Fidelity vs Vanguard 2013: Commissions, Fees and Investments
- Stocks and ETFs: $7.95
- Stocks and ETFs broker assisted: $32.95
- Stocks and ETFs FAST (automated service phone): $12.95
- Options: $7.95 + $0.75/contract
- Mutual funds: $75 per transaction, 1,400 NTF mutual funds
- Commercial Paper: $50 per transaction
- Investment products: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, commercial paper, forex, foreign stocks, UITs, precious metals, ETFs
- Fidelity minimum deposit to open account: $2,500
- All Fidelity fees
- Stocks and ETFs: $7 for the first 25 trades, $20 for subsequent trades for account with less than $50,000
- $7 for account with $50,000–$500,000 invested in Vanguard products (Voyager Services®)
- $2 for account with $500,000–$1,000,000 invested in Vanguard products (Voyager Select Services®)
- Free for first 25 trades, $2 for subsequent trades for account with $1 million (Flagship Services™)
- Options: $30 plus $1.50 per contract
- Options for accounts with over $1 million: $8 + $1.50 per contract
- Mutual funds: Vanguard mutual funds - free. All others - Standard: $35; Voyager® and Voyager Select®: $20; Flagship®, $8
- Certificates of deposit (CDs): Purchase: $5 per $1,000, Minimum: $50. Sale: $35 per transaction
- Commercial paper: $50 per transaction; minimum purchase: $100,000
- U.S. Treasury: $0.75 per $1,000 face amount, $40 minimum, $75 maximum
- Mortgage-backed securities: $50 per transaction; GNMA minimum purchase: $25,000
- Investment products: stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs, foreign securities, insurance,
commercial paper, ETFs
- Vanguard minimum deposit to open account: $3,000
- All Vanguard fees
Fidelity vs Vanguard: Pros
- Great research tools with largest selection of independent research - 12 firms
- Low-cost Fidelity mutual funds
- Free DRIPs (dividend reinvestment plans)
- Rich selection of investment products
- Good banking services
- No surcharges, except for $0.0192 per $1,000 of principal in addition to commission that is added to sell orders
- Low cost and good performance Vanguard mutual funds
- Free Vanguard ETFs
- Free dollar-cost-averaging transactions for no-fee mutual funds. $3 per transaction, minimum purchase $100, minimum two transactions, for transaction fee mutual funds.
- Free dividend reinvestment
- No ACAT fee
Fidelity vs Vanguard: Cons
- Extremely high commissions ($75 per transaction) on non-Fidelity mutual funds
- $12 annual Low Balance Fee for each noncore Fidelity mutual fund if balance is under $2,000
- $75 (minimum) mutual fund Short Term Redemption Fee (if a mutual fund is sold less than 180 days after purchase)
- High margin rates
- Foreign currency wires cost up to 3% of principal
- No free streaming quotes (these are available only to active traders, which requires 120 trades per year via the Active Trader Pro platform)
- High commissions in most cases
- $20 annual maintenance fee for regular accounts with balance less than $50,000
- If account is not signed up for electronic statements, $20 annual account service fee is charged for each Vanguard fund with a balance of less than $10,000 in an account
- Poor trading and research tools
- $3,000 minimum to open account is somewhat high
- No pre-market trading and shorter after-hours trading: 4:15 pm - 6:00 pm EST, instead of 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST
Vanguard vs Fidelity Investments: Comparison Summary
Vanguard (Vanguard Review) and
Fidelity Investments (Fidelity Review) are known primarily
for their own families of mutual funds rather than their brokerage services. As ETFs (thanks to their lower costs and ease of trading)
are increasingly replacing mutual funds in investor portfolios, the importance of both firms is steadily diminishing.
Outside of mutual funds, Vanguard has little to offer: its commissions are higher than at many other
online brokerage houses, and it doesn't seem to be able to keep up with competition in services and trading technology.
Fidelity Investments provides its customers with rich selection of investment products, access to great independent research,
and many low cost Fidelity-family mutual funds.
There is a general consensus that Vanguard's mutual funds are lower cost and better performers than their counterparts at
Fidelity. Vanguard also offers dollar-cost-averaging transactions for mutual funds for those clients who choose to
accumulate positions over time. Free dividend reinvestment is always a great plus too.
When comparing retirement accounts (Roth, Traditional, and Simple IRA), Vanguard comes ahead: Fidelity
disappoints by charging low balance fee and short term redemption fee which many other brokerages don't charge.
Because of that, neither company was included in our
Best IRA Accounts in 2013 list.
There are better brokerages for beginner investors than these two, offering vibrant online communities where users
can ask questions, learn from more experienced members, and even get investment ideas. Some discount brokers also offer a virtual
trading environment that allows users to practice trading without risking real money. If you are new to investing, check out
our Best Brokers for Beginner Investors recommendations.
We are recommending Fidelity Investments and Vanguard only to clients looking to invest mostly in these firm's mutual funds and ETFs.
Vanguard is a better option for "buy-and-hold" mutual fund investor. Fidelity is great for anyone who likes to research
investments extensively before buying and to have more options of investment products. For everyone else there are better brokerage firms to choose from.