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Best bond funds for retirement investors

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When it comes to saving for retirement, investors generally use a combination of equity and fixed income investments. If you’re young and retirement is still far off, your portfolio is more likely to hold mostly equity (stock-based) investments because you have a long time to make up for any short-term fluctuations in the markets. And then as you approach retirement, your portfolio allocation should begin to shift more toward investments thought to be safer, such as bonds and other fixed-income securities.

Knowing which bond investments to choose can be somewhat confusing and difficult. Despite all the attention that stocks get, the bond market is actually larger than the stock market. The global bond market value was about $123.5 trillion in 2020, compared to $105.8 trillion for the global equity market, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association.

Top bond funds for retirement portfolios

Here are some of the best bond funds to consider for your retirement portfolio.

*Note: Data as of June 6, 2022

iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG)

The iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF seeks to provide broad exposure to the U.S. investment-grade bond market. More than 70 percent of the fund is invested in AAA-rated securities.

5-year annualized return: 0.84 percent

Yield: 2.92 percent

Expense ratio: 0.04 percent

Fund assets: $82.2 billion

Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND)

The Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF seeks to track the investment performance of a broad, market-weighted bond index. You’ll get exposure to the taxable investment-grade U.S. bond market with about two-thirds of the portfolio invested in U.S. government bonds.

5-year annualized return: 0.89 percent

Yield: 3.09 percent

Expense ratio: 0.03 percent

Fund assets: $80.8 billion

Fidelity U.S. Bond Index Fund (FXNAX)

The Fidelity U.S. Bond Index Fund seeks to track the total return of the debt securities in the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index. Typically, the fund invests at least 80 percent of its assets in securities included in the index.

5-year annualized return: 0.87 percent

Yield: 2.04 percent

Expense ratio: 0.025 percent

Fund assets: $53.4 billion

Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond ETF (VCSH)

The Vanguard Short-Term Corporate Bond ETF invests mostly in high-quality investment-grade corporate bonds with the goal of providing current income with modest volatility. The fund maintains a dollar-weighted average maturity between one and five years.

5-year annualized return: 1.52 percent

Yield: 3.56 percent

Expense ratio: 0.04 percent

Fund assets: $40.9 billion

iShares Floating Rate Bond ETF (FLOT)

The iShares Floating Rate Bond ETF seeks to track the investment performance of an index of U.S. investment-grade floating rate bonds with remaining maturities between one month and five years. Floating-rate bonds’ interest payments adjust to the changes in interest rates, making them attractive investments during periods of rising rates.

5-year annualized return: 1.39 percent

Yield: 0.87 percent

Expense ratio: 0.15 percent

Fund assets: $9.8 billion

Fidelity Investment Grade Bond Fund (FBNDX)

The Fidelity Investment Grade Bond Fund is an actively managed fund that seeks to provide a high level of current income. The fund typically invests at least 80 percent of its assets in all types of investment-grade bonds.

5-year annualized return: 1.61 percent

Yield: 1.86 percent

Expense ratio: 0.45 percent

Fund assets: $8.5 billion

Schwab U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund (SWAGX)

The Schwab U.S. Aggregate Bond Index Fund seeks to track the investment performance of an index composed of the total U.S. investment grade bond market. The fund comes with no investment minimums and a low cost, making it a solid pick as a core bond holding in a diversified portfolio.

5-year annualized return: 0.79 percent

Yield: 2.26 percent

Expense ratio: 0.04 percent

Fund assets: $4.6 billion

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.

Written by
Brian Baker
Investing reporter
Bankrate reporter Brian Baker covers investing and retirement. He has previous experience as an industry analyst at an investment firm. Baker is passionate about helping people make sense of complicated financial topics so that they can plan for their financial futures.
Edited by
Senior wealth editor