Difference Between ETF and Index Fund: Which is Better?

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Difference Between ETF and Index Fund: Which is Better?

Difference Between ETFs and Index Funds: An Overview

An investment learner needs to know about the difference between an Index fund and an ETF. The thing is, ETFs are considered to be a bit more flexible and more convenient to invest in than mutual funds. In addition to this, you can easily trade your ETF in comparison to Index funds or traditional mutual funds. 

ETFs trade works like a common stock and how they are being traded in a stock market. Moreover, when it comes to purchasing ETFs, one can buy a small portion of them, and there will be less hustle in purchasing them. There will be no documentation and special accounts needed to purchase an ETF making it a better choice for those who want to invest their money with no hassle at all. 

On the other hand, Index funds have their advantages; first things first, you cannot invest directly in an index; you need to find an index fund. When you invest in index funding, you will be performing passive investing. Here you will be setting the rule as to which stocks you will be adding to the index fund, and then you are going to track those stocks while not trying to beat them. 

This is just the basic information for these two; today, with the help of this blog, we are going to reveal how ETF and Index funds are different from each other. Apart from this, we are also discussing their benefits to make our readers more knowledgeable, investors. 

Exchange Traded Funds Overview

The full form of an ETF is Exchange Traded funds, and these are different types of investment funds that allow investors to have the best attributes of two popular assets. First, they have the diversification benefits that come with mutual funds, and at the same time, they also provide ease of trading which is something investors find in stock trading. 

Think of an ETF as a basket of investments where you have different stocks, bonds, and other sorts of investments in one place. With the use of an ETF, you get to invest in several securities at the same time all at once. It does all of this while keeping lower fees than most of the other funds. 

But, just like any other investment, an ETF also falls under the same category of financial product, which can't be good for everyone, meaning it has its flaws and investors should be aware of them. The value of ETFs is measured based on management costs, commission fees, how easy it is to buy and sell them, how well they fit with your existing portfolio, and what is the quality of your investment.

What Are Exchange Traded Funds (ETF)?

The fund provider is the one responsible for owning an underlying asset. Also, they are given the task of designing a fund to track down the performance and then selling out the shares of funds to the investors. Now shareholders get a portion of an ETF, not the full ETF, and they don't own the underlying assets of the ETF. 

Furthermore, investors who are a part of an ETF and track a stock index will be getting lump dividend payments or reinvestments for those stocks which make up the Index. With an ETF, one can track down the value of an underlying asset or Index, but due to expenses, the longer-term returns for the ETF will vary from those of its underlying assets. Given below, we have described in three easy steps how an ETF Works.

Step - 1 An ETF provider will have multiple sources of investment such as stocks, bonds, commodities, and even currencies; with all of these different sources, a basket is created which has a unique ticker. 

Step - 2 Now, as an investor, one can buy a share of the basket, and it works exactly like buying shares of a company. 

Step - 3 The buyers and the sellers indulge in the trade of an ETF throughout their day in a stock exchange in a similar fashion, just like stocks. 

What are the Advantages of Exchange-Traded Funds?

Given below are the benefits of ETF that every investor should know about to make knowledgeable investments with their money. 


An ETF gives you diversification of investment, an ETF is a collection of different investment sources, and you get to choose the ETF that, according to you, has the best sources. In addition to this, ETF makes it possible for the investor to diversify the resources across horizontals such as industries. ETFs are quite diversified on their own, so you don't need to create diversification in your portfolio. 


Anyone who has the internet can search for the price activity of any ETF, which is life in exchange. Each fund's holdings are disclosed to the public every single day. This isn't the case for mutual funds. 

Tax Benefits

With mutual funds, you get to pay taxes on your capital gains or for the profit that you made on the sale of the asset, just like stocks. With ETF, you only have to pay for the capital gains when you sell the investment. As a result, you will have to pay less tax on your ETF investment. 

Index Funds Overview

An Index fund is used for providing broad market exposure, lowering the operating cost in addition to low turnover from a portfolio. The funds present in the Index are known for following the benchmark index regardless of how well or badly a stock market is performing. Index funds are considered to be ideal for core portfolio holdings for retirement accounts. 

Even one of the biggest names in investing, Warren Buffett, has said Index funds are like a haven for those who are saving their money for later years to live financially free. With an Index fund, you are not picking individual stocks for the investment. As a result, it makes it possible for the average investor to purchase stocks of S&P 500 companies at a lower cost than the actual cost their index funds are offering in the first place. 

What is an Index Fund?

Indexing in the stock market stands for passive fund management. Thus, in this form of funding, the manager is actively purchasing stocks and looking at the market timing. What this means is they are choosing different securities to invest in and making different strategies as to when to buy and sell these securities. The fund manager's job is to build a portfolio whose holdings mirror the securities for the particular Index. 

The main idea behind mirroring the profile of the Index is to get the stock market or the broader segment of the fund to match the performance of the Index for better returns on investment. 

We need to understand that there is an index and index fund present for every single financial market which has ever been in existence. The portfolio of index funds will see any change in their strategy of investment when their benchmark indexes change. 

On the other hand, to find out how a single holding in an index fund is influencing the return of the whole Index, investors follow the weighting benchmark. This way, if some of the holdings have more weightage, the fund manager will rebalance the percentage of different securities. 

Benefits of Investing in Index Funds

Following are some of the biggest advantages of investing money in index funds. 

Low Fees

Index funds are known for mimicking their underlying benchmark. In addition to this, it does not require you to invest in an efficient team of research analysts to help fund managers pick the right stocks. 

No Bias Investing 

Index funds are automated, and it has a regulation-based investment method. The fund manager is given a specific amount of money to invest in the index funds on various securities. This also results in the elimination of human discretion or bias over stocks. 

Easier To Manage

Fund managers don't have to worry about how stocks that are present in the Index are performing in the market. Index funds only need to be rebalanced periodically, and that's it. 

Wrapping Up

Given how both of these funds have their unique selling point when it comes to giving an answer to which one is better then, it depends on the investor's requirement. Both of them can fill your certain needs. For people who want to make their investments simple, they have to go with ETF has the edge. 

The ETF gives investors good exposure to various segments of the market in a much more simple way making it a useful tool for investors. Index funds are great for those people who are looking to get returns on their investment after 10 to 15 years of investing or in their old age.

  • Which one is better, ETF or Index Fund?

  • Which one has a higher return, ETF or an Index fund?

  • How many types of ETFs are there?

  • What are the disadvantages of ETFs?