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How to invest

Share classes of Vanguard mutual funds

Understand the similarities and differences among our 3 mutual funds share classes, including how each helps you keep your costs under control.
5 minute read

What are share classes?

Mutual funds are frequently offered in different share classes. The funds' objectives, management, and underlying investments are identical across all classes. But each class has different expense ratios and minimum initial investment requirements.

What share classes does Vanguard offer?

Share class Minimum initial investment Expense ratio*
Investor Shares

$1,000 for Vanguard Target Retirement Funds and Vanguard STAR® Fund.

$3,000 for most actively managed funds.

Most Vanguard index funds no longer offer Investor Shares to new investors. For the few that do, most have $3,000 minimums.

See which funds offer Investor Shares

Range
0.09% to 1.80%

Average
0.27%

Admiral™ Shares

$3,000 for most index funds.

$50,000 for most actively managed funds.

$100,000 for certain sector-specific index funds.

See which funds offer Admiral Shares

Range
0.04% to 0.45%

Average
0.14%

Institutional Shares

$5 million.†

See which funds offer Institutional Shares

Range
0.01% to 1.74%

Average
0.08%

Share class

Investor Shares

Minimum initial investment

$1,000 for Vanguard Target Retirement Funds and Vanguard STAR® Fund.

$3,000 for most actively managed funds.

Most Vanguard index funds no longer offer Investor Shares to new investors. For the few that do, most have $3,000 minimums.

See which funds offer Investor Shares

Expense ratio*

Range
0.09% to 1.80%

Average
0.27%


Share class

Admiral™ Shares

Minimum initial investment

$3,000 for most index funds.

$50,000 for most actively managed funds.

$100,000 for certain sector-specific index funds.

See which funds offer Admiral Shares

Expense ratio*

Range
0.04% to 0.45%

Average
0.14%


Share class

Institutional Shares

Minimum initial investment

$5 million.†

See which funds offer Institutional Shares

Expense ratio*

Range
0.01% to 1.74%

Average
0.08%

Benefits of owning Admiral Shares™ include:

  • Keeping your costs under control – Greater cost savings can help you build more wealth over time.
  • Making investing more affordable for everyone- Admiral Shares™ combine low expense ratios with low investment minimums.
  • Enjoying expense ratios that are, on average, 34% lower than our standard Investor Share class and 82% lower than the industry average.**

How do you qualify?

You must meet—and maintain***—a minimum investment of:

  • $3,000 for most index funds.
  • $50,000 for most actively managed funds.
  • $100,000 for certain sector-specific index funds.

See which Vanguard mutual funds offer Admiral Shares

Existing clients: Are you eligible to convert to Admiral Shares?

If you already own Investor Shares of a Vanguard fund and your balance meets the minimum investment criteria outlined above, you may be able to start saving money immediately! ††

Log in and find out if you're eligible for conversion now

Here are our most asked questions about share class conversions:

We'll move all of the money you have in an eligible Investor Shares mutual fund into the same fund's lower-cost Admiral Shares. You'll receive a transaction confirmation once the conversion is complete.

In addition, your cost basis information will carry over.

You may be converted automatically

We periodically review your Investor Shares mutual fund investments to see if you're eligible for Admiral Shares. If you are, we'll give you plenty of time to opt out before we convert you automatically.

No. The dollar amount of your new Admiral Shares will equal the dollar amount of your original Investor Shares.

However, the number of shares you own could change because a fund's Admiral Shares price (its net asset value) may differ from its Investor Shares price.

No. As long as you convert from Investor Shares to Admiral Shares of the same mutual fund, the conversion is tax-free. However, moving money between 2 different funds isn't considered a conversion and may have tax consequences, depending on the type of account you hold the fund in.

No. Our checkwriting service isn't available for Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund Admiral Shares and won't carry over after conversion. Checkbooks should be destroyed upon conversion. Checkwriting is available for Vanguard Federal Money Market Fund and other Vanguard money market funds.

Vanguard Cash Reserves Federal Money Market Fund Admiral Shares is eligible as an alternative redemption fund.

*As of December 31, 2020, unless otherwise noted. Source: Vanguard.

†Some funds also offer Institutional Plus Shares, which typically have a minimum initial investment of $100 million and are reserved for large institutional investors. For both Institutional and Institutional Plus Shares, we may charge additional fees to institutions for which Vanguard also provides recordkeeping services. 

††Institutional clients: Please call us for special eligibility rules that may apply to you.

**Vanguard Admiral Shares average expense ratio: 0.11%. Vanguard Investor Shares average expense ratio: 0.17%. Mutual fund-only industry average expense ratio: 0.60%. All averages are asset-weighted. Industry averages exclude Vanguard. Sources: Vanguard and Morningstar, Inc., as of December 31, 2020.

***If your Admiral Shares balance drops below the minimum investment amount and the fund has Investor Shares available at a lower minimum, your holding may be reclassified automatically as Investor Shares. As with a conversion, this would be tax-free.

All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.