Vanguard vs Public

Vanguard or—which is better in 2024? Compare investing accounts, online trading fees, stock broker extended hours, and differences.

Points to Know

• Schwab, Vanguard, and offer brokerage accounts.

• Vanguard and Schwab, but not Public, also have investment-advisory services.

• The best trading tools will be found at Schwab. vs. Vanguard and Schwab Introduction

Schwab, Vanguard, and Public are very different brokerage firms with different approaches to investment management. Consider the following comparison:

Public and Vanguard Cost

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
Charles Schwab $0 $49.95 ($0 to sell) $0.65 per contract $0 $0
Public $0 na $0 per contract $0 $0
Vanguard $0 $20 $1.00 per contract $20* $20*

Public and Vanguard Services

Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating
Charles Schwab


Charles Schwab: $0 commissions + satisfaction guarantee at Charles Schwab.

Public: Get $20 of an asset of your choice when you deposit $1,000 at Public.

Vanguard: none.

Available Assets

Vanguard customers can trade:

  • Equities
  • Options
  • Funds (closed-end, exchange-traded, and mutual)
  • Fixed income

To this list, Schwab adds OTC and foreign stocks, futures, and forex. doesn’t have foreign stocks, forex, or futures contracts. It only has a handful of over-the-counter equities, and it subtracts bonds and mutual funds from the list. But it adds cryptocurrencies and alternatives assets.

Managed accounts can be opened at Schwab and Vanguard. These accounts are invested in a variety of securities chosen by either firm’s investment advisor representatives, who may be digital or human. Fees and minimums vary by the package selected.

Winner: Schwab


Self-directed accounts at all three firms can enable margin. But doesn’t permit borrowing with margin (margin is used to trade using unsettled cash).

Schwab customers pay margin interest on a tiered schedule that starts at 11.875% for small debit balances and bottoms out at 13.575%. Vanguard’s stepped schedule ranges from 13.75% to 10%. Only Schwab’s software displays the maintenance requirement for entered ticker symbols.

Winner: Schwab


To place a trade with or without margin, all three brokerage firms in this contest offer websites with charts and order tickets. Public’s trade form has 3 trade types (market, limit, and stop).

Public vs Vanguard

Vanguard goes a step further by adding stop limit to the list. And Vanguard’s ticket has discrete choices for sell short and buy to cover, which are missing on the Public ticket.

At Schwab, we found many more trade choices. These additional options include OCO (order cancels the other) and contingent. And Schwab has something that neither of the other two has: a browser platform. Launched from the Trade tab in the top menu, it delivers simulated and live trading with two order tickets and full-screen charting.

Winner: Schwab

Mobile Apps

Because one app just isn’t enough for some customers, Schwab has developed two apps. Combined, they do have a lot of great features. Highlights include mobile check deposit, discrete trade tickets for options and mutual funds, and lots of resources for news and education.

Public or Vanguard

Public has just one app, and it does lose some of Schwab’s mobile resources, such as check deposit. But it gains one important feature: a digital bulletin board. This resource allows Public customers to comment on assets and connect with one another; it’s a form of social networking. vs Vanguard

The Vanguard app doesn’t have a community forum, and it is overall very simple. Charts, for example, have only one plot style (line), and there’s no horizontal mode. Options and non-Vanguard mutual funds cannot be traded on the platform.

Vanguard vs Public app

Winner: Schwab

Desktop Programs

Because and Vanguard don’t emphasize short-term trading, they have no desktop programs. Schwab caters to both short-term and long-term investors. For the former group, it has a very good desktop program called thinkorswim. It has tons of advanced features, including Level II quotes and pairs trading. And CNBC streams on the platform free of charge.

Winner: Schwab

Extra Services

IRA Lineups: Vanguard and Schwab offer Individual Retirement Accounts. Vanguard, but not Schwab, charges some fees on business IRAs.

Fully-Paid Stock Lending: Traders at all three firms can earn some extra cash by loaning out their equity shares.

Fractional Shares: Vanguard offers trading in Vanguard exchange-traded funds in whole dollars. At Public, the great majority of ETFs and stocks are eligible (in addition to cryptos). At Schwab, the selection consists of the 500 securities that make up the Standard & Poor's Index.

Dividend Reinvestment Plans: All three broker-dealers have DRIPs.

Extended Hours: After-hours trading is available at Vanguard. Public and Schwab also have pre-market trading. Cryptocurrencies trade around the clock at Public, and Schwab has overnight trading in some ETFs.

Systematic Mutual Fund Purchases: Traders at Schwab can enroll their mutual funds in autopilot trading. Vanguard allows recurring purchases only of Vanguard-branded mutual funds.

IPO Access: Only at Schwab.

Winner: Schwab


Charles Schwab: $0 commissions + satisfaction guarantee at Charles Schwab.

Public: Get $20 of an asset of your choice when you deposit $1,000 at Public.

Vanguard: none.


Mutual Fund Trading: Vanguard has more funds but Schwab has better fund resources. Take your pick.

Long-Term Investors & Retirement Savers: Schwab.

Small Accounts: Vanguard for advisory accounts. Any broker of the three for self-directed trading (with the exception of Vanguard for self-directed business IRAs).

Stock and ETF Trading: Schwab.

Beginners: A managed account at Vanguard or Schwab (preferably with a human advisor).


To compete with Charles Schwab, Vanguard and Public must do much more.

Open Charles Schwab Account

Visit Schwab Website

Open Public Account

Visit Public Website

Open Vanguard Account

Visit Vanguard Website

Updated on 3/5/2024.

About the Author
Chad Morris is a financial writer with more than 20 years experience as both an English teacher and an avid trader. When he isn’t writing expert content for, Chad can usually be found managing his portfolio or building a new home computer.