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ETFs have gathered more than $1 trillion in assets thanks to a number of structural advantages, including enhanced transparency, significant tax advantages, and intraday liquidity. But make no mistake about it: the ETF boom has been fueled in large part by an increased attention to expenses, and intensifying desire among investors to minimize their fees. Though not universally the most cost efficient options out there, ETFs generally tend to boast lower expense ratios than their mutual fund counterparts–a distinction that has caught the eye of many an investor over the past few years [see the Cheapskate ETFdb Portfolio].

Even among ETFs, however, there can be significant differentials in fees. It’s not uncommon for two products with similar portfolios and investment objectives to sport extreme differences in expense ratios. In other words, don’t assume that all ETFs are cost efficient. Sorting through the exchange-traded options can be a valuable exercise for those looking to cut down on fees.

The ETFdb Category pages can serve as useful tools for finding the ETFs that meet certain investment objectives. And they can most certainly be used to find the cheapest options in each group of similar products (as well as the options for commission free trading). Below, we highlight the ETF in every ETFdb Category with the cheapest expense ratio:

Equity ETFs

ETFdb Category ETF ER
All Cap Equities Focus Morningstar US Market Index ETF (NYSE:FMU) 0.05%
Alternative Energy Equities S&P Global Clean Energy Index Fund (NASDAQ:ICLN)S&P Global Nuclear Energy Index Fund (NASDAQ:NUCL) 0.48%
Asia Pacific Equities Pacific ETF (NYSEARCA:VPL) 0.14%
Building & Construction SPDR Homebuilders ETF (NYSEARCA:XHB) 0.35%
China Equities China Trendpilot ETN (NYSEARCA:TCHI) 0.50%
Commodity Producers Equities SPDR S&P Metals & Mining ETF (NYSEARCA:XME) 0.35%
Communications Equities Focus Morningstar Communication Services Index ETF (NYSE:FCQ)Telecom ETF (NYSEARCA:VOX) 0.19%
Consumer Discretionary Equities Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLY) 0.18%
Consumer Staples Equities Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLP) 0.18%
Emerging Markets Equities Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEARCA:VWO) 0.20%
Energy Equities Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLE) 0.18%
Europe Equities European ETF (NYSEARCA:VGK) 0.14%
Financials Equities Financial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLF) 0.18%
Foreign Large Cap Equities Europe Pacific (NYSEARCA:VEA) 0.12%
Foreign Small & Mid Cap Equities International Small-Cap Equity ETF (NYSEARCA:SCHC) 0.35%
Global Equities FTSE All World Ex US ETF (NYSEARCA:VEU)Total International Stock ETF (NASDAQ:VXUS) 0.18%
Health & Biotech Equities Health Care Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLV) 0.18%
Industrials Equities Industrial Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLI) 0.18%
Japan Equities Japan Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEARCA:DXJ) 0.48%
Large Cap Blend Equities Focus Morningstar Large Cap Index ETF (NYSE:FLG)S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA:VOO) 0.05%
Large Cap Growth Equities Growth ETF (NYSEARCA:VUG) 0.10%
Large Cap Value Equities Value ETF (NYSEARCA:VTV) 0.10%
Latin America Equities Direxion S&P Latin America 40 RC Volatility Response Shares (VLAT) 0.45%
MLPs MLP ETF (NYSEARCA:MLPA) 0.45%
Materials Materials Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLB) 0.18%
Mid Cap Blend Equities Mid-Cap ETF (NYSEARCA:VO) 0.10%
Mid Cap Growth Equities Mid-Cap Growth ETF (NYSEARCA:VOT) 0.10%
Mid Cap Value Equities Mid-Cap Value ETF (NYSEARCA:VOE) 0.10%
Small Cap Blend Equities Focus Morningstar Small Cap Index ETF (NYSE:FOS) 0.12%
Small Cap Growth Equities Small-Cap Growth ETF (NYSEARCA:VBK) 0.10%
Small Cap Value Equities Small-Cap Value ETF (NYSEARCA:VBR) 0.21%
Technology Equities Technology Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLK) 0.18%
Transportation Equities SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (NYSEARCA:XTN) 0.35%
Utilities Equities Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLU) 0.18
Water Equities ISE Water Index Fund (NYSEARCA:FIW)Water Resource Portfolio (NYSEARCA:PHO) 0.60%

Bond / Fixed Income ETFs

ETFdb Category ETF ER
California Munis SPDR Barclays California Municipal Bond ETF (NYSEARCA:CXA) 0.20%
Corporate Bonds SPDR Barclays Capital Short Term Corporate Bond ETF (NYSEARCA:SCPB) 0.12%
Emerging Markets Bonds Market Vectors Renminbi Bond ETF (NYSEARCA:CHLC) 0.39%
Government Bonds 1-3 Year US Treasury Index Fund (NYSEARCA:TUZ) 0.09%
High Yield Bonds Baa-Ba Rated Corporate Bond Fund (BATS:QLTB) 0.30%
Inflation-Protected Bonds U.S. TIPS ETF (NYSEARCA:SCHP) 0.14%
International Government Bonds Euro Debt Fund (NYSEARCA:EU)S&P/Citigroup International Treasury Fund (NASDAQ:IGOV)S&P/Citi 1-3 Yr Intl Treasury Bd (NASDAQ:ISHG) 0.35%
Money Market SPDR Barclays 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (NYSEARCA:BIL) 0.13%
Mortgage Backed Securities Mortgage-Backed Securities Index Fund (NASDAQ:VMBS) 0.15%
National Munis Market Vectors Short Municipal Index ETF (NYSEARCA:SMB) 0.16%
New York Munis SPDR Barclays New York Municipal Bond ETF (NYSEARCA:INY) 0.20%
Preferred Stock/Convertible Bonds Convertible Securities Portfolio (NYSEARCA:CVRT) 0.35%
Total Bond Market Total Bond Market ETF (NYSEARCA:BND)U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NYSEARCA:SCHZ) 0.10%

Commodity ETFs

ETFdb Category ETF ER
Agricultural Commodities Agricultural Fund (NYSEARCA:TAGS) 0.32%
Commodities DJ-UBS Commodity Index Total Return ETN (NYSEARCA:DJCI) 0.50%
Metals United States Copper Index Fund (NYSEARCA:CPER)E-TRACS UBS Bloomberg CMCI Ind Metal ETN (NYSEARCA:UBM) 0.65%
Oil & Gas United States Oil Fund (NYSEARCA:USO) 0.45%
Precious Metals COMEX Gold Trust (NYSEARCA:IAU) 0.25%

Inverse & Leveraged ETFs

ETFdb Category ETF ER
Inverse Bonds DB Inverse Japanese Government Bond Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:JGBS) 0.50%
Inverse Commodities United States Short Oil Fund (NYSEARCA:DNO) 0.60%
Inverse Equities Barclays Short B Leveraged Inverse S&P 500 TR ETN (NYSEARCA:BXDB) 0.40%
Leveraged Bonds Double Short US Long Bond Treasury Futures ETNs (NYSEARCA:DSTJ)Double Short US 10 Year Treasury Futures ETNs (NYSEARCA:DSXJ) 0.85%
Leveraged Commodities DB Agriculture Double Short ETN (NYSEARCA:AGA)DB Base Metals Dble Long ETN (NYSEARCA:BDD)DB Base Metals Dble Shrt ETN (NYSEARCA:BOM)

DB Agriculture Double Long ETN (NYSEARCA:DAG)

DB Commodity Double Short ETN (NYSEARCA:DEE)

DB Gold Double Long ETN (NYSEARCA:DGP)

DB Crude Oil Dble Short ETN (NYSEARCA:DTO)

DB Commodity Double Long ETN (NYSEARCA:DYY)

DB Gold Double Short ETN (NYSEARCA:DZZ)

2x Oil Bull/S&P 500 Bear (NYSEARCA:FOL)

2x Gold Bull/S&P 500 Bear (NYSEARCA:FSG)

0.75%
Leveraged Currency Market Vectors-Double Short Euro ETN (NYSEARCA:DRR)Market Vectors-Double Long Euro ETN (NYSEARCA:URR) 0.65%
Leveraged Equities ETRACS Monthly Pay 2x Leveraged S&P Dividend ETN (NYSEARCA:SDYL) 0.30%
Leveraged Real Estate ETRACS Monthly Pay 2x Leveraged Dow Jones International Real Estate ETN (NYSEARCA:RWXL) 0.40%

The Rest

ETFdb Category ETF ER
Currency Dreyfus Japanese Yen Fund (NYSE:JYF) 0.35%
Diversified Portfolio S&P Conservative Allocation (NYSEARCA:AOK) 0.31%
Target Retirement Date S&P Target Date 2040 (NYSEARCA:TZV) 0.29%
Hedge Fund Long/Short Liquid Index (Net) ETN (NYSEARCA:CSLS) 0.45%
Global Real Estate Global ex-U.S. Real Estate Index Fund (NASDAQ:VNQI) 0.35%
Real Estate REIT ETF (NYSEARCA:VNQ) 0.10%

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

Disclaimer: ETF Database is not an investment advisor, and any content published by ETF Database does not constitute individual investment advice. The opinions offered herein are not personalized recommendations to buy, sell or hold securities. From time to time, issuers of exchange-traded products mentioned herein may place paid advertisements with ETF Database. All content on ETF Database is produced independently of any advertising relationships.

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Source: Thrifty Investors Behold: Cheapest ETF In Every Category