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Does Vanguard Allow Fractional Shares? A Comprehensive Guide

Does Vanguard Allow Fractional Shares

Investing in the stock market has traditionally required buying whole shares of a company or an exchange-traded fund (ETF). 

However, with the introduction of fractional shares, investors can now own a portion of a share, making investing more accessible for everyone. 

So, does vanguard allow fractional shares?

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore Vanguard’s fractional share program, explaining how it works, its benefits, limitations, and the process of investing in fractional shares with Vanguard.

What Are Vanguard ETFs?

Before delving into fractional shares, let’s first understand Vanguard’s esteemed offering of Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs). 

ETFs are investment funds that trade on stock exchanges, providing investors with the opportunity to diversify their portfolios through exposure to a wide variety of assets, sectors, or markets. 

Vanguard offers a range of highly regarded ETF options, including those tracking broad market indices, sector-specific indices, and even international markets.

Does Vanguard Allow Fractional Shares?

Yes, Vanguard does allow trading of fractional shares through their brokerage platform. 

Fractional shares offer investors the opportunity to own a portion of a share, making investing more accessible for those with limited capital or for those who want to invest in high-priced assets. 

Vanguard’s fractional share program allows investors to purchase fractions of shares in eligible Vanguard ETFs.

fractional shares

Vanguard’s Fractional Share Program

Vanguard’s fractional share program is designed to enable investors to purchase a fraction of a share, making it more accessible for those with limited capital or for those who want to invest in high-priced ETFs. 

While Vanguard does not offer fractional shares for all stocks or ETFs, Vanguard does provide this feature for select ETFs, giving investors more flexibility in their investment choices.

Eligible Assets for Fractional Shares

Vanguard allows investors to purchase fractional shares of eligible Vanguard ETFs. These ETFs are pre-selected by Vanguard, offering a diverse mix of options across various asset classes and sectors. 

These choices are carefully curated to cater to the needs of different investors, allowing them to build a well-rounded and balanced portfolio with even small investments.

Benefits of Investing in Fractional Shares

Investing in fractional shares with Vanguard offers several advantages:


Fractional shares enable investors to access high-priced ETFs that may have been out of reach due to their cost per share. This opens up a broader range of investment opportunities for investors with limited capital.

Dollar-Cost Averaging

Fractional shares also allow investors to engage in dollar-cost averaging. By investing a fixed amount regularly, investors acquire more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high. 

This approach can potentially reduce the average cost per share over time and smooth out the impact of market volatility.

Dividend Reinvestment

Vanguard’s fractional share program facilitates the automatic reinvestment of dividends. 

This feature allows investors to maximize the potential for long-term returns by reinvesting dividends and compounding their investment growth over time.


Fractional shares make it easier for investors to build diversified portfolios. 

Instead of being limited to investing in only a few whole shares with their available capital, investors can spread their investments across a broader range of assets, sectors, and regions.


Limitations of Vanguard’s Fractional Share Program

While Vanguard’s fractional share program offers numerous benefits and flexibility, it’s important to consider some limitations:

Limited Availability

Not all stocks or ETFs offer fractional shares. Vanguard has a pre-selected list of eligible Vanguard ETFs of which investors can purchase fractional shares. 

Investors should review this list to ensure their desired investments are available.

Manual Investments

While dividend reinvestment is automatic, additional investments in fractional shares need to be done manually. 

Investors wishing to invest more funds in a particular ETF or rebalance their portfolio will need to make these transactions manually, which may incur trading fees.

Potential for Miscalculation

Market fluctuations can result in slight variations between the target calculated fraction and the actual fractional share owned. 

While Vanguard’s system will calculate the fractional share accurately based on the current market price, investors should be aware that there might be slight deviations.

How to Invest in Vanguard ETFs with Fractional Shares

Investing in Vanguard ETFs with fractional shares is a straightforward process:

Opening an Account with Vanguard

If you haven’t already done so, the first step is to open an account with Vanguard. 

Vanguard offers various account options, including individual brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, and education savings accounts. 

Choose the account type that aligns with your investment goals and preferences.

Selecting Eligible Vanguard ETFs

Once your Vanguard account is set up, you can explore the list of eligible Vanguard ETFs that offer fractional shares. 

Consider factors such as your investment goals, risk tolerance, and desired diversification when selecting ETFs

Vanguard’s website and resources provide information on each ETF’s objective, holdings, performance, and expense ratios to assist with the decision-making process.

Investing in Fractional Shares

After selecting the eligible Vanguard ETFs, you can proceed to invest in fractional shares. 

Determine the dollar amount you wish to invest in each ETF. Vanguard’s system will automatically calculate the corresponding fraction of the ETF share you will own based on the current market price. 

By entering the desired investment amount, you can be confident in knowing how much fractional ownership you will acquire in each ETF.

Investors should also be aware of Vanguard’s minimum investment threshold for fractional shares. 

This minimum investment amount ensures investors meet the necessary investment criteria required to participate in Vanguard’s fractional share program.

It’s important to note that while Vanguard’s fractional share program makes it easy to invest in fractional shares, investments in other securities such as individual stocks may still require whole share purchases.


Pros and Cons of Fractional Shares at Vanguard

While fractional shares offer immense benefits to investors, it’s essential to consider the limitations as well:


  • Flexibility: Fractional shares allow investors to diversify their portfolios and invest in higher-priced ETFs with smaller amounts of capital.
  • Cost Efficiency: Investors can invest every dollar, avoiding uninvested cash balances, and potentially maximizing returns through dollar-cost averaging.
  • Dividend Reinvestment: Fractional share programs enable easy automatic reinvestment of dividends, compounding returns over time.
  • Capital Deployment: Fractional shares allow investors to quickly deploy their available capital instead of waiting to accumulate enough funds to purchase whole shares.


  • Limited Availability: Not all ETFs or stocks offer fractional shares, limiting the investment choices available to investors.
  • Manual Investments Only: While dividend reinvestment is automatic, further investments in fractional shares need to be done manually, possibly incurring additional trading fees.
  • Potential for Miscalculation: Due to market fluctuations, the actual fractional share owned may differ slightly from the target calculated by Vanguard’s system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you buy fractional shares of non-Vanguard ETFs with Vanguard?

No, Vanguard’s fractional share program is only available for select Vanguard ETFs.

How does Vanguard’s fractional share program affect dividend reinvestment?

Vanguard’s fractional share program allows for automatic dividend reinvestment, compounding your investment growth over time.

What happens to fractional shares when selling Vanguard holdings?

When you sell Vanguard holdings, fractional shares will be liquidated, and the proceeds will be added to your account balance.

How does Vanguard’s minimum investment for fractional shares work?

Vanguard has set a minimum investment threshold for fractional shares, ensuring investors meet the necessary investment criteria.

Do index funds allow fractional shares?

Generally, index funds do not offer fractional shares. Fractional shares are more common among ETFs.

Comparison with Other Brokers Offering Fractional Shares

While Vanguard is renowned for its low-cost investment options and robust fractional share program, it’s worth comparing it with other brokers offering similar features. 

Some popular brokers providing fractional share investing include Charles Schwab, Fidelity, and Robinhood. 

Comparisons can be made based on factors such as the range of eligible assets, fees, account minimums, and trading platforms to find the best fit for individual investment preferences.



Vanguard’s fractional share program bridges the gap between small investors and high-priced ETFs, making investing accessible to a wider audience. 

By offering the advantages of diversification, affordability, and automatic dividend reinvestment, Vanguard empowers investors to build balanced portfolios, potentially maximizing returns in the long run. 

Consider your investment goals, risk tolerance, and desired diversification while investing in fractional shares, and evaluate Vanguard’s program against other brokers to make informed investment decisions.

Start your investing journey today with Vanguard’s fractional share program, and unlock the power of fractional shares to build your wealth over time. Happy investing!