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Vanguard Review

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT

Written by Sam Levine, CFA, CMT, Chris McKhann
Edited by Carolyn Kimball
Fact-checked by Steven Hatzakis

February 16, 2024

We love Vanguard’s funds, but we don’t have too many positive things to say about its brokerage. The website skimps on design, data and tools. Its mobile app is simply not competitive. Investors seeking to buy Vanguard funds should consider doing so at another broker.

Vanguard
4/5 Stars Overall
  • Minimum Deposit: $0.00
  • Stock Trades: $0.00
  • Options (Per Contract): $1.00

Vanguard pros & cons

thumb_up_off_alt Pros

  • Vanguard has a stellar reputation.
  • The website has some tools and beginner education for long-term investing.
  • It’s hard to find, but there’s thematic content for experienced and curious investors.

thumb_down_off_alt Cons

  • There’s no stock research and detailed information is reserved for Vanguard products on the mobile app.
  • Delayed stock quotes until you get to order entry.
  • The mobile app has much worse functionality than the website.

Overall summary

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Overall 4/5 Stars
Investment Options 4.5/5 Stars
Commissions & Fees 4.5/5 Stars
Mobile Trading Apps 3/5 Stars
Platforms & Tools 2.5/5 Stars
Research 3.5/5 Stars
Customer Service 3/5 Stars
Education 3.5/5 Stars
Ease Of Use 5/5 Stars

Vanguard trading platform screenshots

Website:

Mobile app:

Customer service

To score Customer Service, StockBrokers.com partners with customer experience research firm Confero to conduct phone tests from locations throughout the United States. For this year's testing, 135 customer service tests were conducted over six weeks, with wait times logged for each call.

Customer service representatives were asked for assistance or details for prospective customers in several areas of broker services, including account opening, trading tools, apps, rollovers, active trading, and more. Here are the results for Vanguard.

  • Average Connection Time: 2-3 minutes
  • Average Net Promoter Score: 8.4 / 10
  • Average Professionalism Score: 8.9 / 10
  • Overall Score: 8.33 / 10
  • Ranking: 6th of 13 brokers

What is a Vanguard brokerage account?

Vanguard is primarily known as a fund company, but it also operates a brokerage where you buy and sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs with a self-directed account. Once you open and fund an account, you can enter orders via web browser or, depending on the product, via its mobile app.

Does Vanguard have a trading platform?

Vanguard has a website and mobile apps, but neither is trader-friendly. If you’re a trader or want to become one, have a look at the best in our Top Trading Platforms 2024 guide.

Is Vanguard good for beginners?

Vanguard is acceptable for beginners who want to invest in Vanguard funds. There’s good investor education on the website and investor jargon is kept to a minimum. That said, beginners will find much more content to browse at other brokers, such as Fidelity and TD Ameritrade, who are leaders in this area.

What is so good about Vanguard?

Vanguard is the industry leader for low-cost passive investing. Many of Vanguard’s products are designed to mimic the performance of indices and keep investor charges low. Most actively managed funds underperform the S&P 500, and much of the underperformance is due to fees.

How much do you need to invest in Vanguard?

There is no minimum to open an account. Many of Vanguard’s funds require a minimum of $1,000 and some have minimums of $3,000. That's on the high side compared to industry leaders, especially in today’s environment of low or no fees and minimums. See low-fee leaders in our best brokers for free stock trading.

Is Vanguard a safe company to invest with?

Yes, Vanguard is a very reputable broker with a long track record, dating from 1975. It is overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission and FINRA, both of which are independent regulatory agencies.

Does Vanguard charge account fees?

Yes, Vanguard does charge a $20 per account annual fee for its brokerage account. But this fee will be waived if you accept e-delivery of documents or keep a minimum account value of $1 million. If you're not rocking a mil at Vanguard yet, then go to My Accounts > Account information > Profile and account settings > Mail preferences and alerts > Delivery settings to set up e-delivery of documents.

Do you have to use Vanguard to buy Vanguard funds?

No. Though we like Vanguard’s mutual and exchange-traded funds, they can just as easily be bought at higher-rated brokers, including E*TRADE’s and Ally's no-fee mutual fund marketplaces.

About Vanguard

Vanguard was launched in 1975 by legendary investor Jack Bogle, whose goal was for the company to be a client-owned mutual fund firm with no outside owners. The company serves over 30 million clients and its assets under management have grown to over $7 trillion. Vanguard is headquartered in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

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Our research team conducts thorough testing on a wide range of features, products, services, and tools for U.S. investors, collecting and validating thousands of data points in the process; this makes StockBrokers.com home to the largest independent database on the web covering the online broker industry. We test all available trading platforms for each broker and evaluate them based on a host of data-driven variables. All research, writing and data collection at StockBrokers.com is done by humans, for humans. Read our generative AI policy here.

As part of our process, all brokers had the annual opportunity to provide updates and key milestones and complete an in-depth data profile, which we hand-checked for accuracy. Brokers also were offered the opportunity to provide executive time for an annual update meeting.

Our rigorous data validation process yields an error rate of less than .001% each year, providing site visitors quality data they can trust. Learn more about how we test.

Vanguard fees and features data

The data collection efforts at StockBrokers.com are unmatched in the industry. The following tables show a deeper dive into the offerings available at this broker. You can also compare its offerings side-by-side with those of other brokers using our Comparison Tool.

In addition to meticulous annual data collection by our in-house analyst, every broker that participates in our review is afforded the opportunity to complete an in-depth data profile. We then audit each data point to ensure its accuracy.

Trading fees

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Minimum Deposit $0.00
Stock Trades $0.00
Mutual Fund Trade Fee Varies
Options (Base Fee) $0.00
Options (Per Contract) $1.00
Futures (Per Contract) (Not offered)
Broker Assisted Trade Fee $25

Account fees

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
IRA Annual Fee $20.00
IRA Closure Fee $0.00
Account Transfer Out (Partial) info $0.00
Account Transfer Out (Full) info $0.00
Options Exercise Fee $0.00
Options Assignment Fee $0.00

Margin rates

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Margin Rate Under $25,000 13.75% info
Margin Rate $25,000 to $49,999.99 13.25%
Margin Rate $50,000 to $99,999.99 12.75%
Margin Rate $100,000 to $249,999.99 12.25%
Margin Rate $250,000 to $499,999.99 11.75%
Margin Rate $500,000 to $999,999.99 10.5%
Margin Rate Above $1,000,000 Varies info

Investment options

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Stock Trading info Yes
Margin Trading Yes
Fractional Shares info No
OTC Stocks info Yes
Options Trading info Yes
Complex Options Max Legs info 4
Futures Trading info No
Forex Trading info No
Crypto Trading info No
Crypto Trading - Total Coins info 0
Mutual Funds (No Load) info N/A
Mutual Funds (Total) info N/A
Bonds (US Treasury) info Yes
Bonds (Corporate) info Yes
Bonds (Municipal) info Yes
Advisor Services info Yes
International Countries (Stocks) info 0
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Order types

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Order Type - Market info Yes
Order Type - Limit info Yes
Order Type - After Hours info Yes
Order Type - Stop info Yes
Order Type - Trailing Stop info No
Order Type - OCO info No
Order Type - OTO info No
Order Type - Broker Assisted info Yes

Beginners

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Education (Stocks) info Yes
Education (ETFs) info No
Education (Options) info No
Education (Mutual Funds) info No
Education (Bonds) info No
Education (Retirement) info Yes
Retirement Calculator info Yes
Investor Dictionary info No
Paper Trading info No
Videos info Yes
Webinars info No
Webinars (Archived) info No
Progress Tracking info No
Interactive Learning - Quizzes info No
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Stock trading apps

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
iPhone App info Yes
Android App info Yes
Apple Watch App info No
Trading - Stocks info Yes
Trading - After-Hours info No
Trading - Simple Options info No
Trading - Complex Options info No
Order Ticket RT Quotes info Yes
Order Ticket SRT Quotes info No

Stock app features

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Market Movers (Top Gainers) info No
Stream Live TV info No
Videos on Demand info No
Stock Alerts info No
Option Chains Viewable info No
Watch List (Real-time) info No
Watch List (Streaming) info No
Watch Lists - Create & Manage info No
Watch Lists - Column Customization info No
Watch Lists - Total Fields info 9

Stock app charting

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Charting - After-Hours info No
Charting - Can Turn Horizontally info No
Charting - Multiple Time Frames info Yes
Charting - Technical Studies info 0
Charting - Study Customizations info No
Charting - Stock Comparisons info No

Trading platforms overview

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Active Trading Platform info N/A
Desktop Trading Platform info No
Desktop Platform (Mac) info No
Web Trading Platform info Yes
Paper Trading info No
Trade Journal info No
Watch Lists - Total Fields info 9

Trading platform stock chart features

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Charting - Adjust Trades on Chart info No
Charting - Indicators / Studies info 9
Charting - Drawing Tools info 0
Charting - Notes info No
Charting - Index Overlays info Yes
Charting - Historical Trades info No
Charting - Corporate Events info Yes
Charting - Custom Date Range info No
Charting - Custom Time Bars info No
Charting - Automated Analysis info No
Charting - Save Profiles info No
Trade Ideas - Technical Analysis info No
Charting - Study Customizations info 1
Charting - Custom Studies info No
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Day trading features

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Streaming Time & Sales info No
Streaming TV info No
Direct Market Routing - Stocks info No
Ladder Trading info No
Trade Hot Keys info No
Level 2 Quotes - Stocks info No
Trade Ideas - Backtesting info No
Trade Ideas - Backtesting Adv info No
Short Locator info No
Order Liquidity Rebates info No

Investment research overview

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Research - Stocks info Yes
Research - ETFs info Yes
Research - Mutual Funds info Yes
Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB info Yes
Research - Bonds info Yes
Screener - Stocks info Yes
Screener - ETFs info Yes
Screener - Mutual Funds info Yes
Screener - Bonds info Yes
Misc - Portfolio Allocation info Yes

Stock research features

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Stock Research - PDF Reports info 2
Stock Research - Earnings info Yes
Stock Research - Insiders info No
Stock Research - Social info No
Stock Research - News info Yes
Stock Research - ESG info No
Stock Research - SEC Filings info No

ETF research features

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
ETFs - Strategy Overview info No
ETF Fund Facts - Inception Date info No
ETF Fund Facts - Expense Ratio info No
ETF Fund Facts - Net Assets info No
ETF Fund Facts - Total Holdings info No
ETFs - Top 10 Holdings info No
ETFs - Sector Exposure info No
ETFs - Risk Analysis info No
ETFs - Ratings info No
ETFs - Morningstar StyleMap info No
ETFs - PDF Reports info No
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Mutual fund research features

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Mutual Funds - Strategy Overview info Yes
Mutual Funds - Performance Chart info Yes
Mutual Funds - Performance Analysis info Yes
Mutual Funds - Prospectus info Yes
Mutual Funds - 3rd Party Ratings info No
Mutual Funds - Fees Breakdown info Yes
Mutual Funds - Top 10 Holdings info Yes
Mutual Funds - Asset Allocation info No
Mutual Funds - Sector Allocation info Yes
Mutual Funds - Country Allocation info No
Mutual Funds - StyleMap info Yes
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Options trading overview

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Option Chains - Basic View info Yes
Option Chains - Strategy View info No
Option Chains - Streaming info No
Option Chains - Total Columns info 9
Option Chains - Greeks info 0
Option Chains - Quick Analysis info No
Option Analysis - P&L Charts info No
Option Probability Analysis info No
Option Probability Analysis Adv info No
Option Positions - Greeks info No
Option Positions - Greeks Streaming info No
Option Positions - Adv Analysis info No
Option Positions - Rolling info No
Option Positions - Grouping info No
View More

Banking features

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Bank (Member FDIC) info No
Checking Accounts info No
Savings Accounts info No
Credit Cards info No
Debit Cards info No
Mortgage Loans info No

Customer service options

Feature Vanguard logoVanguard
Phone Support (Prospect Customers) info Yes
Phone Support (Current Customers) info Yes
Email Support info Yes
Live Chat (Prospect Customers) info No
Live Chat (Current Customers) info No
24/7 Support info No

About the Editorial Team

Sam Levine, CFA, CMT
Sam Levine, CFA, CMT

Sam Levine has over 30 years of experience in the investing field as a portfolio manager, financial consultant, investment strategist and writer. He also taught investing as an adjunct professor of finance at Wayne State University. Sam holds the Chartered Financial Analyst and the Chartered Market Technician designations and is pursuing a master's in personal financial planning at the College for Financial Planning. Previously, he was a contributing editor at BetterInvesting Magazine and a contributor to The Penny Hoarder and other media outlets.

Chris McKhann
Chris McKhann

Chris McKhann has been in the industry for more than 20 years. He has worked for many of the top names in the online trading space, including TD Ameritrade and optionMONSTER, which later became part of E*TRADE. His work has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, the Financial Times, Forbes, CNBC, Nasdaq.com and Nikkei. He has also been an advisor and outside trader for several hedge funds. He was one of the first traders to delve into the VIX tradable products and to write about them (back in 2006). Chris is also an educator who teaches high school statistics, finance and computer science.

Carolyn Kimball
Carolyn Kimball

Carolyn Kimball is managing editor for Reink Media and the lead editor for the StockBrokers.com Annual Review. Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.

Steven Hatzakis
Steven Hatzakis

Steven Hatzakis is the Global Director of Research for ForexBrokers.com. Steven previously served as an Editor for Finance Magnates, where he authored over 1,000 published articles about the online finance industry. Steven is an active fintech and crypto industry researcher and advises blockchain companies at the board level. Over the past 20 years, Steven has held numerous positions within the international forex markets, from writing to consulting to serving as a registered commodity futures representative.

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