When it comes to investing, low-cost exchange traded funds offer investors an edge, but many do not know that there are many cheap investment tools that are readily accessible.
“A MagnifyMoney survey reveals that a whopping 64% of investors don’t even know how to check which investing fees they are being charged, a potentially costly mistake,” writes Sarah Berger for Lending Tree.
According to Qualtric’s survey of Americans with an investment account conducted by MagnifyMoney, 23% of surveyed respondents pointed out that because of fees, they invested less money, 21% revealed they trade less often, 18% said they keep their level of risk low, 16% waited longer to invest, 11% spent the money instead of investing and 11% said they selected their broker based on fee structure.
Looking at further fee breakdowns, we see that 11% were surprised by mutual fund transaction fees, 9% highlighted annual fees, 7% underscored management/adivsory fees and 7% were surprised by expense ratios.
However, not all American investors are taking the high fees sitting down. About 31% respondents have switched investment accounts to avoid or reduce fees and 28% have opened a new brokerage account within the last year to take advantage of fee-free stock trading on those platforms.
Luckily for many ETF investors, many brokerage platforms have also been dragged into the fee war, and now, many brokerages offer zero commissions on ETF trades, which has further reduced the cost for more aggressive ETF traders that weave in and out of the market.
Furthermore, ETF investors have a leg up on mutual fund investors as the ongoing fee war has pushed annual expense ratios closer and closer to zero.
According to XTF data, there are 2,299 U.S.-listed ETFs on the market with an average 0.55% expense ratio.
Investors can find a number of dirt-cheap ETFs to help keep them invested while limiting the potential drag from fees. For example, SoFi Invest offers two ETFs that have currently waived their fees altogether, including the SoFi Select 500 ETF (SFY) and the SoFi Next 500 ETF (SFYX).
BNY Mellon has also filed for a slew of ETF strategies, including the BNY Mellon US Large Cap Core Equity ETF and BNY Mellon Core Bond ETF, which both come with a zero expense ratio or no annual fees.
Alternatively, investors can go with the traditional route with broad or plain vanilla index-based ETFs that come with low expense ratios. The JPMorgan BetaBuilders U.S. Equity ETF (BBUS) is among the cheapest with a 0.02% expense ratio, providing simple, affordable access to U.S. large and mid-cap equities.
Other broad U.S. stock market ETFs include the Vanguard 500 Index (NYSEARCA: VOO), SPDR Portfolio Total Stock Market ETF (NYSEArca: SPTM) and Schwab U.S. Large-Cap ETF (NYSEArca: SCHX), which all show a 0.03% expense ratio.
Investors can also diversify into foreign markets with cheap ETF options as well. For instance, the SPDR Portfolio Developed World ex-US ETF (SPDW) comes with a 0.04% expense ratio and the Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (VEA) has a 0.05% expense ratio.
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