Tool | Updated August 2018

The Kiplinger ETF 20 — Our Favorite Exchange-Traded Funds for Every Investor

These days, investors can choose from about 2,000 exchange-traded funds (ETFs). You don’t need most of them. We’ve picked 20 ETFs to help you reach your investing goals — from funds that give you a broad exposure to the stock market to narrower slices that can help you fill specific gaps in your portfolio.

In the tables below, see the funds in the Kiplinger ETF 20 and their one-year, and annualized three-, five-, 10-year returns, along with their expense ratios. Click the ticker symbol to see each fund’s daily market snapshot

Best ETFs for Your Investment Portfolios, Built from the ETF 20

Data through October 31, 2018

Core Stock Funds

FUND NAME SYMBOL 1-YR
RETURN
3-YR
RETURN
5-YR
RETURN
10-YR
RETURN
EXPENSE RATIO
iShares Core S&P 500IVV7.30%11.47%11.29%13.18%0.04%
iShares Core S&P Mid-CapIJH0.959.788.8014.020.07
Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Small-Cap ETFVSS-10.874.832.490.13
Vanguard Russell 2000 ValueVTWV-0.6710.427.060.20
Vanguard Total International StockVXUS-8.634.671.976.900.11
Vanguard Total Stock MarketVTI6.6311.2710.7913.400.04
Data through October 31, 2018

Dividend Stock Funds

FUND NAME SYMBOL 1-YR
RETURN
3-YR
RETURN
5-YR
RETURN
10-YR
RETURN
EXPENSE RATIO
Schwab U.S. Dividend EquitySCHD5.76%11.63%10.25%—%0.07%
Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETFVIG9.2111.919.6912.170.08
WisdomTree Global ex-U.S. Quality Dividend GrowthDNL-7.226.482.705.240.58
Data through October 31, 2018

Strategic Stock Funds

FUND NAME SYMBOL 1-YR
RETURN
3-YR
RETURN
5-YR
RETURN
10-YR
RETURN
EXPENSE RATIO
Fidelity MSCI Industrials IndexFIDU-1.49%10.66%8.82%—%0.08%
iShares Edge MSCI USA Momentum FactorMTUM8.0115.0314.970.15
Invesco Dynamic LargeCap ValuePWV-4.408.408.0311.840.56
Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight Health CareRYH6.918.1712.8916.740.40
Financial Select Sector SPDRXLF0.5212.4211.489.570.14
Data through October 31, 2018

Core Bond Funds

FUND NAME SYMBOL 1-YR
RETURN
3-YR
RETURN
5-YR
RETURN
10-YR
RETURN
EXPENSE RATIO
Pimco Active BondBOND-1.52%1.77%2.42%—%0.76%
SPDR® DoubleLine Total Return Tactical ETFTOTL-1.021.480.55
Data through October 31, 2018

Opportunistic Bond Funds

FUND NAME SYMBOL 1-YR
RETURN
3-YR
RETURN
5-YR
RETURN
10-YR
RETURN
EXPENSE RATIO
Invesco Senior LoanBKLN3.46%4.09%2.57%—%0.63%
PIMCO Enhanced Low Duration Active Exchange-Traded FundLDUR1.162.031.02
VanEck Vectors Fallen Angel High Yield BondANGL-1.088.726.940.35
Vanguard Total International Bond Index Fund ETF SharesBNDX1.782.783.500.11

What is an ETF?

An ETF, or exchange-traded fund, is a bundle of securities such as stocks and bonds. Investors buy “units” (essentially shares) of ETFs that provide access to the performance of all the fund’s holdings, in exchange for a small annual fee that’s automatically taken out of the ETF’s returns. Exchange-traded funds are similar to mutual funds in that they’re pooled investments; however, ETFs trade on exchanges (just like stocks), so their prices change throughout the day; mutual fund prices do not.

Why are ETF fees so important?

ETF fees are taken out of the fund’s returns, so naturally the lower the fees, the more money the investor keeps. Fees are small – often measured in basis points (1/100th of a percent) – but can add up to big costs over time. Consider a $50,000 investment in a fund that charges 0.5% and returns 7% annually over 30 years will eventually generate $327,473 in returns. The same investment in a fund with similar performance but a 1% fee would generate $281,539 – that’s almost $46,000 lost to both fees and opportunity cost (the extra returns you would have generated had money spent on expenses been invested instead).

How do I find the best cheap ETFs?

Basic online ETF screeners can help you sort funds by cost, allowing you to find the absolute cheapest funds on the market. But not all cheap ETFs are good ETFs. If you’re looking for low cost and quality, check out the Kip ETF 20 – a group of 20 exchange-traded funds selected by Kiplinger for their ability to deliver inexpensive exposure to a wide array of investing approaches, from broad-market stock indexes to tactical fixed-income strategies.