Gold ETF vs. Gold Fund

Which is the Better Option: Gold ETF vs. Gold Fund

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Are you looking for a reliable asset to hedge against inflation and protect against market volatility? Look no further than gold. Historically, it has been a go-to investment for those seeking stability in uncertain times. However, buying and storing them physically can be challenging for many investors. That's where gold ETFs and gold funds come in. These investment vehicles offer an accessible and cost-effective way to invest in the metal without the hassle of physical ownership.

But what's the difference between them and which is right for you? In this article, we'll explore each investment vehicle's unique advantages and disadvantages. By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of how they work and which one might best fit your individual needs and circumstances. Join us as we delve into the world of gold investment and explore the exciting possibilities of these assets.

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Gold ETF vs. Gold Fund

What is a Gold ETF?

Gold ETFs, or Exchange-Traded Funds, are investment funds traded on stock exchanges and aim to track the price of gold. They are similar to mutual funds because they pool money from multiple investors and invest in securities. However, their underlying assets are gold-related investments, such as futures or mining stocks.

Also, they are designed to provide you with exposure to the price of gold without actually owning them physically. They offer several advantages over this, including lower costs, greater liquidity, and the ability to be traded like stocks on exchanges. They can be bought and sold on the stock exchange during trading hours, and their price fluctuates based on the real-time market value. The underlying asset in the ETF is held by the fund manager and not the investors, thereby eliminating the costs and hassles of storage.

Advantage & Disadvantages of Gold ETF


  • Low Cost. One of their key benefits is that they offer a low-cost way to get into the industry. Because they are passively managed, they have lower expense ratios, which are actively managed. This means that you can gain exposure without having to pay high fees. 
  • Liquidity. ETFs are also very liquid, meaning they can be easily bought and sold on stock exchanges during market hours, which makes them an attractive option for those who want to trade quickly and easily.
  • Tax efficient. Another advantage of these is that they are considered to be more tax-efficient. Because they are structured as exchange-traded products, they are subject to capital gains tax, which is generally lower than the tax rate for mutual funds. Additionally, because they are passively managed, they tend to have lower capital gains distributions, which can reduce the taxes you have to pay.
  • Stability. Finally, since it relies on physical gold, a known reliable asset, it is more stable. This can be particularly attractive to those looking for a safe and reliable asset that will surely not fail them in times of economic uncertainty.


  • Tracking Error. Gold ETFs aim to track the price of gold, but there can be discrepancies between the actual price of gold and the price of the ETF. This difference is known as a tracking error and can be caused by factors such as trading fees, management fees, and market volatility.
  • Custodian Risk. As they rely on the price of physical gold, it is held by a custodian on behalf of the investors. This creates a risk that the custodian may not be able to fulfill its obligations, such as having poor performance or committing errors, which could potentially impact the value of the shares. That is also known as counterparty risk, which affects the value of your asset since it's possible that the counterparty defaults or is unable to fulfill its obligation.
Gold ETF vs. Gold Fund

What is a Gold Fund?

It is a type of mutual fund that invests in companies engaged in gold mining or exploration. More specifically, they invest in the stocks and potential of these companies and similar entities instead of the physical metal. As a result, its performance is directly tied to the performance of these exchange-traded funds, which may be influenced by a range of factors beyond the price of gold, such as operational efficiency, management quality, and other industry-specific factors.

Advantage & Disadvantages of Gold Fund


  • Professional Management. Another advantage is that professional fund managers actively manage them. This means that you do not have to make your own decisions and can benefit from the expertise of experienced professionals who are able to make informed decisions on your behalf.
  • Potential for Higher Returns. They also have the potential for higher returns, particularly in certain market conditions, such as during a period of strong performance in the gold mining industry.
  • Less Volatile. Finally, they are generally less volatile, which can be attractive to those looking for a more stable option. While they may not provide the same potential for rapid gains, they can be an attractive option for those who prefer a more conservative approach.


  • Higher fees. Despite their advantages, they also have some potential drawbacks. One of these disadvantages is that they generally have higher expense ratios. It means that you may have to pay higher fees, which can impact the overall returns they can achieve.
  • Limited Liquidity. Another disadvantage is that they are less liquid than ETFs. Since they are not traded on stock exchanges, it can be more difficult to buy and sell them, particularly during periods of market volatility.
  • No Exposure to Physical Gold: Finally, they do not invest in physical gold, which may be a drawback for some. While they do provide exposure to a range of gold-related securities, they may provide a different level of exposure than ETFs.

Overall, they can be an attractive option for those looking for greater diversification and professional management. However, you should carefully consider the potential drawbacks and make a decision based on their individual goals and risk tolerance.

Gold ETF vs. Gold Fund

Their Key Differences

There are several key differences that you should be aware of to make an informed decision and achieve your goals.

Investment Strategy

The primary difference between them that you should look out for is how they invest. Gold ETFs invest in the physical metal, while gold funds invest in the ETFs or shares of companies that are involved in the industry. This difference in this can have a significant impact on performance and risk. Another thing to note is that gold ETFs are structured as exchange-traded funds, while gold funds are structured as mutual funds. This means that the former are traded on stock exchanges, just like stocks, and can be bought and sold throughout the trading day. The latter, on the other hand, are priced once a day after the market closes and are bought and sold at the end of the trading day.


There are also fees associated with both of them. ETFs are typically very low-cost, while mutual funds can be more expensive. This is because of their different expense ratio. These refer to the fees charged by the fund manager to cover the costs of managing the fund. Generally, ETFs have lower expense ratios since they are passively managed, meaning they simply track the price of the metal, while the other is actively managed, which involves more research and analysis.


Their performance can also differ significantly due to their investment strategy. As the ETFs are directly correlated to the price of the metal, the mutual fund is influenced by a variety of factors, including the performance of the companies in which they put the funds. This can result in different levels of volatility and returns for each option.


Generally, ETFs are very liquid, meaning that you can buy and sell them quickly and easily on stock exchanges. On the other hand, gold funds may have less liquidity, as they are traded through mutual fund companies and require the buying and selling of mutual fund shares.

Tax Implications

It would be best if you also considered the possible tax implications that could affect your gains. Gold ETFs are generally more tax-efficient because they are structured as exchange-traded products. This means you are only taxed on the capital gains they realize when you sell their shares. In contrast, gold funds may be subject to capital gains taxes on the fund's distributions, even if they do not sell their shares.

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Augusta Precious Metals offers clients a range of physical metals investment options, personalized portfolio analysis, and other products. Also, don't hesitate to reach out to them as they are committed to educating clients about the benefits of precious metals assets. Thus, it is a trusted and reliable partner as you traverse the world of precious metals.

#2. Goldco


The company is a precious metals investment company specializing in helping investors create self-directed IRAs holding precious physical metals. Its focus on transparency, customer service, and high-quality precious metals has earned the company numerous industry accolades, including being ranked #919 in the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America.

American Hartford Gold provides a range of products, such as coins and bars, as well as IRA and 401(k) rollover services, secure storage, shipping, and buyback programs. They also have educational resources and a dedicated team of experts to provide support throughout the process that you could take advantage of without making an initial investment.

All three companies offer a range of options for you to start putting your money in precious metals, as well as education and support to help you make informed decisions. However, it's important for you to carefully consider your individual goals, risk tolerance, and other factors before choosing a precious metals investment company.

Gold ETF vs. Gold Fund

Their Performance and Historical Returns

This varies widely depending on a range of factors, including economic conditions, global events, and market trends. However, gold has been regarded as a reliable metal due to its value rising even in economic uncertainty.

In the industry, ETFs have outperformed mutual funds over the long term. From 2010 to 2020, ETFs had an average annual return of 4.4%, while mutual funds had an average annual return of 1.5%. However, it's important to note that past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. In general, when the price of the metal rises, both funds tend to perform well. However, the performance of a gold fund can be influenced by other factors, such as the management of the fund and the specific stocks it holds.

Another factor that can influence these is the economic and political conditions. For example, during times of economic uncertainty or inflation, prices may rise, leading to increased returns. Similarly, geopolitical events or global crises may also lead to increased demand, driving up prices and potentially benefiting investors.

It's important to note that, like any asset, ETFs and mutual funds come with their own set of risks, and you should carefully consider the specific assets and holdings of any fund. Additionally, historical returns are not necessarily indicative of future results, and there is always the possibility of losses in any asset.

Gold ETF vs. Gold Fund

What to Choose?

Deciding which option is better for an individual is a complex task, as it depends on a variety of factors such as investment goals, risk tolerance, investment horizon, and portfolio diversification. While both offer each has its own set of diversification, and different advantages and disadvantages, you must weigh these factors against your circumstances to determine which option is best suited for you.

Gold ETFs are a better option for those looking for more direct exposure to the physical, mental, and flexibility of stock market trading. ETFs are also generally more tax-efficient, as they are structured to minimize the impact of taxes on returns. However, their returns may be more volatile due to fluctuations in the price and the stock market.

On the other hand, gold funds are a good choice for those looking for greater diversification and professional management. The Funds also provide exposure to a wider range of options, such as mining companies and other gold-related securities, which can help to mitigate some of the volatility associated with investing in the physical metal. However, funds may be subject to higher fees and expenses than ETFs, which can impact their overall returns.

Ultimately, the decision depends on your unique goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon. ETFs are more suited for short-term trading or speculating, while mutual funds are better suited for long-term investments. If you are looking for a low-cost, short-term investment, ETFs may be a better option for you. However, if you are looking for a long-term investment with a more stable value, gold funds are the way to go.

Both options offer unique benefits and drawbacks, and you should carefully weigh these factors before making a decision. It may also be wise to consult with a financial advisor or investment professional to determine which option is best suited to your financial situation.


In conclusion, both can be attractive options who are looking to gain exposure to the metal. While both investment vehicles offer exposure to gold-related assets, they have unique characteristics and potential advantages and drawbacks.

As with any investment, it's important for you to carefully consider your individual goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon before choosing between the two. By doing so, you can make an informed decision and choose the option that is best suited to your individual needs and circumstances.

Overall, both can be effective tools for those looking to take advantage of the benefits of investing in gold. They have a set of potential advantages and drawbacks that should be taken into account when making a decision.