When constructing our Vanguard USA review, we found the website to be as easy and straightforward to navigate as any trader platform. Important sections, such as fees, legalities, accounts, advice and news, and information on all aspects of investing can be located and accessed with minimal effort on your part as everything you need is accessible through the menu bar.
Information about all of the investing options and accounts available (which we’ll discuss later in our Vanguard review USA) is available under the ‘My Account’ tab, and the drop-down menu makes it easy to set up new accounts, invest, or to find out more about what Vanguard has to offer. You can choose which account or investment you are interested in using this drop-down menu under the ‘Investing’ category.
When testing the website for our Vanguard review, we found that those who are less experienced investors would be able to find their way around the site just as easily as those who are veteran traders. If you are not sure which account or investment you would like to begin, you are able to choose an ‘Investment Goal’ (such as saving for college or an emergency fund) under the ‘Advice & Retirement’ section, where Vanguard will provide you with all the help you need.
The Vanguard USA website is designed professionally and displays a consistent red, white and grey colour scheme throughout. It could benefit from some modernisation, but it’s certainly not an unpleasant experience. The website performs immaculately, loading quickly and working well across all devices for those with a Vanguard open account.
As part of our Vanguard review USA, we took a look at how easy it was to open an account with the broker.
Opening an account with Vanguard USA is relatively straightforward for most people. You start by tapping the ‘Open an Account’ button, which is found alongside the ‘Forms’ and ‘Contact Us’ tabs on the top right of the homepage. You then choose whether you want to open a new account (such as an IRA, general investing, or saving for education account) or transfer assets to Vanguard USA from a different platform.
The accounts available include:
- Retirement (IRA)
- General savings (individual, joint, trust)
- Education (529, UGMA/UTMA)
- Small business (i401(k), SIMPLE, SEP)
With a Vanguard open account, you are able to invest in the following:
- Mutual funds
Our Vanguard review discovered that there are plenty of options to choose from, as you can see, so it’s important that you do your research to determine which is best suited to you.
Once you have chosen your Vanguard open account, you are required to complete the application form online, which takes around five to ten minutes. Your account will be confirmed via email within one or two days, following which you will be able to choose investments as well as individual stocks, bonds and ETFs.
There is also the option to become a VIP account holder through its Flagship Services scheme. Here, investors with $1 million to $5 million will receive exclusive resources, including meetings with Vanguard USA professionals who can help you with your investing and wealth management.
Our Vanguard review found that there is advice available to help both beginners and experienced investors choose which account would best suit them (including the ‘Investing Goals’), but it’s always important that you read the terms and conditions of the policy before signing on the dotted line.
When using Vanguard USA, it becomes clear that its trading platform does lack the high-quality analytical tools that are typically offered by its competitors, as found in our Wealthfront review and Wealthsimple review.
Although our Vanguard review evaluates it as low-cost in comparison to many brokers, it is evidently less advanced in terms of its trading platform as it is relatively basic. For this reason, Vanguard may not suit those who wish to actively trade stocks (active traders), but it does provide an adequate platform for placing orders as it has traditionally focused on buy-and-hold investors.
Vanguard’s mobile app allows you to invest and analyse your Vanguard accounts with ease, similarly to how you would when using the website on your desktop.
Using the app, our Vanguard review USA found that you are able to trade mutual funds, ETFs and stocks, monitor your account, analyse performance and view insights, follow the latest market news, and research new investment opportunities.
New customers are able to fund their Vanguard USA accounts using three main methods:
- Electronic bank transfer or another Vanguard account
- Rollover from an employer plan (401(k) plan, for example)
- Transfer funds or investments from another financial firm or broker
According to our Vanguard review, you pay $0 commission when trading stocks, ETFs and over 3,100 of the no-transaction-fee mutual funds when doing so through your Vanguard Brokerage Account.
The average Vanguard USA mutual fund and ETF expense ratio is 82% less than the industry average, meaning that you are getting more for your money than you would when using many other brokers.
The broker promises that you will never pay a commission when you buy and sell Vanguard mutual funds and ETFs in your Vanguard account, which is reassuring and useful for all investors.
The few mutual funds that charge fees do so in order to help cover the high transaction costs and to discourage short-term trading, which is advised against.
There is a $0 account minimum, but funds begin at $1,000, which is around the industry average, and other products may also include minimum investing requirements.
The majority of Vanguard mutual funds require a minimum investment of $3,000, but it’s possible to invest in any Vanguard Target Retirement Fund or Vanguard STAR Fund with just $1,000 – so there are options for those with varying amounts of funds.
The minimum investment for all ETFs (whether Vanguard or non-Vanguard) is the price of one share, which is a simple system to understand for investors of all levels of experience.
Account and Advice Fees
A $20 annual fee is applicable to all brokerage and mutual-fund-only accounts, but these are interestingly avoidable if you sign up to the e-delivery service. The e-delivery service is a way of receiving statements, annual privacy notices, confirmations and fund reports for mutual funds and brokerage accounts electronically.
Vanguard also promises to waive the fee if you are one of the VIP clients (a Voyager, Voyager Select, Flagship or Flagship Select client) or if you have a trust or organization account registered under an employee identification number (known as a EIN). As generous as this is, there are a number of broking newcomers to the trading market offering a trading cash back. Head over to our SogoTrade review to see how the fees and offers compare.
Customer service support is available both online via email and via telephone on Monday to Friday from 8am until 9pm. The support is offered directly from the provider and is available in English, as expected from an American-based company, and most customers have a positive experience with Vanguard’s customer service.
A link to the ‘Contact Us’ page is on-hand at the top right of the Vanguard website, making it easily accessible and showing that Vanguard is happy to help its customers. The support is efficient and timely, ensuring that you are not left in the dark if you’re ever unsure about anything relating to your investments.
Our positive Vanguard opinions are reinforced by the fact that there is also an extensive support or FAQs page, where Vanguard experts answer trending questions and provide useful tutorials to help you make the most of your investments.
For those with at least $50,000 invested through Vanguard, you are able to sign up to Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, which provides clients with tailored goals-based financial plans. There is a fee of 0.30% annually (well below the 1.08% industry average) if you have up to $5 million in managed assets, with it reducing to as low as 0.05% for those with over $25 million invested.
Vanguard USA is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA), so your money and investments are in safe hands. It is considered a safe trading broker with many years of experience, having been founded way back in 1975 and helped millions of clients make smarter choices with their assets.
All Vanguard customers are covered by the investor protection scheme in the US known as Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). This scheme protects against the loss of cash and securities if the broker collapses, up to a maximum of $500,000 (including a $250,000 limit for cash). Our Vanguard opinions are that it is one of the best investor protection schemes available and provides a level of protection significantly better than most other schemes.
SIPC generally covers stocks, bonds, mutual funds, company shares and other registered securities. It does not, however, cover investments like unregistered investment contracts, unregistered limited partnerships, fixed annuity contracts, currency, and interests in gold or any other commodity futures contracts or commodity options.
Vanguard USA has won several prestigious awards and titles during its 45+ years, including Morningstar’s first Exemplary Stewardship Award, Lipper Fund Awards, and was named as one of America’s best employers by Forbes in 2018.
Our Vanguard review came across various resources available on Vanguard and the support is on offer if you require it. Vanguard members have access to tutorials, videos and advice through its online portal.
Financial advice is on offer through both a digital and personal advisor service, depending on your preferences, available for a small fee of 0.15% variable (Vanguard Digital Advisor) and 0.30% annually (Vanguard Personal Advisor Services).
Vanguard USA offers free advice relating to your investment goals and retirement planning, and also provides ‘Investor Education’ services to help you understand exactly what you’re putting your money into. There are also tools and calculators available, which allow clients to analyze their investments and set up a plan for retirement or paying for education.
With Vanguard USA, your benefits as a client improve as your investment portfolio grows. Those with $1 million to $5 million are able to access the aforementioned Flagship Services, which provide investors with personalized assistance in dealing with larger portfolios.
Despite not offering a vast range of cryptocurrency or forex investment options, Vanguard are good at what they specialise in and that is offering ETFs and mutual funds at affordable rates, without any significant fees.
Our Vanguard opinions are that its platform isn’t a market leader, but the array of low-cost funds are perfect for those looking to invest their money long-term and you will struggle to find a broker with lower fees.
As our Vanguard review mentioned, there are plenty of resources, advice and tools available for members, including useful retirement planners.
Members have a useful support team at their disposal, and there are premium advisor services available to those looking for personalised advice.
Our Vanguard review USA recommends a Vanguard open account to anyone looking to build a low-cost portfolio consisting of easily manageable ETFs or mutual funds. If you’re looking at alternatives check out our Robinhood review, a broker offering an accessible platform for the trading newcomer.
For more reviews, take a look at our latest and ZacksTrade review.