Vanguard Review 2013: Commissions, Fees, and Minimum Deposit
|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 + $1.50 per contract|
|Options for accounts + 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 is $50. Sale - $35 per transaction|
|Commercial paper|| $50 per transaction; minimum purchase is $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 is $25,000|
|Investments|| stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs, foreign securities, insurance,
commercial paper, ETFs|
|Vanguard minimum deposit to open account|| $3,000|
Vanguard Mutual Funds Review
Vanguard Group mutual funds include a collection of 117 actively managed mutual funds, and over 150 U.S.,
exchange traded and International funds and financial portfolios. Vanguard's mutual funds focus on a number of
financial goals, risk levels, sectors and returns.
So which mutual fund do you choose? They all after all differ by performance, portfolio composition and expenses. We did
some research and below list the best Vanguard mutual funds in various categories:
Vanguard.com Website/Trading Platform/Tools Review
Vanguard Brokerage Services trading tools are not keeping up with the industry. You can't modify your order: you have to cancel it then
resubmit it (!). The charts are poor with no possibility of saving your indicators. Research tools are terrible and stock screener
is really disappointing.
Vanguard provides research tools that can help you find stocks, ETFs, CDs, or bonds that meet your criteria. For example, the Stock Screener
tool enables you to sort through over 8700 securities to identify investment options according to your performance goals, risk tolerance,
and sector or industry of interest. Lists of stocks or other instruments can be saved for future investing, or you can move directly to the
online trading interface.
The tools for setting orders will be familiar to any investor with online trading experience, allowing you to enter orders to execute market
price or specified limits. Advanced investment tools allow you to perform options trading, trade on margin, or set up CD or bond ladders,
with additional educational materials that cover these instruments.
The Vanguard's website is not well-designed - it's hard to find information there. There's no real-time pricing on the portfolio page.
Positions, cash and margin are shown on record date basis, not on trade date basis like at every other brokerage firm.
Vanguard Review: Pros
- Low cost and good performance Vanguard mutual funds
- Commission-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 DRIPs (dividend reinvestment plans)
- No ACAT fee
Vanguard Review: Cons
- High commissions for majority of investors
- $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
- Annual IRA fees: $25 for SIMPLE IRA, $15 for 403(b)(7), $20 for Individual 401(k)/Roth 401(k) plans, $20 for 529 plan
- 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 Brokerage Review Summary
There is a reason Vanguard Group is known for its mutual funds and not for its brokerage services. High trading
commissions (unless you are rich), terrible trading and research tools make it hard for the firm to get any
recognition in the extremely competitive industry of online brokers.
Vanguard offers several tiers of service: depending on the total amount of assets you invest with Vanguard, your transaction
fees and other costs can vary quite substantially. For example, several of Vanguard’s mutual funds offer different “share classes,”
with decreasing share cost and expense ratios available to those who can make a larger initial investment. The lowest initial investment
is $1,000, and applies to, among others, all of Vanguard’s “Target Retirement” funds. These are a good option for IRA investing,
claiming to maintain an appropriate balance of assets based on the indicated retirement date. Also, once an IRA is established and the
initial investment is made in one or more funds, recurring automatic investments of as low as $1 can be made and are never subject to
any transaction fees. Keep in mind, however, that each fund owned will incur an annual fee of $20. Fortunately, this expense is easily
avoided simply by signing up for account access on Vanguard.com and agreeing to receive your statements and other information electronically.
Vanguard’s tiers of service make a difference here as well: individuals with assets totaling more than $50,000 are never subject to these fees.
The company charges annual fees for IRA accounts: $25 for SIMPLE IRA, $15 for 403(b)(7), $20 for Individual 401(k)/Roth 401(k) plans,
$20 for 529 plan. Because of that and the high investing commissions the firm did not make it into our
Best Brokerages for IRA list.
One of the main advantages Vanguard Brokerage offers, is their own ETFs that clients could get commission-free (of course, there is expense fee
charged by the ETF). We also like free dividend reinvestment and an ability to dollar-cost-average mutual funds investing.
The time of mutual funds is slowly but surely coming to the end. They are being replaced in investor portfolios by low-cost and easy to
buy/sell Exchange Traded Funds (or ETFs). Even though Vanguard Brokerage Services created its own ETFs, there are similar, better-known
and more widely used analogs available to everyone in every brokerage firm. We believe that the company will have hard time attracting
new customers in this new environment.
Because of all the above reasons, we recommend Vanguard Brokerage only to customers looking to invest almost exclusively in
Vanguard-family mutual funds and ETFs. For everybody else there are better Online Brokerage Firms
None right now.
Reviewed by Brokerage Review on
Reviewed by Editor and Vanguard customers.