The Best ETFs in the US for 2021 | Finder Canada

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The best ETFs in the US for 2021

See which US ETFs are the highest performing by revenue.

Investment chart showing upward-trending stocks

The ETFs on this page are all listed in the US, and we ranked them based solely on their returns. Given the volatility of the stock market, some of the ETFs listed here may have shifted since we last updated this page.

Best performing US ETFs so far this year

As of April 2021, the top performing US ETFs so far this year are:

SymbolETF nameYTD returnsAnnual dividend yield
NRGUMicroSectors U.S. Big Oil Index 3X Leveraged ETN120.79%0.00%
DPSTDirexion Daily Regional Banks Bull 3X Shares97.79%0.50%
GUSHDirexion Daily S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Bull 2x Shares93.76%0.11%
RETLDirexion Daily Retail Bull 3X Shares81.09%0.61%
HIBLDirexion Daily S&P 500 High Beta Bull 3X Shares67.73%0.11%
ERXDirexion Daily Energy Bull 2X Shares66.27%1.49%
DIGProShares Ultra Oil & Gas64.99%2.03%
MJETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF63.55%2.93%
BNKUMicroSectors U.S. Big Banks Index 3x Leveraged ETN59.55%0.00%
PSCEInvesco S&P SmallCap Energy ETF52.16%0.60%

Source: ETF Database

Best performing US ETFs over 1 year

As of April 2021, the top performing US ETFs over the last year are:

SymbolETF name1-year returnsAnnual dividend yield
RETLDirexion Daily Retail Bull 3X Shares454.03%0.61%
FNGUMicroSectors FANG+™ Index 3X Leveraged ETN426.57%0.00%
FNGOMicroSectors FANG+ Index 2X Leveraged ETN265.43%0.00%
WEBLDaily Dow Jones Internet Bull 3X Shares212.19%0.00%
SOXLDirexion Daily Semiconductor Bull 3x Shares211.94%0.04%
PBWInvesco WilderHill Clean Energy ETF204.90%0.42%
QCLNFirst Trust NASDAQ Clean Edge Green Energy Index Fund195.40%0.29%
ARKGARK Genomic Revolution ETF186.56%0.84%
IBUYAmplify Online Retail ETF179.29%0.45%
MJOIndxx MicroSectors Cannabis 2X Leveraged ETN171.54%0.00%

Source: ETF Database

Best performing US ETFs over 5 years

As of April 2021, the top performing US ETFs over the last 5 years are:

SymbolETF name5-year returnsAnnual dividend yield
SOXLDirexion Daily Semiconductor Bull 3x Shares2968.19%0.04%
TECLDirexion Daily Technology Bull 3X Shares1345.33%0.52%
TQQQProShares UltraPro QQQ1277.43%0.00%
USDProShares Ultra Semiconductors989.50%0.12%
ARKWARK Next Generation Internet ETF889.12%1.18%
ROMProShares Ultra Technology835.73%0.19%
ARKKARK Innovation ETF720.03%1.57%
QLDProShares Ultra QQQ651.49%0.01%
ARKGARK Genomic Revolution ETF547.53%0.84%
PBWInvesco WilderHill Clean Energy ETF505.95%0.42%

Source: ETF Database

Compare trading platforms to invest in US ETFs

Name Product Available asset types Stock Fee Option Fee Account Fee ETF Transaction Cost Feature Table description
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities, Precious Metals
$9.95 + $1 per contract
$0 account fee and free ETF transactions.
Opt for self-directed investing and save on fees or get a pre-built portfolio and take some of the guesswork out.
Interactive Brokers
Stocks, Bonds, Options, ETFs, Currencies, Futures
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
$1.50 min. per order
$0 (if monthly commissions are greater than or equal to US$10.00)
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
Extensive trading capabilities and global investment tracking.
Access market data 24 hours a day, six days a week and invest in global stocks, options, futures, currencies, bonds and funds from one single account.
Wealthsimple Trade
Stocks, ETFs
Deposit and trade $100 and get a $25 bonus.
Pay no commissions when you trade Canadian stocks and ETFs with Wealthsimple Trade.
Qtrade Investor
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs
$6.95 - $8.75
$6.95 - $8.75 + $1.25 per contract
$0 if conditions met, otherwise $25/quarter
$0 - $8.75
Trade 100 ETFs free of charge.
Qtrade Investor offers low trading commissions and an easy-to-use platform with access to powerful tools and a wide selection of investment options. Trade 100 ETFs free of charge and thousands more for $8.75 or lower.
Scotia iTRADE
Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities
$9.99 + $1.25 contract ($4.99 + $1.25 contract if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
$9.99 ($4.99 if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
Pay no annual account fees.
Buy, sell and trade ETFs, Equities, Options and more with competitive commissions.

Compare up to 4 providers

Picking the best ETFs for your situation

With thousands of ETFs to choose from, finding the best ones that fit your portfolio and investing strategy can help protect you from loss. Some points to consider when deciding which ETFs are best for you.

  • Timeframe. Decide your investment timeframe and under what circumstances you’d consider selling.
  • Have a strategy. Think about if you can afford to take on a riskier short-term investment or if you prefer to be more conservative. If you prefer lower risk, you could also consider index funds.
  • Understand the product. Do your research of the listed fund. Download its prospectus and read through the details.
  • Check the returns. Look at the returns, including all fees over different periods of time. How has it performed over a one-year period? How has it performed over several years?
  • Understand the fees. Fees strongly influence your return on investment. Make sure the returns outshine the ETF’s management fees and pick a broker with fees that match your trading habits.
  • Talk to a financial adviser. If you’re not clear about an investment, how it works or its returns, contact a licensed professional to help you learn more.

A beginner’s guide to exchange-traded funds (ETFs)

Understanding an ETF’s fees

There’s a direct correlation between high fees and an ETF’s overall performance. When fees are higher, returns tend to be lower and vice versa. There are two main costs involved when investing in listed funds: brokerage and management fees.

  • Brokerage fees. Like with stocks, your broker may charge a transaction fee every time you invest money into an ETF. This fee comes down to which trading platform or brokerage you use.
  • Management fee. This is often displayed as the management expense ratio (MER), which is the percentage of your return charged as fees by the ETF’s fund managers. Normally, the more work a fund manager has to do to keep the ETF profitable, the higher the fee – though this won’t always be the case. This is why many active ETFs charge higher fees than index ETFs, which passively track an index.

To find a platform that offers the lowest fees, you’ll first need to decide how much you want to invest in the fund and how many lump sums you’ll be investing over a year. If it’s just one lump sum, a platform that doesn’t charge an inactivity fee will be key. If you plan on frequently adding small amounts, the brokerage fee itself will be more important.

Brokerage fees range from around $0 to $5 per transaction and ETF management fees range from about 0.05% to 2.5%.

How to invest in an ETF

Once you’ve considered the risks of investing in ETFs and worked out your financial goals, you can buy and sell units in an ETF like any stock on the stock market through a fund manager or an online trading platform.

To invest in ETFs through an online trading platform, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Search for a trading platform that suits your investment needs.
  2. Sign up by providing personal details, proof of citizenship and proof of ID.
  3. Log in to your trading account.
  4. Move money into your trading account through a bank transfer.
  5. Search for the ETF on your platform and place an order.

Bottom line

Business cycles, demographic trends and bull or bear markets can often last for years, so ETFs with strong momentum sometimes continue to perform strongly — and vice versa.

Comparing recent performance of ETFs can help inform your investment planning and provide you with ideas for where to invest your money. From there, continue to research your investment choices and be as thorough with the trading platforms and services you consider.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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