The S&P 500 is a market-cap-weighted index of 505 large-cap U.S. stocks, representing approximately 80% of the market value of the U.S. stock market. Often synonymous with "the market" in the U.S., the S&P 500 is the closest thing to a default U.S. stock index. Its largest components by weight are mega-cap stocks such as Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Apple Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Facebook Inc. (FB), and Alphabet Inc.'s class A shares (GOOGL). The S&P 500 was the benchmark of the first index fund, and the first ETF. An S&P 500 ETF is an inexpensive vehicle for investors seeking exposure to the U.S. stock market, though has been especially volatile in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. There are 4 ETFs that track the S&P 500, excluding inverse and leveraged funds as well as those with under $50 million in assets under management (AUM). Below, we look at the least expensive S&P 500 ETFs for buy-and-hold investing and the most liquid for more active traders. All numbers are as of August 11, 2020.

Key Takeaways

  • The S&P 500 is a market-cap-weighted index of 505 large-cap U.S. stocks.
  • ETFs with the lowest fees are VOO, IVV, and SPLG. The highest-liquidity ETF is SPY.
  • Apple Inc. is the top holding in all of these funds.

S&P 500 ETF with the Lowest Fees: Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO)(Tie)

Because index-tracking ETFs follows the performance of the Index, one of the most important determinants of long-term returns is how much a fund charges in fees.

  • Expense Ratio: 0.03%
  • 1-Year Total Return: 17.9%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 1.73%
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 4,057,203
  • Assets Under Management: $158.5 billion
  • Inception Date: September 9, 2010
  • Issuer: Vanguard

S&P 500 ETF with the Lowest Fees: iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV) (Tie)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.03%
  • 1-Year Total Return: 18.0%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 2.0%
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 4,591,131
  • Assets Under Management: $212.2 billion
  • Inception Date: May 15, 2000
  • Issuer: iShares

S&P 500 ETF with the Lowest Fees: SPDR Portfolio S&P 500 ETF (SPLG) (Tie)

  • Expense Ratio: 0.03%
  • 1-Year Total Return: 17.7%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 1.79%
  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 3,055,435
  • Assets Under Management: $6.1 billion
  • Inception Date: November 15, 2005
  • Issuer: State Street SPDR

Most Liquid S&P 500 ETF: SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY)

Liquidity indicates how easy it will be to trade an ETF, with higher liquidity generally translating to lower trading costs. Trading costs are not a big concern to people who want to hold ETFs long term, but if you’re interested in trading ETFs frequently, then it’s important to look for high-liquidity funds to minimize trading costs.

  • 3-Month Average Daily Volume: 86,440,888
  • Expense Ratio: 0.09%
  • 1-Year Total Return: 17.8%
  • Annual Dividend Yield: 1.71%
  • Assets Under Management: $297.4 billion
  • Inception Date: January 22, 1993
  • Issuer: State Street SPDR