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Robinhood vs. Vanguard

One is best for buy-and-hold investors — the other for active traders.

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Both platforms offer commission-free stocks and a similar lineup of tradable securities but are equipped to serve two very different types of investors.

Which one is better?

  • Choose Robinhood if you’re a new or active investor looking to execute your own trades.
  • Choose Vanguard if you’re a long-term investor executing a buy-and-hold strategy.

Besides commission-free stocks and a similar asset lineup, Robinhood and Vanguard have little in common. And that’s because these two trading platforms are designed with different investors in mind.

Is one better than the other? It depends on your trading strategy.

Active investors — investors that buy and sell securities in an attempt to beat the market through short-term price fluctuations — will get more from Robinhood. It’s a beginner-friendly platform with no commissions and basic charting and stock screening software. Its research and analysis tools are too rudimentary to tempt day traders, but its offerings work for those who are new to trading or who feel confident performing research through third-party providers like MetaStock or NinjaTrader.

Long-term investors — especially those executing a buy and hold strategy — will prefer Vanguard. The platform is owned by investors, and offers a hearty selection of in-house mutual funds and ETFs. Investors with at least $50,000 on hand gain access to certified financial advisors by email, phone and video chat.

Overview

RobinhoodVanguard
Fees

★★★★★ 4/5

★★★★★ 2.5/5

Available securities

★★★★★ 4/5

★★★★★ 4/5

Customer support

★★★★★ 3/5

★★★★★ 5/5

Mobile app

★★★★★ 4.8/5

★★★★★ 4.6/5

Research and tools

★★★★★ 3/5

★★★★★ 3/5

Reliability

★★★★★ 2/5

★★★★★ 3/5

Bonus star

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 Robinhood and Vanguard compare?

A breakdown of features, fees, customer feedback and more:

RobinhoodVanguard
Robinhood logo
Open an account
Vanguard
Open an account
Finder’s rating

★★★★★ 3.5/5

Robinhood is a trading platform for beginners that offers easy-to-navigate software, no account minimums and no commission fees. Research and analytics tools are somewhat limited, but investors can bump up their brokerage account to Robinhood Gold for $5 monthly to receive Morningstar research reports, Nasdaq Level II Market Data and instant access to deposits of $5,000 to $50,000.

★★★★★ 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
Option trade fee$0$1
Annual fee0%$1/month
Minimum deposit to open$0$0
Benefits
  • Commission-free trades. The platform makes fees simple: traders pay no commissions on anything.
  • Beginner-oriented. One of the most intuitive, easy-to-use trading platforms on the market.
  • Instant deposits. Deposits of up to $1,000 are approved in seconds.
  • Recurring investments. Investors can automate portfolio growth when they sign up to have money automatically invested in stocks or ETFs daily, weekly, biweekly or monthly.
  • Financial advisors. Offers access to certified financial advisors for investors with at least $50,000 on hand.
  • Commission-free mutual funds. Most platforms charge commissions of $10 to $50 for mutual funds, but Vanguard is one of the few brokers that offer this security commission free.
  • Investor owned. Investors can become part owners of the platform to make trades by purchasing Vanguard’s in-house mutual funds and ETFs.
  • Free account transfers. A $75 account transfer fee is the industry standard, but Vanguard lets its investors transfer funds for free.
Drawbacks
  • Service outages. Its 2020 service outages made headlines but this platform experienced outages in preceding years, too.
  • Account transfer fee. Investors face a $75 fee for outgoing account transfers.
  • Limited support. Support is only available by email.
  • Limited research. While its research resources are better than it was, advanced traders will be frustrated with its limited charting tools.
  • Options trading fee. Investors pay a hefty $1 per options contract — higher than the industry average of $0.65.
  • High mutual fund minimums. There are no commissions on mutual funds, but Vanguard investors need to be willing to invest at least $1,000.
  • Limited research. Vanguard’s educational content and investment calculators won’t be enough to satisfy active traders in need of charting software.
Tools and research
  • Newsfeed. Review relevant investor news from the Financial Post, MarketWatch, Reuters and the New York Times.
  • Daily stock information. Receive a daily rundown of significant shifts in the stock market.
  • Analyst ratings. Use analyst ratings to help you determine whether to buy, hold or sell a security.
  • Candlestick charts. Apply chart indicators to analyze a stock’s performance.
  • Robinhood Gold. Upgrade to its advanced product for an added $5 monthly to receive Morningstar and Nasdaq Level II Market Datastock research reports.
  • Portfolio Watch. Analyze your portfolio, review your holdings, identify risks and capitalize on exposure opportunities.
  • Knowledge base. Expand your expertise with articles on a range of financial topics, including retirement planning, savings strategies, market fluctuations and economic news.
  • Retirement calculators. Devise a long-term investment plan based on your goals and assets.
Reputation and customer reviews
  • Reviews are: Mostly negative
  • Customers praise: Beginner-friendly platform and commission-free trades
  • Customers complain about: Slow support and service outages
  • Reviews are: Mixed
  • Customers praise: Helpful guidance from financial advisors
  • Customers complain about: Wait times to speak with customer support and transfer request delays
Apple App Store reviews

★★★★★ 4.8/5

★★★★★ 4.7/5

Google Play Store reviews

★★★★★ 4.3/5

★★★★★ 2.1/5

Support
  • Email. Fill out an online support ticket request on Robinhood’s website for an email response from the customer service team.
  • 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

Robinhood is best for new or active investors, while Vanguard is best for long-term investors. The best platform for your portfolio boils down to your trading experience and preferred investment strategy. Compare your brokerage account options with multiple providers to find the account that best fits your investment goals.

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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