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Vanguard Brokerage account review

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An investor-owned company with a strong track record that’s better for long-term investors.

Vanguard is best known for its low-cost investment options. The company has no private owners, which allows it to keep operation costs low and give more back to its investors. But their brokerage accounts are ill-equipped for day traders or those looking to use complex options strategies.

$7

Stock trade fee

$0

Minimum deposit to open

Details

Minimum deposit to open$0
Available asset typesMutual funds
ETFs
Forex
Real estate
Stock trade fee$7

Expert review

Heather Petty

Review by


Heather Petty is a writer at Finder specializing in banking, investments and insurance. She's a self-proclaimed word nerd who worked as a technical writer and editor for the casino systems industry and is an internationally published young adult mystery author. Heather earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Expert review

If you’re a long-term investor with a high account balance, the savings you’ll accumulate from Vanguard’s client-owned company model may be worth checking out. It offers a low expense ratio and excels at in-house ETF offerings.

But it lacks the tools necessary for high-volume stock trading.

Who is a Vanguard Brokerage Account best for?

With over 1,800 in-house exchange-traded fund (ETF) and mutual fund options — and no fees for online trading — Vanguard appeals to anyone looking to buy and hold investments. A Vanguard Brokerage account is recommended for:

  • Investors with high account balances. Because of Vanguard’s tiered approach to customer benefits, customers with high account balances receive more personalized help and lower account fees.
  • Long-term investors. Vanguard’s customer-owned model gives them a significantly lower expense ratio than the industry average. That means more of the money you earn stays in your account, earning you more for your long-term investments.
  • Investors who make fewer than 25 trades a year. Trading fees are only $7 for most stock trades, but increase significantly for customers making more than 25 trades in a year.

What are the benefits of a Vanguard Brokerage Account?

Vanguard’s company model created a lot of unique advantages for its investors:

  • Investor-owned company. After investing in a mutual fund or ETF, you own part of the company.
  • Low expense ratio. A low expense ratio at 0.14% means a lower overhead, and you get to keep more of your earnings.
  • Wide variety of investment options. Whether you’re investing for retirement, saving for education, or investing to grow your wealth, Vanguard has options for you and advisers to help you build your plan.

Vanguard’s tiered benefits

The more you invest, the more it has to offer.

For account balances up to $50,000:

  • No commissions. Buy and sell Vanguard ETFs and mutual funds and your trades are commission-free.
  • Low stock trade fees. Pay only $7 per trade for the first 25 trades a year.
  • Investor education and tools. Vanguard provides an investment knowledge base, as well as calculators and tools to help you create an investment plan.

For account balances from $50,000 to $500,000:

  • Personal adviser services. A personal adviser creates a custom investment plan for you, reviews your portfolio quarterly, and is available by phone, email or video chat to answer any questions. Advisers charge an annual service fee rather than a commission — $3 for every $1,000 invested.
  • Reduced commissions. Pay lower commissions and transaction fees on all stock and non-Vanguard EFT trades.
  • Canceled service fees. No account service fees on most account types.

For account balances from $500,000 to $1 million:

  • Certified Financial Planner. Your personal adviser becomes a CFP to advise and manage your portfolio.
  • Investment team. At this level, you have access to a full team of investment professionals to advise, answer questions and make transactions for you.
  • Greater discounts. Make non-Vanguard ETF and stock purchases for $2 per trade.

For account balances from $1 million to $5 million:

  • Personalized resources. Access to specialists in everything from estate planning to philanthropy, depending on your investment goals.
  • Deeper discounts. More reduced commissions and 25 more commission-free trades in your brokerage account.

What to watch out for

Because the benefits are tiered, expect to pay more in fees and costs if you have a lower account balance.

  • High trade fees for high-volume traders. After you reach your 25-trade annual limit, your trade fee goes up to $20 online and can range between $20 and $25 for trades made over the phone.
  • Trading technology limits. Vanguard doesn’t offer streaming quotes, which limits day trading and makes complex option strategies impossible.
  • Basic mobile app. While most people find the app more intuitive than the website, the lack of features like live-chat customer support make it too simplistic to use as a trading tool.
  • High minimum investment. There’s technically no minimum account balance, but mutual funds require a minimum investment of $1,000, and most require a $3,000 investment.

If you want a brokerage account that gives you the financial freedom to invest in high volumes, you’ll want to keep looking. As always, compare your options when choosing an online trading platform.

Compare with other stock trading platforms

Name Product Available asset types Stock trade fee Option trade fee Annual fee
Ally Invest Self-Directed Trading
Stocks
Bonds
Options
Mutual funds
ETFs
Forex
Futures
$4.95
or $3.95 with a $100,000 average daily balance or 30+ trades over a rolling 3-month period
$4.95 + $0.65/contract
or $3.95 + $0.50/contract with a $100,000 average daily balance or 30+ trades over a rolling 3-month period
0%
500+ commission-free ETFs, some of the industry's lowest fees plus a cash bonus up to $3,500.
You Invest
Stocks
Bonds
Mutual funds
ETFs
$0
$0 + $0.65/contract
0%
Free online stock, ETF and options trades with $0 minimum to start.
INVESTMENT PRODUCTS: NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE
Firstrade
Stocks
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$0
$0 + $0/contract
0%
Firstrade customizable trading platforms let you manage your account and trade from your desktop, iPad or mobile phone.
Webull
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ETFs
$0
0%
Margin financing rates start at 3.99%. No monthly subscription fees for margin.
Zacks Trade
Stocks
Bonds
Options
Mutual funds
ETFs
Forex
Cash
$0.01 per share
($3 minimum)
$3 + $0.75/contract
0%
Trade stocks, options and ETFs for as low as $1 per order for a year when you open a new account by December 31, 2019, and fund it with $2,500 or more within 60 days.
Robinhood
Stocks
Options
ETFs
Cryptocurrency
$0
$0
Make unlimited commission-free trades in stocks, funds, and options with Robinhood Financial.

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Vanguard Brokerage reviews and complaints

As of November 2019, the Vanguard Group has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), but is not accredited. The company has a 3.9-star rating at Consumer Affairs, with 441 reviews in the last year.

A majority of the negative reviews complain that the company is slow to respond to account changes and transfer requests. The positive reviews point to the excellent, pressure-free advice they get from company experts and advisers and how well the customer’s portfolios have grown.

How do I get started?

  1. From the Trading Online page of Vanguard’s website, click Open or transfer accounts.
  2. Select Let’s open my account or Begin my transfer or rollover.
  3. If you chose to open a new account, select how you will fund the account and click Continue.
  4. If you have an existing account, use your credentials to log in. If not, select No and click Continue.
  5. Note the required information and process information and click Continue.
  6. Select why you’re investing and the account type you want to open, then click Continue.
  7. Select your Primary— and optionally, SecondaryInvestment objective, then select your Source of funds. Click Continue.
  8. Enter your personal information, including your employment status and income, and click Continue.
  9. When you have funded the account, review your information and e-sign to open your account.

Eligibility

  • At least 18 years old
  • Valid Social Security number
  • Valid US residential address

Required information

  • First and last name
  • Social Security number
  • Address, phone number and email
  • Employer information
  • Investment goals
  • Investment and financial information

I’ve created a Vanguard Brokerage account. Now what?

Now that you’ve created your account, it’s time to take advantage of what Vanguard has to offer.

  • Fund your account. Link your bank or credit union account to your Vanguard Brokerage money market settlement account, or use the mobile app to deposit a check.
  • Research. Use the Vanguard knowledge base and tools to figure out how best to invest your money.
  • Invest. Take advantage of the zero- and low-fee online transactions or call and let one of Vanguard’s brokers help you get started.
  • Manage your account. Log in to the website or your mobile application to track your investments.

Vanguard Brokerage Account customer service

If you need assistance with your personal brokerage account, use one of the following options:

  • Phone: Call 800-349-5814, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST
  • Secure Email Form: From the Contact Us Brokerage Services page, click Send a secure message to fill in Vanguard’s email form. There’s a non-secure option if your browser doesn’t support SSL and encryption.
  • By US Mail: Vanguard, PO Box 2600, Valley Forge, PA 19482-2600

Frequently asked questions

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