I've tried Betterment for ~1 year. Similar to Wealthfront, it's a solid choice as a "set and forget" robo-advisor with a monthly recurring deposit. One option that strongly differentiates Betterment from its competitors (namely Wealthfront) is the "tax-coordinated portfolio" with multiple accounts (at least, as of today). See https://www.betterment.com/tax-coordinated-portfolio/ for more detailed info, but in summary, they manipulate your multiple investment accounts to give your entire portfolio the "balance" of assets you want, but place individual assets into the specific portfolio that reduces the amount of overall taxes you have to pay. This feature is pretty useful for people with retirement accounts *and* other investment accounts.
Betterment is the first robo-advisor I tried (back in Dec of 2013) and I am still using it. I initially chose Betterment because it was the most established robo-advisor and trusted them with my money. I like the portfolio that Betterment invests in because It's pretty diverse although I would prefer that it had less in international ETFs. My returns have been pretty decent so far, I'm up 12.7% since December of 2013 so I'm pretty satisfied.
I think Betterment is probably the best choice if you don't mind paying a fee for your robo advisor (Wealthfront is free < $10k balance and WiseBanyan is completely free) because it is the largest by assets under management, they have a well balanced portfolio and I believe they will continue to innovate and improve their product.
For what it's worth I'm up 21.6% this year with Betterment. Standard building wealth account, 95% stocks. They charge 0.25% fee to basically handle everything for you with distribution amongst the set of funds they like. Mostly vanguard. Sure maybe I could do it myself but they have a great interface, do tax loss harvesting, rebalancing, and basically take all the work out of it. Up to you if that's worth it.
As someone who does not know a lot about investing, I've enjoyed being a betterment customer for about a year and a half now. Perhaps other services or direct investing provide some of the same options, but here's what I've personally enjoyed about Betterment:
- "set it and forget it": I have $200/month auto-deposit. They've done well for me thus far.
- I've had to pull money out before and it was easy and relatively fast (3 or 4 days?)
- Their UI is great. Impossible to get confused, but the information is there if you want it. E.g. I set a 95% stocks allocation, but if I wanted to I can peel back and find the balance of Vanguard funds in which they've actually invested.
- They're very good about letting you know what's actually going on in understandable terms. They have great articles in their knowledge base and regularly send update emails.
- You can have multiple different goals with different allocations.
I'm a fan. You get a better distribution more true to your risk profile compared to your standard 3 fund or four fund account. It rebalances constantly, better than you can do as a single person maybe monthly or quarterly.