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See what you can do with margin investing

If margin investing is right for you, you'll find it has several benefits.


  • Margin investing can offer benefits such as more buying power.
  • Not all securities can be traded on margin.
  • Margin investing can protect against trading violations in your account.

Why trade on margin

You'll have more buying power

Margin investing allows you to have more assets available in your account to buy marginable securities.

Your buying power consists of your money available to trade in your account, plus the amount that can be borrowed against securities held in your margin account.

Here's an example of how you have a greater potential for gain:

You buy shares of ABC stock for $100,000 using $50,000 from your money market settlement fund and a margin loan for $50,000. You sell the stock for $125,000. You pocket $25,000, a 50% net gain.

If you had paid in full for the stock, you would have received $25,000 on a $100,000 cash outlay, a 25% net gain.

You'll have access to ongoing credit

Margin loans are a ready source of credit and don't require the approval or credit checks that a bank may ask for. There's also no set repayment schedule as long as you maintain the required equity in the account.

For short-term cash flow needs, taking a margin loan and paying interest is a convenient alternative to liquidating a portion of your portfolio, locking in capital gains, and being subject to taxes on those gains. You will, however, be paying interest to Vanguard Brokerage for the duration of the loan.

You'll borrow at competitive margin rates

Margin borrowing is generally more cost-effective than other lending options, such as credit cards or a bank loan.

You may be able to get a tax deduction

Consult your tax advisor to see if interest on your margin loan is deductible.

You'll be less likely to incur a trading violation

Trading violations, such as freeriding, are less likely to occur in a margin account. You'll realize this benefit even if you never actually borrow money from Vanguard Brokerage.

What you can trade on margin

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:

Securities that aren't marginable (but can still be traded) include:

In addition, we can use our discretion in prohibiting margin investing for a particular security.

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Margin investing

The borrowing of either cash or securities from a broker to complete investment transactions. You're usually required to come up with just a percentage of the amount needed, while paying interest to finance the rest based on an approved line of credit.

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Marginable security

A security that meets the Federal Reserve requirements for being bought and sold in a margin account.

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Funds/Money available to trade

The amount of money available to purchase securities in your brokerage account. It includes your money market settlement fund balance, pending credits or debits, and margin cash available (if approved for margin).

The figure is adjusted for open orders to purchase stocks or ETFs at the market or to purchase Vanguard mutual funds or mutual funds from other companies. Money recently added to your account by check or electronic bank transfer may not be available to purchase certain securities or to withdraw from the account.

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Margin account

A brokerage account that allows you to borrow a percentage of a security's value from the broker to purchase that security. If the value of the stock drops substantially, you're required to deposit more cash in the account or sell a portion of the stock.

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Settlement fund

A money market mutual fund that holds the money you use to buy securities, as well as the proceeds whenever you sell.

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In a margin account, the value of your securities minus the amount you've borrowed from your brokerage firm.

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An offer given to current shareholders allowing the purchase of additional shares or securities before it's offered to the public. This allows existing shareholders to retain a proportional interest in the company.

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Capital gain/loss

The difference between the sale price of an asset (such as a mutual fund, stock, or bond) and the original cost of the asset. A capital gain/loss is "unrealized" until the investment is sold, when it becomes a realized gain/loss. Realized gains are taxable and they may be considered short-term (if the investment was owned one year or less) or long-term (if the investment was owned for more than one year).

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Interest rate

The amount or rate you pay when you borrow money.

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Buying and selling securities in a cash account without covering the initial purchase.

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Initial public offering (IPO)

A corporation's first offering of common stock to the public.

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An investment that represents part ownership in a corporation. Each share of stock is a proportional stake in the corporation's assets and profits.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

Pink Sheets

A daily publication of the National Quotation Bureau giving the bid and ask prices of OTC stocks not listed on the Nasdaq.

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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.

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Call & put options

The right to either buy (call option) a specific security at an agreed-upon price or sell (put option) a specific security at an agreed-upon price sometime in the future.

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Common stock

A security that represents ownership in a corporation. Holders exercise control by electing a board of directors and voting on corporate policy. In the event of a company's liquidation, common stockholders have lowest priority and receive assets only after bondholders, preferred stockholders, and other debt holders have been paid in full.

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Preferred stock (security)

A security that takes precedence over common stock when a company pays dividends or liquidates assets. Preferred securities do not usually carry voting rights.