The Biggest 401(k) Funds Ranked

Use our guide to 401(k) funds to boost the performance of your retirement portfolio.

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Assets in 401(k) plans hit $7.7 trillion recently, accounting for nearly 20% of all retirement savings. That makes these defined-contribution plans, which allow employees to make pre-tax contributions from their salaries, a key retirement-funding strategy for many Americans.

Stashing money in your 401(k) account as you juggle other obligations can be difficult. And figuring out how to invest your savings? Doubly hard. So every year, using data from BrightScope (an institutional shareholder services business), we scrutinize the most widely held funds in employer-based retirement savings plans. Then we pick the funds apart, analyzing them and rating each one “buy,” “sell” or “hold.”

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These are the most popular actively managed funds in employer plans.
FundSymbolFund categoryAnnualized Total Return (1 yr.)Annualized Total Return (5 yrs.)Annualized Total Return (10 yrs.)Expense ratio
American Funds EuroPacific Growth AEPGXForeign large growth-30.2%0.2%4.8%0.80%
American Funds Growth Fund of AmericaAGTHXLarge growth-33.87.611.90.61
Dodge & Cox Stock DODGXLarge value-9.39.312.50.51
Fidelity ContrafundFCNTXLarge growth-30.68.312.30.81
Fidelity Freedom 2030FFFEXTarget-date-
Fidelity Growth CompanyFDGRXLarge growth-
Metropolitan West Total Return BondMWTRXIntermediate-term bond-18.3-
Pimco Total ReturnPTTAXIntermediate-term bond-17.5-
T. Rowe Price Blue Chip Growth TRBCXLarge growth-
Vanguard Primecap VPMCXLarge growth-
Vanguard Target Retirement 2030 VTHRXTarget-date-
Vanguard Wellington VWELXBalanced-
S&P 500 INDEXRow 12 - Cell 1 Row 12 - Cell 2 -18.2%9.8%12.1%Row 12 - Cell 6
BLOOMBERG US AGGREGATE BOND INDEXRow 13 - Cell 1 Row 13 - Cell 2 -16.2-0.6%0.7%Row 13 - Cell 6
As of Nov. 4, 2022. SOURCE: Morningstar DirectRow 14 - Cell 1 Row 14 - Cell 2 Row 14 - Cell 3 Row 14 - Cell 4 Row 14 - Cell 5 Row 14 - Cell 6

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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.