Vanguard Roth IRA Fees (Complete Guide)

Are you considering opening a Vanguard Roth IRA but unsure about the Vanguard Roth IRA fees and investment options? You’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide will help you understand the various fees associated with Vanguard Roth IRA, compare it to competitors, and explore the investment options available. Let’s dive into the world of Vanguard Roth IRA and find out which option is best for you.

Examining the Vanguard Roth IRA

  • Vanguard Roth IRA fees include an annual service fee of $20, transaction fees depending on investment type and competitive expense ratios.
  • Vanguard offers a variety of mutual funds, ETFs and stocks/bonds with varying costs to diversify portfolios.
  • Security features and customer support are available for protection & assistance when managing retirement savings investments.

Understanding Vanguard Roth IRA Fees

Understanding Vanguard Roth IRA Fees

A Vanguard Roth IRA is a tax-advantaged retirement account that allows you to invest in an array of Vanguard funds, with the potential for tax-free withdrawals upon retirement. A key aspect of investing with Vanguard involves understanding the associated fees, including account service fees, transaction fees, and expense ratios.

This section sheds light on the different types of fees related to a Vanguard Roth IRA, aiming to provide clarity on costs involved and their potential impact on your retirement savings strategy.

Account Service Fees

Vanguard Roth IRA carries a $20 annual service fee. However, there’s good news for those who prefer to avoid this fee. It can be waived by opting for electronic statements or by having a minimum of $1 million in qualifying assets at Vanguard. This means you can invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) without worrying about the annual fee, allowing you to focus on growing your retirement savings.

Awareness of any repercussions for not paying the annual account service fee is paramount. If you fail to pay this fee, a $25 fee will be imposed for each account, though this fee will not be applied if your total qualifying Vanguard assets meet the account minimum of at least $5 million.

Apart from the annual service fee, Vanguard Roth IRA does not impose any additional account fees.

Transaction Fees

Transaction fees vary depending on the investment type you choose. Vanguard offers commission-free trading on its mutual funds and ETFs, making it an attractive choice for investors looking to buy or sell. However, there are transaction fee mutual funds, fees associated with phone trades, and early redemptions.

For phone trades, Vanguard charges $10 for each holding being redeemed. This fee is waived for clients possessing at least $1 million in qualifying assets or those using Vanguard Personal Advisor Services. As for early redemptions, Vanguard Brokerage charges a $10 fee for each holding being redeemed, with certain mutual funds imposing special purchase and/or redemption fees. A $50 early redemption fee applies if a no-transaction-fee non-Vanguard mutual fund is sold within 60 calendar days of the most recent purchase. Additionally, this fee holds for all corresponding investments made in the same period of time. Being cognizant of these fees helps in planning your investment strategy effectively.

Expense Ratios

When it comes to expense ratios, Vanguard has a competitive edge. The average fund expense ratio for Vanguard ETFs and mutual funds is 0.08%. In comparison, industry averages stand at 0.05% for index mutual funds and 0.66% for actively managed stock mutual funds.

Expense ratios significantly impact long-term returns and hence, should be considered while choosing an investment platform. Vanguard’s low expense ratios make it an attractive option for retirement savers seeking cost-effective investments.

Vanguard Investment Options

Vanguard Investment Options

Vanguard offers a wide range of investment options for your Roth IRA, including:

These options provide you with the flexibility to create a diversified portfolio tailored to your financial goals and risk tolerance. This section provides an overview of the various investment options available through Vanguard, assisting you in making an informed decision for your retirement savings strategy.

Whether you’re a conservative investor looking for steady growth or an aggressive investor seeking higher returns, Vanguard has an investment option to suit your needs. A detailed examination of each investment type and their benefits follows.

Mutual Funds

Vanguard mutual funds are a popular choice for retirement savers, offering diversification and the potential for long-term growth. Most Vanguard mutual funds require a minimum investment of between $1,000 and $3,000, with additional investments in funds as low as $1.

Vanguard offers a broad selection of mutual funds, including index funds and actively managed funds, to construct a Roth IRA portfolio. By investing in Vanguard mutual funds, you can diversify your holdings across various asset classes, such as equities, bonds, and real estate investment trusts, to minimize risk and maximize returns.

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

Vanguard’s exchange-traded funds (ETFs) offer several advantages to investors, including diversification, low costs, and the ability to trade shares live during the trading day. Vanguard’s ETFs feature lower operating costs compared to a traditional exchange traded fund, providing flexible trading, greater transparency, and improved tax efficiency in taxable accounts.

Popular Vanguard ETFs include the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO), Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI), and Vanguard Total International Stock ETF (VXUS). With commission-free trading on Vanguard ETFs, you can build a diversified portfolio while keeping costs low.

Stocks and Bonds

In addition to mutual funds and ETFs, Vanguard offers stocks and bonds for investors looking to diversify their Roth IRA portfolios further. These investments include new-issue bonds, which can be purchased directly from the bond’s issuer on the primary market.

Trading stocks and bonds through Vanguard comes with varying fees and commissions. Understanding these costs is vital while selecting the right investment options for your Vanguard Roth IRA, including considering brokerage accounts.

By diversifying your portfolio with stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs, you can reduce risk and optimize your retirement savings by considering target retirement funds, mutual funds or ETFs.

Comparing Vanguard Roth IRA to Competitors

Comparing Vanguard Roth IRA to Competitors

Though Vanguard is a favored choice for retirement savers, comparing its Roth IRA offerings to competitors like Fidelity and Schwab is crucial. By evaluating fees, investment options, and account features, you can make an informed decision on the best platform for your retirement savings goals.

This section draws comparisons between Vanguard, Fidelity, and Schwab, underlining the key differences and similarities in their Roth IRA offerings. By understanding these distinctions, you can determine which platform best aligns with your investment objectives and preferences.

Vanguard vs. Fidelity

Both Vanguard and Fidelity offer a wide range of investment options and account features for their Roth IRA accounts. Fidelity, however, boasts a broader selection of IRA alternatives and lower costs for index mutual funds. On the other hand, Vanguard has lower advisory fees and a strong reputation for low-cost mutual funds and ETFs.

Assessing your personal investment goals and preferences is a crucial step when comparing Vanguard and Fidelity. If you prioritize a wide range of investment options and lower costs, Fidelity may be the better choice. However, if you prefer lower advisory fees and a focus on low-cost mutual funds, Vanguard might be the right fit for you.

Vanguard vs. Schwab

Comparing Vanguard and Schwab, both offer competitive Roth IRA options. However, there are some differences in fees and investment options. Vanguard’s expense ratios are generally higher than Schwab’s, but Vanguard offers a wide range of low-cost mutual funds and ETFs that may be more appealing to some investors.

Both Vanguard and Schwab provide excellent Roth IRA offerings, however, personal investment goals and preferences must be considered while choosing a platform. Take the time to evaluate each platform’s fees, investment options, and account features to determine the best fit for your retirement savings strategy.

Vanguard’s Digital Advisor and Managed Accounts

Vanguard's Digital Advisor

For investors seeking a more hands-off approach to retirement savings, Vanguard offers Digital Advisor and Managed Accounts. These automated investing options provide professional management of your Vanguard account, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your financial planning.

This section delves into Vanguard’s Digital Advisor and Managed Accounts, focusing on the associated fees and performance. By understanding the benefits and costs of automated investing through Vanguard, you can decide if this approach aligns with your investment strategy and goals.

Digital Advisor Fees

Vanguard Digital Advisor is a robo-advisor that offers the following features:

  • Selects and manages investments on your behalf
  • Simplifies the investment process for those who prefer a hands-off approach
  • The annual fee is no more than 0.20% of your account balance, making it a cost-effective option for automated investing.

There is a $3,000 investment minimum to utilize Vanguard Digital Advisor, which is considerably lower than the minimum investment required for some of Vanguard’s mutual funds. This lower minimum makes Digital Advisor an accessible option for investors who are just starting their retirement savings journey.

Managed Account Performance

Managed Account Performance refers to the returns generated by a professionally managed investment account, such as Vanguard’s Managed Accounts. While performance varies depending on the specific investment strategy and market conditions, Vanguard has a history of strong returns, with a 12.16% return over the last 10 years.

Recognizing that past performance doesn’t guarantee future results is important as managed account performance can fluctuate over time. However, Vanguard’s track record of strong returns may instill confidence in investors seeking professional management of their retirement savings.

Navigating Vanguard’s Mobile App and Online Platform

Navigating Vanguard's Mobile App

Staying up-to-date on your investments and managing your Vanguard Roth IRA is made easy with their intuitive mobile app and user-friendly online platform. These tools provide you with the ability to monitor your account, execute trades, and access resources to help you make informed investment decisions.

This section focuses on the features and usability of Vanguard’s mobile app and online platform, aimed at enhancing your retirement savings experience with Vanguard.

Mobile App Features

Vanguard’s mobile app allows users to view account balances, activity, investment performance, and execute mobile check deposits, transfers, and trades. The app’s user-friendly interface makes it easy to navigate and manage your investments on-the-go, ensuring you always have access to your Roth IRA account information.

Some unique features of Vanguard’s mobile app include biometric login, mobile check deposit for eligible accounts, and a seamless interface for trading mutual funds, ETFs, and stocks. These features make the Vanguard mobile app a valuable tool for managing your retirement savings efficiently and effectively.

Online Platform Usability

Vanguard’s online platform offers a wide range of tools and resources, including:

  • Online trading of brokerage products
  • Financial planning tools
  • Cash holding options
  • Access to Vanguard Digital Advisor

The platform is designed to be user-friendly, intuitive, and optimal for investors.

Despite Vanguard’s user-friendly online platform, it’s worth noting that other investment platforms like TD Ameritrade and Fidelity may offer more sophisticated features and a wider range of investment options. However, Vanguard’s platform remains an excellent choice for those seeking a straightforward and user-friendly platform for managing their Roth IRA investments.

Account Security and Customer Support

Vanguard Account Security

Ensuring the security of your Vanguard Roth IRA and having access to responsive customer support is essential. Vanguard offers various security features and customer service options to help you protect your investments and get the assistance you need.

This section touches upon Vanguard’s security features and customer support options, equipping you with necessary information to safeguard your retirement savings and get timely assistance when needed.

Security Features

Vanguard provides several security features for Roth IRA accounts, such as two-factor authentication through phone, physical security key, and the Vanguard app. These features help prevent unauthorized access to your account and protect your retirement savings from potential threats.

Although Vanguard offers these security features, it lacks some advanced features, such as voice recognition or money transfer lockdown, which are available with some competitors. Despite this, Vanguard’s security measures are still sufficient to keep your account and investments protected.

Customer Support

Vanguard offers customer service from Monday to Friday. Service hours are 8:30 am to 9 pm Eastern time. You can contact their support team by phone at 877-662-7447 or through their secure message feature on the website.

Vanguard provides support during regular business hours, but it’s worth noting that some competitors might offer extended customer service hours or even 24/7 support. However, Vanguard’s customer service is responsive and knowledgeable, ensuring you receive the assistance you need when managing your Roth IRA account.


In conclusion, Vanguard’s Roth IRA offers a variety of investment options, competitive fees, and user-friendly tools for managing your retirement savings. By understanding the fees, investment options, and account features, you can make an informed decision on whether Vanguard is the right choice for your retirement savings strategy. With this comprehensive overview, you’re now equipped to take control of your financial future and make the best decision for your retirement planning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Vanguard Roth IRAs have fees?

Yes, Vanguard Roth IRAs can have fees, such as a $20 annual maintenance fee if you don’t opt in to e-mailed statements or have at least $1 million in qualifying assets. Trading fees and mutual fund or ETF expense ratios also apply.

Does Vanguard charge a fee?

Yes, Vanguard charges an annual account service fee of $20 which can be waived if you sign up for statement e-delivery or maintain at least $10,000 in Vanguard funds and ETFs. Other specific client labels and account types also have the fee waived.

Is Vanguard better than Fidelity?

Overall, Fidelity is the better online broker as evidenced by its score of 98.44% compared to Vanguard’s score of 80.25%. Fidelity offers a more well-rounded platform that caters to both active traders and buy-and-hold investors, while also providing industry-leading research, excellent trading tools and an easy-to-use mobile app. On the other hand, Vanguard has some of the lowest-cost funds in the industry and is especially attractive for those wanting to focus on index investing or use a robo-advisor.

How to open a roth ira?

To open a Roth IRA, you’ll need to determine your eligibility, choose an institution and fill out the relevant paperwork. Once these steps are complete, select investments for the account and decide on a contribution schedule. Be sure to review the financial institution and investment options thoroughly before proceeding.

How does Vanguard’s mobile app and online platform compare to other investment platforms?

Vanguard’s mobile app and online platform offer a user-friendly and intuitive experience, but other platforms such as TD Ameritrade and Fidelity may offer more features and a wider range of investments.

Tim Schmidt


Tim Schmidt is an Entrepreneur who has covered retirement investing since 2012. He started this website to share his expertise in using his Self-Directed IRA. Most recently he's been advising individuals to diversify into precious metals ahead of a certain recession. He invested with Goldco.