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How to buy an ETF

You need a brokerage account to invest in ETFs (exchange-traded funds). If you have any questions along the way, we're happy to help.

Already have a Vanguard Brokerage Account?

Enjoy commission-free trades when you buy or sell ETFs online.

Need to open a brokerage account?

Step 2

Open your account online in about 10 minutes

It doesn't take long to open an account if you have some information handy, such as your Social Security and bank account numbers.

Step 3

Add money to your settlement fund

For newly opened brokerage accounts, you must have money in your settlement fund before you can buy an ETF.

But there's no preset minimum—you only need enough to cover the cost of the ETF shares you intend to buy.

Open a brokerage account

Already have a Vanguard Brokerage Account?

Buy a Vanguard ETF

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See what else you can buy and sell through your Vanguard Brokerage Account, including:


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General investing accounts

Joint & individual accounts

Use these if you've maxed out your retirement contributions for the year and you want to save even more, or if you want to set money aside for an emergency fund or a big future expense.

UGMA/UTMA accounts

With a Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) or Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) account, the minor owns the account but you control it until he or she reaches the age of majority (18 to 21, depending on your state).

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Retirement accounts

Roth & traditional IRAs

You can invest in a Roth or traditional IRA as long as you (or your spouse) are employed and earning income. IRAs offer a great way to save for retirement even if you're already investing in a 401(k) or 403(b) at work.


If you're self-employed or you own a small company, a SEP-IRA offers higher contribution limits than a Roth or traditional IRA allows.

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Other types of accounts

Trust accounts hold investments that are tied to an existing personal trust.

Organization accounts are available for corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, and sole proprietorships; endowments and foundations; estates; professional associations; or unincorporated enterprises.

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Settlement fund

The holding place where you keep the money you need to pay for the ETF shares you want to buy and where we'll place the proceeds when you sell ETF shares.

At Vanguard, your settlement fund—sometimes referred to as a "sweep" account—isn't a cash account. Instead, it's an interest-bearing money market mutual fund—specifically, Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund.