The precious metal gold is favored by many investors as a means of hedging against inflation, market turbulence, and political unrest. One way to gain exposure to gold is via an exchange-traded fund (ETF). Managed ETFs provide a convenient, liquid way to own gold futures, bullion, and other vehicles. They often offer a more diversified and less risky means of owning the precious metal compared to buying gold futures, shares of mining companies, or even bullion. Still, the 11 gold ETFs, excluding leveraged and inverse funds, are closely linked to the price of gold, which can see big swings.

The best gold ETFs for Q1 2020 have returned roughly 8% so far. Over the past 12 months, gold ETFs have returned between 22% and 24%. Among the best performers have been GraniteShares Gold Trust (BAR), Aberdeen Standard Physical Swiss Gold Shares ETF (SGOL), and iShares Gold Trust (IAU). Below, we'll take a look at each.

GraniteShares Gold Trust (BAR)

  • Performance over 1 year: 23.91%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.1749%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • Assets Under Management: $700 million
  • Inception Date: August 31, 2017
  • Issuing Company: GraniteShares

The GraniteShares Gold Trust (BAR) held 978 physical gold bars at secured vaults in London as of November 2019, or approximately 389,380 troy ounces. BAR is a grantor trust, meaning that it protects investors by limiting how its gold bars can be sold. The fund aims to track the performance of the spot price for gold, less expenses, which are 0.1749%.

Aberdeen Standard Physical Swiss Gold Shares ETF (SGOL)

  • Performance over 1 year: 24.02%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.17%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • Assets Under Management: $1.19 billion
  • Inception Date: September 9, 2009
  • Issuing Company: Aberdeen Standard Investments

Like BAR, the Aberdeen Standard Physical Swiss Gold Shares ETF (SGOL) aims to replicate performance of the spot price of gold, less 0.17% for expenses. SGOL is also a grantor trust. As of December 2019, the trust held 321 gold bars at its vault in London (or 128,053 ounces), and 1,657 gold bars at its vault in Switzerland (659,329 ounces).

iShares Gold Trust (IAU)

  • Performance over 1 year: 23.99%
  • Expense Ratio: 0.25%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: N/A
  • Assets Under Management: $17.62 billion
  • Inception Date: January 21, 2005
  • Issuing Company: BlackRock

As one of the largest gold ETFs by assets, IAU is another fund that buys and holds physical gold, with the aim of reflecting the spot price of gold, less expenses of 0.25%. Fund fees help to cover the costs of transporting, storing, and insuring gold bullion. Like BAR and SGOL above, IAU is organized as a grantor trust. IAU stores its gold at vaults in New York, Toronto or London. As of February 2020, it held 30,060 gold bars, or 12.05 million ounces.