M1 Finance vs Wealthfront 2023

  • No fees or commissions
  • No account minimums
  • Simple investing with M1 Pies
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  • Free access to financial planners
  • 529 plans
  • Automatically invest extra cash
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M1 Finance and Wealthfront are both excellent investing tools. Wealthfront is a pure robo-advisor, whereas M1 Finance that gives more control to those who want it.

If you are wondering which one is “better,” the truth is that it depends upon how you prefer to invest. Some investors feel it’s necessary to have more control while others simply want their money to grow.

Your investing goals, risk tolerance, and investment knowledge all play a role in which is the right approach for you. Nevertheless, we’ll take a look at M1 Finance vs Wealthfront and see which one better fits your goals.

What is M1 Finance?

M1 Finance is a hybrid investment platform that launched in 2015 and based in Chicago, Illinois. It allows users to manage their own investments or choose from pre-built portfolios. The platform features “investment pies” that enable portfolio management in slices and offers options like one-click rebalancing and deposit balancing.

Adding new investments to your portfolio is easy, too. It only takes a few clicks, and once you specify the investment’s target allocation, you’ll be all set.

M1 Finance Details

Monthly Fees$0
Minimum Account Balance$0
Management Fees$0-$125 per year
Account TypesIndividual and joint brokerage accounts, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, and Traditional IRA, plus trust accounts and custodial accounts
Investment TypeStocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

The key to M1 is its investment pies which allow you to manage your portfolio in slices. If any of your slices outperforms the others, you can visually see that and rebalance them in two ways:

  • One-click rebalancing: with a single click, M1 will sell some investments and invest in others to bring your portfolio in balance.
  • Deposit balancing: each of your slices has a target allocation, and if some are smaller than others, M1 will prioritize buying those investments first any time you add cash to your portfolio. 

With M1, you can either build your own portfolio from scratch or choose from one of its expert pies. The latter allows you to buy target-date funds, conservative or aggressive strategies, as well responsible investing.

If you do decide to go with an expert pie, you aren’t bound to that investment mix. In other words, you can customize them, too. Thus, expert pies are a great way to get started for those who are new to investing. As you learn more, you can customize your pies or even create your own.

M1 also offers a checking account and a portfolio line of credit. The portfolio line of credit lets you borrow up to 35% of your portfolio’s balance when you have at least $5,000 invested. Lower interested rates are offered to M1 Plus members.

M1 Finance Fees

One of the best things about M1 Finance is there are no fees to use a basic account. You might incur some small fees if you invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) as those come with expense ratios. However, those fees are charged by the funds themselves, not by M1.

M1 does give you the option to upgrade your account to M1 Plus for $125/year. If you upgrade to M1 Plus, you gain access to two daily trade windows, smart transfers, and some features for M1’s complementary accounts like M1 Spend.

There is also an inactivity fee of $20 for accounts with a balance up to $20 for 90 plus days. In most cases, though M1 charges no fees, and you can easily use it without paying monthly/annual fees.

M1 Finance Pros

  • No fees or commissions
  • No account minimums
  • Simple investing with M1 Pies

M1 Finance Cons

  • Lack of investment options
  • No human financial advisors
  • No tax-loss harvesting

What is Wealthfront?

Wealthfront is a robo-advisor established in 2008, known for being among the first of its kind available to consumers. The platform offers robo-advisor services along with financial planning tools, aiming to provide comprehensive financial guidance. Wealthfront differentiates itself with features like 529 plans and real estate investment opportunities.

Wealthfront Details

Minimum Account Balance$0
Management Fees0.25%
Account TypesTraditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, Brokerage, Trust, Savings Account, Checking, 529 plans
Investment TypeExchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)


Wealthfront Fees

Wealthfront has no monthly fees, but there is a 0.25% management fee for investment accounts. 529 plans have a fee ranging from 0.42% to 0.46%.

Expense ratios are low on Wealthfront funds with an average of 0.08%.

Wealthfront Pros

  • Free financial planner access
  • Automatically invest extra cash
  • 529 plans

Wealthfront Cons

  • No fractional shares
  • $500 minimum investment
  • Limited customization

M1 Finance vs. Wealthfront: Comparison

FeatureM1 FinanceWealthfront
Min. Investment$0$500
Management Fees0.25% (Digital); 0.40% (Premium)0.25%; 0.42%-0.46% (529 Plans)
Avg. ETF Expense Ratio0.01% and up0.08% (0.11% for Risk Parity Portfolio)
Account TypesIndividual and joint brokerage accounts, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, and Traditional IRA, Trust accounts, and Custodial accountsTraditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, Brokerage, Trust, Savings Account, Checking, 529 plans
Cash Reserve APYNone (1% with M1 Plus)0.35%
Financial Advisor FeeNot offeredFree
Best ForCustomizable PortfoliosFinancial Planning

M1 Finance vs. Wealthfront: Which one is Right For You?

As we have seen in this comparison, M1 Finance and Wealthfront both have some great features that make them stand out. However, which one is right for you depends on your needs.

M1 Finance is best for those who want absolute flexibility in their portfolio while also having the option of investments picked by M1’s experts. In addition, if you want a no-fee investment platform with no minimum investments, M1 is a great option.

M1 also has other products that may appeal to you such as M1 Spend and M1 Borrow. They can be helpful if you prefer to do all of your banking and investing in one place.

Wealthfront is better for those who are looking for some guidance, not just in terms of investing but with their finances as a whole. Its automated financial planning, Path tool, plus free access to human financial advisors ensures you won’t be lost when trying to manage your money.

The biggest strike against Wealthfront is its $500 minimum deposit. M1 Finance actually has a $100 initial minimum deposit, but you aren’t required to maintain that balance at all times.

While both Wealthfront and M1 Finance have their benefits, we recommend M1 Finance for its flexibility, expert pies, and its much lower minimum to get started. To learn more about M1 and create your portfolio, follow our M1 Finance link.

Bob Haegele

About the Author:

Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer, entrepreneur, and dog walker. Bob has been writing about personal finance for three years and now manages several personal finance sites, including The Frugal Fellow, Modest Money, and Blooming Wealth. You can also find him contributing to popular websites such as Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, and GOBankingRates. You can see more of his work on Muck Rack and Contently, or connect with him on LinkedIn.