Because of the flexibility that they give investors, letting them buy and sell at any time during the trading day, Exchange-traded funds or ETF’s have become extremely popular among traders as well as long-term investors.

While Vanguard Group used traditional mutual funds to build its reputation, of late it has become one of the driving forces in the ETF market and is now the number 3 provider of ETFs, challenging their competition with their big emphasis on keeping costs low.

Indeed, the company offers over 50 ETFs and, since they offer them on a commission-free basis, the enticement for would-be brokerage customers is quite high. The only drawback is that, with such a wide array of ETFs, some investors are intimidated by Vanguard’s lineup and unsure of which ETF to pick.

In order to simplify that choice, below are a number of Vanguard’s top ETFs, based on a number of criteria including cost, diversification and performance. Enjoy.

The first is the Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF, and at $.50 in annual fees for every $1000 invested, it’s an excellent choice. Like its name would suggest, the Total Stock Market ETF gives you exposure to the complete domestic stock market from small to large and value to growth, covering all sectors of the economy. In the last 10 years it’s had gains of over 80% annually, which matches up exceedingly well to the broader market.

If you’re looking for an ETF that comes with more income, then you want to take a look at both of these next products that Vanguard offers that pay dividends, their Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF and their Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF.

Depending on your time horizon, the former will give you a higher current yield but, if you’ve got more time, the latter focuses on stocks that have grown their payouts quite consistently. Although it doesn’t quite equal the 16% annual gain of the Vanguard High Dividend yield, the Vanguard Dividend Appreciation has produced extremely strong returns that, over time, should give it an edge. Also, at a cost of just $1 for every $1000 invested, the price is excellent.

Vanguard also offers its Total Bond Market ETF that covers everything from high-grade treasury bonds to investment grade corporate debt (although the latter is a bit riskier). At just 0.8% in annual fees, it’s got an excellent price but its average return of 4.3%, while not terrible, isn’t terrific either. It does give you a fixed income however and should definitely be considered for your portfolio.

What Vanguard has done is used its reputation as a low-cost investment house to power itself into the ETF space. It’s using this low cost push to its advantage and, although it’s still not the biggest provider by any means, it shows that low costs and investing success can go hand-in-hand.

Filed under: ETF

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