Admiral Shares represent a separate class of shares in Vanguard-administered mutual funds, offering lower fees compared to the standard Investor Share class. Vanguard offers Admiral Shares across a select group of mutual funds and requires investors to have a minimum investment in a particular mutual fund.

Admiral Shares Requirements

To qualify for Admiral Shares, investors in most index funds and tax-managed funds must maintain a minimum investment of $10,000. For actively managed funds, one must have at least $50,000 invested. For sector-specific index funds, you are qualified for Admiral Shares with an investment of $100,000 or more.

Key Takeaways

  • Admiral shares offer lower fees compared to the standard Investor Share-class Vanguard funds.
  • To qualify for Admiral Shares, investors in most index funds and tax-managed funds must maintain a minimum investment of $10,000.
  • For actively managed funds, an investor must have at least $50,000 invested.
  • For sector-specific index funds, an investor qualifies for Admiral Shares with an investment of $100,000 or more.

Vanguard evaluates its fund accounts to identify which are eligible for Admiral Shares. If an investor's account holdings become eligible, Vanguard can convert his or her mutual fund shares into the Admiral Shares class—typically tax-free and at no cost. Investors can determine their account eligibility by logging into their Vanguard accounts.

Mutual funds offering Admiral Shares may be found through the online fund's screener on the Vanguard website. Vanguard offers Admiral Shares mutual funds with a broad palette of investment objectives and holdings, such as Treasury bonds (T-bonds), tax-exempt municipal bonds, balanced holdings, domestic stocks, and international stocks.

Index funds are central to the story of Vanguard because index funds are passively managed, which is to say that they passively track an index, rather than actively researching, analyzing, buying, and selling securities. Since actively-managed funds are more expensive to operate they tend to lose in performance in the long run to the cheaper index funds. However, there are a minority of actively-managed funds that have historically outperformed index funds.

Why Invest in Admiral Shares?

Most actively managed funds lose to their benchmark index. So, many investors reason why not just hold the same stocks of the index, keep management costs low, and win by simply matching the performance of the index? Many agree this is a solid investing strategy. To allow investor to build on this type of strategy, Vanguard launched the Admiral Shares.

Admiral Shares Cost Savings

Vanguard mutual funds already have expense ratios that undercut the mutual fund industry's average by a whopping 82%, yet Admiral Shares achieve further savings on the expense ratio for qualified Vanguard mutual funds. While typical Vanguard Investor shares have an expense ratio of 0.18%, Vanguard Admiral Shares' average expense ratio comes in at a feather-weight 0.15%. The 0.03% difference may not seem like much, but on a large initial investment it can add up to a substantial amount saved over the years.

Other Advantages of Vanguard Admiral Shares

In addition, Vanguard mutual fund shareholders, who want to covert Investor Share funds to Admiral Shares can do this by making a simple request to Vanguard. In some cases, Vanguard will make the conversion automatically because they periodically evaluate client balances to determine if they qualify for conversion.