The best performing ETFs in Australia for 2021

The best performing exchange traded funds delivered returns of up to 29.04% p.a. in the last five years.

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Looking for the best exchange traded funds (ETFs) in Australia? Because ETFs can be used for all different investment strategies, there's no 'one size fits all' ETF.

The funds shown in this guide aren't necessarily the best for you, however they are the best performing exchange traded products (ETPs) on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) over 1, 3 and 5 years according to the latest ASX data.

Below are the 10 highest returning ETPs in Australia, including all standard ETFs, synthetic ETFs and actively managed ETFs. This means some of them will be riskier than others. To understand more about what these terms mean, head to our comprehensive guide on ETFs.

Remember, past performance is no guarantee of future success. Depending on how the market moves, the best performing ETF of the last year might decline in value in the future. The lesson here is that performance is one consideration, but you should also look at fees, how risky the product is, your investment goals and how long you can afford to invest for.

Best ETFs of 2021 (Updated October)
1. BetaShares Crude Oil Index ETF-Currency Hedged (Synthetic)
2. BetaShares Geared US Equity Fund Currency Hedged (Hedge Fund)
3. ETFS Ultra Long Nasdaq 100 Hedge Fund
4. BetaShares Geared Australian Equity Fund (Hedge Fund)
5. ETFS Battery Tech & Lithium ETF

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The returns shown are net, meaning the management fees have already been deducted to offer a clearer view of performance.

Best performing ETFs over 1-year

ASX Code Type Fund Name Fund Name Fee 1-Year Return 3-Year Return 5-Year Return
OOO Commodity BetaShares Crude Oil Index ETF-Currency Hedged (Synthetic) 1.29% 88.12% -27.31% -11.85%
GGUS Global equity (MF) BetaShares Geared US Equity Fund Currency Hedged (Hedge Fund) 0.8% 86.91% 22.95% 29.04%
LNAS Global equity (MF) ETFS Ultra Long Nasdaq 100 Hedge Fund 1% 81.01% n/a n/a
GEAR Australia equity BetaShares Geared Australian Equity Fund (Hedge Fund) 0.8% 75.33% 12.81% 16.49%
ACDC Global equity BETFS Battery Tech & Lithium ETF 0.69% 63.42% 27.06% n/a
MVB Australia equity VanEck Australian Banks ETF 0.28% 63.93% 9.20% 9.63%
IJR Global equity iShares S&P Small-Cap ETF 0.09% 60.52% 10.16% 15.56%
BNKS Global equity BetaShares Global Banks ETF - Currency Hedged 0.57% 60.34% 1.41% 7.84%
FUEL Global equity BetaShares Global Energy Companies ETF - Currency Hedged 0.57% 59.22% -8.97% -0.45%
VVLU Global equity (MF) Vanguard Global Value Equity Active ETF (Managed Fund) 0.29% 58.64% 6.81% n/a
Source: ASX | Period ending: 30 September 2021 | SP = Structured Product, MF = Managed Fund, Fees = %p.a.

Best performing ETFs over 3 years

ASX Code Type Fund Name Fund Name Fee 3-Year Return 5-Year Return 1-Year Return
ACDC Global equity ETFS Battery Tech & Lithium ETF 0.69% 26.57% n/a 66.17%
NDQ Global equity BetaShares NASDAQ 100 ETF 0.48% 25.27% 27.06% 31.05%
ETPMPD Commodity (SP) ETFS Physical Palladium 0.49% 24.61% n/a -19.95%
TECH Global equity ETFS Morningstar Global Technology ETF 0.45% 23.90% n/a 33.96%
ETHI Global equity BetaShares Global Sustainability Leaders ETF 0.59% 23.33% n/a 31.50%
MNRS Global equity BetaShares Global Gold Miners ETF - Currency Hedged 0.57% 23.32% 3.83% -23.72%
GGUS Global equity (MF) BetaShares Geared US Equity Fund Currency Hedged (Hedge Fund) 0.8% 22.95% 29.04% 86.91%
WCMQ Global equity WCM Quality Global Growth Fund (Quoted Managed Fund) 1.35% 21.32% n/a 26.96%
HACK Global equity BetaShares Global Cybersecurity ETF 0.67% 20.61% 21.90% 40.74%
ASIA Asia equity BetaShares Asia Technology Tigers ETF 0.67% 18.92% n/a 3.99%
Source: ASX | Period ending: 30 September 2021 | SP = Structured Product, MF = Managed Fund, Fees = %p.a.

Best performing ETFs over 5 years

ASX Code Type Fund Name Fund Name Fee 5-Year Return 3-Year Return 1-Year Return
GGUS Global equity (MF) BetaShares Geared US Equity Fund Currency Hedged (Hedge Fund) 0.8% 29.04% 22.95% 86.91%
NDQ Global equity BetaShares NASDAQ 100 ETF 0.48% 27.06% 25.27% 31.05%
HACK Global equity BetaShares Global Cybersecurity ETF 0.67% 21.90% 20.61% 40.74%
MOAT Global equity VanEck Vectors Morningstar Wide Moat ETF 0.49% 20.15% 18.61% 38.46%
QUAL Global equity VanEck MSCI International Quality ETF 0.4% 19.06% 18.20% 27.67%
VTS Global equity Vanguard US Total Market Shares Index ETF 0.03% 18.84% 16.63% 34.62%
SPY Global equity SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust 0.09% 18.78% 16.63% 32.42%
IVV Global equity iShares S&P 500 ETF 0.04% 18.63% 16.27% 32.60%
IOO Global equity iShares Global 100 ETF 0.4% 17.77% 15.62% 29.42%
GEAR Australia equity BetaShares Geared Australian Equity Fund (Hedge Fund) 0.8% 16.49% 12.81% 75.33%
Source: ASX | Period ending: 30 September 2021 | SP = Structured Product, MF = Managed Fund, Fees = %p.a.

Compare trading platforms to invest in ETFs

Name Product Brokerage on AU ETFs Inactivity fee Markets
eToro (global stocks)
N/A
US$10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Zero brokerage share trading on US, Hong Kong and European stocks with trades as low as $50.
Note: This broker offers CFDs which are volatile investment products and most clients lose money trading CFDs with this provider.
Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
IG Share Trading
AUD $8 or 0.1%
$50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
ASX shares, Global shares
$0 brokerage for US and global shares plus get an active trader discount of $5 commission on Australian shares.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
Superhero share trading
AUD $0
No
ASX shares, US shares
Australia’s lowest-cost broker for ASX shares and ETFs.
Pay zero brokerage on US stocks and all ETFs and just $5 (flat fee) to trade Australian shares from your mobile or desktop.
ThinkMarkets Share Trading
AUD $8
No
ASX shares
Limited-time offer: Get 10 free ASX trades ($0 brokerage) when you open a share trading account with ThinkMarkets before 31 December 2021(T&Cs apply). $8 flat fee brokerage for CHESS Sponsored ASX stocks (HIN ownership), plus free live stock price data on an easy to use mobile app.
Bell Direct Share Trading
AUD $15
No
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs
Finder Exclusive: Get 5 free stock trades and unlimited ETF trades until 31 Dec 2021, when you join Bell Direct. T&Cs apply.
Bell Direct offers a one-second placement guarantee on market-to-limit ASX orders or your trade is free, plus enjoy extensive free research reports from top financial experts.
Saxo Capital Markets (Classic account)
AUD $5
No
ASX shares, Global shares, Forex, CFDs, Margin trading, Options trading, ETFs
Access 3,000+ ETFs on 30+ exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global ETF investing, no inactivity fees and foreign currency accounts available.
CMC Markets Invest
AUD $11 or 0.1%
No
ASX shares, Global shares, mFunds, ETFs
$0 brokerage on global shares including US, UK and Japan markets.
Trade up to 9,000 products, including shares, ETFs and managed funds, plus access up to 15 major global and Australian stock exchanges.
SelfWealth (Basic account)
AUD $9.5
No
ASX shares, US shares
Trade ASX and US shares for a flat fee of $9.50, regardless of the trade size.
New customers receive free access to Community Insights with SelfWealth Premium for the first 90 days. Follow other investors and benchmark your portfolio performance.
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Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. Standard brokerage is the cost to purchase $1,000 or less of equities without any qualifications or special eligibility. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

How to pick the best ETF for you

  • Time frame. Think about how long you can invest your money for and when you may need to access it. Some ETFs rise quickly over the short term but pose the risk of falling over several years. Others rise slowly over the long term but may dip over the short-term.
  • Have a strategy. What do you want to get from this ETF. Can you afford to take on a riskier short-term investment or would you prefer to be more sure of your returns over a longer period? If you'd prefer to avoid risk, you might want to consider index funds.
  • Understand the product. It’s always important to thoroughly research the listed fund you wish to invest in, whether that’s an index ETF, an active ETF or a structured product. Download the funds’ PDF and read through the details.
  • Check the returns. Look at the returns (including all fees) over different periods of time. How has it performed over a one-year period? How has it performed over several years?
  • Understand the fees. Fees strongly influence return on investment. Make sure the returns outshine the ETF’s management fees and pick a broker with fees that match your trading habits.
  • Fully understand the product. Make sure you understand the nature of the product and the risks involved before you invest in an ETF. Some very complex products may appear to be simple on the outside. If you don't understand how the investment is managed or how the fund manager aims to achieve returns, talk to a licensed financial adviser or don't invest in the product.

How to invest in a cheap ETF

As is the case with super funds and savings accounts, there is a direct correlation between high fees and an ETF’s overall performance. When fees are higher, returns tend to be lower and vice versa. There are two main costs involved when investing in listed funds: the brokerage fees and the management fees.

  • Brokerage fees. As with shares, you’re charged a transaction fee by your broker every time you invest money into an ETF. For example, CommSec charges $10 for every transaction of $1,000 or less, while CMC Markets charges $11 or 0.1%, whichever is higher. This fee will come down to which trading platform or brokerage you choose to use.
  • Management fee. This is often displayed as the management expense ratio (MER), which is the percentage of your return charged as fees by the ETF’s fund managers. Normally, the more work a fund manager has to do to keep the ETF profitable, the higher the fee – though this won’t always be the case. This is why many active ETFs charge higher fees than index ETFs, which passively track an index.

To find a platform that offers the lowest fees, you’ll first need to decide how much you want to invest in the fund and how many lump sums you’ll be investing over a year. If it’s just one lump sum, a platform that doesn’t charge an inactivity fee will be key. If you plan on frequently adding small amounts, the brokerage fee itself will be more important.

Brokerage fees range from around $10 to $30 per transaction and ETF fees range from about 0.05% to 0.8%.

What are the risks of investing in ETFs?

  • You could lose money. The value of ETFs and other types of listed funds rise and fall like any listed stock, which means there are similar risks involved.
  • Single-asset ETFs. Some ETFs bundle a diverse range of securities that protect the investor from market falls; others hone in on one asset class. For example, a commodity ETF that invests in a particular metal will do well when that metal’s price goes up, but it will also fall quickly if prices don’t have the protection of other asset classes.
  • Currency risks. If you invest in a global ETF, changes in the value of the Australian dollar will have a direct impact on the value of your investment.
  • International taxes. If you buy units in an ETF listed overseas, you may need to pay foreign taxes. Make sure you’re aware of all tax implications of an ETF before you commit any funds.
  • Synthetic ETFs. These have all the same risks as physical ETFs, but they also expose you to other potential risks such as counterparty risks. There's also the possibility that the price of futures will differ from the price of an underlying asset.

Before deciding whether ETFs are the best investment solution for you, make sure you’re fully aware of how they work and have an in-depth understanding of all the risks involved. Read the product disclosure statement closely, ask questions of the ETF issuer if you’re unsure about anything and consider seeking help from a qualified financial adviser.

You can read more in our comprehensive ETF guide.

How to invest in an ETF

Once you’ve considered the risks of investing in ETFs and worked out your financial goals, you can buy and sell units in an ETF like any share on the stock market through a fund manager or an online trading platform.

To invest in ETFs through an online trading platform, you’ll need to do the following:

  1. Search for a trading platform that suits your investment needs
  2. Sign up by providing personal details, proof of residency and proof of ID
  3. Log in to your trading account
  4. Move money into your trading account through a bank transaction or BPAY
  5. Search for the ETF on your platform and place an order

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Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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