What is margin?
Margin lending is simply a flexible line of credit1 that allows a client to borrow against the securities they already hold in their brokerage account. When used appropriately, margin loans can help a client execute a wide variety of investment strategies1 by increasing their borrowing power to serve as a source of flexible cash, purchase more securities or to hedge.
Access to liquidity
- Accessible: Access to capital, competitive rates, and flexible repayment terms.
- Less Intrusive: No underwriting, personal guarantees, or credit checks.
- Tax Advantaged: Taking a margin loan and paying interest could be a convenient alternative to liquidating securities in a portfolio which may force realized capital gains and taxation. Additionally, interest on margin loans may be tax deductible2.
- All margin investing carries certain risks including loss of principal. Please see Margin Risk Disclosure.
How to use a margin account
There are several ways to utilize margin cash. You may request a margin loan by electronic bank transfer (EBT) or wire. You may also utilize your margin cash to invest in securities beyond your settled funds.
Paying down your margin debt
When you borrow from Vanguard Brokerage interest charges are automatically posted to your account monthly. Vanguard Brokerage offers flexible repayment for margin loans. You pay back when you want—there's no set repayment schedule as long as you maintain the required level of equity in the account. You may repay your loan at any time by selling securities or funding the account with an electronic bank transfer, wire, or check.
To learn more about using a margin account at Vanguard Brokerage and eligible collateral please review our Margin Investing Guide (PDF).
You can't just trade any type of security you want on margin. The Federal Reserve Board (FRB) determines which securities can be margined. These include:
- Exchange-listed stocks and bonds.
- Stocks that meet Nasdaq and National Market System trading criteria.
- Certain over-the-counter (OTC) securities approved by the FRB.
- Warrants (for listed and designated securities only).
- Mutual funds and Vanguard ETFs® 30 days after purchase.
An investment that represents part ownership in a corporation. Each share of stock is a proportional stake in the corporation's assets and profits.
A loan made to a corporation or government in exchange for regular interest payments. The bond issuer agrees to pay back the loan by a specific date. Bonds can be traded on the secondary market.
A computerized system that provides up-to-the-minute price quotations for securities traded over-the-counter, as well as for many securities listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It stands for National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System.
National Market System
A system that facilitates trades of over-the-counter stocks meeting specific criteria and requires all exchanges to post prices simultaneously. It is sponsored by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) and Nasdaq (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations).
Over-the-counter (OTC) security
A security that isn't listed and traded on an organized exchange. Many OTC stocks trade through:
The OTC Bulletin Board
An electronic quotation service showing real-time quotes, last-sale prices, and volume information for OTC stocks not listed on the Nasdaq.
A daily publication of the National Quotation Bureau giving the bid and ask prices of OTC stocks not listed on the Nasdaq.
An offer to purchase a certain amount of common stock at a set price (usually higher than the current price) during an extended period of time. The holder can exercise the warrant, transfer it, or trade it.
Margin interest rate schedule
As with any loan you'll need to pay interest on the amount of the margin loan. Margin interest rates are typically lower than credit cards and unsecured personal loans; however, you should do your own comparison. The interest rate is variable based on a tiered schedule which is determined by the balance of the margin loan.3 How is interest charged?
How is interest charged?
When money is borrowed in a margin account, interest will be calculated on a daily basis and charged based on the total debit (borrowed) balance. The monthly interest period begins two business days before the beginning of each month and ends three business days before the following month's end.
Current interest rate schedule
|Loan balance||Margin rate||Effective rate (includes 11.00% base rate)|
|Up to $19,999||Base rate + 2.50%||13.50%|
|$20,000–$49,999||Base rate + 2.00%||13.00%|
|$50,000–$99,999||Base rate + 1.50%||12.50%|
|$100,000–$249,999||Base rate + 1.00%||12.00%|
|$250,000–$499,999||Base rate + 0.50%||11.50%|
|$500,000–$999,999||Base rate – 0.75%||10.25%|
|$1,000,000 and above||
Vanguard Brokerage's Base Rate is 11.00% and is subject to change without notice. Last changed on May 5th, 2023.
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Need to open a margin account?
1It's an interest-bearing loan that can be used to gain access to funds for a variety of reasons that can cover both investment and non-investment needs. For either use, a client should carefully consider their personal situation to help determine if borrowing money makes sense for them – the amount that can be borrowed is determined by the security type and security requirements. Margin rates are determined by the amount of the loan taken.
2Vanguard Brokerage does not provide advice. Please consult a tax-advisor when determining the tax implications of transactions in your account or the deductibility of loan interest.
3As of March 31, 2023, Vanguard Brokerage's base lending rate and interest rates are as shown below. The effective rate, or true interest rate, charged on loan balances is the base lending rate plus the interest rate. If the rate of interest charged to you increases for any reason other than a change in the base lending rate, you will be notified at least 30 days in advance.
*Trading limits, fund expenses, and minimum investments may apply. See the Vanguard Brokerage Services commission and fee schedules for full details.
For additional information about margin investing, including the risks associated with it, read the Vanguard Brokerage Initial Margin Risk Disclosure Statement or visit the FINRA and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission External site websites.
All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.