Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
The investing information provided on this page is for educational purposes only. NerdWallet, Inc. does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks, securities or other investments.
Gold is popular among investors looking to hedge against stock market tumult. As gold prices rise, investors may be interested in gold exchange-traded funds rather than purchasing bullion itself.
Best-performing gold ETFs
Below is our complete list of best-performing gold ETFs. We exclude gold exchange-traded notes and leveraged gold ETFs.
iShares Gold Trust Micro ETF of Benef Interest
Goldman Sachs Physical Gold ETF
VanEck Merk Gold Trust
iShares Gold Strategy ETF
Source: VettaFi. Data is current as of November 1, 2023 and is for informational purposes only.
What are gold ETFs?
Gold ETFs are exchange-traded funds that give investors exposure to gold without having to directly purchase, store and resell the precious metal. Some gold ETFs directly track the price of gold, while others invest in companies in the gold-mining industry.
As with other types of ETFs, the issuing company buys stock in gold-related companies or purchases and stores gold bullion itself. Investors buy shares in the fund, whose value rises and falls with the underlying gold price or company stock value.
Gold is considered a safe haven investment, as its price often rises as stock markets tumble. Gold hit its all-time high of nearly $1,900 per ounce in September 2011, in the aftermath of the Great Recession. In recent months, the price of gold has been flirting with that record.
» Ready to invest? See our list of the best brokers for ETF investing.
per trade for online U.S. stocks and ETFs
per trade. Other fees apply.
no promotion available at this time
no promotion available at this time
Get up to $600 or more
when you open and fund an E*TRADE account
How to invest in gold ETFs
Here’s how to buy shares in a gold ETF:
Step 1: Find a gold ETF
You can typically find gold ETFs by searching for them on your broker's website. (No broker? Here's how to open a brokerage account.)
Step 2: Analyze the ETF
Two things to check before purchasing shares in a gold ETF:
Five-year returns. Most (but not all) gold ETFs are pegged to spot gold price, so returns should align with gold price moves.
Expense ratio. This is the ETF's annual fee, paid out of your investment in the fund. The average expense ratio for gold ETFs is 0.65%, according to ETF.com. Look for a low one.
And two important cautions: The average investor should avoid buying leveraged gold ETFs — these use financial derivatives and borrowed money to make bets on future price movements. Also, avoid gold exchange-traded notes. ETNs are secured debt obligations that don’t actually own the underlying gold (unlike ETFs) and have a greater risk of credit default.
These investments are strictly for pros and unsuitable for a buy-and-hold strategy favored by many investors saving for retirement.
Step 3: Buy the gold ETF
You can buy ETFs just like you’d buy a stock, through an online broker. A good approach is to buy them regularly to take advantage of dollar-cost averaging.
For more, check out our full list of the best brokers for ETF investing.
Learn more about sector ETFs: