Our experts answer readers’ investing questions and write unbiased product reviews (here’s how we assess investing products). Paid non-client promotion: In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners. Our opinions are always our own.
$0 ($3,000 for Vanguard Digital Advisor; $50,000 for Vanguard Personal Advisor Services)
0% (0.20% to 0.30% for professionally managed portfolios)
- Commission-free stocks, ETFs, and options
- Brokerage, automated, and advisor-managed accounts available
- Thousands of low-cost mutual funds
- Multiple resources with expert analysis and market insights
- Several retirement accounts and services for retirement plan participants
- Higher options contract fee than other discount brokerages (Vanguard charges $1 per options contract)
- No separate trading platforms for advanced traders; no fractional shares
- No cryptocurrencies
- Promotion: None at this time.
- App store rating: 4.7 iOS/ 1.8 Android
- Consider it if: You’re a long-term focused investor looking for access to a variety of account types and investment choices.
- Awards: Morningstar gave Vanguard a ‘High’ assessment in its 2022 Robo-advisor Landscape report, listing it as the #1 platform out of 16 robo-advisors
$0 ($25,000 Fidelity Personalized Planning & Advice)
0% ($0, $3/month, or 0.35% for robo-advisor)
- No account minimum or account fees
- No commissions for stock, ETF, and options trades; fractional shares available
- Thousands of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and fee-free mutual funds
- Several research tools and trading platforms available
- Fidelity Go accounts cost more for investors with higher account balances
- Representative-assisted trades are slightly more expensive than other brokerages
- Promotion: None at this time
- App store rating: 4.8 iOS/4.3 Android
- Awards: Morningstar named the Fidelity HSA as the best HSA provider in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
- Consider it if: You’re focused on long-term investing and retirement.
Vanguard vs. Fidelity: The Biggest Differences
Vanguard and Fidelity are two of the largest online brokerages and some of the best robo-advisors for beginners and retirement-focused people. Both brokerages are well-renowned businesses that offer electronic banking, financial planning services, and various investment management resources.
While the two online brokers are neck and neck in many areas, Vanguard is the best choice for retirement-focused investors seeking account flexibility, diversified low-cost ETF portfolios, and goal-building tools. The brokerage’s advisor-assisted, automated account, Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, also has a lower advisory fee (albeit a higher minimum requirement) than Fidelity’s equivalent account.
Fidelity Investments is the better online brokerage for educational content like blogs, live webinars, investment analysis, and stock research from over 20 different independent providers. Its robo-advisor, Fidelity Go, best suits investors with small balances below $25,000.
When comparing Fidelity and Vanguard’s robo-advisor platforms, both offer competitive fees and features for those in search of portfolio management and advisor guidance. Fidelity Go is the cheaper option since it has zero-expense ratios Fidelity Flex mutual funds. Plus, its robo-advisor has no minimum requirement (Vanguard Digital Advisor has a $3,000 minimum requirement).
If you want access to tax-loss harvesting features, Vanguard is your only option.
Is Vanguard Right For You?
Vanguard is a low-cost online brokerage for both hands-on and hands-off investors with access to a huge selection of tools and resources. It’s one of the best online brokerages for beginners and retirement-focused individuals. But Vanguard doesn’t offer a separate trading platform for advanced investors.
Who Vanguard is Best For
All kinds of investors can benefit from a Vanguard brokerage account due to the platform’s suite of account options, tools, and human advisor access. However, Vanguard is best for retirement saving and planning since it offers a range of IRAs for individuals and small businesses.
Although Vanguard Digital Advisor is a great option for passive investors and beginners, Fidelity Go is cheaper.
Ways to Invest With Vanguard
Vanguard offers individual and joint brokerage accounts, IRAs, education savings plans, trusts, small business retirement plans, and more. Its has multiple investment products, such as stocks, ETFs, options, bonds, and mutual funds. Stock, ETF, and options trades are commission-free.
Available retirement plans include a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, rollover IRA, and individual 401(k) plan. Moreover, retirement plans through Vanguard get access to the brokerage’s target retirement funds for automatic rebalancing, low expense ratios, and professionally managed and diversified portfolios of US and international stocks and bonds.
Investors saving for retirement can access Vanguard’s retirement expense worksheet, retirement income calculator, retirement income worksheet, potential growth tool, tax-loss harvesting, and much more.
Vanguard has more options for those looking to invest on behalf of dependents or beneficiaries. These include education savings plans, UGMA/UTMA custodial accounts, and trust administration and investment management services.
Investing With Vanguard’s Robo-Advisor
If you’re more of a hands-off investor or prefer professional guidance, the app’s Vanguard Digital Advisor or Vanguard Personal Advisor Services accounts could be right for you. Vanguard Digital Advisor — which has a $3,000 minimum and 0.20% annual fee — solely provides automated portfolio management.
Vanguard Digital Advisor is also compatible with individual and joint brokerage accounts, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, rollover IRAs, and 401(k)s. Its IRAs also offer multiple investment types, including Vanguard’s “All in One” Target retirement funds and more than 200 commission-free ETFs and mutual funds.
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, which carries a $50,000 account minimum, includes both automated investment management and advisor-assisted management. The best feature of this account is that you’ll get unlimited access to a fiduciary Vanguard advisor. There’s a 0.30% annual fee for accounts under $5 million.
Is Fidelity Right For You?
Fidelity Investments is great for all kinds of investors with commission-free trading, automated and advisor-assisted accounts, and retirement planning resources. It offers one of the most well-established low-cost robo-advisors for customized, diverse portfolios.
Who Fidelity is Best For
Fidelity is best for beginners with balances under $25,000 who want to trade customized ETF portfolios and other commission-fee investments with a top-notch robo-advisor. It’s great for low-cost trading, market research, and transaction-free mutual funds. Keep in mind that accounts over $25,000 are charged a 0.35% annual fee.
That said, Fidelity is still a strong contender for hands-on investing strategies. Active investors can benefit from Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro platform for real-time investing alerts, portfolio monitoring, customizable dashboards, and options trading assistance.
Ways to Invest With Fidelity
Fidelity Brokerage provides a vast suite of wealth-building products, including brokerage accounts, automated and managed accounts, cash management accounts, IRAs, 529 plans, trusts, and custodial accounts. There’s a $0 minimum for DIY investing and no management fee.
Like Vanguard, Fidelity charges no commissions on stocks, ETFs, and options. Uninvested cash balances may be eligible to earn additional gains. The Fidelity Cash Management Account pays 2.60% APY on cash account balances and is FDIC-insured.
Other investment options include bonds, fractional shares, money market funds, IPOs, deferred fixed annuities, precious metals, CDs, and other fixed-income products. The brokerage has over 3,400 no-transaction-fee mutual funds, more than 7,000 stocks and ETFs, and zero-expense ratio index mutual funds.
As for retirement accounts, the app currently offers traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, rollover IRAs, Roth IRA for Kids accounts, self-employed 401(k)s, SEP IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, and investment-only accounts.
Fidelity provides several trading tools for more advanced traders. Its Active Trader Pro platform includes real-time market insights, advanced portfolio monitoring tools, and more. And the app’s stock and ETF screeners help you narrow your investment decisions.
For research-oriented investors, Fidelity offers market insights and commentary through Fidelity Viewpoints. It also relies on investment research from multiple sources, including Thomson Reuters StarMine.
Investing With Fidelity’s Robo-Advisor
Fidelity Go has a $0 account minimum, but you’ll need at least $25,000 for Fidelity Personalized Planning and Advice. The two managed accounts are best for those in search of professional guidance and hands-off investing.
You can get a customized, diversified investment portfolio based on your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon with Fidelity Go. You can change your investment strategy at any time and your day-to-day trading decisions are handled by a team of professionals.
Keep in mind that Fidelity Go accounts with more than $25,000 balances are charged a 0.35% annual fee. Otherwise, the account is fee-free.
Unlike many automated advisors that build diversified ETF portfolios, both Fidelity Go and Fidelity Personalized Planning & Advice invest in a blend of Fidelity Flex mutual funds. These funds have no expense ratios (unlike Vanguard’s ETFs) and contain a mix of stocks, bonds, foreign stocks, and other short-term assets.
Vanguard vs. Fidelity: Which is Right For You?
Vanguard and Fidelity Brokerage provide similar services with competitive account features, but the two differ when it comes to fees, trading tools, and investment research.
Vanguard is a good option for all kinds of investors but is an especially good choice for people looking to save for retirement. Vanguard offers a huge selection of IRAs and small business retirement plans, as well as a suite of retirement calculators and goal-building tools. It’s also the best option for tax-loss harvesting as Fidelity doesn’t offer that feature.
Its Digital Advisor and Personal Advisor Services accounts could be great for passive investors, but the $3,000 and $50,000 minimums are much higher than Fidelity’s managed portfolio minimums.
Fidelity is hard to beat when it comes to cost. Many of its accounts have no minimum requirements, and the brokerage offers multiple zero-expense-ratio index mutual funds. In general, Fidelity is best for beginners and passive investors seeking low-cost trading options and access to great features.
That said, Active investors may prefer Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro since Vanguard doesn’t provide users with their own platform for hands-on investing. Crypto investors can also access crypto-specific portfolios with Fidelity.