5 Important Differences between ETF and Index Fund

etf and index fund
etf and index fund

No matter how much you know about investing in the stock market or how new you are, you will hear the terms ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds) and index funds at some point. Both are good places to start, but you should look closely at what they are and how they work before you get in.

Even though they are more alike, there are still a few differences. Before putting money into these investment vehicles, it is best to look at how they are alike, how they are different, and what their pros and cons are.

This article will explain how ETFs and index funds are similar and different from different important points of view, which are essential to get the results you want in the future.

Not sure where to put the money you’ve worked hard for? If you invest often, you might know how ETFs and index funds work on a basic level. These passive investments pool many investors’ money to buy a group of securities. This is done in order to keep up with a certain market index.

Since these pools are managed passively, they are also easier on the wallet. These investments will give you good returns over the long term, so they are likely to be favorites. If you want to invest for the long term, you can think about both of these options.

Even though ETFs and Index Funds have some things in common, they are also very different.

What is an ETF (Exchange Traded Funds)?

Exchange-traded funds, also called ETFs, are a great way to invest for the long term.

ETFs can help you reach your investment goals. It is usually bought and sold on the stock market, just like company stock. During the trading session, you can get information about the prices for the day.

ETFs are a type of security that can be bought or sold through a brokerage firm. When the stock exchange is open, it can be bought and sold like company stock.

You can get information about the prices of ETFs during the trading day. It’s easy to trade, clear, and has a level of tax efficiency.

What is Index funds?

A type of mutual fund called an “index fund” follows the parts of a financial market index, like the S&P index. No matter what is going on in the market, these funds stick to the benchmark index.

Difference between ETF and Index Fund

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and index funds are different from each other in the following ways.

1) Timing for Sale and Purchase

Exchange-traded funds, like stocks and other securities, can be bought and sold throughout the trading day. On the other hand, index funds can only be bought and sold at a price set at the end of the trading day.

But it doesn’t make sense for people who want to invest long-term. But ETFs are good for investors who want to trade stocks daily, while index funds are easier to use for long-term investments.

2) Minimum investment required

Most of the time, the minimum investment varies from broker to broker. When investing in an ETF, you need less money because some companies let you buy fractional shares. Index funds, on the other hand, require a minimum investment of $2000 or $3000, depending on the broker.

3) Liquidity

ETFs are bought and sold throughout the day. This means that they have a lot of cash on hand. When the stock market is open, you can buy or sell them anytime. Index funds, however, are cleared all at once when the exchange closes.

4) Taxes over Capital gain

Because of how they are built, ETFs are less taxed than index funds. When you sell an ETF, you probably get to keep the capital gains taxes since they belong to you. When it comes to capital gains tax, ETFs are better.

On the other hand, you have to buy index funds from the people who run them. Then, they will sell the securities to get cash to pay you. Most of the time, the net gains are given to each investor with shares in the fund. That means you owe taxes on your capital gains even though you didn’t sell a share.

5) Cost of owning them

Even though you have to pay a commission to brokers when you buy or sell exchange-traded funds (ETFs), they are still very cheap. On the other hand, Index funds are also cheap to own, but you have to pay a trading fee when you buy or sell them.

ETF vs. Index Funds (Comparison Table)

Parameter Exchange-Traded Fund Index Fund
Price Can be traded like stocks throughout the entire day. It can be transacted for the price at the end of the day.
Minimum investment required Less as fractional shares are allowed to be bought. Brokers may set a minimum amount that is more expensive than the actual share price, making it expensive.
Liquidity High Low
Capital gain taxes ETFs are more tax-efficient than index funds owing to their structure. Since index funds are bought from the fund manager, who sells the shares to get cash, and the net profit from that sale is split among all the investors. So, you could owe taxes on capital gains even if you never sold a single share. So, index funds are not as good for your taxes as ETFs.
The cost of owning them It is affordable, but you must pay a commission when buying or selling. Cheap to own as well. Some index funds do come with a trading commission.
  • Long-term investors will do well with these investments. If you are interested in trading during the day, ET is the best choice for you. They can be bought and sold like stocks. A mutual fund is a better way to invest in the short term. Both kinds are different. With ETFs, investors can buy and sell anytime during the day, but this is not the case with index funds.
  • It’s a good idea to think about both since they have different features. Even though they are different, they are both unique and good ways to invest. In the same way, ETFs are less risky than stocks.
  • When you buy an ETF, you have to pay for the bid-ask spread. When you buy index funds, you do not have to pay for them. If you choose an ETF with a lot of trading, the total amount will be almost nothing.
  • Compared to mutual funds, these options don’t cost as much. As was already said, mutual funds are a great way to invest in the short term. They are taken care of by people. If you’re still unsure what the difference between index funds and ETFs is, compare how much they cost. You also have to check each case to see how much commission you have to pay.


When it comes to choosing between the two, there is no “either/or” question. What matters is what you like. Compare the features and choose the best one.

If you trade a lot, you should invest in ETFs. They can be bought and sold like stocks, so you can also put limited orders on them. ETFs are also better for the taxman. Index funds are also good for your taxes. If you want to invest all the time, you can put your money in the second one. Index funds always price their shares at the NAV or net asset value.

You will also be able to make the right choice based on the expense ratio.

Keep an eye on this blog section for more posts about investing.

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