Stock trading at a glance

Buying and selling stocks is probably the most common form of investment and given the explosion in the number of online brokers over the past years, nearly everyone can invest in stocks. You don’t need a large amount of money to start investing in a company; everyday investors do it with $100 or less.

Vanguard clients have access to real stocks, meaning they can buy and sell shares at this online broker. Follow these easy steps to start buying stocks at Vanguard:

  1. Open an investment account at Vanguard
  2. Transfer money to your account
  3. Find a stock or ETF that you want to buy on the trading platform
  4. Buy the stock(s) or ETF(s)
  5. Review your positions regularly
  6. Sell as you see fit

Vanguard stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
What stocks can you trade at Vanguard?

Vanguard gives access to 4 stock exchanges for trading real stocks.

The following table contains an estimated number of stocks available at Vanguard and its closest competitors. Some brokers that offer access to the NYSE and Nasdaq focus on the biggest names and may not list some smaller companies. Other brokers allow you to trade all stocks listed on the respective exchange, giving you more flexibility in setting up your investment portfolio.

Snapshot of stock market and stock availability
Vanguard J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing Ally Invest
Number of stock markets 4 3 5
Approx. number of stocks 5,000 5,000 -

Check out the following table for details about US stock trading at Vanguard.

Due to limited trading activity, stocks usually have greater price fluctuation and wider bid-ask spreads during extended hours compared to standard market hours.

Vanguard US stock market details
Vanguard J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing Ally Invest
Number of stock markets 4 3 5
Number of stocks - - -

Vanguard stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
Trading costs at Vanguard

Trading stocks comes with a range of brokerage fees, which can be divided into trading and non-trading fees. Trading fees are directly tied to a trade and usually include commissions, spreads, financing rates and conversion fees. Non-trading fees are charges not directly related to trading, such as withdrawal fees or inactivity fees. When you are trading stocks, the most important fees are commissions. For a more detailed breakdown of costs related to investing, check out our in-depth guide to brokerage fees.

When it comes to trading real stocks at Vanguard, commissions are Low when compared with all brokers we’ve reviewed at Brokerchooser. The following tables contain the most important charges related to stock trading and the fees levied by the competitors of Vanguard.

We’ve calculated the fees for an imaginary trade of $2,000 worth of shares on American, British, Hong Kong and German stock exchanges. We’ve converted the GBP, HKD and EUR trading fees to USD for better comparison.

Vanguard stock and ETF commission for a $2,000 trade
Vanguard J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing Ally Invest
$2000 trade on the NYSE/NASDAQ $0.0 $0.0 $0.0
$2000 trade on the LSE - - -
$2000 trade on a German stock exchange - - -
$2000 trade on the Hong Kong stock exchange - - -

Vanguard is a zero-commission broker, so trading US stocks at Vanguard is free of charge. Bear in mind, however, that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Although free trading sounds especially advantageous for active traders, it may not be the best solution for everyone. The payment-for-order-flow model, which is used by some zero-commission brokers to generate income (rather than relying on commissions), could potentially create a conflict of interest between you and your broker. This could result in trade execution (like routing your orders to specific market makers) that may be unfavorable for you under certain market conditions, especially when using market orders (as opposed to limit orders, which seem to be less affected). Note that non-trading fees may and probably will still apply.

Now let’s take a look at non-trading fees. Most online brokers don’t charge an account fee, nor deposit fees, but inactivity fees and withdrawal fees are more common.

Vanguard fee snapshot for non-trading fees
Vanguard J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing Ally Invest
Account fee No No No
Inactivity fee No No No
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

Vanguard stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
Minimum deposit for trading stocks at Vanguard

The minimum deposit to open a brokerage account with Vanguard is $0. This is a great benefit as there are brokers that require as much as a couple thousand dollars.

Minimum amount required to open an account at Vanguard vs its competitors
Vanguard J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing Ally Invest
Minimum deposit $0 $0 $0

Vanguard stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
Margin vs cash accounts at Vanguard

Clients can open a margin account with Vanguard. These accounts allow you to borrow money from the broker and buy more stocks than what your actual cash balance would cover. You’ll need a margin account if you want to short individual stocks or ETFs (i.e. bet on price decline). Margin accounts require a minimum balance. If you decide to use this feature, you’ll have to pay the following margin interest on your negative cash balance.

Vanguard annual margin interest rates
Vanguard J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing Ally Invest
USD margin rate 12.3% - 11.5%
EUR margin rate - - -
GBP margin rate - - -

Vanguard stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
Pattern Day Trading at Vanguard

The Pattern Day Trading (PTD) Rule applies at Vanguard. According to FINRA rules, you are a day trader if you execute at least four day trades within five business days. Pattern Day Traders have to maintain a minimum account balance of $25,000 in their margin accounts. This will allow them to engage in unlimited day trading. Brokers are free to impose a higher minimum requirement, which is often called a “house requirement.” If the account balance drops below the set minimum, traders are not permitted to day trade until the minimum level is restored. If the account balance is less than $25,000, a maximum four day trades are allowed in five business days.

Vanguard stocks: an in-depth guide to stock trading
Bottom line

While buying stocks and ETFs may prove one of the best long-term investments, it also carries a number of risks. In addition to unpredictable market movements, the most common risks include choosing the wrong broker, not diversifying your portfolio and investing in lousy stocks. To avoid some of these pitfalls, check out our guide about managing risks related to trading stocks.

We recommend only quality brokers, so you can be sure that none of the online brokers listed here are scams. In order to be sure, we check roughly 20 safety-related criteria, such as regulation, investor protection amount and the transparency of the broker’s financials. Lastly, at least one top-tier financial authority regulates all the brokers you can find on BrokerChooser.

If you want to read our full review of Vanguard, including fees, deposit options and platform reviews (like web and desktop), visit Vanguard review.

Author of this article

Edith Balázs

Author of this article

Edith is an experienced financial journalist having worked for 15+ years as a correspondent for Bloomberg, Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal covering macroeconomics, stock, currency and fixed income markets. She holds a master's degree in American Studies and Journalism.

Edith Balázs

Senior Editor

Edith is an experienced financial journalist having worked for 15+ years as a correspondent for Bloomberg, Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal covering macroeconomics, stock, currency and fixed income markets. She holds a master's degree in American Studies and Journalism.

Everything you find on BrokerChooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology

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