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Fidelity vs. Vanguard

Both offer commission-free stocks but only one can cater to active traders.

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There’s plenty to like about Fidelity and Vanguard, including free account transfers and one-on-one access to personalized financial planning. But only one of these platforms has the resources and tools to accommodate advanced traders.

Which one is better?

Based on the star schema system we use to rate trading platforms, Fidelity edges out its competitor with a composite rating of 4.2 out of 5 to Vanguard’s 3.7 out of 5.

Despite its lower rating, Vanguard still has plenty to offer, including commission-free ETFs and mutual funds and personal adviser services for investors with account balances above $50,000. But it’s impaired by its lack of research and analytics tools — a feature not negotiable for active traders.

Fidelity, on the other hand, offers a respectable lineup of research tools, commission-free stock trading, access to international markets in 25 countries and 24-hour customer support. Its investment services are geared toward beginner and advanced investors, spanning brokerage accounts, a robo-advisor and personalized wealth management, making Fidelity a well-rounded platform equipped to serve a diverse range of investors.

Overview

Fidelity Vanguard
Fees

★★★★★ 3.5/5

★★★★★ 2.5/5

Available securities

★★★★★ 4/5

★★★★★ 4/5

Customer support

★★★★★ 5/5

★★★★★ 5/5

Mobile app

★★★★★ 4.8/5

★★★★★ 4.6/5

Research and tools

★★★★★ 4.5/5

★★★★★ 3/5

Reliability

★★★★★ 3/5

★★★★★ 3/5

Bonus star

1

We awarded a bonus star for offering access to precious metals.

1

We awarded a bonus star for Vanguard’s client-owned structure.

To learn how our star ratings are calculated, read the methodology at the bottom of the page.

How do Fidelity and Vanguard compare?

Fidelity Vanguard
Fidelity logo
Vanguard
Open an account
Finder’s rating

★★★★★ 4.2/5

Fidelity Investments is a platform catering to new and active traders. Its range of trading services span wealth management services, access to international markets and actively-managed ETFs. While it lacks access to crypto, forex and futures, it has almost everything else a trader needs to get up and running, including a hybrid advisor service that combines automated portfolio management with one-on-one financial coaching.

★★★★★ 3.7/5

Vanguard is an investor-owned brokerage that specializes in low expense ratio ETFs. Its tiered investment services are best suited to long-term investors with high account balances, as it offers a personal advisor service for investors with at least $50,000 on hand. Investors that purchase its mutual funds and ETFs don’t pay commissions and become part-owners of the company.

Stock trade fee $0 $7
Annual fee 0% 0%
Minimum deposit to open $25,000 $0
Benefits
  • Commission-free stocks. Traders don’t pay commissions when they buy and sell stocks.
  • Actively-managed ETFs. Fidelity’s actively-managed ETFs combine the tax-efficiency of a passive ETF with the expertise of an actively managed fund.
  • 24-hour support. Fidelity is one of the few platforms to offer round-the-clock customer support.
  • International trading. Stocks from 25 countries across 16 currencies are available for trade.
  • Hybrid advising. Investors can sign up for automated robo-advisor portfolio management augmented by one-on-one financial coaching with a human adviser.
  • Free account transfers. Most platforms charge $75 for this service, but Fidelity is among the few platforms that offer free account transfers.
  • Commission-free mutual funds. Most platforms charge hefty fees for trading mutual funds, but Vanguard offers this security commission free.
  • Investor owned. Investors have the opportunity to buy into the platform they use to invest by purchasing in-house mutual funds and ETFs.
  • Personal advisor services. For investors with account balances over $50,000, Vanguard offers custom investment plans and access to a personal adviser by phone, email or video chat.
  • ETF selection. Investors have over 1,800 ETFs to choose from with expense ratios as low as 0.14%.
  • Free account transfers. Like its competitor, Vanguard is among the few trading platforms that don’t charge for account transfers.
Drawbacks
  • Account closures. Fidelity investors report having their account access blocked or closed without explanation.
  • Expensive mutual funds. To buy or sell non-Fidelity mutual funds, investors must pay a $49.95 fee.
  • Limited securities. Despite its comprehensive offerings, Fidelity lacks access to futures, forex and crypto markets.
  • Options trading fee. Investors pay $1 per options contract — a figure higher than the industry average of $0.65.
  • Limited support. Vanguard’s phone support is only available on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Mutual fund minimums. To invest in a Vanguard mutual fund, you’ll need a minimum investment of $1,000.
Tools and research
  • Daily Dashboard. Navigate heatmaps, market news, earnings announcements and morning briefings from S&P Global from the Daily Dashboard.
  • Stock and ETF screeners. Review over 6,000 stocks and ETFs by hundreds of filters and search criteria.
  • Equity summary score. Assess stocks with the Equity Summary Score by StarMine from Refinitiv — a tool that compiles stock ratings from a number of independent third-party analysts into a single composite score.
  • Real-time analytics. Set alerts and pinpoint trading opportunities in real time.
  • Trade Armor. Explore trade and risk strategies, profit and loss scenarios and entry or exit strategies with interactive charting technology.
  • Stock dashboard. Access analysis and technical events from Recognia, track social media trends and explore independent research reports.
  • Knowledge base. Learn more about retirement, savings strategies, market fluctuations and economic news from Vanguard’s robust knowledge base.
  • Retirement calculators. Crunch the numbers using the platform’s retirement calculators to create a long-term investment plan.
  • Portfolio Watch. Keep your portfolio on track by having Portfolio Watch analyze your holdings, identify risks and find opportunities for exposure.
Reputation and customer reviews
  • Reviews are: Mixed.
  • Customers praise: Comprehensive research tools and intuitive interface.
  • Customers complain about: Having their account access blocked for verification purposes or having their accounts closed without explanation.
  • Reviews are: Mixed.
  • Customers praise: Pressure-free advice from company advisers.
  • Customers complain about: Slow response to account changes and transfer requests.
Apple App Store reviews

★★★★★ 4.8/5

★★★★★ 4.7/5

Google Play Store reviews

★★★★★ 4.6/5

★★★★★ 2.2/5

Support
  • Phone. Call 800-972-2155.
  • Email. Fill out a secure online form on Fidelity’s website for a response from the team within 48 hours.
  • Live chat. Visit the Contact Us page on the Fidelity website to chat with the Virtual Assistant.
  • Phone. Call 800-349-5814.
  • Email. From the Contact Us Brokerage Services page, click Send a secure message to fill in Vanguard’s email form.
  • By US Mail. Vanguard, PO Box 2600, Valley Forge, PA 19482-2600
Learn more

Read our review

Read our review

Bottom line

Despite their differences, Fidelity and Vanguard share some common ground: They both offer commission-free stock trading, free account transfer and access to financial advisers. But Fidelity’s comprehensive research tools, 24-hour support and slew of other practical services make it a viable choice for a wide range of investors.

Vanguard could be a prudent choice for buy-and-hold investors with enough portfolio’s big enough to unlock the platform’s perks for high-tier investors. But ultimately, its lack of robust research tools disqualify it in the eyes of many active traders.

Before you decide, research your brokerage account options on other trading platforms.

Frequently asked questions

How we rate trading platforms

★★★★★ 5/5 — Excellent

★★★★★ 4/5 — Good

★★★★★ 3/5 — Average

★★★★★ 2/5 — Subpar

★★★★★ 1/5 — Poor

We analyze top online trading platforms and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include fees, securities available for trade, customer support, customer feedback, platform resources and overall reliability.

For a complete breakdown of how we score each category, read the full methodology of how we rate trading platforms.

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