The 25 Best No-Load Mutual Funds You Can Buy

The key to building wealth long-term is buying high-quality, no-load mutual funds run by seasoned stock pickers. Here are our favorites.

illustration of fund ducks in a row
(Image credit: Illustration by Maria Hergueta)

The Kiplinger 25 list of our favorite no-load mutual funds dates back to 2004, and our coverage of mutual funds goes all the way back to the 1950s. We believe in holding funds rather than trading them, so we focus on promising mutual funds with solid long-term records – and managers with tenures to match.

It wasn't the best of times or the worst of times, but as markets go, it was a solid year. Though only a few tech-oriented stocks drove returns in the S&P 500 index, the benchmark logged a 30% total return over the past 12 months through February. 

A recent rally helped lift small- and midsize-company stocks, too; the Russell 2000 climbed 10%, and the S&P MidCap 400 index rose 13%. Meanwhile, enthusiasm about interest rate cuts to come later this year fueled support for most bond markets. The Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond index returned 3%. Nothing to sniff at here, especially after the decimating losses of 2022. 

Through it all, our favorite actively managed, no-load funds – the Kiplinger 25 – turned in respectable results. All but one fund gained ground. 

This year, in our annual review of the Kip 25, we're making two changes. Vanguard Wellington (VWELX) is back. We had removed the fund in 2022 to make way for a commodity fund, TCW Enhanced Commodity Strategy (TGABX), as a hedge against rising inflation. Now, with inflation rates normalizing, the commodity market in pause mode and bonds generating decent income, a balanced fund makes more sense. 

And we had to find a replacement for TIAA-CREF Core Impact Bond (TSBRX). This May, the fund will change its name to Nuveen Core Impact Bond and start charging a 3.75% front-end load. Make note: Existing shareholders will not be subject to the sales charge on future purchases. If you currently hold shares in this fund, we advise you to stay put. We have confidence in the strategy. But because the Kip 25 is the list of our favorite no-load funds, we must replace it. Enter Dodge & Cox Income (DODIX).

Nellie S. Huang
Senior Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Nellie joined Kiplinger in August 2011 after a seven-year stint in Hong Kong. There, she worked for the Wall Street Journal Asia, where as lifestyle editor, she launched and edited Scene Asia, an online guide to food, wine, entertainment and the arts in Asia. Prior to that, she was an editor at Weekend Journal, the Friday lifestyle section of the Wall Street Journal Asia. Kiplinger isn't Nellie's first foray into personal finance: She has also worked at SmartMoney (rising from fact-checker to senior writer), and she was a senior editor at Money.