Pros, Cons, and Who Should Set up an Account

June 11, 2021

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  • Vanguard is an online brokerage offering low-cost investment products for all types of investors.
  • Its brokerage accounts have no minimums, and all stocks, ETFs, and options are commission-free.
  • Vanguard isn't ideal for cryptocurrencies or options traders seeking low per-contract costs.
  • Click here to set up an account with Vanguard.

Established in 1975, Vanguard is a popular

online brokerage
that has just about everything for every type of investor. Among its products are brokerage accounts, automated and advisor-managed accounts, 529 education savings plans, IRAs, and more.

The company also has an array of websites for different purposes. Its websites cater to personal investors, institutional investors, financial professionals, and global clients. And if you're solely focused on retirement, its expansive mutual fund selection and retirement plan participants services are hard to pass up.

As of January 31, 2021, Vanguard has more than $7.2 trillion in global assets under management, with more than 30 million investors in roughly 170 countries.

Its mobile investing app is available on iOS and Android devices.

Not sure if Vanguard is right for you? Keep reading to see how it stacks up against other online investment brokers.

Vanguard, SoFi, and Fidelity all provide various account options for different types of investors. All three have self-directed brokerage accounts for active traders, automated accounts for passive investors, and IRAs for retirement-focused individuals.

But unlike Vanguard and Fidelity, SoFi doesn't offer any advisor-managed investing accounts like Vanguard Personal Advisor Services or Fidelity Personalized Planning & Advice. SoFi also has a more limited selection of investment choices, but it could be a better fit for traders looking to dip their hands in the crypto space.

While Vanguard and Fidelity are mostly neck and neck, Vanguard's fees are slightly higher than Fidelity's in some areas.

If you're still interested in exploring Vanguard, keep reading to see what the brokerage offers.

Self-directed brokerage accounts

Vanguard's self-directed brokerage accounts are best for active traders who want control over the investments they buy and sell. Available as individual or joint brokerage accounts, this option gives you access to an array of investment choices, including Stocks, ETFs, options, bonds, mutual funds, and CDs.

Stocks, ETFs, and options here are all commission-free, but be prepared to pay an additional $1 per options contract (this is higher than brokerages like Charles Schwab and Merrill Edge, which charge $0.65 per contract). Vanguard also offers thousands of mutual funds, and while minimums for those investments can range from $1,000 to $10,000, most Vanguard mutual funds require at least $3,000.

Not to mention, Vanguard is the home of the famous Jack-Bogle-created index mutual funds. These investments are great for those looking to take the slow-and-steady route to building wealth. See more here.

Automated and advisor-managed accounts

Not interested in picking investments on your own? Vanguard offers a couple of options for hands-off investors who prefer automated or advisor-managed accounts. These include the following:

  • Vanguard Digital Advisor: This is Vanguard's automated investing account. It creates a personalized portfolio for you that's composed of Vanguard ETFs. The account has a $3,000 minimum and 0.15% advisory fee. Read our full review here.
  • Vanguard Personal Advisor Services: This account merges automated management with one-on-one financial advisor support. Though it has higher fees (a $50,000 account minimum and 0.30% annual fee), you get to take advantage of professional advice from a Vanguard fiduciary advisor. Read our full review here.


Vanguard is also a great resource for those interested in using retirement accounts to build wealth. The brokerage offers several options, including traditional IRAs, SEP IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401(k) rollovers, individual 401(k)s, and SIMPLE IRAs.

These retirement accounts give you access to Vanguard's All-in-One retirement funds and countless ETFs.

Education savings plans

If you're interested in investing for a child or dependent, Vanguard offers multiple options. These include its 529 education savings plans, UGMA/UTMA custodial accounts (these accounts let you invest for a child until they become adults), and trust administration and investment management services.

Educational resources and insights

If you're new to investing and simply want to improve your expertise, Vanguard provides a plethora of investment education and market analysis resources (most of which are free for those without existing accounts).

You can tap into the following resources in its investor education section:

The brokerage also has a "News & Perspectives" hub that keeps you informed on the latest investing trends.

The Better Business Bureau has given Vanguard an A- rating to reflect its opinions of Vanguards customer complaint history, business practices, and advertising and licensing information. BBB ratings range from A+ to F, so this indicates a high level of customer engagement on Vanguard's part.

Other factors the bureau considers include time in business, type of business, and government actions. But the BBB also states that its ratings don't guarantee a company's reliability or level of performance. For this reason, it's important to conduct your own research as well.

Vanguard has closed fewer than 70 complaints in the last 12 months, according to BBB data.

Rickie Houston is a wealth-building reporter at Personal Finance Insider who covers investing, cryptocurrency exchanges, brokerage, and wealth-building products.