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Understanding investment types

How to invest in stocks and ETFs online

You need a Vanguard Brokerage Account to trade stocks and ETFs (exchange-traded funds). It's easy to get started, and we can help you along the way.
3 minute read

Step 1

Choose an account type based on your investing goal

  • A general account for you or owned jointly with someone else.
  • A Roth or traditional IRA.
  • A custodial account for a child.
  • A SEP-IRA if you're self-employed or own a small company.

Step 2

Get a settlement fund

You'll need a settlement fund for your brokerage account.

Learn more about settlement funds

Step 3

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.

Open your brokerage account online

Find a stock or ETF

Additional points to consider

  • There's no minimum investment for your settlement fund.
  • There's no minimum initial investment for stocks and ETFs—it's the price per share.
  • You’ll pay no commission to trade ETFs & stocks online in your Vanguard Brokerage Account.
  • You can start trading right away, but must pay for your trade within 2 business days after the day you initiate the trade.
  • For newly opened brokerage accounts, you must have money in your settlement fund before you can begin trading.

View our commission & fee schedules

Have stocks somewhere else?

Learn how to transfer an account to Vanguard

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Have questions? Contact us

Open or transfer accounts

†Vanguard average ETF expense ratio: 0.05%. Industry average ETF expense ratio: 0.22%. All averages are asset-weighted. Industry average excludes Vanguard. Sources: Vanguard and Morningstar, Inc., as of December 31, 2023.

††Trading limits, fund expenses, and minimum investments may apply. See the Vanguard Brokerage Services commission and fee schedules for full details.


You must buy and sell Vanguard ETF Shares through Vanguard Brokerage Services (we offer them commission-free) or through another broker (who may charge commissions). See the Vanguard Brokerage Services commission and fee schedules for limits. Vanguard ETF Shares are not redeemable directly with the issuing fund other than in very large aggregations worth millions of dollars. ETFs are subject to market volatility. When buying or selling an ETF, you will pay or receive the current market price, which may be more or less than net asset value.

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