Skip to main content

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?

Share classes are a common way of offering the same investment at different costs. With mutual funds, the higher the minimum initial investment, the lower the expense ratio.

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.


SHARE CLASS

Investor Shares

MINIMUM INITIAL INVESTMENT

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

$3,000 for most other funds.***

EXPENSE RATIO**

Range: 0.09% to 0.96%†

Average: 0.27%


SHARE CLASS

Admiral™ Shares

MINIMUM INITIAL INVESTMENT

$10,000 for most index and tax-managed funds.

$50,000 for most actively managed funds.

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

EXPENSE RATIO**

Range: 0.05% to 0.38%

Average: 0.14%


SHARE CLASS

ETF Shares

MINIMUM INITIAL INVESTMENT

The price of 1 share.

(Price varies throughout the day and is different for each exchange-traded fund (ETF).)

EXPENSE RATIO**

Range: 0.05% to 0.34%

Average: 0.12%


SHARE CLASS

Institutional Shares

MINIMUM INITIAL INVESTMENT

$5 million for all funds.††

EXPENSE RATIO**

Range: 0.04% to 0.30%†

Average: 0.10%

Find out which funds are available in each share class

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.

Open your account online

We're here to help

If you're new to Vanguard:

Call 800-252-9578

Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern time

If you're already a Vanguard client:

Call 800-888-3751

Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern time

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

REFERENCE CONTENT

Layer opened.

Minimum initial investment

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.

Layer opened.

Expense ratio

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.