, and grow their wealth through smarter technology. We are building on prior innovation and applying technology in new ways to change the way people manage their money so they ultimately have better outcomes. We start from a place of alignment with the customer and then ask, “How can we use technology to improve his or her experience?” Through smart technology, design and customer experience, we work with individuals to better address their investing needs.
- What sets Betterment apart from the competition
- Betterment is unique in that it handles every part of the investment process, allowing us to provide a better experience for customers.
- What needs Betterment fulfill, and how do you fulfill those needs better than your competition?
- Betterment offers a smarter investing experience.
Better Returns: The Betterment portfolio is designed to achieve optimal returns at every level of risk. Through diversification, automated rebalancing, better behavior, and lower fees, Betterment customers can expect 4.30% higher returns than a typical DIY investor.
Customized Portfolio Allocations: Each investment portfolio is designed to get customers optimal investor returns. Our goal-based investing framework and advice algorithm let customers know if they are on track to reach their investment goals, like retirement or a safety net fund.
Automation and Passive Investing: We recommend a globally diversified, passive portfolio of 12 asset classes, tailored for our customers’ risk and time horizon. Years of research and Nobel Prize-winning Modern Portfolio Theory are the foundation of our investment method.
Tax-Efficient Investing: We are built from the ground up to handle every dollar of our customers’ money tax‑efficiently.
Retirement Income: We use technology, investment expertise, and a fresh take on withdrawal methodology to provide sustainable cash flow while our customers enjoy retirement.
Trust Accounts: Betterment customers can create multiple goals—such as growing wealth, saving for education, or distributing income—tailored to each beneficiary.
- How does Betterment measure success?
- To measure the success of our company, we track a variety of metrics but especially look at assets under management, the number of customers using Betterment, and customer satisfaction.
- What is something you wish every consumer knew about Betterment?
- It’s easy to get started with Betterment, and our customer experience team is here to serve you 7 days a week.
- Has your business received any rewards or recognition for its products or services that your customers would like to know about?
- Betterment is a CNBC Disruptor 50 and Webby award winner and has been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, CNNMoney, TechCrunch, Bloomberg, NBC, and Lifehacker, among other news outlets.
- How has Betterment grown or evolved?
- Betterment is the largest, fastest-growing automated investing service, with more than 50,000 customers and more than $1 billion in assets under management. We’ve doubled our customer base in the last year alone (learn more at https://www.betterment.com/)
We have also implemented a variety of new features:
Tax Loss Harvesting+, TaxMin, and Tax Impact Preview
Improved Portfolio with Municipal Bonds
Better Mobile Apps (with touch ID and portfolio view)
Betterment Company Information
- Company Name:
- 61 W. 23rd Street, 5th Floor
- New York
- Postal Code:
- United States
- (888) 428‑9482