Home Learn What is the Difference Between ETF vs Mutual Fund?

What is the Difference Between ETF vs Mutual Fund?

What is the Difference Between ETF vs Mutual Fund?
Reading Time: 1 minutes

In the investing world, the choices seem endless, but two investment vehicles have risen to the forefront as popular options for both seasoned investors and newcomers alike: Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) and Mutual Funds (MFs). 

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. People dive into the investment pool with all sorts of dreams and schemes. Some are in it for the thrill of creating wealth and mastering the art of money management. Others want to build for their retirement corpus. No matter the reason, the endgame remains the same: turning your hard-earned money into more. Therefore, in this blog, we will understand the differences & investing methodologies of ETF vs Mutual Funds.

ETF vs Mutual Fund – Overview

To understand between ETF vs Mutual Funds, let’s first understand what these investment options mean.

Simply put, ETFs are passive investment funds that track an underlying asset. An ETF basically copies an index, which means it usually consists of stocks of different companies which are present in a particular index. It tracks the performance of a particular index and can be traded on different stock exchanges. 

However, a Mutual Fund (MF) operates when a group of investors who share similar objectives and risk preferences pool money together. This collective fund is then invested across securities and assets. This investment pool is managed by a fund manager, who diligently assesses the most suitable securities to allocate the money into. Investors can acquire units of the Mutual Fund, and these units generate returns based on the performance of the underlying assets. 

Based on the type of asset allocation, MFs can be classified into three types. This include equity funds, debt funds, and hybrid funds. Equity funds, as their name suggests, invest primarily in shares of companies. In a similar way, debt funds invest in a variety of debt instruments, such as government bonds and securities. Then there are hybrid funds, where both debt and equity investments are made.

ETF and Mutual Fund Difference

Following is a list of difference between ETF and Mutual Fund. With the help of the following table, you can make a decision on ETF vs Mutual Fund which is better?

AspectETFsMutual Funds
TradingBought and sold like stocks on exchanges & traded during the trading dayMutual Funds are traded at the closing net asset value.
PricingReal-time intraday pricingEnd-of-day NAV (Net Asset Value) pricing
Minimum InvestmentTypically, the price of one ETF shareVaries, can be lower with SIP
Cost Structure ETFs have lower expense ratios MFs have higher management fees
Tax EfficiencyMore tax-efficient due to in-kind creation/redemptionSubject to capital gains taxes upon redemption than ETFs
DiversificationOffers more targeted investments in a particular index.Diversified, but might vary based on the fund
LiquidityHigh liquidity due to trading on exchangesLiquidity depends on fund redemption process
TransparencyHigh transparency with daily holdings disclosureTypically, less transparent
Expense TrackingExpense ratios can be easily trackedExpense ratios may not be as visible
Time LimitETFs offer investors the flexibility to buy or sell assets at any point during the trading day without any time constraints.Certain mutual funds impose an early redemption penalty, typically within 90 days of purchase.

Now that we have covered the differences between ETF versus Mutual Funds (MF), let’s talk about what makes them similar.

Is ETF Vs MF Similar?

Alright, time to unravel the mystery: Is ETF vs Mutual Fund (MF) secretly long-lost siblings in the world of investments? Well, not exactly, they do share some intriguing similarities that are worth noting.

  • Diversification: Both MF vs ETF are like your trusty diversification partners. They allow you to spread your investments across a basket of assets, reducing the risk associated with putting all your eggs in one financial basket.
  • Professional Management: In ETF vs Mutual Funds, professional fund managers make investment decisions on behalf of investors. These managers have expertise in selecting and managing the underlying assets, aiming to maximize returns.
  • Liquidity: Need to cash out your investment? ETF and MF are typically designed to offer you easy access to your money. ETFs can be bought and sold throughout the trading day on stock exchanges, while MFs can be redeemed with the fund house at the end of the day.
  • Affordable: When it comes to the price of admission, both ETF vs MF won’t break the bank. You can get started with a relatively low initial investment, making them accessible to a wide range of investors.
  • Dividends and Capital Gains: ETF vs MF often pay out dividends and capital gains to their investors. This can be a sweet bonus for your portfolio, adding to your overall returns.

So, while ETF vs MF might not be as similar as we might think, but they do share some intriguing qualities. It’s essential to recognize both their similarities and differences when making your investment decisions.

ETF Funds vs Mutual Funds – Which is Better?

Both of the investments i.e. ETF vs Mutual Funds offer an excellent way to build a diversified portfolio. Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. The “better” option depends on your individual financial goals and preferences. Let’s break it down to help you make an informed decision that’s right for you:

ETFs (Exchange-Traded Funds)

Why They Might Be Your Go-To:

  • Flexibility and Liquidity: ETF is a great option if you’re someone who values flexibility. Additionally, wants the option to buy and sell throughout the trading day. They trade just like stocks on exchanges, offering intraday flexibility.
  • Tax Efficiency: ETFs tend to be more tax-efficient due to their unique structure, making them a potential choice for tax-conscious investors.
  • Low Expense Ratios: Generally, ETFs have lower expense ratios compared to many mutual funds, which can translate to cost savings over the long term.

When to Consider ETFs:

  • You’re a hands-on investor who likes to tweak your portfolio regularly.
  • Tax efficiency is a top priority for you.
  • You appreciate the idea of lower fees.

Mutual Funds (MFs)

Why They Might Be Your Cup of Tea:

  • Professional Management: Mutual Funds are like having a financial expert in your corner. Fund managers make the investment decisions, leveraging their expertise and research to manage your money.
  • Diversification: MFs are great for diversification, as they allow you to invest in a wide range of assets with a single investment.
  • SIP (Systematic Investment Plan) Friendly: If you prefer a disciplined, periodic investment approach, MFs, with their SIP options, can align perfectly with your investment style.

When to Consider Mutual Funds:

  • You prefer a more hands-off approach to investing.
  • Diversification is a top priority for you.
  • You like the idea of professional management.

To Wrap It Up…

To conclude, ETF vs Mutual Funds each bring their unique set of advantages and trade-offs to the table. ETFs offer the flexibility of intraday trading, lower expense ratios, and potential tax advantages, making them an attractive choice for many investors. On the other hand, Mutual Funds offer professional management, ease of diversification, and the convenience of trading at the end-of-day NAV.


1. Why buy an ETF instead of a mutual fund?

ETFs tend to be more cost-effective, tax-efficient, flexible, and more liquid when it comes to mutual funds.

2. Is ETF better than SIP?

ETFs and SIPs serve different purposes. ETFs offer intraday trading and lower expenses, while SIPs allow regular, disciplined investing. The choice depends on your goals and preferences.

3. What is a drawback to ETFs when compared to mutual funds?

ETFs can be more volatile than mutual funds. This is because ETFs trade on exchanges like stocks, so their prices can fluctuate more than the prices of mutual funds, which are only priced once a day at the end of the trading day.

4. Is Index ETF riskier than Index funds?

In comparison to index ETF vs index fund, ETFs are a much riskier form of investment than Index Funds.

5. Do Index ETF vs. Mutual Fund fees differ given the same passive strategy?

Yes, Index ETFs typically have lower fees than Index Mutual Funds, thanks to their cost-efficient structure and passive investment approach.