Investing Assets & Markets Mutual Funds American Funds Review: Everything You Need to Know Before Investing One of the world's largest mutual fund companies has something for everyone By Kent Thune Kent Thune Twitter Kent Thune has spent more than two decades in the financial services industry and owns Atlantic Capital Investments, an investment advisory firm, in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. He's written hundreds of articles for a range of outlets, including The Balance, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, and The Motley Fool. learn about our editorial policies Updated on October 31, 2021 Reviewed by Charles Potters Reviewed by Charles Potters Charles is a nationally recognized capital markets specialist and educator with over 30 years of experience developing in-depth training programs for burgeoning financial professionals. Charles has taught at a number of institutions including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Societe Generale, and many more. learn about our financial review board In This Article View All In This Article Whom Is American Funds Best For? Types of Funds Available at American Funds Growth Stock Funds Equity-Income Funds Balanced Funds Taxable Bond Funds Tax-Exempt Bond Funds Money Market Funds How to Buy American Funds Customer Service About American Funds The Bottom Line Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images American Funds is one of the largest mutual fund companies in the world. Its funds are offered through brokers and can be found in many 401(k) plans in the U.S. In this American Funds review, we'll highlight the pros and cons of investing and how to open an account with a leading mutual fund company. Whom Is American Funds Best For? American Funds is part of Capital Group, which was founded in 1931 and manages over $2.2 trillion in assets as of 2021. Capital Group can be found around the globe, with 7,800 employees in offices in multiple locales, including North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Their mutual funds are sold in a number of ways: through brokerage firms, by online discount brokers, or as part of 401(k) plans. American Funds should appeal to investors who want to purchase high-quality mutual funds from brokers, and may be a good fit for investors who are looking for: Advice from brokersAbove-average long-term returnsActively managed funds that charge loads (or fees) in exchange for adviceHigh-quality funds for long-term savings accounts, such as 401(k) plans or IRAs Note The funds listed here are loaded funds, meaning they charge for purchases and sales, and they may have fees for other expenses, such as 12b-1 fees. This is why they are most often sold through brokers—investors buy loaded funds in exchange for advice. American Funds offers more than 30 mutual funds in many diverse categories. Some of these rank as the best funds compared to others in the same group. This may or may not mean American Funds is the best fit for you. Weigh the pros and cons with care before you decide to purchase their funds. Pros Managed by professional advisors Investment advice (if funds are purchased through a broker) Wide range of options of high-quality mutual funds Many fund share classes to suit investor preferences of all kinds Low expense ratios, compared to other actively managed funds Cons No sector funds or index funds Expense ratios higher than some no-load funds Funds only available through brokers or 401(k) plans Types of Funds Available at American Funds American Funds offers mutual funds that cover seven main types including: Growth stockGrowth-and-incomeEquity-incomeBalancedTaxable bondTax-exempt bondMoney market Growth Stock Funds Growth funds seek to increase capital in the long term by buying stock in companies that are on track for major growth. Here are American Funds’ growth stock mutual funds (Class A shares; cost figures here and throughout are current as of September 2021): EuroPacific Growth Fund (AEPGX): Invests in companies of all sizes, mainly in Europe and Asian countries in the Pacific region. Expense ratio is 0.82%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. The New Economy Fund (ANEFX): Invests in stocks of companies that focus on new technologies or products and services that can help grow a global economy. Expense ratio is 0.76%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. New Perspective Fund (ANWPX): Invests in multi-national companies that have strong growth prospects. Expense ratio is 0.76%, front load is 5.75% and requires $250 to start. AMCAP Fund (AMCPX): Invests in well-managed U.S. companies of various sizes, that have potential for strong, long-term growth. Expense ratio is 0.68%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. The Growth Fund of America (AGTHX): Invests in growth stocks that have long-term growth potential. This fund is safer than most large-cap growth funds. Expense ratio is 0.64%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. SMALLCAP World Fund (SMCWX): Invests in companies all around the world with market capitalizations up to $6 billion. Expense ratio is 1.06%, front load is 5.75%, anvd requires $250 to start. New World Fund (NEWFX): Invests in newer markets and countries that have strong ties with developing economies. Expense ratio is 1%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. Growth-and-Income Funds Growth-and-income funds seek growth of capital and current income through stock that pays dividends. Here are American Funds’ Growth and Income Funds: Capital World Growth and Income Fund (CWGIX): This fund seeks stocks of companies around the world that can offer investors growth and current income. Expense ratio is 0.76%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. International Growth and Income Fund (IGAAX): Invests mainly in large companies outside of the U.S. that pay dividends. Holds more non-U.S. stocks than other American Funds with holdings in other countries. Expense ratio is 0.91%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. American Mutual Fund (AMRMX): Seeks current income, growth of capital, and to preserve principal. Avoids “sin stocks” like those that produce alcohol or tobacco. Expense ratio is 0.59%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. Fundamental Investors (ANCFX): Seeks value stocks that are either undervalued by the market or under-appreciated by investors. Focused on growth over yield. Expense ratio is 0.61%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. The Investment Company of America (AIVSX): The oldest fund in the American Funds lineup, AIVSX owns large, well-known U.S. companies. Its focus is on long-term growth, and not as much on current income. Expense ratio is 0.58%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. Washington Mutual Investors Fund (AWSHX): This fund puts stocks through a strict vetting process before adding them to their portfolio. It is rare for AWSHX to purchase stocks that profit from alcohol or tobacco. Expense ratio is 0.58%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. American Funds Developing World Growth and Income (DWGAX): Seeks growth and income stocks, mainly of newer markets and economies. Expense ratio is 1.26%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. Equity-Income Funds Equity-income funds seek income and growth through a mix of bonds and stocks that pay dividends. American Funds offer two equity-income funds: Capital Income Builder (CAIBX): This fund typically holds stocks of companies that can provide above-average current income. Holdings are mainly stocks of companies that have held up over time, and that pay above-average dividends or with a strong chance of income in the future. CAIBX funds can invest up to 50% of assets outside of the United States. Expense ratio is 0.61%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. The Income Fund of America (AMECX): This fund has a flexible approach to finding above-average income. It can invest up to 30% of assets in stocks of companies and 10% in fixed-income securities outside of the U.S. It can invest only 20% of its assets in high-yield bonds rated below investment grade (BB/Ba and below). Expense ratio is 0.57%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. Balanced Funds Balanced funds seek to conserve principal, along with long-term growth of capital and current income through a mix of securities, usually stocks and bonds. American Funds offers two balanced funds: American Funds Global Balanced Fund (GBLAX): Invests in stocks and bonds all around the globe, seeking growth, conservation of principal, and current income. Expense ratio is 0.84%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. American Balanced Fund (ABALX): Offers a diversified balance of quality stocks and bonds, that can include up to 20% of portfolio assets in non-U.S. holdings. Expense ratio is 0.58%, front load is 5.75%, and requires $250 to start. Taxable Bond Funds Taxable bond funds seek current income through fixed-income securities. These funds are best for accounts with tax benefits, such as IRAs and 401(k)s. Here are the taxable bond funds offered at American Funds: American High-Income Trust (AHITX): Invests in high-yield bonds which can produce stock-like returns, although they have greater market risk than standard bonds. Expense ratio is 0.73%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $250 to start. American Funds Corporate Bond Fund (BFCAX): Invests mainly in investment-grade or higher-quality corporate bonds. Expense ratio is 0.83%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $250 to start. American Funds Emerging Markets Bond Fund (EBNAX): Invests in government and corporate bonds in newer markets. Bond holdings may be high-yield. Expense ratio is 1.08%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $250 to start. American Funds Inflation Linked Bond Fund (BFIAX): Invests mainly in inflation-linked securities, such as Treasury inflation-protected securities (TIPS). This may offer investors both current income and protection against inflation. Expense ratio is 0.70%, front load is 2.50%, and requires $250 to start. American Funds Strategic Bond Fund (ANBAX): Seeks total returns higher than core bond funds, but higher yields and less risk than equity securities. Expense ratio is 0.81%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $250 to start. Short Term Bond Fund of America (ASBAX): Invests mainly in U.S. government bonds and mortgage-backed securities with an average maturity of up to three years. This mix can result in higher yields than money market funds, but lower interest-rate risk than bond funds, with longer average maturity. Expense ratio is 0.70%, front load is 2.50%, and requires $250 to start. Intermediate Bond Fund of America (AIBAX): Mainly holds high-quality government and corporate bonds that mature between three and five years. Expense ratio is 0.63%, front load is 2.50%, and requires $250 to start. U.S. Government Securities Fund (AMUSX): Invests mostly in Treasury and agency securities and attempts to minimize interest rate risk. Expense ratio is 0.66%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $250 to start. American Funds Mortgage Fund (MFAAX): Invests in a diversified blend of high-quality mortgage-related securities. Expense ratio is 0.65%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $250 to start. The Bond Fund of America (ABNDX): This is American Funds’ most diversified bond fund. ABNDX invests in nearly every sector of the bond market, with a focus on high-quality bonds. Expense ratio is 0.57%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $250 to start. Capital World Bond Fund (CWBFX): Invests mainly in government and corporate bonds in both developed and developing markets outside of the U.S. Expense ratio is 0.92%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $250 to start. Tax-Exempt Bond Funds Tax-exempt bond funds seek to earn tax-free interest through municipal bonds. Tax-exempt bond funds are best held in taxable accounts, especially for those investors in high federal tax brackets. Here are American Funds’ tax-exempt bond funds: American High-Income Municipal Bond (AMHIX): Invests mainly in high-yielding municipal bonds, as it seeks to offer tax-exempt income. Expense ratio is 0.67%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $250 to start. American Funds Short-Term Tax-Exempt Bond Fund (ASTEX): Seeks to provide higher income than money market funds by holding high-quality, short-term municipal bonds. On average these securities mature in three years or less. Expense ratio is 0.58%, front load is 2.50%, and requires $250 to start. American Funds Tax-Exempt Fund of New York (NYAAX): Seeks to provide tax-exempt income at the federal, state, and New York City levels for New York residents by investing in municipal bonds within the state. Expense ratio is 0.67%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $1,000 to start. Limited Term Tax-Exempt Bond Fund of America (LTEBX): Invests in a diverse array of municipal bonds that mature on average between three and 10 years, and with medium- to high-grade credit quality (BBB and above). Expense ratio is 0.60%, front load is 2.50%, and requires $250 to start. The Tax-Exempt Bond Fund of America (AFTEX): American Funds’ most diversified municipal bond fund, AFTEX invests only in bonds that are not subject to the alternative minimum tax. Expense ratio is 0.52%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $250 to start. The Tax-Exempt Fund of California (TAFTX): Seeks to provide tax-exempt income at the federal and state levels for California residents by investing in municipal bonds within the state. Expense ratio is 0.61%, front load is 3.75%, and requires $1,000 to start. Money Market Funds American Funds offers just one money market fund, American Funds U.S. Government Money Market Fund (AFAXX). Like all money market funds, it is liquid and can be withdrawn with no fees or hassle, and provides stable (though low) growth rates. Money market funds rarely see losses in principal, offering low yields but still a greater chance of earning income than most bank savings accounts. This fund has no load and the expense ratio is 0.38%. How to Buy American Funds American Funds are available to purchase through stockbrokers and some online discount brokers. Typically, American Funds are loaded, which means investors pay a sales charge, either upon purchase (front-loaded A shares) or upon sale of shares within one year of purchase (back-loaded C shares). Other share classes are available. Some funds (R shares) can be purchased as load-waived, which is common in 401(k) plans. Customer Service Have questions or need help? You can reach representatives from the Capital Group Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 7:00 pm EST, at (800) 421-4225. If you're calling from outside the U.S., you can call collect at either (757) 670-4900 or (949) 975-5000. If you need help navigating American Funds' website, call (800) 421-4225 ext. 99. About American Funds Since 1931, Capital Group—home of American Funds—has been helping individuals, retirees, sponsors, administrators, financial advisors, institutions, and more figure out investment solutions that serve their long-term goals. Capital Group is one of the largest mutual fund managers in the world, with over $2.2 trillion in assets under management (AUM) as of 2021. The Bottom Line BENEFITS American Funds offers high-quality, low-cost mutual funds available through brokers, (some) online discount brokers, and in 401(k) plans. DRAWBACKS When purchased outside of a 401(k) plan, investors will typically pay a sales charge. Do-it-yourself investors can find no-load funds with lower expense ratios; however, they do not receive investment advice unless they pay a separate fee. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Do American Funds beat the market? Actively managed funds can beat the market at times, but they don't always. In 2021, just 45% of actively managed funds outperformed passive alternatives. You should only choose active funds like those in the American Funds portfolio if the opportunity to outperform the market is worth the risk that you will underperform lower-cost passive funds. Can I buy American Funds without a broker? A brokerage is probably the easiest way to buy American Funds, but accounts are also available through 401(k) plan sponsors. Does American Funds have an ETF? Although American Funds doesn't offer exchange-traded funds (ETFs), Capital Group began offering actively managed ETFs to investors in early 2022. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Capital Group. "Our History." Capital Group. "About Us." Capital Group. "Capital Group Locations." Capital Group. "Jobs at Capital Group." Capital Group. "Mutual Funds." Capital Group. "Share Class Pricing Details - American Funds." Capital Group. "Capital Group History." Morningstar. "Actively Managed Funds Continue To Underperform." Capital Group. "Capital Group To Launch Active ETF Strategies Announces New Head of ETFs To Build and Lead Business."