Best ETFs For Trading: Large-Cap


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We rank 40 large-company funds on their short-term holding costs.

What does it cost to pick up some stock market exposure for a short period? As little as $2 per $10,000 invested.

Our survey of trading costs looks at the expenses of maintaining a position in an exchange-traded fund for three months. Here, we score 40 funds that own either the entire U.S. stock market or the largest companies in it.

Vanguard has two big-cap funds that stand out for cost efficiency. Its giant Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) can be held for $1.79 per $10,000. Close behind is the firm’s S&P 500 ETF (VOO) at $2.

The cost is defined as the sum of the bid/ask spread, three months of overhead via the expense ratio, and three months of expense offsets from securities lending income.

Liquidity grades are based on a combination of bid/ask spreads and trading volume.

You’ll get a very different set of winners when you look for the best deals in ETFs held for a long term. Go to Best ETFs for Investors: Large-Cap to see the cost efficiency of funds held for a decade.

Links to the three-month cost rankings of funds in other categories, such as small and international stocks and bonds, can be found at Best ETFs for Trading.

3-month Holding Cost*
Liquidity Score
Ticker Exchange-traded fund
VTI Vanguard Total Stock Market $1.79 A+
VOO Vanguard S&P 500 2.00 A+
IVV iShares Core S&P 500 2.24 A+
SCHB Schwab US Broad Market 2.38 A
SPY SPDR S&P 500 2.95 A+
SCHX Schwab US Large-Cap 2.95 A
ITOT iShares Core S&P Total US Stock Mkt 3.26 A
SPTM SPDR Portfolio Total Stock Market 4.15 A
VV Vanguard Large-Cap 4.22 A
SPLG SPDR Portfolio Large Cap 4.61 A
MGC Vanguard Mega Cap 4.67 A
SCHK Schwab 1000 Index 6.00 B
VONE Vanguard Russell 1000 6.23 B
IWB iShares Russell 1000 6.26 A
OEF iShares S&P 100 6.76 A
IWV iShares Russell 3000 7.30 A
XLG PowerShares S&P 500 Top 50 7.95 B
IYY iShares Dow Jones US 8.16 B
JKD iShares Morningstar Large-Cap 9.43 B
VTV Vanguard Value 3.43 A
SPYV SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 Value 3.51 A
IUSV iShares Core S&P US Value 4.62 A
SCHV Schwab US Large-Cap Value 4.66 A
DIA SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average 5.63 A+
MGV Vanguard Mega Cap Value 5.79 B
VLUE iShares Edge MSCI USA Value Factor 6.18 A
VONV Vanguard Russell 1000 Value 6.32 B
IVE iShares S&P 500 Value 6.35 A
IWD iShares Russell 1000 Value 6.39 A+
VUG Vanguard Growth 3.11 A
SCHG Schwab US Large-Cap Growth 4.22 A
IUSG iShares Core S&P US Growth 4.47 A
SPYG SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 Growth 4.59 A
QQQ PowerShares QQQ 5.67 A+
MGK Vanguard Mega Cap Growth 5.69 A
VONG Vanguard Russell 1000 Growth 6.43 A
IVW iShares S&P 500 Growth 6.66 A
VOOG Vanguard S&P 500 Growth 6.96 A
IWF iShares Russell 1000 Growth 7.27 A
IWY iShares Russell Top 200 Growth 8.26 B

*Cost of a $10,000 position held for three months. Reflects bid/ask spread, expense ratio and cost offset from securities lending.

Data sources: Morningstar, Bloomberg, fund distributors

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