Get to know Vanguard's share classes
Understand the similarities and differences among our 4 share classes—and how each helps you keep your costs under control.
What are share classes?
How does it work?
Accounts with higher balances are less expensive to maintain, so people who invest more money will directly benefit from the savings.
What about the underlying investments?
The investment objective and strategy, portfolio manager, and underlying investments are identical across share classes.
That means you get the same high quality regardless of which share class you choose.
What share classes does Vanguard offer?
Choose from 4 share classes—and buy and sell them all commission-free* when you trade through a Vanguard account.
$1,000 for Vanguard Target Retirement Funds and Vanguard STAR® Fund.
$3,000 for most other funds.***
Range: 0.07% to 0.90%†
$10,000 for most index and tax-managed funds.
$50,000 for most actively managed funds.
$100,000 for certain sector-specific index funds.
Range: 0.04% to 0.45%
The price of 1 share.
(Price varies throughout the day and is different for each exchange-traded fund (ETF).)
Range: 0.04% to 0.32%
$5 million for all funds.††
Range: 0.01% to 0.29%†
Find out which funds are available in each share class
Browse these lists of:
ETFs … as a share class?
Generally, ETFs combine the intraday trading flexibility of individual stocks and bonds with the diversification and low cost of a mutual fund.
But we bring it up a notch. Because Vanguard ETFs are a share class of our index funds, you also get access to the experience and expertise you'd expect from the company that launched the first index fund for individual investors nearly 40 years ago.
Which share class should I choose?
When making investment decisions, share classes don't come first.
Instead, start with your asset allocation—that is, the combination of U.S. and international stock and bond investments that's right for you. Your mix should be based on how much time you have before you need the money and how much risk you're comfortable taking with your savings.
Then choose your share class, starting with the answer to this question:
Do you prefer mutual funds or ETFs?
With a mutual fund, your decision will be based largely on how much you're investing. The more you intend to put into any 1 fund, the lower costs you'll enjoy.
With an ETF—which can be bought for the price of 1 share—the decision is entirely up to you.
We're here to help
DO YOU QUALIFY FOR A LOWER-COST SHARE CLASS?
If you already own Investor Shares and think you qualify for our lower-cost Admiral Shares, you can request a conversion online.
UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF COSTS
The minimum amount of money you need to begin investing in a specific mutual fund.
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have no minimum initial investment requirement beyond the price of 1 share.
A mutual fund's or exchange-traded fund's (ETF's) annual operating expenses, expressed as a percentage of the fund's average net assets. It's calculated annually and removed from the fund's earnings before they're distributed to investors, directly reducing investors' returns.
An expense ratio includes management, administrative, marketing, and distribution fees. It doesn't include loads or purchase or redemption fees.