Vanguard Paper Trading Practice Account (2022)

2022: Vanguard demo account for paper trading. Vanguard virtual simulation to practice trading stocks, options, futures.

Vanguard Paper Trading

Vanguard does not offer paper trading (also known as simulated or practice trading) service. For a free virtual trading, we recommend TD Ameritrade practice account.

Free TD Ameritrade Account

Get $0 commissions and ACAT fee reimbursement.

Open TD Ameritrade Account

Vanguard Trading Tools Comparison

Vanguard performs poorly in the category of trading tools compared to several of its rivals. Many other firms offer desktop platforms, for example. These brokers include Fidelity, Merrill Edge, Firstrade, Ally Invest, Schwab, and Interactive Brokers. Some of these firms require certain trading or account minimums to use their software — Firstrade and Schwab do, for example.

TD Ameritrade has an advanced desktop trading system called Thinkorswim that has no trading requirements or account minimums. It has very sophisticated charting tools, which Vanguard customers do not have anywhere. Besides thinkorswim, TD Ameritrade also offers Trade Architect, a simpler browser-based trading platform that is easier to learn and use. Unfortunately, Vanguard does not even offer a simple platform.

Vanguard also fails to offer a trade bar on its website, which Schwab, Ally Invest, Firstrade, Capital One Investing, Merrill Edge, and TD Ameritrade do provide. Having a trade bar at the bottom of the browsing window makes order entry simpler, a service that Vanguard clients miss out on.

Vanguard fails to provide a place where traders can practice buying and selling the securities it offers. Some brokers do have a paper-trading service. These firms include optionsXpress, TD Ameritrade, and Schwab. Although optionsXpress doesn’t have a desktop platform, it still provides a practice area on its website where mock trades can be placed. Vanguard customers could benefit from this helpful service.

The Vanguard app has no live streaming of business news. By comparison, Schwab, E*Trade, Fidelity, and TD Ameritrade all provide video news. Vanguard’s mobile app also does not have stock charts (although it does have graphs for stock indexes). Most brokers offer charting for stocks on mobile devices.

Vanguard’s trading technology is about on the same level as WellsTrade, which is to say it is rather undeveloped.

Open thinkorswim Account

Open Thinkorswim Account

Vanguard Website/Trading Platform/Tools


Vanguard's website has some good educational tools on it. However, it is not as user friendly as Ally Invest's site, or as advanced as TD Ameritrade's. The Vanguard site has a useful search field in the upper-right corner after logging in. Here, users can type any keyword, such as "transfer funds" or "buy ETFs" and the website will return search results, with the correct result usually at the top of the list. It's a handy feature for navigating the Vanguard site.

After entering a ticker symbol in the search field, only very basic information is displayed for the security. Customers will have to do their stock research elsewhere.

The menus on the site are geared towards Vanguard ETFs and mutual funds. It's somewhat cumbersome to find a screener for non-Vanguard funds, although one does exist. The Vanguard site is definitely more difficult to navigate than other broker sites.

Vanguard Review: Website

Advanced Trading Platform

Regrettably, the broker has no advanced desktop trading platform. Many other brokers do offer their clients sophisticated trading systems, so this absence is a significant failure on Vanguard's part. Fidelity, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Merrill Edge, and E*Trade all have a selection of advanced platforms. Combined with a simple website, this broker creates the impression that it's designed for buy-and-hold investors who don't need a lot of sophisticated technology.

Mobile Trading

Traders at Vanguard can buy and sell stocks, ETFs, and Vanguard mutual funds on Android tablets and phones, Kindle Fire, iPad, and iPhone. The interface is fairly simple and quick to learn. A menu icon in the upper-left corner reveals several features, such as a customer service contact, a device watch list (not related to any watchlist on the website), securities research, market news, and mobile check deposit. Vanguard messages can be retrieved on the app, and messages can also be sent to customer service, with attachments if necessary. Statements are available in pdf format. There are some Vanguard videos on the app. Disappointingly, live steaming of financial news is not available. Other brokers, such as Fidelity, do offer such service.

A beneficial feature on the app is portfolio analysis. Tapping on this in the menu produces a screen that breaks down the assets in the account. The analysis reveals the percentage of bonds, stocks, and short-term reserves. Users can also set a pre-defined target such as conservative or aggressive growth, and compare the account against the model portfolio.

Vanguard Review: Mobile

Vanguard Paper Trading and Tools Recap

Vanguard clients have adequate technology to place trades for all the securities the broker offers. Unfortunately, many tools are missing that are available elsewhere. In particular, there is no virtual, paper trading on Vanguard. Buy-and-hold investors won’t miss them, but active stock traders would be better off elsewhere.