Vanguard vs. Fidelity: Which Is Best for You?

Arielle O'SheaJanuary 11, 2021
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If you’re on the hunt for a new brokerage account, the two biggest names in the field — Vanguard and Fidelity — might come to mind first.

You might be curious, as we were, about how these two stack up side by side. We’ve put Vanguard and Fidelity in a head-to-head battle to help you decide who should win your money.

There’s one thing to get clear right upfront. Both Vanguard and Fidelity are retirement powerhouses — their brokers’ funds line many 401(k)s, and Fidelity is the leading 401(k) record-keeper. Both are also among our picks for the best IRA providers. But Fidelity also caters to active traders, with robust trading platforms and tools.

Vanguard, not so much: The company doesn’t offer a trading platform. So some people may be able to quit this comparison right here: Are you an active stock or options trader? Fidelity is your answer.

» See our roundup of the best brokers for stock trading

The tension between these two starts for those investors who are looking to compare mutual funds, fees, account minimums and investment offerings.  For that, read below.

Fidelity Investments is best for:

  • Retirement investors.

  • Active traders.

  • Premium research.

  • Low fees.

  • Commission-free stock, ETF and options trading.

Fidelity Investments at a glance

Account minimum

$0

Stock trading costs

$0

Options trades

No base commission; $0.65 per contract.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

None.

Number of commission-free ETFs

All ETFs trade commission-free.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

More than 3,400 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

Tradable securities

• Stocks

• Fractional shares

• Bonds

• Mutual funds

• ETFs

• Options

Trading platform

Fidelity.com and Active Trader Pro. Both free for all customers.

Mobile app

Available for iOS and Android; advanced features.

Research and data

Free and extensive.

Customer support options (includes website transparency)

Phone, email and live chat 24/7; 200 local branches.

Vanguard is best for:

  • Long-term or retirement investors.

  • Those who prefer low-cost investments.

  • Index fund and ETF investors.

Vanguard at a glance

Account minimum

$0; however, fund minimums start at $1,000

Stock trading costs

$0

Options trades

$0 + $1 per contract

Account balances with $1 million+ get 25 trades for free each year; accounts of $5 million+ get 100 free trades per year.

Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)

No closing, inactivity or transfer fees. $20 annual account service fee for all brokerage accounts and IRAs. Waived for clients who sign up for statement e-delivery.

Number of commission-free ETFs

All available ETFs trade commission-free.

Number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds

More than 3,100 from outside providers; none of Vanguard's 120-plus open funds charge transaction fees.

Tradable securities

• Stocks. • Bonds. • Mutual funds. • ETFs. • Options. • CDs.

Trading platform

Basic trading platform

Mobile app

Trade mutual funds, ETFs and stocks; monitor account activity and analyze performance; follow market news and research investments

Research and data

Average quality but free

Customer support options (includes website transparency)

Phone support Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Eastern; email support

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