Although there are mutual funds with no minimums, most mutual funds require a minimum initial investment of between $500 to $3,000, with institutional class funds and hedge funds requiring minimums of at least $1 million or more. For beginning investors, this amount can be difficult to reach and often means their entire account balance is invested in just one fund. These minimum amounts are set by each fund as a means to keep small, short-term trades from affecting cash flows and the fund's daily management. Each fund's minimum is dictated by the style of fund and its investment objective. However, there are some funds with lower minimums that make mutual fund investing accessible to all investors.

Kiplinger's recommends a few funds that have lower minimum purchase amounts. The Charles Schwab Corporation (SCHW) offers a broad market index fund and a slew of target date funds, each with a minimum initial purchase of $100. Investors with the ability to invest at least $250 have access to many more funds from many different companies. For example, American Funds offers several solid funds across many different sectors and investment styles, all at this price point.

The fund minimum also varies depending on the type of account. Some companies have lower initial purchase amounts for IRA accounts. For example, T. Rowe Price (PRNEX) requires a $2,500 minimum initial purchase for its mutual funds held in non-retirement accounts but only $1,000 for retirement accounts such as IRAs. College savings plans and Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, or UTMA, accounts also usually have much lower fund minimums, and some fund companies even allow the minimum to be met through systematic purchases as low as $25 per month.

Advisor Insight

Rebecca Dawson
Silber Bennett Financial, Los Angeles, CA

Mutual funds are either closed-end or open-end funds. Closed-end funds issue a set number of shares to the public through an initial public offering (IPO). These shares trade on the open market via market supply and demand. Therefore, they are not subject to minimum investment amounts; the price is reflected by the market and you can buy as many units as you can afford.

Open-end funds do not issue a set number of shares and are “open” to new investments, and shares are created or written off as necessary. These funds do enforce a minimum investment, which typically ranges between $1,000-$5,000. The minimum may be substantially lowered or waived altogether if the investment is made in a retirement account, or if the investor agrees to automatic, reoccurring investments.