Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn how we make money.

Vanguard Brokerage account review

Last updated:  

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

finder.com’s rating: 3.7 / 5.0

★★★★★

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.

$0

Stock trade fee

$0

Minimum deposit to open

$20 per year

Fee

Details

Available asset typesStocks,Mutual funds,ETFs,Forex
Option trade fee$1

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.

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 $0 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.

  • 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
Vanguard
Stocks,Mutual funds,ETFs,Forex
$0
$1
$20 per year
Get a personal advisor when you open an account with at least $50,000.
Robinhood
Stocks,Options,ETFs,Cryptocurrency
$0
$0
0%
Make unlimited commission-free trades in stocks, funds, and options with Robinhood Financial.
Interactive Brokers
Stocks,Bonds,Options,Mutual funds,Index funds,ETFs,Forex,Futures,Cash
$0
$0 + $0.65/contract, $1 minimum
0%
IBKR Lite offers $0 commissions, and IBKR Pro offers advanced tools for professional traders.
TD Ameritrade
Stocks,Bonds,Options,Mutual funds,ETFs,Forex,Futures
$0
or $25 If it is broker-assisted
$0 + $0.65/contract,
or $25 Broker-assisted
TD Ameritrade features $0 commission for online stock, but watch out for high short-term ETF and broker-assisted trading fees.
Tastyworks
Stocks,Options,ETFs,Futures
$0
Stocks & ETFs: $1/contract to open, $0 to close, $10 max/leg
Futures: $2.50/contract to open, $0 to close
0%
Trade stocks, options, ETFs and futures on mobile or desktop with this advanced platform.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

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

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.

Ask an expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our finder.com Terms of Use and Privacy and Cookies Policy.
Go to site