Vanguard is well-known for its low-cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and they’re typically among the cheapest, if not the very cheapest, on the market. So they’re usually a great pick for investors looking to take advantage of the power of ETFs. But with more than 80 Vanguard ETFs available, which ones are the true standouts?

Bankrate examined Vanguard’s full line-up of ETFs and looked at each fund’s long-term track record, expense ratio and why it might be a good fit for an investor’s portfolio today. Below are some of the best ETFs across those dimensions.

(Note: Returns and data as of Jan. 2, 2024.)

8 top Vanguard ETFs

Best large-cap ETF – Vanguard S&P 500 Growth ETF (VOOG)

While its sister fund based on the S&P 500 index (ticker symbol: VOO) may get all the attention, the Vanguard S&P 500 Growth ETF has quietly outperformed its better-known sibling. Over the past 10 years, the fund has gone up more than 13 percent annually by focusing exclusively on the growth stocks within the S&P 500. With a low expense ratio, that extra juice still doesn’t cost much either.

  • 10-year returns (annual): 13.2 percent
  • Expense ratio: 0.10 percent

Best mid-cap ETF – Vanguard Mid-Cap Growth ETF (VOT)

Vanguard’s Mid-Cap Growth ETF contains a collection of medium-sized growth stocks. It tracks the performance of the CRSP U.S. Mid Cap Growth Index using a passively managed approach. The fund sports a tremendously cheap expense ratio and has generated attractive annual returns.

  • 10-year returns (annual): 10.1 percent
  • Expense ratio: 0.07 percent

Best small-cap ETF – Vanguard S&P Small-Cap 600 Growth ETF (VIOG)

This small-cap fund delivers attractive returns using a diversified collection of hundreds of small-cap stocks. Its portfolio includes growth stocks in the S&P 600, which includes small publicly traded companies. The best small-cap ETFs offer the potential for high appreciation over time.  

  • 10-year returns (annual): 8.8 percent
  • Expense ratio: 0.15 percent

Best total market ETF – Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI)

Want to invest in the total market at an incredibly low price? The Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF includes large, medium and small companies across both growth and value styles, giving you exposure to more than 4,000 companies in total. The expense ratio is tiny, too.

  • 10-year returns (annual): 11.4 percent
  • Expense ratio: 0.03 percent

Best international stock ETF – Vanguard Total World Stock ETF (VT)

The Total World Stock ETF gets you diversified exposure to more than 9,000 companies across the world. It also handily outpaced Vanguard’s other international ETFs over the last decade. On top of that, you get it all for a bargain-basement expense ratio.

  • 10-year returns (annual): 8.1 percent
  • Expense ratio: 0.07 percent

Best sector ETF – Vanguard Information Technology ETF (VGT)

Vanguard provides exposure to all 11 sectors of the market with individual ETFs, and none has been more red-hot over the last decade than information technology, racking up a huge annual return. At a very low cost, this fund gets you concentrated exposure to this sector of the market, which includes top names such as Apple, Nvidia and Microsoft.

  • 10-year returns (annual): 19.7 percent
  • Expense ratio: 0.10 percent

Best government bond ETF – Vanguard Short-Term Treasury ETF (VGSH)

With interest rates appearing to remain higher for longer at least over the short term (and maybe over the longer term), it can make sense to have a bond fund that won’t be hurt as much by changing rates and whose payout will remain relatively high. This short-term Treasury ETF fits the bill, and it invests in U.S. bonds with a dollar-weighted maturity of one to three years.

  • 10-year returns (annual): 1.0 percent
  • Expense ratio: 0.04 percent

Best investment-grade bond ETF – Vanguard Long-Term Corporate Bond ETF (VCLT)

This long-term corporate bond ETF invests primarily in high-quality long-term bonds. This fund will fluctuate more in response to prevailing interest rates than a short-term bond ETF, meaning it’s a better pick as rates move lower. However, in a rising-rate environment, this bond ETF will be hit more.

  • 10-year returns (annual): 3.8 percent
  • Expense ratio: 0.04 percent

Bottom line

Vanguard is one of the leaders in low-cost index investing, so if you’re looking to invest using index funds – a very smart way to go – then it’s worthwhile to check out their selection of ETFs. You’ll get a choice of funds without the high expenses, helping you keep more of your money in your own pocket.

— Bankrate’s Brian Baker contributed to an update of this story.

Editorial Disclaimer: All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into investment strategies before making an investment decision. In addition, investors are advised that past investment product performance is no guarantee of future price appreciation.