Compare Mutual Funds & Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs)

Mutual Funds ETFs
Pricing * Shares are priced at the end of the trading day.
All orders placed before the market closes receive that day's price.

A mutual fund share price is called its "net asset value" or NAV.
Prices fluctuate throughout the trading day.
Trading costs-online trades No transaction fee funds: we offer over 1,000 no-load mutual funds with no transaction fees.

Other no-load mutual funds can be purchased online for $19.95* per trade.
Online ETF trades are $6.95*.
Sales charges ("loads") Can be offered with or without sales charges.
We only offer no-load mutual funds.
No additional sales charges or "loads"(but commissions still apply).
Buying and selling shares Orders must be entered before the market closes to receive that day's price. Orders are filled throughout the trading day at the current market price.
Management Can be actively or passively (tied to an index) managed. ETFs are generally indexed, or passively managed (but there are some actively-managed ETFs out there).
Minimum investment amount Each mutual fund can set its own minimum initial investment amount. The minimum investment requirement is in each fund's prospectus.

If purchasing in an Automatic Investment Plan, some funds require the minimum investment amount be met before automatic investments for smaller amounts can be set up.**
For online trades, the minimum investment is the amount to purchase one share plus trading costs.

If purchasing in an Automatic Investment Plan, there is no minimum purchase amount.
Dividends and capital gains Paid out on a schedule, generally monthly, quarterly or annually. Investors can take distributions in cash or reinvest them into additional shares. Dividends can be paid out or reinvested into more shares of the ETF.

If an investor wishes to reinvest dividends, the ETF must be eligible for a dividend reinvestment program.

Due to the passive nature of ETFs, capital gains are usually not realized unless there is a change in the ETF's tracking index.
Tax implications Depends on the investment objective of the mutual fund. Some mutual funds seek tax-free interest (municipal bond funds); some are managed to be tax-efficient.

Depending on a fund's portfolio turnover, realized long and short-term capital gains are passed along to shareholders.
Depends on the sector or index the ETF invests in; e.g. municipal bond ETFs may generate tax-free income.

Generally, because ETFs track an index, they do not realize as many gains and losses, and so less is passed on to ETF shareholders.
Expenses Varies based on the fund company and investment objective. Large index funds can have very low expense ratios. Smaller, more actively managed funds or those that invest in some sectors can have higher expenses. Because most ETFs track an index, expenses are generally lower than actively managed securities.

Keep in mind, all investments carry risk, including the possible loss of the principal amount invested. An investor should consider individual risk tolerance, time horizon and financial situation before making an investment.