I am a non- sexual person. I have a sex, but I do not have relationships or any of the above. Two of the three security questions require answers that make me uncomfortable.
3. "What is the city you were MARRIED in?"
As a non-sexual man, I have NEVER been in a relationship- so BOTH OF THESE questions are not something I can answer. Ask about my GPA, or my CAREER PATH. Ask about my ... anything ELSE!!! Why are two of the three SECURITY QUESTIONS requiring me to be ... in a relationship at some point? OR lying and putting a FORGETTABLE response??? I would prefer if Vanguard could offer a CHOICE of 3 Security Questions out of ... maybe 20?
I've been a client of Vanguard for about 10 or 12 years. I'm very satisfied with the excellent quality of service they provide, I get my e-statements every month explaining everything down to the penny, their customer service department are very knowledgeable on every aspect of the service, A+ with me, thank you Vanguard.
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I like that transitioning to a competitor was relatively easy. Also, they gave me time to make the change. When I had an emergency it was fairly easy to get my money. My portfolio was very diversified and I was able to keep abreast of any changes, trends, losses and gains. All in all Vanguard was very easy to deal with. The people I spoke to were knowledgeable and very helpful. When I changed employers I wasn’t able to keep them. Otherwise I would not have switched companies.
So far it has been a smooth sign up. It is been a free service and has many helpful tools for learning. They offer various calculators and shows an idea what earning can be. Whatever you want to invest in by utilizing the calculators it help to decide how much you should be investing over time.
I have been using them for several years now. The website is very easy to use and is very informative for those looking to find new investments or to find information on current investments. Fees are very low to purchase stocks and if you want you can get an advisor at Vanguard to help you invest.
I have previously sent in my concerns to the SEC via the online form but am happy to retell my concern and frustration; Horrible customer service. They eliminated personal advisors, prevent reps from speaking on the phone, and jerk you around by waiting days to respond to emails which say they will get back to you but they never do. Since September 30, October 1, 4 & 5th. At the beginning of the year I had 4 set meetings, scheduled quarterly reviews of the investment adjustments Vanguard's Advisory team administers and get a preview of the upcoming quarter. In each case the advisor fumbles through and has to date been able to give me a clear picture of where my money goes and why.
At Vanguard, they don't seem to have an efficient mechanism to identify and fix the problem. No point person. Recent example, On September 30th at 10:30am EST Advisor Johnathan Lynn calls from Vanguard and quote " I have here I'm supposed to call you..? " He never read the notes that would've told him to prepare... he showed zero interest in providing me with ANY review of my investments. When I recited the point of the call... he remained silent. I truly believe he was intoxicated.
For the ensuing 4 hours I got transferred from advisor to advisor and none of them know what they are doing. Each puts you on hold, averaging 45 minutes per call - which may explain why everyone else has to wait to speak with someone. They are doing their "research" to answer your question, and then give you an answer that makes no sense. I then asked to reschedule with a Crystal ** on the phone. Aggressively reminding me they are busy and will try to reschedule another meeting... I paid for a service they do not produce. Call back the next day - same routine: cannot get anyone on the phone, someone calls you back and has no clue how to help you, does "research" and then comes up with a new nonsensical reason why I can't speak to a supervisor to remedy this issue...
Then enter the Thug from Vanguard Javier **. Claiming he's a supervisor he disregards my concerns and tells me no one can talk to me...! He called me back to tell me no one can go over my account through a service I paid for... I asked to speak to his supervisor, he refused to honor my request because "he's going to give you the same answer"... The balls on that guy to back up his own lie! I called back 2 hours later and left a message to speak with the Advisory Team supervisor's supervisor...trying to get up the chain of command.
The next day Javier calls questioning my motives and demanding to know what I'm going to ask his Super??.. His audacity and belligerence drove me to just hang up and make another call to cancel my service agreement and receive a refund for the 4th quarter. I have yet to get any Vanguard supervisor to call... an official communication my requests has been granted.
The Vanguard employees have the intelligence of rocks, and that is being kind. Did they finish high school, let alone elementary school? It would even be far better to outsource these initial calls to Pakistan or Uzbekistan than deal with these morons. Repeated calls and repeated statements verifying the same information over and over again, then long hold times. At the initial call, one has to resort to being belligerent to gain contact with someone who is not an idiot.
In addition, there is no place on the Vanguard website to register a customer complaint: Crystal ** needs to go back to working at McDonalds. Javier **, what organized crime family did this guy come from, condescending, self-entitled bully who intimidates the client into submission or in my case to just hang up the phone! I have requested a refund for the advisory fee and a cancellation effective immediately. NO officer from Vanguard has been willing to comply with my repeated requests.
I had over 20,000$ with Vanguard when they sent me emails discussing my options once I switched employers. I chose to close one of my accounts and agreed to a one time 25$ rollover fee. Vanguard only completed a partial rollover and left a portion of my balance in the 401k. They then told me I had to pay an additional rollover fee in excess of 17% on the remaining balance if I wanted it transferred. When I called in no one in customer service could solve the problem and they continually told me the only way to get the money rolled over was to pay the 17% fee. Make sure to be careful when receiving correspondence from Vanguard as it can be deceptive if you do not do prior research on their suggestions. For reference my Vanguard Case number related to this was **.
Their customer service says that shortest wait times are between 8-10am and 5-8pm EST. I called at 5pm and have been on hold for almost 2 hours. I plan to hang up at 7pm, so who knows if there's anyone answering phones on the other end of this call.
I have attempted 7-8 times to get my online account open and functioning. I get the run around no results, just excuses. This cost me money as I could not make trades when I wanted to. I have spent hours on the phone trying to fix this with 6 different customer service agents and a manager, who is rarely available.
In 2008 Vanguard sent me a check for approx. $400 when they owed me $500. This is a legal trick that insurance companies use to cheat people out of their money. They failed to send me the check for the full amount after numerous calls. After waiting years for the check in 2017 I called them and asked them, where is my money? They said they don't have it and it's not listed on file. After two years, dozens of hours on hold and getting the run around, they FINALLY admitted that the money existed. Then they sent me forms and stalled the payment in every way possible. Finally the $500 check was in hand. They offered no interest, no fees to compensate me for a decade late payment. For 10 years they loaned out my money, collected interest on it and never gave me a penny. Do not trust vanguard.
Vanguard® review 2021
Vanguard will work just fine for individual investors who want to buy and hold their investments, especially if those investments are Vanguard funds.
- The wealth of education and planning resources help long-term investors create a financial plan that is easy to stick to and works for them.
- Vanguard’s low-cost funds cover many areas of the investing world, giving you a ton of options, and you can trade them without a commission or transaction fee.
- Active investors probably won’t have their needs met, with little in the way of fundamental research or trading tools being offered.
Investors looking for no-commission ETFs or mutual funds can turn to almost any other broker offering them, including TD Ameritrade and E-Trade. Active investors might have a look at TD Ameritrade or Interactive Brokers, both of which are geared for more actively managed portfolios, have customizable trading platforms and offer access to a wide range of securities.
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Since its founding in 1983 by John C. Bogle, Vanguard Brokerage has become synonymous with low-cost investing. From the onset, Vanguard was built to serve buy and hold investors with a long-term philosophy. It was not, and has never been, designed for frequent traders or short-term investors. Instead, Vanguard serves investors philosophically aligned with the firm's approach to investing, providing an intuitive, educational, and low-cost brokerage experience for this group.
Vanguard’s structure is unique in that the company is owned by its funds, which are owned by their shareholders—making it a firm truly built for investors. By removing outside owners and outside interests, there are no competing loyalties. In this review, we’ll look at where Vanguard ranks among the online brokers given its niche approach, and help you decide whether its features and philosophy are a good fit for your investing needs.
Aside from this Vanguard broker review, we've also reviewed the Vanguard Personal Advisor Services robo-advisor and the entry-level Vanguard Digital Advisor.
- Vanguard excels at low cost investing, making it ideal for long-term buy and hold investors and retirement savers.
- Due to their niche, Vanguard’s platform is somewhat limited. From a passive investor standpoint, however, Vanguard’s focus on account balance, holdings, and performance is appropriate.
- Vanguard has a Digital Advisor offering designed for younger investors, which compliments its Personal Advisor Services that provides access to financial advisors for clients with more complex financial situations.
- Like many of its competitors, Vanguard joined in the rush to cut equity and base options commissions to zero. Unlike some of those competitors, Vanguard does not accept payment for order flow for equity trades.
Who Vanguard Is For
Vanguard was built exclusively for buy and hold investors who may not need robust charting capabilities or expansive research tools and data in order to make investment decisions. As a broker, Vanguard is best suited for long-term or retirement savers, investors who prefer low-cost investment vehicles, and investors who are comfortable investing primarily through index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
For younger investors facing the common complexities of saving and investing, Vanguard has recently piloted a new all-digital advice service, Digital Advisor. For investors facing more complex financial situations, the broker also offers Personal Advisor Services, which features access to a Vanguard financial advisor. If you are looking to create a diversified, ETF-based portfolio that you will periodically rebalance—and not much else—then Vanguard is a good fit. If you are an active investor or trader, however, Vanguard's limited tools and asset selection will likely be a non-starter.
Useful investor education for long-term goal planning
Offers higher returns on idle cash than its competitors
An automated robo-advisor is integrated into Vanguard’s platform
Limited platform capabilities and features
Dated design and clunky user experience
Real-time streaming news is not available
- Vanguard has a wealth of retirement planning tools and resources on its website. Most of the investing education content is centered around helping you set financial goals and create a roadmap for how to achieve them. If you choose Vanguard as your broker, you will have access to various articles, videos, and podcasts that will inform you on the state of the market and help guide your long-term decisions.
- Vanguard puts you and your investment outcomes first by sweeping brokerage account cash balances into money market funds with a low expense ratio. Additionally, Vanguard will pay you 0.03% interest on idle cash utilizing the VMFXX Federal Money Market Fund. This interest rate is much higher than its competitors.
- Vanguard is committed to making advice more accessible and affordable. It has recently piloted a new all-digital advice service, Digital Advisor, which is designed for younger investors with basic goals of saving and investing. Digital Advisor complements Personal Advisor Services, which features access to financial advisors and is well suited for individuals facing more complex financial situations.
- Vanguard’s trading platform is basic as it was built for the passive buy and hold investor with simple requirements. From a passive investor’s standpoint, the focus on balance, holdings, and performance is useful, but active investors will find charting tools and other research capabilities limited or completely missing.
- The design of the main platform is dated and could benefit from improved navigation and overall user experience. The Digital Advisor offering seems to be getting the bulk of the design attention right now.
- Unlike most of its competitors, Vanguard does not offer real-time streaming news. This is likely because most of its target customers have a long-term philosophy, which makes real-time news less relevant. That said, this again emphasizes that clients have to commit to buy-and-hold or go somewhere else if they are inclined to be more active.
Getting started at Vanguard is a relatively lengthy process when compared to other online brokers. Although you can initiate opening an account online, there is a wait of several days before you can login and view your account. The design of the platform feels dated and would benefit from improved navigation. Nonetheless, the platform can be customized according to your interests. As a Vanguard user, you will be able to adjust the accounts displayed, how you are greeted on the web/app, and the content on your feed within the mobile app. Accounts can also be added to custom groups to view performance and additional information.
Vanguard's mobile app is easy to use and trading is straightforward. Although it supports the same types of orders as the web platform, the mobile app does not support the same asset classes. The asset classes missing on mobile include options contracts, international stocks without OTC registered symbols, fixed income, and non-Vanguard mutual funds. Another caveat of the mobile app is that it does not stream data real time. Instead, the mobile trade path utilizes real-time quotes, while delayed quotes are displayed in other areas of the app.
Since the broker is focused on long-term investors, there are limited features for doing research and there are no drawing tools available in the charting functionality on the mobile app.
The trading experience on the Vanguard website is a bit outdated. All pages that involve trading utilize real-time quotes, as do the security profile and research pages. However, market and security information on the website display delayed quotes. For example, the portfolio balances and holdings and security look-up pages both display delayed quotes.
Again, given that caters to passive investors, it does make sense that real-time quotes are not auto-refreshed. Instead, the quotes are updated as you move through a trade flow. This means that quotes are not necessarily updated before submitting an order as it can take several clicks to place a trade. One positive is that tax lots can be selected prior to placing an order online.
Vanguard does not enable conditional orders, trailing stops, nor will they allow you to enter multiple orders simultaneously. If you’re an active investor or frequent trader, this process is highly inefficient, further hammering home that Vanguard is not for traders.
Overall, the trading experience works for the target buy-and-hold investor slowly putting together a portfolio. For other types of investors expecting a responsive and customizable platform, the trading experience falls predictably short.
Mobile Trade Experience
Similarly to Vanguard's website, quotes for stocks and ETFs on the app show a delayed price until you get to order entry. The mobile app allows you to customize your "My Feed" which displays account information, news, blogs, transaction history, and performance, among other information. No other data, such as the day's change or volume, is displayed in the mobile view. There is also a complete lack of charting on Vanguard's mobile app.
Range of Offerings
As a Vanguard client, you will be able to trade a decent range of assets, including the following:
- Stocks and ETFs long; limited short sales
- Mutual funds (In addition to the 130 Vanguard funds available, clients can hold over 14,175 mutual funds, of which 6,565 are available for purchase. More than 3,100 non-Vanguard mutual funds have no transaction fee when traded online.)
- Bonds (Corporate, Municipal, Treasury and CDs)
- OTCBB (Penny Stocks)
- Single leg and multi-leg options
- Vanguard Personal Advisory Services and Vanguard Digital Advisor
- International (Vanguard will not buy directly on a foreign exchange, however, we do offer buys of foreign companies on the OTC markets)
Vanguard’s ethos is centered on a long-term investing philosophy, so the broker’s range of order types are limited to those best suited for buy and hold investors. The only order types you can place are market, limit, and stop-limit orders. Vanguard does not support conditional orders or trailing stops, and they do not allow you to stage orders for later entry. Moreover, multi-order trades for products other than mutual funds are not currently supported.
Vanguard's order routing technology is basic, just like its trading platform. It does not have a smart order routing technology, you cannot backtest or automate a trading strategy, and you will not be able to route your own orders. Although its approach to routing is basic, Vanguard will score some points with investors because it does not accept payment for order flow on equity and ETF orders.
Vanguard reports price improvement on stock orders of $0.0159 per share. According to the broker, it conducts a regular and rigorous review of quality that looks at each and every client order. In 2020, its net price improvement per share for odd lots was $0.0446 and its net price improvement per share for orders sizes 1-1,999 is $0.0236. More than 96% of marketable orders for Vanguard ETFs up to 2,000 shares, which comprise about 26% of its trade flow, have been executed at the midpoint of the spread or better (i.e., with no spread cost) in 2020.
Vanguard does not offer a trade simulator. Again, this is not surprising considering it was built to discourage trading and instead encourage long-term, low-cost investing.
Vanguard joined the zero-commission brokerage movement in January 2020, well after other brokers. This is likely due to the fact that many Vanguard trades were already being executed without commission due to its extensive no-commission ETF offerings. Vanguard's costs are as follows:
- Vanguard charges no commissions for online equity, ETF, or OTCBB trades. There is no limit on the number of shares that can be traded at the base commission.
- There is no per-leg commission on options trades. Per-contract commissions are $1, which is significantly higher than other online brokers.
- An order for 50 options contracts is $50.
- For clients with less than $500,000 in Vanguard ETF and mutual fund assets, it costs $20 to trade a transaction-fee mutual fund online and $50 per trade by phone. For clients with $500,000 to $1M in Vanguard ETF and mutual fund assets, it costs $8 to trade a transaction-fee mutual fund online and $40 per trade by phone. Clients with more than $1M in Vanguard ETF and mutual fund assets are allotted $0 trades. For clients with $1M to $5M in Vanguard ETF and mutual fund assets, after the first 25 trades (which are $0), it costs $8 to trade a transaction-fee mutual fund online and by phone. For clients with more than $5M in Vanguard ETF and mutual fund assets, after the first 100 trades (which are $0), it costs $8 to trade a transaction-fee mutual fund online and by phone.
- Margin interest ranges from 8.5% for $10,000 balance to 7% for over $100,000 as of Jan. 2021.
- Fixed income transaction fees vary.
- There is a $20 annual account service fee for accounts under $10,000 in Vanguard funds.
- No fees for inactivity, account closure or transfer, exercise/assignment, receiving wires, sending checks, or paper statements and trade confirmations.
- Live broker fee is $20–$50 per trade, depending on the asset class. Clients with more than $1,000,000 in their accounts can access live brokers for free.
- There is a $10 fee for outgoing wires domestically as well as internationally.
How This Broker Makes Money From You and for You
As fee compression for equity and option trades sweep the brokerage industry, online brokers must find ways to build a profitable business model. The fees and commissions listed below are a few of the ways Vanguard makes money from and for you.
- Interest paid on cash: Similarly to other brokers, Vanguard generates interest income from the difference between what you are paid on your idle cash and what they earn on your cash balances. Vanguard pays a higher than average interest rate of 0.03% to you and automatically sweeps uninvested cash into a money market fund.
- Payment for order flow (PFOF): There are plenty of brokers that use payment for order flow as an additional revenue stream. Essentially, brokers that participate in payment for order flow are being compensated for directing your equity and options orders to specific trading exchanges. Vanguard does not engage in PFOF.
- Stock loan programs: Vanguard uses the stocks held within its funds to participate in the stock loan program. The modest returns from lending securities within funds are realized within the fund, and thereby passed on to investors. Because of this established within-fund lending program, there is not a separate stock loan program outside of the funds on an individual investor portfolio level.
- Price improvement: Vanguard’s order router attains net price improvement of $0.0159 per share. For options orders, Vanguard generates $0.0614 in price improvement per contract.
- Portfolio margin: Portfolio margining typically works best for customers who trade derivatives that offset the risk in its equity positions. Vanguard doesn't want customers who are traders, let alone derivatives traders, so it does not offer portfolio margining.
Account and Research Amenities
Although Vanguard is a large broker, they have limited research and account amenities one would expect from a large broker. Vanguard was built for the target buy-and-hold client, and has dispensed with almost everything non-essential in the process.
Vanguard has a stock screener, but it is limited in functionality. There are three canned screeners, but you will have the ability to create your own and save for future use. Stocks cannot be screened for technical indicators and screens cannot be turned into a watchlist. Vanguard does have a stock comparison tool that allows investors to compare two stocks across a variety of metrics.
ETF and Mutual Fund Screener
Vanguard offers an ETF specific screening tool as well as a mutual fund screening tool, enabling you to compare characteristics of ETFs and mutual funds side by side.
Vanguard does not offer an options specific screening tool.
Fixed Income Screeners
Vanguard offers a fixed income screening tool that has a list of all CDs and bonds available for retail investors. As a Vanguard client, you can build a bond ladder but cannot use it to execute simultaneous buy orders.
Vanguard’s charting functionality was built by FactSet. Although charts are customizable, there is no technical analysis available and the capability is limited.
Tools and Calculators
With Vanguard, you can strengthen your financial toolbox with plenty of do-it-yourself resources. The majority of this broker's tools are centered around retirement planning. For instance, Vanguard has a retirement planning worksheet, retirement income calculator, required minimum distribution estimator, and a “when to retire” tool. It also has an investor questionnaire to guide you through creating a diversified portfolio, aligning your risk tolerance with your retirement goals.
Since college planning is a common goal, Vanguard offers an education savings calculator, college cost estimator, 529 plan tax deduction calculator, as well as a 529 plan comparison tool.
Trading idea generator
Vanguard does not have a trade idea generator.
Although real-time streaming news is not available, news from MT Newswires and Associated Press is available.
Vanguard offers daily market reports as well as third-party research provided by Argus and Market Grader. They are free for registered clients.
Idle cash at Vanguard is automatically swept into money market funds with a low expense ratio.
Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP)
As a Vanguard user, you will not be able to specify a dividend reinvestment at the time you purchase a dividend paying stock. Instead, once the security is purchased and settled, you can then make the decision to reinvest or receive cash. Additionally, Vanguard does offer you the option to make the decision at the account level, which drives selections for all new purchases, or you can make the selection on a security by security basis.
SRI/ESG Research Amenities (H4)
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing has gone mainstream thanks to better information and an increased interest from investors seeking to make an impact through their investment decisions. Vanguard has a dedicated area on its website for socially responsible investing (SRI) and ESG investing. Most of its funds are indexed and follow an exclusionary strategy that omits companies that don’t meet certain ESG criteria. Vanguard currently has one actively managed fund with an integrated strategy that includes companies making strides toward ESG practices.
Portfolio reports and analysis are updated in real time on the Vanguard website. It is customizable and you will have the ability to aggregate holdings from outside accounts. Realized and unrealized capital gains and losses are reported in real-time, as well as margin, buying power and account balances. You can also view your unrealized long-term and short-term capital gains.
Although there are capital gains reports, you will not be able to calculate the tax impact of a future trade. However, you will have access to Turbo Tax for additional tax reporting. You are able to calculate internal rate of return as well as time-weighted rate of return.
Vanguard predictably lacks the capability to add notes to a trade or maintain a trading journal.
Vanguard has a long history of providing education to investors. The focus of their content is on helping you set financial goals and creating a plan of action on how to reach them. You will find educational resources such as blogs, news articles, social media, commentary, research papers, videos, as well as webcasts on investment products, retirement, industry news, financial planning, and the economy. In addition to an investing glossary, Vanguard also offers life stage planning tools, which are both useful for do-it-yourself and beginner investors. As previously mentioned, Vanguard does not offer a paper trading platform.
- Phone support is available from 8 am–8 pm, Monday through Friday.
- Vanguard does not offer live chat with a customer support representative for prospective clients on your website, platform or mobile app.
- Vanguard does not have chat bot capability, but it has an easy task search function within its client support center.
- As a Vanguard Personal Advisor Services client, you will have unlimited access to financial advisors.
- The time you spend on hold with Vanguard will depend on the level of service for which your account size qualifies.
Security and Reliability
- Apple users can log in with biometric (face or fingerprint) recognition.
- Vanguard carries excess Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) insurance provided by Lloyd's of London and London Insurers with an aggregate limit of $250 million
- The maximum for any single customer is $49.5 million with a cash limit of $1.75 million per customer.
- Vanguard did not have any platform outages in the past 4 years.
- Vanguard has not reported any significant data breaches through April 2021.
Vanguard has not faced any major regulatory filings as of late. As far as transparency is concerned, it has a dedicated webpage to provide clarity on its pricing structure and fees. You will be able to find information on the costs of mutual funds, ETFs, stocks, options contracts, fixed income as well as trading on margin. You will also be able easily find information on costs as it pertains to client services such as wire transfers.
Vanguard dominates the passive investing market for good reason. The whole ethos of the company is built around low-cost, buy-and-hold as the solution for the average investor. If you are a Vanguard customer, you likely use the broker to purchase Vanguard funds—and you probably hold Vanguard funds even if you aren't a Vanguard customer. Committing to Vanguard as your online broker essentially means committing to passive investing. If you do this, you reap the most benefits from Vanguard's basic—but very affordable—offering.
Vanguard's competitive advantage is maintaining an array of low-cost ETFs and mutual funds. If you are a buy-and-hold investor, then Vanguard's services, platform, and mobile app will appeal to you despite the limitations. The platforms are not as user friendly or up to date as Vanguard’s competitors, but they can help you create a low-cost and diversified portfolio for the long-term. If you are looking for robust trading tools for active investing, Vanguard is quite clearly telling you to look elsewhere.
Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. Our reviews are the result of months of evaluating all aspects of an online broker’s platform, including the user experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on its platforms, costs and fees, security, the mobile experience and customer service. We established a rating scale based on our criteria, collecting thousands of data points that we weighed into our star-scoring system.
In addition, every broker we surveyed was required to fill out an extensive survey about all aspects of its platform that we used in our testing. Many of the online brokers we evaluated provided us with in-person demonstrations of its platforms at our offices.
Our team of industry experts, led by Theresa W. Carey, conducted our reviews and developed this best-in-industry methodology for ranking online investing platforms for users at all levels. Click here to read our full methodology.
What is Vanguard?
Vanguard is one of the world’s largest fund managers, pioneering index investing in the 1970s and launching its UK DIY platform in 2017. It offers general investing accounts, stocks and shares Isas, junior Isas and Sipps.
Vanguard’s platform only allows you to buy Vanguard funds, of which there are around 75, covering a range of regions, assets and investment styles. It also offers the LifeStrategy range of portfolio funds.
You can’t buy funds from other companies, shares or investment trusts.
Is Vanguard good?
Our customer satisfaction rating is based on feedback from real customers. We ask investors to rate their current platform for the quality of its online tools, customer service and investment opportunities. We also ask if it meets their needs, provides good value for money and whether they'd recommend it to someone else.
However, to be named a Which? Recommended Provider (WRP), customer satisfaction alone won't suffice; we also consider platform fees.
Which? members can exclusively read the results of our unique customer satisfaction survey.
Members can log in to see our review of Vanguard. If you're not already a member, join Which? and get full access to these results and all our reviews.
What do customers say about Vanguard?
- 'I wish I could have invested with Vanguard years ago.'
- 'Cost effective, with excellent customer service.'
- Very helpful staff and straightforward investments - you really do get what it says, and it is no frills. Relatively low costs and consistently reasonable performance are all that I was looking for.'
Find out more: check out our guide to the best and worst investment platforms to see how Vanguard compares
What are Vanguard's charges?
- 0.15% annual account fee (no fee for amounts above £250,000)
- £7.50 to buy or sell a fund through Quote and Deal service (free with bulk dealing service)
- No charge for switching or selling funds
- No charge for transferring in or out
- You can’t buy shares with Vanguard, so share trading costs aren’t applicable
How much will I pay to invest?
We’ve estimated the cost of investing with Vanguard over the course of a year, as shown in the tables below.
Costs will vary depending on how much you invest. All assume you make four purchases and four sales each year, spread out over different months.
Read our comparison of investment platform charges to see how much it costs to invest with Vanguard for a range of portfolios.
Who is Vanguard good for?
For those with small and medium portfolios, Vanguard’s simple, percentage-based fees are a fraction of those charged by even its closest major rivals.
It's also one of the cheapest platforms for large portfolios, thanks to no fees being charged on amounts over £250,000, but lags behind some fixed-fee brokers (see below).
Who is Vanguard expensive for?
For portfolios of more than £100,000, it’s actually cheaper to buy Vanguard funds from a fixed-fee broker, such as Halifax Share Dealing or Interactive Investor.
As Vanguard only offers its own funds, investors looking to buy other funds, investment trusts or company shares will have to look elsewhere.
What accounts and services does Vanguard offer?
The information below gives an at-a-glance view of the accounts and services Vanguard offers.
Elements marked with a ✓ are offered by Vanguard and those marked with a ✘ are not.
✓General investment account
A general investment account that can hold different types of investments, but doesn’t give tax-free benefits like pensions and Isas.
A junior Isa is a tax-free savings account for under 18s.
A Sipp is a pension where you have complete control over the investments you put your savings into.
✓ Stocks and shares Isa
A stocks and shares Isa is a tax-free account that allows you to put your money in a range of investments.
! Advisory services
Vanguard has launched Vanguard Personal Financial Planning, providing restricted financial advice for retirement. It costs 0.79% a year, including fund fees and a Sipp, with advice dependent on the size of your pot. You won't be able to pick your own investments.
✘ Lifetime Isa
A lifetime Isa is a tax-free savings or investment account designed to help people aged 18-39 buy their first home or save for retirement.
A savings account is somewhere you can put your money so it can grow in value.
An annuity is an insurance product which allows you to swap your pension savings for a guaranteed regular income that will last for the rest of your life.
✘ Banking services
Banking services allow you to operate bank accounts, make transfers and make payments.
✓ Income drawdown
Income drawdown allows you to take money out of your pension to live on in retirement.
Is your money safe with Vanguard?
If Vanguard went out of business, you would be compensated by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
The FSCS will cover up to £85,000 of investments per person, per platform. You can claim free online; there’s no reason to use a claims-management company.
You won’t be compensated for investments falling in value, or if a company you hold shares in goes bust, unless this poor performance resulted from bad advice given by a regulated Independent Financial Advisor that has since gone bust.
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Whether you’re saving for retirement or stashing away money for a college education, Vanguard has options that match up with your goals. Passive investing in ETFs, mutual funds, and stocks is one of the best ways for everyday people to create a healthy financial future.
Vanguard is one of the biggest names in investing and is known for its low-cost mutual funds and ETFs, which is why NextAdvisor named it one of the best online brokerages for 2021. The company is good for investors who select the more passive approach to investing. Investors who want a more hands-on approach — or those who want to select their own individual investment types — might want to look elsewhere.
Read on to learn more about Vanguard.
Pros and Cons of Vanguard
With about $7.2 trillion in assets under management, Vanguard is in the top five investment management companies according to size. It’s well-known for its low- or no-fee products and wide array of mutual funds. A mutual fund helps diversify your investments and protects your money from volatility in the market.
Here are some ways the company stands out.
Different accounts for different needs. You have your choice of IRAs, education savings, trusts, and brokerage accounts.
Fee-free investing. You can invest in exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, options, and some stocks without paying for commissions.
No minimums for some accounts. You don’t need a set dollar amount to start investing in exchange-traded funds, stocks, or bonds, except for most mutual funds, which are $3,000 to get started.
Basic user interface. While great for new passive investors, active investors or those who want to learn more analytics might find the platform a little too simplistic.
Limited customer service. If you need to chat with someone about your account, you can only do it Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. An automated service runs for 24 hours a day, but that only gives you information on your account and market updates.
Vanguard at A Glance
- Offers both self-managed and robo-advisors, depending on what type of investor you are.
- You can choose the right account based on your needs, including individual and joint taxable accounts, traditional and Roth IRAs, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, 529s, UGMAs, and trusts.
- Multiple investment types are available, including stocks, bonds, options, ETFs, mutual funds, and other services.
- Mostly fee-free, except some mutual funds and options have transaction fees.
Investments Available on Vanguard
If you decide to invest through Vanguard, you have your choice of thousands of:
- Mutual Funds
You can’t invest in fractional ETFs with Vanguard. Only full shares are available. Investing in fractional shares allows investors to determine how much they want to invest in a share by buying a piece of it without buying the whole share.
Vanguard has $0 commission fees and low expense ratios. An expense ratio is the fee an investor is charged for investing in that fund.
|Management fees||0.15% to 0.30%|
|Annual fee||$20 to $25, depending on the account, but can get waived in some instances.|
|Account minimum||$0 and up, depending on the account|
|Mutual fund fees (if applicable)||0% to 1%, depending on the fund and fee|
|Expense ratios||0.09% for ETFs|
|Account closing fees||$0|
Who Is Vanguard Best For?
Vanguard is best for new investors or those who don’t want to spend a lot of time managing investment accounts. While it’s a good idea to review your investment accounts at least once a year, you don’t have to spend a lot of time tinkering with your investments with Vanguard.
How to Open an Account with Vanguard
Head to the Vanguard investor page and click “open an account” to get started. If you already have an account somewhere else, you can select “start your transfer or rollover.” If you’d like to open a new account from scratch, select “start your new account.”
If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll follow the prompts on each page. Options to fund your account include through an electronic bank transfer or employer plan, or by transferring investments from another financial firm. If you’ve never used Vanguard before, you’ll need to create a login to continue.
If you’re rolling over an account, you can select what type of account you’re moving over. You can choose from:
- Checking or Savings
- 401(k), 403(b), or other employer plan
- Traditional IRA
- Roth IRA
- Inherited IRA
- Inherited Roth IRA
- Individual or Joint for general investing
- Rollover IRA
- UGMA/UTMA (for a minor)
- 529 education savings plans
Vanguard Compared to Others
Many of the leading investment platforms are competing for your business. Vanguard, TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab all have no-transaction-fee mutual funds and commission-free ETFs. And for many products, these big-name asset managers don’t have an account minimum to get started, aside from the cost of a trade. But they do stand out in other ways:
- Charles Schwab has a 0.50% operating expense ratio. If you invest in other mutual funds aside from Schwab’s, you could get hit with a $49.95 charge per trade.
- Vanguard, Charles Schwab, and TD Ameritrade all charge $25 for each broker-assisted trade. But online trades won’t cost you anything.
- TD Ameritrade offers investment opportunities in futures and forex, while Vanguard doesn’t. If you want to diversify your portfolio with these higher-risk options, you might want to look elsewhere.
- Vanguard doesn’t have an account closing fee, but to transfer your full account out of TD Ameritrade, it’ll cost you $75. It’s $50 at Charles Schwab.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it worth investing in Vanguard?
Because Vanguard offers such a broad selection of investment options, most investors can find a fund that suits their long-term goals and needs. It’s always worth asking a financial advisor — either through Vanguard Personal Advisor Services (its financial advisors), or with an independent service provider — whether your choices are best aligned with your financial needs.
How trustworthy is Vanguard?
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services are held to fiduciary standards under SEC and other applicable regulations. That means if you work with a Vanguard financial advisor to pick which funds you want to invest in, the advisors must make recommendations based primarily on your best interests.
Vanguard advisors don’t make commissions. Thanks to the company’s large size and mass of assets under management, it is able to cut down on commissions from sales and trades and make its profits through low management fees or annual account fees. This reduces the likelihood that an advisor would make a risky trade with your money in order to try and earn a profit.
In comparison, advisors who charge commissions only — such as a stockbroker — aren’t held to the same fiduciary standard and only have to recommend trades that are “suitable” to your needs (as opposed to trades in your “best interest”).
Is Vanguard a safe company to invest with?
Vanguard has been in business since 1975 and is a household name among most passive investors. While investing in the stock market comes with inherent risks, including the loss of money, it’s always important to understand what you’re investing in. Vanguard has a good reputation and is one of the top-five big investment managers.
Is Vanguard good for beginners?
Vanguard accounts are commonly used by beginners and passive investors who prefer a “set-it-and-forget-it” strategy. But all investors will find Vanguard’s low-cost ETFs and index funds appealing as they consider their long-term investment strategy.
Vanguard Review: A Clear Winner for Long-Term and Mutual Fund Investors
Vanguard was one of the last holdouts in the zero-commission revolution, but the company has scrapped its stock and ETF trading commissions for online trades.
Low cost ETFs and mutual funds
This is perhaps the biggest reason to use Vanguard as your broker. Vanguard's proprietary mutual funds and ETFs have some of the lowest expense rations. In addition to being able to buy and sell Vanguard's excellent family of mutual funds with no transaction fee, Vanguard offers thousands of other mutual funds on a no-transaction-fee (NTF) basis. Plus, its mutual fund commission of $20 for all other funds is on the lower end of the spectrum relative to peers. That's reduced to $8 or less for investors with at least $500,000 invested in Vanguard's mutual funds and ETFs.
No account minimums
Vanguard has no minimum deposit requirement to open a brokerage account. That said, the platform doesn't allow you to trade fractional shares of stock, so you'll need at least enough to cover one share of whatever stock or ETF you want. And if you plan on buying mutual funds, keep in mind that most have their own minimum initial investment requirements.
International market access
This is both a good and bad feature. Unlike many online brokers, Vanguard allows investors to buy stocks directly on foreign stock exchanges. However, doing so comes with a steep $50 commission.
Vanguard provides third-party stock research reports from Standard & Poor's, Thomson Reuters, and First Call. This can help beginners find good investment candidates and can also be a great tool to help learn the basics of stock analysis.
Lots of account types
Vanguard offers individual and joint brokerage accounts, traditional and Roth IRAs, SEP-IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, solo 401(k)s, and 529 college savings plans.
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Vanguard Review 2021: Pros, Cons and How It Compares
Vanguard is synonymous with low-cost investing: The company has a solid reputation for the well-below-average expense ratios on its index funds and exchange-traded funds. For long-term investors looking to pair a buy-and-hold strategy with the lowest-cost offerings, it's hard to beat the service and selection found with Vanguard. Notable features include commission-free ETF trades, more than 3,100 no-transaction-fee mutual funds, and an expanded lineup of proprietary, low-cost, socially responsible mutual funds and ETFs.
Vanguard joined in the broker price revolution, dropping its stock trading costs to $0 in January 2020, down from as high as $7 before. Still, active traders will likely be disappointed by this . Vanguard's trading platform is suitable for placing orders but not much more. Given its longtime focus on buy-and-hold investors rather than active traders, the bulk of our evaluation is based on Vanguard's retirement offerings. If you're interested in actively trading stocks, check out our .
Low costs: Vanguard pioneered low-cost funds — founder Jack Bogle actually — so if those are your game, you’re in excellent hands with this brokerage. Of course, competitors have taken note, and Charles Schwab and Fidelity both have drastically slashed costs (in some cases lower than Vanguard) to attract cost-conscious investors. Still, Vanguard remains the standard bearer; many automated portfolio management services, such as robo-advisors, use its ETFs to keep expenses low. Vanguard also offers two mutual funds and three ETFs for socially conscious investors.
and ETFs aren’t just low cost; they’re significantly less expensive than the industry average. Vanguard’s average expense ratio is 0.10%. The average expense ratio across all mutual funds and ETFs is 0.45%, according to a June 2020 study from investment researcher Morningstar.
Expenses can make or break your long-term savings. If you invested $100,000 and made a 6% annual return, you'd have nearly $39,000 more after 30 years if you paid a 0.25% expense ratio than if you paid 0.50%.
Number of mutual funds and ETFs: In case you haven't noticed yet, Vanguard's bread and butter is low-cost funds. A solid portfolio can be constructed from just a handful of mutual funds or ETFs (such as these ), but Vanguard makes sure you're not left wanting for options. It boasts an impressive collection of 3,100-plus no-transaction-fee mutual funds from other providers (none of Vanguard's 120-plus open funds charges transaction fees). But that total is lower than the 4,500-plus at and 4,200-plus at . Vanguard also offers commission-free online trades of ETFs.
Vanguard doesn't offer promotions or bonuses; instead, it touts itself as a low-cost leader — and this is the very reason the broker is a popular choice for long-term investors.
Admiral Shares: What do you do when you're already low? Go lower. Admiral Shares are a class of Vanguard mutual funds that boast super low expense ratios — as in 41% lower than the company's standard fund share class — and used to be the broker's way of passing along savings to larger account holders. But in 2018, Vanguard lowered the minimum investment threshold for many of those index funds to $3,000 from $10,000. That said, higher minimums persist for other funds ($50,000 for most actively managed funds and $100,000 for certain sector-specific index funds).
To some degree, Vanguard caters to higher-net-worth investors; for example, its robo-advisory arm, , has an investment minimum of $50,000. And the $3,000 minimum for many Admiral Shares funds, even though much more accessible than $10,000, still may be out of reach for lower-net-worth or beginner investors. That said, a handful of Vanguard's mutual funds have $1,000 minimums, including all of their target-date retirement funds. (Looking for help managing your investments? Here are our .)
Still, there is a lower-cost way to purchase Vanguard funds — most are also available as an ETF, and can be purchased on a per share basis.
Investor education: Like other retirement-oriented brokers, Vanguard offers a wealth of retirement planning tools and resources on its website. Investors can learn about investment options and prioritizing their goals, predict when they'll be able to retire with high-quality calculators and tools, estimate their retirement expenses and weigh the benefits of converting a traditional IRA to a Roth.
Platform: Vanguard's trading platform is basic, and lacks the analytical tools typically offered by brokers that support stock trading.
Fund minimums: Mutual fund minimums are common, don’t get us wrong. But some competitors waive them on select funds if investors agree to monthly auto-deposits. Most Vanguard retirement funds and the Vanguard STAR Fund have investment minimums of $1,000, and other Vanguard funds carry minimums of $3,000. That initial minimum purchase amount of $1,000 to $3,000 will be too high for many .
Account service fee: You can avoid this easily by signing up for email delivery of account statements and fund prospectuses. Otherwise, you'll pay a $20 annual fee.
Ask yourself this question: Are you part of Vanguard’s target audience of retirement investors with a relatively high account balance? If so, you’ll likely find no better home. You really can’t beat the company’s robust array of low-cost funds.
Investors who fall outside of that audience — those who can’t meet the fund minimums or want a powerful platform to regularly trade stocks — should look for a broker that better caters to those needs. (Need help figuring out what you want in a broker? .)
Arielle O'Shea also contributed to this review.