One of the founding principles of the ETF industry was cost competitiveness; after being charged upwards of 150 basis points for their favorite mutual funds, investors had grown tired of surrendering a substantial portion of their gains to the managers of big name funds. Now, there are ETFs that charge as low as 5 basis points; on a $1 million dollar investment, that means just $500 annually.
Investors can now build an effective portfolio while minimizing their expenses using some of these ultra-efficient funds. But for all of cheap options that the ETF industry offers, it certainly has a fair amount of products on the other side of the equation. Below, we outline the top ten cheapest and most expensive funds for investors looking to better manage their costs.
The Most Expensive
Given the low costs that many funds offer, some of the fees on this list may come as a shock to investors. But the general rule of thumb is that you are paying more for unique exposure, so in many cases, the funds can be worth their cost.
- Active Bear ETF (HDGE): This actively managed product, from AdvisorShares, takes the cake when it comes to most expensive funds, charging 1.85% for its exposure. However, it should be noted that the fund has performed quite well in these volatile markets.
- Daily 2x VIX Short-Term ETN (TVIX) / Daily 2x VIX Medium-Term ETN (TVIZ): These ETNs offer a 2X leverage on VIX contracts, making them some of the most volatile funds on the market. Both charge 1.65% but have proven themselves to be effective tools for betting against markets.
- 3x Inverse Silver ETN (DSLV) / 3x Long Silver ETN (USLV): These two funds, which charge 1.60%, offer 3X leveraged on silver futures, allowing investors to make a strong play on the precious metal.
- Meidell Tactical Advantage ETF (MATH): Launched midway through 2011, this active product also charges fees of 1.60%. The fund’s high fees are, in part, due to the fact this this is an ETF comprised of ETFs.
- WTI Crude Oil Fund (CRUD): This Teucrium product, which charges 1.58%, features a strategy that invests in a number of crude oil futures in an effort to alleviate contango. It should be noted that this is an “all in”expense figure; other commodity products count commissions and other costs elsewhere. So CRUD is actually competitive with the other oil ETFs out there in terms of total fees.
- Accuvest Global Long Short ETF (AGLS): Another active product from AdvisorShares, AGLS is home to fees of 1.50%. The high expenses come from the expenses associated with maintaining both long and short exposure within the fund.
- Natural Gas Fund (NAGS): Another Teucrium fund, NAGS hit the market in early 2011, charging 1.50% for investment. Unlike most other natural gas products, NAGS is specifically designed to nix contango and make for a more effective trading tool.
- Dent Tactical ETF (DENT): AdvisorShares makes its third appearance on the list with DENT, charging 1.50% for investors. The active product has been around since late 2009 but has just $13.3 million in assets.
- Corn Fund (CORN): The third fund from Teucrium to make this list, CORN charges 1.49%. Despite its high fees, the fund has over $74 million in assets and is just a year and a half old.
- Market Vectors CEF Municipal Income ETF (XMPT): One of the younger options on the list, this CEF-based fund hit the market in July of this year. The ETF charges 1.43% for its investment in closed-ended securities.
There are some real eye-openers on the list of least expensive funds. Note that we omitted four ETFs (KBWI, KBWR, KBWB, KBWC) because their current fee structure of 0.00% will expire in February of next year and the products will then charge 0.35%.
- Focus Morningstar US Market Index ETF (FMU): Hitting the market early this year, FMU broke new ground by charging just 0.05% for exposure to all cap equities in the U.S.
- Focus Morningstar Large Cap Index ETF (FLG): The second FocusShares product to make the list, FLG seeks to compete with SPY and VOO with its exposure to large cap U.S. equities. The fund also charges 0.05%.
- S&P 500 ETF (VOO): Speaking of VOO, that product takes the third place ranking with its fees of 0.06% and assets of $2.1 billion, despite being just barely over one year old.
- U.S. Broad Market ETF (SCHB): This Charles Schwab fund offers broad exposure to the Dow Jones Industrial Average while charging 0.06%.
- Total Stock Market ETF (VTI): So emerges Vanguard’s trend of offering some of the least expensive products in the space. VTI offers exposure to the broad U.S. market while charging just 0.07%.
- U.S. Large-Cap ETF (SCHX): This fund represents the largest 750 stocks of U.S. equities while charging just 0.08%. In its two years on the market, this fund has already amassed $692 million in assets.
- 1-3 Year US Treasury Index Fund (TUZ): This marks the first fixed income product to break into the top ten, as TUZ charges just 0.09%. Despite being backed by PIMCO, the fund has just $138 million in assets.
- SPDR S&P 500 (SPY): All hail the ETF king. With fees of just 0.09%, SPY is home to over $85 billion in assets, making it one of the largest funds in the world.
- S&P 500 Index Fund (IVV): iShares’ S&P 500 ETF also charges 0.09% and features assets that top the $25 billion mark.
- U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (SCHZ): The final fund on this list tracks the performance of U.S. investment grade bonds. The fund charges just 0.10% in expenses and has amassed over $154 million in assets since launching in July of this year.
Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.
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