Money Analysed

VTSAX vs VTI: Choosing the Best US Stock Market Investment Option

Comparing VTSAX and VTI: What you need to know

When it comes to investing, choosing the right fund is crucial for your portfolio’s success. For those looking to invest in the stock market, two popular options are VTSAX and VTI.

While both funds track the U.S. stock market and have similar investment strategies, there are differences that investors need to understand. In this article, we will compare VTSAX and VTI using primary keywords like fund details, expense ratios, minimum investments, trading models, and historical performance.

Fund Details

VTSAX stands for Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares, which is a mutual fund that aims to track the performance of the CRSP US Total Market Index. VTI, on the other hand, stands for Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF and is an exchange-traded fund that also tracks the CRSP US Total Market Index.

The significant difference between a mutual fund and an exchange-traded fund is how they trade. A mutual fund trades once per day after the market closes, while an exchange-traded fund can be bought and sold throughout the day like stocks.

VTI is more accessible to investors who prefer trading frequently in reaction to events in the market.

Expense Ratios

Expense ratios determine the costs involved in managing a fund. VTSAX has an expense ratio of 0.04%, while VTI’s expense ratio is 0.03%.

Though the difference in cost is minimal, VTI is more cost-efficient due to its low expense ratio.

Minimum Investments

The minimum investment required for VTSAX is $3,000, which can be a significant barrier to entry for new investors. However, VTI has a lower minimum investment requirement of one share, providing easier and more affordable access to the fund.

Trading Models

VTSAX is structured like a mutual fund, and as such, investors can only trade at the end of the trading day. However, VTI trades like individual stocks, which means investors can buy and sell throughout the day whenever stock markets are open.

Historical Performance

The CRSP US Total Market Index, which VTSAX and VTI are both based on, has been around since 1988. Across respective periods, both VTSAX and VTI have provided similar returns.

However, the historical performance of the funds is not a guarantee of future results.


In conclusion, the difference between VTSAX and VTI may seem negligible, but small differences in cost and accessibility could make all the difference in reaching your investment goals. With this analysis, investors can make an informed decision when considering which best represents their investment objectives.

VTI is an exchange-traded fund that tracks the CRSP US Total Market Index, the benchmark index for U.S. stocks. Unlike VTSAX, which is a mutual fund, VTI is an exchange-traded fund that allows investors to buy and sell shares throughout the trading day like stocks.

Fund Overview

VTI is an exchange-traded fund that offers investors an affordable and accessible way to invest in a diversified portfolio of U.S. stocks. It aims to track the performance of the CRSP US Total Market Index, which invests in stocks of small-, mid-, and large-cap companies across various sectors in the U.S. stock market.

With VTI, investors can get broad exposure to U.S. stocks with a single investment, providing instant diversification and minimal risks.


VTI consists of a total of 3750 stocks from small-, mid-, and large-cap companies across the U.S. The stocks are screened by market capitalization, which measures a company’s size. Market capitalization is calculated by multiplying the total number of outstanding shares by its current market price.

The top ten sectors that VTI currently invests in are Information Technology, Healthcare, Consumer Discretionary, Communication Services, Financials, Industrials, Consumer Staples, Energy, Real Estate, and Utilities.

Expense Ratio

A low expense ratio is one of the most significant features that set VTI apart from others. VTI is known for its low expense ratio of 0.03%, making it one of the most cost-efficient exchange-traded funds available.

The low-cost nature of VTI ensures that investors have more net returns, given that as expense ratios increase, more costs are taken away from the investment returns.


Diversifying one’s portfolio is essential to minimize risks and maximize returns. With VTI, investors can achieve this without stress.

As an exchange-traded fund, VTI offers investors access to a diverse range of U.S. stocks across several sectors, including small-, mid-, and large-cap companies, providing a level of diversification that otherwise would not be possible through individual investments.

Tax Efficiency

VTI is a passively managed investment fund, meaning it tracks an index, and this translates to minimal taxable events for investors. Taxable events include realized capital gains and dividends paid to the investor.

VTI’s passive investment strategy helps minimize the impact of taxation upon investors.

Common Features of VTSAX and VTI

VTSAX and VTI are both excellent investment options for those looking to invest in the U.S. stock market. While there are some differences between the two funds, such as investment strategy and trade type, they share some common features:

Expense Ratios

Both VTSAX and VTI have some of the lowest expense ratios in the market, making them attractive options for investors looking to minimize management costs. VTSAX has an expense ratio of 0.04%, while VTI boasts 0.03%.


Diversification is essential in any investment strategy, and both VTSAX and VTI provide this. VTSAX and VTI both invest in a broad spectrum of U.S. stocks, thereby minimizing the risk of failure in any one area of the market.

Tax Efficiency

Both VTSAX and VTI are passively managed, meaning that their investment portfolios track stock market indexes passively. This results in a lower number of taxable events and, in turn, reduces capital gains taxes paid by investors.


Investing can seem like a daunting task, but the reality is that it is an essential aspect of wealth-creation and financial success. It is crucial for investors to educate themselves on the various investment options available and determine which options align with their investment objectives.

With VTSAX and VTI being low-cost, well-diversified, and tax-efficient funds, investors have two excellent options to invest in the U.S. stock market. Through diversification, they can minimize risks while maximizing returns.

Key Differences Between VTSAX and VTI

VTSAX and VTI are both excellent investment opportunities in the U.S. stock market. However, there are key differences between the two funds that investors need to consider before choosing which one aligns with their investment objectives.

Minimum Investments

VTSAX requires a minimum investment of $3,000, which might be a disadvantage for small-scale or amateur investors. In contrast, VTI is more accessible, with a minimum investment of a single share, making it a better option for investors on a budget.

Trading Models

The trading models of VTSAX and VTI are different. VTSAX is a mutual fund, meaning that it trades at the end of each trading day at the net asset value.

On the other hand, VTI is an exchange-traded fund, trading throughout each trading day, just like other stocks. This real-time trading of VTI makes it ideal for investors looking to seize opportunities or reduce investment risks by taking advantage of market fluctuations.

Automatic Investments

Investors can automate their investments and engage in dollar-cost averaging to enhance their investment strategies. With VTSAX, investors can carry out automatic investments on a regular and scheduled basis.

Fractional shares, which could become a problem in mutual funds, are not an issue with VTSAX, as they offer them. With VTI, investors can also purchase fractional shares, but it might require more effort and expertise than with VTSAX.

Though VTI and VTSAX share similarities in their automatic investment strategy, VTSAX offers greater convenience and accessibility.

Choosing between VTSAX and VTI

For investors deciding between VTSAX and VTI, it’s essential to consider several factors when evaluating their investment goals and personal finance preferences.


VTSAX might be out of reach for investors with budgetary constraints given its minimum investment of $3,000; this limitation makes VTI much more accessible, with a minimum investment of a single share.

Expense Ratio

Expense ratios are a crucial factor in choosing an investment fund. Thankfully, VTSAX and VTI offer low expense ratios of 0.04% and 0.03%, respectively.

Lower expense ratios can enhance overall returns in the long run, making them much more attractive than other options on the market.

Automatic Investments

Both VTSAX and VTI offer automatic investment strategies to help automate an investor’s target investment portfolio. Fractional shares of VTSAX makes access to the minimum investment more permissible, while VTI with its real-time trading mechanism provides more instant gratification to the investor.

Overall Comparison

As previously mentioned, while VTSAX and VTI share some similarities, their differences are highly significant. VTSAX is a mutual fund that trades once per day and has a minimum investment of $3,000, while VTI is an exchange-traded fund with a real-time trading mechanism, allowing investors to trade all day long, and a minimum investment of one share.

They both offer investors diversification, tax efficiency, and low-cost expense ratios, making them attractive investment options for many. Investors looking to invest in one of these options must consider their investment objectives.

VTSAX might be suitable for investors looking to invest in a well-diversified portfolio with more long-term investment goals, while VTI may be more appropriate for active traders and short-term buyers looking for frequent trades.


VTSAX and VTI are both popular investment options for investors looking to invest in the U.S. stock market. Their differences are crucial in choosing which best represents your investment objectives.

Investors must consider their investment goals, accessibility, expense ratios, automatic investment strategies, and more to select which option works best for them. With sufficient research, investors can confidently select from these options, leveraging market trends, diversification, tax efficiency, and other benefits towards personal financial growth and wealth-building strategies.

In conclusion, choosing between VTSAX and VTI requires a thorough understanding of their differences and similarities. Key distinctions like minimum investments, trading models, and the availability of automatic investment strategies require clear consideration.

While both funds offer low expense ratios, easy diversification, and tax efficiency, they cater to different investment objectives. Investors should evaluate their financial goals, access to minimum investments, trading frequency preferences, and automatic investment strategies before choosing which of these investment vehicles aligns with their investment strategy.

With these factors in mind, investors can confidently decide between VTSAX and VTI and leverage the market for personal wealth-building to create a comprehensive and effective portfolio strategy.

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