What Is Stockpile?

By HighYa Research Team
Published on: Feb 20, 2017

Stockpile is an online stock service that allows average people – kids are encouraged, too – to buy fractions of expensive stocks instead of one full share. The company makes these investments easy through stock gift cards and a user-friendly app.

Stockpile CEO Avi Lele got the idea for the service a few Christmases ago when he tried to give stock to his nieces and nephews. The task was pretty much impossible because single shares of big companies like Amazon and Apple were too expensive.

So, Lele and co-founder Sanj Kulkarni created a stock brokerage (company who sells stocks) where customers could by fractions of stocks. If prices on a single share go up $10 in a year and a Stockpile customer owns 25% of a share, they get 25% of that price increase: $2.50.

“Basically, our mission is to make the stock market easy and affordable and accessible,” Stockpile CCO Dan Schatt told us. “You can’t really do anything with $50 in your wallet at a traditional broker. It would cost you probably a couple of thousand of dollars to get started.”

This new idea was even more novel because Stockpile focused on making stocks accessible to kids, an idea that was still in its infancy when, in 2010, Stockpile started filing paperwork to become a company.

As time went on, kid investors became popular because, as Steve Rosen pointed out in a 2017 Chicago Tribune article, young people who learn about investing tend to do it throughout their life.

We think it’s a great idea to educate your kids about finances and investing, but is Stockpile the right solution for helping them understand the world of stocks?

To get a better sense of the answer to that question, we researched how the company works and what other people are saying about it. What we discovered is split up into three sections in this review:

  • How Stockpile Works
  • Stockpile Fees and Other Considerations
  • How Kids Invest Through Stockpile
  • What Other People are Saying About Stockpile

Once we work through each of these areas, we’ll give you our final thoughts about Stockpile.

A Quick Word About Fractional Stocks

As we mentioned earlier, one of Stockpile’s perks is that you don’t have to buy full shares in a company. Rather, you can buy a portion of stock and earn portions of dividends.

Dan Schatt told us this works via a pretty simple process. Each day, Stockpile customers place orders for stock. At the end of the day, Stockpile gathers up all the orders and then buys stock to cover those orders.

Fractional stocks have been around for a while, Dan said, but it never made much sense for big firms to sell them because they usually dealt with clients who had tons of money to spend on stocks and the fees that firms charge.

Since Stockpile is brining on clients who are giving $25, $50 or $100 gift cards, fractional stocks are necessary.

How Stockpile Works

You have two ways of buying stock through Stockpile: purchasing a gift card for someone or selecting stock yourself.

Stockpile Gift Cards for Someone Else

The process of purchasing a Stockpile gift card for someone else is pretty easy.

Go to their website and click on the “Shop Now” button. A menu drops down and you can choose to buy an e-card or a physical gift card.

Stocks are Divided into Categories

Once you click on the link you want, you’re taken to the Stockpile marketplace. Stocks are divided up into categories like “Kids”, “Trending” and “Fashion”.

When you choose your category, you’re presented with all sorts of familiar brand logos and, underneath, the parent company who owns the brand.

For example, when you click on “Kids”, you get dozens of various brands. One of those brands is Barbie, and underneath the Barbie logo, Stockpile lists the parent company, Mattel.

Pro tip: You can buy ETFs, too, which are collections of different types of investments (currency, commodities, stocks) made into one stock.

It’s Fun to Buy Stock from Companies You Know

We like the way Stockpile organizes their stocks and ETFs because we think it’s a great way for investors young and old to put their money toward companies they like.

“A lot of people gravitate to our brokerage because they can connect with the brands they know and love and understand who the parent companies are,” Dan told us. “Buying what you understand and know is something our customers are excited about.”

Once you find the company you want, you click on it and choose the amount of the stock’s gift card you want to buy.

Gift Cards Can Be Used for Stock or Retail Cards

Dan told us the gift card you choose, even though it’s intended for a particular company’s stock, is basically a cash card you can use on the Stockpile site. That means you can redeem it for the stock on the card, other stock on Stockpile or a retail gift card.

The big advantage here, Dan said, is that you have flexibility. If your kid isn’t interested in buying a quarter-share of Apple stock, they can redeem the card’s amount for a Best Buy gift card.

You can also buy Stockpile gift cards in retail stores around the country. We used the company’s store locator to figure out where we could by some gift cards in Seattle. One hundred different Safeway and Kroger locations sold the cards.

Pro tip: You don’t have to have a brokerage account with Stockpile in order to buy someone a gift card.

Buying Stock for Yourself Through Stockpile

If you aren’t in the giving mood and you want to buy stock for yourself, you have the ability to do that through Stockpile’s website.

You’ll have to open an account with Stockpile – the industry lingo for this is “brokerage account”, which means the account you use to buy stock. Buying actual stock happens two ways:

  • Pick stock, buy it and open an account with a linked bank acct.
  • Open an account, link bank acct. & buy stock

According to Stockpile’s FAQ section, if you place your orders before 3 p.m. EST, you’ll have the stock in your account by the end of the day.

How Kids Invest Through Stockpile

The thought of helping kids invest in the stock of companies they love is a great idea, but how does it work, exactly?

“We actually allow kids to have their own log in, and they can request a trade as long as they have their parent’s permission,” he said. “Kids get to track their stocks and it gives them an opportunity to get their toe in the water at a very low price.”

These accounts are what’s known as custodial accounts – the kids own the stock but the parent opens the account and is responsible for it until the child turns 18.

When the child wants to make a trade either for stock or to exchange their stock gift card for a retail gift card, a notification is sent to the parents, who then decide if they’ll approve or deny the trade.

Stockpile Fees and Other Considerations

Stockpile’s fee structure is pretty simple. They have sets of fees for buying and selling stock.

Fees for Buying a Stockpile Gift Card

When you purchase a gift card, you’re paying all the fees associated with the card so that the recipient doesn’t have to.

Stockpile will charge you $2.99 for the card, as well as a 3% fee of the value of the card. So, if you buy a $50 card for Apple stock, you’ll be charged $2.99 and $1.50 (3% of $50) for a total of $4.49.

Some might argue that paying almost $5 for $50 worth of stock is too much, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Fees for Making Trades on Stockpile

Any time you buy or sell a stock for yourself on Stockpile, you’ll pay $0.99 per transaction. That fee is really low compared to what you’d pay a big brokerage firm or a financial advisor, and, in that sense, Stockpile is making trading affordable for everyone.

They aren’t the only app/website offering low-fee stock trades, though. Robinhood lets you trade stock for free. However, the site doesn’t allow minors to trade stocks, something that sets Stockpile apart.

Insurance on Your Purchases

All stocks held by Stockpile customers are protected by something called SIPC, which is an acronym that means: Security Investors Protection Corporation.

SIPC-insured stocks mean that, if Stockpile goes under and the company disappears, SIPC will reimburse you up to $500,000 for the stock you owned.

Why will they reimburse you for stock you lost? Because Stockpile is a member of the SIPC. This is an important designation that adds to the company’s credibility.

What Are Other People Saying About Stockpile?

The reviews of Stockpile have been pretty positive and impressive, as heavy-hitting sites praise the company for making the world of investing accessible to people under 18 years old.

A 2015 article from Consumer Reports noted that merging stock and gift cards was a great idea, and that it could have an impact on kids if they actually caught on during the holidays.

“But if the marriage of gift cards and stocks catches on, this could be a novel way for kids to start investing,” reporter Chris Horymski wrote. “It wouldn’t be bad for the online brokerage firm, Stockpile, either, which is behind the stock gift cards. The company could end up with some new, long-term customers.”

On the other hand, Seeking Alpha’s Reuben Gregg Brewer said you should avoid Stockpile's gift cards.. His main criticism is the cost of buying a card for someone. When you’re paying a nearly 10% total fee for a $50 worth of stock, it’s just not worth it, he said.

“That's a huge cost, particularly when some brokers are willing to give away free trades for new business,” Brewer wrote. “True, you might need more than $25 to open an account for Junior and there are likely to be more headaches involved in the process, but I'd be loath to pay what amounts to a trading commission of that scale for anything.”

In our opinion, this criticism is pretty harsh. While brokerage firms may offer free trades in order to get business, the business they want doesn’t include under-18 investors.

They’re looking for established – or at least wealthy – individuals who have thousands to spend on their investments.

Also, as Brewer goes on to point out, a 10% fee is what you can expect when you buy a gift card from a grocery store, so Stockpile’s gift-card fees aren’t unusual.

However, Stockpile’s gift cards can buy stocks that gain value over time. Gift cards for stores lose value over time as the dollar amount on the card stays the same as inflation rises and cost of goods increase.

Our Final Thoughts About Stockpile

Stockpile is an innovative product because it allows parents to teach their kids about investing through hands-on trading.

The stock comes in a form of currency (gift card) that kids understand. Cashing in the card is as simple as typing in a code and setting up an account.

Easy for Kids to Use

The way Stockpile chose to organize their stock by categories is also pretty cool. Kids can literally shop for stock just like they’d shop for something on Target’s website. Identifying brands they like helps them choose what they want to buy.

In our opinion, this methodology is pretty amazing. It seems to be working, too. As we mentioned earlier, 25% of Stockpile’s customers are under 18.

Easy for Adults to Use

Stockpile’s kid-friendly user experience also benefits adults who are new to investing. But it’s not just about making stock choices easy.

The ease with which you can set up a brokerage account and buy stock is a low barrier that most adults can hop over without any problems.

If you’re a more advanced investor, you may not like Stockpile because stock choices are limited. You might want to check out Robinhood, as you’ll have more of a choice of stocks and trades are free.


Read 49 Stockpile Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Customer Rating: 2.1
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 10 4 star: 2 3 star: 2 2 star: 2 1 star:  33
Bottom Line: 22% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 49
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  • 35 out 40 people found this review helpful
    Updated review

    Stockpile user

    I've been with Stockpile from the start. I had my reservations at first, but in almost two years I haven't had a single issue. I did call them once about a login problem that turned out to be my fault. I was very impressed with the quick attention, and the people I dealt with were class acts.

    The only thing I hope to see improved is the selection that's limited but still a large variety. One must keep in mind that the trades only go off once a day, so it's not for traders that need in or out fast. They have improved the info section. For a long term or dividend hunter, it's very reasonable at $0.99 per trade with a bank transfer. I don't represent them in any fashion, but I am very happy with the service.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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    • Previous review
    • Jul 24, 2017

    Stockpile user

    I've been with Stockpile from the start. I had my reservations at first, but in almost two years I haven't had a single issue. I did call them once about a login problem that turned out to be my fault. I was very impressed with the quick attention, and the people I dealt with were class acts. The only thing I hope to see improved is the selection that's limited but still a large variety. Use the search. One must keep in mind that the trades only go off once a day, so it's not for traders that need in or out fast. They have improved the info section. For a long term or dividend hunter, it's very reasonable at $0.99 per trade with a bank transfer. I don't represent them in any fashion, but I am very happy with the service.

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  • 7 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Great solution for helping kids learn investing

    • Austin, TX,
    • Jan 25, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    My 14-year-old son bought the Groupon offering $20 worth of stock for only $10 in December 2017. It was pretty easy to set up a joint account for us to share. It’s a custodial account. After making his initial purchase, he added an additional hundred dollars from his savings. We haven’t experienced any issues with the service so far. He has fun watching the daily values change, and reviewing the trending over time.

    So far we haven’t tried to sell any of our stock. After reading the reviews, I am feeling nervous that we will have problems when we try to sell. I’m wondering if they simply have more business than they were prepared to handle due to the Groupon?

    For now, I’m going to give them five stars because of the ease-of-use, the ability to set up a custodial account, and no issues with the app. I will update my review when we try to sell something.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 13 out 30 people found this review helpful

    Why are people so dumb

    I've been using Stockpile since they started up. Are you people trying to say trade with Stockpile? If you are, you are dumb. You can't, simple as that. I have over 10 thousand in Stockpile and they have never stolen money from me, EVER! I can also get them on the phone every time. Are some of you guys trying to give a false testimonial? I would suggest Stockpile for long-term investment, no day trading!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 8 out 14 people found this review helpful
    Updated review

    Rough start but everything worked out.

    Was a little rough getting started, but everything seems to be working out.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Previous review
    • Mar 10, 2018

    Stockpile kept all of my money and locked me out of my account.

    I opened up an account in December 2017 after I downloaded the app on my iPhone. I thought this was a great way to invest money in fractional shares only $0.99 per trade. I bought Amazon, Google, and many other stocks that were over $1000.00 per share. After accumulating about $ 4300, I decided to sell my positions and requested a wire transfer to my bank account. I was advised this could take up to 6 days. After waiting 10 days I never received my money.

    I tried to call them and keep getting a message that all lines are extremely busy and I should email them at support. The recording then hangs up on you and you can't leave a message. They don't respond to my emails and shut down my account. I am unable to gain access to my money. I can't even print out my end of year tax documents or any of my trade confirmations. This has turned into a real legal mess! Please stay away from this company.

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  • 15 out 21 people found this review helpful

    Great concept, everything works fine!

    • Bakersfield, CA,
    • Mar 17, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I don't understand how people have difficulty with Stockpile. As one reviewer put, it's not for trading. Just invest your money and let it grow. The benefits are 99 cents per trade and the fractional shares. I don't have a lot of money to invest, but when I get an extra $50, I buy a share on Stockpile. It's very easy. Transfers are free with bank accounts in 3 days and there's plenty of stock or ETF choices.

    Anybody who thinks someone needs to answer with a live person their every beck and call is not realistic. Stockpile's fees are low so people can invest, they don't collect a bunch of admin costs for some big customer service presence. People, realize what they offer and don't force them to be a full-service brokerage.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 13 out 16 people found this review helpful

    Love it!

    • San Diego, CA,
    • Mar 19, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    The app is really easy to use and navigate. I opened two custodian accounts for my kids and put in some dollars to see how it works. At first, I was very scared after reading all the prior reviews and the problems transferring money, but I did not have any issues adding my bank account or receiving the funds after my first sale. I'm very happy with it.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 19 people found this review helpful

    Its so easy, LOVE this company and app!

    • Apr 18, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was scared to start investing and risking a lot of money. I was put at ease when I contacted Stockpile via email and got a response within minutes. I've never had to call them, I never had an issue linking my bank. I set up an account for my son, and he is so excited to own a piece of Disney and Google, he tells everyone. It's so cute.

    Maybe I am different than most people, and I read FAQ before jumping into anything. I don't just throw my money around and get mad because I don't understand the process. READ FAQ and other information before you do anything. Reviews aren't always true, and some people just blame other people for their mistakes.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Love it!

    • Texas,
    • Apr 21, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Great concept. I love all the tips and free education they try to provide! I own stock, and that’s cool!

    Thanks Stockpile!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 5 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Learning the market

    • Las Cruces, NM,
    • Jun 17, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I've had nothing short of a great experience with Stockpile. It's easy, and you are learning how to play the market, still have a long way to go but so far its great. Inexpensive to start off cause you can buy partial stock, and fund it as you go. Watch it grow and stumble is something that gets a little to get used to, but overall, great.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 5 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Fun and easy to use

    • Saugerties, NY,
    • Jul 31, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Stockpile is a fun and easy-to-use long-term INVESTING vehicle. It makes it enjoyable to purchase fractional stocks (for example, when buying $50,000 of a high priced company stock is not feasible). For what it is designed to do, it does it very well.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 18 out 26 people found this review helpful

    Love Stockpile

    Only $.99 per trade! It can be a little slow compared to expensive stock sites, but for a free one, this takes the cake. By far the best app I know of. The app even lists smaller businesses owned by companies in a way that makes it easier to know what you own.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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