By Jared Cummans
One of the founding principles of the ETF industry was cost competitiveness, but after being charged upwards of 150 basis points for their favorite mutual funds investors had grown tired of surrendering a substantial portion of their gains to the managers of big name funds. Now there are ETFs that charge as low as 5 basis points--on a $1 million dollar investment, that means just $500 annually. Investors can build an effective portfolio while minimizing their expenses using some of these ultra-efficient funds.
But for all of the cheap options that the ETF industry offers, it certainly has a fair amount of products on the other side of the equation. Below, we outline the top ten cheapest and most expensive funds for investors looking to better manage their costs [for more, see our ETFdb Cheapskate Portfolio].
The Most Expensive
Given the low costs that many funds offer, some of the fees on this list may come as a shock to investors. But the general rule of thumb is that you are paying more for unique exposure, so in many cases, the funds can be worth their cost.
1. Teucrium Sugar Fund (CANE): Recently overtaking first place, the dynamic sugar product now charges 2.32% for investment.
2. STAR Global Buy-Write ETF (VEGA): Debuting in 2012, this unique product comes with an expense ratio of 2.01%.
3. Active Bear ETF (HDGE): This actively managed product, from AdvisorShares, takes the cake when it comes to most expensive funds, charging 1.85% for its exposure. However, it should be noted that the fund has performed quite well in these volatile markets.
4. Global Echo ETF (GIVE): Another actively-managed fund, GIVE launched in May of 2012 and charges 1.70% for investment.
5. Daily 2x VIX Short-Term ETN (TVIX) / Daily 2x VIX Medium-Term ETN (TVIZ): These ETNs offer a 2X leverage on VIX contracts, making them some of the most volatile funds on the market. Both charge 1.65% but have proven themselves to be effective tools for betting against markets.
6. 3x Inverse Silver ETN (DSVL) / 3x Long Silver ETN (USLV): These two funds, which charge 1.60%, offer 3X leveraged on silver futures, allowing investors to make a strong play on the precious metal.
7. 3x Long Natural Gas ETN (UGAZ) / 3x Inverse Natural Gas ETN (DGAZ): These natural gas funds rolled out in 2012 to healthy volumes, despite charging 1.65% a piece.
8. QAM Equity Hedge ETF (QEH): This active hedge fund product launched in August of 2012 from AdvisorShares and charges 1.64%.
9. Meidell Tactical Advantage ETF (MATH): Launched midway through 2011, this active product also charges fees of 1.60%. The fund's high fees are, in part, due to the fact this this is an ETF comprised of ETFs.
10. Accuvest Global Long Short ETF (AGLS): Another active product from AdvisorShares, AGLS is home to fees of 1.50%. The high expenses come from the expenses associated with maintaining both long and short exposure within the fund.
There are some real eye-openers on the list of least expensive funds. Note that we omitted four ETFs (KBWI, KBWR, KBWB, KBWC) because their current fee structure of 0.00% will expire in February of next year and the products will then charge 0.35%.
1. U.S. Large-Cap ETF (SCHX): Tied for the cheapest ETF in the world, this fund offers exposure to the largest 750 U.S. securities while charging just 0.04%.
2. U.S. Broad Market ETF (SCHB): Now charging just 0.04%, this fund grants access to the 2,500 largest stocks listed on U.S. exchanges.
3. U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (SCHZ): This Schwab fund tracks U.S. investment grade bonds. The fund charges just 0.05% in expenses and has amassed over $154 million in assets since launching in July of this year.
4. S&P 500 ETF (VOO): VOO takes the third place ranking with its fees of 0.05% and assets of $5.7 billion through its first two years in existence.
5. Total Stock Market ETF (VTI): So emerges Vanguard's trend of offering some of the least expensive products in the space. VTI offers exposure to the broad U.S. market while charging just 0.06%.
6. US Dividend Equity ETF (SCHD): Schwab continues its domination of the cheapest products with SCHD, which selects dividend payers from the Dow Jones U.S. Broad Market Index while charging just 0.07%.
7. U.S. Mid-Cap ETF (SCHM): Charging 0.07%, this mid-cap product invests in the securities ranked 501-1000 by market cap from the U.S. Total Stock Market.
8. U.S. Large-Cap Growth ETF (SCHG): The large-cap growth fund from Schwab charges just 0.07%.
9. U.S. REIT ETF (SCHH): Charging just 0.07%, this product offers exposure to REITs domiciled within U.S. borders.
10. U.S. Large-Cap Value ETF (SCHV): Rounding out the list with expenses of 0.07%, this large cap value product has more than $400 million in total assets.
ETFdb offers a comprehensive and original ETF database and analytical consulting services for advisors and investors, as well as a free newsletter. Learn more about their services by visiting ETFdb.com. Disclosure: the author had no positions in the securities named in this article at the time of writing.