Dividend-paying exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have been growing in popularity, especially among investors looking for high yields and more stability from their portfolios. As with stocks and many mutual funds, most ETFs pay their dividends quarterly—once every three months. However, ETFs that offer monthly dividend returns are also available.

Monthly dividends can be more convenient for managing cash flows and helps in budgeting with a predictable income stream. Further, these products give greater total returns, if the monthly dividends are reinvested.

Range of Choices and Risks

Luckily, there are a plethora of monthly dividend ETF funds offered by the major firms, including State Street Global Advisors, Vanguard Group, and BlackRock, Inc. However, there are also smaller firms such as the Global X Funds that have increased their presence in the ETF arena. These investment products have become nearly household names and include the popular Spider SPDR and iShares products.

Before any investor falls too head-over-heels in love with these products, they must do their due diligence and review the ETF for its expenses and risk. While getting dividend income every month may sound appealing, the investor must offset the expenses of the holding against its benefits.

Fund managers sometimes offer high double-digit yields that they cannot sustain in order to attract investors who would otherwise ignore them. It is important to pay attention to expense ratios, as well. Remember, the less money that goes into a manager’s pocket the better. Some funds may return their high income through the use of leverage which may not suit the risk tolerance of all investors. (For related reading, see: Is Dividend Investing a Good Strategy?)

The following list of exchange-traded funds do not appear in any particular order and are offered only as an example of the funds that fall into the category of the monthly-dividend paying ETFs.

Global X SuperDividend ETF

  • Net Assets as of 3/27/20: $510 million
  • Total Expense Ratio: 0.59%
  • Yield (12 mo.): 17.29%
  • Price as of 3/27/20: $9.44

The Global X SuperDividend (SDIV) fund tracks an index of 100 equally weighted companies that rank among the highest-dividend payers around the world—a strategy that has earned it kudos in the financial press.

The fund includes common stocks, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and master limited partnerships (MLPs) that must combine top returns with lower-than-average volatility to be included in the index. The fund has made monthly dividend distributions for more than eight years.

Some of the main holdings of the fund are:

  • Diversified Gas & Oil PLC
  • B&G Foods Inc
  • Sinopec Shang-H
  • Kumba Iron Ore Ltd

Global X SuperDividend U.S. ETF

  • Net Assets as of 3/27/20: $344 million
  • Total Expense Ratio: 0.46%
  • Yield (12 mo.): 15.12%
  • Price as of 3/27/20: $13.04

Established in 2013, the Global X U.S. SuperDividend (DIV) fund focuses on a basket of low-volatility, high-yielding securities. The objective is to track the performance of 50 equally weighted common stocks, MLPs, and REITs within the U.S.

Securities listed in the index are among the highest-yielding in the United States, and they have lower relative volatility than the market. It pairs very nicely with SDVI for investors who want a truly global grip on high-yielding equities.

Holdings in the fund include:

  • B&G Foods Inc
  • General Mills Inc
  • Verizon Communications
  • Kraft Heinz

Invesco S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF

  • Net Assets as of 3/27/20: $2.4 billion
  • Total Expense Ratio: 0.30%
  • Yield (12 mo.): 6.10%
  • Price as of 3/27/20: $30.79

The Invesco S&P 500 High Dividend Low Volatility ETF (SPHD) looks for stocks that pay high dividends and offer low volatility. It invests 90% of its assets in the common stocks of companies listed in the S&P 500 Low Volatility High Dividend Index. The fund is concentrated in real estate and utilities. Holdings include:

  • Iron Mountain Inc
  • Altria Group Inc
  • Gilead Sciences Inc
  • AT&T Inc

WisdomTree U.S. High Dividend Fund

  • Net Assets as of 3/27/20: $676 million
  • Total Expense Ratio: 0.38%
  • 10-year Average Annual Return: 11.18%
  • Price as of 3/27/20: $55.87

The WisdomTree U.S. High Dividend Fund (DHS) mimics the WisdomTree High Dividend Index, a fundamentally weighted index that features companies ranked by dividend yield with average daily trading volumes of at least $200 million.

The fund’s holdings are well diversified among sectors such as real estate, health care, utilities, IT, and consumer staples. Top holdings include:

  • Verizon Communications Inc
  • Pfizer Inc
  • AT&T Inc
  • The Coca-Cola Company

Invesco Preferred ETF

  • Net Assets as of 3/27/20: $5 billion
  • Total Expense Ratio: 0.52%
  • Yield (12 mo.): 5.98%
  • Price as of 3/27/20: $13.28

The Invesco Preferred Fund (PGX) is another preferred stock ETF that delivers on yield. PGX's objective is to replicate the performance and yield of the ICE BofAML Core Plus Fixed Rate Preferred Securities Index. Its portfolio holds more than 200 preferred stocks with a heavy weighting towards the financial sector. The bulk of investments are in BBB rated holdings. Some of the investments include:

  • Citigroup Inc
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co
  • Wells Fargo & Co
  • Bank of America Corp

Invesco KBW High Dividend Yield Financial ETF

  • Net Assets as of 3/27/20: $167 million
  • Total Expense Ratio: 1.58%
  • Yield (12 mo.): 15.88%
  • Price as of 3/27/20: $12.57

Based on one of the prestigious Keefe, Bruyette & Woods NASDAQ indexes, the Invesco KBW High Dividend Yield Financial Portfolio ETF (KBWD) fund's large dividend yield is pretty tempting. KBWD ​​is heavily weighted (at least 90%) towards publicly held financial companies, which should perform better in a rising interest rate environment. The fund, however, has an extremely high expense ratio of 1.58%.

Holdings include:

  • Orchid Island Capital Inc
  • Newtek Business Services Corp
  • AGNC Investment Corp
  • Dynex Capital Inc

iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF

  • Net Assets as of 3/27/20: $13.9 billion
  • Total Expense Ratio: 0.46%
  • Yield (12 mo.): 5.52%
  • Price as of 3/27/20: $31.47

The iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF (PFF) is a viable alternative for investors seeking high yields. PFF seeks to mirror the performance and yield of the S&P U.S. Preferred Stock Index. The portfolio is well-diversified, with no security weighted more than 2.14%. However, it does tend to favor banks, diversified financials, and utilities. Some of the main holdings include:

  • Broadcom Inc
  • Wells Fargo & Co
  • Bank of America Corp
  • Becton Dickinson & Co

SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust

  • Net Assets as of 3/26/20: $18.5 million
  • Total Expense Ratio: 0.16%
  • 10-year Average Annual Return: 11.44%
  • Price as of 3/26/20: $225.45

The SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF (DIA) does not offer the highest yield, but investors who prefer some capital appreciation potential with their income might find its portfolio attractive. Launched in January 1998 (making it one of the oldest ETFs still standing), the fund is one of the few to directly play the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)—itself the grandpa of stock indexes, composed of 30 of the bluest blue chip companies. It's holdings include:

  • Apple Inc
  • UnitedHealth Group Inc
  • Home Depot Inc
  • Boeing Co

The Bottom Line

High-dividend ETFs offer a cheap, easy way to add an extra stream of income to the portfolios of retirees and new investors alike. As always, it is important to do your due diligence on any fund before committing your hard-earned cash.