Partnership Disclosure We might be compensated by one of our IRA partners for an account you open through our platform. This helps us keep the service free, but it never impacts the fees you’ll pay on your new account. We only win if you do, and our job is to help you simplify your retirement accounts. We also help people who already have an IRA account even though we receive no compensation in these situations—because it’s just the right thing to do!

Vanguard IRA Review


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• Great educational resources, especially for long-term investment planning
• Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades
• Low fees


• Limited trading platform with no real time data
• No physical branches for those who like that


Best if you wantA great online way to invest your retirement savings in alternative assets that can’t be bought on major broker platforms.
Fees$0 online trades for stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs)
What you can invest inStocks & ETFs, Mutual Funds, Options
LimitationsVanguard’s platform is limited if you want to trade things other than ETFs and some Vanguard funds have high minimums.
Account minimum$0
Ease of Use2.5 stars

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Best if you want

Vanguard’s platform is built on trading low-cost mutual funds, index funds, and ETFs. As an investor, you’ll get access to Vanguard’s research, easy-to-read fund performance analyses, and helpful retirement planning tools. These perks, as well as Vanguard’s low cost philosophy, make them a good choice for buy-and-hold investors planning for long-term goals like retirement. Vanguard’s low fees and earnest investment philosophy continue to attract new customers, the company’s assets under management (AUM) recently hit $6.2 trillion.


Self-directed retirement accounts typically carry two types of fees: annual account fees and transaction fees. Account fees are usually expressed as a percentage of your assets that’s paid each year (e.g. .50% per annum). On the other hand, transaction fees are charged exclusively during trading. The cost of annual and transaction fees have decreased dramatically over the past decade, but are still an important consideration when deciding if a broker fits your needs.

At Vanguard, you’ll pay:

  • A $20 annual account fee. This fee can be avoided if you sign up for e-delivery, which means all account statements and other paperwork sent to you via email.
  • No commissions on trades of stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs online.
  • Options carry a fee of $1.00 per contract, which is higher than at other brokers.

What you can invest in

You can build a retirement portfolio made up of stocks, options, and Vanguard ETFs and munds funds. These choices are a bit limited compared to other brokers, which often also offer futures. Vanguard’s stocks and ETFs typically trade with $0 commissions online, while the expense ratios of their ETFs and mutual funds are some of the lowest in the industry.

Other features

Vanguard offers a wide selection of investment account types, including standard brokerage accounts and goal-oriented investments like education savings plans. If you’re saving for several different goals in addition to retirement, Vanguard’s platform will allow you to manage it all from one online dashboard.

Vanguard offers customers the ability to work directly with a financial advisor, though you’ll need at least $50,000 to invest. Until then, you can take advantage of their free research and planning tools to help you invest wisely.


Vanguard’s investment options are a bit limited if you want to trade things other than ETFs and mutual funds. In addition, their online trading platform has limited capability and doesn’t support basic functionality like access to real time data, which can be challenging for experienced investors looking to take advantage of market fluctuations.


If you’re a buy-and-hold investor looking for low fees, Vanguard may be the place for you. However, if you’re looking for access to a wide variety of investment choices and a high-tech platform, you’ll likely get frustrated by Vanguard’s narrow investment selection and simplistic trading platform.

Compare Vanguard IRA to another IRA product

Ready to take control of your assets?

Capitalize helps you consolidate your old 401(k)s by rolling them into an IRA of your choosing. Use an existing IRA if you have one, or we’ll help you open one if you don’t.