M1 Finance vs Vanguard 2024 – What is the difference?

By: Jeremy Biberdorf


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  • No trading fees or commissions
  • No account minimums
  • Simple investing with M1 Pies
  • Human/robo-advisors available
  • Large number of investment options
  • Lots of supported account types

Are you unsure about which broker to use to invest your money? Are you trying to decide between M1 Finance and Vanguard?

Investing can be an intimidating process, especially with the wide range of tools available and the long list of options. While there are numerous brokers and platforms that offer different services, two of the most popular are M1 Finance and Vanguard.

If we look at M1 Finance vs Vanguard, this is a debate between the new and the old. With M1 investing, you have an advanced robo-advisor that helps you to make better investment choices. Vanguard, on the other hand, is one of the investing stalwarts, with the company credited with creating the first index fund.

M1 Finance Vanguard Logo
Management Fees $0 0.30%
Min. Investment $0 $50,000
Avg. ETF Expense Ratio $0 (Charged by certain providers) 0.04%
Account Types Individual and joint brokerage accounts, Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs, Trust accounts, and Custodial accounts Traditional, Roth, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs, 403(b), 401(k), and individual and joint taxable accounts
Tax-Loss Harvesting None None
Financial Advisor Fee No financial advisors available Available
Best For Beginners High net-worth investors
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So, which option should you choose as your investment platform of choice when it comes to M1 Finance vs Vanguard?

M1 Finance Overview

m1.com website

M1 Finance started back in 2015 under the guidance of CEO Brian Barnes. With its roots in Chicago, Illinois, the firm now holds over $5 billion in investor assets. Their approach to automated portfolios has made them incredibly popular among beginner investors who have little to no experience in the financial markets.

As mentioned in our M1 Finance review, we believe this platform is a game changer. Based on your future investment goals, you can select one of their automated portfolios. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to save money for a house or to plan for your retirement, M1 can do it all.

This completely automated service also enables investors to create custom portfolios using the pie investing feature.

No matter your investing strategy, whether you want total control over your investments or whether you want to invest and let it ride, investing with M1 Finance allows you to do that and more.

M1 Finance Details

Minimum Investment$0
Management Fees$0-$125 per year
Investment Account TypesIndividual and joint brokerage accounts, Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRAs, trust accounts, and custodial accounts
Investment TypeIndividual stocks and Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

The M1 platform, whether on desktop or on the M1 Finance app, requires no minimum investment and no fees. Although there are some small fees for certain actions, most investors can take advantage of commission-free trading. There are zero account minimums at any point, so if you only have a small amount to invest you won’t have any problems.

M1 Finance supports a large number of account types, such as IRAs, individual brokerage accounts, and even custodial accounts. Many investing platforms don’t offer the same variety of supported investment accounts.

If you’re more confident with investing, you can create ‘pies’. The pie investing system enables you to make your own custom portfolios. Alternatively, you can also let the experts handle your portfolio with the robo-advisor’s M1 expert pies.

These pre-made portfolios contain various individual stocks and ETFs designed to align with specific goals and risk levels.

M1 Finance Fees

M1 Finance has always taken pride in offering commission-free trades. This is why M1 investing is such a game changer as traditional brokerage firms usually charge commissions, management fees, margin fees, and other trading fees, as well as requiring adherence to various account minimums.

Instead, the platform turns a profit through its separate M1 Spend and M1 Borrow features. These FDIC-insured checking accounts, portfolio lines of credit, and personal loans come with fees, but unless you want to go beyond the standard investing account you’ll never pay any fees.

However, if you’re looking to enhance your investing experience, you do have the option of upgrading to M1 Plus. This is the upgraded M1 Finance investing account and costs $125 per year.

M1 Plus provides unlimited access to all of M1 Finance’s services and features, such as a higher ACH limit per day. On balance, the majority of investors will not need the upgraded version of M1.

M1 Finance Pros

  • Commission-free trading
  • No account minimums
  • Simple investing with M1 Pies

M1 Finance Cons

  • Lack of investment options
  • No human financial advisors
  • No tax-loss harvesting

Who M1 Finance Is Best For

M1 Finance is best for investors who are looking for a low-cost, automated investing platform. The commission-free trading and no account minimums make it an attractive option for those just starting out in the world of investing. Additionally, M1 Finance’s pie investing feature makes it easy to create custom portfolios with minimal effort. For those who want more control over their investments, the robo-advisor also offers expert pies that are designed to align with specific goals and portfolio risk tolerance. Finally, M1 Plus provides additional features such as a higher ACH limit per day for those who want to enhance their investing experience.

Vanguard Overview

vanguard.com website


Vanguard was founded by Jack Bogle back in 1975 in Malvern, Pennsylvania. It quickly grew to become one of the most popular investment advisors in the nation. Bogle, for example, was credited with creating the first-ever index fund. Plus, they were arguably the fathers of low-cost investing.

Before M1 Finance and other robo-advisors began offering 0% fees, Vanguard was offering 0.04% on its ETF trading. It’s also worth mentioning that Vanguard is owned by the funds it manages, therefore they are run by its long-term investors on an indirect basis.

Currently, Vanguard is the biggest provider of mutual funds and the second-biggest provider of ETFs in the country.

Vanguard Details

Account Minimum$50,000
Management Fees0.30%
Investment Account TypesTraditional, Roth, SEP, and SIMPLE IRAs, 403(b), 401(k), and individual and joint taxable accounts.
Investment TypeStocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, and more

Vanguard Fees

Vanguard does charge fees, whereas M1 Finance charges none. Vanguard’s 0.30% management fee is a real killer with an account minimum of $50,000. However, they do favor investors with larger investment portfolios, and so if you happen to have a diversified portfolio value of more than $25 million, your management fee would be just 0.05%.

Its expense ratios are still at a record low of 0.04%, which is extremely similar to M1 Finance. In short, if you’re concerned about fees, Vanguard may not be the best brokerage firm for you.

Vanguard Pros

  • Human advisors/robo-advisors available
  • Large number of investment options
  • Lots of supported account types

Vanguard Cons

  • Very high account minimum
  • Management fees
  • Reliance on Vanguard index funds

Who Vanguard Is Best For

Vanguard is best for investors who are looking for a more comprehensive investing experience. With its human advisors and robo-advisors, a large number of responsible investing options, and supported account types including retirement accounts, Vanguard provides a wealth of resources to help investors make informed decisions. Additionally, the low expense ratios and access to Vanguard index funds make it an attractive option for those with larger portfolios. However, the high account minimums and management fees may be prohibitive for some investors.

M1 Finance vs Vanguard: The Bottom Line

Vanguard is the king and M1 Finance is the young pretender. The reality is that both platforms are for different types of investor with different investment goals. Unless you already have a large amount to invest, Vanguard is not an option.

This has long been part of the problem with investing. M1 Finance enables you to get started even if you don’t have a lot of money. You can start with as little as a few dollars and begin crafting your portfolio using M1 Finance’s pie system, or you can take advantage of one of their pre-made investment portfolios.

Vanguard, on the other hand, works directly with you to create the portfolio that’s right for you. There’s an added personal touch that you just don’t find with most conventional robo-advisors, and that’s what high net-worth, seasoned investors expect to pay for.

Overall, M1 Finance offers a simpler product that works better for most ordinary investors. If you already have a significant amount to invest, you may want to consider using Vanguard’s PAS service.

Whether you want to create an account with M1 Finance or Vanguard, do it with Modest Money. Enter the market and begin forging the future you deserve.

Create your M1 Investing account and invest for free with M1 Finance.

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