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Vanguard is a juggernaut in the world of personal finance. They have been making waves in the financial services industry ever since their founding in 1975 by John Bogle. Bogle founded Vanguard on the premise that well-diversified low-fee funds would outperform most other investment choices.

Since then, Vanguard has offered their signature ETFs and other funds with some of the lowest fees on the market. The company has grown, and now offers IRAs and investment brokerage accounts to investors who want to setup an account with them.

But there is a reason Vanguard is well known for its funds and not for its brokerage services. High trading commissions for active investors (unless they are rich), non-intuitive website design, and basic trading and research tools make it hard for the firm to compete effectively in the extremely dynamic industry of online investing and trading.

Vanguard offers several tiers of service: depending on the total amount of assets users invest in Vanguard products, their transaction fees and other costs can vary quite substantially. For example, several of Vanguard’s mutual funds offer different “share classes,” with decreasing share cost and expense ratios available to those who can make a larger initial investment. The lowest initial investment is $1,000, and applies to, among others, all of Vanguard’s “Target Retirement” funds. These are a good option for IRA investing, claiming to maintain an appropriate balance of assets based on the indicated retirement date. Also, once an IRA is established and the initial investment is made in one or more funds, recurring automatic investments of as low as $1 can be made and are never subject to any transaction fees. Users should keep in mind, however, that each fund owned will incur an annual fee of $20 that can be easily avoided simply by signing up for account access on and agreeing to receive statements and other information electronically.

Vanguard customers pay $7 for the first 25 stock and ETF trades in a year, and the price soars to $20 per trade thereafter if they have less than $50,000 in Vanguard mutual funds and ETF's. Most of Vanguard's customers will be in this category. Investors can receive on average two trades per month at $7 with this fee schedule.

Vanguard Pros

  • Low cost and good performance Vanguard mutual funds
  • Commission-free Vanguard ETFs
  • Free dollar-cost-averaging transactions for no-fee mutual funds; for transaction-fee mutual funds dollar-cost-averaging is $3 per transaction, with $100 minimum purchase
  • Free DRIP (dividend reinvestment plan)
  • Low commissions for clients with $500,000+ invested in Vanguard products

Vanguard Cons

  • High commissions for most active investors
  • Poorly designed, difficult to navigate website
  • If account is not signed up for electronic statements, $20 annual account service fee is charged for each Vanguard fund under $10,000 (waived for accounts over $50,000)
  • Annual IRA fees: $25 for SIMPLE IRA, $15 for 403(b)(7), $20 for Individual 401(k)/Roth 401(k) plans (waived if account is paperless or has $10,000+), $20 for 529 plan
  • Basic trading tools
  • No advanced trading platform
  • No pre-market trading and short after-hours trading: 4:15 pm - 6:00 pm EST, instead of 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST
  • Vanguard does not list all their fees on their website - they ask to call them for information on the fees

Full Broker information

Foundation Year 1975
Trading Platforms Vanguard's website, Mobile Trading
Reliability Rate B-
Authorised Capital
Brocker Fee 7
Exchange Fee
Withdrawal Fee
Minimum Deposit 0
Mobile Trading
Seminars, Education

Contact information

Phone: 877-662-7447, 800-523-1188, 800-523-1036, 888-888-7064, 800-997-2798
Address: Malvern, Pennsylvania, United States


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User Reviews

I became a Vanguard customer after reading founder John Bogle's famous book on investing some 25 years ago. In recent years, their quality of service has gone down hill to the point I will be transferring all of my sizable assets to Fidelity, with whom I already have a 401K account through my employer. Vanguard's employees are uninformed, poorly trained, difficult to get a hold of, and their bureaucracy makes facilitating simple transactions all but impossible. They may be low cost, but you also get what you pay for. Google "Vanguard Customer Service Reviews", and then look elsewhere to invest your hard-earned money.
&nbsp LastIconoclast &nbsp 2016/10/11 20:05 &nbsp &nbsp
Vanguard has been very efficient in providing information about my account. They seem to be an honest company and I have been very satisfied with them so far.
&nbsp BentonPetersen &nbsp 2016/10/11 20:05 &nbsp &nbsp
Wow what happened? I tried calling them, put on hold for 45 minutes They SUCK
&nbsp Mike &nbsp 2016/10/11 20:05 &nbsp &nbsp
A friend recommended Vanguard based on their returns. I tried for two weeks to open an account and I'm glad it never worked to be honest. Was placed on hold for over 45 mins. on the initial call. They never called back until my friend complained to them. Called me back while i was out of the office so we scheduled a call for the next day in a two hour window. Never got the call back ! I'm done - especially after reading the tons of 1 star reviews, many if which I can identify with.
&nbsp Randy &nbsp 2016/10/11 20:05 &nbsp &nbsp
Been trying to get a brokerage account set up for 5 months. They keep sending me the wrong forms to sign and never follow up once they've received the mail from me. And it takes all day to call them and ask "Hey, did you get my mail? Can I for the love of god finally open this account?"
&nbsp frustrated &nbsp 2016/10/11 20:05 &nbsp &nbsp
haven't been beneficial. unexplained delays which sharply differ from what the online brokerage menus show is the primary issue i see now. not sure what the reason(s) are but have asked without responses.
&nbsp wondering &nbsp 2016/12/22 12:17 &nbsp &nbsp
Opened an account through the Personal Advisor Services. At first I really liked the service and having a Personal Advisor to consult was great. But note that you have to submit a fair amount of money to get this service. Once I closed the account and moved it to a regular Federal Money Market Fund, the customer service is non-existent. When calling to try and move my money to a regular checking account, you'll get routed to their incompetent staff and hostile customer service reps who seemed annoyed when asking them questions or updates about your account. This is the last time I'll use their services and will move my money to other online brokers.
&nbsp WayneK. &nbsp 2017/1/05 14:06 &nbsp &nbsp