Best Index Funds

How we picked the funds to evaluate:

NerdWallet analyzed 15 index funds from five providers across three major fund categories that would allow a long-term investor to create a balanced portfolio: total U.S. stock market, total U.S. bond market and international. All funds are widely available through online brokers, and each held at least $500 million in portfolio net assets and was open to new investors as of Oct. 25, 2019. None of these are NerdWallet partners.

How we chose the winner:

NerdWallet evaluated each fund across the weighted criteria below:
  • Gross expense ratio (50%).
  • Morningstar rating (25%).
  • Minimum required investment (25%).
The weighted average scores of the funds were then grouped by fund provider and averaged to create an overall score for each provider. The fund provider with the highest overall score was named our winner for best index funds.

How we verified our data:

NerdWallet writers confirmed fund details directly on fund company websites and sourced fund ratings from