Vanguard review

3-star brokerage firm rating

Vanguard Review

Vanguard Brokerage Investment Services: very high commissions, weak trading tools, but well performing Vanguard mutual funds

Vanguard Review 2015: 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 $1,000,000-$10,000,000 (Flagship Services)
Free for first 500 trades, $2 for subsequent trades for account with $10,000,000+ (Flagship Select Services)
Options $20 + $1 per contract (Voyager: $7 + $1 per contract; Voyager Select and Flagship: $2 + $1 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 Commission-free
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 $1,000
FeesVanguard fees

Vanguard New Account Application

Opening an account with Vanguard is undoubtedly one of the weakest areas of their product. The actual informational part of the account creation process is somewhat standard: they ask about things like name, home address, social security number, etc. Unfortunately, this is broken up into 6 or so different pages new clients have to click through. The lack of simplicity here has left more than one prospective member to think, “How much longer does this need to go on?”

This account creation process complaint is somewhat minor. The main reason for the low score in this category is the wait. Once a user has successfully given all of their information and chosen a username, Vanguard takes almost three weeks to finish setting up the account and withdraw the funds. That means three weeks of $1,000 (the minimum amount) sitting in a checking account, not knowing when it’s going to be deducted. This is, by far, one of the longest account creation waiting times in the industry.

Vanguard Mutual Funds

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. These funds focus on a number of financial goals, risk levels, sectors and returns.

So which mutual fund do you choose? They all differ in performance, portfolio composition and expenses. We did the research and below list the best Vanguard mutual funds in popular categories: Website/Trading Platform/Tools Review

Vanguard 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.

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 8,700 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. But comparing to competition the research tools are terrible and Stock Screener is really disappointing.

The tools for setting orders will be familiar to any investor with online trading experience, allowing you to enter orders to execute at market price or at specified limit price. 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.

Vanguard’s website maintains consistent branding with the rest of their products. While the home page (pictured above) looks outdated, it contains a wealth of information. The home page allows users to easily view account balances, allocation ratios, and performance.

Users can expect the road to get a little bumpier once they try to venture away from the main page. The menus up top don’t offer the best descriptions of their intended function and once a link is clicked, the page it brings the user to is still somewhat confusing. This is mainly because the majority of pages on Vanguard’s site are excessively wordy.

Fortunately, once a user finds their way around the Vanguard website they are able to discover lots of helpful tips. Foremost among these is their “Insights” section. This section acts as a blog for some of the top minds over at Vanguard. Investors can find information explaining fund fees, Vanguard’s investment outlook, global market news, domestic market news, and more. Needless to say, all of the information on the site can keep investors very well informed.

Vanguard brokerage review

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 DRIP (dividend reinvestment plan)
  • No ACAT fee

Vanguard Review: Cons

  • High commissions for majority of investors
  • 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 (waived if you go paperless or have $10,000 in your account), $20 for 529 plan
  • Poor trading and research tools
  • 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 does not list all their fees on their website - they ask you to call them for additional information

Vanguard Brokerage Review Summary

Vanguard is a juggernaut in the world of personal finance. They have been making waves in the financial services industry ever since their founding in 1975 by John Bogle. Bogle founded Vanguard on the premise that well-diversified low-fee funds would outperform most other investment choices.

Since then, Vanguard has offered their signature ETFs and other funds with some of the lowest fees on market. The company has grown, and now offers IRAs and investment brokerage accounts to investors who want to setup an account with them.

There is a reason Vanguard Group is known for its mutual funds and not for its brokerage services. High trading commissions for active investors (unless you are rich), and terrible trading and research tools make it hard for the firm to get any recognition in the extremely competitive industry of online investing and trading.

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 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 (waived if you go paperless or have $10,000 in your account), and $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.

Because of all the above reasons, we recommend Vanguard Brokerage only to customers looking to invest almost exclusively in Vanguard's own family mutual funds and ETFs. For everybody else there are better Online Brokerage Firms to consider.

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Vanguard Reviewed by on . Reviewed by Editor and Vanguard customers. Rating: 3

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